Snakes and Stepmoms

“Better a serpent than a stepmother!” – Euripides

I encountered three snakes in one week recently. Two rattlers and one garter. I have not seen a snake in years. I do not live in a snake-infested area. Then three in one week. I must admit it made me check my superstitions. And my biblical references.

I will also confess that I have an illogical fear of snakes. They give me the heebie jeebies. I logically know if I don’t bug the snake, the snake is not going to bug me. But that being said, when I saw the rattler slither ever so gracefully under the porch, in short order I convinced myself that that snake (which was getting bigger with every second of thought) was going to wait until bedtime, find its way onto the deck, unlock the bedroom window, take down the screen and with quiet efficiency glide its way between my clean white sheets.

The logical and the illogical. How many times a day or a month do we struggle with these competing views?

Let’s take the label of stepmother for instance.

Logically, you know that when you meet one it means that the woman has married a man with kids. Illogically, I am going to take a wager that the story of Cinderella comes creeping into your thoughts too. That evil stepmother who locked the poor innocent girl in the attic.

Logically, you know she probably cares about those kids of said man she married. Illogically, you don’t believe that she could ever love them as much as her “own.”

Logically, you know she’s probably a normal, stressed out and flawed woman like the rest of us. Illogically, when you look up fiction books with a step mother in them you are presented with a lot of erotic fantasy options. She’s just plain naughty.

I have been asked why I wrote a memoir about my step mom experience. Part of it was to confront these logical and illogical notions. Better a snake than a step mom?! I have worn with the greatest amount of pride my step mom label and I have been forced to my knees by the weight of that same sticker. Logically, I became a step mom for all the right reasons. Illogically, it was a lot harder than I imagined it would be.

But while I may skip, dance and sometimes shout out a good ‘ole “motherfucker,” I do not slither.

So go to bed. Don’t worry about the snake. And let go of these step mom superstitions.


Driving with Friends

driving with friends

My sister says God was in the back seat. My brother would lean toward Buddha. And this is what I picture when I think about it; God and Buddha and a few others gently burrowing in, polite and elbows ready, everyone is smiling and negotiating for a good comfy seat while we sail over the ravine, my colored blonde hair flowing with grace behind me.

We sailed through the air like Thelma and Louise.

My head slowly turned to the left.

“What are you doing?” I asked him.

Like many things in life, “this” was unexpected. It was an accident. And just like that, your life takes a different turn. You face the new and unforeseen. Your path has changed, for the moment or more permanently.

And you pack along those items that have always been packed for the ride. Things like sibling love.

Sibling love. It is the foundation to so many of the events to follow in life – relationships with others, how we care for our kids, and how we care for our parents.

Did you and your siblings share? Did you learn to argue and negotiate? Could you rely on them? As you got older, were they there when you needed them? Did they answer the phone? Did you respect each other’s life choices? Even when you didn’t always understand or agree with them? Were your adult joint experiences strengthened or did they weaken your natural relationship with each other?

Siblings tend to follow you around in your life whether you choose to have them follow or not. My siblings and I don’t always get it right. We disagree. We shake our heads. We walk on our own. But we always circle back and try again. We have the foundation. I am lucky in that.

In this particular accident, I broke five ribs and suffered a collapsed lung. I have read descriptions of ribs in which they are described as a cage. I think of my ribs more like a nest. The nest that holds most of the important stuff. The vital body stuff alongside some of the other “important stuff” – the inner core – the love and the faith that circles and keeps you moving forward.

There was a huge bouquet of love that surrounded me on that afternoon as my nest was rattled around a bit. But I like the idea that I am driving along with the faith that my siblings carry along with their love for me. I like the idea that we are all in this car together.

This is one way I drive through this topsy-turvy life.

A Little Bit of History

kingco champs

This is a throwback Thursday!  And this is a picture of the team I was on when we won our high school league championship in 1981.

I began thinking of my participation in sports this week, when on the same night two events played out on the evening news:  we witnessed history with the nomination of the first woman elected to lead her party in the U.S. presidential election and my high school’s football program was hit with sanctions culminating from years of activities that involved big money and big ambitions.

How do they relate?

It began with a phone call to my mom, after we had listened to Mrs. Clinton delivering her speech.  My mom was fighting back tears.  And it wasn’t because she had forgotten to put something together for dinner.  Nor was it about politics.  It was about being 84 years old and being alive and present to witness a phenomenal event of a – woman – leading a party to be President.  I know that to some, this does not seem like a big deal  But it is.

And then, we talked about my high school and the state of youth sports.

As a kid, I played soccer from the time I could run.  I was unaware of the fight going on in the background.  I didn’t know then that the very existence of our girl’s teams was due to people like my friend’s mom, Mrs. Anderson, who fought tirelessly for the creation of sports teams for girls that equaled the sports teams of the boys.  And the sacrifice made by men like Mr. Turbak and Mr. Prichard who volunteered and left work early to coach my friends and me through those early years when our teams were formed and struggling to find fields to play on.

One culmination of these fierce efforts occurred in 1981 when this same era of girls won the league championship.  We didn’t have a booster club.  We didn’t have sponsors.  I doubt we even had cheerleaders at the game!

It wasn’t about money or power.  It was about what was fair and right.  And it was about some women and men who fought for our right to play as equals with the boys.

35 years later, a woman is nominated for President.

In that same amount of time, my mom with a group of her “Old Girl” friends founded the City Club of Seattle and the Washington Women’s Foundation among many other accomplishments.  They did not get paid for their efforts.

In that same period of time, my high school’s sports programs and others have gone a little nuts.

Have we come a long way baby?

The “ambitions” of high school sports – maybe not so much.

But thanks to folks like Mr. Turbak, Mr. Prichard and Mrs. Anderson and my mom, I think, at least for this week, we can say we women have.

Memories of Snow Lake

Last Saturday, we drove to Snoqualmie Pass, parked at the Alpental ski area and hiked up to Snow Lake. The Snow Lake trail is a modest 6-mile round trip trek with an elevation gain of roughly 1800 feet. At the peak (4400 feet), you are rewarded with an incredible view of the lake, ice-covered in the winter, glacier-blue in the summer. On this mid-May Saturday morning, as we hiked over streams bursting with winter snow run-off and looked up at the gushing waterfalls that surrounded us on both sides, I told my hiking partner the story of my first time to Snow Lake when I was 18.

My high school girlfriend and I had decided to hike the trail and spend the night above the lake and under the stars. I think we thought this made us sound outdoorsy, independent, and brave. And with our 18-year-old intellectual prowess flowing, we had that light bulb moment of great inspiration: “why not diet while we hike?!” Thus, our only provisions were bottled water and one hard-boiled egg each.

Memories are funny. They make you laugh. They make you cranky. They evolve into stories years later that in this case made us laugh deep down at the silly decisions we make.

On this trip, I split a beer at the crest, divided a turkey sandwich with Maggie May, our always hungry 3-year-old dog, and scarfed down a handful of nuts with chocolate chips.

It was a good day for new memories that also included these beauties: