Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Navigating Shit Creek

I went to the laundry room yesterday here at Mom's to do laundry.  I noticed a large digging machine in her back yard (a Bobcat to be exact). 

"Why is that digger in the backyard?"

"Because they are fixing the septic tank."



"But I need to do laundry.  And dishes.  And I need a shower."

"Well, the water will be shut off soon."

"But MOOOOM!!  What about Shit Creek??"

My mother is not very good with seeing the big picture.  She was completely forgetting that we have a wedding coming up this weekend, and we are moving out of her house finally.  In order to move, we have to have the back door accessible for the pickup.  The septic tank is directly behind the back door.  Where there was once concrete, there is now a large, dirty, muddy mess.  Moving our stuff out of the house will now be very challenging. 

Possibly the most disconcerting effect of this short-sighted digging in the backyard is the loss of our beloved "Shit Creek." 

Between six months and a year ago, my mother's very old septic tank decided it had enough of our shit and went on strike.  The resulting mess amounted to a large lagoon of sewage water in the lot behind the house, and a stream of sewer water going from our septic tank to the lagoon, above the ground.  My son, Colton, affectionately named it "Shit Creek."  We have had several months of laughs and jokes about shit creek at our house.  One night while visiting with my friends Amanda and Cory, it was decided that Colton should be the first person to navigate Shit Creek.  We had a boat picked out and everything.  The kids have a large plastic sailboat, which used to be a sandbox, then a wading pool.  It was moored by the tree next to Shit Creek.  I tried to talk Colton into making the maiden voyage down Shit Creek in the boat.  I told him he would be just like Lewis and Clark, and would be able to plant a flag or someting where Shit Creek meets Poopy Pond.  In several years, people will build a monument in his name and will visit it and tell their kids and grandkids about their trip on the Shit Creek Trail.  Cory, being a photographer and creative guy that he is, came up with several ideas for photo ops, my favorite being Colton and his brother, Tyler, on the bow of the boat doing a reenactment of the scene in Titanic were Jack says, "I'm the king of the world!"  Colton was not interested.

Colton is getting married this Saturday.  Cory agreed to do Colton's wedding and engagement pictures.  Part of the arrangement made for Cory to do Colton's pictures, was that Colton would navigate Shit Creek in the boat, and we could take pictures.  This gave birth to so many ideas. A pirate flag?  A viking outfit?  Should he recreate the picture of George Washington on the Potomac?  We were giddy with excitement and I imagined the night of Colton's wedding, getting pictures of him and his bride sailing away into happiness down Shit Creek.  We even had talks of holding the wedding on the banks of Shit Creek, but the bride to be vetoed this decision.  Something about a white dress and dirty sewage water did not strike her fancy. 

All of this excitement came to an end yesterday with the arrival of the digger. I watched in horror as they dug out around the septic tank, lowered the new one into the hole and covered it back up.  Shit Creek ran dry. 

As I was watching my dear brother putting the last pipe in place for the inaugural flushing of the toilet, I thought about how perfect this timing actually is.  For over a year now, our family has been "up Shit Creek without a paddle."  We have been stuck, mired, in this mess of poor decisions (mostly mine) and bad luck with seemingly no way to paddle out of it.  This week, we have finished most of the work on our house so that we can move, Tyler has a job, Mother has her new septic tank, Colton moved into his own home and is getting married on Saturday, Mike's disability finally came through, and I have finally made peace with my new career as housewife/mom/babysitter.  I suppose it is only fitting that with the dawn of the changes in our lives, Shit Creek should go by the wayside.  I guess we no longer need it. 

I said my private goodbyes last night and made the silent wish that our next year will not be spent navigating Shit Creek again. 

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Redefining Normal

October 14, 2013

I was in my office at the prison that afternoon.  It was count time, so the inmates were in their cells and the place was quiet.  My phone rang.  It was my husband.

"Uh, Robin, you need to go out to your car and check your phone." (cell phones are a no-no in prison)

"Why? What is going on?  Can't you tell me over the phone?" (all phone calls are recorded)

"Well...CNN is trying to get in touch with you."


My husband had a heart attck in May 2013.  He lost a lot of blood and had some problems with memory and cognition.  I thought the man must have lost about two pints of blood too many.  Why would CNN want to talk to me?  This must be a ploy to get me out of my office for some reason.  It made no sense to me.

