2008-11-30

Last Day of NaBloPoMo, Yay!

Today is my last day of NaBloPoMo! Can you believe it? I finished it successfully1 I hope I win something!
Anyway, here's whats been going down.
Went out to see a band last night with Jimmy and Diana. I at first wasn't going to go because my meds were all messed up and I was feeling sad, but after a while I decided to go so i walked all the way up to the bar (about half an hour walk!) and met them there. It was like 10:42 when I got there! We had a fun time. Then came home, ate some pizza and went to bed.
Today has been more of a lounging around and relaxing day. Last night we put up the Christmas tree, and today we put up some more decorations. we had a fire in the fire place! And Hayden and Abby stayed in their jammies all day long!
In other news, we may be acquiring three more chindren in the household. Brandon's friend's mother has recently became homeless, and moved to the city to stay with friends or something. Diana offered that Brandon's friend could stay here so that they could keep on going to school while their mom looks for a place to live. And somehow, out of that, it turned out that we'll also be taking the friend's younger brother and sister. We have to find out if the school is going to say its okay, but probably they will, since I think in Illinois kids are at least allowed to finish out their school year at the same school, even if they move. If all goes according to plan, there will be six kids living here by next week! With Ben and Claire, the afterschool total will rise to eight, making this a real house of chaos! It should be loads of fun!
Anyway, thanks for sticking with this blog for all of NaBloPoMo! Wish me luck!

2008-11-29

Almost Finished With This!

Yay, NaBloPoMo is almost over! Tomorrow is the last day!
For lack of anything else new to tell you, I wanted to share one of my newest obsessions... Swap-Bot! This is a site where you can sign up to participate in swaps through the mail. Different swaps have different themes and time limits and everything.
I'm about to mail off my first swap thing on Monday! I participated in a Little Tootsies sock swap, swapping pairs of socks for kids. (When you first start out on Swap-Bot, you're a Newbie, and a lot of swaps aren't open to Newbies, so you have to take what you can get!) I bought a pair of Dora the Explorer socks and a pair of Hello Kitty socks for a 2-year-old girl somewhere in the world. And someone else is going to be sending some socks to me for Abby! I'm also participating in a lip gloss/balm swap, a bad day kit swap, a holiday gift swap, and a sticker sheet swap. Its just something fun and fairly inexpensive to do!
If you'd like to come join in on some swaps, you totally should! Or just come visit my profile!
Okay! I've probably been on the computer enough for one day! Talk to you tomorrow... on the FINAL DAY OF NABLOPOMO!

2008-11-28

Thank God Its Black Friday... AGAIN!

Hi everyone! It seems like just a few weeks ago I posted Thank God Its Black Friday, and now here I am posting the same thing again! For the past several years, on Black Friday my mom and I have gotten up at the butt-track of dawn to hit the door buster sales. This year we did it again, getting up at 3:30 in the morning! I did get some great deals. I got something for Brandon (which I will probably give him for his birthday, sparing me an extra few weeks to find something for him for Christmas) and things for Abby, Hayden, and even Emily! Black Friday is a great time to get my Christmas shopping started... then all I have to do is fill in the blanks for whatever I didn't manage to find!

Anyway, I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving! Mine was super! I went to Diana's mom's house and had Thanksgiving dinner there. The food was delicious, and even though the family was still pissed-off about the fact that Hayden went with Jimmy, we managed to have fun! And we still had time to drive to the city to Jimmy's parents' house, where we spent the rest of our Thanksgiving. Then I drove home, made it home by 11:15 or so, and got to bed by midnight... only to wake up at 3:30, of course!

2008-11-27

Happy Thanksgiving!

Hi everyone! not sure whether I'll get back in time to blog for Thanksgiving, because we might not be home until late! Everything in the house is in an uproar because Jimmy is taking Hayden to his family's Thanksgiving, and we are going to diana's mom's thanksgiving, but Diana's mom's family wanted us to bring Hayden there. So its going to be a fun day, right? I'll update more later.
Glitter Graphics

Thanksgiving Glitter

2008-11-26

full House

Hi everyone! Speed blogging because I'm so tired today! I watched the kids from across the street, plus Brandon, Abby, and Hayden, today. I took them all to Legoland with the free tickets we acquired from that Disney Vacation Club sales pitch. I'm really glad we got in for free, because I definitely don't think it would have been worth the $14 per kid and $17 per sdult! Basically there is one ride, a 4-D movie, a spot where you can see how Legos are made, and a playroom with a climbing structure and lots of Lego toys. I mean, it was pretty cool, but not $75 worth of cool!
Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, can you believe it? This year has been going so fast. I'm totally broke... cashed in my coins from my coin bottle yeesterday, and just spen the last $14 of that on a haircut for Brandon, which turned out crappy. Hope I cn afford Christmas!

2008-11-25

Weird Day!

This was a strange day! Me and Hayden were supposed to go to a playgroup today, but it got cancelled, and so we went to a nearby library instead. Iwas planning to leave a little bit before 11, so we could go home and meet abby's bus. But when I got out to my car, it wouldn't start! The battery was dead! thinking fast, I called Diana to tell her I might not be able to get home to meet the bus, so she could try to call the school and have them keep Abby. I went inside and asked the library people if they had jumper cables. They gave me this tiny little battery charger thing to plug into my cigarette lighter. But it didn't work! Next I called my Roadside Assistance. They said someone would come give me a jump... in about an hour and a half! I was like, "Aw hell no!" Luckily, Diana called me and said she had found jumper cables! So she came to the library to jump me. but she has a loaner car, and we couldn't find the battery in it! We literally couldn't find anything that looked like a battery. We did find some sort of red thing that had a "plus" on it. Diana thought maybe we could try hooking up the positive clippy thing to that, grounding the negative clippy thing on something metal, and trying it that way. But we were a little afraid we'd blow ourselves up! Then some dude came along and told us that yes we could do it that way! So we successfully jumped my car and went on our way.
The rest of the day progressed normally. Then Diana came home and we all went to the mall to get the kids' picture taken together! At first, Hayden totally wouldn't sit for a picture, but finally they put her in a little toy sled and she sat. In the picture, you can't even tell she's in a sled! Its pretty cool!
Then Diana thought she had lost her purse, and we searched for it for about an hour. But it turned out that her purse was in the car, and her keys and ID card were in the pocket of my sweatshirt! Hmmm....
So now we are all home, and the kids are getting ready for bed.
Tomorrow should be a "fun" day because I am watching the kids across the street as well as these kids. We're gonna go to Legoland!
Yay, NaBloPoMo is almost over, and I've msde it so far!!!

2008-11-24

My Ear!!!!!

Shoot, I almost forgot to blog today! Woulda blown NaBloPoMo on the 24th day! That would have sucked!
Anyway my ear hurts so bad right now, I have no clue why! It feels like its spreading to my brain!
The bad news of the day is that Diana's mom went to the hospital for some tests today, they found a clogged artery, and she had to go for emergency heart surgery. The good news is she's okay. The operation was quick, and she has to spend the night at the hospital, but she should be fine! So weird, isn't it... she's young, only in her forties. She's a single mother of a 13-year-old and a 14-year-old. Really freaks you out.
OMG I have to log out now, my ear hurts so bad, I'm gonna lose my mind! More later, okay?

2008-11-23

WIll This Miracle Mist Work?

I am hoping to win some of this Miracle Wist that is being offered in a giveaway over on Moomette's Magnificents. The giveaway is for Mighty Miracle Mist. Apparently it is a special mist that you can spray in a room, and it will magically change a child's behavior!
Okay... so its probably not real magic. I mean, its water and confetti, in a special bottle. But the power of suggestion is strong for kids! According to the directions, you explain to the children in the room that you are going to spray a magical spray, and now everyone must behave in a certain way. (The potions offered are Good Thinking& Paying Attention, Good Night, COoperation & Sharing, and Kind VOice & Good Manners.) With the spray in the air, the children will focus on their behavior!
I hope I win it, so I can see if it really works!

Sunday, Sunday...

Today was a pretty good day! I went to Diana's, and while the big kids were over at their friends' house across the street, we took Hayden to the mall to get her pictures done. She thought we were crazy and psychotic to want her to stand still for her picture, though, and it was hard as hell to get a good shot where she wasn't trying to run right out of the studio! Some good shots were managed, though... You can see a sampling at my other blog, Slow Down, Gym Shoe! On Tuesday night, we're going to try to take all three of the kids back there to get their pictures taken together!
We ate lunch in the mall, and then we came back home, and that was pretty much the jist of it! Now it feels like its late as hell, but its really only 6:00!
I think part of my lack of energy is due to the fact that its pitch black by five-thirty now! Really sucks. I'm not a big fan of winter. I wish it could get snowy for just a few weeks, long enough to cover Christmas and New Years... and then it could go straight to spring!
Oh well, when I am the boss of the world I will certainly change things! ;)
NaBloPoMo is almost over, dude, and I've managed to post every single day so far! Thats pretty cool, isn't it? Too bad I couldn't keep up with NaNoWriMo... but I did get a good start on my memoir!

2008-11-22

Memoir, Continued...

Like A Regular Kid...

