Family Planning with Foster Care

As of Thursday we will be officially done with our foster care classes, 30 hours of discussion on discipline, loss, grief, strength, and needs. We have filled out every piece of paper known to man, and when finished with that stack of paper, we were handed new stacks to fill out. We filled out profiles of our family, discussing how we live our lives and who makes our decisions. Do we have any communicable diseases or a jail history? Our marriage license, my divorce papers, social security cards, driver’s license, health forms, FBI checks, and insurance forms have been turned in. However, as time consuming as the classes have been, the hard part is just beginning.

Sometime in the not-so-distant future, a social worker will come to our house to interview us and make sure our house is a safe and healthy environment. They will make sure that our smoke detectors work and check to make sure that medication is under lock and key. We will sit down to talk and I will inwardly fret that we have framed horror movie posters in our living room. While we have pleasant conversation, I will fight the desire to blurt out, “Please know that I don’t approve of murder and the wearing of a mask made from human skin. We just really like Rob Zombie.” On my fireplace is a painting done by Selena that says, “There was a hand in the darkness and it held a knife.” I will quickly explain that it is the opening line from a book that I found to be beautiful and I am not a knife enthusiast. Still, the home visit isn’t the hardest part.

Once our paperwork is stamped with a big red approved, we wait for a phone call. At some point a child will need a family and they will call us to see if we should be that family. On what I can only assume is the worst day of that child’s life, we will meet. They may be scared, angry, or confused, and it will be our jobs to put them at ease. To give them structure and support. Hopefully we will bond and make a difference in a child’s life. Perhaps the child will need a forever family and we can be that for them. But in the here and now, all we can do is wait.

Carvell and I talk about our “faux baby” sometimes. We wonder if it will be a boy or a girl. After a lifetime of female children we have a difficult time imagining life with a boy. We wonder if they will be a different race than us and make plans to be mindful of cultural differences. We talk about football season and how different it will be with me trying to care for another person in the stands. That may seem like a silly thing to wonder about, but football consumes us from August to December. We eagerly anticipate adding to our family while also fearing other aspects of foster care. How do you parent another person’s child while also absorbing them into your family? We know there will be visits with the birth parents and then the emotional fallout from those visits. We are mindful of court dates that may not go in the way that we think is best for the child. We are unable to plan for our life with a new child because we know nothing about them, not their sex, age, interest, motivations, needs, or wants. Our “faux baby” is a concept that is waiting to become a reality. When you are expecting a child through pregnancy you have nine or so months to plan and dream, but when you want to adopt through foster care you can only wait until the moment you receive your first phone call. Still, I don’t believe this will be the hardest part.

My concern is I don’t know what will be the hardest part. Will it be the dealing with a system that is heavy with problems? Will it be the time, energy, and changes to our family structure? Will it be the emotional and physical issues that can come from abuse or neglect? There are more questions than answers and I am someone who likes answers. I can worry an issue until it is a twisted knot, loops turning in on each other until it is a maze that cannot be undone. While I struggle and worry about what happens next there are also things that I know for sure: In Kentucky there are approximately 6,800 children in the foster care system and my family can help at least one of those children.

 

 

The Rocket Ship Slide

I remember it to be impossibly tall, metal, and of course red, white, and blue. The metal bars were painted blue but the glint of the metal always showed though where weather and children had taken their toll on the paint’s luster. The rocket ship slide at the local park was a thing of beauty and glory, and climbing into the ship and ascending the levels was scary, exhilarating, and suffocating. While basically open air, the top was still cramped and hot, and if two people were on the top plateau then your bodies were wedged together and contorted like child performers in Cirque du Soleil. I remember the sensation of running my fingers over the grooves of carved initials, JT + KB 4-ever, Kiss, ZZ-Top, and hearts etched into the metal, a permanent reminder of summer hood adolescence.

