…voodoo that i do

Midway through an illness is a bad time to discover allergies to a medication. An itching episode ensues and I wonder if it’s the illness or the meds. Bugs are an integral part of life, but images of them crawling all over, should be a side effect of stronger medicine than cough syrup.

Dandelions are fondly remembered as one of my first allergies and fuchsia-dyed pistachios brought on rashes of the same color. If there had been a medical allergist available in my youth, I could have paid for his cabin cruiser.

Far from being a sickly child, my parents knew before the specialists, that my reactions were excitement related—too much of anything brought on hives. It’s a great evasion tool for a kid, “I think this broccoli is making my throat itch…”

My small town doctor—the last, best physician in the industry—prescribed avoidance therapy. Pistachios were an easy miss but back before herbicides, dandelions weren’t, so I spent a lot of time with my best buddy Benadryl[1], sitting in the evening chill, breathing deep and humming calm mantras.

I’ve discovered more things that make me itch as I age, but it’s never something to my advantage like dust mites or animals. “Oh shucks, can’t do dusting or pets. Tichoo! Tichoo!”
Due to a physician aversion, (I must be allergic to them) I don’t do conventional scratch tests—instead I do an itch test. When I swell up and prickle unceasingly, the quest for the culprit begins!

To me:
Tonight a combination of parsley and latex[2] made me the gyrating life of the party with my red face and full-body itch. Last week it was mango. What’s up with me! T.

Anaphalaxysis, (that means itching and swelling unto death) is a side effect of some of my allergies, but I’ve only had to resort to the shot once or twice. The hyped up feeling and buzzing, twitching aftereffects make it almost worthwhile.

Reality Bite: Allergies are contagious. The husband just woke with a full-body antibiotic rash. I tried to convince him that it was sympathy pains, akin to the weight gain he suffered while we were pregnant.[3] Both itching, Terribly T

[1] Brand name meaning “just-be-glad-we-renamed-it.”
[2] Don’t you know that’s how they invented Playtex?
[3] Men! What does it mean when they stare at you with that furrowed brow while shaking their heads side to side?

…witch doctor

I’m now allergic to all the good stuff—codeine, and all its derivatives, so I’ll never make a good addict. But, they aren’t on my list of self-meds anyway. I’ve limited myself to what medical doctors call OTC’s. (Over-the-counters. Just picture a desperate me hurdling over the counter after them.)

I’m forced to self-diagnose because doctors are the only vocation that avoid their busiest working hours. The world gets sick after five on Thursday, all day Friday, and every weekend… so doctors go golfing.

They universally object to house calls between the hours of midnight and four, and that’s why I self-diagnose—and because a woman’s primary physician tends to specialize below the belt and my pet illness, strep, isn’t in their area, so rather than keep four or five different specialists on retainer, I practice “physician heal thyself.”[2]

While medical doctors don’t worry too much about people treating themselves to a selection of colorful bottles from a drug store, it’s surprising how nervous they get when they find out that you are dabbling in alternative remedies—particularly when it involves veterinary meds.

To me,
As the niece of two nurses, who are the children of a nurse, who is the daughter of a nurse, the daughter will be well suited to fill my shoes… I hope she does it quickly, before I’m sick in them. Is that too many details? T.

I'm the family’s certified witch doctor and can usually diagnose the entire tribe, but if it’s a tough bug, I probe the children’s pediatrician at their disease-of-the-month visit, and then I perform my own voodoo, mixing, measuring and dispensing the medicinal concoctions.

Then getting the medicine down the throat involves performing another convoluted song and dance of contortionistic[2] mumbo-jumbo until the patient convulses with laughter and the mouth is wide open.

To me,
At preschool pick-up, I mention how sick I’ve been all week and a friend asks, “Did your husband have to take time off? Are you still driving the children? Have you seen a doctor? Are you getting any rest? Does your husband cook? Can you breathe yet?”

To each question, I snort no, and then she nods knowingly, “So, things went on the same as usual?” T.

Sickness can’t get us down! Women aren’t allowed to succumb to sickness. We must stuff another packet of tissues, a barf bag and a wider variety of self-meds in our purses and go about the business of busi-ness.

Reality Bites! Another girlfriend who had cancer, once said, “It doesn’t make any difference, you are expected to just go on …unless you die.”

[1] Sounds like Shakespeare, doesn’t it? We’ll blame him til someone else calls and claims credit.
[2] It’s not a word? How can that not be a word?

...it’s ugly

To me,
An internote
[1] that I was spammed begins, “It’s great to be a woman because men’s underwear has no deceptive powers.” …well, I laughed. T.

To penetrate my witless mind, oblique references usually have to do the flamenco atop my head, but this time I think I got it!

This internote refers to the delusions perpetuated by brassieres and infers that men are the reason that women have to run around in falsies, advertising anyway. I don’t know of anything that confuses women as easily as the elementary food source confounds men.

It’s possible that I may have missed the boat entirely on this issue, because I’ve noticed that as women everywhere are leaning forward to shake themselves into their bras, I am only wearing one to identify the direction that I’m headed—to decide whether I’m coming or going. (It makes life so much easier when I can just glance down.)

To all my fam,
I’m thinking of ordering a custom bra from a covert military magazine. In addition to a compass, I’ve opted for adding the GPS feature,
[2] the optional listening device, and the elusive front closure.
Anyone else interested? Let me know, ‘cause I could get a volume discount. T.

I do not purposely set out to misrepresent anything, but in order to achieve my objective, (to accurately determine my direction) I am forced to wear a slightly exaggerated size. But, I am not alone; it seems that sixty percent of Americans are also wearing bras that don’t fit.[3] I had no idea so many other female persons are also lost!

As a member of such a high focus group, I feel that I’m qualified to state that sixty percent of all bras are misfits because they have been manufactured to fit a species other than women. I know because I’ve tried them all!