Over the summer, I have changed into a new person. When I ended my sophomore year, I was a wiry, immature kid with not many friends and barely any social skills. But I have learned a little bit about myself. I made friends with Jason, Andrea and Joe, and learned that there were people in this world that thought I was “cool.” I made friends with the homeless people, and learned that there were people who thought I was wonderful, and who loved having me around. I almost succeeded in getting myself moved out of my parents’ home, failed, got in huge trouble instead, and learned that I could survive anything.
Right before school starts, I began wearing a red bandana headband around my head. To this day I have no idea why I decided to wear it, except that Al, one of the homeless guys, always wore one. Maybe it was a symbol of solidarity with him and the other homeless people who I was barely ever able to see anymore. At any rate, that bandana changes many things for me at school. Because I wear a bandana, people who have never noticed me before suddenly start noticing me, and thinking I am cool. Even my gym teacher from last year… a man who seemed thoroughly annoyed by my lack of athletic skills and the lack of acceptance I got from the other kids… now greets me when he seesme in the hallway. “Hi, Hippie Girl,” he calls, or, “Smile, Hippie!”
I am in a different gym class this year. My teacher was Mr. Mozack, a more easy-going guy who doesn’t really care one way or another if I participate in gym. Last year I reluctantly participated in all of the horrible sports that were foisted upon me. My strategy had consisted mostly of holding perfectly still, doing nothing, trying to remain unnoticed, so nobody would kick a ball my way or expect me to whack a hockey puck. (I did, somehow, get a reputation for having a mean underhand volleyball serve, a secret weapon for whatever team I happened to be on!) This year, in Mozack’s class, I don’t even bother to pretend. I just sit on the sidelines and watch the other kids play, wearing my spotless gym uniform and my bandana. Mozack doesn’t seem to mind; he seems mildly amused by me. One day, he assigns people to teams by pointing at them and then pointing to the side of the gym they should go to. When he gets to me, he grins and points up at the ceiling. The other kids laugh along with me as I head to my usual spot on the sidelines.
Maybe my bandana has magical powers!

However, some random school rule apparently mandates that nobody can wear bandanas. The administrators are constantly telling me to take it off. Usually I just pull it off until I get out of their site, and then put it back on. But one day one of the administrators sees me wearing it and tells me, “If I see you wearing that thing again, you’re going to have in-school suspension.”
I keep it off. I’m not ready to be that rebellious!
That day in gym class, one of the girls in my class, a girl with long bleach-blond hair whom I’ve never had any other classes before, asks me, “Where’s your bandana?”
“I can’t wear it anymore or I’ll get in-school suspension,” I say.
“Aw, man, that sucks!” says the girl. “That was, like, your trademark!”
The girl, whose name I find out is Carla, talks to me just about every day after that. She thinks its funny that I just sit out of class every day, instead of participating in gym. She tells me that she would sit out, but she got in huge trouble last year, and got kicked out of school, and had to go to the Life Skills and Educational Alternatives Program. When she tells me about LEAP, it sounds pretty cool, and I wish I could go there. She says it was basically just one classroom, and kids worked independently all day long, and all the teachers gave her special privileges because she was nice to them.
Sometimes, Carla does sit out with me. We spend all gym period talking, or we play Dirty Hangman. Dirty Hangman is just like regular Hangman, except you spell out dirty words or swear words.
We find out we have the same lunch hour, too, which happily means the end of my sitting all alone at lunch! Now I sit with Carla and her friends, who happen to be the stoners of the school. Me and Carla barely ever eat lunch, except when the cafeteria is serving Stuffed Shells or Fried Chicken. The rest of the time we subsist on sodas and junk food from the vending machines. Or we order things piece-meal from the cafeteria. For instance, if the hot lunch being served is Salisbury Steak, mashed potatoes, carrots, and bread pudding, we’re likely to go through the line and order plates full of mashed potatoes and several servings of bread pudding. The lunch ladies have trouble figuring out what to charge us for these weird meals, and often let us take the food for free.
Being Carla’s friend also means I finally have a reason to use my off-campus lunch privilege! I always had it before, but I never really had anywhere to go. Now, after me and Carla finish eating lunch, we walk with the other stoners to a neighborhood playground, where everyone except me smokes cigarettes.
School is no longer a miserable experience for me. I feel almost like a normal kid.

Adding to my normal kid experience is the fact that I have made friends with those girls in the park… the ones who helped me escape from the bicycle cop, at the end of the summer. They are a few years younger than me, but I have always been young for my age, so the difference is barely noticeable. One girl in particular, Lena, becomes like a best friend to me. I go to her house every day after school, and spend most of my weekends there too. During the day, we ride our bikes all over God’s green earth, in sun or rain or snow, often ending up at the park, where the neighborhood stoner kids hang out at the same band shell where me and the homeless people watched the bands play on the Fourth of July. It is a convenient spot for me, because the homeless people still hang out there. Many of the stoner kids have befriended them. So, I can actually visit with them, while blending in with the other kids for safety!
Ironically, Lena is not allowed to be at the park either, because over the summer her mother caught her smoking there. So whenever we go there, it is a huge conspiracy, and we have to concoct stories to tell her parents about where we were. (Since we barely ever go to my house, all I ever have to tell my parents is, “I was hanging out with Lena.”)
Lena and I like to go into the Mexican grocery store in town, and buy Cokes in glass bottles, and little packaged cups of flan. We like to go into the regular grocery store to get free samples and to steal pieces of candy from the bulk bins. We like to climb up onto the windowsill of the bars and watch the people get drunk at four o’clock in the afternoon. We try to dye our hair with food coloring. (It seems to work, except when we get caught in the rain on our bikes, and the food coloring rinses out of our hair, leaving rainbow streaks down our faces!) We go to the thrift store and search for random items of clothing that nobody but us will think is cool. At night we lie in her double bed and listen to her stepdad’s classic rock records over and over, all night long.

Towards the end of the first semester, my school has a poetry slam. I have recently written a long, rambling poem called “Crazy Eyes,” which is supposed to be about my experiences of hanging out with the homeless people and then being taken away from them. The thinly-disguised girl in the poem is “wild, lonely, hungry, free,” and always seems happy, even when she is seen eating from Dumpsters and hanging out with bums. When she is taken away from the streets, she becomes miserable, and cries all the time. The poem ends with the lines, “But street kids don’t die, they multiply. Ain’t that what you used to say? And you know, kid, you’ll be okay… someday.”
My English teacher is blown away by my poem, and she enters it in the school’s poetry slam, which has been set up by the Writer’s Club… a club I actually attended myself a few times during freshman year, but had trouble sitting still and paying attention for. My whole English class gets to go to the poetry slam instead of having regular class, just because I’m going to be in it. I read my poem aloud. The audience claps wildly, and I end up winning third place. For a while I am famous around the school, with kids I don’t know coming up to me in the hallway to congratulate me and tell me they liked my poem.
I am happy… blissfully happy… and I wish it would never end!

Lethargic

FOr some reason I am having a really weird few days and really can't do anything but sleep! Last night when I came home I checked my email and then just laid down and passed out for all night long. This morning I got up and went to pick up some groceries, and got my dog from the kennel, and then when I came home I had this long list of other things I was going to do, including working a lot on the homework I've been neglecting... but I was gonna watch the movie "Juno" first because I saw it was on TV and its one of my favorites. After Juno was over I just passed out again, and slept for several hours! Whenever I tried to think about getting up and doing something, I ended up DREAMING that I Was doing it, instead! The onlt thing that finally got me up was, I had to pee really bad. Then thought I'd check in here. My mind feels really foggy, almost like I'm drunk or something! I'm so tired I just want to go back to sleep. I just feel so weird and achy and dreamy.
And the other thing is, today when my cat wouldn't come sit with me on the couch, I burst into tears and cried hysterically for about ten minutes! We had spent so much time together in the past few days while Trixie has been gone, because he's spent every possible moment on the couch... even when I was gone, whenever I came home from Diana's or school or wherever, I'd find him on the couch. And all night long sleeping cuddled up with me. So when I got home with Trixie and I saw him run back to his box, it broke my heart! I went and picked him up and tried to carry him out to the couch, but he hissed, and thats when I started crying like crazy.
Weird. Should I just consider today a "sick day" and let myself lie around and sleep, and get back on top of things tomorrow? Or am I really losing my mind!

2008-11-21

Worn out

I think I really have to work on my health problems, or something. Lately I feel so worn-out and run-down, no matter how much sleep I get. My bones feel sore, like I have the flu, all the time. I can't sustain my interest on anything. Even reading, watching TV, eating, and using the computer are things I have to convince myself to do, because if I had a choice I would just stay under the covers and ignore even thigns that usually bring me happiness.
I was reading in this book, Healing ADHD, that people with ADHD benefit from a high-protein and low-barb diet, and exercise, and also Adderall. So what I need to do, I think, is make nutrition changes, try to get exercise at least a few times a week, and go back to the doctor to renew my old Adderall prescription. If I just sign up at Diana's doctor's office, it will be a lot easier for me to make the monthly appointments, because I could just go in the morning once a month and bring Hayden with me, instead of having to worry about finding time to get all the way out to McHenry to see my old doctor!

Today was a pretty good day. Bobby and Candice didn't come, so I just had the little girls. Plsu Diana and Jimmy were home for the day. Diana had the day off because it was the day after her birthday, and she went to the midnight showing of "Twilight" last night, so she was catching up on her sleep! So it was a really mellow, low-key day.
I am probably unfortunately not going to get to see much of them this weekend, because I am getting Trixie and housesitting/petsitting all weekend. But over Thanksgiving weekend I'll probably be there most of the time!

Tomorrow I am planning on getting Trixie from the kennel. I am sort of sad for Sammy-Joe, because he's really enjoyed having just me and him together, just like the old days. We've really hunkered down together in the basement and just spent all of our free time together. I am really hoping that when Trixie comes home, Sammy-Joe doesn't retreat back into his little room. It would break my heart!

OK C-Ya...

2008-11-20

Another Little Piece of my Memoir

"Prisoner of Injustice"
The rest of the summer creeps by miserably slowly, because I’m barely ever allowed out of the house. I do manage to see the homeless people a few times, though. I fI spot a twenty-minute increment that I can use to get up to the park and back, I take it, riding up as fast as I can to say “hello” and exchange a few words with my friends, and then riding back, putting my bike away and returning to the house as if I were never gone. I become sleuth-like, convinced that every car I see is an undercover cop who has my mom’s phone number.
One day, I actually get permission from my mom to ride my bike up to the library. I go to the library and get enough books to help me pass my time in lock-down more quickly. On my way back from the library, I cut through a shopping plaza that has a grocery store where David and Don often raid the Dumpster. I ride through the alley behind the grocery store. To my delight, David is there! I drop my bike and run to him.
My mom has not given me a time to be home by, so I spend some time hanging out with David in the shopping plaza. We walk through the grocery store, enjoying free samples. We browse through the used bookstore, and window shop at Radio Shack. We get sodas at Brown’s Chicken. Mostly, we talk. I’ve been so lonely, and it feels awesome to have someone to talk to, to really talk to. David listens to my every word.
As we come out of Brown’s Chicken, I see a cop car driving slowly through the parking lot. Officer Dean is in the passenger seat.
“They’re looking for me,” I gasp, my heart jumping.
“No, they’re not,” says David. “You’re not doing anything wrong.”
“Trust me, my mom has them convinced I’m a crazy juvenile delinquent,” I tell him. “I gotta go.” I hug him quickly before I jump on my bike and ride home.

