(not the teenage kind)

Thursday, March 31, 2005


If you have time, read as much of this as you can....it's kind of a heartbreaker, though.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Odd Todd

Back in 2001, when I was laid off, as part of my package I got outplacement services. And part of the outplacement services was that I was invited to be in this group of a bunch of other laid off executives who met every Friday morning and talked networked, strategized, blah, blah, blah. I used to call it my "Friday morning losers meeting" which was a joke really, really. It just wasn't a very hopeful time for a lot of people. And I really hate role playing which they kept trying to make us do. And, to this day, I am still on a list at the outplacement place as someone who succesfully utilized their services and they give out my email address for the new batch of people to network with me. Anyway, I digress....one day at our Friday morning meeting someone showed us this. Click on the first one called "laid off." It was perfect. And I found it again the other day and it so beautifully sums up that year and time. But also I love how this guy, Todd Rosenberg aka Odd Todd, made a new career for himself out of being laid off. Genius. And even though it's been almost four years since the dot com bust, 9/11, etc., I'm sure there are many people out there who can still relate to Odd Todd.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

The List of Worries

Someone once told me that blogs are like those Guatemalan worry dolls. You tell your woes to the blog and they stop weighing as heavily. On top of that, I love, love, love lists. Writing a list makes me feel very organized and gives me the false impression that I'm actually doing something. Plus, when you cross things off a list, it releases endorphins. This is a fact. So, Guatemalan blog worry doll, I am now going to post the list of worries I have around the house only (we won't get started on work) and see how much it helps:

- As regular readers know, there is a mold problem in the garage. This might actually be resolved. The contractor called on Saturday and said he couldn't find anyone to work on Easter weekend but we'd shoot for the upcoming weekend. He hasn't forgotten me. It's all good. Except that there is also some different kind of mold in the laundry room behind the garage. It is in a small area. I'll deal with it later.

- My backyard needs sprucing up. It was landscaped a couple of years ago and plants have gotten too large or just haven't worked. And the grass that was planted was wrong for the lack of sun in the backyard in the winter. So new grass, a fountain, some pots. Very pretty. And the work starts today. But my poor landscape designer keeps talking about wanting to go shopping with me to pick out plants and stuff. And I keep telling him to use his artistic vision and he should just show me some pictures or something. The work starts today and he is bringing me a new gardener. Which means I need to fire my old gardener. And when kruthless bought her first house, our mother told her that owning a house is really hard because what if you have to fire the gardener. I'm about to fire my third gardener and it's really easy but I think the reason my mom brought it up was because our gardener when we were kids was, if I remember correctly, really good and then he started drinking really badly and then his wife got cancer. And I just remember him coming to the house obviously drunk and asking my mom for money even though he wasn't doing any work. And I'm sure she gave it to him which I might have done as well (and kruthless definitely would have) so I can see why she would focus on the firing of the gardener issue.

- The bathroom sink has been leaking as has the shower but yesterday the shower leak turned into a shower running river. The plumber has been called and is going to be here this morning. (Yeah, it's all happening this morning and the poor mutt isn't going to know who to bother first - the plumber, the gardener, the landscaper?) But last night I started worrying that the pipe was going to burst and decided I should just turn the water off. And my plumber had devised some elaborate shut-off scheme which was supposed to be easy and which I thought I understood but none of the levers I turned actually shut the water off. Which I guess is good because the pipe did not burst and I got to brush my teeth.

- And while we're on the bathroom, I have been trying to find a handyman to come and replace some of the baseboard that has gotten water damaged and re-grout some of the tile. Handypeople are hard to find so if you know a good one, send them my way. And they can also fix the lock on the front door which only works because the mutt's nanny (that's what she calls herself) did a workaround on it.

- The lightbulb went out on my porch. Sounds like no big deal but I hate climbing up on ladders. But I'm going for it this morning because then I can cross it off my list and get some endorphins.

- I just noticed yesterday a hairline crack in one of the windows in the living room. I could just get that section replaced. But my neighbor recently got all brand new windows and it really does help with insulation in the winter to have the thicker panes. And I always worry about ruining the integrity of the house by replacing things but his new windows fit right in. And cost a pretty much.

- Usual upkeep: furnace has not been serviced since purchased in 2002 (yikes, how time flies), gutters need to be cleaned, chimney needs to be sweeped, trees need to be trimmed, aren't you supposed to get the dryer vents cleaned sometimes? I could add painting the outside and inside and keeping up the hardwood floors but I'm just not. And I know my car is not really part of the house but it sure has been acting funny and I would like to get it serviced very soon.

