Monday, April 13, 2009

Winston and the boys

Ian wants a dog.

Grammy has ruined him; his life is incomplete without dogs, to which I say, "You want dogs? Go to Grammy's." bwahaha (She and PapPap have... what.... 8, I think?)

Thankfully for Ian, Justin and LuAnn have a nice dog right next door. He poops and pees and tracks mud on THEIR property, and my boys get to love on him. It's the best of both worlds!

Every now and then, J&L go out of town and leave the dog care to my kids. This time, they hired the boys. Not DANI, but Aidan and Ian. Dani was completely out of the loop on this one, and the boys were OVER THE MOON!

They love to feed Winston and make him obey commands for treats. It amazes me that such a big, energetic dog will sit and wait just because little ol' Ian tells him to. He's such a good dog!

Today, they fed him bright and early before school, but there wasn't enough time to take him out to play. They were pretty bummed about it. After school, Aidan said, "I told everyone in my class that I have a job. I can't believe I get PAID to feed my favorite DOG!"

Grammy, don't tell Lucy or Luke or Leia or Linus or Lunkhead or......

Monday, April 06, 2009


In my job, I routinely make photo posters using the kids' pictures and place them around the building. The kids love seeing their images on a real "poster". Here are a few I've created:

Today, I decided it was time for a new one.

I shot a self-portrait in the girls' bathroom at Fortress, where someone has started picking away the faux tile in one of the stalls (which was in bad shape to begin with), creating a big mess and an uglier wall over the last couple of months.

None of the students will confess to doing it, so I'm surprising the cuprit tomorrow with this new "poster". Heh.

I crack myself UP! I know the girls will snicker when they see it, and HOPEFULLY, the guilty party will stop making the sad wall even worse!

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Naked Guy and The Intern

*not his real name

I wrote this story early one morning almost 18 months ago, but I never blogged it because I didn't want to be the cause of any negative ramifications for Dylan*, who lived with us while working as an intern at Fortress Youth Development Center. I've been reminded of the story a couple of times in the last few days, and I'm thinkin' enough time has passed now to share the fun....

When I went to bed at 2 a.m., Dylan wasn't home. Darren and Aidan were out of town on a Cub Scout camp-out. Dani was asleep upstairs. Ian was sleeping on the couch. He had BEGGED to sleep on the couch, and I had let him fall asleep there. At the last minute, as I headed upstairs, I decided to go ahead and carry him to his bed. This is noteworthy, because 1) I knew he'd be mad when he woke up in his own bed after I told him he could sleep downstairs, and 2) he's heavy and I'm lazy.

At 3:30, Dani was awakened by two guys "yelling at people". I sleep like a rock, and didn't hear anything. At 4:00, she came and woke me up, saying, "Mom, I think something's wrong with Dylan. He's being really loud and knocking stuff around in his room. And I heard someone banging on the piano [downstairs]." She had knocked on Dylan's door, and when he told her to come in, she opened the door to see him standing there naked.

"I told him to be quiet 'cause I have to take the PSAT in a few hours," she explained to me. "Then he started shouting to 'other people' that they need to be quiet, then he whispered it, then he started saying 'I am God, I am God'."

"Stay here [in my room]," I told her. I went downstairs to see if anyone else was in the house and immediately noticed that our front door was standing wide open. I turned around to take a quick inventory of our TV, computer, etc. The neighbor's backyard light shines right through our family room window, which created a perfect silhouette of a naked guy lying on my couch. I was furious that Dylan was sleeping naked in my family room! I flipped on the light and immediately recognized that it wasn't Dylan.

"Who are you?" I demanded.
He jumped up, naked, and asked, "Who are you?"
"I live here. You're in my house. WHO ARE YOU?"
He kept repeating, "Who are yooooooooou?"

I realized that he must've come home with Dylan, and my first thought was that he was from the homeless shelter. (Dylan spends a lot of time volunteering there). Turns out, he was an old high school friend of Dylan's who was in town for the weekend.

"Where's Dylan?!" I asked.
He replied, "Oh God, Oh God, Oh God."

I walked to the base of the stairs and yelled for Dylan to come down. He didn't, so I bounded up the stairs and threw open the door to his room. He jumped up, startled, and said, "We're on LSD. Oh no. Oh God."

"I'm about one second away from calling the cops if you don't get your naked friend out of my house. Get your clothes on and get downstairs."

Meanwhile, I went downstairs again, where the naked guy was still standing in the family room. I said, "Either get some clothes on, or get upstairs. I don't need to see your naked butt in my family room." He kept saying that he was dead, and that dead people don't wear clothes.

