Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Parent-Teacher Conference

“Before we get started, I have to tell you what Nick shared with the class today.” 

My Nick’s third grade teacher had a wry smile on her face as my husband and I took our seats at her classroom meeting table yesterday. 

I turned to my husband, wide eyed, smiling a nervous smile. 


It was our first parent-teacher conference of the year and it was Monday.  The Monday after Cousin Gina’s big wedding in Manhattan Beach.  The wedding that brought four generations of Pieris from across the country together to celebrate with food and drink and dance… and a little more drink and dance.  

And some delicious baklava. 

What did Nick tell them?

My mind reeled.

I bet it was about that New York fan in the sports bar Sunday.  He kept screaming various forms of the word *FUCK* at the TV.  Truly cringe-worthy but Vince and Nick were thrilled. Nick must have told his class about that.  But we couldn’t NOT let the boys go sit and watch football with their family. It was an opportunity to spend more time with Great Grandma and their Great Uncle Tim before they went back to Indiana. 

I looked over at Nick’s teacher and she smiled at us as she gathered papers from her desk.

Maybe it wasn’t a bad thing that Nick shared.  Maybe he told his class about the wedding ceremony.  Maybe he told them about standing down on the beach with the rest of the guests, looking up at all the bikers on the bike path who had stopped to watch the wedding procession?  Maybe Nick told the class how they all clapped and cheered when his beautiful Cousin Gina first appeared at the top of the steps with her father, Nick’s Great Uncle Chris?  Maybe Nick told them how Gina was perfectly clad in a flowing, strapless, off-white gown; sparkling belt tied at the waist; jeweled, statement necklace; and small tulle veil in her hair, simply set to compliment her low set chignon?

Nick’s teacher raised her eyebrows as she walked over to join us at the meeting table. 

“I don’t know, Liz.  Sounds like you guys had a pretty wild weekend.  He said his cousin got married?”

Ok, he definitely didn’t mention the chignon.

“Yes, Jeff’s cousin,” I quickly distanced myself by marriage and braced myself while I searched for neutral ground.  “It was a big wedding.  Lots of family came in so we stayed down in Manhattan Beach where it was held.”

His teacher smiled.

“Yeah, Nick said something about his cousin trading her earrings for four bottles of wine?”

Oh, Jesus.

“Oh, thaaaat.”

Oh, shit.

“Yes, well that was a funny story.”  I sort of trailed off. 

Nick didn’t even witness this “last call” exchange between his Cousin Angela and one of the bartenders at the reception.  I didn't even witness it, though I wish I had.  What the hell is he doing sharing it with his entire class?  We only heard tale of it when we visited with Angela at the beach house where she was recovering the next day.  Nick was wrestling with his brother on the couch while she was talking!  What the hell was he doing LISTENING?

Nick’s teacher continued to look at me with a bright smile and wide, curious eyes.   Jeff was seated between us so I shifted my gaze from her to Jeff, hoping he would give me something.  Anything.  He smiled and shrugged his shoulders. 


I had no choice but to continue. 

“So, yes, the sister of the bride: the maid of honor who is also Nick’s cousin Angela wore these beautiful earrings that one of the bartenders who doubled as a stylist or something really liked and kept complimenting Angela on.  And I guess at the end of the night, after the reception, there was an after party scheduled…”

I kept looking at Jeff as I spoke, smiling, trying to make a story about drinking to complete and utter excess sound as G-rated as possible for my son’s third grade teacher.

“…so yes, I guess Angela figured she had something the bartender valued, and the bartender had something Angela valued…”

There was a life-lesson in there somewhere and I'd be damned if I didn't try to extract it.

When the agony finally ended and I finished, Nick’s teacher was somehow still smiling.  

“Nick really thought it was funny,” was her comment.
“So what did the other kids think?”  I couldn’t help but imagine a classroom of eight-year olds staring blankly at my son as they tried to digest his strange tale. 

“Oh, they thought it was funny.  They wanted to know what the earrings looked like.”

I then began to imagine each of Nick’s classmates re-telling the story to their parents that night at the dinner table.  Then, all at once, all I wanted in life was to die, right there, in Nick’s classroom. 

But dying would have to wait.  Instead, Nick’s teacher began to take us through his progress report. 


Cousin Angela and the infamous earrings.

Great Uncle Tim.  Also a Great Dancer.
Great Uncle Dave and Great Aunt Debbie in the background.

Cousins Gina and Nick!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Because It Just Does

You know what saying I have outgrown?
“Everything happens for a reason.”

Really?  Then, what’s the reason? 

Seriously, I need to know. 

Because to me, reason implies logic and logic implies dots somehow connecting and right now, I am seeing a bunch of black dots just floating around, willy-nilly.

How about this saying, instead?

“Everything happens because it just does.”

Some days, from out of nowhere, we’re handed a bouquet of flowers.

And some days, from out of nowhere, we’re handed a bag of shit. 

We have no choice in the matter. 

And it’s okay, if when we are handed our very own, personal bag of shit, to just drop it on the floor.  To maybe kick it around the room until we are exhausted.  To even lock it in the closet for a week.  And maybe after that, to place it on our neighbor’s doorstep, light it on fire, ring the doorbell, and run like hell. 

This is an actual flaming, bag of shit on a doorstep. I didn't leave it.

Because eventually, we will lay claim to our bag of shit.  We will pick it up and we will carry it because we know that we never had a choice because we seldom do.  And we know that the dropping, kicking, trespassing, and felony arson charges were just the beginning of the excruciating, often life-long ritual called acceptance. 

Some days our bags will feel lighter and some days our bags will feel heavier and they will always stink; and we will likely carry this stinky weight for most of the days of the rest of our lives. 

Except on some days, when we are handed a bouquet of flowers.  

Because on some days, if we are lucky, from out of nowhere; we will be lifted.  By a bouquet of flowers or by a letter in our mailbox or by the laughter of friends, we will be lifted.

And our bag of shit will seem to disappear completely, if only for a moment. 

Because everything happens because it just does.

See you in November, dear Julie!