- I need to get someone out here to fix my wireless. Long story. Don't want to talk about it.

This is the main list. The refrigerator came with the house which means it's well over seven years old and from the noise it makes from time to time I don't know how long it will last. Which is interesting because I realize that I have never in my life bought a refrigerator. Or a stove. I've written this list and it seems like a lot and it makes me wonder how people who work are supposed to get all this done. And it makes me wonder why anyone wants to own a house.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Deal In The Desert (a.ka. it's the basement, stupid)

Last week Eric and I drove out to the desert to talk to the Brother of a Famous Movie Star (who I'll refer to as BOFMS) about investing in a development he's building out there. We stopped on the way at Casino Morongo where we both won money. Right away. So we were way pumped up for our meeting and I was all in my dress and carrying my Franklin Planner with my notes and list of questions. And, by the way, when it was all over Eric did point out that my mistake was thinking this was a meeting when the BOFMS and the other potential investors thought of this as a big old social opportunity.

So we arrive at the restaurant and everyone's ordering wine and beer with their lunches but we wanted to stay at the top of our game and not start handing over money after a beer or two. Everyone but us was heavily tanned and dressed in hawaiian shirts, shorts, and flip flops. One of the guys had white hair that stuck up all over and drove a convertible Audi. Eric said he could just picture him getting out of the car with a babe on each arm and a cocktail in each hand. And there's me whipping out my Franklin and asking all the tough questions and trying to have a meeting. The BOFMS is very polite and friendly and starts answering my questions and even starts some of his answers by saying "well, when the bank asked me that question" which made me feel like a major genius until I remembered that a friend of mine had given me a list of questions which I was basically just reading off.

So here's the lowdown...BOFMS and his business partner have acquired some land in a not great part of the desert but a part of the desert where there is a lot of construction going on right now. And they are going to build a housing development of pretty nice sized houses and charge between $300,000 to $400,000 for them. "Who's going to buy them?" was one of my genius questions. Large Mexican families (you know, the people who clean the houses and do the gardening - they didn't exactly say that but close. And let me tell you BOFMS is a bleeding heart liberal...he means well, really well.) And the reason they will buy these out of all the other houses that are springing up all over the desert? These houses are going to have basements. Fully finished basements. To stick the mother-in-law in. And you don't see that in California at all so this is just going to blow everyone away. Not only that, the ceilings? Most ceilings are 9 feet. These ceilings? 10 feet.

We haven't decided yet whether we're going to invest.

Friday, March 25, 2005

Starline Hollywood Tour

One time and one time only in all my life of living in Los Angeles did I get a map of the Hollywood stars homes. It was probably in the 70's, maybe early 80's and we drove around the hills on a beautiful So Cal day in my friend Ron's convertible mustang . With the top down of course. And this same mustang later fell into grave disrepair and was given to me and Eric by Ron and Eric has awesomely restored it. And calls it his. But that's a dispute for another day.

So the five J's were looking for something cheesy Los Angeles to do and we hit upon the Starline Hollywood tour which shows you the stars' homes plus two cemetaries. We boarded the bus on Hollywood Boulevard and were squired around by our tour guide, Marilyn, who had been giving the tour for five months. Marilyn was awesome in the way that she could navigate the "back roads" of Bevelry Hills and Bel Air. I wish I could do that. Someone teach me quick....And Marilyn was really entertaining. First, she was hell bent on finding us a star to see even going so far as to almost make up celebrity sightings (she could have sworn that was Ashley and Mary Kate driving next to us on Rodeo.) She pointed out the spot at the Beverly Hills Hotel where she said 50 Cent must have been on a "booty call" because she saw him kissing a girl and then they each got into separate cars.

I am a little worried about her accuracy. She claimed that the pagoda at Yamashiros was the oldest in the world. She also pointed out Jean Claude Van Damme's house on Doheny which led to this interchange:

Passenger: I don't like him. He's a wife beater.
Marilyn: I thought he was gay.
Passenger: No, he's a wife beater.
Marilyn: Well, maybe he's bi.

