Where to Start?

I’m desperately in need of some catch-up time.  Let me begin by wishing the Phillies a hearty CONGRATULATIONS! on making the post-season for the 2nd straight year!  I missed the game because I was at my parents’ in Albany, making up for all their drives down to PA to inspect prospective houses for us.  I got to spend some quality time with my niece, River, who’s a total doll.  She’s at that adorable stage where they crawl around on the floor and look up at you like you’re both God and something to be used to their advantage.  I got to feed her, play with her, and we cheered together when I saw that the Phillies won on Saturday.  She had no idea why I was jumping around with her on my hip, and I doubt my sister jumps around all that much, but I’ve decided a) I’m going to make her a Phillies fan, and b) she’s going to go to either Temple or PSU.  That way she can hang out with us and we’ll all have fun together while she grows up. 

We bought a house, or at least, our offer was accepted and we’ve started the financial ball rolling.  How it’s all going to work out, I don’t know, but our closing is scheduled for November 5th, the day after the election.  Considering the debates last Friday, it’ll definitely be an interesting time in American history for all of us, for multiple reasons.  I drove the boys past the house on Friday afternoon.  I doubt it sank in for either of them, probably because we’ve done this before and it didn’t work out.  Usually taking them to see the house I have in mind is the death knell for that idea, but this time I waited ’til we had a signed offer.  It’ll be something else to take them inside and show them where their rooms will be.  (After they get out of school on the 5th.) 

It’s funny; that seems to be about it since the last time I blogged, but it’s also pretty large stuff from my POV.  Now starts the joy of packing and throwing out.  I may be 41 years old but I need to really consider what I’m going to do about my teddy bear collection.  They’re spread out across my couch now, but I don’t want to give that same “youthful” (read:  immature) image in my house, but where are they going to go that’s both safe and pleasant for them?  Until I know for sure about potential water in the basement, they’re not going there, and I’m not sure the bedroom will have enough space for all of them.  John, too, has to decide what to do with his sports collectibles.  (He promised me he’d start packing that stuff up while we were gone, but I came home to find the 2 empty boxes still empty.)  At least his stuff looks relatively adult and mature, until you get a good look at the volume of stuff he has.  That case with the ’01 Orioles starting lineup autographed baseballs is going to be the centerpiece, of course.

Ah, what fun we have ahead of us.  I guess it’s a good thing I finished the edits on Release Point, so there’s nothing else vital that needs my attention (much to my chagrin).  I know what this is all about.  It’s happened before where I was writing before a major event and my Muse shut down to let the major event pass.  It’s frustrating as all hell because just when I need to get my mind off my problems, I can’t.  Or maybe it’s the Universe’s way of telling me what I need to focus on at the moment. 

Knitting.  🙂

So Long, Old Friend

Just a quick update to yesterday’s post.  Yes, I cried.  I watched ESPN’s showing of the pre-final-game celebration and my eyes leaked for 45 straight minutes.  My all-time favorite Yankee, Paul O’Neill, took right field for the last time and I lost it.  Julia Ruth Stevens (daughter of The Babe) threw out the first pitch to Jorge Posada and I lost it.  Then when Bald Vinny got up to do the last Roll Call in the top of the first, I lost it all over again…and I clapped and chanted out the names along with him.  I’m SO grateful ESPN gave me that last chance to feel like I was a part of the crowd.  God willing, there’ll be another Section 39 in the new ballpark, and Bald Vinny will go to every single game, and then when the day comes, Little Bald Vinny takes his father’s place.  Roll Call is as much a tradition now as Yankee Stadium itself.

John insists they’re going to take down Yankee Stadium.  I can’t imagine it.  It’s a shrine to baseball as much as Wrigley Field (which I have yet to see in person) and Fenway Park (which I have seen in person, and I loved it) and even the Hall of Fame.  When do we stop taking apart pieces of our past in favor of so-called “progress”?  The cornerstone to Ebbet’s Field is in Cooperstown now.  How in the world are they going to fit all of Yankee Stadium in there? 

On the other hand, there’s nowhere to park in that part of the Bronx now.  I just can’t imagine parking my car on the spot where Babe Ruth once ran the bases.  If I were the Bambino, I’d be intensely offended.  🙂

So long, old friend.  You’ll be forever in my heart.