"CNN?  What?  Have you lost your mind?"

"Just go check your phone Robin.  This is big.  Really big."

"Why does CNN want to talk to me?"

"It's about the rape case.  This is huge stuff, Robin.  Anonymous is involved.  Just go check your phone."

Thinking I was on a wild goose chase, I grabbed my keys and told our clerk I was going to step out of the institution for a bit.  I made the long walk to my car completely confused as to what was going on.  I'm a nobody.  A mom from Missouri with five kids, a boring life and I rarely even watched the news, let alone made appearances.

I got to my car in the parking lot and turned on my phone.  As the phone booted up, I was getting notification upon notification about missed calls and voice mails.  Oh jeez, what had I done?  The phone numbers on the call log were from everywhere.  Atlanta, New York, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, New Jersey, they were all there.  I called my husband back.

"Ok, what is going on?  Really?"

"The article about the girls case has gotten national attention.  All of the news groups are trying to talk to you about it.  Anonymous is now involved and they released a statement saying they were going to go after the Nodaway County officials because of their handling of the case.  This is a big story."

I probably sat alone in my car for 15 minutes with my jaw resting on the steering wheel.  I didn't know what to think, feel, or do.  I hadn't told Paige that I had ever done an interview because I didn't expect anything to come of it.  I was also still in disbelief about what I was hearing.

As those of you who are regular readers of my blog know, my daughter, Paige, and her best friend, Daisy, were sexually assaulted in January 2011.  The case was a frustrating mess.  The charges against the boys involved were dropped, with the exception of the juvenile in the case, who pleaded guilty.  One of the boys was the grandson of a former Missouri State Representative and we were told and believed that political favors had been called in between the Prosecuting Attorney and the grandfather.  For almost two years, Daisy's mother, Melinda, and I had been fighting with the State of Missouri to rectify the situation to no avail.  We had come to a point in our lives where we were trying to move on and gain acceptance of what was and what would never be.

In March of 2013, I was contacted by a reporter for the Kansas City Star newspaper.  He was a young guy, very nice, but seemed inexperienced and a bit naive.  He asked to interview me about the case.  At this point, Paige was not involved with anything having to do with the case.  She was hibernating in her room every day and was not able to even go to school because of PTSD.  She was done talking about what happened, understandably.  I agreed to the interview with the reporter with the condition that he not use my name or Paige's name in the article.  He agreed to those conditions and we met at a local restaurant for an interview.  The interview lasted a couple of hours.  We had talked to media before, briefly, when the charges were dropped in the case.  For the most part, no media outlets wanted anything to do with our story.  We had reached out asking for help and everyone was either too intimidated by the circumstances, or they were not interested in talking with us.  Life goes on and we were searching for some type of normalcy in our lives.  Based on previous experiences, I had no hope or thought that this interview would be any different than the others.  This young reporter would do the story, the paper may or may not publish it, and we will continue with life as it is.

I found out the following day that I was wrong on all accounts.

I got to work on the morning of October 13 and was told by a co-worker that our article came out in the paper that day.  Apparently, the captain shack at the prison was all abuzz about the article.  Only a few people knew that the 13 year old mentioned in that article was my daughter.  I called the captain shack and told the captain on duty that day about the connection and asked him to try to curb the chatter.  He agreed.

After I looked through my phone and listened to voice mails from reporters from various news agencies asking for a comment, I went back into the prison to my office in total disbelief.  I found a sergeant with whom I was friends and I went into her office and shut the door.  I rambled on about CNN and Anonymous and WHAT THE HELL was I going to do?  I wasn't ready for this.  After speaking to my sergeant friend, I went to my boss.  He had no idea what I was talking about, no idea who Anonymous is and looked at me like I'd just told him that an alien spaceship had landed in my backyard. 

Driving home from work that night, I called Melinda.  Her son answered the phone and said she was in the dressing room and couldn't come to the phone.  I assumed she was clothes shopping.  When I got home that night, the TV was turned to CNN and Melinda and Daisy were on the screen.  It all felt so surreal to me.  I went to the bathroom and while I was emptying my bladder, a producer for the Anderson Cooper 360 show called me.  Who in the hell talks to Anderson Cooper's producer while on the toilet??  Me, that's who.  And there the strangeness began.