By strange coincidence, I happen to know someone who knows Jean Claude. So the next day I emailed him and asked him if Jean Claude lived on Doheny and about the gay and/or wife beating allegations. He could not comment on the wife beating (not that this was a gag order situation or anything, he just did not know anything about it) but said Jean Claude lived nowhere near Doheny and his wife would be surprised to learn that he was gay. Not that she'd be the first wife that happened to. All things must and should be taken with a grain of salt.

Monday, March 21, 2005

How Disgusted Am I?

Terri Schiavo's husband said it well:
"It's a sad day for Terri and it's a sad day for everybody in America because the government is going to trample all over your personal and private matters. This is an outrage. They have no business in this matter....twenty judges have heard this, the United States Supreme Court has heard this. There's no doubts here and Mr. Bush should be ashamed of himself"
I heard a quote from the President on NPR this morning about how proud he is that our Congress stepped in to help the weak and those who can't take care of themselves. We are talking about one person who has been in a persistant vegetative state for fifteen years. What about all the talking, thinking, breathing, suffering people whose funding his budget has/will cut? In fact, according to Daily Kos, "Republicans have voted en masse to pull the plug (no pun intended) on medicaid funding that pays for the kind of care that someone like Terri Schiavo and many others who are not so severely brain damaged need all across this country."

And, by the way, guess who signed a Texas law allowing hospitals to cut life support over a family's objections? If you guessed George W. Bush, you win the prize. It's actually called the "Texas Futile Care Law." What a hypocrite....

Sidebar: Terri Schiavo's mother, Mary Schindler, is being supported in her efforts by Randall Terry, the infamous anti-abortion extremist. You know, the kind of person who thinks it's wrong to kill unborn babies but okay to bomb clinics and kill people who are already alive.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Who Would You Kill?

I went to this art gallery opening for an artist named Erika Rothenberg at the Rosamund Felsen Gallery. One of the pieces was a book that said on the cover "If everyone was allowed one free kill a year....who would you kill?" and people can come in and write their answer in the book. By the way, you can purchase this piece for $4,000. I knew about the book before I went so I had already started thinking about it. I think I must be too literal minded because here was my initial thought process:

Me (thinking): Well, George W. Bush would have picked Saddam Hussein and then we would have avoided this whole war mess but surely someone would have picked George W. Bush and then we would have Dick Cheney but someone would have picked him and that would just spiral into a bad situation. But really someone needs to put Terri Schiavo out of her misery because that is certainly what I would want someone to do if I were her. So I pick her. The person inside her just no longer exists and I would be mortified, mortified to have the whole world be looking at me like that. But actually it's all her parents fault, so maybe I would just choose them because they are being selfish, selfish, selfish. But, really, I could never kill anyone even if it was deemed legally and morally okay so I think I would just have to write that in the book.

When faced with the actual book, it was all very disappointing. The comments that people wrote were prosaic, many predictable (George W. Bush - hey, isn't it illegal to even joke about killing the President, like talking about a bomb at the airport?;Saddam Hussein; Osama Bin Laden), some trying to be amusing but not really (Paris Hilton; the person who had the idea for this book), some that depressed me (John Kerry and Billary; everyone but me). Maybe I just could not synthesize an answer from the pages of the book I was able to read but, in the end, after spending so much time thinking about it, I decided the question was just plain meaningless.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Bickering Is Good

I can not tell you how close my parents came to totally screwing my sister up. Thank God I was there. And I think they owe me something for doing their job. You see, there was an article the other day in the L.A. Times that says "if kids don't ever argue or bicker, you have to wonder if things are OK."

So, the time my sister was asleep in the back seat of the car and I (allegedly) hit her because she looked at me funny? They should not have moved me to the front seat. They should have kept me back there so I could continue teaching her the "skills (she would) need to succeed in the work-friendship-marital relationships that come later in life." And the time I told my dad that she was smoking in the garage? He should not have said "there's nothing worse than a tattletale." He should have encouraged me to continue "test(ing) out behaviors in a a safe environment."