End of an era

Tonight is the last ever game in Yankee Stadium.  Anyone who knows me knows I’m a baseball fanatic.  (I surpassed basic fan-dom when I went to Phillies Baseball 101 for the third time and stood in line for two hours at the Phillies Phestival.  Every year for three years.)  I like football but baseball is in my blood. 

I’m emotional by nature (if you’re going to write fiction, it helps to be able to empathize with people who are different from you), but when that thought occurred to me this afternoon, I felt like I wanted to cry.  My grandfather was 13 when Yankee Stadium was built, and my grandfather died 11 years ago.  I saw my very first baseball game at Yankee Stadium.  Ron Guidry started, and Goose Gossage came in in relief.  I watched Reggie Jackson hit a home run.   The Yankees won.  That was the day my blood turned pinstripe blue. 

I’ve been to Yankee Stadium a few times.  I had no idea what was ahead of me when I got tickets to the bleachers.  I saw Bald Vinnie and heard my first Roll Call.  (Watch this if you don’t believe me.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NCcuawqy9D0&feature=related ) I cried when two hulking men stood in the 7th inning and held up a flag between them as Kate Smith sang “God Bless America”.  On another trip, I got to see Monument Park, and I touched the Babe Ruth memorial in the same place where Roger Clemens touched it before every start.  I felt the history of the place surround me like a warm, breathing coat.  I’ve seen the Mets and Yankees fans fight each other in the stands, to the point of drawing blood and mustard.  (Don’t ask.) 

I’ve seen my husband’s name on the scoreboard when I let the staff know in advance that it was his birthday.  We went with some good friends, Chris and Leslie.  John and Chris have been friends since childhood.  Chris’ birthday is in June, John’s is in July; we were going in June.  Leslie asked me to arrange for the birthday shout-out, and I figured I’d send up John’s too.  I told John I’d gotten Chris’ name put on the board, and I told Chris I’d gotten John’s name on the board, but they each thought it was a secret for the other.  When John’s name showed up in the BIG lights, he was shocked and Chris thought he was in on a really cool surprise.  Then Chris’ name showed up and John high-fived him.  Right in front of my camera.  Fortunately Leslie got a great shot of both names, and we now have an 8×10 we’ll prize forever. 

When my youngest was being born, the Yankees were playing the Texas Rangers.  It was October 2nd, 1996, and the Yankees were behind by a run, with two outs, two men on, and Bernie Williams coming to bat.  My OB sat in on the game and I said, “If he hits a home run, I’m naming this kid Bernie.”  Guess who hit a home run to give the Yankees the lead (and they eventually won)?  He wound up being named Alex instead, but some day I’ll name a character Bernie in Bernie Williams’ honor.  That fall when the Yankees won the Series, I told both my boys, “If they win again next year, I’ll take you guys to the victory parade!”  And they won again the next year, but we didn’t get to go.  A few years ago, when the Yankees came to Philadelphia to play the Phillies–I wore a Yankees cap and a Phillies shirt–Bernie stood in right field, not far from our seats.  I told Alex the story of my promise as he was coming into the world, and then I cried. 

Don’t get me wrong, I love the Phillies, and if the Yankees played the Phillies in the Series, I’d have to root for the Phillies because the Yankees have 26 World Series championships (hear that, Red Sox fans?  TWENTY SIX!  Got hardware?) but the Phillies have only one, and the Phillies’ franchise is older.  But Yankee Stadium is a piece of history that nothing on earth can duplicate, not even the “new” Yankee Stadium across the street.  (I can’t fathom what parking is like in that area now.  It was difficult before but I bet now it’s impossible.)  I pray the powers that be aren’t considering tearing it down.  You can move Monument Park but you can’t move the heart of the Yankees.  There’s nothing on earth exactly like The House that Ruth Built. 