That night I went into Paige's room to break the news to her that I had done an interview with the KC Star and that things were blowing up in the media.  I told her she could choose whether we came out in public with our names or not.  She sat on the edge of the bed and with this pale, big-eyed look asked me simply, "Do people believe us?"  I said, "Yes, they do.  Lots of them."  She thought for a minute and said, "Ok, let's do it."

We spent the rest of that week doing media appearances.  One day we spent from 10 a.m. until Midnight interviewing.  Inside Edition called us at 9 p.m. and said they were sending a news truck up and wanted to interview us.  We were on CNN talking to Erin Burnett, Fox news, NBC, ABC, and Paige and I did an interview for Al-Jazeera network via Skype.  Things were moving so quickly, I didn't even have time to process what was happening.  Paige and I learned how to look at the camera and answer intensely personal questions posed by someone who wasn't even in the room with us.  The Dr. Phil show called and wanted us to come out ASAP to be on the show.  His producer was relentless.  I finally asked if the boys' families would be on the show as well and was told they would.  We declined the interview based on that news, and they continued to pursue us.  We accepted an interview with 20/20 and got ready to fly out to New York that weekend. 

We were living paycheck to paycheck with nothing to spare.  A few of our friends pitched in and gave Paige and I some spending money to take and money to cover the cost of checking our baggage at the airport.  The night before we left, I was packing to go and my phone was either ringing or sounding a notification constantly.  I hadn't taken the time to really think about what we were doing.  We just accepted almost every interview offer we had because we didn't really know any better.  Never having worked with the media or been in a position of momentary "fame,"  this was all foreign.  That night I finally gave myself permission to shut my phone off and sleep. 

The trip to New York was interesting.  It was the first time Paige had ever flown.  She held my hand during take off and when we landed at LaGuardia.  We had drivers take us to the airport and pick us up at the airport and shuttle us to our hotel, which was right on Times Square, next door to the musical, "Chicago."  One week prior to this, we were just Robin and Paige.  Nobody knew who we are and we never even considered the idea that we would soon be all over international news and in an upscale hotel on Times Square.  We really didn't ask for the attention and weren't sure what to think of it.  We didn't have time to think. 

In New York, our companion from 20/20 took us all around Times Square.  We loved it.  We ate authentic Indian food, shopped in the stores, and saw Times Square at night, fascinated by the culture of the city.  We stopped at a street vendor who was selling "I <3 20="" a="" about="" absolutely="" actually="" agreed="" all.="" an="" and="" anything="" at="" back="" be="" because="" cheap="" constant="" day.="" day="" details="" did="" don="" emotional="" family="" flew="" for="" forget="" gathered="" get="" go="" got="" had="" hadn="" handling="" her.="" here.="" home.="" home="" horrible="" hotel="" how="" huge="" i="" interview="" interviews.="" isn="" it.="" it="" just="" later="" life="" looking="" meltdown.="" merchandise.="" more="" nbsp="" new="" next="" night="" no="" not="" notice="" of="" on="" ou="" our="" p="" paige="" questioning="" recounting="" room="" said="" same="" say.="" see="" she="" some="" something="" souvenirs="" t="" taken="" taking="" that="" the="" there="" thing="" this="" time="" to="" toll="" total="" trip="" up="" us="" wanted="" was="" we="" well.="" were="" with="" would="" york.="" york="" you="">
Of course we all took a lot of criticism for talking to the media so openly.  We quickly found out who our friends were and ones we thought were friends before were jumping ship like fleas off a dog.  When we started turning down interviews, the interest in us waned and life returned to some semblance of normal.  I turned down an interview with People Magazine and we were still saying "no" to Dr. Phil almost daily.  I got back to work the next week and the inmates were all telling me how they saw me on TV and that I was "famous."  Co-workers were giving me the play by play of what their friends and family were saying about the case, asking about the people we had met and our experiences.  The week after we returned from New York, I lost my job in a rather dramatic way and ended up on a mental health unit at a local hospital.  That story is fodder for another blog entry at a later date, but you get the idea.  I had hit fork in the road and there was no turning back. 