And here is what I'm most proud of. The article says that sibling bickering allows "children to learn the negotiating skills they will need to navigate their way to adulthood." So, my sister and I would play this game after bedtime called "Templeton." Templeton was a stuffed rat we won at a fair. I would pretend to fall asleep and then talk to her in the voice of Templeton. She knew I was the voice of Templeton and I knew she knew I was the voice of Templeton but this was never discussed. So, anyway, every once in awhile, Templeton would not come out to play. And my sister would get extremely agitated and beg and plead and cry for Templeton. It was tough, she was very compelling, but I hung tight. And on the surface I know it sounds like I was being mean but in actuality there I was teaching her the negotiating skills which surely helped turn her into the successful lawyer she is today. I'll say it again - thank God for me.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

A Good Day For Celebrity Murderers

Dear Scott Peterson:
You just got it backwards. You're supposed to get famous before you kill your wife, not after. Though you probably are a major sociopath, I am really sorry you got the death penalty. For one, now this is going to drag on and on and we're going to have to hear about you for years and years. But also I just don't think it would hurt to have you sit in jail the rest of your life and mull over where it all went wrong and the many other possible ways in which you could have gone about solving your marital problems.

I was not on your jury and I did not care enough to read or listen to the daily goings on of your trial. But it does seem to me that you were convicted largely on your behaviors following the death of your wife (yeah, I know you were also convicted of killing your unborn child but let's not get started on that one....) and not enough concrete evidence to make me think that the State of California (or whoever) should be murdering you. In the meantime, here in Southern California, they had people testifying that Robert Blake tried to pay them to kill his wife, and he still got off. And he didn't even have to pull the OJ race card. Oh, maybe it's because Laci was so radiant and likeable in those pregnant smiley pictures of her and Bonnie Bakley sounded as sociopathic as, well, you Scott.

Well, anyway, good luck in San Quentin. I hear the "women who love men who kill" are already knocking at your door so to speak. You'll be just fine.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

The Friendly Skies

I have been afraid to fly since before my very first airplane experience when I was nine years old. In fact, I wrote a letter to my Aunt Mary to confess my fear before the flight and she wrote back to tell me how disappointed in me she was which still stings today but did not help alleviate the fear. My grandfather would send me articles about how to conquer your fear and I even still have a book I bought long ago. Nothing helps. I wish someone would just konk me over the head before the flight begins and wake me up when it's over. And I think this wish is probably shared by most anyone who has ever traveled with me.

I now take a combination of Bloody Marys and ativan before each flight. But even that doesn't quite do the trick. Not long ago I flew to San Francisco and mid-flight grabbed the woman next to me and asked "Did the plane just stop moving?" She was very calm and said, "I think it's your cocktail" and then ran after the flight attendant for a glass of wine.

I flew to San Francisco this past Sunday cold turkey. The bar at the airport wasn't open yet and I didn't want to arrive all tired from the ativan. The good thing was I had plenty of diversion before take-off. I was seated in the very first row of what was not a very big plane. There was a man next to me and a woman and a child, who I will call the Queen and the Brat, seated across the aisle. Well, then these two twenty-somethings come up and it turns out the Queen and the Brat are sitting in their seats. The Queen acts all dumb like "I called and told them I wanted to sit in the front. I don't know where I'm supposed to sit." Then she starts going on about how The Brat will get upset if he's not sitting in the front row because he is very afraid to fly.

At this point, the guy next to me says "That kid is not afraid to fly. He kept running up to the gate wanting to know when we were leaving, he was so excited. He's a little terrorist if you ask me." The flight attendant was trying to be really polite to avoid a scene from The Brat (a.k.a. little terrorist) and then it turns out that there are two girls (a.k.a The Princesses) also traveling with The Queen and The Brat and sitting right behind them in seats that were also not theirs. When asked where their seats were, they played all dumb as well. Finally, I noticed the boarding pass right in The Queen's hand and ripped it from her, handing it to the flight attendant who pointed out that she should be in row twelve. The Queen kept saying "But I asked when I called to be in the front." And the twenty-somethings started explaining to her the whole process like she's never flown before. Right.

The twenty-somethings agreed to go to row twelve or whatever and the flight attendant made The Princesses move to their proper seats right behind. The Queen at one point sounded like she was going to change her mind about the whole thing when she realized she would now be separated from her Princesses. But it was really too late. After everyone had moved, she did turn to me and say "Where did those people go?" because she was trying to figure out where the Princesses were and I said, "They had to move to the back because you took their seats. Remember?" She started explaining to me, like the whole plane hadn't heard, about how she asked for the front row when she called at which point I said, "Well, you know, we don't always get what we want but that doesn't mean we just then go and take it anyway." The guy next to me really liked that. The Queen pretended she didn't know what I was talking about. And in case you think I was being mean I will defend myself by saying that she was but one person and I was speaking up for the fifty or whatever other people who had to put up with her nonsense as well as those on her return flight who I'm sure will have to endure the same ploy. And I won't even go into the bad example she was setting for her children with all the lying and playing dumb female and stuff.

