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Hats off to Chris Christie

2 Nov

My heart goes out to the residents of New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. Densely populated areas don’t often have to deal with the mad wrath of a hurricane, let alone one mixed up with an arctic cold front. So, when I heard our President offer his help and support, I wondered how all this would play out given the recent Republican stumping and stomping the Governor has offered to Romney. In his remarks today, Chris Christie won back my respect.

He had lost it with his remarks that “Obama is blindly searching for the light of leadership.” Honestly, I don’t think Barack was “groping in the dark” when he made the call to take out Bin Laden – a move I happen to disagree with, but one that showed incredible resolve and bravery when making the call. Leaders make the call. I don’t think Obama was “lost in indecision” when he negotiated the largest health care reform law in recent history – again, I personally believe he should have held his ground a little more to keep the mandate stronger, but it was a step. Leaders step. And I don’t think he was “the worse leader in history” when he decided to help the American Auto industry – though, I really wished he had crippled the banks and hope like hell there is litigation to bring the financial institutions to justice for how THEY caused the recession.  Ah, different rant.

So, when Christie took all these opportunities to berate and belittle my president who I think has accomplished much and stands for even more, I was put out with NJ’s Gov.

But this week, Christie stood up to the reporters and gave praise where praise was due, put partisan politics aside, and said that the people of New Jersey come first.  When he said he doesn’t “give a damn right now about a presidential election, and if you think I do, you don’t know me! ” –  he won me back – just a little.

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Storming Provence

7 Jun

A couple of months ago, I went to Paris for the first time since 1989.  While I was there, I kept thinking about the fact that Paris was spared during the Blitzkrieg and is thus physically unmarred by battle scars.  I am no history buff, so mostly my imagination wandered in and out of bits of movies I had seen about the deals made to save Paris, the Resistance, the Germans, the ugliness of WWII. Somehow, I projected a sense of defeat onto Paris of today – as her looks fade, the ghosts of her occupation haunt.

Dad was not quite a teen-ager when D-Day happened.  He was a history buff and so his affection for France, I believe in part, came from his indelible memories of triumphant American and Allied forces. His early impressions were shaped by listening to broadcasts on the radio, and it was these memories of WWII and the pressing urgency of the Korean War that sent him to join up as soon as he legally able.  His deep sense of patriotism and his commitment to never let a tyrant dictator rule his country or any other, fueled his passion to serve.  After 23 years in the Navy he retired and enjoyed a second career, still in government service. This second career afforded him the opportunity to travel for pleasure.  So in the spring of 1989, he  and my mother (along with my youngest brother who was 16 and my oldest sister who was 33) flew to Paris and boarded a train south.  I met them at the station in Montpellier where Steve and I were spending a year abroad. Mom and half their luggage rode with me in my Renault 4. Dad rented a Citroen sedan and followed me back to Domain de Lussac, an 18th century chateau on the outskirts of Montpellier in Languedoc Roussilon, just adjacent to Provence in Southern France. We had rented the one bedroom apartment in the North Tower.

So when I recently was able to return to Montpellier for the first time since I left 23 years ago, I was flooded with memories of my family’s visit, and especially Dad.  My favorite is of the afternoon we heard some kids playing in the courtyard inside this gate.  The kids had a bat and were arranging themselves in a game of cricket, I think.  I was busy preparing dinner for six and not paying much attention.  The next thing I knew, Dad was in the courtyard using hand gestures and broken French and English to organize the kids in a game of baseball.  I looked out just in time to see him get a hit and run the bases.  We hung out the window and cheered loudly.

On our recent trip, we nearly replicated my family’s tour  from 1989. We explored central Montpellier: La Place de la Comedie, Le Perou, a cafe or two.  We walked around with baguettes under our arms, and ate olives at every chance.  We toured the region: St. Gilheim le Desert, and Pont Diablo.  We did not make it to Avignon, and Nimes; nor did we attempt to drive to Spain.  Yes, on one of the days my dad was in Montpellier, he talked me into riding with him to Spain.  He said he wanted to drive really fast.  Who can say no to that?  We got on the tollway early, and I learned Dad was not kidding.  In no time, we were going 110 mph.  At first I was terrified, then I remember feeling really Zen about it.  How poetically tragic it would be to die on a highway in a foreign country while my own father was driving.  I leaned back into the seat and thought how lucky I would be to die so happy.

