Christmas 2009

This Summer, I met my new love, Firefly.

We are all still alive so I’ll cover that update first.  I don’t know how Lille is still alive.  She’s fat, sleeps all day, and now has discovered that she can bark, so she does on a regular basis while we play twenty questions regarding what she wants.  I’m well trained though, because I’ve stopped asking all of the regular things first and just abruptly end the conversation with “Cookie?” which then gets much praise and adoration from the fat dog.  We did a slew of tests on her recently, but the real diagnosis is just an old and fat dog.

Speaking of medical wonders, we’ve had a great year maxing out our medical insurance deductibles and having our premiums rise accordingly.  We were golden by April after my chin decided to meet the pavement of the French Quarter in New Orleans at 2 a.m. the night of the 40th birthday fiesta of John, as I was getting out of a cab and my heel caught the hem of my dress.  My camera survived the fall.  I was stunningly bloody gorgeous in the ER – so glamorous in fact that they put me in a pediatric examination room immediately in order to quarantine me from the “other” patients visiting Tulane than evening.  12 stitches later, I swear I had a chin lift.  I’m still going deaf in my right ear but the dizziness has stopped so I’m no longer a threat on the road driving my kids to their numerous activities.  What did you say?  Huh? You have to talk to my left ear.

Ashton also spent some time in the hospital this year after discovering that he could jiggle his brain by playing “dizzy lizzie” in the basement by having his head come in contact with the wall two days before we were supposed to go on a cruise for Spring Break.  Since the concussion caused him to vomit for 24 hours, we were admitted to the hospital until he could break the pattern and smuggled him and his black skull on the ship.  I still don’t think he’s right, but maybe it’s because he’s 7.  As the Neurologist stated, “boy, you really rang your bell!”

Jack, on the other hand, also had a slew of tests and the result was that he is allergic to Atlanta.  Dust mites (carpet), Lille, Mohammad’s weeds, our grass, mice, oak trees…. The kid sneezes all the time, and in the midst of the Pig Epidemic, he wasn’t achieving popular status with the teachers.  So, now he and I go twice a week to the allergist’s office for him to get a series of shots in order to build immunity for the NEXT FIVE YEARS.  Each visit takes about forty- five minutes.  Brilliant.  Thank God for online games on phones.  I’m a Poker shark now.

I’m really trying to figure out how to swing the tummy tuck into this year’s medical plan and get an insurance sponsored Mommy Makeover, but I’m not smart enough.  Mignonne had a bout of Fifth Disease followed up by the swine flu before it became famous.  John has been relatively healthy this year, but that’s because he’s been busy and keeps away from us with his office door closed.  But really, the kids are great, John is fine, and I’m alive.

When we last wrote, I was having a love affair with alcoholic grape juice of the red variety.  This summer, I met my new love, Firefly.  Nothing can be finer than some Sweet Tea, it’s a beautiful thing, and I highly recommend it to those that like something a bit more special than an Arnold Palmer in their water bottle 😉    We have been spending the last few summers in my most favorite place on earth, Daufuskie Island.  It’s heaven, and if you haven’t made up an excuse yet to come visit, you can now say you want to experience Firefly on the Calibogue and give us a call as you are heading towards South Cackalackie.  This year however will go down as the Year of the Mermaid.  Over the years, I have had my eye on this piece of artistic beauty, named Ethel Mermaid.  She’s a 7 foot, blue tailed, iron sculpture by the only artist I’ve ever proclaimed my “groupie” status about.