Meanwhile, another drama going on. About one million one thousand times they announced while we were waiting for the plane that someone's verizon phone had been found. Don't ask me where this woman (who I'll call Miss-it Lady) was but she suddenly realized when she boarded the plane that the phone was missing and left the plane, then couldn't get back on because she left the boarding pass in her purse. And then they couldn't find the phone so we were all delayed because of Miss-it Lady. So, everyone, when they make those announcements about missing items and what gates to go to and such, please pay attention.

So the flight takes off and The Brat (a.ka. Little Terrorist) starts looking out the window and saying he sees God. This causes a little panic in my mind as I'm wondering if there's a white light we're all headed towards or if he really is a little terrorist and is getting ready for the virgins in heaven (oh that is such a sick thought but it was the guy next to me who planted that terrorist idea and they did all speak in an unidentifiable accent) Then, before the pilot even turns off the seat belt sign, The Brat (a.k.a. Little Terrorist) is running up and down the aisle. And The Queen does not say a word. So in my mind I was going back and forth between grabbing him and telling him all the bad things that can happen to him if he does not stay in his seat with the seat belt on (which, by the way, I always do even if it's a long flight - I refuse to even get up to use the bathroom) and being extra nice to him and trying to steal him away because really the Queen's way of child rearing will probably cause him to grow up and become a Big Terrorist.

As you can see, my mind was very occupied so I had little time for fear. And I got to be the first one off the plane which I was very excited about until the flight attendant told me it was an overrated experience. San Francisco was beautiful and here's one last thing to think about. I went with my cousin to Kaiser Medical where he works at the sleep lab. We walked in the lobby and there was a woman standing there with a band-aid on each temple. He asked her if she was there for the sleep lab and she said "No, I'm here to be shaken." Neither he or I knew what that meant. Just curious.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Nobody Knows The Trouble I've Seen....

Okay, so I'm exaggerating because there are way more worse problems than what I'm going to describe to you. Plus every time I try and tell Eric my woes, he totally trumps me. But, remember way back when mom came and helped me clean out my garage for the construction? I was getting new concrete laid in the garage floor. That was during the worse rainy season ever in Los Angeles (okay, statistically maybe only the fourth worse but whatever) . It took them about a month longer than planned.

I moved all my stuff back into the garage but then I kept forgetting to park my car in it because I just hadn't in years. Well, the other bright, sunny L.A. day I remembered. I opened the door to the garage and almost screamed. Covered. With Mold. Ceiling. Walls. Everywhere. Oh no. And in my laundry room which is behind the garage. Black mold. All over. Let me tell you. I can barely write about this. And it's been days and I hardly talk about it. Because if I allow myself to think about it too much I would be crying and screaming forever.

I did call the contractor and two mold removal companies all who agreed that the mold was due to the garage door being closed on the completion of the concrete installation and not being able to air. But the contractor himself closed the door and never told me to keep it open. He does not seem to think he is responsible though. And those two mold removal companies? They both said they would come and give me an estimate and never showed up. So last night I left a message with my insurance company. Rates be damned. I need to hand this over to someone else.

On another note, related because we are on the construction theme, remember when there was a big pop in my dining room and the light burnt out? You know, it was when the infamous cleaning lady was here....well, when the electrician came to fix that he pointed out that my circuit breakers were so old that, though they should have shut off when this almost electrical fire happened, they did not. Because they are so old, they are stuck. Fire hazard. So, finally, yesterday, I did something that they told me I needed to do seven years ago when I bought the house. I upgraded my circuit box. I now have a big, big, new shiny box and meter on the side of my house.

It is always a challenge with the pup and workers around the house because he really thinks that everyone who comes to this house is here to play with him. I had arranged for him to go to the park with a sitter for the whole day. But the sitter and the electrician were here at the same time talking. And then the electrician headed for the back door and the sitter headed for the front door. And the pup did not know what to do. Because out the back door was the frisbee that he just knew the electrician was going to throw for him. And out the front door was the van with the other dogs. He eventually ran out the front door with the sitter and ended up jumping into the electrician's van.