And that is exactly how I felt during this trip. I could not stop smiling, just like my dad smiled while he was there. Being in Southern France brings me a kind of inexplicable happiness and peaceful feeling.  I love the abundance of sun, the bounty of fresh food, the natural beauty everywhere, the slow pace.  And I love that the place holds such happy memories of my dad.  I am one of the truly lucky ones to have these memories of my dad happily vacationing in France, and not dying there as part of an invasion. For that, I am thankful.

These Colors Don’t Run

14 May

20120514-145456.jpgIf traveling abroad causes one to reflect on one’s nationality and it’s influence on personal identity, then living abroad calls for a full psycho-analysis of the effect. At least if you are me, it does. My analytical nature will not allow anything to just be. I pick it apart and examine all the pieces until I can thoroughly make sense of them within a context that is familiar and logical.

So, what does it feel like to be American and live in Britain? Watching the portrayal of America and Americans on television in Britain and the locals’ reactions, comments, and questions to me, I have a pretty good sense of the image Americans and America portray. Sometimes I am sickened by the accuracy of the impression of our Great Nation. We are selfish and self-indulged, over-confident and all too comfortable with the super-power role and status, even though that appears to be dissipating. We don’t know nearly as much about others as they know about us. When I share stories about people I know who are struggling to pay for or don’t even have health insurance, there is disbelief that our country could allow such things to happen. The basic services in Britain that provide for healthcare, education, affordable housing, public works, and many other government programs are not dragging down the society in taxes, but rather lifting them up in a communal shared concerned for their fellowman. I know I am over-simplifying the issue, but this society does, to me, seem more evolved and farther along in the realization that everyone benefits if everyone is taken care of at the most basic level.

Then there is gun-control. I am a staunch supporter of gun-control. Statistics show that arming yourself for defense leads to more crime and violence in our society. The police here in Britain are armed with clubs and pepper spray. At home, the officers patrolling elementary schools carry high powered hand guns, because of the fact that children can and do bring guns into schools. It’s outrageous. I will never own a gun and hope one day Americans see the light about gun ownership and what accessibility does to the American psyche. Gun control in Britain has allowed a relatively low incidence of violent crime. Yes, knife violence is a problem, but killing multiple innocent people in an instant with a knife is just not possible.

A few weeks ago, however, I had an experience that reminded me that I am American through and through. My socialization and upbringing in the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave came out like an animal instinct. I was walking along a busy street talking with a friend while my husband walked several paces ahead of us talking with the wife of our friend. I saw coming towards us, a woman who appeared to be a bit disheveled and watched her bump into the woman my husband was walking with. She regained her composure and looked ahead at me. She came straight for me. Without a moment of thought, I planted my feet as she barreled into my shoulder, obviously drunk and looking for trouble. She seemed surprised by her solid hit, and my commanding voice, “What are you doing?” I think she expected me to move out of the way and apologize, which I did not. In fact, I turned around and watched to see if she carried on walking or was daring enough to come back. In my mind, I was ready for a physical confrontation if necessary to stand my ground. And there it is. Don’t mess with me. I am polite and courteous and considerate with everyone I meet on the street and in life generally. I am affable. But don’t mess with me. I will fight you. How stupid!

My reaction surprised my friend — he kept asking, “Are you alright?” Yes, at the moment, I was alright, riding a bit of an adrenaline induced high. Then of course, I was not alright. What made me react so differently from my British friends? I felt brutish in my over-reaction. History has shown over and again the fortitude, strength and bravery of the British people. World War II happened on their soil; they endured the German air raids and rallied against their invasion. We Americans have enjoyed generations of peace on our soil — yes, I know about Pearl Harbor, but that was not on our mainland, and did not include bombing our civilian population. Yet, Americans cling to our “right to bear arms” when really the only enemies we fight with handguns are our own family members, ex-lovers, innocent boys on the street and others we perceive as threats. Couple this absurd bravery with a semi-automatic and there you have it — American cowboys on urban streets.

Lots to think about in terms of what will it take for our society to become more safe, more cultured, more concerned for each other. For this American, I will again start with “the man in the mirror.”

Two Fashion Designers, One Serial-killer

17 Apr

ImageThis piece is hanging at the National Portrait Gallery in London.  I find it captivating – it reminds me of people I am friends with.  People who I find incredibly artistic and fun and who I don’t get to spend near enough time with.  I guess it makes sense that my reactions to art have to do with relationships.

