Becoming - July 2002

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HARD WATER...Becoming...



June 15, 2002:  Ethan woke me at 7 AM this morning, stumbling and crashing his way around, already late, he said,, on his way to his senior prom tonight.  I’ve spent the last couple hours reading James Tiptree, Jr.’s  “A Momentary Taste of Being”.  It feels very relevant.  My son is on his way to his future.  I’m stuck here behind, in his past.


       This transition has been going on for a couple of months -- since Lunacon -- and/but has gotten much more acute this past week, his last week of high school.  So far the biggest symptom/manifestation has been his relationship with his girlfriend.  Since Mother’s Day they have broken up twice.  The first time was only for an hour and she didn’t even know about it. *grin*  He has been in a lot of turmoil. Is he poly or not? (She has a new interest; he isn’t coping as well as he thinks he should.)  Did he choose the wrong college?  (All the “cool people” are going to RIT [Rochester Institute of  Technology]; he’s going to RPI [Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute]).


       I know I’m part of his “left behind” because. during the day or so of the second break-up, one of the things he said was “she’s the only solid thing in my life and I’m breaking up with her?”  Inside I was saying “She’s the only solid thing in your life?  What about us?”


       I haven’t quite known what to do or say for him during this relationship crisis.  I don’t know whether to encourage him to stay the course and keep his relationship solid or to encourage him to let go  because this is a time of changes.  I guess my feelings mirror his. *grin*  {Strange how emoticons have become forms of punctuation.}  On the one hand I see/remember my friend Linda who married her high school flame, and in (about) ten years was getting a divorce; I think about my niece who didn’t go to college in order to marry her high school boyfriend, and 3 kids and 5 years later was getting a divorce.  On the other hand you do hear about people who marry their high school sweethearts and ‘live happily ever after’.  Then again every once in a while you hear about couples who parted in high school or college, and then get together again thirty years later to ‘live  happily ever after’.  (henceforth LHEA).  Realistically I know HEA hardly ever happens no matter what you do, but I want it to happen for him.  I worry that I have given him an unrealistic goal by raising him as I have.  Maybe people really can’t be poly, and there is something wrong with me.


       The relationship issues Ethan’s having are problems I know too well, and I had hoped I was giving him enough love and good parenting that he would not have them.  He himself isn’t sure what to call them, but when we talk, they seem to me to be abandonment issues -- fear and anger that he is not good enough.  Oh my son, I had hoped that if I could teach you anything it would be that you are, as a matter of course, always good enough.  Maybe I should rather say that I had, at least, hoped to never teach you any reason to doubt yourself.  Have I failed or is there just no way to teach such things; is it an inevitable part of growth and development?  Whatever the reasons, I weep for your pain.


       We started the final “getting ready for the prom” yesterday.  He went with me to physical therapy and then I went with him to pick up his tux and get flowers -- a corsage and a bouquet.  He was planning to leave around 5 or so to help clean up for their post-prom party to be held at her house.  (She was out shopping for her prom dress  -- the day before the prom and she didn’t have one yet!  The mind boggles -- at least mine did.)  He was taking his tux with him along with the flowers, since he was going to be out all day today at the school’s orientation for incoming freshmen.  (He was there to represent the gaming club he had helped start.)  While he was helping clean he had a list of things to double check, things like should he bring a towel and what about breakfast.  (As I write this I realize “of course he should bring a towel -- you should always know where your towel is.”)  The plan is for a bunch of kids to gather at Esther’s before the prom to dress.  Then they will all go by stretch limo to the Waldorf-Astoria for the prom, and then come back to Esther’s, also by limo, for the post-prom party which will last until midday Sunday.

       It sounds like a lot of fun, but I’ll miss the excitement of him getting dressed in his first (and last, if he has anything to say about it) tux.  He promised to take a lot of pictures.  And after he left, I wished I had thought to ask him to call, so I can remind him not to lose any of the paraphernalia.  {He did call anyway, though, so I got to hear some of the excitement and make my reminder.}

       So off he went this morning at 7 AM, backpack and sleeping bag in tow. (When he had gotten home last night I had asked him did he need to bring a towel?  Yes.  How about a sleeping bag?  Oh yeah, maybe that would be a good idea.  Duh!  Moms are still good for something.)  Between the school event and the prom, he’s in charge of buying refreshments for the party and eggs for breakfast.  There he goes, off on his adventure, and here I am, beginning to know how a launch pad feels.


