Friday, December 14, 2012

Shooting at a Connecticut elementary school

Shannon Hicks/AP 

What the hell is this world coming to? A gunman entered an elementary school in Connecticut this morning, killing 27 people, eighteen of whom were children. Children. Children, ages five to ten were gunned down at their school. This event is so horrific, so sickening I had a visceral reaction when I heard the news. I can still feel the dull pain in my chest.

Who does this? How can a person kill another, particularly an innocent child? A small child who is trusting and naïve and too young to even know to run or how to hide from a psychopath who is trying to hurt them?

I haven’t stopped shaking my head in anger and confusion since I read this horrible news on the internet. This tragedy defies understanding. My mind’s been circling around the thought of the scene, around the horror the children must have felt and the unbelievablity of receiving a phone call telling you your grade-school child has been shot at school. I shake my head as the thoughts swirl, out of grief, denial and with the feeble attempt to rid my mind of the horror that occurred this day.

The shooter is dead, found with a bulletproof vest and four weapons. How immensely unsatisfying. How WRONG that that person was able to choose when and how they died. How unfair that the shooter is no longer living so that they may suffer the way they so deserve! I wish that person were still alive so that the parents of the slain children could beat them to a bloody, pulpy mess. I wish the shooter could be brought from the edges of death, and made to suffer the pains they imposed on so many others, only to have to suffer all over again at the hands of the next set of grieving parents. Maybe this makes me a bad person, to wish this on another human being, but I believe that some things are beyond absolution. Some things are unforgivable.

ARGH!!! I want to scream and cry (more) for those innocent kids. I am so angry and so sickened. I am so sad.

God be with all those affected today.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012



Emma was diagnosed with congestive heart failure about a year and a half ago.  She is on Lasix, a diuretic for her heart.  When she was diagnosed, it was mild but it is a progressive disease and causes enlargement of the heart and fluid retention.  She is still an active girl, and I can't keep her out of the pool when the kids are swimming.  

This weekend, she was acting really weird.  She was holding her head at a funny angle, she had a strange look on her doggie face and her breath was horrid.  She was being extra cuddly, too.  On Saturday night, while she was eating, Sam noticed blood; she was bleeding from her mouth.  We took her to the emergency vet and she was given antibiotics for a dental infection. 

I followed up with her regular vet yesterday.  I was so thankful that it was "only" a tooth infection that was illin' her.  The vet gave me bad news, however.

She has advanced dental disease, despite her teeth being cleaned a year and a half ago.  The infection from her gums has gotten into her blood stream and she is too high-risk to undergo general anesthesia for a dental cleaning.  Her heart condition has progressed and the anesthesia could kill her.  She is 15 years old, with a heart condition.  

The vet didn't have any good options for me.  She is continuing her antibiotics for her dental infection, but he is hesitant about surgically cleaning the infection.  He took an X-ray of her heart and it showed increased enlargement.  We're waiting for her blood test results to make a final decision.  

If we can't do the dental, our only other option is to treat the infection and any other infections that come up due to her bad teeth. New infections are inevitable without cleaning under her gums, so she'll have to stay on antibiotics until she dies. The vet said there are things we can do to keep her as comfortable as possible.  He said she doesn't have much time left.

I know my dog is fifteen years old, but hearing that she is dying is not easy.  That seems like a "no duh" statement, but you think I'd be somewhat prepared for her to go.  I'm just not.

I've had her since I was 22 years old.  She has seen me through several moves, two marriages and the birth of two babies.  She is the longest relationship I've had outside of my immediate family.  She IS my family and it hurts like hell to think she won't be with me much longer.  When I think back over my adult life, she has always been my one constant.  When I brought her home, she was three pounds.  She was so tiny!  She is my constant companion and I am her person.  I am so very sad.

I am however SO grateful that I have this time to be with her before she goes to doggie heaven.  She has definitely perked up since the weekend, and I think the antibiotics are helping her.  She is *very* happy with her new soft food and if I didn't tell you she was sick you wouldn't know it. She is small, but mighty.

I'm keeping her by my side every minute, and giving her extra love.  She is the sweetest thing and I believe it is true that dogs can sense their human's feelings.  It is as though she is comforting me. 

My brother's dog, Jackson, died a few months ago from cancer.  He was a beautiful golden retriever.  My brother and his family had to put him down because the cancer had ravaged his insides.  His illness happened so quickly.  One week he seemed fine, and the next week he was gone.  He and I talked about a dog's resilience to pain and how warning signs are there when we're able to look back and see them.  When Jack died, my brother told his kids, "Jack gave us ten years of happiness, and one day of sadness.  I'll take it."  I try to keep that foremost in my mind when the thought of losing Emma becomes too much to bear.  

I have had a decade and a half with this special creature.  I am so lucky I had Emma raise me.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Fuck Cancer

Autumn is my favorite time of the year. I love when the weather starts to change and fallen acorns crunch under my shoes. I love my fall decorations bursting colors of orange, red and yellow. The crispness in the air helps me shake loose the mental stagnation that the humid summer brings. I love the smell of pumpkin spice and cinnamon.

I love that the whole world turns pink for Breast Cancer Awareness month – when pro football players don pink shoes to support the boobs in their life. It is the time when women discuss with candid openness the health of their breasts and how real and how HERE breast cancer is. Everywhere you look, people are wearing pink ribbons or pink shirts. You can’t NOT think about cancer this month, and the collective awareness it brings is changing how we think.

This month I’ve thought often of my dear friend Nancy. She didn’t die of breast cancer, but lung cancer. It has been almost five years since she passed and I miss her every day. A year and a half she fought the hard battle with Chemo and Radiation leading the charge. I found an email I wrote to her a year before she died:

November 22, 2006

Dear Nancy,
   I just finished setting the dining room table for tomorrow's big feast.  I have the turkey thawing on the counter and I've written my fifth list of things to do so I don't forget anything in my holiday haste.  Tomorrow is my Mom's birthday too.  I have to remember to make her a card.

Stop.  Breathe.  I remember something more important.  You.

I am so thankful for you.  You are such a shining star in my life and you have made me a better person just by being my friend.  I am thankful for the kindness that you've taught me through the selfless acts you have shown to others.  I am thankful for your positive attitude even when faced with the greatest adversity.  I am thankful for your realism and your fearlessness for being YOU, no matter what anyone else thinks.  I'm thankful for your simplicity and for making life seem so grand when you have a good book, Pete and some paints.  I'm thankful for your sense of humor and the way you can laugh at yourself, especially when the kitchen light gets the best of you.  I'm thankful for the love you have shown to me and I'm positive I must have done something pretty damn good in my life to deserve you in it.  I'm thankful for your hugs and your warmth.  I'm thankful that you no longer have a tumor in your brain.  I'm thankful for your life.  I'm thankful for your doctors that are making you better.  I'm so very thankful for that wonderful man you have by your side, walking with you and holding you up through this shit storm called cancer.  I am thankful for the love I have for you because it fills me up and renews my faith in the world that there still are good people.  I'm thankful for your strength.  You are so very strong.

I love you so much, Nancy.  I pray for you every day.  I wanted to tell you how very much you mean to me.  You are my heart. Happy Thanksgiving.

Love your friend,

Before my friend passed away, I purchased a cross-stitch pattern for her. I worked every free minute so I could frame it and mail to Nancy. I threaded my needle with focus and worked with the determination of someone about to lose a friend. I sewed frantically.

She died before I finished.

After that phone call, I picked myself up and with a tear-stained face I walked to my bedroom. My hands tenderly folded the unfinished piece of fabric and tucked it into my nightstand drawer where it stayed for the next five years.

This month I was rooting through my closet when out of a box fell this old cross-stitch hoop. The hoop was pink and a smile crept up the corners of my mouth.


I put the box away, one cross-stitch pattern lighter and I went to work. I needed to finish this for my friend. And so I did.

Fuck Cancer

This is for you, Nancy.

And this is for my ex-father-in-law, who was diagnosed with stage 4 esophageal cancer and kicked it’s ass after six months of intensive chemo. He is in remission. Thank you, God.

This is for Aunt Madeline who lost her life to ovarian cancer.

This is for my friend Matt who had melanoma removed from his back and goes to the dermatologist regularly so he can be the best father and husband for his girls.

This is for my grandmother I never met because she lost her life to lung cancer when my Mom was only thirteen.