Art history and fashion design – these are not things I know about.  My expertise lies in pedagogy, human experience, relationships, and children.  I know a lot about children.

Art history and such things have never interested me and I have never been required to study them – so it is somewhat ironic that this amazing opportunity to frequent some of the best museums in Europe has been laid in my lap.  I have seen Monet, Manet, Rodin, and Cezanne. I recently saw a special exhibit of Degas’ Nudes at the Musée d’Orsay.  I have learned about the Pre-Raphaelites and awed over the work of those who idealized subjects and those who were dedicated to realism.  I was struck by Ophelia and the Lady of Shallot, and Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose moved me to the extent that I have been back to see them multiple times.  Photos and reprints of these magnificent works do not do them justice. But this image of Isabella Blow and Alexander McQueen, I couldn’t resist snapping it during my third viewing last week.

Just to the left of the picture is the most gripping and disturbing piece of artwork I have seen yet. The silhouette is of Isabella Blow, head thrown back laughing, crazy trademark hat.  But what is that casting the shading?  Yes, taxidermy.  Crows, rats, lipstick all wrapped in a revolting tangle.  It is fascinating.   I had to take these pictures so I could share them. My iPhone shots are weak.  When I got home, I did a quick web search about Blow.  Her story is tragic. She took her life in 2007 after battling depression.  McQueen followed suit in 2010.

Oddly enough, in addition to admiring and ruminating over this metaphoric sculpture about the image cast vs. the monstrosity within, I have been watching Dexter.  If you don’t know about the ShowTime series, it is about a sociopath serial-killer.  He leads a double life.  The image he casts is of a forensic detective, a loving boyfriend, dedicated brother.  His monster within, a monster born of childhood trauma, forces him to kill.  If you have not seen it, it is worth the time.  Smartly written and brimming with ethical dilemmas about good vs. evil.

What has gripped me so about Dexter and about Isabella Blow is the idea of intervention.  Does intervention work?  Are some things just too powerful to fight against?  Can the effects of childhood trauma be diminished with enough therapy?  Can medication take away the damaging urges without also quelling the artists’ drive?   Are any of our institutions equipped to deal with these problems?

Lots of questions, but I don’t have any answers.  I just know that in the last two years of my work in education, I encountered way too many children that I feared could not be helped.  Is it too much to hope that art might some way provide an answer?  Perhaps we are failing our children because we are failing to focus on art.  Just a thought.

Tolerating Durham

2 Feb

A couple of weeks ago, in honor of MLK Day, the Daily Beast (a part of the Newsweek online publication) ranked Durham, NC as the Most Tolerant City in America. Wow! As they say in Britain, I was gobsmacked. As a North Carolinian and Durhamite, how could my town – the one I worked in and lived around – be thusly ranked?

At the heart of my issue lies this: the first paragraph of the story boldly states “while segregated schools and lunch counters may be things of the past…” Hold on!  Did anyone from Newsweek actually step foot in Durham before making this declaration? So they skipped straight ahead to measuring other criteria.  By so doing, I am afraid that the Daily Beast is leaving readers with a false impression of an implied harmony that exists in the Bull City, at least from what I have observed and lived. All you have to do is step into the school where I worked in the heart of Durham, W. G. Pearson Gifted and Talented Magnet School, and see that the racial make up of the school’s children is predominantly black and brown. According to the Daily Beast article, Durham is nearly 85% white, yet Durham Public School are only roughly 68% white.

Is this what desegregated schools look like? So where are all those other white kids in school?

They are at Durham Academy, the Carolina Friends School, the Duke School for ChildrenTriangle Day School, or anywhere but Durham Public Schools, if their parents can manage it. Schools are segregated and getting to be more segregated each year that we suffer under No Child Left Behind. Charter schools, private schools and home schools are draining away families with means from the public school rosters in Durham and many other schools systems as parents become more convinced that public school is not good enough for their children – and unfortunately most of these parents are right. Magnet school configurations have attempted to lure affluent parents to struggling schools; and in some places, where a commitment to socio-economic diversity has been a driving force, the programs have thrived. Wake County is a great example. (Raleigh was number 18 in the Daily Beast’s rankings).

