It's been up in the catbox topic for a couple of days, but I wanted to record for posterity and make myself available for inquiries about Ouroboros, who passed away early Monday morning.

Currently, Matthew's family and close friends are in the process of planning a memorial service, which will be held in Portland, where he spent the last nine years of his life, most likely this weekend. I will share details publicly on Google+, which will also be relayed on Twitter and Facebook, as soon as I have them. We are also setting up a site where people can post stories about Matthew, and folks have been posting short memories on Twitter, which will be archived and printed for display at his memorial. We will also be accepting donations to help defray the cost of funeral expenses, and to help pay Matthew's share of the rent in the home where he, atesh and I were housemates at the time of his passing; this will enable us to stay in the home while we deal with Matthew's personal possessions and contemplate next steps. Either I or someone else will post the relevant links as they go up.

In the brief public announcement I made about Matthew's death yesterday, I did not refer to the manner of death, more for brevity's sake than because we wanted it to be kept secret. I shouldn't be surprised to have received so many questions, given that Matthew was a young man (he had just celebrated his 40th birthday) and in relatively good health. I am sad to say that Matthew found himself overwhelmed by the events of a very stressful year and chose to end his life.

As I collect my thoughts about that, I think I will have more to say; I believe the stigma we attach to suicide and its attendant issues creates a barrier to people getting help and talking through their pain, and I want very badly to see that stigma reduced. I don't know how to say it in a way that reflects how important this is to me yet. Just: Ask. For. Help. Don't be afraid to be a burden. Do everything you need to do to keep breathing.

UPDATE: Matthew's memorial will be from 1 to 4 p.m. this Saturday, May 18 in Portland. Memories, photos, recordings, etc. can also be shared at

Last night I had planned to write about the events in After School Care, maybe I still will. There was an electrical fire in our subdivision last night two houses down from us. My daughter told me there was an ambulance or tow truck out in our street, after quite some time had passed I went out thinking that even if professionals had helped whoever, the rest of the family might need help. Lights from the firetruck blinded me, and I just have to take a moment to thank firefighters in general, and specifically the ones who worked to control last night's blaze. It's something I rarely think about, most of the time I'm annoyed when my smoke detector goes off. My neighbor called 911. Her husband had gone to investigate, he's a plumber by trade, he took a small hand held fire extinguisher with him, but the line was live so he left it alone.

About eight years ago there was another transformer fire in our subdivision across the street from us. That November it was a lightning strike, right now I'm listening to relaxing nature sounds, water running over rocks, but I tend to forget that nature can be majestic at its most brutal. The people across the street don't talk to us very night. My daughter had snuck over to watch the fire, my neighbors have a copse of pines, she crept through those, and my neighbor had seen movement, and I'm glad that Jill had kept a safe distance away from the action. Yesterday the girls rode their bikes to school. I rode with my oldest, Jane rode ahead, and arrived before we did. I had Jill's clarinet in my backpack, but I told her that I would bring her softball uniform and gear to school when I went to work.

I have an old pink backpack that my youngest handed up to me after she graduated into the next size. I think we got it at Target, and it's the best packpack ever. It's the perfect size, I have a spot for my phone, Jill's clarinet fit inside of it, and I often use it for snacks and my sunglasses since I need my regular glasses at work. The only downside to this hardworking pack is it is almost the exact same size and color as my daughter's new softball backpack that I had put in my car so I wouldn't forget it. I had to explain to the principal who is my daughter's coach that her uniform, bat, glove, and cleats were sitting in the cozy comfort of my car, and since I had ridden my bike to school, I didn't have time to go back and get her things for her. I felt very small, but things happen, and life goes on regardless.

My daughter drew a walk at her softball game. She wasn't allowed to field without a glove, but at least she had a few plate appearances. So far fate keeps conspiring so I'm unable to see any of her games. That makes me sad, but hopefully there will be other opportunities. For the most part I really enjoy working with the kids in After School Care. I've had to deal with a few minor injuries, an insect bite, and a couple of ongoing behavior issues. A three year old told me his stomach hurt, but I avoided having to clean any body fluids up. Yesterday the police knocked on my door in search of a child whose mother couldn't find. She forgot that she had told her daughter to go to After School Care, and this is silly, but the first thing that popped into my head was that someone had been seriously injured. Fortunately I had the child in question, she had been in my care the entire time, and now that mother knows that we print where the children are going to be in the weekly newsletter along with the extension numbers for those classrooms. I was slightly annoyed that her mother didn't apologize for the extra paperwork and inconvenience, but I think the larger is there is a lot of room for parenting improvement in that family.