And one last funny thing from yesterday (see, I'm doing a good job here of keeping our minds off that mold, huh?) At one point, one of the electricians asked how to get under the house. The crawl space is in the closet of my office. I opened the closet only to realize that, when I emptied the garage for the construction, I had stored a bunch of stuff there which I forgot to put back which was a good thing because of the thing I'm trying not to think about. The look on the electrician's face when he saw that closet? Priceless....he started backing out of the room, mumbling about maybe being able to find another entry point. I cheerfully started throwing things out of the closet, telling him this was an excellent opportunity for me to clean things out. He ran out of the room. Really, really, he did and I had to go find him about ten minutes later.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Jeremiah's Story - Part I

In this post, I talk about an Adoption Day I attended and refer to how long the process took. Here is a story I wrote three years ago about where this particular case was at that time and the decisions I had to make as his CASA (court appointed special advocate). I will (hopefully) write the second part - what happened between then and the actual adoption - in the next week or two:
When a CASA becomes available for a new case, a supervisor will call and invite the CASA to come down and examine the child’s file. The CASA reviews the file, takes notes, asks questions, and can decide whether or not to take a case. When I read the file on this case, I learned about a boy a few months shy of his fourth birthday named Jeremiah (all names have been changed) who had been taken from his parents at the age of two. The authorities became aware of him when his younger sister was born testing positive for cocaine. In investigating the family’s living conditions, they found them in a rundown, unclean apartment. Jeremiah had four older siblings all adopted into different families.

Jeremiah’s first foster mother described him as an angry child who was acting out sexually, she was concerned about his effect on her other children and asked that he be removed from her home.. He was moved to the Henry home where he had been for close to two years when I came on the case.

I visited Jeremiah at the Henry home. I found the house easily because the garage door was open. The garage had been transformed into a playroom with brown and gold shag carpeting. There were dozens of baseball caps hanging from the ceiling, the collection of Mr. Henry’s. There were two children quietly playing and it took me awhile to realize that one of them was Jeremiah. That was because the truth of Jeremiah had not been captured in his file. While I was picturing an out of control sexual predator, I found an adorable, polite, intelligent four year old who excitedly showed me his Dr. Seuss book collection and was eager to learn how to read. Mrs. Henry and Jeremiah’s therapist had not witnessed any sexual acting out, did not know what I was talking about. His therapist called him a model child.

The goals of the child welfare system tend to shift depending on the theories and legislation in effect at any given time. When I started as a CASA, the court was heavily weighted towards family reunification. Parents were sometimes given years to turn their lives around keeping the fate of the children uncertain for far too long. Recently, legislation has shifted in favor of fast tracking adoption. Parents are given far less time to prove their commitment to providing a safe and healthy environment for their children.

In the two years that Jeremiah had been in the system, he had no contact with his birthparents. At four, he was highly adoptable but would not be for too much longer. The Henry’s were providing a wonderful home for Jeremiah, they were the only parents he remembered but they had great grandchildren and were only willing to commit to legal guardianship, not adoption. The court prefers adoption over legal guardianship. It is more permanent and the child is less likely to end up back in the system. A .26 hearing, the hearing during which parental rights are terminated, was coming up in February. Jeremiah’s attorney had requested a CASA to ensure he was getting proper counseling and that his social worker at the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) was working on moving him into a potential adoptive home.

Jeremiah’s younger sister, Belle, was living in foster care with the Johnson family. The Johnsons wanted to adopt Belle and, in January, expressed their interest in adopting Jeremiah as well. The Henry’s had already started taking him for weekend stays with the Johnson’s because the court had ordered he maintain contact with his sister. Unfortunately, things were not going smoothly. Jeremiah’s therapist and the Henry’s reported a change in his behavior after the visits began, his anger making a reappearance. He told his therapist and his social worker that he did not want to spend weekends with the Johnsons. The social worker assured me his regression was normal, he was a smart child and, though no one had told him, had figured out that the weekend visits would be leading to more. He was understandably upset.
I wrote my report for the .26 hearing recommending that parental rights be terminated and adoption by the Johnson’s move forward. Noting Jeremiah’s behavioral change, I also suggested that the transition be handled very carefully. I reported that I had not had a chance to visit the Johnson home. The social worker and Jeremiah’s attorney concurred with my recommendation. The judge was about to make his decision when he noticed that the social worker had misspelled the name of the father, whose whereabouts were unknown, in the published notice for the hearing. The social worker would have to make another attempt to find the father and the hearing was postponed until May.