I called Michael and asked him to come over. (Remember, Darren was out of town.) While I was on the phone with Michael, Naked Guy kept walking up to me, asking what was happening. I kept telling him to cover up. He followed me all around asking me if God was playing a joke on him. He'd tap me on the shoulder, and when I'd turn around, he would be in my face - almost nose to nose with me - asking, "Is this real? Am I dead?" Eventually, I walked him out the front door and locked it. He didn't protest or try to walk back in or anything. He just let me lead him right out the door. Naked Guy seemed really scared of me, which I thought was funny. Then again, I was LIVID, and I guess he could tell. I was extremely angry that Dylan had brought a guy to my home in this condition, and I was so very angry at Dylan for using drugs in my house. Also, I had just sloshed through a huge puddle of pee in my kitchen, which REALLY pissed me off.

I called Dylan's parents, who live about an hour away, and told them that Dylan was tripping on acid, and that I was evicting him, and that they needed to come get him. They said they'd be on the road in less than 15 minutes.

While I was on the phone with his parents, Dylan started smashing stuff upstairs (throwing pictures frames from the walls of the stairwell - breaking glass and knocking off a big chunk of plaster from the wall high above the window), which scared Dani to death. Thinking that Dylan was either coming after her for ratting him out, or that he was wigging out on me, she took a phone into Ian's room, locked the door, and called 911. Then she called my cell phone and said, "Mom! I just called 911. I'm sorry if I shouldn't have done that." I was proud of her, actually.

Meanwhile, Naked Guy started breaking into houses on my street. At one house, he was standing in the dining room muttering, "I'm in Hell" when the homeowner walked in and threatened to release his rottweilers if he didn't turn around and go right back out the window he'd just climbed through. At another house, the homeowner met him with a shotgun and said, "Get off my property before I blow your head off." Within minutes, there were cop cars everywhere. They arrested Naked Guy across the street from my house. I have to admit, it was pretty funny seeing this naked kid walking down the street with his hands cuffed behind his back and his jinglejangle flopping in the breeze.

I asked them to go upstairs and get Dylan as well. They said they couldn't, because he lived here and was allowed to be here. I said, "Even though he's tearing my house apart?" They said they couldn't do anything. I questioned, "Even if he has illegal drugs in my house?" Nope. "You can't search his room?" I pressed, "This is my house, and I'm giving you permission to search his room." They said that he had the right to a reasonable expectation of privacy, and they wouldn't search his room. I was so frustrated. Dani and I both argued with them pretty hard. Michael went down the street and talked to them too, and they gave him the same answers. "If he were out here, you wouldn't arrest him?" They said they could get him for public intoxication, so I offered to drag him out in the street for them. "Ma'am, we don't want you to do that. If he's doing acid, he could be a threat to the citizens." Uh, yah. That was kind of my point, seeing as how he was UPSTAIRS with my CHILDREN. Stupid laws that protect the guilty really piss me off.

Michael went upstairs and tried to make Dylan put clothes on and come outside. He had to send him back up twice because he came down naked. He finally came outside wearing boxers and a t-shirt and joined Dani and me on the porch, where we were watching Naked Guy be checked out by EMTs. (He'd cut himself up climbing through a broken window.) At this point, there were 4 police cars, an ambulance, and a fire truck sitting in front of my house, and neighbors were starting to appear on their porches in the pre-dawn light.

Dylan sat down and talked to us, and had moments of what seemed like clarity, where he'd say, "I'm so sorry. I can't believe I did this. I love you guys so much. You mean more to me than anyone. Why did I do this?" Then he'd go right back to talking nonsense. I'm telling you now that if there was EVER anything that would benefit Dani as far as making her determined NOT to try drugs, it was seeing Dylan in this tripped-out state. It was funny and heartbreaking at the same time.

"Oh my God, did we kill somebody?" he asked in a panic.
"I don't KNOW, Dylan," I exclaimed. "Did you?"
He couldn't figure out why there would be so many cops unless they'd killed someone. He asked Dani to go inside because he didn't want her to see him like that, but she refused. "You don't get to ask me to go inside," she said. "You woke me up at 3:30 in the morning. I have to take the PSAT in a few hours. You don't GET to ask me to leave." He said, "Okay." A couple of times, he said he was cold and wanted to go inside, and I'd say, "Sit down. You're not going back in my house." And he'd say, "Seriously? Okay." And he'd sit down. It was so weird how he could be violent at one moment, and totally compliant the next.

Dylan continued to hallucinate, and talked about how beautiful everything was. He'd say, "This is so beautiful. No. no. This is bad. Very bad. Beautiful. It's beautiful. No. It's bad. Bad." But every once in a while, he recognized reality. Eventually, he said he didn't want his friend to "face it alone", and he walked down to the police car, where they arrested him for "public intoxication other than alcohol". His dad got here before the cops left, and was able to see Dylan for a minute. He said he didn't blame us a bit for calling the police, and in fact, that if Dylan had come into THEIR home in this state and started breaking things, they'd have called the police too. He was really very nice about it.