Now a year later, life has returned to a new sort of normal.  Paige is finally back in school and we no longer have reporters calling or knocking on the door on a regular basis.  We recently spent time with a documentary film company who is looking to feature the girls in a documentary project.  It seems like a good project and worthy of our time, but I must say that being in front of the camera again is disturbing.  At some point after a big event like this case, you just want to be yourself again.  Paige wants to be Paige, a junior in high school with a boyfriend and homework.  I just want to be Robin.  Not Paige's mom, not the angry mother on the TV, just Robin.  People still contact Paige and me from time to time and tell us how Paige's story has inspired so many girls to tell their own stories about sexual assault.  I have been told numerous times how brave I must be and how proud of Paige I must be.  I am very proud of Paige.  As far as bravery or strength goes, I guess that's in the eye of the beholder.  Most of the people saying that were not around for our meltdowns or screaming matches or crying fits.  Being considered a role model or an inspiration to others is heavy business and I am always astonished when people know my name or contact me because they heard the story.

Our lives will never be the same as they were before the media blitz.  Melinda and I have heard crazy stories about how we have been offered book deals and movie deals and how we are making a lot of money off the girls story.  These things are not true.  All we want is for our girls' stories to be remembered.  We don't want this all to be in vain.  If we helped one person make peace with something in their own lives, it was worth it to me.  We did meet some really awesome people I now consider my friends and had the honor of people telling us their own stories.  After this past year and many changes, we are still figuring out and redefining normal.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Writing a letter

I know I just posted  blog entry already this week, but when ideas pop up, it's time to write.

I have had this song on my mind lately and can't shake it.  It is "Letter to Me" by Brad Paisley.  The song is about him going back in time and writing himself a letter at 17, telling himself all of the things he needs to know about his future which is unfolding.  The song always leaves me teary-eyed and feeling nostalgic. Since the song has been playing on a loop in my head, I have been thinking about things I would say to myself in a letter if I could go back in time.  My priority would be to reassure myself that everything is going to turn out fine, during those times of intense suffering and pain.  I saw a sign recently which said something like, "My record for surviving bad days so far is 100%."  Sometimes that deep dark hole seems so lonely and insurmountable.  I would make easing my own pain a priority.

At 17 I didn't have a clue what life was all about, or what I had in store for me.  There aren't a lot of things I would change, but I would definitely like to have more insight during some situations.  I didn't know that I would have five children, two marriages and a masters degree in social work.  I had no idea that money did not come easy and raising a family was hard work.  My life at this point is so far away from how I envisioned it as a teenager.  It's not all bad and I wouldn't trade most of it for anything. 

If I could write a letter to me when I was 17, one of the first things I would tell myself is:  have fun.  Stop being so uptight.  Be yourself.  Nobody cares what your hair looks like when you walk across the gym floor from the parking lot to your first class. 

The boys who seem to be nerds or beneath your social status are actually really cool guys who do really cool things with their lives after graduation.  Don't worry about your reputation.  You don't have one.  Tell Mike C the real reason why you had to tell him you couldn't go to prom with him.  He will understand.  Go to prom with Tim M.  He dies after graduation and you will always feel bad for saying no.  Prom does not equal a relationship. 

Hug Tori every single time you see her.  Life changes so quickly and she won't always be just a phone call away.  Just be there for her.  That MIP ticket she got will NOT ruin her life and her mother won't hate you forever.  When you drive into that random barn during the rain storm with Tori, Ernie and David, stop worrying about someone finding you.  It doesn't happen and you all will have more fun if you will just stop looking over your shoulder. 

Your friends in high school will still be around when you are an adult out of school.  Cherish those friendships and don't take them for granted.  These are the people who know who you really are and share some very fond memories with you.  Don't lose track of the other people in your class.  When you are middle-aged, you will miss them all and wish you knew where they were. 

Tell Derek Cooper that you love him.  When he comes by to see you after his brain surgery, spend some more time with him.  When he sees you at Pizza Hut and opens the door for you, hug him.  Talk to him for a minute.  That will be the last time you see him alive.

Do not let that Campbell boy drive home from Bethany that night when you guys go to the bar.  He dies in the arms of one of your best friends that night and your lives change forever.

You are not responsible for anyone else's feelings or emotional well-being.  If they put you in that position, RUN.  People are going to feel what they feel and do what they do and it has absolutely nothing with you, how much you love them, or how much time you spend with them.  You can't make someone stable or make them love themselves.  This includes your mother.

Go easy on Tyler.  He can't help a lot of what he does or says.  At night when he can't sleep, don't get mad, just hold him. You will feel so much better and so will he.  Encourage his interests more.  Play a game with him even if you aren't interested.  He's going to be your rock sometimes and he needs to know that you will be his too.