This past summer, I gave up on waiting for her to arrive as a gift, so I went into business for myself and started crabbing off the bridges and beaches of Daufuskie Island.  I became one with the crabs.  Our guests even got into the action, and since I hang out with a bunch of smart chicks, each one perfected our process with a bit more precision and grace…Tonging, Wellies, Net Sizes, Types of Chicken, net placement, times of the day to go…these became trade secrets.  I would check the tides on a daily basis, don my Wellies, and tie a piece of chicken wing onto a piece of string, tie it to my boot strap, and then cast it into the water and wait for the big one to take a bite, then slowly lure it into my net where it would be masterfully placed inside my bucket for the big crab boil later that afternoon.  I became The Crab Whisperer.  My Daufuskie Deviled crab became a hot item at the local farmer’s market each Tuesday morning.  I’d mix up a batch of the crab, stuff the shells, bake them, and wrap them in foil, put them in my cooler, and head on down to the dock in the six seater golf cart to sell to the locals…some days I’d be done in three minutes, other days it would take thirty to sell out.  I became “the crab lady”, and was a regular at the farmer’s market.  If I was running late, it wasn’t ever that terrible.  They’d just say, “Oh, she’s always late, she’s got the three kids, and plays tennis on Tuesday mornings.”  Ten weeks of sales and I made enough to buy the beautiful mermaid.  I’ve never worked so hard for something in my life, and the precious time spent with my kids trying to achieve something that I’ve wanted, well, I hope they got it.  Wrapping her up and driving her across the island in the golf cart with the three kids before getting her home in the minivan with a summer’s worth of treasure – absolutely the best feeling ever.  She now rests prominently in my bathroom over my tub, with three little fish, and one big fish.


I don’t really know what I learned from all of this besides the fact that hookers take Visa.

Eight years ago, I worked for a friend helping him start up his insurance advisory firm.  He had been a prior client of John’s at his old firm.  Since I was basically unemployable as a traveling consultant as Jack was just a baby, I helped Barton Fishback develop his insurance application and set up his office.   Ashton came along while I was working, and I really felt that I had the flexibility with my job and motherhood that I desired.  I had two nannies watching the boys, my cousin Tasha lived with us and worked for me at the office, and I was mentally motivated to do something entrepreneurial.

My job morphed into playing not only consultant for his internet endeavor, but also controller for his business, friend, office manager, and I was responsible for dodging paying his bills and paying credit cards just in time.  Our friendship was mutual.  Barton, John, and I would go out to dinner, Barton and I would go out to lunch, and we’d socialize together with Barton’s wife.

Two years into our working relationship, money started to get tight.  Barton would go on trips to Miami and disappear for a few days.  The bank would call and say that Barton’s credit card was maxed out, or that he had an interest payment due on his loan.  We had a box at Raymond James Stadium, season tickets to any USF basketball game we wanted to attend, and a box at Tropicana Field.  Since Barton didn’t pay his bills, he wasn’t really affected by the stress of making payroll for his employees simultaneously keeping up with the entertainment payments for sporting events.  I stopped paying myself so that we could pay the four women that also worked in the office for Barton and pay the rent.

Long story short, I started to notice some strange charges on the Visa card, and I called the number on the statement referencing the charge when we were getting up there in balance again.  As it would turn out, the charges were for “escort services”.  At that point, I decided to just keep my mouth shut.  One New Year’s Eve, Barton invited John and I out with him.  We scored a sitter and in the pouring down rain arrived at the most beautiful house where Barton told us to meet him.  Barton was there, but his wife, Grace was not.  Barton told us that Grace had left him for his best friend, and he was devastated.  We drove him home from the party because he left the sunroof open in his 7series BMW and his car was flooded.

It was kind of poetic, the fact that the whore mongering man’s wife had left him.  I could no longer  keep my mouth shut.  John, Barton, and I were all there later that night, sitting in his garage office as the rain poured down and I told him that I knew what extra curricular activities he had been engaging in, and if he truly thought that his marriage was going to survive, he couldn’t be so stupid as to think that his wife wasn’t aware that there were issues on his side as well.  Barton was shocked.

The next week Barton’s wife had moved back home.  Her lover had not left his wife that evening after all, and so there were Grace and Barton living back together and working on their marriage.  Barton and I went out to lunch and he tried to spin a woe is me story.  All I could think as he spoke was, “You charged hookers on the company credit card and I haven’t paid myself in four months!” but instead I said, “You’ve really placed me in a position that I am uncomfortable looking your wife in the eye.  If I know again that you’ve put your wife in a situation where you are exposing her to God knows what, I will have to tell her and I will no longer work for you.”  I did this while Derek Jeter ate a Cobb salad at the next table.

Two months later, I again was managing the money and reconciling the Visa statement.  And there it was, another charge on the company credit card for the same escort.  I pulled up the checking account, clicked my name as a payable and paid myself out in full.  I walked into Barton’s office, put the check on the desk and said, “sign it”.  He looked at me with guilt but also disappointment that I was following through on my threat.

We have never spoken since although we are on his client distribution list for emails and insurance updates.

