I think we’re ready.

We’ve done all that we can realistically do at this point. I’ve made tons of ice.  We’re eating all that we can out of the fridge now so it won’t spoil.  I’ve frozen bottles of water to keep the fridge and freezers cold.  I have the coolers at the ready to put the every day food items so that we don’t have to keep opening and closing the fridge.  I know, I said we got a generator, right?  Well, we only have enough gas to run it for about twenty hours at this point.  Everything points to a longer duration power outage than that.  In our previous storms, towns to our south (near the coast) weren’t as heavily impacted, so after a day or two you could go down there to refill your gas cans.

That doesn’t seem like it will be the case this time.  With the storm probably making landfall in central Jersey, the impacts to the CT coastline, ten miles to my south, will be much more significant.  Hurricane force winds, serious flooding.  It’s likely that our safe ports in the last two years’ storms will be unavailable this year.

We have more things ready this time.  Camping lanterns, flashlights, plenty of batteries.  A crank radio and even a solar charger for phones and iPods.  And with the generator, if the cable doesn’t go out, we could hook up the modem and have internet.  So things will be better during a long outage.

We still won’t have heat if it gets cold.  We’ll just have to take that as it comes.  I thought about buying a portable heater but couldn’t decide; the forecast for next week isn’t horribly cold, like it was last year.  And I wasn’t sure how much power the sump would need and the fridge and if we’d be able to run both.  Now it’s likely too late to find a portable heater in any stores.  We’ll just have to bundle up if it gets cold.  I have the makings for soup at the ready just in case.  Having a gas stove in a power outage will become a major blessing.

Being on the windy side of the storm means we will not get as much rain; potentially 1-3 inches.  We can use the generator to run the sump to get rid of that in a few hours, hopefully.

So I feel like we’ve done all that we can do.  All that’s left is to just wait and see how it all shakes out.



In the Cross Hairs (Again)

Well, it’s deja vu here on the East Coast where I live, and my anxiety level is going from mild panic to full blown mania very quickly.

What started out a few days ago as a Tropical Depression that looked as if it were to go safely out to sea is now a Category 2 Hurricane with the likelihood of making a direct hit on Coastal Connecticut.  I live about ten miles inland.  Far enough away to escape major flooding and possibly evacuation orders (I hope) but close enough to be very, very freaked out about this.

I often stated in years past that this area was the safest place in the whole country to live.  We hardly ever see tornadoes, or earthquakes, and while we do get major winter storms, hurricanes are an anomaly.

Until last year, when we saw both a hurricane and an early winter storm that had major, widespread damaging effects on the area.  Both left us without power for days, and we were actually considered lucky.  Lucky in that we have city water, so even without power, we can still take a shower and flush the toilet.  Lucky in that we have natural gas, which allowed us to have heat in that water and even cook on a gas cooktop.  Lucky in that our three day outage was nothing compared to friends that were down six, seven, eight days.

We learned a lot from the two experiences, and so now, days before the storm will hit, we are already starting to get ready.  I’ve got a generator on hold at a local hardware store that I am hoping we won’t need.  A generator, while expensive and bulky and messy, can be the difference between losing hundreds of dollars of food in your fridge or your sump pump not working and flooding everything you have down there.  My husband thinks we don’t need the generator, but then he wasn’t the one carrying bucket after bucket out of our sump the last time this happened (bad knees, he has).  It was me.  And it was exhausting and terrible.

We now have solar powered chargers for our devices (somewhere, I have to find them today).  A crank radio which will be wonderful (our radio last time was a tiny transistor that didn’t even get any CT stations, we relied on NY stations, which gave us no local information.  We have lighters for the stove and a big camping lantern for the main living area.  We will spend this weekend eating our way through the fridge so that we can consolidate our basement fridge’s contents into the one that will go on the generator.

I have no hope that we won’t lose power in this storm.  It just is going to happen.  Just in time for Halloween….just like last year.