To me,
Did you know many women are forced to put their bra on backward to clasp and then jerk it around front to back? This is because as we age, it becomes impossible to reach around to the middle of the back to the fastener?

Not you yet? Just wait. Why don’t we insist on front fasteners? Or do what I do and continue to wear it backwards. Always thinking! T.

I do use mine primarily as a compass, (wouldn’t it be great if a bra really did beep as I turned due north) and so size and fit are really irrelevant.

And don’t talk to me about implants, I’m already unrecognizable in the mirror. Besides, I’m not about to change my shape as that would guarantee flat as the latest upcoming fashion! (Ya’ll can thank me later.)

This is because I’m prefad[4]. I bring in the trend, preempt it and make it happen! I’m prehip, prediva, and prefabulous.

Reality Bite: Prehysterical too.

[1] Wordsmith! I expect this one will grow as big as the net.
[2] Global positioning satellite
[3] Another fascinating statistic from Oprah!
[4] Ha! And you thought I would forget to explain. Oh, I already discussed this? And it’s detailed again in Book One? Oh.

…what must come down

Unlike the stockmarket, life’s downswings are easy to predict. I forecast the inevitable downturn, just as the innocent and happy ascent begins. If we were true to ourselves, we would acknowledge that bright and happy moments are sick and sad portends of things to come.

It's true. Physicists, economists and eternal pessimists all know the unmitigated truth to life: What goes up, must come down.

To me:
I can tell if it’s going to be a good day by the dawn. If the early morning writing goes badly then there is no way to go but up, and in that case, I’m all for putting in my two torturous hours of typing and then abandoning it. A bad day of writing means the whole rest of the world is beautiful.

That’s my rationale for spending a whole day writing on my good days. I recognize that if I’m on a roll, I should just stay at it and ignore the whole terrible disaster that threatens around me.
Go figure. Terina

…the flake

To: realmom@stake.out
Is there a law in most states, against marrying—like the one against cousins marrying to avoid birth defects—if your mother has been declared hopelessly incompetent and forgetful? Is that possible? I’m really worrying about this one and I need reassurance. Write back... now! Again, desperately seeking… Terina

On-demand therapists are what my friends, family and even total strangers have become. Anyone who ventures within hearing must listen to my newest foul-up. It’s become the job of those around me—even sometimes the unsuspecting bystander—to pick up the pieces, put me back together and set me back on track to continue with life.

To me,
Today’s goof happened when I was at a daughter function and another young lady came up to me and in a whisper, reminded me that I was responsible that day for my daughter’s spotlight in her young women’s group.

“…just a short letter from you and her father telling her how great she is and then another note with cute anecdotes, so we can get to know her better and guess her identity...”
I hear water running. Back in a few, T.

Most instant-psychotherapists, when faced with this dilemma, reassure me by relating stories of their own to halt the self- flagellation and try to make me feel better. It’s a weak, “I’m-as-whacked-as-you-are,” assurance, because no one could ever top me. They attempt to reassure me that today’s blunder is understandable and “should expected from a person so busy and so involved.”

Could it be that I subconsciously seek out fruits and nuts of my same genus to reassure me that I’m not the only split pea in the pod,[1] and to inveigle myself into their lives to see how they cracked they are?[2]

To me:
This young girl had called ahead and warned me two weeks previously and I had immediately placed it in my mental memory, under the main folder, titled Forget!
Twice more in a three-hour period I was reminded and twice more I forgot. I could take two pages to explain how muddled a mélange my mind is, but suffice it to say, I was thinking about other things. Later, T.

I’m trying to identify with unique individuals to appreciate their eccentricities and assure myself that I’m just like them…well, in an individual way, and they are just like me… well in a communal way. But most importantly, I want to reach the point where we get to know each other so well that we like each other.[3]

To me,
So I end up at the youth meeting, in front of twenty young women hiding my blushing face behind a too-small sheet of paper while the spot-lighter explained that she would highlight this girl, but it was impossible because her mother was not forthcoming with the information.
The group unanimously guessed who the girl was. My reputation precedes me. Blushing, T.

I must face it; no individual is as oddball as I am, so I have to learn to appreciate me. When I do, that means others are forced by the dictates of polite society to reciprocate in kind, right? Yeah! We do all fit in.[4]

To realmom@stake.out
Hey, family, so I’m just wondering if sweet innocent girls with flaky mothers are allowed to wed if there is no possible way the mother of the bride can be that organized? I promise I’ll remember all the little details, but probably not the big ones.

My daughter reassures me that on the way to the wedding, she will call me an hour before the ceremony and remind me that the groom will be by to pick me up. And not to worry, she will have my dress. Whew! Terina

Reality bite: No, it’s not fair for my children to be saddled with me, but I remind them, “That’s Life, It’s not fair. You can choose your friends, but not your mother.”[5]

[1] Reality television helps
[3] If that’s too deep, or just plain confusing, skip it.
[4] An issue left over from the teen years.
[5]I mangled this one personally.

…personal paradox

In my constant quest for stability, I seek balance in many issues that catch me off guard and knock me for a loop. These issues make me go, “Huh?” with that quizzically wrinkled brow, and an incredulous look.

It’s my quest, however, to understand my fellow beings, so when I overhear or read something tweeks my interest—when my head snaps around and my eyebrows raise—I must follow up!

To me:
Go right ahead and insist that green M&M’s be served for breakfast. We’ll change the word, “groupies” to “entourage” just for you, and then we’ll venerate your underwear and sell it on ebay.
But this only happens to the “famous,” the rest of us are only indulged at this level until we reach our terrible two’s. Seeking clarification, Terina

Some of the topics that pique me are obvious distortions because from a simple glance, their left or right leanings are easy to spot, but others are perfectly straight-forward and those I review under the magnifying glass to expose the plumb that is half a bubble off.