I’m not really sure what lesson I learned from this entire phase in my life, besides the fact that hookers take credit cards and just because two married people cheat on each other doesn’t mean they won’t stay together.  But it was the first time I was personally exposed to a friend’s infidelity, and it broke my heart.  I didn’t need to judge, I just knew that I held myself up at a higher standard than others might hold themselves.

Barton’s infidelity was the beginning of a long list of friends that have disappointed me with their decisions regarding how they choose to respect their marriage.  I did learn though to keep my mouth shut as to my beliefs and opinions when those confessional times brought themselves to me.  I think that people spin their truth into something they can live with instead of knowing that right is right and wrong is wrong.  The struggle is to not give up to temptation when it stares you in the face.

There once was a tiger that removed his stripes and put on some spots and became a cheetah.

Are You There God?

Just Keep Swimming, just keep swimming.  Unfortunately, my name’s not Dory.

Are you there, God?  It’s me.  Sinclair.  I didn’t sleep well again last night.  Even with the medical assistance.  I’m just worrying, and it’s completely out of my hands.  I feel like I’m on the slow boat to failure, and sometimes I wish you’d just hurry mine along.  Head down, head down, that’s what we keep saying.  Just keep swimming, just keep swimming.  Unfortunately, my name’s not Dory.

I’m apathetic to my list of mundane chores.  I’m currently buried again in laundry, comprehensive requirements of sorting, washing, folding, putting away, and changing sheets.  For some obvious reason, Master Andrew’s room smells of decaying urine, so I went ahead a bought some Arm & Hammer Baking Soda Tropical Breeze powder and not only sprinkled it in his room, but also the downstairs family room carpet, the hallway carpet, and a portion of my own carpet for good luck.  I’m letting it sit there for the 30 suggested minutes, and actually am going to have to have it sit there for 90 minutes, since Miss M’s pickup is in ten minutes and I promised her I’d take her to McDonald’s and Ice Cream for lunch.  She is such a good child, I can’t go back on my word to her two inches.  So, I have a nice bit of laundry to fold after I vacuum 2000 square feet of carpeting and flooring once I return before the boys get home from school.    When I say a bit, it’s more like five heaping baskets full of wrinkled clothing, plus four loads to be thrown on top during my folding party.  At least I’ll plan to do that watching Ellen!

Master John has requested Gumbo tonight for supper, so I’ll be spending my afternoon making a roux, dicing vegetables, and sauteing onions so that it’s finished in time to rush out the door for Cub Scouts and the Space Derby tonight.  We’re not going to win, and we’ll be blamed for doing it wrong by the boys.  Gosh, I have  so much to look forward today.

John is at one of his executive meetings this morning, so I took a shower and got dressed before taking Miss M to school and then hit the bank and the grocery.  I even washed my hair.  My grocery list was so short, and I didn’t buy any alcohol, but I still didn’t get out of there for under $250.  I dread the grocery store, especially when I’m trying to be skinny and fit not embarrassingly into a swimsuit in 31 days…and yes, I’m counting.  I bought cleaning products since the skinny pills make me want to have everything shine and sparkle.  At least that is better than tearing into a bag of Goldfish.  They were on special.  $1 a bag.

Breathing deep but can’t catch my breath and my worry continues.


Dear Father Flanagan

Forgive Me Father, For I have sinned, and this is my confession.

I go to the same mass weekly, and I must say, I give a cheer of gratitude to God now when I see you there, as I know I understand your accent, you speak with a non-monotone tempo, you smell good, and we’re about the same age, although I’ve probably got you by 10 years.  I’m often hopeful that the group of priests is going to relate the homily to something that I can apply in my life, instead of a dissertation published in a catholic journal by a priest more out of touch with contemporary issues than the Ronald Reagan era appointed Supreme Court justices.  Honestly, mass and homilies at Holy Spirit are becoming painful.  Father Ricardo got it.  I would sprinkle myself with holy water, say the sign of the cross, and say, “Thank God” when he was there.  Things got really exciting the week we all thought he was holding a gun under his vestment, but instead it was a Burger King crown, or the time he told us that he had received a death threat from someone and he reminded us that he was from the “South Side”.  I was hooked and shouting “Amen!”

Your homily on Sunday really struck a chord with me and I was optimistic that your insight might indeed provide some relevance to my life.  I still feel like I’m listening to my little brother tell me what to do, but I believe you may have “lived a little”.  I hope your Homily meant to imply that we should go to confession more often rather than seeking out medical treatment, especially in light of the economy.  And that, my friend, was met with an “AMEN”.