“You better call Mom,” says my brother, as I walk into the house. “She’s looking for you.”
I call her at work. “Did the police bring you home?” she asks.
“What? No! Why would the police bring me home?”
“I called the library and had you paged, but you weren’t there,” says my mom.
“I was there! I have twenty books in my backpack,” I point out. “When did you call? Cause I stopped at the used book store on my way home. And I got a soda at Brown’s Chicken cause I was thirsty.”
“Fine,” says Mom. “Next time, you need to either come straight home, or call to let me know where you are.”
I breathe a sigh of relief. I know hanging out with David was a dangerous thing to do, especially when this was the first time I’ve been allowed out alone. But I’ve been so lonely, with nobody to talk to, for the past few weeks. Most days I spend hours and hours just sitting at the kitchen table, reading or drawing, because there is nothing else to do. That hour I spent with David, just hanging out and talking, means so much to me. It was totally worth the risk.

That summer, my brother, who is not quite fourteen yet, gets caught twice with pot. The first time my mom finds a whole shoe box in his room with bowls, rolling papers, and other paraphanalia. My dad has taken my brother, his friend and I to a music store, while I looked at weird instruments like harmonicas and bongos, while the others tried out all the guitars. As we walk in the door, my mom meets us and tells my brothers friend and I to get lost. As I retreat up to my room, I can hear her demanding, “What is this?” and my brother laughing nervously.
However, she believes him when he tells her that he has only smoked weed once or twice. She makes him throw away his stuff, and grounds him for a day or two.
The second time, when she finds actual weed in my brother’s room, my mom threatens to shave his head and make him spend every day after school at the library once school starts. “You’ll be a little library geek,” my mom says. But they’re all empty threats. Nobody keeps my brother at home. Nobody takes him to a psychiatrist. Nobody looks at him strangely every time he speaks.
“Its not fair,” I lament to my brother, one of the times when he’s actually grounded. “You get caught with weed, and barely anything happens. I get caught being friends with homeless people, which isn’t even against the law, and I nearly get sent to the looney bin. Does that make sense?”
“Nicki, Mom and Dad would like it better if you were smoking weed. That’s normal. That’s something most kids do,” says my brother. “Talking to homeless people is not normal. It’s weird, and it’s gross.”
“That’s what nobody understands! They’re not weird or gross at all! They’re just regular people. Nice people. Some of them are the nicest people I ever met,” I say.
“That’s why people think you’re crazy,” sighs my brother. “Trust me. Just start smoking weed, or drinking, instead of hanging out with bums. You’ll be better off.”
It actually makes a little sense. My mom would probably rather me get in trouble for something she did herself when she was a kid, something we can all laugh about later in life. But I tried smoking regular cigarettes once, and I didn’t see what the point was. It burned my lungs and made me cough for days. Besides, I’d have to have friends who smoked weed, in order to smoke it myself. And I don’t have any friends at all. And then, there’s the minor issue of weed being illegal. When I got caught being friends with homeless people, I got in huge trouble with my parents and they managed to get the police on their side. But if I got caught by the cops with weed, I‘d be in even bigger trouble, and I could even end up in Audy Home with Jason!

I still write to Jason, all the time. I write to him more often than I write to Joe and Andrea, mostly because every time I send Jason a letter, he sends one back to me within a week. Our letters are long and rambling. Sometimes we start them out with, “Dear fellow prisoner of injustice,’ because that’s how we see ourselves, as victims of an adult world that doesn’t understand us.

Right before school starts, I have one more close call with my secret trips out to see the homeless people. It’s a weekend, and I once again get permission to go to the library. Since I don’t really have any friends, the library is the only place I can justify leaving the house for.
On the way home from the library, I cut through the park so I can say hello to the homeless people. I’m always nervous now, to the point of being paranoid. It has changed things between me and them. They invite me to sit down and relax, but I am fidgety, my eyes darting around everywhere, and I won’t even get off my bike.
But maybe I’m paranoid for a good reason, because after I’ve been there by the homeless people for about five minutes, I see a cop on a bike riding towards us. I yell goodbye to my friends and take off on my bike, certain the cop is going to chase me.
I look back and see that the bike cop has stopped to talk to the homeless people. Any minute now, he’ll come after me, I’m sure!
Some girls I don’t know are walking a few yards in front of me. I ride up behind them, and jump off my bike. “Let me walk with you, okay? Just until I get away from this cop,” I say breathlessly.
The girls stare at me. One of them nods and says, “Okay.”
“I’m not a killer or anything,” I assure them. “I just got in trouble with the cops a while back, and I’m not supposed to be around here.”
I walk with them, trying to blend in, until we are safely out of the park, and out of the bike cop’s site. I thank the girls, jump on my bike, and ride home.
For the first time in my life, I am excited for school to start. I have always hated school, but at least it will give me six hours a day to be out of the house, around other people, having some sort of freedom.

Tired

Just too tired to post much today. I don't know why! Mostly I've been doing homework, and just hunkering down with my cat, Sammy-Joe. Since Trixie has been gone, Sammy-Joe has been prowling around a lot more, and cuddling with me on the couch. He seems to treasure sleeping on the couch and slept there all night with me last night. I'm actually going to be sort of sad when Trixie comes home, because this has been like having my kitty back!
Really, thats it for now, just gonna sit around and read for a while I guess. Okay?

2008-11-19

Fifty-Fifty

So today was a strange day, to say the least!
The first weird thing that happened was I got to Diana's house about twenty minutes earlier than I usually do. I must have flown above the traffic or something!
Once I got there, I realized Abby wasn't there. I had thought she had the day off of school, and was planning on taking her to this one gymnastics open gym that we never would have been able to make it to if she had school. I was like, "I thought Abby didn't have school," and Diana gasped, and I thought she was shitting me! But it turns out, since the day was a half day for the other kids in the district, only the kids who go to afternoon kindergarten classes had school. The morning class kids had the day off!
So I went to Abby's school, beat the bus there, and waited for her in her kindergarten classroom. She was all freaked out. I guess she thought being at school when she wasn't supposed to be was a horrid thing, and the classroom would swallow her up forever, or something!
Anyway, the day went smoother for the rest of the day. We went to the gymnastics thing, which was hella cool. They even had trapeze bars and things! They had a trapeze where you could swing on it, and then drop into a pit of foam cubes. Check this out...

Abby was in Heaven!
They also had tunnels to crawl through, and lots of trampolines, which Hayden loved. But Hayden's favorite part, I think, was another foam cube pit, where she could slide down a Little Tykes slide like the one we have in the yard, and land in the pit! At first she was scared to do it, so I got into the pit so I could catch her. Then she absolutely loved it, and kept signing "more, more, more" so that I'd shove her out of the pit and let her get back on the slide! The reason I had to shove her out of the pit was because, once I was in there, it was nearly impossible for me to get out! I found that out the hard way. The foam cubes are designed to be thick enough to support small bodies, so little kids can climb around in there, and can actually get themselves out of the pit by climbing up on the cubes. But for a heavy adult... impossible! I eventually had to belly-flop onto a mat that was in the pit for kids to jump on, and then I crawled from there onto shore!
So. At least the girls had a fun morning, and Abby is already begging me to take her back next Wednesday. I guess we can probably go back any Wednesdays that she doesn't have school. There's no school next Wednesday, and then there will be winter vacation, so thats probably just enough to keep it special for her!
Anyway. The afternoon went downhill when I picked up Bobby and Candice, the two kids I babysit in the afternoons. Bobby was in rare form from the time I picked him up, laughing maniacally and everything else. At one point I told him he could watch this one show, "If Walls Could Talk," or something like that, and then he'd have to turn off the TV and do something else. So I guess Abby saw a commercial, thought the show was over, and took it upon herself to turn off the TV. Then Bobby took it upon himself to turn it back on, so Abby started pummeling him, and he hit her back. I sent Abby to her room and sent Bobby to the corner, telling both of them that they shouldn't have been hitting. I had an extra talk with Bobby, reminding him that he is bigger than Abby, and to her he is almost like a grown-up, so it is very scary to her if he hits her, plus he can hurt her badly. I know its just his impulse control problems, but still, he can't be hitting five-year-olds, even if he does have Aspergers!
The thing that made it worse was Brandon getting into the scene and screaming at Bobby and getting upset. I told Brandon to let me handle it, I know he's just sticking up for his sister, but just let me be the grown-up. Then I went into Abby's room to have a talk with her about hitting. She was fine and was hiding under her covers but started laughing when I came in. But as soon as I told her she should come out of her room and that she and Bobby needed to apologize to each other, she started screaming bloody murder again.
So I tell her to come out whenever she's ready.
Meanwhile, Brandon has somehow got the story mixed up in that he thinks the whole scuffle started because it was "Abby's turn" to watch TV, so he himself has gone into the living room and started watching his own show. Then Bobby goes in and switches it back to the show that I had told him he could watch, which was, in fact, not over. SO Brandon starts yelling that its Abby's turn to watch TV... even though he's the one watching, and Abby is in her room crying.
By that time Diana's mom and younger sisters had come over, so it seemed like there were about ninety people in the house! On one hand, it was a welcome distraction, because Sarah and Megan started playing with all of the kids and everything and distracting them from their arguing. But then Abby comes out of her room to apologize to Bobby, and Bobby apologizes to her, and then Brandon starts getting upset about the bruise on Abby's head, and starts yelling at Bobby again, and I once again start explaining that Bobby got in trouble already and Bobby got talked to and Bobby's mom is going to hear about what happened and if Bobby does it again he will be in much bigger trouble. But by this time Abby has started screaming again, making me have to practically shout to explain that nobody is allowed to hit, and even though Bobby is in bigger trouble because he is bigger, Abby should not be hitting anyone.Then Brandon puts his arm around Abby and says, "Lets just go," and tries to lead her away, looking disdainfully back at me. The kid makes it ten times harder for me because he wants to be the authority figure, he wants everyone to have to listen to him, but he doesn't want to have to listen to anyone!!!
Ugh.
So, yeah. Not sure what to do about that. On Monday (which I think is the next time Bobby and Candice will be here) I'm going to sit all the kids down together, including Brandon, and explain the household rules once again, including the part where no other kids should be talking when one kid is being disciplined for something. It should be between that kid, and me, and possibly whatever kid was the victim, if there was one. No third or fourth parties should jump in and attempt to discipline each other. I wish this would go for all times, because half the time when its just ABby and Brandon and me, and I'm trying to tell Abby to do something, he's either sticking up for her and comforting her and trying to take her away from me, or he's telling her twisted things like, "IF you don't pick up your toys Nicki is going to call the police and you can go to jail!"
I like Bobby and Claire... I even like Bobby, because he really is a good kid most of the time. His busdriver says he's her favorite kid that she's ever met in twenty years of driving school busses. He loves to converse with adults, learn new things, and listen. He really is a good kid. He's always so nice to Hayden, and would never be rough with her. Because its just clear to him that Hayden is a baby, and he has to be gentle with her. With a bigger, more rambunctious kid like Abby, I think he forgets that she is also much littler and younger than him! His main problem is that he just doesn't know how to act around other kids. And I wish coming to our house could be more of a positive thing for him. He goes to a special school for kids on the autism spectrum, but realistically he's one of the most "high-functioning" kids there, and he knows it. I mean, this kid has Asperger's Syndrome, can sit down and converse with you, can understand rules even if he has trouble controlling his impulses, can do work on a much higher level than his grade level. But he's in classes with kids who have more like classic autism, where they don't have any way of communicating at all, are not toilet trained, etc. My house is one of the only places where he gets to interact with "regular" kids. I would like it to be good for him. I would like him to feel like he has friends here. But instead, I feel like, between him, Abby and Brandon, I'm constantly putting out fires!

