My Whim is Law

…where a single parent in Portland still believes that wishing will make it so…

You can’t escape home (with an update on 8/24/2013)

UPDATE: My father lost his battle with cancer this morning – August 24, 2013. Thankfully, he went without pain and with nothing left undone. At the end of the day, we can ask for nothing less, can we?

I wasn’t going to go back there.

Not now, anyway. Or not ever, if I could help it.

I’d left Michigan 23 years ago. Left to move towards something, of course. But also away from plenty of bad memories & toxic behaviors.

And while there were also good memories mixed in with the bad, or relationships that were decidedly non-toxic – there was nothing really compelling to lure me back home.

Or so I thought. And so I kept telling myself.

But this time? The undertow – in the form of metatasized cancer throughout his body – was finally sucking my dad out to sea. I really didn’t need to see that for myself, did I?

Yes, it’s true that I left for valid reasons. But here’s the deeper truth: I was afraid to go back.

I’d fought to stay clear of the toxic, to harden my heart, to pretend it was a part of my past best left alone. I didn’t want to revisit the scene of so many crimes, buried mostly-dead, left to fester.

Except that you can only heal the past, quiet the fears by facing them head-on.

I’m writing this from a cramped middle seat on a crappy flight from Detroit to Phoenix, with long-overdue tears running down my face. I was lucky enough to spend the last two days with my family – the brother, his wife & family who’ve taken my father into their home, the sister who drove in with her brood from the ‘other’ Portland.

And my dad. For the first time in 13 years.

We didn’t have to exhume anything, drag out long-gone wrongs, or attempt to heal any wounds.

Instead, we watched football. Went through old photo albums. Ate too much food. Near the end of our visit yesterday, I went into his bedroom, where he sat in his easy chair facing the picture window. He told me quietly how glad he was that I came. How strong he knew I was, how proud he was of his grandkids. And he told me that he loved me.

And when I told him I loved him too, he said simply “I know”.

I know, too, Dad. Thank you for reminding me of what matters most.

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Damn right I’m 50 years old today. Got a problem with that?

I’ve been hearing the sniggers for days now. The teasers among y’all have been revving your motors, just waiting for the day… rubbing their collective hands together in glee.

Even my (normally) mild-mannered co-worker couldn’t resist throwing that graphic taunt my way. (Of course, he was 300 miles away before he dared fling it remotely, courtesy of Twitter.)

Guess what? To those threatening to festoon my desk area at work with coffins… to the daughter who said (with a straight face, no less) that she “just didn’t know how she’d be able to handle having a 50 year old mother – it’s HARD on me, you know!” The ones who think I can’t keep up, can’t remember, can’t kick up my heels.

Guess again.

I’m happy with where I’ve been. I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished – especially in the last year or so. (Per my doctor, my lipid panels are to die for, while I’m keeping the prescription drugs at bay.)

And if 50 means I can splurge on the occasional birthday donut from Little T – yet will inevitably follow it up with my now-daily bowl of salad greens (go, kale!) for lunch? Am limber enough that I can go dancing with my guy on a weekly basis – yet still bound out of bed the next day to take care of business (or head to the coast to go crabbing at dawn)?

Well, then – I’ll take 50. Because I’ve earned 50.

Happy birthday to me!


On using the #stupidhappys to GSD* already

Yes, I haven’t written here lately. Why? I’ve been busy already.

Doing what, you wonder?

WEEeeellll…cleaning my house, for starters. (BO-ring, says the crowd.)

Building yet another site for yet another volunteer effort or two. Surely my budding diva deserves her own vanity domain, while her jazz band could use a new shiny site as well, no? (Ahem – still boring, Richter. Got anything else?)

Getting my girl teenager off to high school every morning – which apparently requires homemade egg/cheese/meat sandwiches lovingly made with my own two hands. Thankfully, it does NOT require getting her to said school – a task I was able to set aside after 12+ years of managing school arrivals for one or both of my kids.

With that extra 20-30 minutes of peace & quiet before I need to leave for work, I’ve been knocking off small house tasks while I’m still alert enough to polish them off speedily. It’s not unusual these days to have the dishwasher get unloaded in the AM, or loaded up with dirty dishes from the AM breakfast endeavors. And the peace? Not to mention the quiet? Heavenly, after years of moving into harangue mode to prod one kid or the other out the damn door already.

And because my chores are largely done before I leave for work? That leaves evenings free to schlep @CouldBeSun home from jazz band rehearsals 3 nights a week. Build in a quick grocery store trip, or fling a load of clothes in the washer. Make food – actual edible food that’s recognizable as such – for myself, if not the kids. (What is this with all of the domestic crap, says the crowd. Get to the whole #stupidhappy part already, will you?)

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Sun Richter makes her professional debut…

…and it was a knock-out of an evening to be sure!

We have photos of Sun with Esperanza Spalding (the event’s headliner) & Hailey Niswanger, both performing as part of the American Music Program benefit concert at the Gerding Theater last Sunday evening. She even had her very first request for an autograph after the show!

But don’t believe what this oh-so-biased mother of the baby diva might say – instead, noted local photographer John Rudoff captured the event for Oregon Music News. And yep, he brought tears to my eyes with this description of Sun:

…and the diminutive Sun Richter, whose immense voice far outweighs her, stunned the audience with her blues. (“Punching above her weight” is a phrase coined for her.)

(Do click through to the OMNews article to see the rest of John’s gorgeous photography, along with his recap of the event itself…)

Not enough for you? Still need more proof? Well, this commenter on local blogger Jack Bogdanski’s post (thanks, Jack!) about the diva’s debut had this to say:

I was lucky enough to have a front row seat. Sun was fantastic. Poised and sassy.

(Damn, I knew I should have sprung for up-close tickets…!)

Of course, I had to put John’s photos into a Flickr gallery of my own.

Now do you understand why I’ve turned into such a #stagemom lately?

And I’m betting I’ll be writing posts like this one a few times more before I’m done…


Pulling out the roadie equipment for this weekend’s benefit concert!

The Kia’s got a full tank of gas? Check.

#SheTeen’s dress is already at the dry cleaners? Transportation schedules coordinated between the two co-parent taxis for rehearsals this week? Check and check.

And just why are we moving into performance mindsets already – well before school starts/band rehearsals kick in?

Well – there’s a Big Benefit this weekend for the American Music Program. With any luck, the monies raised will help offset the travel expenses that go along with the ambitious national competition plan already laid out for the band this year.

We already have Esperanza Spalding on board, no less. AMP alumna Spalding loves to support the efforts of her mentor, director Thara Memory.

And the band loves playing with Esperanza – along with the many local professional musicians & vocalists who’ll be taking part. (Watching at practices have been a who’s who of PDX jazz/soul talent, to be sure!)

But just having Esperanza jam with the kids isn’t enough to get them to Monterey. And it definitely won’t be enough to get them to NYC.

And that’s where YOU come in. Buy a ticket already to be at this show, ok?

Sunday, August 26th, 2012
Divas of Jazz at the Gerding Theatre in the Armory
7:30 pm (doors open at 6:30)
Tickets: $35, 50

Why? ‘Cause if we can’t raise enough money, I might be forced to putt-putt my little Kia to Monterey next year. And no one really wants that to happen…

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