Pay more attention to Colton.  Your relationship with him is tenuous and it can go either way.  Take more pictures of him.  Hug him more often.  He feels lost and left out.  When Paige comes to you with bruises and red marks saying Colton hit her, she's lying.  Colton is going to do ok. Don't leave your facebook page open for him to post statuses about you pooping your pants.

Be more of a parent to Paige and less of a friend.  Paige is also going to be ok.  When she wants to spend the night at Daisy's, take her aside and have a strong talk with her about drinking, boys, and asking for help.  If she calls you to come get her, don't send Colton.  Wake up and go yourself.  When she asks for a cat, say NO.

Stop working so many hours.  At some point in your life, you will not have your job to fall back on, your friends will not be there, and your family will all be strangers because you haven't paid attention to them.  You will never make as much money as you think you need and less is more sometimes.  You're killing yourself to provide for your family and it's not necessary.  Chill out.  Bake a cake.  Take a day off. 

Be prepared for anything you do in your office to be public knowledge.

When you lose your job and you think your life is over, know that now, a year later, you will be happier than you have been in many years.  Don't go to the hospital.  You know what you need to do.  When you see your kids out playing in the leaves in the rain in November, play with them.  Don't waste a whole six months crying.  Things will work out and they aren't that bad.  Enjoy your time with your grandson.  He needs you. 

Have fun with your husband while his health is good.  Spend time with him.  Nourish your friendship.  Keep him as your best friend.  Throw out the alcohol the first time you see him with it.  Let him know you love him.  Don't leave him in charge of paying your mortgage payments.  Insist that he takes time off work when he needs to. 

Don't take medication to numb you.  You don't need that much medication to sleep and you don't need the addiction that follows.  Xanax is not your friend.  When that doctor puts you on it, run fast in the other direction.  Don't medicate yourself to the point of being unable to enjoy your family when you are home.  Your life isn't that bad and it can, and will, get worse.  Be prepared. You will survive.

Be nice to your mom, but understand her illness is not yours.  You can be a good daughter but still set boundaries.  It's ok to disagree with her.  She is not well and it may take you years to figure that out.  She loves you.  Remember that.

When you go to NYC, be sure to visit the 9/11 memorial regardless of time or expense.  You will regret not going.

The world is going to change and so are you.  Things are not as simple and fun as they seem at 17, but they aren't all that bad.  Stop trying to grow up so quickly.  The world will change you soon enough and you need to have fun while you are able.  You will be bringing children into perilous times and you need to be prepared to equip them to handle the world as it will be, but don't forget to enjoy raising them.  True happiness comes from those friends and family who stick with you through all of the things life may throw at you.  Never take those relationships for granted.  If your gut says not to trust someone, listen to that.  Your gut will never be wrong.  Don't waste your musical talents.  God gave them to you for a reason.

Finally, never doubt that God loves you.  There will be times ahead when you will question Him, doubt Him and curse Him, but he is always waiting there to pick you back up.  Go to church.  Get into that habit.  Most of all, make sure you instill these values into your children.  Give them the gift of unwavering faith in God and security of knowing  He is there no matter what.  You owe them that. 

While you are writing this letter, your grandson and your best friend's baby will be playing together and being adorable.  At 40, your life is not what you expected.  It is considerably more wonderful than you can imagine. 

Now, go play with those babies. They are growing up even while you are writing this letter.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Getting Where I'm Going

"If you don't know where you're going, any road will get you there."  I don't know who originally said that, or where it came from, but I used it often when doing substance abuse counseling.  I also think this could serve as my life motto; never knowing where I'm going and always taking the scenic route to nowhere.  Life decisions are never easy, and having some sort of plan is always helpful when making them.  Planning is not my strong suit.  I remember many times calling planning the "P word."  For many years, that has been literally and figuratively a four letter word to me.  Meandering through life taking in the scenery is my modus operandi. 

Last week I talked about "Emptying my Bag."  That seems somewhat counterintuitive; emptying my baggage before I plan my trip.  In a lot of ways, life is like a road trip. Traveling on foot with a backpack can become tiresome and the backpack becomes more cumbersome the longer it is worn.  If you try to travel carrying a backpack, two suitcases, three gym bags, a tent and your favorite rock collection, the load can become unbearable.  Progress is difficult and resentments toward the load pile up to make them even heavier.  Every trip we take, relationship we have, mistake we make, bridge we burn adds more and more weight.  Myself, not only do I insist on carrying all of that baggage, I refuse to drive my car, because that would be far too easy.  At some point in life, the weight of the baggage must be shed in order to make forward progress.