At the park you developed flash friendships: a girl of approximately the same age, dressed in brightly colored shorts and a pair of pink jellies that you coveted. As you climbed one behind each other up the endless staircase to the top of the rocket you swore that you would be friends forever and you told each other secrets, some true and some lies, to impress one another.

“What is your phone number?”

“555-6789”

“555-6789,” repeated over and over so you wouldn’t forget.

“We’ll call each other every night.”

Of course within moments of your new best friend leaving the phone number would leave, as did her name and the memory of her face.

The top of the rocket smelled of sweat, grass, and summer. It wasn’t at all comfortable to be there, but the top landing was much desired, and no amount of begging from the other children would make you give up your spot. There was a hierarchy to who was allowed up, and when you were on top you were queen of the playground. From your vantage point you could see the swings, monkey bars, and the water pipe that ran through the park. In the distance you could hear the carrousel music and the occasional screams from someone on the tilt-a-whirl.  That part of the park cost money and was for more special occasions. At the rocket ship playground we played for free, and hours could be spent pretending to be a tightrope walker on the water pipe.

If or when the decision was made to leave your post at the top of the slide, there was two ways down. You could back out and climb down the stairs, retracing your steps and taking that last little leap to solid dirt. Or you could take the slide, silver and the same temperature as the sun. Choosing to slide was an act of bravery. As you went down the steep slide you had to remember to keep your thighs up as to not burn and scrape off layers of skin. With your hands on the side of the slide you would descend and, depending on your rate of speed, your hands would burn from the friction. You jelly shoes would hit the dirt with an audible thunk and a small dust storm would appear. Your feet were left with dirty hash marks and grit caked in between your toes.

It was summer, youth, simple, and beautiful. I miss that slide and the memories it held.

Things I Know Today (2/13/2014)

  1. It isn’t normal for worry to make you shit your pants.
  2. Everyone has pooped their pants or will, but they don’t talk about it.
  3. Being nice is better than being mean.
  4. Sometimes, being mean seems like the better option.
  5. I am sick of snow.
  6. My scarf is oddly fluffy.
  7. It should be considered totally normal to walk around talking to yourself as long as you aren’t talking about aliens or guns.
  8. My mom once gave me a copy of “Alien Autopsy” as a gift.
  9. If smelling a baby doesn’t lower your blood pressure you need to cuddle a puppy.
  10. I hate feeling like a failure.
  11. I am not a failure.
  12. If after you have smelled a baby and cuddled a puppy you still feel awful I would suggest going to TJ Maxx.

What the Duck?

Last night the internet broke due to Phil Robertson being suspended from his family’s television show Duck Dynasty. It seems that Phil was interviewed by GQ and said some pretty distasteful things about homosexuality and the segregated south. Groups complained and A&E placed Phil, the patriarch of this family, on leave. Almost immediately my Facebook and Twitter blew up with posts about free speech, liberals, Bible quotes, and “Save Phil” fan pages. There was also a smattering of “faggots” thrown in as well. I was fascinated and couldn’t look away.

The first thing that popped in my brain was, “Why the hell would Phil do an interview with GQ?” Is Phil sitting in a duck blind covered in camouflage and flipping through the glossy pages of GQ, wondering what the new hot tech item of the week is? I seriously doubt that is the case. My second thought was, “How did Phil not know this was a bait question?” To that one I answered that he probably didn’t care. Then I thought that what the interviewer did was dirty. It was easy and he knew what the answer would be. The entire show is dedicated to this family’s Christian beliefs and home-spun family fun. Phil is a man of a certain age, who grew up in the Deep South before integration; he quotes Bible scripture from memory, and calls himself a redneck. It does not take a leap of logic to assume that Phil may not be down with homosexuality. He is entitled to his opinion and voiced it to that GQ interviewer. Sometimes free speech has a cost.