Many public schools have become a quagmire of testing, retesting, and remediation, all surrounding performance scores on standardized tests. The dominant emphasis is on test-taking skills and test scores not on the needs, abilities, interests and gifts of individual children. True child-centered public schools (even individual classrooms) have become as scarce as hens teeth. Public schools represent, on the micro-level, the growing chasm between the haves and the have-nots in America. The percentage of black Americans living in poverty continues to be gravely disproportionate to the number of white Americans living in poverty. This plays itself out in the housing sector; even though there are strict laws about equal housing, most neighborhoods remain segregated. And churches in most of America – well, that’s another issue all together. My point being: the Daily Beast’s quick little declaration that segregated schools are a thing of the past helps us all feel a little better about the true state of things.

This accolade is a great example, also, of how research and solid fact finding can fail to tell the story accurately. The Daily Beast used statistics from reliable sources – empirical data, quantitatively ranked to place Durham ahead of San Francisco, New York, and Chicago. But then, if tolerance means live and let live, then okay; I can let Durham have the number one slot. If progress means that we all live side-by-side and don’t really bother each other, it works; but somehow, I don’t think this is what Dr. King had in mind. Since the rankings were posted in his honor, I must take issue. I don’t think “sitting down at the table of brotherhood” meant that we would have separate tables. In the Durham where I worked, the folks were sitting down at the Chicken Hut while the Durham they were talking about in the article, most of those folks were sitting down at Nana’s, or maybe Four Square. These two sides of Durham may tolerate each other, but they rarely intersect. Maybe that is why the superintendent of the Durham Public School, , Eric Becoates, along with the Board of Education have made the mission statement of the school district “One Durham.” I wish them well in this endeavor because where the two Durham do intersect, like at W. G. Pearson Elementary, there is discord, dissent, and resentment  – anything but tolerance- but that is the topic of my next post. If Durham schools can become One Durham, then and only then will I agree that Durham is deserving of the Daily Beast ranking.

My 2 cents on the Occupiers

10 Jan

The Occupy Wall Street Movement has happened during the most busy, hectic, full-on disruptive chapter in my life, so I have not followed it closely. My excuse (and I say this sheepishly) is that my most recent residence did not have a TV, my former residence was a hotel with only Direct TV and the three moves have left me little time to read intelligently about what is going on.  I now live outside the US and should have time to read and get caught up, but at the moment am more inclined to write than read. From the few snippets I have caught, I have to say that I am pleased that a group is trying to collectively find a voice about an issue that is close to my heart, corporate bullying.

As a public educator, I have a lot of experience with bullying.  In my work life back home, I saw plenty of it: kids bullying each other, adults bullying kids, adults bullying other adults.  The power plays and intimidation are demeaning for the victims and revolting for everyone else having to function in that culture.  Most experts agree that the best way to turn the tide on a culture of bullying is for the bystanders to stand up and say “Enough!”  One article that I did read about the Occupy Movement was calling attention to the fact that many of the people involved had not been directly affected by the recession and implied, “What business do they have in the movement?”  I would like to imagine that those people who may have considered themselves bystanders were standing up for those of us who have been the victims of corporate bullying.

Here’s my story:

In 2006, I had been a loyal Verizon Wireless customer for about six years.  My kids were turning teen-agers and it was time to “add a line for $9.99.”  I had added my oldest son with no problems, but when I went to add my youngest about eighteen months later, all hell broke loose.  For the first part of the debacle, I will take some blame.  I was trying to save a buck and thought that Sprint was offering a better deal.  I called Verizon to make sure I would not be breaking my contractual agreement by moving my number to Sprint and was assured that I had met my agreement and was free to leave.  So, I ported numbers over to Sprint, spent a week with little to no cell signal in the area I lived, went back to Sprint and said, thanks but no thanks and ported my numbers back to Verizon. When going back to Verizon I went to my local Verizon store and explained the whole story to them, got reassured that they were thrilled to have me back and that they were simply activating my former account.  In the week that followed, I received two separate bills from Verizon: one for over $300 which included cancellation fees and one for over $200 that included initiation fees.  This prompted a one hour phone call during which I was transferred to no less than three technicians and a member of management to straighten it all out.  As I said, I was willing to accept part of the blame at that point for bringing Sprint into the mix, and at the end of the conversation, whipped out my credit card, paid an agreed upon amount that included some of the initiation fees but still seemed a hell of a lot of money, and was assured that it was all straightened out and I could expect to pay just less than $90 per month for the three of us to have excellent cell phone service. Let me just mention at this point that Sprint never charged me a cancellation fee and they refunded my initiation fee since I decided not to stay.