I'm not sure if it is the weather today, the changing of the seasons, or the pre-holiday funk creeping in on me.  Today is one of those days when every mistake I've ever made in my life keeps jumping out at me like a monster behind the scenes in a haunted house attraction.  "Look over here!  Remember me?  I'm that relationship you ruined!"  "Hey!  Don't forget me!  I'm every mistake you ever made as a mother.  Remember the times you yelled at your kids?  The parent/teacher conferences you missed because you were too 'busy'?" "Hi!  I'm all the awful stuff you ever said to your mother that you didn't mean."  I don't know if anyone else ever has those days or periods in their lives, but I do, far too often, and I have been in one lately.  I made stuffed bell peppers for supper last night.  My youngest son, Michael, was excited about supper, which was unusal.  He told me that he'd had stuffed peppers at a friend's house and he loved them.  He couldn't wait till supper was done.  About halfway through fixing supper, Michael came into the kitchen and saw what I was doing.

"What are those things in the pan?"

"Those are the peppers I'm going to stuff."

"Those aren't peppers."

"Yes they are.  I'm 40.  I've seen peppers, and those, sir, are peppers."

"But they aren't what K's mom made! I want stuffed peppers, Mom.  STUFFED PEPPERS!"

I still have no idea what I was doing wrong.  I asked if they were jalapeno peppers he had and he said no.  K's mom also fixed hash browns with hers.  I was doing it all wrong.

Then I wanted to cry.  What kind of a mother doesn't fix the right stuffed peppers?  How much of a failure am I?  Michael will never get into college with a mother like me.  He will be standing in line at a soup kitchen somewhere telling the others in line about how all he wanted was stuffed peppers and his mom refused to make them.  That was where his life went downhill.  Next came the bad grades, bad friends and the inevitable coke habit.  This can't end well. 

Like with any trip, It's impossible to get from point A to point B without some sort of effort between the start and finish lines.  The trip becomes even longer when you decide to hit points C-Z before coming back to B, which is what happens without the proper map or trip planning skills.  Here we have exhibit A:  My Life.  Point A to B in 15000 easy to follow steps.  Grab your rock collection and here we go. 

Now that I have lightened my load, so to speak, it's time to begin the planning stage.  At 40 years old, it seems ridiculous to me that I should just now be in the planning stage.  According to the script I had formulated in my head at the ripe old age of 9, I should be well on my way with point B in sight.  I should be cruising around with the top down, wind blowing through my hair with my husband, 2.5 kids and a couple of dogs in tow.  Perfect picture completed by the little stick figure family on the bumper of the convertible.  In reality, I have the convertible. That's where the similarities end.  My travels look more like a rusty old pickup with one working headlight, kicking up dust on a one lane dirt road , ten dirty kids in the truck bed and three dogs chasing the truck. 

In order to figure out how I will travel, draw my map, so to speak, I have to figure out my destination.  Fifteen years ago, I was sure it was becoming a social worker.  I quit my job and started school to do just that.  Once I met that goal, I wanted to become a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, which I did.  Then I wanted to work in forensics.  Another goal accomplished.  Now, I am sitting here figuring out where I want to go yet again.  Social Work was great while it lasted, but I'm not sure I want to follow that map at this point.  It's really funny how life works like that.  You pick a destination, make the trip, only to get there and find out it's not what you wanted anyway.

I have spent this past weekend stripping wallpaper.  This wallpaper was wicked stuff.  I believe it was stuck on the wall by the devil himself, using the strongest gorilla glue he could find.  Tedious work, removing wallpaper.  Lots of time for introspection and lots of time to rehash a blog entry in your head and decide you have no idea what you are going to write next.  I have no idea where I'm going at this point.  I know I am going to move back into my house and continue to work on rebuilding my family.  The decisions to be made next are regarding my career and finances.  I remember when the toughest decision I had to make was what to fix for supper.  For now, I will continue to plod along, taking one day at a time until I decide how I am getting where I'm going.  Or even decide where I'm going for that matter.  One thing I know for sure, I will be asking K's mother how she makes stuffed peppers so that I can save my son from that horrible coke habit he hasn't developed yet.