Saturday, July 31, 2010

28 Days to College Staying in Touch Options

So we are all worried about missing our children but we have equipped them with lots of technology. We all are very reliant on it but I am beginning to wonder if technology is a good thing. They can now call, skype, text, e-mail, snail mail, Face Book, twitter and come home to visit.

So much communication possibility created expectations about how much it will be used. Even though the technology exists it is not to be used equally be both sides of the communicators.

There seems to be a double standard in how the devises are used.

They can call us, text us, email us, and heaven forbid, write letters. I have a feeling that they love having all the ways to communicate with the parental units. Like it is okay for my lovely daughter to call me at 6:05 am to find out if one puts a teaspoon or tablespoon in the sour dough pancakes. However if I call to inquire as to the proposed time she will return to the family home, then there is complaint and wailing about not "BUGGING" her.

I will see how all of this works.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Day 29 Dorm Decor

In my experience, if you call it decor, it means it costs lots more money than if you call it decoration. I guess it is the less is more principle.

I don't understand the need to buy new stuff to put into a small shared room in another town.

Is it because we want them to feel at home? Wouldn't the stuff that is already in their room be better for that?

Is it so the parents can have a final bonding shopping trip? A chance to decorate a room under parental influence? Pink with green poka-dots?

Is it a way that parents can feel connected to the new nest? Is it a way to cut the apron strings by leaving all the aprons at home?

Is it an excuse to be involved during this most difficult of transitions? Sort of like when we were pregnant pretending the fathers were involved by making them put together a crib.

Is it just an off shoot of our consumer society? Have I become my father (anti money spender) besides being my mother (spending money helps the economy)?

I know for me, I am writing big checks. Big, big, oh my God they are staggering, checks. I am worried about the cost of things like the Calculus text book. Having a garbage can that matches the lamp does not seem very practical. How long is anyone going to live in the dorm and then what do you do with Wall Mural? Do we want these college bound children to need us to transfer their stuff around as well as our own?

Maybe my reaction is purely selfish, I want her to take stuff out of this house so I can get rid of all the crap I have collected, purchased, found, inherited, scrounged. I am in a purging mode.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I did stop at Good Will and may have found an extra long twin bed fitted sheet. If not, I am shipping it back to Good Will.

Day 29. I am writing another big check but not for an extra long twin hypoallergenic poka-dotted mattress pad.

If you are in the mood to "decor" a room click on the title and you will be taken to Pottery Barn for that purpose.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

30 days.....

She is getting excited.

I am getting worried, it sort of balances out.

I have decided that each day I will worry about something different.

This is list day. She had made a list of everything she needs to take with her to a room that will be no more than 14 by 14 and she must share the space with another person that is producing a list.

I am not sure why two comforter covers and two sets of sheets need to go but they are on the list. Two pairs of black boots? I can see that this is as complicated as everyone says it is. I remember cloths, a stereo, some books, the all important poster. I know that things have changed but the rooms are the same size. I never owned two pairs of black boots and certainly did not have an electric espresso maker.... but then it might not be going.

I have a new rule, if it does not fit into the car, it does not go.

I think I will start a list of all things I will be able to do because she won't be home. Indian cooking on the top of the list. will that be more fun then trying to get her unload the dishwasher.... YES.
For the Record, Tucker is not on the list.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

An I thought Cancer Was Hard.....

On July 13th 2010 I tried to accomplish one thing. One, not a million, not a miracle, only one thing. Well maybe a couple.

6:00 AM: Wake child. (No easy task)

7:00 AM Stuff child into car

7:26 AM Arrive at Oral Surgeon's office to have holes left by wisdom tooth extractions checked

8:01 AM Confirm teeth have not grown back. Holes appear to be fine.

8:10 AM Call Maggie and convince her she can to to North Hill Bakery in her jammies and no one will notice or care.

8:22 AM Obtain triple short, hazelnut scone and quiche.

8:54 AM After nice chat with Maggie, continue to Washington State Employees Credit Union

9:01 AM Enter bank with one simple intention. Make already existing savings account into Savings/Checking account.

10:01 AM Depart bank having failed to accomplish purpose. Mary-Elizabeth is considered a non person due to lack of drivers license. Much swearing, much table pounding, best lawyer circular arguments failed to provide the simple request. We made a rather impressive deposit into the account and left in despair. ( 59 minutes of my life down the tube.)