Things were fine for about two weeks and then I again received two bills from Verizon.  One showing a credit balance of $87 and one showing an overdue balance of $87.  This seemed easy enough.  I explained it to the representative, got transferred to billing, explained it again, 30 minutes later, I was assured it was  golden.  Fine.  Three days later while I was rushing from work to soccer practice, I dialed my husband to make sure he had the other kid on his radar and I get a recorded message – “Your phone service has been disrupted due to non-payment.  Please call  blah, blah, blah with your credit ready.  You will be charged a $25 fee on each line affected.” Really?

The next phone call with Verizon was held on speaker phone with my husband and myself, and we used a recording device to catch all the details and promises. Again, it took well over an hour, we walked back through every detail of every charge, and Verizon again concluded that I owed over $150 to reset our accounts and get it all working again.  Do you get the sense here that I am the kid having their lunch money taken?  Okay, I said, but I want you to say it – this pays up my account for this month, and hereafter, my bill for these three numbers will be predictable?  “Yes, Mrs. Mahaley, this should clear everything up and I am so sorry for your inconvenience.”  Cheap words from Bombay.

One week later, I was about to get on the interstate starting out on a one hundred-eighty mile trek to be with my mother who was having surgery, and called my husband to go over the intricacies of all the schlepping for the week to come.  Imagine my utter rage when guess what my phone told me?  Yep –  “Your phone service has been disrupted due to non-payment.  Please call  blah, blah, blah with your credit ready.  You will be charged a $25 fee on each line affected.”  What the?  Who has the time or energy to deal with this?

I had three hours to think about it.  Clearly, at this point Verizon is the one who has broken their contract with me.  I paid (and paid) for a service that they are not providing, have twice inconvenienced me, wasted hours of my time on the phone trying to straighten it out and I had spent over $300 in the last month for cell phone service I still did not have.  ENOUGH!

I gathered all my records, wrote a letter chronicling my endlessly frustrating saga ending with “I am done with Verizon.”  I made three copies of it and mailed it to Verizon at their billing headquarters, their corporate headquarters, and my local billing address.  I went to Alltell and opened  a new account with all new numbers.

A little over a week later, I got a call on my home phone.  “Hello, Ms. Mahaley?  This is Dan Orsibel from Verizon Wireless Headquarters.”  I have your letter here and I want to apologize for all this.”  Just as I was about to give a little exhale and accept his apology, he went on.  “And I want you to know that I am willing to let you out of the contract if you agree to pay half of one of the cancellation fees – $175.”  Even though I was seeing red, one of my strong suites is to remain calm in the moment.  “Mr. Orsibel, I won’t be paying Verizon another dime – you see I did not terminate my contract, you terminated my service without cause.  You broke the contract, not me.”

“Ms. Mahaley, I am making a very generous offer.  Believe me, you don’t want to take on my company.”

“Seriously, Mr. Orsibel.  It sounds like you are threatening me.”

“No, I am simply saying that you will regret this decision. Best wishes.”

After we hung up, I was blind with indignation.  How dare he?  I went into our office and looked at the phones. They were all lined up, dead as door nails on the credenza where I had laid them to rest after signing up with Alltel.  Suddenly, they came to life – all three showed bars on their antennae indicating service.  For three months, I got regular bills from Verizon charging me with service, late fees, cancelation fees, finally totaling around $780. Each month, I copied my manifesto and sent it off to the billing department.  The last bill I got warned me that the matter was being turned over to a collection agency.  “Bring it on.”

I had never been late on a bill before.  Even in the darkest of times, I have always managed to pay my bills.  A couple of times, due to an oversight or carelessness I have been charged a late fee, but never ever had a utility cut off or been referred to a collection agency.  It started with a semi-threatening letter which was easy enough to ignore.  The next was a phone call from a woman who was pleasant enough.  I stopped her midway through her speech and said, I am not paying it.  I told her a shortened version of what had happened and she apologized for bothering me.  I enjoyed a few weeks of being left alone, then a new collection agency started in.  I consulted my brother who is a lawyer.  He wrote a letter to Verizon and the current collection agency telling them to back off or I would file harassment charges.  The second collection agency handed it off to a third collection agency.  This one was more ferocious in its approach and started calling me at work, harassing the school secretary.  This is a long story, and I can’t make it any shorter except to say that this went on for three years.  I copied and mailed my manifesto no less than ten times.  During this period, I bought a car, got credit cards, even refinanced my house and was assured by my bank that they could care less about my dispute with Verizon because I am an excellent customer.