My biggest worry, actually, is that not only will we be impacted by this storm, but that my son will also.  He is living in the DC area these days, and he just has recently moved into a new apartment.  He is still surrounded by boxes.  He too may lose power and he needs to get ready as well.

At this point I don’t think there’s any way the storm will miss both of us.  I just hope and pray that it isn’t as bad as everyone is predicting.  Each news story sounds worse as the storm gets closer.  The warnings this morning are fairly dire.  I can’t be the only one who has such anxiety over things like this.

Here’s hoping all of us on the coast are spared the worst of it.

It Never Stops

I mentioned a few weeks ago that my son has recently become engaged to his girlfriend.  They’ve been dating for a year and a half, and no one is terribly surprised that this next step has been taken.  She’s a lovely girl, we like her parents, they’re both working and college graduates, there’s nothing wrong at all with this picture.


Well, the guest list.

There are days and even whole weeks that go by when I forget that my son has never met his biological father.  That we parted ways when I was eighteen years old and three months pregnant, never to hear from him again.  He’d actually said those words, they might have been the last ones he ever said to me:  “If that’s the way you want it, you’ll never hear from me again.”  It’s been more than 23 years since that day so long ago.   Ever since then, life was about my young son and trying to build a family for him.

It was a bumpy road.  I lived with my mother, who supported me while I went to college for my teaching degree, until she got sick.  She passed away just a few months after I got my teaching certificate, and then my father moved away six months after that.  It was just me and my little guy against the world, and the world was a lonely place.  It was during that time that I reached out to my son’s father’s family in the hopes that I could build some sort of a bridge for him.

In the meantime, I worked.  I taught in the inner city and built a life for my son.  I had a few relationships, nothing serious, until I met R.  We dated for a year but immediately knew that this was the Real Deal.  We married quickly and started a life together.  After a few years that tested our mettle as a couple, we added a daughter and then a son to our little family.  He got a big job and I downsized mine.  We moved a few times.  Life got busy.  Life was full.  We were a family.   So much so that I kind of forgot to keep up maintenance on the bridge.

When I finally reached back out to Z’s aunt, he was 16.  I thought for sure by then that any worries the family had over me coming to them asking for money or help were long gone.  I explained what life looked like these days, and she was glad to hear it.  However, she was still very clear that there would be no relationship between Z and his biological father.  She stated that if Z wanted to have some sort of connection with her, that would be alright.  It took him years to act on it, but finally Z contacted her and they met in person.  It was hard, very hard for me to watch that relationship build without having any input into it.  But I knew it was the right thing for him, so I stepped aside and allowed it to grow.

And now, here we are.  Z is 23 and wants to be married.  And he expressed to me a desire to invite this aunt to the wedding.

I just want to scream.

It’s not right that these people can’t get their shit together and just let my son into their lives.  The more this aunt communicates with him, the more he wants to know his father, his grandmother, any other family that he has floating around out there.  He loves having that connection, and I get that, but in so many ways it makes it so much harder for him.  He wants to be a part of their lives.  And he has this tenuous connection.  But it’s not enough.  It’ll never be enough.

So he wants to have “someone from that side of the family” there at the wedding.  In my head, I understand.  I am sure he is hoping beyond hope that the aunt will tell his father about the wedding and by some miracle, Joe will show up at the church and somehow the last twenty three years will melt away.  All the questions Z has will be answered.  All the angst, the anger, the lost hope will somehow vanish from his world.

But my heart knows that these things will never happen.  It knows that when Z sends out that invitation, the aunt will likely not only politely decline, but never mention it to Z’s father because he apparently made clear to her long ago that he never intended to be a part of my son’s life.   And Z will be looking over his shoulder all day for something that won’t ever happen, and he’ll be sad on the day that is supposed to be all about him and his joy and his life going forward.