As for the “proper” confession, I’m not into the face to face thing these days, unless it means I get to rest on my back on a couch and get prescription drugs afterwards, just as you referenced on Sunday.  The bad news/good news though is that I have a disease called Ménière’s disease which causes me to get dizzy frequently, sometimes when I am driving my kids around in my 2002 minivan reaching speeds of 80 mph!  Initially we feared it was a brain tumor, but I’ll get to live my life out fully with this incurable diagnosis.  Fully dizzy.  So, the symptoms are controlled through a low sodium diet and medication.  One of the drugs they prescribe for Ménière’s is Valium, another is a diuretic, and another is Meclizine.  I no longer retain water (some could say I’m a skinny bitch), I don’t get sea sick, and I used to be mellow.  I didn’t enjoy the effects of Valium (I had no emotion and combining it with post-partum depression didn’t work to fulfill my wifely obligations), so I got my internist/nannynapper (long story) to prescribe Alprazolam (aka Xanax) about six months ago and it’s done wonders for me, and my anxiety, and my marriage.  I take it before going to bed, my ears no longer ring constantly, when I take it regularly, I don’t feel like I am about to jump out of my skin, and I can sleep peacefully “sometimes”; last night wasn’t one of those nights.  Oh, did I mention, our “new” health insurance since starting my husband’s company three years ago doesn’t cover treatment for Ménière’s disease, so I have to sweet talk the gynecologist, neighborhood ER physician, and nanny napper into writing the prescriptions for me.  That has been stressful in itself, but for the time, I’ve got my disease under control.

So, for the time being, I’ve got the prescriptions covered; now I just have to continue to save my soul.    Personally, I can’t really cost justify seeing a psychiatrist for my worries. Our health insurance is a high deductible, and if I ever wanted to get different coverage, the new insurer might raise our rates, or worse, not cover us at all because I saw a shrink.   I know I’m going to get even crazier as the years progress.  Not to mention I can’t seem to get a regular mammogram to fit into my schedule.  I’m not one that keeps it all inside.  I have a very good communicative and supportive relationship with my husband about all things on my mind, besides sometimes him, of course.  And while I am the highly educated chauffeur, driving my children around while they are living their lives, and the pause button is on my own life and my own ambitions beyond my current deck of cards, I have a very introspective dialogue with God.  I’m very honest with myself the world around me.

I need feedback, if that is what your homily was suggesting that you could provide.  What really is a sin in my world of motherhood and wife dumb besides the random hangover which causes me to miss Mass?  Frankly, I’ve got enough “issues” that would probably cause the fellow behind me to become, let’s say, a little impatient and me, pressured.   I don’t know if “issues” are “sins”.   What do you want to hear about?  Putting it down in a “I got mad at my husband” categorical statement wouldn’t really illustrate what part of that was a sin, and seems a bit disingenuine and too “let’s check a box” Catholicism to me.

Forgive me father, for I have sinned, and because the confessional schedule, my children’s schedule, my husband’s schedule and my list of too many things to do between now and when I forget my sins, I’ve decided to just write to you instead of show up behind the booth on Saturday.  Besides, how can I be sure that I get to confess to you?  I mean, last year I was mustering up the courage to go to Father Ricardo, (we’re new to the area, from Florida – long story), because he was “with it”, and I felt like he could relate to me.  Just when I was getting comfortable with Father Ricardo, just when I was about to reveal my conscience, Promotion!  My oldest son gets his first confession from him, but not me!  I was at home with my two youngest children, one of whom had an ear infection.  However, my husband gets to absolve his sins – of course he does!  I leave for the summer, Father Ricardo leaves the parish, and I’m back to square one, praying not to be finally judged between then and when I get ready to feel comfortable with a new substitute.

