5.31.2005

My Entire Childhood Explained
We were just fortunate enough to see Star Wars, in the middle of the workday, courtesty of my workplace. They'd rented out 2 theaters for us and though only one guy dressed in costume, we were all excited in our own way.

It was a bit long in parts and yes, I had a good little snooze during a long, dialogue-free section but in the end, I left the theater saying "wow, that just explained my entire childhood."

I Should Have More To Say About My Weekend
But I don't. It was really nice, full of pleasant surprises, tasty meals and some hockey. It also involved a really fun day at Great America. Here are some bullet points, because I'm too wiped out to elaborate.

  • Saturday night, I scored a really pretty goal. Had a breakaway and cut back toward the middle, aimed right at the goalie's 5-hole and pow, it went in.
  • Saturday afternoon, we were heading to a very late lunch when my cousin called me to tell me she's moving back to Ohio. It's totally the right thing for her but it bums me out just the same.

    We decided it was a good time to finally see her place out in Half Moon Bay, so we headed out there, sort of on a whim. She's selling a lot of furniture and we started looking at this really rad computer armoire, just admiring it for itself, not realizing that she was wanting to give it a new home too. In the blink of an eye, it was now ours and she started unloading her stuff from it. Andrea and her strapping young son Thomas hefted it out of the house, and into Andrea's car. It made it by 1/2 inch, but in there it was! We got it home and I skipped subbing at RWC to get it set up. Miraculously, I got the Internet working again on the first try and the thing is just perfect for our office/hockey room.

    I called my mom to gush about this unexpected familial visit and of course, the Amazing Computer Hutch and that's where it all got bad. Apparently my brother hasn't been informed of my cousin's upcoming move and my mom isn't too happy about that so she focused that displeasure on me. A follow up phone call two days later had the same result, this time my dad working around to asking would my brother be involved in any going-away dinners we would be having? Um, hi, I'm not my cousin, she can invite anyone she likes? But I'm not her?

    It's super-frustrating, yes, my brother lives here but we just don't see him much right now. Our lives are super ultra busy and unless you're in the regular rotation of activities, I just don't have time to add anyone else outside of the myriad of shit we have going on every week. (For example, I'd love to see Amy more but there's that regular rotation thing so it's more rare than I'd like.) But enough about that.

  • Sunday we went to Great America with the intent of spending much of the day in their newly-expanded water park. Heather met us there wearing jeans and having not gotten the memo we never sent about the water portion of the program. So we rode roller coasters, I had the WORST ALLERGY ATTACK OF MY LIFE while waiting in line and I wouldn't jump out of line to get some napkins because then I'd have to jump back in line and that's against the rules. So I suffered unpleasantly until we got on the coaster and as soon as we got off, I ran for the napkins. Nobody was stopping me from blessed relief.

    We finally made it to the water park, where we jerry-rigged swimming attire for Heather using my board shorts. I was wearing my suit, so I just wore that instead of having shorts to hide my cellulite. We rode just about everything there and had a blast.

  • Next stop was dinner to celebrate Cindy, aka Thunder's 42nd birthday with her sister Sharon and Sharon's partner. We took Heather along, which was nice because I hadn't gotten my act together to invite more of our hockey friends. Cindy had a whole beer and HOLY SHIT I now can understand why Sharon doesn't let her drink very often. I should mention that Cindy has Down's Syndrome, which means that she's full of love, always ready with the hugs and kisses, but that, and the fact that she's like 98 pounds soaking wet also means that one beer goes a LONG way.

    By the end of the night, she was shouting at all of us, having a fabulous time, causing quite a ruckus, a ruckus that culminated in her hugging the Olive Gahden manager, then CLIMBING UP HIM LIKE A LITTLE MONKEY and hanging on and hugging him more. He was very cool about the whole thing. That's the thing about Cindy, she's just so damn funny that you want her to do whatever makes her happy, even if it is climbing up a man. Cindy had a terrific time and I was glad to be part of her special day.