A&E has suspended Phil with no known date for his return. No one is telling Phil not to speak his mind, he has a large following and preaches and speaks around the country. He has a vast audience that he is more than welcome to speak to regarding his beliefs, both biblical and otherwise. Again, no one is telling Phil not to speak about what he believes. However, Phil is an employee of A&E and they have just as much of a right to suspend an employee. Free speech is not free. He said something and was disciplined by his employer. It happens to people everyday; while discussing this topic with a co-worker my own supervisor said, “No, more Heather.” There are rumors that I can be a bit much. There is no need to “Save Phil” as he is a duck call millionaire with a vast army of supporters. Trust me on this one, Phil will be fine.

In the comments Phil made to the reporter he listed homosexuality as a sin and then jumped to bestiality. “Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men,” he tells reporter Drew Magary. “Don’t be deceived. Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers—they won’t inherit the kingdom of God. Don’t deceive yourself. It’s not right (Chicago Tribune).” I would like to again mention, as I have in another blog, there is no jump from homosexuality to bestiality. I looked it up and it is not a thing. Homosexuality is not a gate way drug to loving a horse, it just isn’t. Why people can’t get past this, I will never know.

Phil also had something to say about anal sex, “It seems like, to me, a vagina—as a man—would be more desirable than a man’s anus. That’s just me. I’m just thinking: There’s more there! She’s got more to offer. I mean, come on, dudes! You know what I’m saying? But hey, sin: It’s not logical, my man. It’s just not logical.” I need to take this to a personal place for a minute. I am fearful that Phil doesn’t have a very good imagination or in the very least doesn’t know about the reach around. Nipples are also fair game on both men and women. As a general rule tight feels good to a penis, and an anus is tight. I am 38, have three kids, and pee on myself everyday. It is safe to say that shit is not as tight as it once was. Never in my 23 years of sexual activity have I heard a man say, “Man, I wish it was a little looser.” Phil is heterosexual and would not find homosexual sex to be pleasant just as a homosexual man would look at Kay and think, “Nope, I’ll pass.” This isn’t rocket science. Part of what concerns me is that there is a presumption by some heterosexuals that homosexuality is strictly about sex. It is about love, friendship, companionship, bickering, and compromising just like my “straight” relationship. Sex is important to most relationships, but it isn’t the most important part.

My DVR has every episode of Duck Dynasty on it and I like to watch it as I fall asleep. Trey and I watch it for the mellow vibe and the relationships between the families. I often gripe about Phil to Trey because I think he has a disdain for women. The controversy that surrounds this show right now has nothing to do with free speech as his rights weren’t infringed upon and A&E is well within their right to suspend him. There is no need to “Save Phil,” he knows what he believes in and stands for. I appreciate that this close-knit family has rallied together and released a statement saying they won’t continue without him. Phil said what he did and now has to face the consequences. The words we use have power and they needs to be wielded carefully. What we need is a call to be kind and to think before we speak, which is something I struggle with everyday.

* After I finished writing this, comedian Rob Delaney posted a video explaining the “tight” thing much better than I do. It was funny. I would suggest looking it up.

An Open Letter to Glade

Dear Glade,

I thought we were friends. I thought we really had something, but you went and pulled my favorite fragrance. The 2011 limited edition cinnamon chiffon candles were the most glorious candle you ever released and now I have depleted my stash and only have 2½ candles left.  These candles have been my signature fragrance between the months of October and February since 2011. My home smells deliciously of this frothy cinnamon concoction. The smell is heavy enough that it fills my living area, but light enough that I don’t feel overpowered. As I burn my candles, each passing hour brings me both joy and despair as I know our time is coming to an end.

I have done my research, Glade, and I know that I can buy the oils from a seller on eBay. I know that I can buy bottles of the spray as well, but let’s be clear, it is not the same. I have spent hours sniffing candles to find a scent as fabulous as cinnamon chiffon. I dip my nose into jars of cold wax and inhale deeply trying to match the happiness that your cinnamon chiffon brought me.  The feeling has not yet been replicated. Last night I had a moment of happiness when I smelled The Bath and Body Works candle titled Champaign Toast. For a moment I thought this could be the replacement, but alas, it is still not the glory that is cinnamon chiffon.