2008-11-18

Memoir, Continued...

I don't know if I'm going to be up to date with NaNoWriMo, but I've decided to keep on writing and posting my memoir anyway, as often as I can. So here is the next chapter in my amazing life story!

The next day my parents take the day off of work. I am used to mu mom coming and going from her work as she pleases. She’s one of the bosses in her office and she can pretty much set her own hours, by now. But my dad rarely, if ever, misses work. Even when he’s sick, he makes himself go. So its freaky that today he’s taken the morning off!
“I told them my daughter is very sick, and I need to take her to the doctor,” says my dad.
That makes me bristle. “I’m not sick.”
“You are, you’re very sick,” says my dad.
How can you ev en spend time around people who believe you are crazy? People who refuse to understand what you ar going through, or how they have caused you any pain, and instead try to tell you that its all in your brain? Every moment is extremely awkward. I feel like I’m being watched under a microscope.

The meeting with the psychiatrist takes place at the Bridge Youth Services, a place I’ve gotten very familiar with over the years. When I was thirteen years old, the summer after my dad got his DUI, my family started going to the Bridge for family counseling The Bridge was a program through the township, the only place my parents could afford at the time because it offered sliding scale fees. I think it was my dad’s idea to go there. After his DUI, he was sentenced to go through rehab for alcoholism, and he joined AA as well. He became a very introspective person. He worried about how his drinking in the past had affected my brother and me.
Anyway, we went to a few family counseling sessions there. Our counselor, Wendy, would talk with us all together as a family, then just with our parents, and then just with my brother and me, and then back to all of us again. I remember we acted cheerful and high-spirited during the sessions, cracking lots of jokes and using lots of sarcasm, making Wendy laugh and causing her to comment that we were actually a ver close and strong family. But I think it was really the opposite. Even in counseling, we couldn’t face each other, we couldn’t be truthful, so we laughed instead.
During one of the sessions, my brother brought up some argument he’d had with my mom. On the way home my mom scolded my brother, telling him he shouldn’t have brought that up because it was between him and her. My dad protested, pointing out that the point of family counseling was for us to be able to work through our problems. My parents got into one of their many arguments, and my mom accused the rest of us of ganging up on her. When we got home, she didn’t get out of the car. My brother and I went upstairs to my bedroom, and we watched out the window as Mom drove away.
So it must have come as a relief to everyone, at the next session, when Wendy announced that she wanted to start seeing me by myself. The rest of them were obviously healthy and secure individuals, and were free to go about their lives. I was the Problem Child.
From then on, I went to counseling with Wendy once a week, on and off. I sort of liked having someone to just sit and talk with for an hour a week, who listened and took notes, and sometimes gave me advice. But every so often my mom just stopped makng appointments for me, or stopped bringing me to the appointments I already had. She said it was because I wasn’t getting any “better.” Whenever my school work got a little worse, or I acted more argumentative than usual, my mom would make me an appointment with Wendy, and bring me back to the Bridge.

So, it doesn’t surprise me now that the psychiatrist my parents are dragging me to is somehow mixed up with the Bridge.
Wendy is there to introduce us all to the good doctor, a skinny, balding man in a suit and tie. He shakes hands with us all, smiling as if this is a happy occasion, and leads us into one of the meeting rooms. I slump in my chair. The doctor, whose name is Dr, Gamze, asks my parents what has been going on that has caused them so much concern.
I stare at the floor, my eyes dropping, pretending to be anywhere else but here. My mom does the talking.
“Nicki has always been very withdrawn,” my mom says. “She argues a lot with us, an then she’ll just go up to her room and slam her door. Her school work has been very poor over the last few years. Its like she’s not even trying. She’s been disappearing a lot, going off all day and then refusing to tell us where she’s been. And then, the other day, my husband went looking for her and found her hanging out with these carnival people. So he dragged her home and we screamed at her and grounded her. The next day I called home, and my son told me Nicki was gone. I left work and went looking for her, and found her hanging out at the park with three homeless men. I dragged her home again, and told her she wasn’t to leave the house. A couple hours later, I got a phone call from the police. She’d gone up to the police station, and basically told them we abused her, and they were about to take her away.”
“She made allegations of abuse?” asked Gamze.
“Well, we don’t know what she told them, She was just refusing to see us, refusing to go home with us.”
Gamze nodded, scribbling in his notepad.
“I had this realization, as I was brushing my teeth this morning, that all this started when she got her period,” says my mom. “I’m thinking it could be hormonal.”
I want to fall through the floor.
“I’m going to make an appointment with a…”
“A gynecologist?” interjects Dr, Gamze.
“Well, an internist, and get it all done,” replies my mom.
“No way,” I speak up. “I won’t go.” It’s bad enough having to talk to the psychiatrist. I don’t want anyone actually touching me!
My mom shoots me an irritated look.
Dr. Gamze asks my parents about my family history, and I barely pay attention while my dad tells him about my schizophrenic grandmother. My dad’s family tree is actually filled with people who either drank themselves crazy or just acted nutty but never got diagnosed. And my mom’s side, too, for that matter. But my poor grandma always ends up taking all the blame when anyone asks about our family’s history.
Finally, Dr. Gamze tells my parents he wants to talk to me alone. I don’t look up as they reluctantly leave the room.
“So,” says Dr. Gamze. “Do you want to tell me your feelings on all of this?”
I sit up and look at him. “Its complicated,” I say.
“Well, I don’t know, maybe its not all that complicated,” says Dr. Gamze. “Why don’t you try me? I’m smarter than I look!”
I laugh, surprised.
The doctor grins at me. “See, when you first came in here, I thought for sure I Was looking at a very depressed young lady. You were kind of like this.” He demonstrates how I looked, slumping in his chair and staring at the floor. “But as soon as they left the room, you were like a whole new person! You’re sitting up, you’re smiling, you’re making eye contact. I think you’re just very angry at your parents.”
I nod. “I am angry at them.”
“And why is that?”
“They’re ating like I’m crazy,” I say.
“I don’t think anyone thinks your crazy. I think they’re just worried about you.” He has this fast way of talking, almost brushing my words out of his way as he speaks. “Now, these homeless people you’ve been hanging out with, how did you meet them?”
I shrug. “I just sort of started talking to them at the train depot, and they were nice.”
“Really, What kinds of things do you talk about with them?”
“Just anything, I guess. School, and life, and whatever. They like to talk to me. They say I add sanity to their lives.”
“Uh-huh. Are you sexually active, Nicki?” the doctor blurts out.
I shake my head fiercely.
“No? Not at all? And these homeless men, did you ever kiss them or hug them or anything? Were any of them your boyfriend?”
The conversation is officially grossing me out. “NO,” I say. “Its not like that. They’re more like big brothers to me.”
“Right. So this business with the police station, where you didn’t want to go home with your parents, what was that all about?”
I half-heartedly explain my fears about being “put away,” and my feelings of emptiness if I had to stay away from the homeless people. I don’t bother to go into detail this time. I’ve told my life story so many times in the past twenty-four hours, its starting to seem watered-down.
“I see, I see,” says Dr. Gamze. “Well, what I think is, you’re having a little trouble separating from your mother, and she’s having a little trouble separating from you. How does that sound?”
It sounds completely wrong, and totally out of context with the conversation we just had. But it sounds like something that won’t get me thrown in a hospital or put on medication. So I just nod and smile.
“Great!” says Dr. Gamze. “So, I’m going to call your parents in here, right now, and I’m going to tell them that you’re really going to try harder to get along at home. Okay?”
“Okay,” I say.

I sit in the waiting room while Dr. Gamze confers alone with my parents. After a few minutes, they all come out together, and Dr. Gamze shakes all of our hands again as he bids us goodbye.
As soon as we get out the door, my dad says, “That was pretty bogus!”
“Yeah,” I agree. “That dude was a freak.”

Speak up!