If I write about an issue that I find totally off kilter, I can usually realign my center and find better balance.

That’s the purpose of all my writing—just trying to retain my equilibrium as a stable member of society in the fluctuating insanity of the world. I could reclude and wander the house muttering about the strangeness of everyone else, but I’m not rich enough to pull off eccentric. So instead I’ll write my opinions and evaluations and compare the mystery to the strangeness of myself. Then I’ll send my essays to everyone I know. (Just in case you too were wondering how you ended up on this list.)

Reality Bite: Just struggling to find my place and fit in.

…pretzel loop

Speaking of lost… Great segue, no? Most of the challenges I face in life are self-inflicted, like my driving.

I’m lost again and isn’t my fault… entirely. I drive back and forth; round and round and I’m surprised when I find myself back at the same place.

I don’t mind asking for directions, but I think I must have a tattoo on my forehead that glows when I’m lost that says, “Go ahead—confuse me more!” I wonder if it blares that I am left brained, or right brained, or perhaps no brained whatsoever.

Remember the rest stop in that dumber than dumb movie where the two guys get turned around?[1] It’s in Kansas, I know because I’ve been there and I’ve done it! In the middle of a twenty-four hour road trip, I got off and got back on, headed in the opposite direction.

Reality Bite: Oblivion is a great place to visit, but try not to live there.

[1] I’m not in the mood to pay for rights to remember the correct title here.


When I admit that I’m lost, it’s no big surprise to anyone. For me, lost is a permanent condition—more than just a directional disability. I give up and ask directions only after I’ve explored all other alternatives and circumnavigated the lengths and breadth of the twilight zone.

Directions don’t help because I’m still wandering about searching for the reference points from my latest rescuer who thought he could use a GPS (Guy’s Play Stuff) locator—the newest high-tech gadget for location. “At latitude 68, longitude 54, turn magnetic North and drive to mile marker 357. Then turn West and drive 6.258 kilometers northeast.”

I see how it may be invaluable during a game of international hide and seek., but for big city driving, it’s a failure. It does nothing to alleviate the real problem which, as close as I can tell, is the fact that the earth itself is tilted.

I’ve considered implants—of the directional variety. If anyone ever needed a permanent locator it would be me… not to locate myself—I also suffer from THHD, (Technologically helpless, hopeless disorder,)—but to help someone else locate me and decipher my ramblings.

The cell phone thingy helps. Today when I got lost, I called for directions. It still took an hour for somebody to figure out where I was, but I have the “stay connected to friends and family plan,” thank goodness.

Reality Bite: Size doesn’t matter. Today’s landmark was a 90-foot radio tower off to the side of the road and I still missed it.

…familial compass

When I’m driving with the family and I begin to show inklings of rambling, my on-board support team surges into action. The oldest child yells, “Everybody quiet!” while the next one chimes in, “Lost, again, Mom?” One salvages a map from the depths of the fetid floor coverings, while another calls in the cavalry (their father) who is mobilized online electronically for just this eventuality.

When short errands turn into lengthy voyages, the little one revises his original complaint of, “Are we there yet?” to wonder, “Are we lost… yet?”

To Me,
From this day forth, I’m going to be proactive and recommend that all directions include not only, “You know you are on the right road if…” but also, “...and I'll know I’m in the wrong place when …” It works. T.

...futility exercises

Sometimes when I’m lost, and I need some reassurance, I like to pull into a parking lot and watch people amble by, looking for their cars. Somehow this exercise becomes my symbol of companionship—a sort of impromptu support group—that builds my confidence and reassures me that here, I fit in perfectly.

To me: I’m desperately seeking the support structure that was my foundation. Crumbling in Okefenokee, Okmulgee, or Ogalala, where ever I am OK, Terina

I watch these fellow seekers as their confident stride falters, slowing to a hesitant shuffle and all the while, the head turns like a broken compass bobbing back and forth seeking magnetic north. [1]

As the scene plays out, I use their success or failure as portend of my fate—a magic ball to foretell the end of my trip. Either I will have eventual success or I should stop right now and go home. It’s nice to have some small hand in my own destiny. With their outcome, either heartened or disillusioned, I drive off into my day.

Reality Bite: Ha! I’m not the only one. When my friend goes to the restroom in a restaurant, her family knows to retrieve her from her kitchen inspection, and redirect her back to the table.

[1] All of life's problems stem from disregarding magnetic north, (except for those directly related to the breaking of the universal clean-underwear rule.)


Being lost isn’t all bad, sometimes it takes me to places that I could never imagine—to beauty unparalleled. I see firsthand scenery that would flash by virtually unnoticed if I were in a hurry.

I’ve decided that one can be mad and lost or one can choose to be happy and lost. It’s all about one’s attitude and not at all, ever, about being totally oblivious.

I am going to change my attitude and enjoy the view as I pass it—again going the wrong direction—repeatedly, for the fifth time.

Dear Sis,
Sorry about the extra mileage. Tell your husband that while he blissfully slept in the backseat, I really enjoyed the four hours of uninterrupted talk time with my sister.
It wasn’t really my intent to disrupt his dreams of Yellowstone Park with the reality of waking up in Montana. I don’t remember turning left instead of the right, but if was fun to meet that nice man at that last-chance bar and grill. He gassed us up and redirected us down that dirt road and then we made great time. Give your aghast one hugs for me, Terina

Upon first appearance, the road of life doesn’t appear too complicated (and certainly not as convoluted as I’ve been accused of making it.) Life can be compared to an enjoyable jaunt across the country. One expects on such a lengthy journey that there may be minor stops and starts, but I’m working to get from here to there while enjoying myself. If that is my destination, I’m just going to have to accept life's little detours.

Reality bite: That and the little bobble head glued to the front dash are the essentials in life.


To me,
Life’s problems are like a Moebius loop—spiraling around and around, unending. Whee, T.