       Other graduation events proceed apace.  Last week we went to the Stuy (Stuyvesant High School) on Wednesday evening for an awards ceremony.  Ethan won an award from the Math department for taking an extra ‘class’ which he referred to as ‘The Actuarial’  Basically it was a couple of weeks of a couple of ‘review classes’ followed by a test in actuarial math.  It turns out that every kid who took the exam was awarded a $500 scholarship.  Yesterday we got an invitation from the couple who granted the scholarships to attend a congratulatory breakfast from 7-9 the morning of graduation in their penthouse apartment across the street from Avery Fisher Hall where the graduation will take place.  (For those of you who are not New York City natives, that is a very posh neighborhood.)  I was glad we decided to get me an outfit for his graduation when we ordered nightgowns and underpants (which is my basic wardrobe of late) last month.  Fortuitously, the last piece of the outfit arrived in yesterday’s mail.


       July 1, 2002:  Graduation itself was anticlimactic.  I wasn’t able to go to the breakfast after all because there were stairs in the penthouse apartment.  Marc went with Ethan but they didn’t get there until 8:30, because neither Ethan nor I remembered to pick up his shiny blue suit from the dry cleaner so they had to pick it up and change into it on the way.  Marc said the hostess insisted on giving them a couple of ziploc bags of stuff to take with them.  Apparently the guy who had given the awards graduated from Stuy two years ahead of Marc, but Marc didn’t get a chance to find out why he was so interested in actuarial math.  Former President Clinton spoke at the graduation, but it was an uninspiring speech.  (Gary observed that he has a lot fewer speech writers now.)  A big part of the reason for his presence, I am sure, was the proximity of the school to Ground Zero, and the fact that the school was kept closed for quite a while in order to serve as a triage center and headquarters for emergency operations for the 9-11 recovery teams.  ( I heard from my sister that one of the morning news shows, The Today Show, was running a series of interviews with graduating seniors for  that very reason.)  State Senator Schumer was also a guest speaker, but that was because his daughter was in this graduating class.  I didn’t think he was very inspiring either, but he was a bit more real.

       Afterwards there was a lot of milling around on the  Lincoln Center Plaza.  All those photo-ops, you know. *grin*  I met a few parents of Ethan’s friends, but I was disappointed to not meet Esther’s.  With 800 kids, we should have had the sense to designate a meeting place with her.


       On the Thursday before graduation (which was Monday, June 24th) Ethan brought home his yearbook and his “senior thesis”, which was a term project for his English class.  The assignment was to write about his changes in the last four years.  It is an amazing document.  It is so well written that it interfered with the novel I was reading.  His English teacher liked it so much she told him she wished she had a copy of it that she could read again.  There was so much in it, she told him, that she thought she could read it many times and still get more from it.  It was much more inspiring than any thing the guest speakers had to say, but it was a fore-runner of the speeches from both the valedictorian and the salutatorian.  I’m at risk for running on at tediously great length in praise of it, when the point is simply that my kid, these other kids were so much more inspiring than the grown-ups.  What a great bunch of kids these are.


       Since graduation there have been parties, and more are being planned -- one of them Ethan’s, as the cohort of  “the sixth floor” strives to remain intact.  But there is forward looking, too.  In a couple of weeks we will be going up to RPI for an orientation “weekend” on Wednesday and Thursday.  We will all be staying in dorm rooms and they have separate activities planned for parents and kids.  (So my “graduation outfit” will still get some usage.)  Ethan will get his room assignment while we are there.  We’ll be able to visit my sister before the event, and may stay around a bit longer.  On Friday and Saturday another group is coming in for another “weekend”, and that group will contain one of Ethan’s friends from our now defunct Games Night.  We may get together with them between “weekends”. (The only other kid from Stuy that Ethan knows who is going to RPI is someone he doesn’t like.) My aforementioned niece also lives in the area, and her oldest kid is only a couple of years younger than Ethan.  Also one of Marc’s room-mates from when he went to RPI still lives in the area and has a son a couple of years older than Ethan.  Gary’s brother also lives up there.  It’s good to know there will befamiliar faces for him up there.

       Marc is pretty excited that Ethan will be going to his alma mater.  You can see it in his eyes and in the way he eagerly plans this (and future) trips.  RPI seems to be pretty excited about Ethan coming there, too.  It is a requirement that all students have lap-tops.  They have the ones they require for sale there in the book store.  But they are giving one to Ethan by way of inducement.  And the admissions staff seems to have sent all the kids a frisbee, with signed good wishes for the summer.

       For myself, I am noticing all the times I’m saying “Ethan, heelllp” for things I can’t reach, for computer trouble-shooting....  I’m not sure how much I’m dreading him being gone from home, and how much I’m afraid of how miserable I’ll be.  It confuses things even more when all kinds of other people either tell me or talk about in front of me how much I will be missing him.

       And as far as Ethan being excited, he’s already got his e-mail address.