This is for my grandfather who also lost his life to lung cancer when I was seven.

This is for my friend, Nicole who takes care of her husband who is battling cancer. Her strength is so incredibly admirable.

This is for Stephanie’s mom, Sharon, who lost her life to breast cancer. She used to French braid my hair when I was a kid and she had a beautiful smile.

This is for Ernesto’s mom, Maria, who died of lung cancer last year. She was such an important part of my life, teaching me lessons with her Spanglish and tender eyes.

This is for my brother’s dog, Jackson who died of cancer a few months ago.

This is for my friend, Adam who had surgery for cancer over a year ago. He is cured!

This is for Steve, who died from kidney cancer at age 35.  He is missed dearly by his wife and three children.

This is for the mom at my son’s pre-school who last year had no hair because of chemo. This is for the little fist pump I do when I see her hair growing back and her color returning.

This is for Kelly’s dad, who is gone now but sends cardinals every now and again to say hi.

This is for my childhood friend, Scott, who died in his early twenties from metastatic melanoma. We miss you, truly.

This is for Ted, the bartender at a local restaurant, who has been fighting cancer for the last year and is kicking ass and taking names.

This is for Aunt G, who caught her breast cancer so early she was able to eradicate it with a few rounds of radiation. We’re so thankful for your diligent doctors.

This is for Dennis who just had a melanoma removed. No freckle goes unchecked!

This is for Uncle Greg who is in remission from lymphoma. 

This is for Holly and Jim who battled cancer with their daughter and won! (Although it is probably inappropriate for a little girl, the sentiment is still the same. ;) )

This is for everyone I know who has cancer or someone affected by cancer. This is for the people who take care of their sick loved ones, a job that is often overlooked yet harder than hell.

And finally, this is for Nancy’s son who was diagnosed with cancer last year. Henry, you have a part of your mom in you and that is better than any drug or treatment. May you look at this and know how loved you and your mom are. You are going to get through this.

Want to give cancer the big F-U for someone in your life? Feel free to keep it going.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Golden opportunity

Sam had to write a story today about a golden coin. Together we sat and brainstormed using the mind-mapping technique. He finished his story, complete with a compelling arc and compassionate ending, and I returned to my writing roots, teaching my son the creative process the way I learned it.

Thank you, Life for giving me the opportunity to do what I love most with whom I love most.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

This is not funny. At all.

people laughing

Each night my kids come home from school with their planners that I have to review and initial.  And each night, I sign “SS” in my scrolling handwriting, and it looks all loopy and pretty and shit. 

Last night I decided to spice things up a bit, because oooh burn!  That’s how I roll and I’m loco-crazy!  I wrote:

I, Shannon Sinanian, hereby declare I reviewed Max’s folder and proclaim this writing as proof of such.

Today at pick up, Max’s teacher plucked his folder out of the bin, pulled me aside and whispered, “Is everything ok?”  She pointed to my proclamation from the night before.

I stared at her, looking confused. What else is new?

“I was just wondering if this is something, ya know, legal you had to put in the planner because of, well, you know.”  Pre-School teachers apparently are not allowed to say the word “divorce.”

“Oh!  That!  No, I was just being a smart ass.”  Failure.

“Okay, I was wondering! Whew! I asked two of the other teachers and they thought maybe you were being funny, but I wasn’t sure.” Maybe? Like, perhaps, on some planet without any other funny people anywhere.

“Oh, well, that was just me. Trying to be funny!” Next time I’ll include a recording of a rimshot (

“Yes, I know you’re a writer.  I appreciate the creativity.” Gold star.

Tomorrow I’m going to sign the planner: “Shannon Sina.. OH MY GOD THE BUGS! GET THEM OFF GET THEM OFF GET THEM OFF!” We’ll see if she meets me at the door with the paramedics and a straight jacket.

Sunday, October 07, 2012

I am feeling pretty down today, mostly because I have not been able to spend my son’s birthday weekend with him.  I went out in the yard and sweat out some of my frustrations yet I came inside feeling unsatisfied.

I sat down to my computer and stared at my reflection in the glare of the monitor.  Out of the blue, I typed into the URL line,

If this domain doesn’t exist, them I’m going to buy it.

The site loaded and on a white page, this is what I found:


Thank you, Random, Brilliant Person. 

This is just what I needed today.

Friday, October 05, 2012

Hello, Seven!

I’m running out of cake. And lunch meat and fruit squeezies and waffles. Well, it’s no wonder – I have a seven in my house.

Boy eldest is seven today. Seven. That is crazy stuff, yo. Seven years ago I unknowingly stepped into the Parenting Time Warp. Sam came out of the sunroof, he had a couple bottles and dirtied a few diapers and before I knew it he was unloading my refrigerator each day after school and saying things like, “I need to use the john.”

Despite the speed at which this growing-up crap is happening, I love this age. More than ever before, I have an insight into the man Sam will one day become. He loves to build things and draw. He snuggles me like he’s still a toddler and he storms away when he gets mad. When friends are too much for him, he sneaks off to unwind and regroup in his room, alone. He loves to brush my hair as we talk about his day; all the while instructing me on how to get my hair to shine like satin.

He says, “Fair enough” when I throw my Mom-logic at him. Most adults handle conversations with less grace.

Sam challenges me – oh can he get under my skin! When he doesn’t want to do a thing, he roots himself like an old oak tree. He is unmovable. He throws his dirty clothes and wet towels on the floor, despite my constant haranguing. He is opinionated and strong-willed. When Sam and I battle wills, we are like a force of nature. High pressure meeting low pressure. Molten lava flowing into the cool, blue sea. Apple vs. PC.

Oh Sam, you and I can really go at it!

But he has a deeply profound impact on my life. Yes, with him I became a mother, but it is so much more than that. Sam makes me a better person. He makes me question my words and think around a problem for the best possible solution. He shows me there are different ways to do things; fast and furious isn’t always better than slow and methodical. He makes me pick apart my parenting and piece the puzzle back together again. I often bang my head from this exercise, but in the end I know I’m a better mom for it. And he waits patiently while I work it all out.

He does all of this just by being him.

Sam, you are a handful. You are passionate and intelligent and you want to know why. “Because I said so,” pisses you off as much as it did me when I was your age. You test me and you charm me and my love for you is immeasurable.

You are my son.

As you so eloquently wrote in a card to me, “I love you 100,000,000,600,820,000 kisses and hugs. I think that you are the best!”

Right back ‘atcha, Bananas.


“Seven” by They Might Be Giants

Monday, September 24, 2012

Thank you for being a friend

red wine toast


Hi, I’m here. All humbled and shit from the OVERWHELMING outpour of love and offers of wine I received from the Internet. You people rock and make me feel so much better after my curse-filled rant. Getting that off my chest was hugely cathartic. I truly have reached the point of not caring, and that being said I harbor no ill-will toward any of my old pals.

I walked around town this weekend, looking over my shoulder expecting to see my old group of friends shoot me a collective middle finger -  which would be AWESOME and make me want to go over and hug them all and totally risk a punch to the face.

Life happens, things change and people move on. Some do it with grace and aplomb while others get all twitchy and flick people off while saying “fuck” a lot.

On a positive note, my social calendar is now full for the next 3.67 years with offers to drink wine and chat. There are few things that can’t be solved by good company and a full-bodied cabernet.

I. Am. Honored.

I am also preemptively looking for an AA sponsor.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

All apologies

I am pissed off and I want to talk about it.


When I got divorced, hell even separated, I was a mess trying to figure out to do with myself. I couldn’t decide what do with my ever-changing emotions. I went through the seven stages of grief every hour and I didn’t make for very good company. In fact, I was so concerned about the feelings of others that I ostracized myself to preserve my relationships. Who wanted to hang out with a depressed, angry, sad, liberated woman in denial?

As I sat, brewing, stewing, I was losing friendships. My reclusiveness was offensive apparently. I didn’t call people enough. I didn’t include people enough in my misery, or I was too chipper on the phone when they did call.

“Well, don’t you sound happy?” I was once asked.

Well, excuse the fuck out of me for not slitting my wrists.

I scrolled through the misery-inducing news feed on Face Book, wracked with sobs at the pictures of my old friends arm in arm, faces beaming at outings I wasn’t invited to. Week after week, month after month, I tried to pull my shit together enough to show my face to the world. The harder I tried, the further away that reality seemed and I cried into my keyboard as I let fucking Face Book shred my heart.