I adapt to all the little twists and curves of kismet, fate, luck, doom, karma, (whatever it is that each of us tend to title life’s little ups and downs) by talking and writing about these calamities. Therapists call it active participatory therapy, I call it venting.

I use this therapy to identify problems and then I write to defuse these stressors. It’s about then that I realize that writing is the stressor.

Writing should help me loop through the conundrums of life and garner solutions, but it’s become an endless cycle. I sort through past years of garbled vicissitudes[1] and discover that my life requires constant clarification and urgent revision!

So I write more! It is then that I realize that this idea of writing therapy is not new; it’s been around for centuries. I expect it to work about as well for me as it worked for Poe.[2]

Reality Bite: “All that we see or seem is but a dream within a dream.”[3]

I plan to continue to twist and record my adventures until I either confuse or convince myself to do otherwise. I’ll shoot along this track pell-mell, encouraged by the idea that I’m making some therapeutic headway.
In lieu of that, I fully expect that my writing will explain my eccentricities to my progeny. I can picture them now. “Remember how Grandma got lost every time she ventured beyond her back yard?” Well, now they will have my response in perpetuity.

Reality Bite: Don’t explore anything too deeply, it’s not safe.

[1] Abrupt or unexpected changes or shifts often met with in one’s life, activities or surroundings. (Webster) Isn’t that word great here?
[2] Edgar Allan, if you’re still too young to have revisited 8th grade lit. homework.
[3] Yup, I have an 8th grader, obviously.


LaGoon Utah, 2008. This ride was closed for repair while we were there. They were filling the cars repeatedly with employees to test it and see if it was ready to open to the public. Talk about hazard pay!!!

I look forward to a momentary break in the craziness of life, something like the sidetrack on the roller coaster—the calm straight section of the ride that grants a momentary pause in the ups and downs. This diverts the rider’s mind from the nasty vertical spin.
After the gut wrenching chaos, the switch over to the sidetrack can stabilize things and once again all can be well with the world… at least until the next slide. T

I’d like to think that the answer to, "Why me?" is not always "Why not you?" I like to think that I am involved in this constant upheaval of parenting because I’m so good at it, but the bottom line is that you don’t have to be "good" to be a parent nowadays, you just have to be willing to attempt it.

Confuse and confound is a successful parenting tactic. I distract the two-year old during the immunization visit and confuse him when at four, I attempt to answer his myriad of questions.
At six he is easily redirected when he wakes from a nightmare. At ten, I can still mystify him when I bombard him with intricate and valid excuses to his querulous “why-nots?”
Why is it then, that I sit back baffled as the teenager demonstrates how well he has mastered any and all of these sidetracking techniques?

If you can’t be good at it, at least be good at the deluding yourself that you are good at it. I am good at being a parent, if being a parent means being a professional manipulator—the side tracker or the spinner…
I'm the best!

I am a professional side tracker. It is a tactic that I acquired and perfected early as I pinched the child on the left thigh at the same time as the nurse administered the shot from the right. By the time he/she/it had discovered what was going on and responded, it was too late and the trauma was all over.

But, I didn’t realize how good I was until the daughter called yesterday. She was babysitting for the neighbors and she began the conversation with, “I’m going to be a great Mom and I owe it all to you.”

My mind leapt. After all, doesn’t one strive all one’s life for that, “Thank you for teaching me…” call?

She continued, “I’m a great manipulator.”

My mind blanked out and I mumbled the standard response to parental shock, “Would you care to expound?” while I got my mind around the true and immediate response, “I-can’t- believe-you-meant-that,” “What-are-you-thinking,” and “What-have-I-created?”

She continued, “It was time to leave the swimming pool and when the children balked and they insisted that they stay, I responded, ‘That’s fine, I’m sure they have somewhere you can sleep.’”
“Then, Mom, I started packing up and looking around. Then I said thoughtfully, ‘Maybe the showers? You could sleep in the showers, but I don’t know where you would eat?" As I continued to pack, I went on, "They probably turn off all the lights and go home, so probably there wouldn’t be food, or a nightlight… or anything.’”

She gushed onward, “Wow, Mom, by the time I finished, I was out by the car and the three of them were buckled up, inside and ready to go.” “Am I good or what?”

Yeah I guess so. I guess it’s okay to outline the simple and natural consequences in such a clear and logical way. But manipulation… is that what it was?

Reality Bite: And 'til now I thought I was so subtle.


If I consider that nothing stays the same—that life either progresses or regresses, then shooting for improvement should become my watchword.

When life changes, I try to aim forward but sometimes the momentum prevents that. I must reconsider the phenomena of change as an opportunity to be progressive, not just flail about in a never ending helix.

My life digresses and just when I believe I am headed comfortably in a certain direction, surprise, surprise another cog is shoved into the works.
My youngest inventor reminds me that adding another cog usually makes the whole thing run backwards. About face, T.

If I strive to accept change and choose to move forward, no doubt I will soon find myself careening at a breakneck pace and unable to avoid the curves that come with the downward slide. This causes slips and slides, twists and twirls in unplanned directions. As I whirl past these life-altering stages, I wonder… Why me? And then I remember, Why not me!

Reality Bite: I know why the luge event is always seeking willing participants.

…self check

Challenges encourage me to take stock of my life with military precision. I reevaluate and perform a self-check.
"Do I have what it takes for this particular challenge?" "Am I prepared for what is to come?" "Most importantly, how do I marshal the troops to assist?"
Challenges, even national emergencies, require meticulous planning and of course a trip to the supermarket!So, off I go, T.

It’s deceptively alluring, the promise at the self-check-out. “It’s easy, just Scan, Sack and Scram.”

I try to ignore the voice in my head saying, “Don’t go there”.