Glade, you and I have been friends for years. In my mid-twenties I took great comfort in the banana pear candles I would burn. They had a lovely light sent and filled my little apartment with much joy. As a longtime customer I want you to be aware that people like me exist. We enjoy our routines and are most content when our homes smell fresh and inviting. Perhaps, once you release a fragrance you could also list when the limited edition items will no longer be available, so people like me can create a stockpile much like a doomsday prepper.

Thank you,

Heather Carvell

 

PS: Cashmere Woods is good, Glade, but it just isn’t the same and we both know it.

When You Give a Mouse Napalm

There is a mouse in my house. I found the evidence, evidence that came in the form of extreme mouse dietary issues. I could immediately smell a dank mustiness that I associate with mice, and I immediately imagined a little gray mouse behind our microwave waiting to dash out and murder me with its tiny diseased hands. I waited for DSS to knock on the door and take the children into foster care. This was not the cute little mouse of Christmas ornament lore, no tiny Santa hat with a small block of cheese, this mouse was all fangs and Black Death. I could smell its ill intent.

I found the evidence next to one of the 12 unopened jars of barbeque sauce on the counter closest to the refrigerator. You may ask why I have 12 jars of barbeque sauce and my answer would simply be:  husband. For Trey every day is a barbeque and now that is how I picture the mouse. What if the mouse is a husband, cooking ribs for his friends on a Saturday? What if the mouse poop by the unopened sauce was a sure sign that there is a tiny gross mouse world where tiny gross mice husbands wear cargo shorts and Nike shoes, drink beer and smoke meats? I truly don’t care about this progenitor, I needed that mouse dead.

I cleaned my counters with every product in the house: Pine Sol, bathroom cleaner, Mean Green, Lysol, and vinegar spray. I have used them all until a nice cloud of chemicals rose from the counters like fog from a Stephen King novel. I was satisfied with my cleaning until I reached into a cabinet and knocked a PAM cooking spray lid over and from that lid it rained mouse poop upon my clean counters. It was at this point I developed a rage that could only be controlled by pharmaceuticals. No natural and friendly means of removing this mouse would do, only powerful poison. No catch and release traps for this murderous rage. I needed the kind of poison that made Dolly and her friends believe that Dabney Coleman had died in his office chair. We needed a poison so strong that I would be afraid for my children and animals.

I started with your basic d-Con, three wedge-shaped containers containing tiny blue pellets. According to the overly informative Wal-Mart employee, “You don’t look the type to rip down drywall (he was correct), but sometimes you find dried out mice. These poisons dry them out and make them mummies.” Well, that is exactly what I need! I don’t want to see the mouse or smell the mouse. I want it to die and wither away while I watch reruns of Veronica Mars. PETA is not an organization I will soon be joining. Sure, wanting this animal to dehydrate like mouse jerky is an asshole move, but know what is also an asshole move? This mouse plotting against me in its sleep, total asshole move.

Three mouse poison wedges didn’t seem enough. I needed something more. That more was a box of poison covered with skulls and crossbones. In fact, there are so many skulls and crossbones on the package it may have been designed by Hot Topic and sold to me by a girl with kohl eyeliner and a Dandy Warhols shirt. I picked up the new solid blue sections of poison with a paper towel and threw them behind furniture. I was like a morbid flower girl spreading cubes of death. I was Kilgore in “Apocalypse Now.”

Kilgore: Smell that? You smell that?

Lance: What?

Kilgore: Napalm, son. Nothing else in the world smells like that.

Kilgore: I love the smell of napalm in the morning. You know, one time we had a hill bombed, for 12 hours.