Ian slept through the WHOLE THING. And let me tell you... there was a lot of noise in my house that night. I thank God that he was safely in his bedroom during all of it, and not downstairs in the middle of the commotion. (Especially since Naked Guy ended up on my couch!) Dani and I cleaned up all the glass (oh my GOSH, it carpeted every step of my stairs - tiny shards all in the carpet and everywhere) and mopped up the kitchen before she left for her PSAT. In a weird, surreal way, it turned out to be a neat bonding experience for us, so I'm actually thankful for THAT. Considering the circumstances, she did pretty well, but was 3 points shy of being "commended", which disqualified her for some scholarship opportunities. I think she's still pretty mad about that!

Dylan walked home later that day after being released from jail, wearing his t-shirt, boxers, and a pair of paper pants the jail had given him. He was very apologetic and promised it would never happen again.

"It shouldn't have happened at all," I said.
"I know. I'm sorry. I would never put your family in danger."
"But you DID put us in danger," I replied. "You put me in danger. You put my kids in danger. You put my NEIGHBORS in danger."
"You're really evicting me?" he asked.
"I really am. I have to. I can't risk this happening again." It was the hardest thing I've ever had to make myself do.

The following Monday, while at the police station giving my report, a neighbor I'd never met asked me if I was okay. I said, "Oh, I'm fine. He only broke picture frames at my house; I'm so sorry about what happened to yours!" (He'd had a huge picture window destroyed when Naked Guy heaved a planter full of flowers through it.)

"I'm not talking about your house," he continued. "I'm talking about YOU. The police told me that it was a domestic dispute." I'm sure my eyes must've bugged out of my head! "What?" I exclaimed. "It wasn't! My husband wasn't even in town!"

Turns out, Dani's phone call was registered as a domestic dispute call. It went something like this: "The guy who lives with us is breaking things and yelling, and my Mom is downstairs with another guy who I don't know!" Yep. Sounds like domestic problems to me. I'm horrified when I think about what the cops who showed up first must've thought: "Wow. This middle-aged chick has a teenage daughter, a live-in 22-year-old boyfriend, and another 22-year old on the side?? What a classy lady!" roflol. I straightened it all out, though, and our record is now clean again.

And now, 18 months later, I think we're ready to host an intern again. It's been pretty boring around here lately. ;)

Wednesday, April 01, 2009


It's the immature 10-year old boy in me, I guess - the same one who thinks farts are funny and who can't drive safely down Hwys 183 or 121 because the planes flying overhead are too mesmerizing - but I love a good April Fool.

This morning, I called Mecca. When her voice mail picked up, I made a snap decision to tell her we were moving to Ireland where Darren had landed his dream job. Apparently, my prank was believable, because Mecca sat down at her kitchen table with her hand on her forehead and cried while I described how we'd put our house on the market, that Darren would leave in the next few weeks and how the boys and I would wait to join him later after Dani was settled in at college. When I got to "April Fool's!", she cried even harder - from relief, she claims. I had no intention of making her cry, but HOW SWEET IS THAT? I feel really truly loved. (And I'm sorry for the cry, Mec. Sorta. ha!)

Then this afternoon, having not learned my lesson from Mecca, I grew evil horns and sent the following to my dearly beloved boss, Michael, and copied my coworker and good pal Terri:

I’ve been trying to think of a way to tell you this all week.
I guess I’ll just jump right in and say what needs to be said.

I’m giving my resignation. When I accepted this job, I just had no idea that I’d have to endure so much hardship. I’ve had rats watch me work from behind, mice climb up my leg and run across my feet, days when the building smells like sour mop, or
worse, like rancid green beans….

When I leave in the afternoons, I always make a list of items I intend to tackle first thing the next morning. Most days, like today, I still haven’t worked through the list when it’s time to leave again. People are always wanting something from me: either QuaQua needs another hug or some volunteer wants a tour of the building or a random group wants to know what they can do for 2 hours next Thursday. The phone rings all the ding dang time with parents whom I can’t understand wanting to know if their kid is here or not. Sometimes Nookie shows up for an unscheduled 2-hour counseling session. At least at home, I have caller ID and a peekie-hole and can
avoid these things if I’m not in the mood. Here, I’m a sitting duck.

Then there’s the issue of the internet going bonkers at least once a day and not allowing me to send/receive email or open attachments or crashing altogether. It makes me crazy, and when you add all these things up, I just don’t make enough to justify it all.

I love Fortress, but the time has come for me to take a step back and say April Fools. Unless you fire my sorry butt for this lame joke, I’ll be back again tomorrow, same bat time, same bat channel. The truth is, you couldn’t fire me if you wanted to. I love it here and I love every aspect of my job. (Except the phone. I truly do detest answering the phone.) But I love the rest of it. Even Ms. D, and even Ratatouille. Thanks again for blessing me with the opportunity to be here!

Terri's reply: "i almost threw up before I got to the bottom. good one"

Michael's reply, in part:

Not funny! :)

Before I got to the end my mind was going a thousand different directions, even in just the 20 seconds it took me, wondering how we could replace you because no one would have your passion, skill set and ability to juggle all the crap.

I’m glad it was an April fools; still not funny, my heart is still beating way too fast.

I hope at least one of them is laughing tomorrow.
Maybe by next April 1, I'll be a grown-up. :D