Tuesday, June 28, 2005


The rehearsal at the church was chaotic with conflicting instructions from the wedding planner and priest for how the attendants should enter and where they should stand. To further complicate issues, our numbers were lopsided--we were short one groomsman. Behind the chaos there was a quiet whisper--the bride's brother isn't going to make it.

L was one of my college roommates. A friend of a friend to fill the extra spot in our suite my sophomore year, she had quickly become one of my best friends--someone to laugh with, to shop with, and to plan crazy stunts with. Her brother enlisted in the Navy while we were living together and I was there to share souvenirs when she came back to school from visiting him. As her wedding approached, he was still on a ship in an unspecified location.

The morning of L's wedding dawned cool and clear. After getting all dolled up, the bridesmaids were trying to pass the time at the bride's parents' house without mussing our hair or carefully applied makeup. There was a phone call as we started eating lunch and the level of tension in the house rose--L's brother was in the US. After a sleepless night spent in a helicopter, he was one quick plane ride away. Common sense said he wouldn't make it in time for his sister's ceremony, but suddenly there was a reason for seeds of optimism.

Soon our time arrived; we dressed and then helped the bride dress. The photographer arrived and we posed like supermodels. During this time, the phone kept ringing--hurried conversations indicated her brother's plane had touched down. Then there was the call trying to locate his ride and one to confirm directions. As the photographer moved on and began taking family pictures, we waited in a clump on the stairs and readied ourselves to leave for the church. There were excited murmurs and L's mother came running through the entry in her mother-of-the-bride dress and heels to clasp her son standing in the doorway. Next came his grandmother and aunt to rush to greet him. Everyone was sniffling and I had to turn away to keep from ruining my makeup.

When I turned my head back, he had stepped into the living room and was clasping hands with his sister. The light from the windows behind them was muted by sheer drapes and there was almost a halo surrounding them, her in her lace dress and veil and him in his Navy whites. Their heads leaned together, I had to blink back tears watching this unspoken moment of love between sister and brother.

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Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Fade away

I was curled up on my bed laughing with my friends T and P when my phone rang. Although we were all clustered there, far be it from a 20-year-old girl to ignore a ringing phone, so I grabbed the handset and answered it. It was my ex-boyfriend D. After humoring him for a couple minutes, I started to end the long-distance call and he countered by revealing the purpose for his call. My stomach was suddenly a knot, my hand clenched around the phone and I started to imperceptibly tremble. My smile faded and the laughter died in my chest. I shooed my friends out of my room and focused on the man in Nebraska who wanted to say goodbye to the world forever.

After spending an hour trying to highlight the positive aspects of his life, my tension eased somewhat when I heard one of my roommates come home. While my two guy friends had hung around in my common room, now there was a girl I could trust to calmly help me. Without breaking our phone connection I sketched out the situation for her and gave her his parents phone number.

I can't imagine what it was like for his mother to get a call from a girl she'd never met informing her that her son, one state from both her and I, was threatening to end his life. Aside from an affirmative report from my roommate, I didn't know whether my effort had succeeded until I heard a knock on his door on the other end of the line. I took my first deep breath in hours after he broke our connection to talk with the friend at his door.

After his follow-up phone call, letting me know that his friend had calmed him down and he would be seeing his doctor the next day, I was finally able to emerge from my bedroom. Sweaty and shaken, I got hugs from my roommate and a couple friends and joined the crowd watching TV. Being a silent member of that group, I could feel the tension drain out of me slowly and as the group broke up I followed T and couple others across the hall to have a drink and relax a little longer before I could sleep.

I dropped in at our campus mental health services office the next day and spoke with a counselor who had some time free. I related my story to him and we discussed my feelings and how I was coping with the aftermath of that phone call; I took pride in his compliment that I was very self-aware and coping well. Once I knew it was a problem with his medication, my ex-boyfriend withdrew from me for a while and I let this memory fade away... until today when I had a coworker call and ask me how to handle finding her boyfriend's suicide notes last night and going to rescue him in the dark of night. Expressing my support for her in two phone calls today, I discovered this memory was still lurking in the recesses of my mind, like D, unwilling to fade away.