  • Monday was all about idleness. Watched Empire Falls, which was pretty damn good, then napped and played a couple of hockey games. I'm always amazed at how quickly my opponents can turn to cursing and being dirty after I say things like 'nice slash' after an uncalled slash. This one guy did that, so I said that, and he goes 'fuuuuuck you' like what? Slashing is suddenly legal and I'm the bad guy? So I became the bad guy, knocking his skates out from under him right afterwards. It's a move I'd never really pulled off, but he didn't skate so well, and wasn't very big so it went better than expected. One good whack at the back of his skates with my stick and pow, the little slasher was on the ground. He came up cursing and I never did turn my back on him. Later, he had a breakaway and I managed to send him just off course enough to go crashing into the boards, where he cursed me once again as I said 'oh did I do that? I'm SO sorry.' He called me a cunt, and I bumped him every chance I got. Yes, they won but sometimes, the satisfaction of knowing that a player like that (who may well be a nice guy off the ice, but I'll never know) might have a sore something-or-other thanks to me is satisfaction enough.

    I also stepped in front of this GINORMOUS guy and flattened both him and I. No, he didn't score but I tweaked my neck pretty good with that one. Sleeping wasn't my best event last night as a result.

  • We saw a piece on the travel channel about Dollywood, where I went last year. It showed these amazing potatoes that they grill in a gigantic vat and it made me hungry. Mmmm, Dollywood sausage and down home potatoes. The show also explained a lot about Dolly's motivations in creating the place and made me realize that since we'd gone there looking for tons of rides, we missed out on the whole experience, which is more about celebrating music and the local heritage than just rides.

    Sorry, Dolly, I just didn't know. If I ever go back, I'll try to make the most of what your wood has to offer.

And that's all, folks.

5.27.2005

Now I Will Never Get Anything Done
Yesterday marked the move to yet another new cube. For those of you keeping track at home, this marks cube #7 since March of 2004. There's no cube grass growing under my feet, I tell you what.

But now I sit right next to Heather, and for maximized stalker-ness, my monitor is pointed right at her so any old time I feel like it, I can snicker in her direction. It's like having a slumber party, there is much giggling and oh yes, there is mucho snorting throughout the day.

Staying focused is going to be very interesting. I remain hopeful that the novelty of drawing antennae on the glass between us so it looks like they're on Heather's head will wear off shortly.

Are You Serious?
We're refinancing our house so we can pay off a bunch of debt (i.e. millions of candy bars, accumulated over the course of a decade) and make some much-needed improvements to said hiz-ouse. Oh and yeah, I'll be selling my lameass Jeep and buying the RX8 that has consumed my waking hours for months now. And of course, we'll be buying more candy bars.

Part of that process is an appraisal, which came back at a ridiculously high amount of money. Ridiculous, considering that 1) we live in the (modified) ghetto and 2) other than Andrea putting in some lovely plants, we've done jack shit to the house in the last couple of years.

I made the mistake of telling my parents about this absolutely astounding amount (leaving out any discussion of accumulated candy bar debt) and they responded in a way they never have, to date: by suggesting that we sell our insanely valuable house and move back to Ohio. Yes, to Ohio, where the California equity we've amassed despite our best efforts would buy us a decent-sized house that we could OWN OUTRIGHT, there in the land of good schools and oh yeah by the way, of good gay-hating God lovers.

In all the years I've lived out here, away from Ohio, they've never pushed me to move back. But somehow, now that Grandma is gone and our house is worth a zillion dollars, it's become a hot topic.

But you know, yeah the schools are great compared to out here but there's also a stunning, breathtaking lack of diversity beyond white and African-American people, not to mention a sporadically vocal contingent of gay-hating God lovers and of course, the hard-to-face fact that if I lived in Ohio and managed to get a job there (admittedly, having my current company on my resume would be pretty impressive and could help with that effort) the sad truth about that job is this:

I strongly doubt I could wear shorts to work. And even if I could, I'd only want to about half the time. Because, among other things, Ohio features a full range of WEATHER. Blizzards, humidity, you know, the stuff they show on the weather channel, then pan to yet another nice day in San Jose.