A few years ago, we got up early on a Sunday morning in March and watched as Veterans Stadium was imploded.  The Vet was a baby compared to Yankee Stadium, but it saw its share of history.  As the dust settled and blew in the morning breeze, my husband and I watched some of it drift ghost-like over to the new ballpark.  At first I thought, “No!  That’s the evil spirits of the Vet, invading our new ballpark!”  But since the Bank opened, the Phillies’ record has improved with each year.  As of right now they’re in the thick of the chase for the NL East pennant for the second year in a row.  I don’t know if it has anything to do with the new ballpark or the ghosts of the Vet making themselves at home in CBP, but I can only hope and pray that the ghost of Ruth makes himself comfortable in the New Yankee Stadium next year.

This is the first time in my sons’ lives that the Yankees didn’t get to the postseason.  Not that they care about baseball, but since they’ve been alive, they’ve never known a year when the Pinstriped Posse didn’t play in October.  It’s heartbreaking to think that today will be the end of an era.

Politics

I’m feeling a lot better lately.  It might have something to do with being nominated for a service award from the VFRW.  I’m just grateful to get noticed, but I still plan on voting for Laura.  She deserves it SO much more than I do. 

I’ve discovered a new time-suck in the form of the Special Needs Election loop.  I’m not saying it’s not worthwhile, but it IS taking a lot of my time away from other things.  On the other hand, it’s intellectually stimulating, especially when a pro-McCain/Palin supporter comes on saying why they don’t like Obama/Biden.  The rest of us come up with reasonable concepts to combat that, to which we usually hear something like, “Yah, well, I still don’t like him.”  And that, my friends, is how W got elected not once but twice.  Either that or, as I suspect, he had people fiddling with the electronic voting booths.  I can say that with some degree of confidence because my company provides the voting machines for some states, and I know all too well that my employer is F’ed up with a capital F.  How’s THAT for biting the hand that feeds you?

But I digress.  Someone posted a link to this blog and I found it absolutely wonderful.  If you can read more than just the most recent blog post, read the one about the anti-Palin rally in Anchorage.  If I could’ve stood and cheered at the computer (and had it had any impact), I would have.  http://mudflats.wordpress.com/2008/09/14/the-ed-schultz-shows-town-hall-meeting-in-anchorage/

I’m so relieved to know there are more than just a few of us behind Obama.  (I wish the polls reflected that!)  My fear, however, is that there are lot more of “them” than there are of “us”.  One woman came on saying her choice for president doesn’t necessarily have to be smart; that there are plenty of “smart types” where she lives in Silicon Valley, and they don’t impress her.  I’m not going to say what I’m thinking, but boy, am I tempted.

Who am I?

I suppose “who am I?” is a better idea for a blog post than the usual Seinfeld-esque blog about nothing, right? 

I joined a Yahoo group designed to exchange ideas about the election as it relates to special needs children and adults.  The idea exchange has been passionate, with 5% on the McCain Palin side.  I have to admire them for sticking it out because the rest of us have an awful lot to say on that subject. 

Yesterday in an email, a friend of John’s, whom I like personally, endorsed McCain.  Once I read said friend’s anti-Obama views, I was fired up enough to want to refute every item, point by point.  The problem was, I still have a family.  The boys wanted their dinner, and when John got home, he wasn’t going to the gym because the Phillies were playing a late afternoon game, so occasionally he came into the kitchen, seeking sustenance.  This, in my mind, equates with the boys standing on my shoulder while I’m working (on office stuff or writing), asking, “Hey Mom, what’s for dinner?” every thirty seconds.  When John then said he’d make dinner, I made the foolish mistake of saying, “NO, I’ll get it.”  (My theory being that it’s easier to make it myself than have to constantly be interrupted with, “And how do I…?”)  I should’ve just pointed at the chicken and let him have at it. 

But I was REALLY fired up, and I think I made some good points against friend’s pro-McCain/Palin arguments.  (I also think friend was thinking with his little head when it comes to his views on Palin.)  I had a lot I wanted to say.  Chances are really good that he’ll disregard everything I said and vote for McCain anyway, but I wanted to be heard by someone.  Unfortunately, everyone else wanted me to do something else. 

I haven’t had any Me Time in I can’t remember how long.  That 10 minutes it takes to get to and from work doesn’t count.  John and I were in Vegas together; the only time we were apart, short of bathroom breaks, was when I went to bed and he stayed up to play slots.  We’re at work together.  I go home with the boys and keep working; he comes home from work, changes into his gym clothes, and goes to the gym (while I’m still home with the boys).  Then he comes home, cleans up, and hits the couch while I make our dinner.  (Yes, I make 2 dinners every night because John and I won’t eat chicken nuggets and the boys don’t like steak or pork.) 