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Friday, June 17, 2005

Summer 2005

A great idea from the Superhero Journal:

The summer is approaching and I am reminded of a great exercise I read in a Rob Brezsny horoscope several years ago. He told the reader to write an essay from the future entitled, 'What I did during the summer of 2005 that made me a better, smarter, happier person.'
{Well maybe it didn't say 2005, but we will} Then he asked you to mail it to him with a self-addressed stamped envelope and he promised mail the essay back to you at the end of the summer. It was like your very own transmission-to-the-future time capsule thingy.
It was so powerful for me to do this. When I received the letter back I was shocked that every single item on my list had come true. This is like magic people!

So let's take it on. Mail me your essays with an SASE and I will mail them back to you in September. Go big! Go outrageous! This is your letter to the future!
Be sure to list the thing you think you cannot have. That's where the juice is.

Andrea Scher
P.O. Box 401174
SF, CA 94140-1174

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Only in Colorado

...will you see a deer jogging down the sidewalk during morning rush hour.


Monday, June 13, 2005

Rearview mirror

My mom looked up in the rearview mirror and saw me kissing the boy next to me in the back seat. We were on our way home from visiting my teacher's farm and he was the only one left to be dropped off. We were five.

His name was Matthew Paul Miller and while I can't remember the kiss, I can remember the moment in kindergarten when he leaned over and whispered that middle name in my ear. I can remember his blond pixie good looks--my memory enhanced by seeing old school pictures.

And I can remember seeing him again when we were in middle school and I was in a math competition at his school. His blond hair darkened and his body thickened, he didn't seem much taller. I didn't say anything to him. I just hugged the memory of those moments close to me, as I still do when I look in the rearview mirror.


Tuesday, June 07, 2005


Two young tough electricians are working in our break room, shortly after our first unscheduled power outage.

1: "I can't believe that, man."
2: "Yeah, me neither. Well, let's take lunch and think about it."
1: "O.k."
2: "Souper Salad sound okay to you?"
1: "Yeah."


Monday, June 06, 2005

Mission: Still Impossible

I left on my mission feeling cheerful and determined. After my last adventure, I thought I knew what size I was looking for and finding a strapless bra in that size to complete my latest bridesmaid outfit would easily be completed in the one hour left before the mall closed--and my feeling got even better when I saw the buy 2, get 2 free signs hanging in the shop window.

Driving away from the mall with only one bra in the bag sitting next me, feeling the sensitive skin around my ribs and on the tops of my shoulders ache from trying on so many bras, I had again found none I wanted to take home with me.

This trip caused me to once more lose faith in the American undergarment service industry. While the women serving me have been attentive and diligent, excepting my trip inside the pink store, tonight found me trying on two sizes that I didn't try on my last visit--bringing the total sizes I've tried in the past month to nearly 10. How is it that something based on concrete values can vary so widely? Isn't there a way to avoid this unhappy shopping outcome?

Friday, June 03, 2005

Scarlet 'G'

Rereading my last post, I get an electric shock in my body when I read the word gifted, which I used to describe my classroom. Dread and secrecy learned from the time I was 6 are hard to unlearn. More than 10 years after I was in my last gifted class and I'm still afraid of the stereotype that label invokes in others.

When I was a freshman in high school, it was my first time taking classes in the "general" population. One requirement I had to fulfill was American Government. We discussing civic structure one sunny fall afternoon and somehow it evolved into a debate on public education.

This teacher was tall and bald--seemingly older than dirt and only slightly better-tempered. He resented having to teach freshmen and made that clear every day. On this particular day, I swallowed the knot in my throat and made a comment that revealed my gifted background.

I don't remember the circumstances, or even what I said, but quickly I found myself the only voice advocating for gifted education. There was one guy in my class--a popular blond guy--who challenged me in particular. As we argued back and forth, I felt smaller and smaller. By the time the teacher finally bothered to interrupt his apathy, I was reminded of the important object lesson that sharing my background was foolish and something that would I should avoid unless I wanted to alienate myself from my peers.

Most people will never know that those students who are identified "gifted" are as far from the average as special education students. They won't take into consideration that being identified was something that our parents and the school district did, most likely before we were old enough to know it would mark us with a scarlet 'G'. In my experience gifted students are like "normal" kids in a lot of ways and don't consider themselves any better than anyone else. Unfortunately, that doesn't stop even other elementary school students from making those gifted students feel different and isolated.

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