So today was a pretty good day! I got a lot of homework finished. I went to my conference with my Social Justice teacher, who said I'm getting anywhere between an A and a C, depending on how I do on this report. (No pressure there, right?) So I've been working hard on it. She actually gave me things I need to improve on in my report, which is weird, because usually teachers think my writing is great! Ugh.
And she said I have to start speaking up more in class. She said that when I do say something, the things I say show that I've been listening really hard and I know exactly whats going on, and my ideas are good, but that I mostly keep them to myself too much.
In every class I take, teachers say something along those lines. Its called "class participation" and its really hard for me. Although I am good at expressing myself in writing, I am not very good at expressing myself in spoken words. In fact, I am horrible at it! I took a Speech class, and I'm even okay at that, when I have lots of time to organize and think about what I'm going to say. Thats more like writing. But spontaneous speaking is hard for me. When I open my mouth, mish-mash comes out! I'm so bad at it that I actually hate ordering my own things at the bar, because first of all I have trouble getting people to actually acknowledge that I'm standing there wanting to say something, and then I'm terrified of actually talking!
Plus in my Social Justice class there are so many STRONG personalities. You know the type. The type that just FEEL like they have SO much to say, and that EVERYONE should shut up and listen to them. The kind that make their voices heard in every interaction in class, and will argue with you just for the sake of arguing with you, just for the sake of showing everyone how strong their personality is and how much they have to say. You know that kind of person? My classroom is full of them!
I actually told that to my teacher when she asked me why I don't speak up in class. She started laughing and rolling her eyes and saying, "I know, I know, I've been having problems with those people all semester." Seriouisly. The kind of people where, if you say the sky is blue, need to speak up and say, "Actually, sometimes its dark blue, and sometimes its gray, and by the way, I painted it that way!"

In other neeeeeeeeeeeeews.....
I got two voicemail messages from my older brother today. Yep. Haven't heard from him in so long, I was sure he was in jail somewhere! And you never know, he might have just gotten out of jail somewhere, because thats when he usually calls me... a few weeks after he's out of jail, once he's gotten someplace to live and some sort of job. He likes to leave me messages saying how his life is great, he's doing great, he's got a job, he's off drugs, he's quitting drinking, everything is legal. He likes to put his phone up to the stereo at the end of the voicemail message so that I can hear what he's listening to. (If I actually do answer the phone, half of the phone call goes like, "Listen to this song, this describes me totally," followed by some sort of hip-hop or heavy metal blasting into my ear. So, yeah. Apparently he's still in Wisconsin, has a full-time job, and has everything he needs, including a computer, and he says he'll email me when he learns how to. And by the way, don't tell his phone number to that bitch who calls herself his stepdaughter, because he doesn't want her to know where he is.
Hmmmmmmmmmmm.

2008-11-17

I Think We're Alone Now...

Housesitting for my parents this week, remember? So I just got home from school, and I'm here with Sammy-Joe. Poor little Trixie is in the kennel! :( This is going to be a sucky, lonely week in certain ways. I don't think I have ever stayed alone in this house without a dog of some sort! When Chopper was alive, I always watched her, and the last time I house sat I watched Trixie. I think maybe I housesat once between the times when Chopper died and Trixie moved in, but Sammy-Joe was a lot more active them and would come out and sit with me and follow me around and stuff. Now he just sits in his own room and waits for me to come in there and talk to him! I tried bringing him out here to the computer/TV section of the basement but he ran back into "his" little section. :(
So this should be fun!
I'm so, so, so, so, so, so, so tired today for some reason. Plus today was kind of a rough day with the kids, at least with Abby. She's been a real smart alec lately. Today she was playing with her BArbie dolls and had turned the entire living room into Barbie Doll Hell! So a little while before we had to leave to get the afterschool kids, I told her she needed to pick up her toy in a few minutes. So then when it was time to clean up she was pretty much just ignoring me. I told her she needed to either clean up her toys now, or be sent to the corner and lose a sticker and still have to clean up. So she went to the corner. So she did her five minutes in the corner and then came out, and still wouldn't pick up her toys! I told her, "They need to be picked up now, before we go to get Claire. If I'm the one to pick them up, I'm going to take them away and you won't be allowed to play with them anymore." She said, "Thats fine, cause I have better things to play with anyway." So I did clean them up, and towards the end she did jump in and put away like three things, but I took the toys away anyway and put them in Diana's room.
I know cleaning up sucks and is boring, and I'm not even as irritated by the fact that she didn't want to clean up and was putting it off, because I know I still am kind of like that! But the thing that bothered me was her flippant attitude of just ignoring me when I was telling her to clean up, then cheerfully going into the corner, then saying she didn't care whether I took her toys away because she had better things to play with anyway!
Plus then I got Ben and Claire, and Jimmy was home early, which always makes me a little nervous because then I feel like I gotta not only watch all of the kids and keep them safe and happy, but also keep them from irritating Jimmy, which is pretty hard when you have five high-spirited kids jumping around! So when Claire and Abby are running up and down the hallway, or they shake the table too much while they're coloring, or Hayden spills her cereal or Abby spills her pop or Ben just is Ben... and all of these things really did happen today... Jimmy gets mad and I feel like he's thinking, "Nicki sucks because she's not keeping all these kids out of my way." So at any rate its nerve-wrecking! Plus since Ben isn't allowed to play violent video games, and he has absolutely no interest in anything other than violent video games, he's often a total pain in the ass. He'll listen if you talk to him. For instance he kept turning the TV back to the Cartoon Network when I wasn't watching, and its something he's not supposed to watch. So finally I said, "This is showing me that I just can't trust you and I'm going to have to watch you more closely," and he said, "You can trust me," and then he stayed with Nickelodeon or whatever. I wish it was warm weather again, because then they all just played out in the yard together and it was much better.
Oh well... I don't know what I'm going to do for the remainder of the night but I'm probably going to sleep down here because I hate being in the rest of the house when nobody is here!

2008-11-16

Recipe For OCB Parfait!

Tonight for dinner we went to Old Country Buffet... me, Diana, Jimmy, Brandon, Mauricio, Abby, Hayden and Sarah. I think the secret behind buffet is that they offer tons of starchy comfort foods like mac-n-cheese, mashed potatoes, french fries, pizza, spaghetti, etc, so that ou'll hopefully fill up fast and not eat them out of house and home.
My favorite part of eating at OCB is the desserts, of course! Today I came up with a parfait, which Sarah nicknamed the Heart Attack In A Cup. Here's what you do...

1. Get a drinking cup from the drink section of the restaurant, and head over to the dessrt section.

2. Spoon in a layer of chocolate pudding, followed by a layer of vanilla pudding.

3. Add a layer of soft serve ice cream... either vanilla, chocolate, or swirl.

4. Add a layer of hot fudge cake.

5. finish by adding some "whipped topping".

6. If you feel like, it, sprinkle with sundae toppings such as crushed oreas, nuts, or whatever.

Yum, yum!

Brandon and Mauricio used my idea of taking a cup from the drink section, but they decided to make rootbeer floats, by filling their cups with vanilla ice cream and then adding rootbeer from the soda fountain! (However, they then grossed me out by adding sugar and Splenda that they found on the table!)

Oh, but now my stomach hurts so bad! Bleh!

2008-11-15

Hungover

Last night was hella cool because I went to the bar with Jimmy and Diana. We were only planning to go have one or two drinks and come home, but we ended up staying until closing time! We mostly played darts, and one time I beat Jimmy AND Tommy AND Diana! It was a hella cool night but too bad everyone was hungover for the entire day. Oh well it was all worth it!!!

2008-11-14

Here's A Freebie Alert For You!

Diana just tipped me off that Oprah and Snapfish are giving away free twenty page photo albums with your downloaded photos to anyone who wants one, until next Sunday! They did used to have a link on the Snapfish homepage that said, "Are you from Oprah" or something like that, but they took it down... I guess because too many of their general customers were clicking on it and getting the deal! But if you click here, you can get in on the deal!
Just thought I'd pass that along... some special NaBloPoMo info!
I'm downloading some photos right now. I'm gonna make my mom a photo album of our Disney Cruise, as a Christmas present! I bet she'll think its hella cool! Either that or she'll think its totally stupid, but she'll at least pretend its hella cool!
Okay, gotta run. Holla!

2008-11-13

I Own The Library

At least, I should! I should own stock in that place! I'm basically subsidizing it with all of the overdue fines I pay! I haven't gone to the library in a looooong time, but I went today to turn in a bunch of overdue materials I'd been procrastinating about returning. SO how much did I owe? Eighty bucks!
Yep. Eighty. You heard me right.
But don't make fun of me, At least I owned up to it, went and returned my stuff and paid my fines, so I could get some books for myself and some books for the kids. Unlike some people, who can't even set foot in the library anymore!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
myspace glitters

myspace glitters


Tomorrow is Friday. I'm so glad! Except its actually going to be the beginning of a rough week. The P's are leaving for Hawaii on Monday, and I am supposedly housesitting for them. Which is sort of a weird issue within itself. I always used to housesit for them before, and also take care of the animals. But they decided they were going to put the animals in the kennel. I balked, because I hate the idea of the poor animals being in the kennel... but they said, since I am going to be watching the girls and then going to school, I wouldn't have time to come home and take Trixie to the bathroom. ANd no way were they going to let me bring Trixie to DIana's house! I've been told I am too mentally ill to be responsible for a dog. Ugh. So she's going in the kennel. And originally they said I was going to have to stay at DIana's house the whole time, since there was "no reason" for me to be here if I wasn't going to be petsitting. But then they eventually changed their minds again and said they would put Trixie in the kennel, and leave Sammy-Joe out, so I would have to be here at the house to take care of Sammy-Joe anyway, but they still won't leave Trixie with me!
Ugh. Do you see how my life is ridiculous?
Makes me angry, and frustrated and sad.

2008-11-12

A little better...