The rub, however, is that I did end up sending Verizon my money after all when they bought Alltel!  Oh, the wicked irony!

My point in all this is that as an individual I was powerless to stand up to Verizon.  Lucky for me, the damage they tried to inflict was minimal, but had I been just a bit more precarious in my credit standing, it could have been much worse.  As consumers, we are all really powerless to stand up to any large corporation unless we have laws on our side that protect us.  The current policies are insufficient and the political climate is not headed in that direction.  If Occupy Wall Street is bringing this issue to the forefront, if people are really willing to say, “Enough!” then I think we all have something to gain. I liken a society fueled by corporate greed to a school that is ruled by bullies.  Would you want to send your kids there everyday? Isn’t it time we all said, “Enough!’?

Staying warm and other metaphors

16 Nov

KM- “Did you get a package from me?”  Me- “No, was I supposed to get a package?” KM – “I felt bad that you have been cold so I ordered you an electric blanket – it should have been there by now.”

A down comforter, a space heater, a fluffy white blanket, a coat, ski gloves and nearly an electric blanket…the list of things my dear friends have bestowed on me in the past seven weeks is long.

This is odd because I am not a cold-natured person.  My husband used to refer to me as “the furnace” because of my tendency to radiate.  I used to relish the feel of cold tile on my feet in the mornings as I padded bare-footed into the bathroom.  I loved the chill of crispy cold sheets and have been known to flip my pillow over just to feel the cool side of an untouched pillow case. Cold is not usually what I am – in any sense of the word -at least not until recently.

In early October when I became the tenant of my dear friend in her 100 (+) year-old house in Hillsborough, North Carolina, I expected my first night to be sleepless.  I thought I would struggle because I had said good-bye to my darling for what was an unknown length of time – at that point it was looking like three months; but in reality, I tossed and turned all night because I was freezing.  No husband, record low temperatures, and a drafty old house added up to no sleep for me.  The next day, I told a friend I had been chilly and she loaned me a giant fluffy blanket to put on my bed.  That made things better mostly  because I realized that I am not really on my own even though I am.  On night two my new landlady/old friend came home and I mentioned it to her.  We both laughed when she realized that the heat in the house had actually been off.  She felt terrible and gave me free reign over the thermostat.  With that, I was ready to snooze the night away. Fluffy white blanket weighing me down, thermostat adjusted,  so imagine my surprise when night two found me freezing again.  Extra blankets, adjusted thermostat, still cold…what the?

At this point my husband had been gone a full two days.  He had flown away to live in London and I stayed behind having decided to enjoy a period of simplicity. Well, the real reason I stayed was because I was too nervous to leave.  We have one son who is a brand-new freshman in college and the other who moved into his first house with roommates, bills, and pets to deal with.  It seemed like a good idea to stay on the continent at least until the dust settled.  And alas, my life did get pretty simple.  I went from 2500 square feet to 125; from a family of four to just me; from well over $200 a week in groceries to next to nothing; from five loads of laundry every weekend, to one point five.  My new place is simple.  It has a computer at a small desk, a bookcase, the remnants of our liquor cabinet (providing a definite college dorm-feel) and my bed.   My bed is cozy if small, a little twin flocked with a girly quilt and extra pillows. By all accounts, my life is so much simpler and I am enjoying it.   It’s just that I am cold – unimaginably and inexplicably cold.

Obviously, I keep talking about it and my friends keep trying to fix it.  During a visit with another friend, she also commented on the temperature of my room and the next day, she delivered a space heater.  My friend/landlady saw it, felt terrible, and dragged a down blanket into the room dropping it on my bed.  Okay already, no more excuses to be cold!  I have all the accoutrements to stay warm and obviously a cadre of excellent friends looking out for me.

The truth is sleeping alone night after night is lonely and cold.  It makes my heart ache for the countless military spouses who sleep alone for months on end, knowing their other half is doing the same far away.  I fear this is not the kind of cold that can be solved with blankets and a space heater, though I deeply appreciate the gestures and kindness of my friends.  I’m cold on the inside, homesick for a home that existed between four people who are no longer calling the same place home.  I loved raising my kids and do not wish to do it over, but right now in this moment in time, I am unsure about what to do next as a wife and a mother and it just feels like winter.