The only time I can count on in a given month to have Me time is my VFRW chapter meeting.  For those few hours, I’m not Carla-Mom, Carla-honey, or Carla-can-you-do-this (at work).  I’m Carla the wannabe writer, sharing thoughts and ideas and feelings with other writers and wannabes.  I can dig down and see what’s buried inside of me, the things I have to keep hidden the rest of the time because all the other Carlas I’m required to be isn’t allowed to have her own thoughts and feelings because that would interfere with the course of everyone else’s wants and needs.  It’s why Me time is so important.   I had to skip the August meeting so I haven’t had time to Hang Out with The Girls in two months, and I miss it desperately.

Those Fridays and Sundays I take the boys to NJ to meet Phil or pick them up, I treasure that hour in the car, listening to my own choice of music, singing along wantonly, thinking about stories or plots or characters or the things I enjoy in my life or the things that worry me, and for that short time, no one else is there.  It’s what I loved about the yoga class I took.  The instructor told us that for 90 minutes, we’re not wives, mothers, daughters or anything else.  We’re just us, individuals, and it’s all about us.  Man, do I wish that class ran longer than 8 weeks. 

At the same time, I love to exchange ideas and hear what other people have to say.  I want to express myself thoughtfully and intelligently.  I want to hear and be heard. 

I started asking myself who I am and what I want.  Maybe I’m having a midlife crisis or maybe I’m just looking for my own identity.  Maybe that’s what midlife crises are all about.  I realized that part of the reason I gained back so much weight is because I’m looking to be satisfied by something in my life, and so much of my life is failing me, that the only thing I know will satisfy me is food.  (Let’s face it; exercise just isn’t fun.  It’s good for me and it makes me feel great–when I finish it–but it’s just not laugh-out-loud, let’s-do-that-again fun.)  There are some pursuits in my life I’ve been chasing for years and I still feel like I’m getting nowhere.  I need to find something in my life that can fulfill me, make me feel like I’ve accomplished something useful and personally gratifying.  Last night, that pursuit was writing a letter expressing my politicial viewpoint to someone who disagreed with me. 

I’m seriously thinking I should follow Palin’s lead and run for office.  (Without the whole barracuda attitude/insecurity complex thing.)  I’d probably suck at politics because I’m always trying to please everyone, but still, if I want to feel like I’ve effected change and made a difference in this world, that’s one way to do it.  Only problem is, who’s going to make dinner?

RNC

I’m curious to know what you thought of McCain’s speech last night.  I read the transcript of Palin’s speech on Wednesday; maybe she’s better live than in writing but I thought it was okay but nothing that would’ve convinced me to vote for her.  After last night, though, I’m really, really afraid of what might happen to this country if McCain gets elected.  Did you notice the people in the audience?  I’d bet my next paycheck that there wasn’t a single person in the crowd (except for the protesters) that makes less than $150K per year.  Either that or they were trust-fund babies.  (Maybe not all, but I’d bet a vast majority.)  I’m pretty sure no one there was too worried about where their next meal was coming from.  Every time McCain said “you” to the crowd (as in, “I’ll fight for you”), I got the feeling he was talking to the corporate America “you”, not the middle-class slave wage “you”.  He’ll probably do some great things for corporate America “you”.  

 

I read an analysis of Obama’s statement regarding McCain’s supposed tax cut not affecting over 100 million people, and it turns out, Obama was right.  McCain’s idea of a tax cut is to give a tax break to people who buy private health insurance.  AND he’ll remove the tax break from people who get their insurance through their employer.  That way it looks like you’re getting a $2500 to $5K tax break for buying your own insurance, except the insurance is going to cost WAY more than $5K per year, and people like Ryan and I can’t get private health insurance because with asthma and hip dysplasia, no insurance company will touch us.  So we’d have to keep our work-offered health insurance and the money we spend on it would be taxable income.  That helps employers because a lot of people would opt out of the company insurance plan, but it would also tax those of us that don’t.  It’s like being taxed for having a chronic illness. 