Okay, so I am feeling a little better today, much more calmed down! I have managed to catch up with s few things in the past twenty-four hours. My room is clean, so I don't have to worry about that any more for a while. I did my math presentation today, and it went well, so thats out of the way. And today during Hayden's nap time I managed to get a whole lot of my Social Justice report written. I still have to catch up on my math homework, I am most likely going to flunk a History quiz tomorrow, and there is no way I'll be able to pay my tuition, but thats beside the point!
In other news, today as I was driving to school, a spider swung down on a web from the ceiling of my car, just to the left of my head. I freaked out and swatted at it, and it fell, and for the rest of the day I felt like I had spiders crawling all over me! Spiders gross me out, but I'm always getting bitten by them. Its weird. Its like they're attracted to me, or something!
Halloween

2008-11-11

In Tears....

So I've decided to take a break from typing up my NaNoWriMo entries for a while... I'm still writing plenty, in my notebook, but trying to type up the entries and post them here each day takes up a lot of time and energy that I don't really have. At some point, maybe weekly, I will catch up with my typing!
At any rate you want to know why I am in tears... its probably because I left my meds at Diana's so didn't take them today, and I think I forgot to take them yesterday too... plus I've had a horrible sinus infection for about a week now, with bronchitis coming in... so I've just been feeling horribly run down and sneezy and achy and everything. Plus stressed out because I have all of these huge projects coming up in my classes, plus I still owe my school $2,000 for tuition, plus this and that and this and that, and I'm just not good at juggling it all!
Then last night, after watching the kids all day long and going directly to school afterwards, I come home to find a special little note saying how I spend all of my time "blogging" and I need to clean my room before I use the computer. (With a sidenote, yeah I am blogging RIGHT NOW, but to say I spend ALL of my time blogging is a huge exaggeration! I type fast. Each blog entry takes me about ten minutes. So really, maybe an hour a week, tops, blogging. An hour.)The special little note was followed up by an angry lecture about how I am a freeloader who contributes nothing, and how I will soon find all of my things out in the front yard.
So today I got up and went to school, then after school came home and spent the next four hours doing laundry while working on one of my big projects for school. Finished my laundry and then went upstairs to spend the next two hours working so hard at cleaning my room (ended up throwing away about two garbage bags full of stuff) while also sneezing and coughing so bad, I basically filled up a third garbage bag with Kleenexes as I cleaned because I was sneezing so much! Like nonstop, sneeze-sneeze-sneeze-sneeze-sneeze-sneeze. Part of it is because I'm allergic to mold and dust, and my room is directly connected to the attic (in order to go to the attic people actually have to go into my closet!) which is filled with mold and dust. Plus then I eventually noticed someone had left the attic door open, which was probably making it way worse. So by the time I'm done, I'm literally sweating and my nose is bleeding and everything else. And just tired and feeling gross and horrible and sad.
But my room is clean as hell. (Just don't open the desk drawers... I'm gonna clean those out next week!)
But instead of feeling happy about my accomplishment, I just feel suicidal. I mean it, dude. About ninety times I had to stop and take deep breathes and coach myself to keep from melting into a sobbing, sneezing, bleeding heap.
Because lets face it, and lets be truthful here. I been pushing myself to the point of exhaustion, and still can't do good enough. I cannot turn around without hearing how I should be spending less time with these kids and more time with those kids, how I should be doing more of this and less of that, how while its mildly commendable that I've done this, it would be much preferred if I just did that instead.

For example. I watch Abby and Hayden all day long three days a week, plus Brandon after school, plus two additional kids after school as well, and if you add up the hours I watch them all during the week its 30 hours, which is close to a full time job. Plus going to school full time, plus homework. Which is, in my mind, A LOT!

But in my mom's eyes, its all nothing, because she equates my watching the kids as something I'm doing for my own self because of my illogical priorities or whatever, and any time I spend trying to plan interesting or fun things for the kids also counts as my own wasting of time, according to my mom. Any time I spend at Diana's house on the weekends is considered recreation in my mom's eyes, so whether I am spending time there babysitting the kids, or helping out at all, or doing my homework, or participating in normal household activities such as going to the store or farting into the wind or whatever, thats considered by my mom to be recreation. In her mind I am just this irresponsible person leading this happy-go-lucky life.

And I don't really have anything to show for life, nothing that matters. In my mind I have Brandon and Abby and Hayden to show for it, but in my mom's eyes thats nothing. In most of my family's eyes thats nothing.

And they make it so clear, my parents, that I am the one thing standing in their way of happiness. That if I wasn't around, they could have so much more extra space in their house, they'd have so few responsibilities, they could move to Tennessee or wherever. They already assume that when I finish school I'm going to move with them to wherever, because I will not be able to take care of myself.

I don't know. There are so many things I Wish I could explain here. My mom has the luxury of being a perfectionist, but I cannot be. Whether it is my ADHD that gets in the way, or whether you believe thats just an excuse and ADHD isn't real (Jimmy thinks I don't have ADHD, but then again, Jimmy doesn't even believe that Ben is autistic or that Danny has Down Syndrome!!!) I don't have a perfect bone in my body. My life consists of coming up with coping skills, and strategies, and tricks, and hopes and prayers and wishes. I can't be perfect. I can't make my mom happy. I can't make ANYBODY happy. I can try, like I did today, work so hard that I wind up sick and in tears, but I will always be forty cents short of a dollar.

And then when I try to expain, people are like, "OOOOH POOOOOOOOOOR YOU, right? POOOOR you!"

So.

Benadryl is kicking in. Goodnight.

2008-11-10

Grounded

Its my night at my mom's house and I am grounded from blogging. Can you believe that shit? I just came home to find a note by the computer saying I'm grounded until I clean my room. Dude. I'm 29. Ugh.
So no NaNoWriMo tonight... I have major catching up to do tomorrow... after my room is clean!
UGH!
My life is ridiculous, isn't it?

2008-11-09

nablopomo day 9

This is yet another quick post before bed. Today we went to Jimmy's nephew's birthday party in the city. It was fun. Jimmy's family is always nice to me and I'm always happy when we get to go to their house. But I'm always sorta sad when its time to leave cause I can never be sure I'll ever see any of them again, if Jimmy and Diana break up for good! :{
Diana's new car has a DVD player in it so it makes long car trips a lot easier for the kids! Today in the car they watched Kung Fu Panda! It cuts way down on the "Are we there yet"s and the complaining! But we might be getting rid of that car on Monday.
I'm still sick, bleh! But feeling a lot better than yesterday!
Okay, i'll post LOTS more tomorrow, at nap time, probably!

2008-11-08

Nablopomo

This is going to be a short post just to keep me e going for naBloPoMo. I'm wicked sick and was up all night last night walking the halls because I was having trouble breathing. I did manage to get 20 more pages of my life story written in a spiral notebook, but I haven't typed it up yet, so i'm not gonna post it here. This afternoon we went to watch Sarah sing in a concert, then went and played at a playground in our old neighborhood for a while. It was freezing cold out! They redid the whole playground and made it a lot cooler than it used to be back when we used to bring Brandon there whn he was little.
Now we are home and Jimmy is here and we are having order-out for dinner. I am getting mosticolli!
I will type more of my story tomorrow!!

hayden wrote this:
mmn/nn

2008-11-07

NaBloPoMo/NaNoWriMo Day 7

(...continued)

I tell all of this to Officer Dean now. He is sympathetic, but since no laws have really been broken, there is nothing he can do. So he tells me he’s going to pass me along to a social worker who works for the police station.
Her name is Sarah, and in my mind she looks just like Elaine from “Seinfield.” She has her own office, with a couch on it, and I sit on that couch while I tell her the whole story that I just told to Officer Dean. Except, Sarah asks a lot more questions than Officer Dean did. Mostly she wants to know why. Why am I crying? Why don’t I want to go home? Why does my mom yell at me so much? Why do I like hanging out with the homeless people? Why don’t I have friends at school? Why, why, why?
She thinks its weird that, on the very day my mom caught me escaping my grounding and hanging out with the homeless people, the very day it became clear that I was in deep trouble, is the very day that I decided to show up at the police station asking for help.
Maybe she’s right. Maybe its more than a coincidence. But its not just that I’m angry at my parents and don’t want to follow rules, like Sarah seems to think. Its just that, with the homeless people, I had a sort of community behind me, people who liked me and supported me. If my parents take that away from me… and I’m certain they will…there will be nothing to make my life bearable. And now, with them angrier than ever at me and hinting that I’m crazy, I will be more alone than ever before.
Try as I might, I cannot get Sarah to understand this. I cannot put my feelings into words that she can easily transfer into her notepad.
But I must get through to her somehow, because finally she tells me, “Okay, you don’t have to go home. You’re not going back there.” She tells me I’ll be going to a group home until the social services people can figure out what to do with me. It will most likely take thirty days, she explains, and then a judge will decide whether I should go home or stay in foster care. In the mean time, she brings me to a small room with nothing but a chair in it… and locks me in!
There is nothing for me to do but pace around frantically in the room. There are mirrors on the walls, and I peer into them to determine whether they are those secret window-mirrors. (They are, but there’s nobody in the other room looking back at me,(
I am freaking out. This is really happening! I am really leaving home, not as a runaway, but as a legitimate person! I imagine that thirty days will be just long enough to change everything. Maybe I will get to switch schools. Maybe someone will help me do better in school, instead of screaming at me. Maybe someone will help me find friends. Maybe, if I do go home after thirty days, someone will have helped my mom to not hate me so much. And maybe, even if she does still hate me, I will be strong enough to handle it.
The door to the little room opens, and Sarah walks in. Her face is angry. “Nicki, your parents are here, and you’re going home with them,” she declares. “You can’t go to a group home. You’ll never make it.”
What? I burst into fresh tears. “But you said I didn’t have to go back there! You promised!” I wail.
“I never promised anything,” snaps Sarah.
“It was just a trick, wasn’t it! You just told me that to trick me so I’d sit still while you called my parents!” The betrayal is shocking to me. I really did think Sarah was going to help me.
“That’s not true,” she protests. “I spoke to your parent and heard what they had to say, and I decided you’d be better off going home.”
“Well, I’m not going home! You can’t make me!” I shout. But my bravery quickly gives way to more tears, and I beg, “Please don’t make me go back! Please let me go somewhere else! Just for a while!”
Sarah sighs and walks out, locking me in again.
I go to the corner of the room and sink onto the floor. I pull my knees to my chest, and bawl into my arms, wiping my snotty nose on the sleeves of my sweatshirt. I cry and cry. It is as if my heart has broken open, and the pain is spilling out.
Then the door opens, and an angel from Heaven walks in.
“Nicki, this is Liz. She’s from the Bridge Youth Services. She’s here to talk with you and help you work things out with your parents,” says Sarah. She lets the lady in, and shuts the door once more.
The new lady, Liz, is young and pretty. She has on jeans and wears her hair in a ponytail, and her face doesn’t look angry. She glances around the room, and then sits down on the chair. “What’s going on?” she asks.
I look up at her. “She lied to me! That lady lied to me! She said I wouldn’t have to go home, and now my parents are here!”
“That’s really upsetting to you, isn’t it,” says Liz.
“Yes! I don’t want to go home! My mom thinks I’m crazy! And now Sarah thinks I’m crazy too!”
“You don’t seem crazy to me,” says Liz. “In fact, you seem very smart!”
I calm down a little at that. Liz’s voice is friendly and gentle, not suspicious and angry.
I tell her my story once more. I am getting tired of telling it, though. So I give her the abbreviated version. My mom hates me. School sucks. The homeless people loved me, were nice to me, and gave me a place to belong. Now I am going to be kept away from them, and I am in more trouble than ever, and I don’t have anywhere to turn to.
“I don’t have any control over whether you go home,” says Liz. “But since it looks like you are going to have to go home with your parents, I’d like to try to help make it easier for you.”
“But they think I’m crazy! They’re going to send me to a mental hospital,” I remind her.
“I talked to your parents, and they said they’re not going to do that. Your mom was very upset when she said that,” says Liz.
“If they send me home, I could just run away, maybe.”
“That’s right, you could,” Liz agrees. “Have you thought about how that would work? Do you know where you would go?”
I think about my old plan to run away to the north woods of Wisconsin. But I am not a little kid anymore, and I know I won’t be able to survive long by recycling cans and eating vending machine foods. I think about California, and how I almost ran away to there, but now that option isn’t open any more either. Jason is in Audy Home, and the others are in Michigan. I could run away to Michigan, but I don’t have much money saved up and I have no idea how I’d get there. And although I wish I could just stay with the homeless people and live with them, I know its impossible. I’d quickly get found, and then my friends would get in trouble for helping me.
“I don’t know,” I mutter. “I’d find somewhere.”
“How about if we make a deal with your parents that you’ll go home tonight, and you won’t run away tonight?” says Liz.
“Fine,” I say. I am running out of steam. It is getting late. My stomach hurts. I’ve been defeated.