As time went on, I became stronger. Surer. More OK with my new life. I was ready to be at least pleasant to others. Oh how I longed for the company of my friends! How a girls’ night would renew me! I needed the company of women and the buzz of red wine to replenish my broken spirit. What a stab in the heart it was to learn I was no longer welcome in my den. I was banished and I didn’t even know why.

The pain in my stomach still lingers.

When divorce was eminent, when the last person to believe it (me) finally realized that my marriage couldn’t be salvaged, I was comforted by the support system that I had to get me through the rough spots. I envisioned my friends talking me through my sadness, picking me up and getting me out even when I protested. I imagined laughing through my tears and hugging the women who helped me to see the silver lining in the dark cloud of divorce.

Instead my phone never rang. My evenings blurred into nights and I spent them alone. I foolishly gave my friends the benefit of the doubt – surely they’re busy with their kids or jobs and haven’t had time to call. GNO pictures on Face Book! Maybe they don’t know what to say. My ex-husband at parties of my old friends!

I’ve stewed about this for months. I’ve excused the hurts doled out to me because, well, divorce is uncomfortable, right? People don’t know how to handle me as a separate entity. Who should they side with? We’re both nice people – what are they to do?

I’m here to apologize for fucking up your guest list. No really. My MARRIAGE IS OVER, but please. Allow me to extend my deepest fucking apologies.

I’ve thought endless times that if I post how I really feel that I risk losing friends. I thought that perhaps one day, my old crew would accept me and welcome me back. Maybe one day things would be as they were and we’d drink wine and laugh about the trials of being women. Maybe one day I’d be a part of the group that left me like a bad habit when I decided to end my marriage.

I guess I grew strong enough to not give a shit. Anymore.

Surely I’m not the only one this has happened to? The cliché that you divorce your entire life exists for a reason, right? Have you been a victim of losing your friends along with your spouse? I’d like to hear your story.

I know it feels good to finally tell mine.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

9/11–Eleven years later

My son asked me today what Patriot Day is. I hesitated, unsure of how to answer his question and maintain his innocence. Do I want my six-year old to know of the horrors that exist in this world? Do I want him to fear airplanes flying in the sky or people who have different beliefs than us?

The answer is no, but I answered him honestly nonetheless.

I explained that there are people in this world that are filled with hate, and they use that hate to hurt others. I told him that on this day, eleven years ago, some bad people crashed airplanes into the Twin Towers and many people died. I told him the buildings are gone now, but our country built a new one to take their place. I showed him a picture of One World Trade Center and he said, “Cool!” I hugged him a little longer than usual before he walked away.


I stared at the photo of One World Trade Center and felt a mix of emotions. This building represents our nation’s resilience, our ability to overcome adversity and rebuild. The reflective glass symbolizes our remembrance – we will always reflect on the loss our country endured.

I also felt emptiness as I gazed upon the photo. Despite the majesty of the new structure, it can never be what once was. It can never replace the lives that were senselessly taken or erase the scar with which our nation is forever branded.

I read my 9/11 blog post from six years ago and although my life has changed, my feelings have not.

It has been eleven years since that horrible day.


Eleven years ago, on September 11th, our country suffered the largest terrorist attack on U.S. soil in American history. And for eleven years, on this day a heaviness settles over this country as we mourn the loss of thousands innocent lives.

Our country, divided during this election year, comes together to honor those who lost their lives. We mourn with the families who grieve their lost loved ones and we remember the indelible mark left on our great nation. We will never be the same, and we will never forget.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Unadulterated Joy

We rented a huge water slide for our Labor Day weekend party. There were eleven kids and just as many adults at my house and the slide was worth every penny. It had two slide lanes and the kids had a blast racing each other to the bottom. They spent hours climbing the slippery ladder, gripping the rope as they climbed toward the sky. The summit of the slide stood 22 feet above the ground. It wasn’t called the Tsunami for nothing. Wet, muscled bodies of kids ages 4 – 14 slid down and splashed in the water below.

photo (10)

After our BBQ dinner was served and the black plastic trash bags were over flowing with red solo cups and soggy paper plates, the adults donned their suits and braved the Tsunami. Kids and parents paired up to have tandem races. My neighbor even went in her dress! The 30-Somethings felt like kids again, laughing and wiping away mascara smudges, as our kids watched with eye-rolling giggles.

As I pulled myself up the ladder, I spotted my son, Sam at the bottom waiting his turn to begin his climb.

“Sam!” I yelled, motioning with my hand for him to climb up to meet me.

I stood aside and let the other kids pass until Sam and I were together. We reached the top, dripping hose water and breathing in the faint smell of canvas and mildew.

“C’mon!” I beckoned, sounding like a 12-year old girl with my voice screeching over the sound of the dual blowers.

Sam sat in front of me and Uncle Patrick positioned himself in the lane beside us. Together we yelled, “1 – 2 – 3 – GO!”

I pushed off as hard as I could, trying to get purchase on the wet slide. I wrapped my arms around my son and felt my stomach leap into my throat as we descended.

SPLASH! We landed in the pool at the same time and almost emptied it with our enormous wake.

Sam jumped up and pumped his fists yelling, “THAT WAS AWESOME! THAT WAS AWESOME!”

His voice cracked under his excitement. Adrenaline pulsed through him as he shouted his delight.

I lumbered to my feet, hiding tears behind my water-soaked face.

I hugged Patrick and laughed.

The moment when my serious, subdued son let out screams of unadulterated joy was pure magic. Never had Sam reacted to a gift or toy with such enthusiasm. I stood in the pool at the bottom of the slide and the entire world melted away from me. All I could see was Sam, pumping his fists in Michael Phelps fashion, not from something I had given him, but from something we did.



I’ll remember that moment for all of my days.


Thursday, August 30, 2012

Principal says School Secretary Not Authorized to Withhold My Son


Monday was an exercise in patience and control for me. I went to my son’s school to pick him up early and was told the school would not release him to me. It was an emotional day, to be sure, chronicled in my previous post.

I met with the principal regarding the treatment I received and she assured me that no instruction was given to the office staff to withhold students. In fact, because of the weather, several parents picked their children up from school early. The principal informed me that she was monitoring the weather, but had not declared a code for emergency procedures. She was baffled as to why the secretary would not allow me to have my son.

She said to me the magic words, “At no time can the office staff keep a parent from retrieving their child. In fact, the administration can’t even do that. The parent is the final say.”

Music to my ears.

She assured me she would address this with the employee in question and follow up with me. She thanked me for making her aware of the issue and told me she is constantly striving for excellence in all areas of her school. Then she metaphorically patted me on the head and handed me my blankie before she sent me on my way.

Man, she’s good.

I left feeling pretty much like I thought I would – unsatisfied yet quieted. I re-hashed my story to her three times, and she patiently listened to each rendition. She identified with my feelings, being a parent herself and promised me this would not happen again.

During the altercation on Monday, I was angry. So angry in fact, that to speak was to scream. I was panicked that I could not get to my son, yet I reminded myself that he was safe. To storm the classroom would only cause unnecessary drama, possibly revoke my volunteering privileges and embarrass my son in the meantime. Every part of me wanted to kick the door open and swoop in for my baby. My heart was hammering and hands were shaking. I was in protective mode and how I managed to keep my cool, I’ll never know. Those who know me know I don’t have an issue with speaking up.

When he was finally released, the secretary would not allow Sam to get his backpack. All week we had to double up on homework to make up for the homework he missed on Monday night. Sam suffered for her ego and I let the principal know that, too.

The whole thing is complete bullshit.

So, at the end of this ridiculous adventure, I’m left feeling empty. I did what I could, but nothing can get back the time I spent furious and panicked. No amount of “talking to” will rid me of the pit I had in my stomach when Sam scrambled out of bed at 9:15pm, “Mom! I didn’t do my homework!”

No son you didn’t. The mean lady in the office made sure of that.

Do I want to see her fired? Not really. Would I like an apology? You betcha. Will I ever let this happen again? Hell no.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Public School holds children hostage



My son cried as he got of the car today. He said his tummy hurt and asked his dad for our phone numbers in case he needed to call. Sam suffers from abdominal migraines, so at 10:30am I decided to drive up to the school to pick him up.