10:22 AM Return home to obtain certified copy of birth certificate, passport, tranquilizers and walk the dogs. Discover I have only copies. Lots of copies of birth certificate. I do have the lovely original of MY certificate of birth including my foot prints, stop and have a lovely OH HOW CUTE IS THAT moment.

10:31 AM Leave for Social Security Office because there is some confusion about Mary-Elizabeth's number and she needs this for the drivers licence/permit/identification that she will be obtaining if the universe has any cooperation left in its soul.

10: 45 AM (I now love Mary-E's I-Phone. Great direction APP.) Arrive Social Security Office. Put in two hours of parking money and pray we can exit with the required information prior to the time running out.

10:46 AM Oh dear. This is neither a social or secure location. The helpers are secreted behind thick plexie glass. No on is smiling, no one is talking. The only cheerful man is the guard searching every one's purses and bags. People are prepared with large trolleys full of books to read, laundry to fold, scrap books to create. This is going to be a wait.

There is a lovely number system that like everything else in the government, just does not quite get the job done. It lets everyone know which number is being served but not at what window. Therefore there is a fair amount of shouting "B114 to window 6." After waiting about an hour we finally had our turn. We presented the required form, fully filled out, the passport as identification and waited. After some very difficult typing, two documents were produced. Most of the information was wrong. Her name was spelled right, the hyphens were wrong and her father was not to be found. Despite my best efforts, there was no luck in convincing the person she was incorrect: she simply kept saying: The computer won't take it, The computer won't take it, The computer won't take it........ (1 hour and 45 minutes of my life gone forever.) and still I know the card will be wrong and we will have to try again.

12:15 P.M. We are now tire, grumpy and hungry. We stopped by the office to see if I had a check book there. I seem to recall that such an item was needed at the DMV. They don't like credit cards. No luck. Off to a cash machine and then a quick lunch. Of course Bank of America would not give Mary-Elizabeth any money. Just because we refused to open an account there as requested by the college. Boy, we showed them. We are long time members of a credit union. So off to another machine. From a credit union. That worked.

12:45 PM We walked into the DVM, after much effort, and took a number. We were lucky number 405. They were serving number 224. Oh, dear. Now what. Wait, that is what. And wait, we did. We were sort of ready to find a place to perch and someone called my name.

It was Jill McGinnis and she was also waiting. She had #372 and had been there for about an hour. She was more desperate than I for a license. Something about an inadvertent unknown licence suspension that had to be cleared up. She was amazed at what was going on. To pass the time she had made a friend of Number 400. He had tried to deal with his issue on the 12th and had discovered they were closed. ( Budget Cuts)

The level of frustration and panic in this place was palatable. The disorganization, the attitude of the staff and the anxiety of the members of the captured audience is a pot waiting to overflow. One full of sticky icky oatmeal. The staff would answer phones, not update their number, seemed to take pleasure in the process of not solving the problems. They seemed to take great joy is saying NO, NO, NO, oh let me reconsider, HELL NO.... it is translated into "sorry we cannot do that" or "come back another time to spend endless hours in hard seat (if you can get one) and wait. " How hard would it be to have a TV on a wall...-Budget Cuts you know.....

The staff has to be indifferent and ignore the people because there is no end to the line, no end to the hostility and they are required to feel lucky to "still have a job". To be fair there were about 3 staff members that smiled, worked efficiently and seem to want to do a good job. Gray haired lady was not one of them. She came back from lunch and hushed us. Like we cared about what she had to say.

Jill had spent considerable time during the morning obtaining a piece of paper that said she was no longer a bad girl. She thought that if she gave it to the nice people after waiting for a century there would be no cost. Her alternative was to use her credit card. WRONG do not pass go, try and pay with a Visa Debit Card..... ha... ha... ha.... As time slipped by and her car parked on the street came closer to certain towing.... she finally left to put more money in the meter and obtain some cash. I love Jill she was so proud of her $60.00. She was going to get out of jail and go home with a license.

Ha........ It took $100 to clear a suspension, reinstate a license and renew it (She has a birthday in October).... We were all pleased that Mary-Elizabeth found a bank machine that worked. She was finally let out of the 885 square feet of what is known as the ONLY DMV in Seattle.

Finally at 4:22 pm., we had the object of desire. A new permit. A legal form of state issued ID.