The rest of the evening is a blur. I walk with Liz back to Sarah’s office, where my parents are waiting. Sarah and Liz ask to talk to my parents alone, and I am banished to the hallway, where Officer Dean babysits me for a while. I am in a weird state of having lost all control over the situation, and it makes my mind spin. I joke with Officer Dean. I tell him I ate food from the Dumpster. I tell him that I went on the carnival rides for free. I tell him I almost ran away to California with some kids I met at the train station. “Do you know Jason Rees?” I ask.
“Yes, I know Jason very well,” says Officer Dean.
“How about Erick Quinn? Do you know him?” I ask. Erick pops into my mind because he sort of reminds me of Jason. They’re both bald-headed.
“Yes, I know Erick also. Those aren’t really the types of guys you should be hanging out with,” says Officer Dean. “They’re bad guys.”
“Why? What did they do, kill someone?” I wonder.
“No, but eventually they probably will,” says Officer Dean.
“Not me! They won’t kill me! They’re my friends,” I assure him.
Sarah. Liz, and my parents come out of Sarah’s office, before Officer Dean can convince me that Erick and Jason are murderers waiting to strike.
“Come on, lets go,” says my mom.
I follow them out, turning to wave goodbye to Officer Dean. He shakes his head in bemusement as he waves back at me.
We leave the police station. The reality of the situation hits me once again, and I feel like puking.

When we get home, my parents tell me that first thing in the morning they are taking me to see a doctor.
“What kind of doctor?” I demand.
“Well, a psychiatrist,” says my mom.
“I don’t want to see a psychiatrist!” I protest.
“Tough,” says my mom. “We have to find out what’s wrong with you.”
“There’s nothing wrong with me,” I grumble. “I hate doctors.”
“Oh, you’ll be seeing plenty of doctors,” sing-songs my dad.
They take my shoes, and the heavy thermal sweatshirt that I always keep with me even when its hot out. I have never been good about parting with my things. As a little kid, I used to bawl when I outgrew my sneakers and other clothes. Now, I cry again and beg for my things back… or just a little more time to say goodbye to them… but my parents snatch them away from me and throw them in the garbage. The image of my stuff in the trash nearly drives me crazy, and I cry hysterically. I’ve lost all of my friends, and now I’m even losing my sneakers and sweatshirt. My mom threatens to take away my backpack, too, but she doesn’t. She’s probably afraid that would really send me over the edge. I cry myself to sleep.

2008-11-06

NaBloPoMo/NaNoWriMo Day 6

Somebody Help

I tell my parents that the people I was with at the park are all carnival workers. I tell them I became friendly with the carnies yesterday, and stopped to talk to a few people I recognized. I feel bad for disowning the homeless people, but I know they would understand.
“Why would you be hanging out with a bunch of carnival people?” My mom is disgusted. “These people are the epitome of white trash!”
“They’re nice,” I protest.
I get grounded. I’m supposed to stay home and spend the day cleaning my room, which is alarmingly messy.
Grounding doesn’t really bother me, though. I am used to being grounded. I get grounded left and right. It seems to me that my parents, busy with their own complicated lives, have put strict rules into place so they won’t actually have to supervise us. As long as we appear to be following the seemingly strict rules, my brother and I are free to run wild. For instance, my younger brother has been drinking and smoking weed since he was ten, but as long as he comes home for dinner each day and acts respectful, our parents assume all is well.
The only reason I get grounded more than my brother is because I have trouble with the simple, unwritten rules like, “Do well in school,” and “keep your room clean,” and “appear to fit in.”
At any rate, all being grounded means to me is that I’ll have to get home early, before my mom gets home from work.
So on Monday I ride my bike back up to the park and search out the homeless people. We hang out in a picnic shelter inconveniently located right next to the police station. It is a small crowd today. David, Pat and Harold have gone off somewhere, so its just Don and Al and me. Later, Kurt shows up. Kurt brings a whole shopping cart of sub sandwiches in plastic packages, which he says he got from the Dumpster. Don says he won’t eat Kurt’s sandwiches because he doesn’t think Kurt is a very good judge of whether food is fresh enough to eat. That hurts Kurt’s feelings, and he sulks. So I eat one of the sandwiches to make him feel better. Al eats a few, too. Al will eat anything. Don makes hot dogs on the grill, and I am sitting on top of a picnic table next to him, eating a hot dog wrapped Wonder Bread, when I see my mom’s van pull up.
“Oh, shit!” I moan.
I stuff the rest of my hot dog into my mouth, and walk over to her, waving like there is nothing wrong.
My mom gets out of the van, shouting, “You little bitch!”
She grabs my bicycle and tries to force it into the back of the van, all the while screaming at me. I stand and watch her, my heart pounding in my ears.
The bike won’t fit in the back of the van, no matter how she tries to wedge it in. Finally she throws it to the ground and yells, “Get on your bike and ride home!”
I get on my bike, and ride over to my friends, stopping only to say, “I’m in trouble! I gotta go, but I might come back!” Then I ride crazily across the grass, past the bandshell and through the parking lot. As I cross the street, I see my mom coming up the next side street. She’s on her cell phone, looking pissed. I feel like I’m in some sort of movie, being chased by Mobsters or FBI agents. I cross the train tracks, fly through the alley behind the grocery store, down the street and up the driveway of my house. My mom’s van is hot on my tracks. As she pulls into the driveway, I drop my bike and run into the house, intent on getting up to the relative safety of my bedroom.
I am still on the stairs when my mom gets into the house. “You are not to leave this house!” she shouts. “Your room is a mess!”
“Okay!” I reply.
“If you keep acting like this, we’re going to have to get help,” Mom snaps.
“Good!” I would be glad for my family to get help. I picture a helpful person who
will teach me how to fit into the world, and teach my parents how to be… nice.
My mom follows me halfway up the stairs. “Did you hear what I said?” We’re going to put you away!”
I go into my bedroom and slam my door behind me.
The image of being put away is completely different from the one I had of getting help.
My paternal grandmother is schizophrenic. I don’t know her very well, because my parents have always kept their distance from her. Divorced from my grandfather, she lived in an apartment building for retirees up until a few years ago, when my dad and my uncle put her in a nursing home after she kept breaking her hip. We only see her when it’s a holiday or someone’s birthday.
The only reason I even know that she is schizophrenic is because my mom finally told my brother, my cousin and I, one day when she heard us making fun of the way Grandma acted. “You know, Grandma is schizophrenic,” she announced, stopping us in our tracks.
Much later, as an adult, I will start to learn bits and pieces of my grandmother’s story. I will find out that Grandma had what they then called a nervous breakdown, when my aunt was still a baby and my dad wasn’t even born yet. My grandfather had her put into a mental hospital, where she spent many years on and off. According to one story, my Grandma once threatened to kill her children. She was given several rounds of electroshock therapy, lots of different medications, and other forms of treatment that were considered the norm back in the 50’s and 60’s, But it all did more harm than good.
At this point, though, all I know about my schizophrenic grandmother is that her children… my dad and his siblings… can’t stand her. Most of the things she says are met with eye rolls and sighs of, “Have you been taking your medication?”
One of the things she used to be paranoid about, ironically, was the idea that people are plotting to put her away. But since that very thing actually happened to her many times, I don’t think was so crazy for her to be afraid of it happening again.
I don’t want to be put away.
Its now-or-never time, I decide. I’m going to have to come up with a way to get myself out of this situation, out of this family that doesn’t really want me, out of this world where everyone thinks I’m horrible. I’m going to get help.