I arrived in the front office, said hello to the receptionist and told her I’d like to pick my son up from school. She called the teacher and asked, “How is Sam feeling?” She hung up the phone and said to me, “He’s fine,” and turned in her chair and continued about her work.

Slightly taken aback, I said, “I’d like to pick him up anyway because I know he wouldn’t tell the teacher if he wasn’t feeling well.”

She looked at me and gave me a flat, “No.”

“No? B-but I’m his mother.” I stammered.

“There is a tornado warning so we won’t let you have him.”


Those words echoed around in my head and I could feel the bile rise up in my stomach. The protective instinct in a mother is strong. I knew my son needed me and I wanted him NOW.

“I can’t pick my son up because of a tornado warning? Is it a warning or a watch?”

“It’s a warning, that’s why they won’t let the kids out of the classroom.” She again dismissed me without further explanation.

Deep breath, Shannon…

“How long is the tornado warning in effect?”

“Until 11:30 or so.”

She picked up the walkie talkie and squawked into it. She was through with me. She didn’t even glance up at me, a bewildered mother, standing at the counter.

With shaking hands, I picked up my umbrella and walked out of the office. It took every ounce of control to stay calm.

Being told I was not allowed to have my child incited a bolt of panic in me. I am HIS MOTHER, for crying out loud. I make the decisions for him. I decide if he is too sick to stay in school. I decide if the weather is too poor for my child to venture outdoors. I am the ultimate authority regarding his health and well being. I’ll be damned if a dismissive woman is going to tell me I can’t have my kid!

I sat in my car and tried to steady my shaking hands. I took several deep breaths and picked up my iPhone to check the weather. The tornado warning expired at 11:14am. I sat in the parking lot of my child’s school, watching the clock and watching children line up outside under the breezeway. The time was 11:12am. The weather conditions were so treacherous that a mother was not allowed to take her child home, yet twenty students lined up outside for lunch. Unbelievable.

How could this be? How could I be denied access to my own kid and watch an obvious breach of policy right outside the office doors?

I understand there are county-wide policies regarding poor weather conditions. I don’t agree with them necessarily, but I know better than to argue my point with the receptionist at the school office. I understand that if I feel strongly against the school policy, I can take it up with the school board or send my kid to private school. I get that.

What I DON’T get is the dismissive treatment I received in the school office today. My child is a first grader, so it is not far-fetched to believe that I may not be apprised of the weather policy. I may not be aware that certain weather conditions keep the school from releasing the child to their parent. (Whether or not I agree with such a policy is irrelevant at this point.)

I DON’T get how this person can refuse me access to my child and dismiss me like an unruly adolescent. I wasn’t offered an explanation or an alternative solution. No parent deserves to be treated like that. I did not drive to the school to ASK PERMISSION to see my child. I did not ask the receptionist to assess my child’s wellbeing via a 10-second conversation over the intercom. I came to take my child home. I am his mother. It is my right.

I waited until the tornado warning had passed, I collected myself and I walked back into the office. I approached the counter, set my driver’s license down and said, “I’m here to pick up my son.”

I received several sideways glances and was told to have a seat. A few minutes later, the receptionist walked around the corner and called from the hallway, “Here’s your son, but he can’t have his backpack. It’s raining too bad to have two other students walk the hallways with him.”

Sam came to me and started crying. He didn’t feel well.

The administrators would not allow me to walk my child to his classroom to get his backpack. I am registered with the county and I frequently volunteer my time at this school. Sam has homework due tomorrow. Unbelievable. Again.

I put my arm around my crying son and walked to the car. I did not press the issue in front of Sam. I just wanted to get him home. Home, where he belongs when he isn’t feeling well.

I am livid.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Top 7 ways to survive car line

car line

Does this look familiar?  Do you spend each weekday afternoon stuck in the dreaded car line?  Don’t fret, I’ve come up with seven sure-fire ways to spice up your afternoon car time


1. Sort socks.  This is the most time consuming part of laundry, especially if your husband wears work socks with tiny designs.  Are those green diamonds or dots? Why the hell can’t ANYONE turn their socks right side out?  Where did the match for this go? I just saw it!  Sock sorting is like a game of Memory.  If you do it in car line, you’ll shorten your to-do list AND sharpen your mind!

laundry-basket of socks


2.  Exercise.  Parents know how hard it is to fit in exercise, especially when we spend one third of our day playing Mom-Taxi.  Do walking lunges around your car or some box jumps onto the hood.  Hold a folded stroller over your head and do squats.  And don’t forget your Kegels!  Or just dead lift your car!  Your buns will rise like a cake!



3.  Sing.  Time to brush up on a little karaoke?  Want to shout out some explicit Eminem lyrics, but always have to consider “the little ears?”  Turn up the volume and wail.  You’ll feel better if you do.



4. Make money.  Bring some suds in the bucket and shine tires for two bucks a pop.  You don’t have to be homeless to wash windshields!  Everyone will think you’re so industrious and they’ll just love the friendly service!

car wash


5.  Pick your nose.  Go ahead, clean the pipes.  Make sure you have tinted windows in your car, and for the love of God, have a tissue handy. 

Nose picker


6. Start a Slow Clap.  When the kids start loading into their cars, open your door, stand up and start a slow clap.  Really put your arms into it - clap loud!  Clap proud!  Soon others will join in while you applaud the children who can buckle their own seat belts!     

buckling seatbelt


7.  Enjoy the silence.  If you’re alone, this may be the only time ALL DAMN DAY you don’t have to listen to anything.  Stare off into space and zone out.  Let your mind wander.  Use this time as a sort of meditation.  Ponder how the hell you got here with your pony tail and capris when it seemed like yesterday you were stomping in the club with your half-shirt and JNCO jeans.  The deep reflection will clear your mind, or depress you.  Either way, you’ll at least have thought your own thoughts for a few minutes.


Saturday, August 25, 2012

How shared custody kills parenting momentum

It sure is hard to keep my parenting momentum going when our week is cut short by the divorce custody schedule. I start each week with gusto, and fall into a steady rhythm of homework, after-school activities and family dinners. Yet each week, I am cut short like a fingernail snipped past the quick. It leaves me feeling tender and exposed. I have yet to find my end-of-the-week groove. When the boys are at their dad’s, I lose my parental footing and often fall short of my mom duties.

I am notoriously bad at signing my name on the “Items needed” list for school functions. I drop my kids off the first part of the week, but never on a Thursday or Friday. Therefore if I sign up to bring in juice boxes on Friday, I am hard pressed to remember – especially because I don’t have my kids with me. Often times I find the signup sheet filled before I get a chance to help. Again, the custody schedule is to blame – or maybe it’s me not adjusting well.

I feel as though I have to squeeze a week’s worth of work into three days. If I decide Sam and I need to work on his “S-words” for his lisp, I have to remember to get it in before he leaves for Dad’s on Wednesday night. If Max needs to bring in a family picture by Friday, I have to remember to bring it by Wednesday morning. My entire life I’ve worked from a 5-day school/work week and in the past year and a half, it has been cut to three.

I’m not adjusting well.

Moving forward, I need to readjust my thinking and train my brain to know my “Kid-week” ends on Wednesday. I need to remind myself that I have a mid-week deadline for all things school related. I have to be a couple days ahead of the game or else I’m liable to forget entirely.

Does anyone else struggle with this same dilemma? If so, how do you deal with it?