You explained in your Homily the meaning of confess, and you said something about “getting it out”.  I’ve been doing that, by writing how I feel, and interpreting my own emotions, religious beliefs, and relationship with God my entire life.  I thank God every day, but I also get pissed off at God too.  I haven’t been to real confession in YEARS (I was a regular back in 2nd -12th grade with Father Joe in Virginia when Billy Joel was writing songs about me).  My last confession was a few years ago to a priest I believe was listening to the Florida game on his walkman, but I can assure you, it was pretty standard, and received a few Hail Mary’s and an Our Father as my penance.  After scoping out the confessional setup at Holy Spirit, well, if we’re not doing it in a sound proof booth, how can I feel comfortable feeling like someone can’t hear what we’re talking about?  To be completely honest, I think I’d start motioning for Father Paul to speak faster and use fewer adjectives.   It……would……..take…….forever……., Monsignor Ed smokes, and most likely I wouldn’t understand the penance from Father Pra.  So You, Father Flanagan….congratulations!

I don’t really think I’m a sinner and really have to dig deep inside my psyche to find some good ones.  Unless you include the misfortune of missing Mass on Sunday because one of my kids has a fever, we’re travelling, or very rarely, I’m suffering from a rabid headache from the night before, listening to the woes of a friend going through a horrible time or a job loss, or really just enjoying the time with my husband and some good New Orleans jazz.  I also know I’m sinning while the wine is being consumed as a therapeutic aide because I use the expression “No F***ing way” a lot while listening and think to myself, “what in God’s name where you thinking?”  Is judging someone a sin?  Probably using God’s name is a sin, right?  How about the F bomb?

I have an old friend, a lifelong single guy that has been dumped so many times by women, he’s now 38 and was rumored to be considering going into the priesthood.  It is probably a sin that I was hoping that he would do it so that I could confess to him, but also hoping that he wouldn’t go into the priesthood because just in case my marriage doesn’t work out, he’s pretty eligible.  He’s shorter than me, but isn’t everyone?  You remind me of him.  I’m sure there are a few women shaking their heads about you too.  He’s my friend on Facebook, and it’s beautiful.  Whenever I have a very lack of faith ridden post, Joe (not Father Joe) is there to provide some faith-based guidance.  Yeah, he probably should be a priest.  My roommate in New Orleans once had the unrequited love of her life declare himself to the priesthood in the midst of her pursuit, and I swear it’s caused her to be nuts fifteen years later.  Okay, it’s probably a sin that I hope most eligible single men in my life don’t get married “just in case”.  Don’t get me wrong.  I am completely committed to my marriage.  It’s not my side of the equation that I worry about.  Probably doubt is a sin here, right?

I’m very solutions oriented, so I know after years of listening to friends problems exactly what I would do if that same thing happened to me, and I’m known to be very decisive, but I know that I must be sinning in some form or fashion just being a party to it, or being disgusted by it.

The most recent drama is that my best friend and her husband have somehow managed to cause the housing crisis and financial meltdown because she never listened to Dave Ramsey or knew her pin number for the bank account until now, and has a shoe closet whose value exceeds the second mortgage on their first home.  I’ve been counseling them both for a year in the “save your marriage” “better or worse” line that I practice myself.  Initially he believed she was being unfaithful, so I suggested “His Needs, Her Needs” and “Forgiveness”, but time reveals the truth (now that she’s talking about it), and he’s mortgaged all three of their homes above their value instead of getting a JOB.  So, their business has probably caused me to fall under the “I’ve sinned” category because I am 100% on the side of the fence of divorce is necessary, and supporting my friend in her decision to proceed, and pray that one day she’ll meet a guy that’s not deceitful and a deadbeat.  So, you did well on Sunday.  Well enough that I pinched my husband while you were speaking and said, “That’s what I’ve been talking about!”  So, Congratulations, Father Flanagan, I’ve picked you as my Priest.  And with that award inherits me anonymously and all my sins as they arise.  I hope you don’t mind, but writing seems to work for me too, since I find myself up late at night ridden with anxiety and it would probably be rude for me to wake up Monsignor Ed, or the other priests all sleeping peacefully there in the house, dreaming in their respective languages and intonation, so that we could talk.  Plus, chances are, once we really get going, and I really need saving, you’ll get promoted and move on.  This way, we can still email.  I can’t see calling in my sins either, my children seem to interrupt me whenever I’m on the phone, and I really want to make an effort to confess, when I need confessing.

So, I hope emailing my confession to you works in the updated Vatican II doctrine is considered acceptable, and is considered polite.  I’ve been blogging to God for years.  Holy Spirit has a very updated and technologically savvy website, so I’m feeling that this might work for both of us.  You can think about it, and get back to me on your schedule too.