Friday, March 30, 2012


Do you believe in the Butterfly Effect?
I think I do…
I am here, so close to where we were, physically, then
But it is 2012 now.

I wonder
how best to commemorate
In your honor
With respect and humility
For the fact, that, I wasn’t the one
You were —
And they were, but
I always feel so close to your pain that first day.
(I do not portend to know about all the days since)

Being back here
For the first time in years
Forces me to face
March 31, which always brings
Overwhelming emotion filled with memories of
The dawn of tragic loss, unconfirmed.

We first made coffee
just for the motion of doing.
And then you asked me how….
…and I still don’t know the answer,
only it’s what they want to do.

Sometime later,
I made you ride a bike,
And you went,
just for the motion of doing

But you couldn’t see —
You said it was a blur
(between the ativan and no contacts)
I wanted you to feel
nothing but wind in your face
just for the motion of doing

I acknowledge and remember
so many special things about each and every one, in words and actions …
They are everywhere.
In peoples’ thoughts, I read.
In my own, I feel.

But I also want to hear
How you are
And what the kids are doing lately
Your family legacy flourishes through their sweet faces
And your smile
Affirming life moves on

In silence now, and without you
I think about the time
we spent here in tandem,
but I also want to
celebrate everything
you’ve worked so hard to build since —
always remembering,
(we never forget) as we
keep moving forward from
Seven years ago today.

In loving memory of those we lost on March 31, 2005; the nine men who comprised the crew of Wrath II, 7SOS, USAF, RAF Mildenhall.

In honor of all those they left behind.

We remember.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012


I just got back from a run —not just any run,  but one of those rare, life-affirming epic experiences.  Your feet feel fleet, so much so, they barely touch the ground. Instead they more or less hover in rotation just above ground level. These are the runs for which we runners strive, and it's true — you get this endorphin rush known as "runner's high." It certainly isn’t an every day occurrence. But we remember in between, enough to keep us tying our laces and heading out the door. Even on the dreariest of days.

Dreary wasn’t the case today, though. The weather in England is amazing at the moment, making outdoor ventures all the more appealing. Horace and I were feeling so good, we went off our beaten path and ventured into new territory.

It was only after we crossed a bridge, followed a path around a cow field; ran over the lip of a canal and down a single track along the water when I realized I was totally and completely alone. And I wasn't sure where I was in relation to home. Running with Horace makes me a little braver than maybe I would be normally going into the woods. It was amazing and peaceful.

I was really enjoying myself watching Horace wade into the water to catch some ducks, when I suddenly thought no one knew where I was … and my husband is away. I thought, "Home is a hell of a lot further than my house..." So my moment of sanctuary was quickly morphing into stress.

I began to imagine the kids coming home and finding the house empty. I wondered if I found myself in trouble and dialed “999” on my phone, would the constabulary geo track me? Then I realized I forgot my phone. As I watched Horace shy away from getting too wet and give up on the ducks, I wondered how mighty a protector he would prove to be, if pressed.

It was then I decided to reign Horace in and try and find a more beaten path…

As I went along, I thought about a survey I found in the paper the other day. It was a personality test  of sorts to determine whether one is introverted or extroverted. I had time to waste waiting for my truck in the shop, so I took it. Turns out, according to this particular Q&A, I’m so far introverted, I’m almost inside out.

Have you ever taken one of those? I mean, by the time you are my age, which is mid-40s, one must recognize some things about oneself. If not, then, that is a challenge (and a bit sad, really). But sometimes when your characteristics are illustrated in a new way, it really gives pause. At least it did for me.

I choose individual pursuits. I run. I swim. I cycle. I love to cook and read, and play my guitar. My two constant companions on a daily basis are my dog, and the view of my adopted horse in the back field. There is no mistake. I love my friends. So much so, I cling on to those near and dear ones with white-knuckled fists. I love having company. So much so, I treat it as a big event and really try to make it special for everyone. But when it’s over, and everyone has gone home, I tend to be worn out and look forward to quiet.

That's just me.

Zoe is working on her Science Fair project at the moment. Since her interests right now lean toward becoming a brain surgeon (that's our Zoe — go BIG or go HOME!), she kept coming up with things like, for example, testing the effects of different drugs on brain functionality. After we talked her down from this one, she chose a study revolving around handedness, and how it may or may not be linked to personality.

I'm left handed. 

She asked me the other day what the word "introverted" means. Hmmmm….

...Eventually, I found my way. After about a half mile or so running in what I thought was the right direction, I came across a more trodden path. Then a big tanker flew right over my head, which is a familiar sight and sound. I knew I was near the flight path for landing, so I just followed it home.

(Does handedness have anything to do with personality? I have no idea. I'll let you know how Zoe's experiments play out)

Friday, March 9, 2012


Today we had one of those “Daddy’s Away” Fridays, when the kids and I follow a different tune. Our daily rhythms vary when we’re not trying to stay in sync with the usual goings and comings of my Air Force husband, and sometimes we just make it up as we go along, especially when the kids were younger and didn’t have so much going on. There was no school today, so the hours floated, as they do when schedules are for not.

We were walking out of the library when I heard the base speakers pipe up. This tune I knew.

I thought, “CAUGHT!” And for a moment my thoughts and memories crashed into each other.  