To me,
You know that I don’t listen to the voices in my head. I ignore their advice, because I can’t sort out the devil on my left shoulder from the well-meaning advisors on the right.
I’m not sure which of them are acting as rescuers from my misadventures. Is it a guardian angel rescuing me, or the devil, assured that I'll make even more mistakes. T.

At the superb-market, I stand in the check-out line long enough that the enticement becomes too much and I can ignore the prompting no longer! I wander over in front of the machine. I can self-check! How hard can it be? “Welcome, please begin scanning.”

Wow! I’m here and it’s all-knowing. I eye my cart… I have fruit, which can be a toughie for even a seasoned checker, but I persist. Other hazards threaten to complicate things, one item has no UPC code, another has two, and while I am waiting, “Please wait for assistance,” I must remember not to lean on the bag scale, “Please remove unscanned item.”

I ignored the voices as a coping tool that I perfected back in the era of questioning four-year olds. I am at that stage again, in my life where I need to tune in to the noise, just in case the utterance may be the rare voice of the teenager.
If I continue these self-checks, I’ll catch what is really important and be more in tune with my true self, then I can always bury the listening skills until I need them again as a grandmother.
Kick me, T

I’m now hearing more voices in my head, “Please rescan item,” “Please place scanned item in the bag.” “Please wait to remove bag from shelf,” “Please stop banging your head against the credit card sweep.”

At this point, I’m just passing stuff across the all-knowing, all-seeing window and flinging it haphazardly in the general direction of my cart while the machine intones over and over, “Please step away from the booth and keep both hands in the air.”

I leave the store with my sanity barely intact and as I race to the car, from a distance I push one button to shut off the alarm, another to unlock the doors and still another to open the back hatch. I have James Bond’s car that starts itself and picks him up at the door—at least I’m sure mine would, if I could just figure out the remote. But, just now though, the doors are flapping open and shut, up and down and it’s like a great bird, struggling to catch wind.

Writing is a great self-check. As I try to make sense of myself, I can see many things in retrospect that I should change. There are many more self-checks that I should perform daily. My big mouth is the most important. Why can’t I put it into check? Why can’t I just muzzle it? T.

Reality Bite: Could be because I abandoned the roll of duct tape in the store cart.

I manage to slide into the vehicle between door slams, and as I tame the fracas and settle myself in, I hear another unearthly voice, “Please secure the safety belt.” And the thought crosses my mind… "Around my neck?"

Reality Bite: I guess I don’t have to worry about hearing voices until I start doing anything I’m told.


Once upon a time, I thought that if I couldn’t avoid the chaos completely, I could at the very least ease the topsy turvy tumult with careful plotting and judicious planning.

But, no, it seems that just as I manage to get my arms wrapped around the T-bar that grounds me, the ride takes off at a different speed, in an entirely new direction.

I must not complain. Stress is energizing! I work best under the influence of adrenaline. Boredom bores me! Having nothing that is dangerously foreboding or urgently pressing threatens my sanity!

My bold nature thrives on change and I am constantly racing toward it headlong. I am a thrill seeker, whose most daunting fear is repetition! It’s in my blood. Unfortunately it is also in the blood of my children.

“Yet’s do it,” is the mantra of the four-year-old who can’t wait to bike to the top, slide to the bottom, nail this to that, then plug it in, and after that, "let’s mix it all together and see if it blows up. " What will I do when he’s a teen? T.

... ripe

Although I seek variety and spice, I would like to have a hand in selecting which challenges I face. If I could plan for major life events as if I were riding the sky ride at the amusement park—floating along above the raucous crowds, evaluating the challenges ahead—then I could aim better and know how to arm myself for the barrage to come.

If I could float along above it all, I would be insulated from the noise in the distance and reassured by the gentle sway of the seat. Viewing life from a distance makes all tribulations—even the highest roller coaster—seem manageable.
I could make objective decisions from this distance. I would look to whatever was ahead and I could pick the next ride--the most vibrant and approachable destiny—one that appears to fall within my limited expertise and from this distance I could gauge which challenges to attempt only on an empty stomach or perhaps to avoid entirely.

I saved all year for this trip. (This means I scavenged the change from the annual accumulation on the nightstand, the top drawer, and from the dryer.) I took it in bulk to the amusement park and dispensed it from pocket and purse, for popcorn and cotton candy and at the duck food dispenser, my goal—to rid myself of the encumbrance.

The day goes on and the bag on my arm slowly empties as everyone else fills up with candy apples, hot dogs, snow cones and lollipops.

Change can serve a good purpose, or I could maintain status quo and use my rudimentary coin collection as a paperweight to flatten the chaos running amok in my sock drawer! T.

I realize that this wish cannot be granted—that nothing this pleasant ever lasts very long and the delusion flees as my mind returns and the chair drops me back down to mill with the masses in the vast human crush of reality.

I fling change at the parking attendant, and to the fairway vendors, but I drop nothing smaller than quarters for the street sweepers, or it won’t even be worth their efforts to bend over.
This plan might work better in a change-starved third world. T.

...risk and character

It takes so little to make someone’s day. A buck or two in quarters scattered on the path encourages the street-sweeper to head to the nearest slot with his stash, because his luck has changed! The little fortune fairy, Terina

Dropped back down into the midst of mayhem, I listen to the travails of other riders who have traveled before me. What if we all had access to the amusement ride's handy-dandy warning gauge that detailed the level of difficulty and identifies the pain potential prior to attempting each problem?

Teens are high risk. The teenage insurance risk is that the fourth “incident” on the car, (irrespective of the fact that none of them were her fault, and all of them were paid completely by the offenders insurance,) nontheless, have upped our annual premium $800.00.

Initially, the wand on the gauge flickers toward enjoyment and effortless refinement, but after speaking to someone who has actually taken the ride, the wand would swing back and forth wildly between alarm and hysterical fear—all due to a dawning comprehension of life’s authentic degree of difficulty.

Reality bite: How one adapts to change is essence of true character.