My mom has gone back to work, so there is no reason for me to sneak out. I just walk out, get on my bike, and leave.
I ride back towards the park. On my way there, I spot Pat and Lorenzo in the alley behind the grocery store. I nearly crash my bicycle trying to get to them. Sweaty and tear-streaked, I cry to Pat, “I’m not gonna stay with my parents any more! They think I’m crazy! They hate me! I’m not going back!”
“Don’t worry.” Says Lorenzo. “You can stay with us!”
Pat gives him a dirty look. To me she says, “Whats going on, honey? What happened now?”
I quickly tell her the story, in a way that probably doesn’t make much sense. I am confused. I am upset. I am freaking myself out.
“We’ll find Ramirez,” Pat decides, setting her mouth in a firm line. “He’ll know what to do.”
Pat walks with me to the police station. I keep looking over my shoulder, expecting my mom to come down the street in her minivan, hanging her head out the window to scream at me.
Finally we get to the safety of the police station. I insist on bringing my bicycle all the way inside the police station, so my mom can’t drive past and find out that I’m here.
Pat waits with me until the juvenile offer, a youngish guy who reminds me of a football player for some reason, comes and urges me to to his office with him.
Then Pat stands up, smiling at me. “You’lll be fine, little one. I’m sorry I can’t
help you more. I can barely take care of myself.” She kisses me on the head before she leaves.
I follow the cop, who says his name is Officer Dean. He brings me into his office. The first thing he says to me is, “So what’s going on? You don’t want to follow your parents’ rules?”
I scowl, shaking my head. “That’s not it. They don’t really have a lot of rules, anyway. They just hate me. My mom, especially. And I just don’t want to be there.”
“What makes you think your mom hates you?” asks Officer Dean.
I recant some examples of things my mom has said and done that make me pretty sure she hates me. The times when she has called me a loser, the times she has stood over me and screamed at me about my school work. I tell him about a time when my parents got into a huge fight. We were all going to go out for dinner, and my mom suggested Mexican food. I suggested fried chicken. My dad agreed that we should go for fried chicken, because he remembered that I had told him several days ago that I was craving it, and he’d promised me we would get some the next time we went out for dinner. My mom threw a fit. “She’s a little princess! She gets anything she wants!” my mom snapped.
“How about we stop at Taco Bell on the way,” said my dad. “That way you can have tacos, and Nicki can have fried chicken.”
“I don’t want Taco Bell! I want real Mexican food!” retorted my mom, storming into her bedroom.
Wounded, I started to cry. My dad tried to reassure me. “She only says those things to hurt you. So if you just act like it doesn’t bother you, she’ll stop,” he said.
It was meant to comfort me, but something about his words made me feel sick to my stomach. It was one thing to believe that my mom hated me, and even to wonder if I was such a bad person that I deserved to be hated. But hearing my dad basically confirm that my mom got some sort of satisfaction out of hurting me… that was different.


(to be continued...)

2008-11-05

NaBloPoMo/NaNoWriMo Day 5!!!

(...continued)
From then on, every morning after my parents leave for work, I get up and ride my bike for forty-five minutes to get to the forest preserve. I have to ride down a very busy street, with no sidewalks, during morning rush hour. It is the first time I’ve ever ridden in traffic like a car, and each time a car or truck passes me I feel like I’ve narrowly escaped death. Eventually, David will show me a way to get there using a bike path that weaves underneath the library, across the golf course, and through the other side of the forest preserve. It will be a lot safer, and it will save me fifteen minutes each way. But until then, I risk life and limb twice a day to hang out with my friends.


When I was a little kid, my parents and my brother and I used to spend some time every summer at a resort up in northern Wisconsin. My dad had essentially grown up around the resort, and knew it like the back of his hand. He would lead my brother and I on long hikes through the woods, showing us secret places that he’d discovered as a kid. We used to love to hike to the quarry and search for Fools Gold and other treasures. We’d play outside of our cabin in huge valleys that my dad said were left there a million years ago by icebergs back when the whole world was nothing but water. We’d look for bear and deer tracks, and train chipmunks to take peanuts from our hands. Those summer get-aways were the highlight of my life when I was a kid. Every single year, when it was time to go home I would bawl my eyes out. My feeling of homesickness for Wisconsin would last much longer than the usual end-of-vacation blues. I would be severely depressed for weeks, and even after school started and life had moved on I would still be pining away for the north woods. I would doodle on my school work, “I Love Wisconsin,” and draw pictures of frowning faces shedding tears.
My mom used to reassure me that we’d always go back to Wisconsin the next summer, so instead of feeling sad to leave the place I should concentrate on looking forward to going back. But then one summer we didn’t go back. It was the summer after my dad got his DUI and lost his job, so maybe the reason we didn’t go was because we couldn’t afford it. But even after my parents got back on their feet and their financial situation wasn’t so touch-and-go, we never went back. It broke my heart. By the time I meet the homeless people, it has been five years since I’ve been up there. But I can still close my eyes and remember it as if I were there just yesterday.
So, when my friends up and move to the forest preserve, I am happy. Its not quite the northern woods. No matter where you are in the forest preserve, you can still see litter on the ground and hear the sounds of traffic. Its not like Wisconsin, where it was possible to hear the silence. But still, its woodsy. I feel like I’m camping, or like we’re Gypsies or Indians.
Sometimes Don or David take me for walks through the woods, and I enjoy that little bit of nature, even though walks usually end in the circle of the forest preserve. The Circle, as it is called, is more of a party spot for hippies and stoners than a place to enjoy the great outdoors. Its fun, though. At the Circle I watch the older kids play guitars and kick around hacky sacks, and I play with all of their puppies. Hippies, it seems, are constantly getting new puppies, which wear bandanas and accompany them everywhere.
One time, as Don and I walk back through the woods to where the others are, we run into two guys Don seems to know. It is a little strange to just encounter two guys standing around in the middle of the woods. They offer Don a joint, and he takes it. When the guys offer it to me, Don shakes his head and tells them, “She doesn’t smoke. She’s just like a little sister to everyone… she tags along with us, and we don’t let her drink or smoke or anything like that.”
I watch Don pass around the joint with the other guys. I wonder if maybe, hundreds of years ago, Native Americans stood in this very spot and smoked a peace pipe!



One day, I am at the forest preserve, when about ten squad cars from the sheriff’s department pull up. I am the one who spots them coming up the road, and I point them out to the others. Don tells me, “Don’t worry, they’re not here for us. We’re not doing anything wrong.” But then all ten squad cars turn and drive straight across the grass towards us! I know for sure we’re in trouble. They park all around the picnic shelter, trapping us.
I look at Don, panicked, but he just tells me, “Its no big deal. They won’t even notice you.”
Don is wrong again. They do notice me! “What are you, some sort of a runaway?” they demand. “Are you sleeping with these guys?”
“No!” I scowl. “They’re my friends! And I’m not a runaway. I just don’t like to be at home much.”
“Why do you want to hang out with a bunch of homeless drunks?” asks one of the cops. “Its one thing to be nice to people, but come on! You should be hanging out with kids your own age!”
“I don’t have any friends my own age,” I tell him.
“Well, make some,” he replies.
Like its that easy.
“Other kids don’t like me,” I try to explain.
“Why not?”
“They think I’m crazy.”
“Maybe you are crazy,” says the cop. “Go home, and don’t come back here any more.”

The cops kick all of the homeless people out of the forest preserve, so there is no reason for me to go back there anyway. It is the Fourth of July weekend, and the carnival is coming to town! There will be a festival with bands playing and food vendors and everything else, at the park right by my house. The homeless people transplant themselves to the park, where they can enjoy the festivities without really being noticed.
I transplant myself to the park, too. Don has gotten a job at the carnival, running one of the rides. He saves some of the tickets people give him for the ride, and sneaks them to me and David so we can get on rides for free. I love carnival rides, but David is the only one who will go on them with me. The others say that they’re too old and the rides make them sick.
We have a feast on Saturday, a feast of food from the grocery store Dumpster, which seems to be overflowing this weekend. Harold makes steak and potatoes on the grill, and there is salad and pie, and a group of the people at the next picnic table offer to share their beer and soda with us. When it gets dark, we sit and watch a Beatles tribute band, and eat raw cookie dough from a tube. After the band comes the fireworks! It is as close to Heaven as I can imagine.
I am supposed to be home by midnight tonight, but I long to stay and sleep at the park with the homeless people. It doesn’t occur to me that the carnival will shut down by midnight. The bands will pack up and leave, and the crowds of people will head home long before I do, I imagine that the festivities will go on all night long without me.

In the morning, when I get to the park, I can’t find any of my friends. Some people are setting up equipment on the band shell, though, and I notice that they keep on looking quizzically into the bushes below. So, when the people aren’t looking, I duck into the bushes and find Harold sleeping there.
I shake him awake. His eyes fly open. “Jesus Christ, don’t wake a person like that!” he snaps. “I almost flashed back to Vietnam! I could have killed you!”
“”No, you wouldn’t.”
“I could have! Never wake a sleeping bum,” he admonishes me.
“Sorry,” I say. “But these people were staring at you, and I was afraid they’d call the cops!”
“What people?”
“Them!” I look up.
They are staring down at us.
“Shit,” moans Harold.
We crawl out of the bushes as casually as we can.
Its overcast and rainy, and the day definitely doesn’t look as promising as yesterday was. The carnival is supposed to start at noon, but we hear from some of the food vendors that if its still rainy or if lightning is spotted they’ll just cancel the whole thing.
The others show up, and we gather under the beer tent to peer out at the dismal day. When, by noon, it is hailing, the food vendors crowd under the tent with us. They share the food they aren’t going to be able to sell now. A clown gets drunk and tells me dirty jokes. I laugh hysterically at the ridiculousness of it all, until Harold gabs me. “Repeat after me,” he says. “I am under control!”
“I am under control!” I can’t even say it without laughing.

By three o’clock the rain has stopped and it is sunny again. I hear my name being called, and look up to see my dad walking across the park towards me. I feel the blood drain from my face.
“Do you know that guy, Nicki?” asks david.
“That’s my dad,” I sigh,