Friday, June 15, 2012

Marco Island

I had an amazing time in Marco Island with my kids. Can a heart actually smile? If so, mine certainly is. I can feel it. There is a happy buzzing in my chest and a feeling of contentment that is hard to hide. It is even giving my boobs a little lift.
I rubbed sunscreen on two tiny faces at least 45 times this week. I wrestled with wet swim suits during Max’s frequent trips to the bathroom. I endured dirty looks from other women in the ladies’ room when I brought both of my boys with me during a potty break.
What is a single mom to do?
I say, “Suck it up, ladies. They’re too young to go it alone. Get over yourselves.”  That mostly came out as, “Excuse me, sorry, pardon me,” but I sounded really tough in my head.
I rivaled Clark Griswald during my umbrella-carrying, beach-chair-toting, boogie-board-dragging, cooler-lugging trips to the beach. And I did so with the style and grace of a baby calf on ice skates.
I took my boys on their first catamaran sailboat cruise. We had a three-hour tour and stopped at a deserted mangrove island to collect shells and sand dollars. I judiciously checked each conch shell for critters, but one escaped my scrutiny and stunk up our balcony something fierce.
We took a break from the salt and sand at the local water park. One of the pools had a line of anchored buoys in the shape of lily pads that the kids jumped on to cross the pool. “Try to jump in the middle!” I yelled as they muscled their slippery bodies up the side of the tipping lily pad. I played armchair quarterback as my boys played Wipeout- Kid Style.
“Ooh! That’s gonna leave a mark.”
Snapshot 1 (6-15-2012 10-01 PM)
I also took the boys to the Imaginarium Science Center, a place that from the website, looked amazing! They had a hands-on sea experience where guests could touch and feed sting rays. They also had a dinosaur exhibit, a 3-D movie and a hurricane simulator.
After an hour drive, we pulled into the parking lot, right across from the pre-gentrified slum. There was a dilapidated sign for the restoration project in progress and several bail bondsman nearby. We pushed on to the Imaginarium (a building lacking air conditioning or updates to the displays since the mid-1980’s) and I told myself this was an exercise in social science, too.
I white-knuckled my kids’ hands the entire hour we were there and whisper-yelled at them whenever they tried wander off. We petted sting rays, had our hair blown around in a small, dark room, er, Hurricane Adventure and enriched our minds before we got the hell out of there. All in the name of science.
Each morning I enjoyed a cup of coffee on the balcony, and I tucked my sweet boys into bed each night. I graciously accepted each white shell and molted bird feather handed to me by my sons. I made some enlightening discoveries - like tan fat looks so much better than pale fat and Shirley Temples taste as good in adulthood as they did when I was a kid.
I learned that despite my best effort to NOT become one of those moms who make their entire world revolve around their kids, only to suffer tremendous heartbreak when they grow up and move away (and consequently become overbearing and dreaded in-laws) I’ve lost that battle. I am completely and hopelessly immersed in all that is Sam and Max, and I love it.
We play hard.
We sleep hard.
But we love harder.

Wednesday, June 06, 2012



Dear Maxwell,

Happy birthday, Schmoops! You have successfully completed four years of life and today we celebrate all the wonderful things that make you you.

Three was a big year for you. You started preschool, you gave your Nay-Nays (pacifiers) to the Nay-Nay Fairy. You finished potty training and learned how to write your name. You did this despite the biggest change of all – your Daddy and I got divorced.

When we moved, you had to get used to a new bedroom and a new bed, no small task for a three-year old. You had some scary nights in your new, big space but you did it! While Mom and Dad figured out our new life schedule, you rolled with the punches with more style and grace than most adults I know. You asked me questions with an honesty and thoughtfulness few people possess. From the moment I looked into your eyes, Maxwell, you won my heart. You continue to wow me with your playful spirit and questioning mind.

I love watching you play! It is so charming the way you run after the ball, jump in the air and land with two feet before bending to pick it up. I love how you sing the songs you have in your head and fill our house with your sweet music. I love how you tell me you have a surprise for me and then tackle me with your boy-hugs and sweet kisses. I love that you look up to your older brother and work so hard to hang with the big boys.

Best of all, I love your independent spirit. You don’t follow the crowd and aren’t afraid to venture off alone to discover something new. I learn so much from you, Max. You are my sweet baby, my smart son and the essence of my happiness.

Happy birthday, Max. Welcome to four!



Thursday, May 03, 2012

Start spreading the news

Tomorrow I’ll fly the friendly skies and head to the Big Apple.  I’m spending the weekend in the City of Light, Gotham, The City That Never Sleeps, Money Town.  I’m going to ring the opening bell at the Stock Exchange and check out this place called Tiffany’s for breakfast.  I heard it is amazing.  Relationship saving, in fact.

After breakfast I’m going to take in a bit of exercise and run the steps of Lady Liberty before I meet Donald Trump for lunch.  (Don’t tell him, but I really tried to get out of our lunch date.  He just drones on and on, that man.) 

I am going to pitch my book to a group of eager publishers from Random House and HarperCollins.  I will dazzle them with my wit and unique writing style and then make them sweat the deal while I decide who to pick.

I’ll take the Cash Cab to Rockefeller Center and get every question right, scoring some cash for my evening out.

I’ll walk on the heads of people at the subway, desperate to get to my best friend whom I’ve not seen in months.  I’ll throw my arms around her neck and the entire crowd will throw their arms  up and cheer at our happy reunion. 

She and I will walk in our Jimmy Choo’s, fabulous and happy and blister free down the streets of Manhattan.  We will dine in our own private dining room at Per Se.  We’ll eat fancy mushrooms and fish eggs and tender baby animals and enjoy a bottle of 1787 Chateau Lafite Rothschild.

We will stroll through Central Park after dinner where I will save a pregnant woman from a mugging.  She will name her baby after me.

We will dance the night away at a club too exclusive to mention, and enjoy our VIP table and concierge service.  The DJ will spin all of my favorite records and I’ll bring Ace of Base back. 

I will nestle into bed in the penthouse of Trump Towers (he insists I stay there) before the sun fully rises and I’ll wake up refreshed and energized, ready for a repeat on Saturday!

Monday, April 30, 2012

Moving sucks

Moving sucks.  Moving has to be in the top five things I hate to do,  right up there with laundry and pulling my toenails off with long-nosed pliers.  I moved the remaining things from my old home this past weekend.  While my kids were gallivanting on the Mickey Mouse cruise ship with their dad, I was sobbing over newspaper and bubble wrap. 

When Rob and I built our house, we bought lots of new furniture.  I was in a heavy furniture phase – if you could lift the kitchen chair with one hand, it was too light.  The set I picked was made from Osmium and lucky for me it was staying.  My dining room table and hutch, however were coming with me.  This lovely set is made from the world’s finest hardwoods, laced with lead and lined with solid marble.  No really, I don’t know what it is made from but it is heavier than Manuel Uribe


I decided to hire movers.

I had a small number of boxes, some framed art and my dining room set to move. I packed up my wedding china and crystal on Thursday night and made frequent trips to the bathroom from my nervous stomach.

(Yes, I know I talk about my bowel habits WAY TOO MUCH on my blog, but I’m going through a shitty time in my life. And everyone knows when someone uses the word “but,” everything said before it doesn’t count.)

I was a mess on Thursday night.  Wrapping our my things and placing them in boxes was far more emotional that I thought it would be.  I often broke from my task and wandered through the house. 

I stood in the foyer looking at the place that was as familiar to me as my own reflection. The air was silent and still. My dog wasn’t there to greet me. The kids were away.  I was rooted to the spot, standing on the tile that Rob and I had chosen nine years earlier.

I turned my head and gazed upon the play room floor that was littered with toys. I never liked that room. It was always a mess, filled with more toys than the boys could ever play with and more toys than I could ever keep organized. I breathed in a sigh of relief, thankful that some things were still the same even though my world was forever altered. I forced myself into the family room. Each step was labored as though I was walking under water.

What was this force that weighed so heavily on me? What was different?  Why was it so hard to breathe?  The furniture was still the same. My herb garden was dead. The kitchen was the way I left it.  Well, dishes weren’t left in the sink, but the heavy-ass table was still there and the silk plants had a layer of dust on them.   The house was so quiet; it seemed I stood in a vacuum, sucking the familiar sounds of my home down into a bottomless hole.

I finally finished packing and locked the front door behind me. What a painful experience. I had just warped into the Twilight Zone – a illusion of sameness where nothing was the same at all.

I drove the streets of my old neighborhood on auto pilot. It wasn’t until I reached my new place and walked through the door that I realized what was so different. I sank down on the edge of my bed and drank in the gentle fragrance of sandalwood and spice with floral undertones. My smell. My old house was over me, it had moved on. It no longer smelled like me. It was an invisible yet powerful reminder that I didn’t belong and it hurt like hell.

I was up until 3:30am, flopping around on my mattress like a fish out of water.  I couldn’t get comfortable.  After a few hours of fitful sleep, I woke and looked forward to 10am when the movers would arrive.  I was ready to rip the band-aid off.

At 10:30, my cell phone rang.  The movers would be a little late, maybe by an hour or so.  Ok, no biggie.