I told him I would support him, no matter what he decides.  I can’t possibly put in my two cents on this one, because all of my emotions will messy up the whole thing.  If he invites the aunt, I will smile and hope for the best.  And if she comes, I will be surprised but pleasant.  And if she doesn’t, I will console him and help him focus on the many people who came who are also his family.  Family who have been there for him, always.

I wonder when this will stop hurting as much as it does.  It’s been 23 years, after all.  I go days, I go weeks (never more than that) sometimes without it hurting.  But then boom.  Here it comes again, raw and red and white hot, all over again.


Living Room Show

It’s been a long time coming.  Six years, four years,  two years, one year, maybe, depending on the measure you use.

I’ll back up the truck for those who may be new to my blog.

Above are photos of my living room show from last Friday with a singer named Kyle Vincent.  Kyle is an independent musician who has a storied history in the business, despite the fact that you probably haven’t heard of him.  He has toured with the likes of Rick Springfield, Richard Marx, Night Ranger, Blessid Union of Souls, even Barry Manilow.  He’s got stories that include Joe Satriani, Ryan Seacrest and Garry Marshall.  And he lives just about two hours north of where I do, right here in New England.

Rather than rewrite my story and how it weaves in with Kyle, let me share a few links:

When I First Saw Kyle (1985):

How I Caught Back Up With Him:  (1997):

First Time I Met Him (1997):

Catching Up Again (2004):

Kyle Asks Me To Design His Website (2005):

After All of That, Friends (2006):

So there’s your six years.  It’s been six years since I last saw Kyle perform, at that small club in Hamden, CT in 2006.

It’s been four years since I’ve seen him at all.  We realized at some point in our back and forth trying to redesign his website, or maybe we were working on one of the CDs that I helped him design (I did four of them for him:  Don’t You Know, Gathering Dust, Where You Are, and C Sides, not to mention a little help on his last, Best Of…So Far and the artwork for his Live DVD….not that you asked….but I am kinda proud of them) that he lives two hours from here, which means we could each drive just one hour and have an in person work session.  Which we did several times in 2008.  That’s the last time I saw him, four years ago.

Two years ago we talked about redesigning his website for the third time since I started work on it.  I had totally redone it in 2005 when I took it over, and then again in 2009 when we did the Where You Are CD.  By 2010 the site was already feeling out of date, and we started looking at options for a new look.  I put something together that I loved, with Flash and all sorts of bells and whistles. But see, Kyle’s a perfectionist and I get frustrated easily.  It’s a bad combination.  So after him not liking it as much as I did, we stopped working on it for a while.

Last year, we did the same thing.  I again came up with several options that I felt would really fit his needs.  He liked it enough to let me fill in the site nearly completely before he realized that he was going to have to live with this.  And he couldn’t.  So again, we stopped.

Finally, after nearly a year of not only not working on the site, but barely communicating with each other, we reconnected via email last summer and tried again.  I put together not one, not two but three full and complete websites that ended up getting nixed.  But then finally Kyle suggested one last try.  And that one last try ended up being the keeper.

In return for the six, four, two or one years of back and forth, Kyle suggested another living room show in my hometown.  This time I decided to go for it in my own home.  I invited a bunch of girlfriends and called it our Girls Night In Living Room Show.

It was a blast.  Kyle was charming, he was self deprecating, he was just enough sexy.   And somehow, it was kind of an amazing event watching someone from My Former Life find a new home in My Current Life.  With My Current Friends in My Current Home.  They all loved him, and now they kind of get a little bit why I have somehow kept a connection with this guy for over 20 years.

The best part?  Watching my twelve year old daughter listen and connect with his music.  When he sang the words, “I’m somebody….just not who you wish I were…and that’s OK,” I could see the flash of recognition in her eyes.  You know the one.  The one that happens when you can pull a song in and relate it to your own life.  And when he sang “It’s only you who believes in….yourself,” my own tears fell, watching her, thinking of her and her struggles and hoping she too “will dance again.”  I remember being twelve.  I remember that feeling of music saving me, pulling me out of the awfulness that was my every day life.  I don’t know if Kyle’s music will be that for her, but it was wonderful to share it with her, regardless.