Mailing Comments

B(Barefoot)WA #72. May 02


Silky Fur and Rude Demeanour / Amanda Baker

       Hope your “travel with animals” adventure went well and that your garden survived your absence.  Good luck in the job search.


Bird Poised to Fly / Erika Maria Lacey

       re ¢ Esther Cheung:  “(What if...)”  But that is often exactly like Esther sounds.  : )  /*/  re ¢ Lucy Schmeidler * (Book)Worm in the Big Apple:  I sympathize with your wish to have kept a journal.  I too have wished to have the whatever to write such things.  My grandmother used to make little notes in her Hallmark pocket calendar that kinda made a journal.  And I’ve seen Lucy’s pocket journal, , and been a little envious.  The thing that bothers me about it is that I used to keep a sort of steno pad journal but the last several times I have started I lose interest in it almost at once.  Frustrating!  As a consequence, I was very moved by the salutatorian’s speech at Ethan’s graduation, where the speaker reminisced about the journal she should have kept for her 4 years in high school.  I had, in fact, intended to keep a record of all that I read in the last apa interval, but that plan also came to naught.  I kept them all in a stack, planning to record them Real Soon Now, but when the stack fell over for the 20th time, I gave up and let my son move them upstairs to join the pile that accumulates in my room over the years.


Stranger in a Not-so-strange Land / Manuela Kusch

       re ¢ Silky Fur and Rude Demeanour:  Is StarOffice related to WordStar?  re ¢ Life, the Universe, and Me .........  I really hate having to learn new software, especially when, as in most Windows “upgrades”, they seem mostly aimed at upgrading their bank accounts.  I have gradually been forced to come around to using Microsoft (spit spit) Word (ptui ptui) (© GcT) when I write; but my heart still belongs to WordStar (which is why my above question), which I used until my Osbourne died.  By the time we could find it for a DOS system, it was almost like learning new software and I never quite managed it.  My son is trying to get me interested in Linux because Microsoft (spit spit, ptui ptui (© GcT)) is so big and clunky.  He’s having trouble though because, as he wrote in his senior thesis, I am a “technophobic institution.”


Observations from the Ivory Tower / Malgorzata Wilk

       re “And of course then I noticed that I have forgotten everything I’ve read . . . .”  That often happens to me as well.  A weird corollary also occurs when I read the mailing comments others have written:  I find myself wondering if I ever read the apa they are commenting on.  I think part of the reason, rather than not concentrating on what I read, is that different ideas find resonance such that sometimes a little as one line stands out to a reader. /*/  Your poem, song lyrics and comments remind me of a quote from G. K. Chesterton:  “If we discovered that the world would end in the next 5 minutes, every phone booth in the world would be filled with people trying to stammer out ‘I love you.’”  The quote is only approximate; I first read it nearly 40 years ago in a booklet at my grandparents’.  The booklet then went on to ask “Why wait till the last 5 minutes?”


In the Corner and in the Spotlight / Anetta Pirine

         *sympathy* for your loss.  /*/   It was interesting to see what an integral part of Finnish life is played by coffee.


Letter to Lucy / Karen Johnson

       Ah, I see I’m not the only person you pulled that ploy on, Lucy.


RoZine / Roslyn Kopel Gross

       RAEBNC.  Sorry.


Slow Dancing in the Big City / Valli Hoski

       Congratulations on your first job in your new career.


Stranger in the Night ..... Weird in the Day, but ..... / Beth Miller

       Our summer also seems to be planning itself.  Unfortunately, it also doesn’t seem to care if I can keep up with it!  *grin*  I’m halfway through the week-long 4th of July “weekend” and quite exhausted.  It’s good to see people but it would be better to have some time to talk to them as well.  One good thing is that I finally did get a chance to meet Esther’s parents, as most of her family came on our annual 4th of July Staten Island Ferry meeting.  The most frustrating “bad” thing so far is that our (different group of “our” here) regular holiday Mah Jongg BBQ won’t be happening due to too many scheduling conflicts.  Guess that’s the problem of leaving the planning up to someone or something else.


(Book)Worm in the Big Apple / Lucy Cohen Schmeidler

       Hope you get better results soon on finding a way to see publication of your novel.  /*/  Sorry to hear about your housing problems. Hope you find something you like soon, though. I can’t imagine contemplating another move so soon.




       A note on the title:  I originally began writing this zine for BWA.  After it was done, the concurrance of the APA NYU collation seemed to good to pass up.  Therefore I have combined the titles for the occasion.  Mailing comments were not included in the APA NYU zine.


This has been Hard Water... Becoming...

for BWA, APA NYU and Friends

from Donna Camp

1088 East 40th St.

Brooklyn NY, 11210

phone: (718)692-2373


home page:


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