 

John read some stuff on the internet (which, granted, isn’t always true) about Cindy McCain while I watched the speech.  It seems John met Cindy when he was still married to Carol McCain.  Hmmm.  (Do I trust a man who could do that?  I wouldn’t even DATE a man who would do that.)  I wondered why Cindy looked so young; she’s 17 years younger than John.  She’s also the daughter of the founder of Anheuser-Busch, and she was instrumental in selling Busch to a Belgian company.  She has step-siblings from her parents’ remarriage but she doesn’t acknowledge them and calls herself an “only child”.  She was also connected to the Keating scandal.  When someone asked her how many houses she and John own, she said that’s none of anyone else’s business what they do with her father’s holdings.  (They have 7 houses, BTW.)  Apparently she has a thing for “rhinestone” brooches, but on Wednesday her outfit (clothes and jewelry) was worth over $300K.  Methinks this is someone who’s never been in touch with blue-collar America, and would have no idea what the average Joe’s daily life is like.  

 

What I found really scary was what McCain had to say about Bush:  I’m grateful to the president of the United States for leading us in these dark days following the worst attack in American history.  The worst attack on American soil in our history and keeping us safe from another attack that many — many thought was inevitable.  In my opinion, Bush led us into those dark days and we haven’t gotten out yet.  And did McCain forget that this war he’s so in favor of is in the wrong country; there were no WMDs and to date there still is no connection between Al Qaeda and Iraq.  Of course, Al Qaeda is there NOW, trying to get the American forces out.  

 

I might not mind McCain so much except for his arrogance.  He’s decided what’s right and he’s going to act on it.  Sure, there are claims that Obama hesitates, that he asks people who might know the situation a little better before he reaches a conclusion, but that’s what they’re there for; they’re called consultants.  If you don’t know much about foreign policy, bring an expert on board (Joe Biden ); he knows it like the back of his hand.  It’s not about being smarter; it’s about knowing who’s smarter and getting their view on things before making a decision that’s going to affect millions of people for years to come.  

 

I’m not afraid of Obama.  I think he’s smart, quick-witted and thoughtful.  He impresses me, and I trust him.  He might not have experience but he has the will and the energy to effect real change.  McCain, on the other hand, is old school, which can be good at times, but not after 4 years of George W.  I seriously fear that with McCain, we’ll be getting 4 more years of the same, and if that’s what we get, then I really, REALLY am afraid for our future. 

Special Olympics Oath

(For those looking for my post on Baseball 101, check the archives under August 26th.) 

I was cleaning out my desk this morning when I found a request for a donation from the Special Olympics.  Even though Alex hasn’t attended the games in a few years, I donate whenever I can, just because watching those kids giving everything they have for their sport brings a tear to my eye.  I wish I could be that tough. 

The other day I was thinking about a friend of mine who has 4 kids, none of whom has a single disability.  (I know 2 of her kids from the boys’ day care center, and they’re fantastic; honors program, extremely personable and community-oriented, like their mom.  Everyone who knows them thinks the world of them.)  I envied her a little; she’ll never have to think about an IEP meeting or making sure her kids are in the best possible school district because some school districts are better than others when it comes to special ed.  Around here, all the schools are terrific, I won’t deny that, but not all have an autism support program, so the ones that don’t will farm kids out to neighboring school districts.  If Alex had to ride the bus for an hour one way, he’d be one tired dude at the end of the day.

Anyway, part of me is jealous when I think of Shelly and her four perfect kids, but another part of me acknowledges that it takes someone different to raise a child with challenges.  (Or children, like my friend Carol; her two both have autism.)  I suppose I should feel special that God chose me for this job.  Someone once told me He doesn’t give us more than we can handle, and a lot of times I’ve thought He’s seriously overestimated me.  But the boys’ challenges have made me someone I wouldn’t have been if I’d had normal, “perfect” kids, and that’s okay.  It’s opened my eyes to a world I wouldn’t have otherwise known about, and really, it’s not a bad place.  You meet a lot of terrific people, being a parent of a challenged child. 

It’s why I feel like I appreciate the Special Olympics oath more than some other parents might.  “Lord, let me win, but if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.”  (Some versions of the oath take out the religious connection but I kinda like it that way, if that’s okay with you.)