By 12:30pm, I called to find out where my band-aid-ripper-offers were, and the office girl told me they wouldn’t be able to make it today.  They were busy with another move – a job that went from two hours to eight.  So sorry.  Oh, and they were booked on Saturday and Office Girl didn’t know how to refund my deposit.

I started talking to Office Girl in ALL CAPS, because she was telling me that I wasn’t going to find a better deal out there and I tried to explain to her that paying ANYTHING AT ALL and NOT GETTING SERVICE did not constitute a good deal.  I hung up with an exclamation mark and disputed the charge with my credit card company.

I spent the next hour calling moving company after moving company, cursing the fact that it was the end of the month and every mover in the entire metro area was booked. 

Why couldn’t I have been happy with wicker!?

I started flexing my bicep (why don’t I see a difference when I flex?) thinking that I could totally handle the hutch on my back, when I found a moving company that was able to move my things on Saturday.  Eureka!

I set my appointment with the nice office girl, who kept saying, “Wonderful.  Wonderful,” in between each exchange.

What is the zip code we’re moving from?  Wonderful.  Wonderful.

How many rooms are we moving?  Wonderful. Wonderful.

She told me the hourly rate, gave me her spiel about how professional her movers are and told me to expect them at noon. 

“Wonderful, Wonderful,” I told her, and hung up.

The movers were fifteen minutes early on Saturday, and while one sized up my furniture, the other went over the paperwork.

“I need you to sign some paperwork, Ma'am.  This first sheet just says that if you have any problems with the move, you need to call the office before we start.”

I’m blonde and a little overwhelmed as of late, but this didn’t make any damn sense.  How would I know if I had problems with the move before they, um, moved?  I was confused.  Writers call this foreshadowing.

Next the boy reviewed with me the hourly rate and informed me there is a three-hour minimum.  

I had not been informed of this minor detail and I started speaking in ALL CAPS AGAIN. 

The next sheet was about the one-hour travel time I was being charged.  “I’m only moving these things 3.8 miles down the road,” I sputtered.

“No, Ma’am, it is our travel time to and from the job but it’s included in the price.”

Shaking and angry, I signed the paperwork.  I just wanted to get this over with already, OHMYGOD!

When we arrived at my house, the boy approached me and told me that I needed to pay for the services rendered before they were finished being rendered.  They were holding my furniture hostage until I paid the ransom.  They were also charging me a 5% surcharge for using a credit card so I decided to pay in cash.  Why wasn’t I told about the surcharge?  Or the invoice that was really a ransom note? 

I was charged for 3.25 hours of work.  I thanked the movers, handed them another round of cold drinks and closed the door. 

I plopped down on the couch and looked at the clock.  They finished fifteen minutes earlier than quoted.  I started doing the math in my head, which took me a while because I’m an English major, and realized that they charged me for an extra hour. 

I called the office manager and he pulled up my account on his computer.  I told him that I believe I was overcharged and would like to have one hour of time refunded.  He began reading to me the account notes, something about a couch and a TV and I told him he was mistaken because all I had moved was my behemoth dining room table and hutch.  I was never told about a three-hour minimum or travel-time charge or surcharge to use my credit card.


Then he hung up on me.

I made various complaints on Google Maps, Yelp and the BBB and realized that they didn’t rip my band-aid off, they ripped me off.

I sat at my dining room table, put my head down on my folded arms and cried hot, angry tears onto the wood.

Yeah.  Moving sucks.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Writing awards and wardrobe malfunctions

Won day I went fishing on the dok.  I felt a hrd tug.  It was a shrck!  I wus sprist!  I had a big tack.  I poot him in it.  He swam arown and aet and playd.  He wus hapey.

By Sam

Raw emotions.  Suspense.  Edge of your seat drama.  And spelling to rival that of most adults when denied spell-check.  This is the award winning story from my kindergarten son, Sam. 


I attended the ceremony for the Young Author Awards given to the top writers from each grade.  Sam’s story was selected among 144 other entries.  He and three other children from his grade received this top honor.  Sam read his story aloud at the ceremony.  I hung on his every word.  Despite his staccato reading style and monotone voice, I was pushed to the brink with anticipation.  What was on the end of the line? 

I burst into applause and Maxwell yelled “Bravo!” when Sam finished.  I am beyond thrilled.  My son, an author.  His story is currently on display in the cafeteria for the reading pleasure of the masses.  I am so very proud. 

And I’m not at all threatened or envious that  my six-year-old has honed his craft and mastered his genre at such a young age.  I don’t feel even a tiny bit of intimidation or insecurity that my child is going to be published in a hard-cover book at the tender age of six.  No, not me.  Yep. I’m good. 

Sam and Max posed with Sam’s story.  As you can see, Max took this all very seriously.


I can’t blame Max.  He was just having some pre-performance jitters, for his Spring Program took place after Sam’s award banquet.  That coupled with the horrendous comb-over Daddy gave him that morning would put anyone in a dither.

Max didn’t falter.  He sang loud.  He sang proud.  Even to the chagrin of his classmate.


He has a melodious voice!


Nothing slowed him down.  Not even a slight wardrobe malfunction.


He even paused to throw some love to his old lady.


I am deeply proud of my two sons.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Take a chance on me*

When my life took a sharp left turn I thought all I would net was some nasty whiplash. For months I sat alone, licking my wounds before I decided to take a chance and tell my story.  I am astounded at the outpouring of love and support I’ve received the past few weeks. My inbox has been inundated with messages from people I haven’t heard from in almost twenty years, from complete strangers and from close friends. People took a chance on me and shared their own intimate stories of love and loss.

I underestimated the ripple effect my words would have. As I read through the stories and words of encouragement, I was laden with the thought of how my divorce has affected the people in my life. I have been so busy dealing with my own fear, shame and sadness that I never stopped to consider how my friends and family were taking the news. Rob-and-Shannon are no longer one entity. We’re no longer a package deal. How did that make my friends and family feel?  How were they dealing with the new situation?

I called my girlfriend for one of our soul-charging talks. She lives in my old neighborhood and we reminisced about our impromptu play dates in the cul-de-sac.  She said, “I drive by your street and look at your house and I feel sad that you don’t live there anymore. I’m going through my own mourning.”

Really?  I hadn’t considered that. 

I spent last week thinking about it.  I’m not sure I came up with answers to my questions, but the simple acknowledgement that others are adjusting, too seemed significant.  The personal stories I read helped me to see that we’re all connected on an intrinsic level.   

I’m healing. I’m letting go of the sadness and you, People of the Internet, are helping. I’ve written the complete outline for my first contemporary fiction novel (well, my first novel period) and I’m a few chapters deep.

Who knew making myself vulnerable and sharing honestly would make me feel so scared and so powerful?   Through my blog I’ve reached so many people and so many people have reached back!  It’s heart-warming.  It’s inspiring.  Quite frankly, it’s un-fucking-believable and it makes me want to write more. 

* My sincerest apologies if this title made you sing ABBA.

Monday, April 02, 2012

Where the Streets Have No Name

It has been one week since my divorce and I still feel like I’ve been sucker-punched in the gut. I spent most of my weekend in a dark, emotional corner vacillating between tears, anger and the overwhelming urge to punch something.

I didn’t sleep last night. I dropped the boys off at school today and planned to nap, but the neighbor’s lawn service was edging the three-feet of grass outside my window for an hour. I grabbed my keys and left the house.

I drove to Target. I bought stuffing for Easter baskets. Bags of candy piled in my cart, sickening and sweet. I found some Beyblades and tossed them on top of a bag of jelly beans.

“I’ll make the boys some shirts with SkyLanders, too. That will make them happy.”

The voice in my head was monotone. I was just going through the motions.

Target, the shopping center, the town – everything was suffocating me. Everywhere I looked I saw places I had been with Rob. A decade in this small town was now a cemetery of lost dreams. I had to get out of here.


I got in my car and drove away.

I hit a stretch of open highway and gunned my car. I opened the sunroof and felt the sun burn on my thighs. I rolled down the windows. All of them. Tendrils of my hair came loose from my ponytail and whipped my face. I listened to the wind lash about in the car and I pressed the gas pedal. U2 came on the radio and I turned the volume up to the brink of distortion. “Where the Streets Have No Name” blared in my ears and every word spoke to me.