4: 45 pm. Sprint back Washington State Employees Credit Union. We decided to go to a different branch. Something silly about not giving them the satisfaction. We arrived within the appropriate time and began the process all over again, this time with PROPER ID...... ( I am sure that if Mary-Elizabeth would have just not pointed out that the ID was expired by a year that we would have been fine. She thinks that petty bureaucrats read and pay attention. I disagree.)

We provided the information and guess what? Her social security number does not work. The number does not access the data base that lets the bank see if she is a terrorist or has written any bad checks. Well she certainly cannot even write any checks since she cannot get a checking account.......... So time passes, the computer thinks, then the big question.... have you lived in Olympia? I realize that her name is never ever going to be easy. It is a constant problem. Some more looking is done and finally she is cleared. What I think is ironic would be that check writing will disappear in her life time.

We sign the papers and then they say.... do you want to order some checks they will be $10.95. I mention our day of frustration, caused by the stupid bank rules ( I am sure those were my exact words) and Mr. 12 year old New Account manager says: We could do this other kind of account but she would have to be first on the account. So for $10.95 we start all over again....

5:22 p.m. We walk out of the bank with a single piece of paper that shows a number. Checks are coming, cards are coming, pin numbers are coming. An entire day has passed. Mary-Elizabeth is exhausted. She wants a nap.

Her observation: We just sat all day and talked to people why am I tired.

I suggested that was what I do all day at work. I don't think it is the sitting, or the waiting, it is the trying to make the other people see the world your way when trying to accomplish a simple task. Dealing with Leukemia was easier because the people at Seattle Children's Hospital had their act together.

So the checks have arrived. The Permit has arrived. The Debit/Visa cards have arrived. The Social Security card with the wrong name has arrived. The pins should be here today.

All in All life is good.

Monday, July 12, 2010

The Elegance of the Hedgehog

My friend Maggie gave me the book and told me that I would love it. It has been about a year and I have been trying very hard to do so. She has always suggested wonderful books. So I read for a while, left it for a while,read some more. I took it to Vegas and decided I was not going to leave until it was done and darn it, I was going to love it.

I mentioned my issue to my good friend Lori Mann. She asked what page I was on and I told her 195. She expressed some concern about my falling in love with a book I had almost finished.

Then it happened. I read the last page and the last paragraph of the last page:

I have finally concluded, maybe that's what life is about: there's a lot of despair, but also the odd moment of beauty, where time is no longer the same. It's as if when strains of music created a sort of interlude in time, something suspended, an elsewhere that had comes to us, an always within a never. Yes, that's it, An always within a never.

I know it is a bit weird but for a lawyer's mind that sort of statement is perfect. We take the issues that seem are Never going to change and then we Always work to make it better. Same with our time in Cancer World. We always fought against Nevers.

(Karen was our Nurse Practitioner and now our great friend. We could not have made it to 18 without her.)

Friday, July 09, 2010

18 and other thoughts

I should be getting ready for work but it is cool this AM and I need to moment or two.

I am looking out the window at 9 sagging deflated balloons. There is a matching pair on the other porch post. 18 balloons. I am so so pleased to have been able to display them. 18 years, 216 months, 1008 weeks, 7056 days. Seems like a lot but we all know that in this day and age this is a drop in a person's life. A nano second in the Earth's time and a micron nano second in the universe.

I guess it seems important because I have been blessed enough to be present during the entirety of her life. Many ups, many downs but present all the same. I woke up on the 4th and began the annual ritual of remembering what was happening during the entire day. kit sort of replays in the back ground each day. My own private movie. I have multiple channels going on. Some good some bad. Some of the movies intersect like the 4th of July party during 2004 when Thomas Kim would not talk with me because he didn't want to ruin the party with news he was trying to figure out how to tell me.

She and I went to watch the fireworks on the 4th of July. While walking I looked at the phone and announced that she was finally 18 at 9:39 pm. She said she was not ready and would like to slip back a couple of years. Her pronouncement was heartfelt and a bit melancholy. I gave her a squeeze and told her that she could handle it and I was not done yet. 90% of her life was in her control and she was more than able. She smiled and gave me that "you are so full of it" look.

It made realize that she does carry some unseen scars. The knowledge that they would heal with time made me smile. I wish she did not have to wait but I guess it is sort of like the balloons, a bit deflated but still a good reminder of good times now and for the future.