Somehow, taking something that I am excited and passionate about and sharing it with my friends, with my daughter, and seeing them finally get it was so incredibly special.  And amazing.  Also, inspiring.

And also?  Knowing that with those special people in your life, those who you are connected with, who are meant to be a part of your journey somehow….knowing that they will always be there, even if there are six, four, two, one year spans in between their place there?  That part?

That was just…everything.

Mean Middle School Girls

One of the themes that reigned supreme for me as a positive take away from my Fitbloggin’ conference was that we are in control of ourselves, but no one else.  We can control a lot by thinking all of the myriad of choices we have during the day, but we have to understand that sometimes Other Stuff happens that is absolutely not our fault and not in our control.  In those situations, all we have is our response.  We can control our response to a bad situation (What’s that saying?  10 % in life is what happens to you and 90 % is how you react to it?  One of my favorite quotes.).

Anyway, this was relevant not only to me, but as a great discussion point for my daughter, who is still struggling with Being A Middle School Girl  (See this post, ugh).   My daughter has this awful problem of wanting everyone to like her (can’t imagine where she gets it from) and last year she had finally found a group of girlfriends.  Three other girls that were in most of her classes who all seemed to value her and really enjoy her company.  But then, somehow, her need to be Liked By Everyone got in the way and she did some things to damage the friendships.  I tried to coach her all summer as to how to repair the damage (made so much worse by the constant stream of video chats, typed chats, texting and group texting that occurs, since it so much easier to be mean and be misunderstood that way), and during the summer we seemed to have made some headway.

But when school started, it all fell apart.

My daughter went from being a valued friend to someone they enjoyed picking apart, piece by piece.

She would go up to their table in the lunchroom, and they would proclaim it full.  One of the girls was in most of my daughter’s classes but mysteriously got switched by the second day of school.  And there were constant messages about sleepovers and get togethers that my daughter was not invited to.   Daily, my daughter would ask via text:   “What did I do?  What can I do differently?  I want to be friends again.”

Sometimes they’d ignore her.  Other times they would coach to be more like her former self.  Other times they would be downright rude:  “Shut the fuck up.”  Finally, I told my daughter, enough.  These are not friends you want to have.  These are people who are taunting you to see how much they can pull on the puppet strings.

This week, my daughter won a spot in the school play, “The Miracle Worker”.  Eighty kids tried out, including two of the girls in her former friend group.  My girl won a named role.  One of the other girls was placed in the ensemble and the other one didn’t make it.

You can see this one coming from a mile away, right?  The one who didn’t make it immediately started talking smack about my kid at school, saying that the character my kid is playing is mean and bitchy, just like my girl.  Of course since my kid is a Middle School Girl, this was reported to her.  And my kid decided that was it for her.  She confronted this girl who was talking smack about her.

Bullies don’t like to be confronted.  They get mad, really mad.  And it’s never their fault.  Never.  It’s really pointless to try and deal with them, because you’ll never change their minds, but you always want to prove them wrong.

Except you can’t.  When people have their minds made up, you can’t deal with them at all.

So when I came home from work yesterday, I found my daughter staring at a screen and crying.  Why are the so mean?  Why is it my fault for saying something when this girl talked smack about me so everyone could hear at school?  Why do they keep bothering me so much if they don’t even like me?

And after my experiences last week, I knew exactly what to say.

“You can only control yourself, and your reaction to people.  So don’t give them any more power by trying to make them like you.  It’s their loss.  You are smart, you are pretty, and you just won a big part in the play.  Focus on the good in your life right now and leave the negative behind.  People won’t believe their trash talk when you show them plenty of evidence to the contrary every day.”

Being a Middle School Girl sucks.  What sucks even more is that the lessons that apply to her are ones I am still trying so hard to internalize myself.

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