We are a week out from my finding the mouse evidence. After two days I stopped finding the droppings which had become the same blue as the poison. I assume the mouse is dead, but that hasn’t stopped my paranoia. I glimpse something moving and I jump out of my skin. If my hair touches my face I know that I have been transported to the episode of Sex and the City where Carrie finds a mouse in her bed and calls Aleksandr Petrovsky to come and save her. Aleksandr, really? He was never a good fit for Carrie even if he did help with the mouse. A shoestring is now a tail and I become Augusten Burroughs murdering a mouse in his bathroom in Magical Thinking.

I cannot deal with rodents on top of the stress of everyday life. I am ill equipped for such thing. I once had someone drive 15 miles to remove what I thought was a dead mouse from my room. It was actually just dog hair reflecting from a Playboy magazine, but I was 100% sure it was a mouse playing dead and planning an attack. Again, I am ill equipped for such things.

Tonight when I clean the kitchen I will hear “Ride of the Valkyries” playing faintly and I won’t believe that I am over reacting at all. As much as I hate that little asshole mouse he also helped me write almost 900 words. So, shout out to that hopefully dead dehydrated mouse in his tiny cargo shorts and Nikes.

My Words Need Viagra

I am a NaNoWriMo failure. This month I was going to sit down and write a novel; the goal of the program is 50,000 words. I signed up and created an account. I choose a genre and created a short idea of what my book would be about. I was ready to go. The world, or at least close friends, would be forced to read my 50,000 words about anxiety and bad decisions. The book would be a somewhat autobiographical account of a woman nearing her 40th birthday.

I never wrote a single word. As of the writing of this blog post it is November 10. I suppose I could try to catch up, but I am really discouraged at this point. I have been playing a little blame game trying to make excuses for why I haven’t been writing, not just not writing the novel, but not writing in general. What if I have already run out of things to say? Maybe we have a limited number of words in us and I have used most of mine up.

Depression probably plays a part in my lack of writing. The holidays are coming in fast: Thanksgiving, Mom’s birthday, and Christmas lead to a general sense of “bah humbugness” in our house. Work has been busy lately and at the end of the day I feel like I have no more words to give. Saidee has been sick. School has been consuming with an online class I’m taking. All of these are excuses for why I haven’t been writing, but they aren’t good excuses I know that.

If I am not capable of writing 50,000 words in one month, I could surely keep the blog updated with a once a week post. But to be honest I am having a problem with that as well. On my phone I have a list of blogs I have started and not finished.

  1. NoblePark and the magnificent haunted house.
  2. That time a boyfriend accidently caught my pubic hair on fire.
  3. The illegal purse trade or that time Kara and I were pretty sure we had entered an underground sex trade organization.
  4. Am I a bad feminist because I tell my children to not drink at parties?
  5. That time I pierced my vulva.
  6. That time I think my dead Grandpa talked to me.

I have ideas; I am just currently lacking the ability to get them on the page. What if I am word impotent? What if I can’t get the words up anymore? What if my words are sitting in matching bathtubs and holding hands while looking at a scenic view? Do other people feel like this and worry?

This is a blog I write for me as an outlet and for my friends for their entertainment. How much pressure must it be to actually write for a living? In a perfect world one of the pitches I send to xojane.com (first person and real life experiences, hell yes, please) would be picked up and I would start writing freelance and be a beloved commentator. However, this is not a perfect world and I am attempting to write 750 words on how I have nothing to write about. This is a sure sign that I am trapped in a strange Seinfeld-like world where nothing is really something.

So to recap: I failed at NaNoWriMo. I haven’t had a good blog post in a while. I am in a slump. I let my clothes sour in the dryer (that was not part of the blog post, but they smell of sour hell and you should know). I will now put on my Lane Bryant big girl panties and attempt to get over myself.

Thank you for listening to this pity party.

Love, Heather

PS: I didn’t hit 750 words, better luck next time.

me eating something

Until I am able to give you a better post please enjoy this photo of me eating.