I scheduled a visit at the Johnson’s, coinciding with the time Mrs. Henry would be dropping Jeremiah off. I drove out to the Johnson's apartment. I arrived to find the apartment complex had a guard shack and was handed a list of rules: no driving backwards, no drinking in public, no loitering after 10 p.m., the person you are visiting is responsible for your actions. I was in a housing project.

Jeremiah and Mrs. Henry were already there. They were sitting outside the apartment because, Mrs. Johnson said, she had locked herself out of the house. I would not be able to see the inside. Jeremiah was a different child. He had gone completely inside himself and would not speak. They were trying to get him to hug Mrs. Johnson and Belle but he would not go near them. I took his hand and walked away with him. I told him I was sad to see him so sad and asked if he could tell me what was upsetting him. He could not. When I went to leave, he gave me a big hug. He watched me as I walked to my car and his eyes were saying, “How can you leave me here? Please, please, take me with you.” Mrs. Henry told me that when she picked him up on Sunday he ran to get his things before she had even parked the car. She also said that he had refused to change into his pajamas the entire weekend, believing that he would be picked up soon.

I spoke to the social worker expressing my concerns but she continued to assure me that his reaction was normal. She also dropped the bad news that in searching for Jeremiah’s father for the .26 hearing notice she had found both parents and after two years with no contact whatsoever, they told her that they were going to fight to regain custody of Jeremiah.

What is in the best interest of a child? A legal guardianship in a calm, well run, solidly middle class home? Or the more permanent adoption in a chaotic home in the projects with a biological sibling and more age appropriate parents? Or, is it best to prolong everything to accommodate birthparents who have been absent for two years, half the child’s life, because we should be helping families stay together and succeed? I have met everyone involved in this case. I have some opinions but not a definitive answer. How do judges make their quick decisions based on what they read on a piece of paper?

Saturday, March 05, 2005

The Yearly Variety Show

Every year I am invited by my former CASA kid to her elementary school's variety show. I dread this show. The mom that puts it on imagines herself a Broadway producer and it goes on and on and on. And my CASA kid and her sister are usually just in one group number and then it goes on and on and on.

This year there was some controversy. The CASA kid's mom got wind that the youngest girl's song was "Time Warp" from the Rocky Horror Picture Show. She had never heard the song before (don't ask...) but saw the lyrics and complained to the principal. (And when she told me about it she said "you should see these lyrics. They say "pelvic thrush" and talk about the devil.") The upshot was that they changed "pelvic thrust" to "twist and turn" or something but the little girl was pulled from the show by her mother who is no longer speaking to the mom who produces the show. Who, by the way, is running for some school district position but we're not voting for her.

Oh, I was so dreading the variety show this year. But actually it was really good although the "Time Warp" turned out to be a mild offering when you compare, say, to the little girl who came out in a slinky red dress and sang, "He's a Tramp" or the girl bouncing around the stage singing the Dixie Chicks, "Ready to Run" which had these lyrics:
When the boy gets that look in his eye
I'm gonna be ready this time
When my momma says I look good in white
I'm gonna be ready this time
To be honest, I'm not sure at all what that means but the little girl really got the audience going with her cowboy outfit and heavy duty posing. And then there were a bunch of little JonBenet Ramsey wannabes singing "Diamonds Are a Girls Best Friend." And I'm saving my program because this one little girl did such a gut wrenching version of "Born Free" that I almost cried and then I found out she's only in first grade.

Times sure have changed. When I was in elementary school we sang "You'll Never Walk Alone" and "Let There Be Peace on Earth." Oh, I wish I had gotten the Born Free Girl's autograph.

Friday, March 04, 2005

That Evil Intersection

Long ago I was driving home from somewhere and I got off the freeway. I had a green light to make a left turn and as I moved into the intersection to wait until traffic was clear to execute the turn, I saw a truck to my left, going through a red light and about to hit me. I froze, the driver realized his error and stepped on the brake, stopping within inches of my door. He was so close I could see his eyeballs. We just sort of starred at each other wide-eyed and then I continued with my turn, got home, started shaking all over, and called my dad sobbing to explain that I should be dead. Since this was some 20 years ago, I do not recall what he said but I'm sure it was comforting and he was probably thinking, oh, there's my kid, going all hysterical again for no reason, must be that time of the month. (As opposed to the time I called him when I REALLY had an accident and I was all calm, told him everything was under control, blah, blah, blah. And he unexpectedly showed up at the scene at which time I stopped being so calm and started blubbering about what was I thinking, how was I going to get home with the car being all undriveable, blah, blah, blah.)