I sang at the top of my lungs. Hair beat my face, filling my vision and my mouth as I called out with Bono, “Our love turns to rust.” I drove, without direction but with purpose, a furious blonde mess seeing the blue sky and the green trees and feeling the burn of the sun for the first time in a long time. I escaped the town. The town I’ve only ever known with Rob. I wanted to go where the streets have no name. The scenery flew past. I drove with one hand on top of the steering wheel and my eyes fixed on the road ahead of me. My hair assaulted me the way my mind had assaulted my heart all weekend. The sting felt good. We’re beaten and blown by the wind/Blown by the wind.

I sucked the air in my nostrils, my senses alive, feeling everything. The burn, the sting, the air forced into my lungs, the hum of my tires on the road. I drove on, lost in the music, the moment. And for the first time in a long time I felt alive.

U2 "Where the Streets Have No Name"

Tuesday, March 27, 2012


Things are final.  My marriage is legally over.  Many say marriage is only a piece of paper, but this legal finality runs a deep river of sadness through me. 

The air was heavy with residual anger and grief from the Treyvon Martin protest that took place near the courthouse yesterday.  News vans lined the streets and portable gazebos were still set up in parking lots.  The place was empty, only the echoes of the angry people from the teenage boy’s senseless death remained. 

I kept my gaze focused ahead of me and climbed the courthouse steps under a blue, cloudless sky.

Past the security checkpoint, I scanned the posted signs for Courtroom A and found it immediately to my right.  I was twenty five minutes early.  I took a deep breath, set my shoulders and steeled myself as I pushed through the courtroom door. 

I was greeted by a dark and empty courtroom.  I stood dumfounded and drank in the scene with my eyes.  Before me was a large judiciary bench flanked on each side by a witness stand and a court reporter’s desk.  To my right was the raised seating area for the jury.  The room held two tables for the plaintiff and defendant.  Rows of chairs filled the rest of the room and I decided on the first row, aisle seat.  I sat in the dark room, waiting for a few minutes before I decided to go in search of help. 

I approached the civil disputes desk, the only area with an open window through which I could ask questions.  I showed the lady my notice of hearing and she shrugged and pointed me in the direction of courtroom A.  I walked across the lobby and decided to give it another go.

Five minutes passed without a sign of life.  I again sought out assistance and asked the police officer manning the metal detector to  help me.  He pointed me to the elevators and told me to find Courtroom K, the assigned courtroom for the judge presiding over my case. 

I was assigned courtroom A, but the hearing had been moved to courtroom K.  I had been waiting in the wrong courtroom.  I’m glad I asked.  Twice.

I found the waiting area outside the correct courtroom filled with lawyers holding thick files and conferring with their clients. 

I paused before a podium bearing a sign-in sheet for lawyers and decided to sign my name even though I was self-represented.  I was hesitant and a bit confused, but it was evident no one was going to offer any help.  A sardonic thought crossed my mind: Can I ask one of these lawyers a question without getting billed?  I sat next to woman and waited.

The judge walked by a few minutes after nine.  I recognized her from our meeting years ago in a writing group we were in together.  Awkward!  My gaze dropped to my lap.  I waited to be called back.

I really had no idea what to do, so like a sheep I followed the herd as the bailiff  opened the courtroom door.  I found my seat and fiddled with my driver’s license in my sweaty hands.  I didn’t have a thick file to hand the judge.  Was I missing something?

The first case was a dissolution of marriage.  The woman was sworn in and her attorney asked her a series of questions.  I listened in earnest preparing answers in my mind should the same questions be asked of me.

The attorney asked her, “Is your marriage irretrievably broken?”

My breath caught in my throat and tears spilled from my eyes.

He asked, “Do you sign this agreement of your own free will without force, coercion or while under duress?”

I grabbed tissues from my purse.  I had come prepared with tissue papers, if not legal ones.

My name was called at last.  I was the first self-represented person to stand before the judge.  The bailiff jumped up and blocked my path to the judge’s bench, guiding me instead to a podium in the middle of the room.  His abrupt movement felt offensive to me.  His implication that I would cause the judge harm stung, but I conceded that I was in a court of law and there was protocol that I was not accustomed to.  I held my license up for him to take and tangled my fingers around my tissues.

She asked me a series of questions.  I stated my name and the name of my husband.  She asked me to verify our wedding date and I answered her the best I could while maintaining my composure.  I dabbed my cheeks frequently as the tears fell. 

The judge gave me a tender smile and continued with her questions.  She asked about my children and our parenting plan.  She asked about our marital agreement and I responded with mostly “yes” answers.  She recited her canned statement and wished me luck.  I was told to sit in the waiting area and wait for the clerk from downstairs to bring me my file.

I sat stiff and alone on the hard bench in the hall.  I cried silently and reminded myself to breathe.  My air had been taken away from me in that courtroom and I sat, legs shaking, with my tear-stained face staring straight ahead.

I thought perhaps if I stayed still the pain would be less.  I barely blinked.  I inhaled a shaky breath on occasion.  The heaviness of the finality weighed on my shoulders.  Still, I remained upright and motionless as the death of my marriage crushed me.

Others from the courtroom entered the waiting area.  Another woman wept openly across from me.  Seeing her pain dried my tears for a moment, before I began again, this time feeling her pain along with mine. 

I left the courthouse after receiving my certified copies and longed to sit on a bench and gaze out over the St. John’s river.  I decided against it - the news vans and the sad energy surrounding the area from the Treyvon Martin protests made me uncomfortable.

I took my time walking to the car.  The weather was perfect – clear blue skies blanketed me and a cool breeze brushed my face.  The weather was incongruent with my mood.  A dark spot was placed on my heart.  I cried on the drive home, walked into my house and hugged my son.  Maxwell regarded me with a look far too wise for a three-year old and said, “Mommy, your eyes are so blue!”

Just like the skies, my eyes are so blue after I cry.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Last night

Tonight is my last night as Mrs. Sinanian.  In less than twelve hours a judge will sign and stamp paperwork and declare my marriage irretrievably broken. 

Broken.  That about sums up how I feel.

This weekend Rob and I took the kids to the zoo for a zip lining adventure.  I was thrilled that he and I were in an emotional place where we can do what we do best – enjoy our kids.  While we were walking into the zoo, each holding a hand of our sons, my cell phone rang. 

“How soon do you want to get this thing done?” the case worker from the court house said.

I stammered.  I was with my family, happy and together and I had to schedule a court date for my divorce. 

“How’s Tuesday?” he asked after my silence.

“Uh, sure.  Fine.  Email me the details?”

I swallowed the lump in my throat and blinked away tears as my boys were fitted with their zip lining harnesses. 

I kept on a smile that didn’t meet my eyes and hid my face behind my camera, snapping picture after picture of my two sons.






I spent the days since trying to reconcile the feelings I’m having.  This has been an arduous process and I’m glad it is almost over.  Yet I’m still in disbelief that this is really happening. 

Many friends have asked if I’ll celebrate when this is over and my answer is a resounding no.  No matter the reason, divorce is sad.  Divorce is akin to death.  Death of a dream, of a lifetime of hopes built around another. 

I will look to the future, anticipating the wonders it holds for me.  I will love my children with the same ferocity as always and I will eventually heal. 

Tonight I will try to sleep, and likely fail.  Tomorrow I will leave the courthouse and allow my emotions to wash over me.  I will mourn the loss of a great love. 

I have no more words.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

On icky pukery

And the Winner of Best Performance in a Stomach Bug Outbreak goes to…

Shannon Sinanian!

“Thank you, so much.  This award means so much to me. Ohmygosh, I didn’t expect to win, what with the stomach bug of 2012 so wide spread!  Um, ohgosh, I’d first like to thank God for not killing me that weekend.  At times death seemed like a welcome retreat, but in the end I’m thankful that the Almighty spared me.  Of course I’d like to thank the little people, namely Maxwell, for puking all over me that fateful Friday night, after all, he started this whole sticky mess.

“Ha!  I’m shaking!  Reminds me of the shakes I got after my twelfth puking episode. This is so exciting to be up here, holding this golden toilet-bowl shaped award!  Makes me kinda sick just looking at it!


“What does that say?” <squinting at the teleprompter>

“I only have thirty more seconds?”