…elusive calm

I’m taking advantage of moments like this, enforced quiet time while I’m stuck with my head in the sink, to reorganize my cluttered, chaotic mind.

Lists have really helped. I’m told that brains are like filing cabinets, and retrieving the facts merely requires decoding one’s own personal filing system, but I’m too busy accomplishing things to dwell on them, or even think about them! So I’ll write it on a list.

To me,
I wonder if other people have the same problem. I should meditate more, ponder and consider my thoughts and actions. I need time for myself to contemplate, to think and plan. What an interesting concept!

Reality Bite: I write that as my GFD tomorrow—Remember to Think.

…efficacy, the curse

Dear Me,
Thought takes too much of my time and effort. I prefer to perform contortions to add to my list while I’m stuck in the sink.

I’ve been enamored with the idea of accomplishing more ever since I read Cheaper by the Dozen as a youth. I loved the vision of twelve little children jaunting through life inspired by efficiency! I experimented with better efficacy myself back then.

To me
Today, while cooking dinner, I was thinking ahead to what came next and I propped up the hand mixer while I assembled the other ingredients—and then spent the rest of the night cleaning the floor and ceiling. Yikes, Terina

I walked with my nose in a book, long before they had treadmills, to school and back. I ate food fast long before there was fast food. I still recall fondly my invention of the three-minute egg, tuna, and mac and cheese sandwich.

To me,
…so here I am, in the sink. This is where it’s all gotten me—my quest to be more efficient. Time is so elusive and I been consolidating tasks to have more time to be more efficient, but I really must be more selective about which jobs to combine. I can’t keep doing this!
The note that I jot to self: “Try to think ahead next time …”

I remember doing most of my homework while dashing to class and I wearing yesterday’s makeup and tomorrow’s clothing to bed so I could wake later, yet get to school earlier. I was a great thinker in high school, as a Senior![1]

To me,
… although how precisely, I came to be stuck in the bathroom sink is a mystery. I was washing my hair and brushing my teeth at the same time and under the faucet, somehow the toothbrush head jammed in my mouth while the handle got stuck in the overflow hole.
This is not the first time I’ve been stuck like this, so it must be a common occurrence for all of us. I want you to know that I share your pain. All choked up, Terina

Reality Bite: The efficient make everybody else look bad anyway, and we wouldn’t want that.

[1] Some things never change.


My hair has a mind of its own. I realize that it’s not an uncommon thing for hair, and mine mimics the brain to which it is attached and the two of them like to rest.

The hair calms and relaxes more with each successive moment until it’s reached its calmest. When it’s completely and totally at its metaphysical peace, I notice. It’s usually while I’m in the middle of an errand run. I notice in the rear-view mirror that my hair is exhausted and I head straight home where I roust it out, and pump it back up by putting it through the rigor of hair calisthenics; conditioning, straighteners and volumnizers.

My hair is usually so relieved to make it through a styling workout that it spends one good hour all puffed up and excited—but by the second hour, stiffness has set in and by the third hour, it’s nodding off again.

The sink and I are allies; we know and understand the enemy. We’ve spent a lot of time together in minor skirmishes, cleaning, scrubbing and rinsing—the children, the clothing, and the dishes—and so the sink is well aware of the proclivities of my hair.

To: thatsritch@take.out
Unfortunately, it was the glance in the rear-view mirror that confirmed that the hair had achieved peak relaxation and if it became any more relaxed, it would fall out, so I am forced to take desperate measures and rile it up again.
Sorry I can’t write, I’m sinking, T.

The time I spend in the sink while attempting hair revitalization gives me a moment to reflect on what is really important: It’s the filthiness of the sink!

Reality Bite: Today my GFD was written in big bold print on the mirror. “RELAX.” Tonight, as I’m typing, I’m eating bonbons. Does that count as relaxation or is it considered dinner?

…take a note

Dear me,
I can almost guarantee a volatile reaction if I infuse my boring life objectives (BLO) with unknown particles (UP). It creates so much instability that I’m always seeking the secret calming ingredient in this chemical equation, Ord2 (Order). Help, T.

In business, when demand exceeds expectation, it means an exciting opportunity. For me, higher demand only means greater expectations... of me, and that means I must become more organized. And that means more lists!

My daily goal is to become new and improved so every day I prioritize. My lists are titled with a Goal for the Day, a GFD, at the top of the list ... whenever I can locate the list.

To: momtwo@space.out
I find notes posted in the strangest of places, grocery lists inside the fridge, to-do’s written in lipstick on the mirror upstairs and a big red NO sign stuck to the treadmill that somehow migrated from the front of the television. I’m duly noting, Terina

I stick to only one GFD, goal for the day, even if it appears deceptively easy. I am aware that small tasks can act like those innocent toys that expand with water, rapidly growing out of control and then they take over my world!

To: yodell@clean.out
I encourage the children to drop the expandable toy in the water the day before the trash man is scheduled, so that when the slime outgrows every bowl in the house and I have to grapple it out the back door to the garbage can, at least the monster hasn’t grown bigger than the bag.
It may still be a source of suspicion to the trash man, but he’s learned that “to open is to unleash.” Whatever works…T.

The concept of aiming toward only one target leaves me open and available to block and deflect the wayward barrage from unforeseen areas. I plan a frontal defense, and as predicted, I’m usually attacked from the flank. Unfortunately, after such a bombardment I often discover that I’ve abandoned my GFD, but I don’t usually remember until midnight when there’s a lull in the action.

To: realmom@time.out
Remember the GFD for today? I didn’t. I remembered as I was re- grouping with my head stuck in the sink. I'm sorry, but I've decided to forgo the hospital and consider the flowers a nice gift to myself. I’ll bring bread to you when you are all home tomorrow. Tomorrow will be much better because if I'm figuring this correctly, today’s G.F.D. will have been done yesterday!