I try not to play favorites with my own children, or the ASC kids, but there are some I like better than others. A four year old in particular is just a really sweet kid. Even when I've had issues with him, they get dealt with, and considering how young he is, his behavior is very consistent and reliable. When I first started watching him, he didn't want to tell me about things that the other kids were doing to him. I had to have a discussion with my own daughter and a third grade girl about writing on his sheet of paper. He's been better about telling me things, and in general seems to respond well to me talking to him about whatever needs to be tackled. Yesterday he came up to me, told me that a fourth grade girl that I routinely have issues with pulled her pants down in front of him, and said: 'Eat this'. Situations like that are tricky because I didn't see what had happened. But I know that he's not a tattler, and I can't imagine a four year old making anything like that up either. This girl has problems dealing with other children, particularly boys, and there was another fourth grade trouble maker throwing stones by the slide she had been climbing up.

I had to have another adult escort her off of the playground. When I walked over to her, she right away protested that she hadn't done anything wrong which is usually a great clue meaning that the kid knows he or she did do something wrong, and wants to try and argue about it. I didn't say anything to her, merely stating that she needed to go see the second grade teacher who had a small group of second grade kids doing a project for her. When the second grade teacher brought her back, I explained what had happened. The student lied repeatedly about the situation until we had the four year old boy come and talk to the three of us. I had to tell his mother about the event, when he came over and told her that he had something to tell her, she obviously wasn't expecting anything like that. We talked about it for a few minutes, I think that because situations that have involved him in the past have been dealt with swiftly that he believes me when I told him that I would take care of it. I took a minute on the playground to thank him for telling me what he had seen, and I apologized to him for allowing inappropriate behavior on the playground.

We have to fill out incident reports at work. These are mostly for my boss who usually isn't there when something goes down. I had to fill two out yesterday. The first one was for the playground incident, and I stuck to the facts as I had seen them, and they had been relayed to me. I saw the girl going up the slide instead of down which is against the playground rules. Her mother wanted me to change what I had written, but I refused since I had written down exactly what he had told me. The mother thought that I should have written that her daughter had mooned other students. The last time I checked, you can't moon anyone without pulling your pants down. I didn't want to put words in a four year old's mouth, and it didn't end well, but I'm glad I stuck up for myself and him. The mother refused to sign the incident report so I noted that in the signature box, and handed it in along with a note I had initially written to my boss that covered the situation in greater detail.

Power was spotty last night. Lights kept flashing on and off, our computers crashed several times, but today we have power when many others are without. I was doing laundry last night when my eyes started itching and my nose started running. I'm pretty allergic to dryer sheets, and my step daughter must have used them without my consent because now I can't wear any of my clothes. To say that I was upset is minimizing my rage. I can't stand sneaky people, I put a dress on while I was folding laundry and I had to take it off after my skin started to itch and burn. Now I have to waste time, energy, soap, and water to rewash the clothes that I just washed, and I know from experience that it is really difficult to get that stench out of clothing. My step-daughter had a basket of clothes on the floor waiting to be washed. When I saw the dryer sheets I took a plastic garbage bag, and emptied her clothes into it. When she asks for her clothes back, I'm going to explain that she can feel free to use my washer and dryer when she can obey the no dryer sheet rule.

My husband talked to her about it, she said she had gone out of her way to pick dryer sheets for sensitive skin. He said he could smell them, and what really ticks me off is this is now the third conversation we've had to have with her about the freaking laundry products. Her sense of smell is terrible, so she can't smell hardly anything. I was talking to my husband about this last night, and I was really angry because he treats her better than he treats me, or his other children. I was already upset about it, but I was even madder when he told me that she's deferrent and polite to him, duh, and he doesn't have that 'fuck you' feeling for her that he does for the rest of us living under his roof.