It reminded me of a solo piece by David Parsons of the same name. It was one of my favorites. He choreographed it on himself. It required great athleticism of the dancer (for me, Michael Cornell at BalletMet Columbus), who was strobed at intervals, caught in different positions, both on the ground and in the air. That was a different time in my life. But for an instant my then self and now self merged. I saw the shape of the dance in my mind, and I felt strobed in action.

I always wondered what it felt like… but this time I was caught in the parking lot on RAF Mildenhall.

The girls were already inside the truck. Without speaking, Tres and I, as if we were choreographed, immediately stood at attention and faced the sound of our National Anthem. It has become automatic, this movement; a natural extension of our life.  We know this beat.

After my initial, “DOH!” moment. I tipped my head back, looked at the sky and listened. I heard birdsong, sort of backing up the rhythm. Instead of feeling resentful for being held up (and for what? Like 3-5 minutes?) I let go and allowed the moment and the music to wash over me. It was nice.

The anthem is played in three parts at precisely 4:30pm on United States military installations world over. This is a daily occurrence. Most days it doesn’t give such pause. But today, I looked over and wondered if moments like this one will resonate with my son as they sometimes do with me. My relationship with our national anthem has evolved into something quite profound over the years.

On other days, when I’m more alert and conscious of the time, I often observe people running into buildings when they know it’s 4:29. You don’t have to stand at attention when you’re inside of a building. Anywhere, outside, you must stop and face the music — literally.

I looked around after the completion of the music and noticed no one else was outside.

My reflexes didn’t always snap into attention at the first sound of the drums. I remember years ago in San Antonio, I was doing laps in the base pool. I was new to active duty life (and married life) and wasn’t aware of the protocol.  It took me a minute to realize everyone else was halted in their lanes. I stopped swimming, heard the music, then realized I’d missed my cue. I stood at attention mid-lane. Luckily it was shallow enough for me to stand.

While this particular rhythm didn’t always feel natural to me, it does now. It is this culture in which my children have grown up. This tune they know. I wonder if I can continue to introduce them to the other pieces of my life, as well. Here is CAUGHT by David Parsons:

Monday, March 5, 2012


I’m having a “Nora Ephron” day. 

I say this, because every time I have one of those self-loathing situations that drags out, anywhere from moments to days, when you just feel badly about absolutely everything in direct relation to you, I think of her book, “I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts About Being a Woman.” I read it a couple of years ago. Her words linger.

In church yesterday, someone complimented me on my necklace. It’s this heavy wooden black affair I usually wear when I don’t like the look of my neckline. I said, "Thanks. It's my 'Nora Ephron' necklace.”

On days when I look into the mirror and think these things, I simultaneously wonder if I’d be bothered as much if I had less time to look into the mirror and ponder my gray hairs, my neck, etc. If I were more important, making bigger contributions, etc. — probably not. Maybe.

I read an article in yesterday’s Sunday paper about Demi Moore. I’m not in the states right now. I don’t Twitter. (Is Twitter now a verb?) I had no idea about the Demi Moore/Twitter thing until I saw it in The (London) Sunday Times.

That might be just one of the millions of ways Demi and I differ. When I feel badly about myself, I hide — my neck or sometimes my entire self. I can’t imagine feeling badly and jetting myself out into the stratosphere in a leopard-skin bikini.

That just makes me sad — not only for myself (because I wouldn’t DARE strike a pose in a leopard-skin bikini), but for Demi and for all women, everywhere. I worry for my daughters and my daughers’ daughters. Because in spite of the countless amazing contributions women are making to society  — what has changed?

Today I logged on to get my CBS Sunday morning fix, and watched a story about 1940s starlet Hedy Lamarr, who shared the screen with the likes of Jimmy Stewart, Clark Gable and Spencer Tracy. She was voted “most desirable” pin-up during World War II.  She was beautiful. She was also smart. She invented and patented a model for frequency hopping for secret communications. While the Navy did not utilize her work then, it is widely utilized now by the military. She gave the patent to the Navy.

I went on watching, only to discover in her later years, she became a recluse, due to botched cosmetic surgery and her loss of self-worth, according to her son. She died alone in her late 80s somewhere in Florida.

In a larger context, my mirror moments and the news of the day speak to me about women in society and how, despite the best efforts of countless, we tread the same waters, moored by many — society, the media, ourselves.

And it all starts in our heads, or maybe on our heads  — self-image and outward appearance seem to work in unison. I wanted to set an example for my daughters; let them know that growing old doesn’t have to be feared or — here’s that word again — loathed.

I spent the last year or so consciously not addressing my ever-increasing gray hairs. It was as much an extension of being tired of finding a new, trusted stylist each time we move, then repeating past mistakes with storebought products, as it was a test. I wanted to see if I could do it — if I could permit myself to let my hair go by way of nature. I wanted to somehow show my daughters how beautiful they are from the inside out. I wanted to set an example.

Tomorrow, though, I have a hair appointment. 

It came down to something someone once said to me about giving birth naturally, which I also thought I wanted at one time. He simply asked, “Would you go to the dentist and deny yourself Novocain?” A big comedy strip, type "NO!" bullseyed into my brain; still does whenever I think of it.

If resources are available, accessible, affordable, then why not utilize them to make ourselves more comfortable … with ourselves, in the mirror, and otherwise. But to what end? What are the boundaries? What are the cyclical effects? I wonder … maybe I’ll just have a trim, donate the rest to charity and keep thinking about it…

"The color of truth is gray..." — Andre Gide