Reality Bite: I’m busy doing it all and accomplishing nothing.


My lists now begin with the Goal for the Day, but if I’m not watchful, the number one priority is buried under the scribbled distractions of the rest of life. I use these added intrusions for a calculated purpose to accomplish one thing … to prevent, to intrude upon and to inhibit my strongest inclination—to sleep!

To: thatsritch@take.out
Why is it that if I’m not moving at a frantic pace, I’m sitting with a faux wide-eyed, albeit blank, expression. My legs and arms are askew and I’m asleep.
I’ve been caught snoring in school pick-up lanes, in the bathtub, at team sporting events, in the flower bed, and today, under the desk in the den. Yawn, T.

I’m reminded again and again of the importance of taking time out for one’s self. When I’m cleaning, I take my time-outs in ten-minute increments, a quick nap now and then between the bed and the wall before anyone discovers and extracts me, or sometimes I slip behind the bath curtain while scrubbing the tub.

To: thatsritch@take.out
My most enjoyable moments are the times I spend communing with the bathroom sink. I got stuck in there again today, just thinking. Hummmm, T.


Regret is a wasted emotion. It’s over! The past is past, and behind me. It makes no sense to beat a dead horse, so I limit the futile, “You should have’s,” “Why didn’t you’s,” and resolve to make better plans for the future.

“What did you learn this time?” has become one of my favorite retrospectives. It minimizes the blame, yet gets the point across. I’ve used it for years to maximize the teaching moments with my children and unfortunately, as they mature, those words are coming back to haunt me.

To piquecritique@spin.out
Today, in the district-wide vocal competition, I snuck in late and sidled up next to the wall with the standing room only crowd. I listened intently as the daughter’s group hit the high note and I slumped against the wall in relief.
I was startled to see the lights go out on the left side of the room. Then I felt my back against the light switch, so acting on auto-reflex, I slid back up the wall, hoping to rectify my mistake. The lights on the other side of the room went out too.
In the dark, the bass and tenor section squeaked in shock, the altos missed their cue and the sopranos hit another high note—the wrong one. One hundred different shades of red, T.

I’ve heard “What did you learn?” so often that I’ve decided to write down what I’ve learned (because I’m sure to forget between episodes). That will teach them—when there are fifty books of remonstrations[1] that the children get to reread when they are old.

To: realmom@time.out
Children who are innocent little mynah birds at two, should not be encouraged, because at thirteen it gets old. My words from their mouths, yuck! T.

The purpose in this driven life is not to stop, but find a way to continue living the adventure with less regret and recrimination. I don’t expect much improvement, but my ultimate goal is less blow ups, flip outs and derailments. When I can’t level out the ride, I’m going to learn to enjoy the swoops and spins. In the spirit of acceptance, I’ll embrace the new calming philosophy of, “Arms and legs in and have a nice ride.”

Reality Bite: This book has no purpose and no redeeming social value! And if there is humor in it—that too is totally accidental!

[1] Forceful arguments… and they all are.


I’m too busy enjoying life's ride to worry about how fast I’m going or how I am going to stop. The world is full of people like me, racing haphazardly past on only half-a-track.

When ride gets hectic and turbulent and the feverish pace begins to wear thin, little pieces of my world begin to chip off and fall down around me and when that happens, everybody ducks. It’s about then that I hit the brakes and skid into a slow, sidelong slide and a tumultuous stop. The end result is rarely good, but in most cases, the near miss has minimal aftershocks and I can take off again in a totally different direction.

I try to limit the incendiary casualties to direct relations and as family, they have learned to roll with the reckless.

Reality Bite:
If we’re all stretched so thin, shouldn’t some weight be dropping off somewhere?

[1] Don’t know who said it, but dang, ain’t it true?


In the pell-mell plunge of priorities, I’ve found that it is important to exercise some restraint—to calmly and rationally select which endeavors I should pursue and in which order.

In the event that I am overwhelmed with choices, I must arrange for someone to act as my restraint—to stand behind me, to wrap both arms around my waist and shoulders in a T-bar grip and to yell in my ear, loud enough to be heard over the clamoring enticements, “Just Say No!”

To: realmom@time.out
It’s been one of those days—I write a talk, make six loaves of bread, and two batches of soup for a party while I deflect calls from school about detention. I commiserate with the neighbor, and clean up breakfast as I fix lunch.

I pack the truck for the next excursion, pick up the neighbor and drive her to her car across town. I email the principal, pick up one child, drop it off at piano lessons and run to the flower shop. I then dash home to arrange them, and pick up the other child to swap out at piano. I encourage the child that was the piano player to switch clothes and mental processes from musical notes to karate chops and then drop him at the sports practice de jour, angling to hit every stop light so I can brush my hair, apply makeup, and search through my purse for the missing house keys.

I want more time, not to relax on the back porch, but more time to be busier, to schedule more things into the space that I don’t have time for now. Gotta run, T.

In the event that no one is willing to act as my personalized handbrake, I must live with the consequences. My reality veers off in a completely new direction—without prior consent.

Reality Bite: Busy (Buried under satan's yoke) is an excuse that makes me neither capable nor culpable.

Zero Gravity

Dear Journal,
How did I end up with my head stuck in the bathroom sink? I have an instant image of the fire department using crampons and pitons to crawl over the pile of yesterday’s laundry to rescue me and then how will the media twist and shout!   T.            ...to be continued.

For a Mom, each day dawns bright, happy and hopeful—filled with innocent potential. I wake giddy, excited and ready to take on whatever zips my way. The excitement overrides the memory of the missteps from yesterday and there is only optimism for the new day.

I live like I’m waiting in line for a thrill ride—patiently in queue with other stout-hearted adventurers, safe and secure in the knowledge that others have shuffled patiently down this same path before me and they have bested the challenges yet to come, so I can too! I’m up for whatever action-packed thrill life has in store.