I don't know about anyone else, but that's favoritism in my book. My children are not perfect, they're far from it as am I. But they deserve an equal amount of love and respect from their father, and he's dreaming if he thinks that they aren't picking up on the fact that he's treating her better than he's treating them. I don't know what to do about it. I wish I could kick her out, actually, I really wish that I could just leave. I'm trying to figure out what I should do with the rest of my life. I've thought about going back to work full time. I've thought about going back to school to get an education degree, I've decided that I really enjoy working with kids, and I want more than just a paycheck from my job. Last night's Journal Talk class was really amazing. I'm so grateful that I have those friends and that support system. There were only a few of us last night, and I kind of like it when there aren't so many people on the call at a time.

I did something really exciting last night. When you're writing, sometimes you know that what you're writing isn't very good. Creativity is a messy process, I stole that line from a friend of mine who really has great insights into what others have written. I have a couple people like that in my life, mentors in an unofficial capacity, and I'd like to personally thank those people who have guided me and challenged me as I've gone deeper into this process. Last night I hit what I think is going to be the halfway point in my book. My main character is a baseball player who has been diagnosed with a personality disorder. He has a vision of his twin brother standing on the stairs, he's wearing a tuxedo, and he sees his brother for a moment, then his brother disappears from his sight, and he knows that something terrible has happened, but he doesn't know what it could be.

During therapy my therapist talked about people who are visionary. They see things that others can't, and I can really see this scene in my real life when I close my eyes; good looking guy standing on a marble staircase, behind his head is some ugly wallpaper, the hotel is old fashioned, and my character gets taken out after someone hits him in the head with a vase of flowers. He falls forward, when his aunts come out of the bathroom they see him, flowers, and water from the vase mixed with blood. Sports have been this guy's life, and I have his brother talking about how active he is with a former neighbor of his who wonders if the main characters depression issues stem from the fact that he isn't really self actualizing, and he's kind of a spoiled indulged person who avoids reality when he can.

When my character comes out of his coma, he isn't going to be able to view things in color anymore. He's been colorblind from birth, his brother has normal color vision, and that bothers him. He isn't going to realize it at first, but pretty soon he'll be tested for vision changes, and he'll have to address the fact that everything he sees has been leached of color leaving him in a world where things are black, white, and many shades of hideous gray. I'm going to make his team perform well without him so he ends up asking himself what he's going to do for the rest of his life now that he has questions like; will I be able to drive, is my head injury going to leave me permanently disabled, or can I return to some semblance of normal life?

Perhaps this is selfish, but I am really writing this for me as a way to solve my problems in an entertaining way. I love baseball, I like complicated relationships, I used to love murder mysteries, and I like throwing an unpredictable scenario at myself, and figuring out how to write my way around it, through it, out of it, whatever it may be. I'm not sure why I've been so incredibly blessed with a mind full of fascinating people. Things from life impact me in a way that makes me realize that there are stories that need to be shared. What others have written inspires me, the other day a friend of mine commented on something I had written, I see friends as tenuous expansion of my world which can be very narrow. When I meet new people, and those bonds become stronger, I'm lifted up by what others have done for me, and how they've reached out to me when I've been feeling low just as I have wonderful friends who are encouraging, and help me celebrate when people in my family won't.

Today I am crying happy tears of profound gratitude. I'm thinking about what it means to be me, contemplating the difference between life, and being truly alive. I read a magazine article about the way children view the struggles of others, and there are so many ways to give of yourself that I feel small that I'm complaining when I have an abundance of resources at my fingertips. I want to close with something that a friend of mine shared on Twitter. The tweet asked people to think about what their tombstone would say, I thought about trying to find a clever retort, but then I tweeted back that I want mine to read: 'She knew how to love'.

It takes a great deal of faith to reveal yourself to others. Maybe they will reject me or what I say, but I keep on reaching out because that's what I want others to do for me. Other people are the greatest resource this world has, in the end, it is who you know, and how you love rather than what you know that makes a difference. Some of the best times I can remember haven't involved spending a lot of money, or having the best of whatever I think I need. I had a great time just hugging my daughter after she combed her hair last night. Last night a friend of mine thanked me for letting his team win against the Brewers. Truthfully, I had nothing to do with the loss or the win, it's nice to be loved, it's great to be needed, and it's a blessing to be able to interact and communicate with the people I've met through the years. If you're one of them, thank you for being who you are, please remember that I love you.


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