Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Back to School

Gentle Reader,

So much has been happening lately. When I say lately, I mean for the past 5 years. Cyrus was born and then everything.

As you might know, a few weeks ago I accepted a position at a skilled nursing facility as activity director. It's never something I saw myself doing (or interested in), but a friend pointed me that direction: I needed a job, she knew of a job.

It's hard.

For someone with a sensitive nose, it can be too much at times. From what I've seen, everyone is doing their jobs correctly, but the smells can't be helped. In case you're wondering, my job is to create and plan activities and then try to get the residents to participate. That's really hard when most of them are rolling around in wheel chairs or have suffered a stroke and can't move some limbs. And for whatever reason, many people there are without legs or parts of legs. There are those who cannot feed themselves. There are those who can only grunt. There are those who are completely silent.

Now imagine trying to get all of them into a dining room to bowl.

I don't even hate it. At times, I've fallen in love. There is the child of the 60s who was a freedom rider, the classical pianist, the professor, the one whose child was murdered in front of their eyes. In this case, the brain snapped. I know mine would too.

I can see myself in all of them. And that's the hardest part of the job.

But just a few days ago, in between bingo and a movie, I got an email from MU. Since I've been applying there for various teaching positions for about 8 years, I know the name of the person who sends rejections. When I saw her name in my inbox, I was hurt. They already rejected me in the spring. (and various other colleges rejected me all summer) I didn't see a need to twist the unemployment knife. But I clicked anyway. And then had to leave the building to collect myself. Now, it's not like I've been asked to teach some amazing creative writing class or anything; it's freshmen composition. And it's just two classes. But it's something. And it's what I've been hoping and working for. For a very long time.

When I explained this situation to my boss at the nursing home, he said he was really happy for me. He said it so many times. And he smiled. And I asked if I could still work there some hours a week. And he said he'd love that. It's not official yet, but it seems likely I'll be able to keep directing things and doing administrative stuff there.

But now to Cyrus, the reason for all the words I've written here over the years.

Monday morning Mindy and I had a court date for the adoption. We didn't quite understand what was supposed to happen when we were told to be there. But we went. We sat, individually, on the witness stand in front of a judge while our lawyer asked leading questions. (She mentioned that the adoption process had taken so much time because of money. But, friends, you all made it happen with your donations this spring. I can't thank you enough.) Within 10 minutes it was over and the sperm donor's rights are being terminated (even though, contractually, he had none any way). In six months we go back to court and that's when he officially becomes mine.


Tomorrow he starts kindergarten. He's five years old. He walks and talks and has strong opinions. He plays and runs and hums the Jurassic Park soundtrack. He tells me he loves me a million times a day. He chews food and swallows it. He was born with his eyes closed and no nipples or lips and he fit into the palm of my hand.

Tomorrow he will wear his Ninja Turtle backpack full of glue sticks and crayons and walk down a hallway just like hundreds of other kids. Mindy and I will have to walk away.

We'll all try not to look back.

It's a new dawn. It's a new day. It's a new life...

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Like Sands Through the Hourglass

It's the first week of August, but I feel like summer started in April this year. For me, that's when I got fired from the worst job of my life and started doing archaeology. That's when I started living in hotel rooms and being away from Cyrus. I loved the work. It was the first time in years I loved what I was doing and felt appreciated. For the first time in my life, I felt like I was smart enough, like I knew what I was doing, like I really did have a specialty and a passion in a profession. 

But, just as I left for Cyrus (to have income, to stay sane), I came back for him, too. 

And if you're keeping track, you'll know he and I were in Florida for about two weeks. I hadn't really thought about it before we got in the car, but this was the most time, consecutively, I'd spent with him since January of 2013. It was beautiful. 

Upon seeing the Atlantic, he ran (his wobbly run) toward it and said, "Mom, the ocean!"  It was as if he'd waited his whole life or lifetimes to see it. When the water touched his toes, he didn't stop to contemplate, he just kept going. He spat the salt water and laughed. Without me grabbing him when the waves came, he would've gone on forever. 

He also loved the sand. He crushed a friend's sandcastle and laughed as she cried. He packed buckets full and scooped it with his little plastic shovel. 

He ate. And ate. And chewed and swallowed. Homemade paella, black beans, and yuca. He took down three small bag of Cheetos in about 15 minutes. He ate, forgive me, bites of a McDonald's cheeseburger, including onions and pickles. He swallowed it all and asked for more. He drank and drank. 

He made sophisticated jokes from the back seat of the car and sat happily, looking out the window or singing. Like we all did on road trips growing up. 

He became a more mature version of himself on this trip. I'm grateful I got to watch. 

Did I mention he starts kindergarten in a few weeks?

And I start a new job next week. I'll be creating an activity program for a nursing home. Besides teaching, I've never done anything like it in my life. I'm ready for something new. For something challenging.  

I guess I'm looking forward to my own road trip. Here's hoping I don't drown.