Every once in a while I pass that intersection and still shudder. So last night I was detoured from my regular route home from work and had to go by there once more. I got that usual creepy feeling of how could that accident not have happened? And why has it stayed with me for so long? And then I thought, well, maybe it really did happen and maybe I really am dead and maybe this is really hell. Or maybe I just had a really bad week at work.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Hannidate 2005

Sean Hannity, the conservative talk show host and self proclaimed "hottest commodity in talk radio"has started running personal ads on his website as a way for good conservative Christians to meet each other. Here's my favorite (although when I read it again, it sure does sound phony, like it was planted by some liberal or something):
I live close to Dayton, Ohio. I am a 32 single white male. I am a smoker. I weigh in at 170 and stand at 5'-11" Dayton has a lot of liberal women which I am tired of dating. Help me find a republican woman. Below is what kind of describes myself in a nutshell I am a mature, responsible, stable, independent adult. I live on my own. I have a job. I enjoy going to movies, walks in the park, camping, NASCAR, cuddling and intellectual conversations. I am a funny person and enjoy making people laugh. I am a smoker. I can be sweet and thoughtful. I am weight proportionate to height. Some find me hot, some not. You decide. I have good morals and values and I am of a conservative nature. I like the outdoors and nice weather. I would like to see the USA in my truck and camper and would like someone who would enjoy doing that too. I make good decisions or try to. In my spare time I enjoy working on the restoration of my truck. I have all my teeth and brush them. I have been told that I am a nice guy; you will have to decide for yourself. I am not looking for “just friends”. If I was, I would go to my buddy’s house and hang out there and drink beer. What I am looking for: I am looking for these types of qualities in a woman. A mature, responsible, stable, independent adult. This person must have a strong heart, mind and soul. This person must have a level head on their shoulders and can make good decisions. Must be a good communicator. I enjoy conversation. A person with good morals and values. Someone who has goals and dreams in life. Someone with a good job, no fast food workers, pizza deliver drivers, cashiers. I am not into high maintenance women. Someone who is simple, but has class. Someone who is of a conservative nature, especially fiscally conservative. Someone with good credit and low debt. I am not paying off someone’s charge card debt where they bought some fly lookin rims and stereo for pimpin out her ex-boyfriends ride. Someone who isn’t a control freak. Good personal hygiene and has all their teeth and no rotten black teeth. I see this way too much and I find it a turn off. Must live on their own and must keep their place clean. I don’t care for drama queens or people with hidden agendas. If you do, I will find them. I do not wish to meet people who have mental or depression problems. Must have decent transportation. I am not a mechanic nor am I buying this person a car. I am not funding someone’s education either. I would prefer this person to have a college degree. I would prefer someone who is a smoker, since I am on too. That way I don’t have to be asked to quit or I taste like an ashtray. Then too who really knows what an ashtray tastes like. I don’t know too many people who lick ashtrays…lol. Must be weight proportionate to height. Someone who is not a nagging person, but who is a happy upbeat person and likes to laugh. Someone who is sweet with a warm heart. Someone who is energetic and not lazy. Someone who likes to go out and do things. I’m not into women who get into sports. I don’t care for sports except NASCAR.
Did you get that he's a smoker? To be fair, there are many "normal" sounding ads as well. But lots of single moms. And lots of ads that begin by gushing love for Sean Hannity. Not a good way to start a relationship. Also lots of liberal bashing like this:
I am a 49 year old truck driver. Divorced, one daughter, 18, looking for a LADY, 45 to 55 years old, no tatoos, no body piercings except ears, but most importantly NOT LIBERAL (lady and not liberal kind of go hand in hand, don't they?).
Oh, and if anyone is wondering why George W. Bush won the last election, it isn't the result of any monkey business in Ohio, it's because of this:
I'm clearly a compassionate conservative, Christian. I donated my kidney to my cousin 7 months ago. This should tell you LOTS about me. I worked about 20 hours on W's campaign in OHIO, but my biggest contribution was 2 years of daily praying. God won this election.... make no mistake about it. I'm a financial planner, love animals, theatre, exercise,and serve in a few areas at church. I'm looking for a professional,intelligent,caring, conservative,Christian woman.

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