Reality Bite: Ignorance is bliss.

Tuck and Roll

I’ve never felt the need to experience the masochistic thrill of the newest coaster adventure because I get my daily adrenalin rush from living life.  One day, when I wasn’t looking, my daily ride turned into a roller coaster.

As each exciting day proceeds, tension builds and I feel the stress begin to ratchet up and up and up. There is an ominous awareness that at any moment, the day will reach it’s apex—the highest peak—and from that point on, I will experience one disastrous down surge after another and the trivial upswings will only grant me enough time to grab a breath and to amplify the dread for the encroaching swoop.

I am cautious and smart about thrill rides, so one would think I would be happy being the designated holder of the glasses and phones, content to stand back and watch other riders and merely recall the unpredictable sensations, but I can’t lock myself away at home and avoid living life.

So, when the ride I’m on squeals abruptly to a halt and I collapse with every muscle puddled and sagging, I feel my stomach gurgle from the ecstatic thrill of survival.  I have managed to lose the glasses off my face and the remnants of my half-digested lunch onto other screaming combatants without mechanical means. And I am reminded once again, that there is no fee for this adrenaline rush; it’s a daily freebie!

Dear Journal, The children are blistered and worn out from the park yesterday. They danced in the fountain with their sneakers and then they wore them wet for the rest of the day. Voila! Soggy white blisters as consequences of their bad choices. Yesterday they couldn’t be bothered, so today they pay! 
I explain that there is a reason that amusement parks are not called maximum-thrill, go-for-the-gusto, as-if-the-world-were-ending parks.  Consequences.    Living in after-party pathos, Terina

It is my goal to learn how to savor life’s thrills and spills, and somehow, in spite the erratic ups and downs, maintain a tenuous control amidst the turbulence. I’m going to appreciate and find joy in the adventure because that is what makes life more exciting than any whirling, twisting, twirling, tilt-a-zoomer, ever could.

Reality bite: That’s Life and choosing to love whatever the Lord sends, changes everything!

…as they were

Once upon a time, early in this grim tale, there were days that were all one repetitious round of sameness. Had I know that giving up the world of business to stay at home meant regaling myself to a year-long cycle of bottle, diaper, nap, bottle, diaper, nap, I may have entertained second thoughts and let sleeping babies lie.

Dear journal, whee, wipe out
Life is dull enough that I’ve decided to liven it up with a second child—no, not with another of my own yet! I’ll match my two month old with another two-month-old by becoming a day-care-mother. It’s a service to the community and I can certainly do bottle, diaper, nap, times two. Wish me well, Terina

What I discovered is that adding the second child compounds the excitement exponentially,[1] which makes things considerably more interesting and the excitement of life’s ride ratchets up.
The next season of motherhood changes by only one variable. Bottle, diaper, nap is joined by crawl, which mutates to walk, and as any mom will tell you, mobilization begins the independent surge toward the parent’s roller coaster existence.

Dear Journal
I promise you that I have everything in common with the persons in the handicapped parking place. I park in the open stall next to the shopping cart that some thoughtful stranger has neglected to push to the cart return, then I proceed to disconnect and transfer the children and their bags of life support to the transport that will deliver us to shopping safety.
As I inch past the handicapped zone, I’m reminded that this process is preparation for the onset of oxygen tanks, arthritis and wheelchairs, because no matter how fast I move, the little old lady in the front stall still beats me in the front door dash.
Shuffling along, Terina

Reality Bite: But, next time … next time, watch out!

[1] For those who have not yet suffered through sixth grade math homework, it means the little number situated at the top, right of the big number, and trust me, it never adds up to anything good.


Dear Journal 2003,
The alarm rings and as I roll over moaning, I hear a voice from the opposite bedroom, “Mom!” I groan again. “Mommy, I think I wet the bed.” Why do things always happen when the laundry manager is out of town? Could it be that he’s always out of town? Cursing his business schedule once more, I mutter, “Get up, change your jams and come in here.” The alarm continues to ring. Oops, I’ll write more after preschool pick-up. …Terina

My essays are all about the reality track I’m on—the ups and downs and ins and outs of a life that is lived moment to moment, from the depths of boredom to the peaks of excitement.

I just read a news article by an “expert” (all journalists are experts automatically … somehow) maintains that there is some sort of choice to be made at the cusp of adulthood—one that I made unwittingly. She maintained that women choose to either have a career or be a stay-at-home-mom. And that choice results in either stress or depression, respectively, and in her mind, both will require medication. What?!!! I know that the journalist stated the opinion to create controversy and that journalists get it right by getting it all wrong, thereby appeasing their editor whose job it is to sell papers, but still, what concerns me is that other innocent persons may not be as jaded as I and they just might buy into this opinion and that bothers me.

I resolve to correct this presumption because having made both choices individually and simultaneously, I can spout equally well from both sides of my mouth, and speak solidly to the fact that women can be both stressed and depressed while working and staying at home, and how is that a bad thing? I’m living the unscripted version of life, complete and uncut, unedited, and reality driven. Most of us do. We can’t be squished into little shapeless tubes of statistics to be squeezed out whenever an ad campaign or a pharmaceutical manufacturer needs consensus.

We are individuals with original stories of life that prove—in this era of televised sensationalism, that while normal life may be too dull and mundane to merit a reality show or a docudrama and even too convoluted to blog, the risk puts it at such an excitement level that it’s worth a retelling just to try to make sense of it all or for the pure entertainment value.

Dear me,
I’ve started a blog site… a new one, every day this month. First, I forgot the sign on, then the password, and then the user id. Finally I wrote it all down and then misplaced the paper. I’m one of a million new bloggers monthly. Do you begin to suspect that there are a mere thousand of us, in forgetful insouciance opening a new blog, a thousand times a month? I’ve joined the Boring, Life Of Geekers, B.L.O.G.s