“It was Friday night and I made dinner for the boys.  The boys usually get their own drinks from those cute little cups they sell at Ikea, ya know? Anyway, I looked at Max and saw he had an awful look on his face.  He said, ‘Mommy, that doesn’t taste that very good.’

“When I looked in his cup, I saw a congealed glob of days old milk.  Guess I’m not getting the award for Best Supporting Role to the Dishwasher!  Max had taken a sip of the separated milk before I snatched the cup from his hand and poured the contents down the sink.  Actually, it was the disposal.  The stuff had solidified and went down in a single, slimy move.  You know what I mean, I mean we’ve all left milk in a cup for day before, right?  Right?!

“Dinner went off without a hitch and Max seemed fine.  He kept up his usual three-year old eating strike and I asked my roommate if he thought the milk would have made him sick.

“’Nah, he only had one little sip,’ he said.

“Yeah, you’re right.  An hour later Max was complaining of his tummy hurting.  I told him to sit on my lap and we snuggled on the couch for a bit.  I just love it when Max snuggles me.  He rarely sits still!

“Halfway through the episode of Scooby Doo, you know the one with the Harlem Globetrotters? Max sat bolt upright and projectile vomited all over me.  Mac ‘n cheese and bits of broccoli and more liquid than I thought a child of his size could hold was dripping off of my legs. 

“I yelled to my roommate, ‘TOWELS!’ and tried to contain the Icky Pukery to just the legs of me and Maxwell.  I carried him to the shower where he and I hosed off, watching bits of baby barf swirl and get caught in the drain. 

“After thirty minutes and five soiled towels, I watched as my littlest one sat on the potty and had a series of explosions from his bum.  More wiping and sanitizing I changed Max into a pair of warm fuzzies, you know the soft footed jammies and added a pull-up for good measure.  I laid him in his bed, covered in towels and brought a big Tupperware bowl for him, should he again feel the need to blow chunks.

“And blow chunks he did!  My goodness that child could not stop vomiting.  I encouraged him to take small sips of water as I pulled from the cobwebbed recesses of my mind the signs of dehydration in children.  Something about a sunken soft spot, right?  No tears?  Crap, how do you tell in a non-infant? 

“Max managed to miss the bowl every single time.  The poor dear associated the bowl with vomiting and even when I held it under his chin, he tried desperately to miss it and swallow the vomit back down.

“Midnight arrived and my little one was not any better.  I called his father and told him to meet me at my house.  We needed to take Max to the emergency room. 

“Rob arrived in record time and my roommate stayed with Sam, who had been asleep for hours. 

“You can imagine I was feeling pretty shitty, pardon the pun.  I mean, what kind of mother leaves a cup of milk out for their three-year old to find?  Who does that?  Well, me apparently.  I was wrought with guilt.

“After two bags of IV fluids, anti-nausea and anti-cramping meds for his tummy, a tube of Desitin – the runs left a raging rash on my sweet boy’s tender bottom --– we left the ER.  I cried on the way home, as I watched the sun rise.  I felt awful.  This was all my fault.  My child had food poisoning because I’m a complete slob.  Where the hell did he get that milk?

“Saturday was uneventful.  Maxwell and I slept most of the day due to our overnight exertions.  He was able to keep sips of Pedialyte down but ate nothing. 

Max rests

“That weekend was a long weekend and Rob and I had decided to split the days.  He picked the boys up on Sunday.  Max was better, was able to keep down a few popsicles and rested comfortably at Daddy’s.

“What an awful experience!  I needed to unwind, so I decided to cook.  I popped open a bottle of cabernet, and made a delectable dinner for me and my roommate.  We had fresh, steamed artichokes, lobster tail, NY strip steaks and mushrooms.  It was divine!  I was happy to know that the worst was behind us and Max was doing better.


Barf bag hat

“Head down, I dove into my dinner with a voracious hunger that had grown in me the previous forty eight hours.  My roommate left the table for a moment, but I was so headlong into artichoke leaves and melted butter, I barely noticed.

“’Muh thoat is fee’ing kina funny,’ my roommate said.

“I looked up and his face was swollen and fire-engine red.  His tongue was so swollen he could barely talk and his throat was closing up.  He started to double over in pain and I ran to grab some Benadryl and my car keys.

“‘CHEW THESE!’ I screamed and ushered him into the car.  I hauled ass the few miles to ER, honking and flashing my lights the whole way.  He had taken some Claritin earlier, and I could tell the Benadryl was beginning to help.  His face went from fire-engine red to only beet red.  Perfect.

“Another ER visit later, we made it home with a diagnosis of ‘allergic reaction’ and a prescription for an epi pen.  Our discarded dinner was still on the table.  I was in no mood to eat, so I tossed it all in the trash.

“‘I’m going to bed,’ I said and retreated to my room.  My tummy wasn’t feeling all that great, but I thought it was due to my monthlies that had graciously appeared the night I was in the ER with Max.

“Sometime that night, I woke up and ran to the bathroom.  To be succinct, I blew it up.   I flushed and then felt the urge to vomit, so I looked for a vessel in which to do so.  I mean, a girl has her limits and I wasn’t about to puke in the toilet I had just assaulted with my ass.

“I walked into the dark kitchen and headed toward the cabinet I keep my extra grocery bags.  Whoa, I feel dizzy!  Why is it getting darker in here?

“I woke up on the cold tile floor of the kitchen, lying in a pile of grit and sand.  My head was throbbing something fierce and I was very disoriented.  It took me a few moments to realize where I was and why I was there.  Did I just decide to sleep on the floor of the kitchen?  Why does my head hurt so bad?

“The impulse to vomit slammed into me like a tsunami and I clamored up and ran to the nearest sink.  You know, the one without a disposal.  Why make things easier on myself now? 

“I heaved into the sink several times before I was able to stop long enough to wipe my mouth off and knock on my roommate’s bedroom door.

“‘I’m really sick and I fainted in the kitchen.  I think I hit my head because it really hurts and I have a big lump!’ I told him.

“We walked into the kitchen, flipped on the light and saw pieces of drywall scattered on the floor.  I hit my head on the wall, excuse me, on the corner of the wall and took out a chunk of drywall as well.  There were cracks in the wall where the drywall hadn’t yet fallen, so please understand that this picture I have here does NOT do it justice.

“Could you zoom in on Exhibit A? 

Exhibit A_1

“My roommate looked at me with concern asking ‘Are you alright?’ several times before he abruptly stopped and said, ‘Oh God, I’m going to be sick too.’

“He took off for his room and me to mine and we spent the remainder of the night, and into the dawn puking and shitting the life out of us.

“In all fairness, he only puked once.  I, however had to secure a garbage can for my upchucking as I sat on the throne and, well, you know.

“Sometime the next morning, I called Rob to tell him I would not be able to take the boys back that day for I was sick.  Very sick.

“’Me and Sam have it too,’ Rob said.

“He informed me that it wasn’t that bad, Sam had only vomited once and Rob not at all, so he would keep the boys and allow me to huddle under the covers, achy and chilled from fever. 

“Sleep finally found me.  The spewing had ceased and I was able to rest.  My roommate was feeling better-ish and was keeping up on his dose of Benadryl as instructed by the ER doc. 

“My headache had only gotten worse and the lump on the back of my head was very tender.  When I tried to sit up several hours after sleeping, the room began to spin and I rushed to the bathroom to resume the emptying of my stomach. 

“The barfing was back and I was worried.  I told my roommate of my concerns and he said, ‘You need to go to the ER.  You could have a concussion.’

“HA! Can you effing believe it?  I was BACK at the damn ER, this time for me!  The good news is that I had some of those handy barf bags left over from my visit with Maxwell, so I could just sit in the waiting room and upchuck, rather than visit the unsavory ER bathroom.  Hooray!

“A CT scan revealed I do in fact have a brain, contrary to popular belief, and I did not need emergency brain surgery from Dr. Derek Shepherd.  Well, damn.  A girl can mc-dream, right?

“Two bags of fluids, anti-nausea pills and two shots of pain meds later, I was sent home.  I was going to make it.

“The aches, fever and chills persisted.  The entire illness lasted about a week.  Between the five of us, we ate enough popsicles to build a high-rise from the sticks.

“So thank you to my supportive team of drywall repairmen, disinfectant manufacturers and drug companies.  If there is one thing I’ve learned from all of this, it is that…


“Thank you!”