But it's not really just the shorts that prevent moving back from being a real option. I can cover my legs if need be, even in summer. No, it's the attitude that goes behind not being able to wear shorts, the casualness that assumes you know what you're doing at work, even if you're wearing shorts or hipass Keen sandals. Without that kind of freedom in my workplace, well, I don't do so well.

So for that, and about a million other reasons that have never been fully explained here and never will be, I strongly doubt that we'll ever really consider moving back there. Sorry, Mom.

5.26.2005

Free Raisins!
Some group at work was giving away free ice cream today, in exchange for a suggestion about fun activities. I wasn't going to have any until I saw someone walk by with cookies and cream, then there was no choice, I had to get me some aaace cream.

So I grabbed my ticket to free ice cream (a physical ticket that they'd handed out to everyone) and struggled to come up with an idea for fun.

Then, looking at one of many boxes of raisins on my desk, came my inspiration: I grabbed a pencil and wrote 'Free Raisins,' then cracked myself up for far longer than the promise of Free Raisins should.

The Best Part About Being DONE
AndreaSpeaks: "I'm so tired of having a tired girlfriend"
LizResponds: "I'm so tired of being a tired girlfriend"

Well, That Explains Ahh Lot
I had this friend, and then I didn't. I found her on Friendster and see that her profile contains this: "I'm ridiculously nice until you piss me off and then, well, I'm just not very nice, and then I'm just gone."

Which completely describes our short-lived yet highly entertaining frienship.

Bananas And Cheese
It's no secret that Gus loves cheese. Our normally not-all-that-interested-in-food boy will rise from his perch upon one of a series of gigundo doggie beds that we have and come to stand directly in front of you, pleading with his big eyes for just a sliver, a teeny piece, anything. Yes, we pretty much always indulge him.

But last week, my new healthier eating expanded to having bananas in the house and we learned something else about our Gus: cheese is nothing compared to bananas. Nothing at all. He went nuts to get even a morsel of banana-y goodness then chomped with great glee when it was given to him. Who am I to keep such a good man from his true love, bananas?

We've also been feeding him some baby food, since Zeus is getting some too. I bury it under his kibble so he has to work for it but when he finds it, oh, boy is it ever Baby Food Bonanza. His stump wags, he eats with gusto and the only downside? That dried baby food gets stuck in the cracks of his nose. Which is funny, until you have to clean it out.

Before we decided to try and have a kid, we said that we didn't want to have 4 dogs at the same time we had a kid, that it would all be just too much to manage and there would no doubt, be way too much hair on the floor. But now that having said kid is hopefully going to happen fairly soon, the thought of that kid not knowing any one of our amazing, funny, silly dogs breaks my heart.

Because Murray should definitely know the joy that is each and every one of them, bananas, cheese, and all.

The Jeep Has Returned
My Jeep was repaired in record time, meaning that the Very Nice Rental Car I was enjoying had to go bye-bye. Sigh. They banged out the dent in the grille, replaced the bumper cover and re-attached the grille to the front of the car.

Yeah, yeah, very nice. Except that after spending 3 days in a much nicer, much cushier-riding SUV, going back to my piece o' crap Jeep sucked worse.

I'm so sorry, little Jeep. It's not your fault that I hate you. It's the fault of the long line of well-built and nicely-appointed VW's that came before you.

The Good
Or shall I say, the Terrific news is that I am DONE! D-O-N-E, done with coursework. I think the final went well, I'd studied more than enough and knew a great deal of what he asked. I also knew the way he liked to ask things and had guessed, correctly, in advance, a couple of those items. There were a few things I blanked on but I'm pretty sure I got enough of it to sustain the B that I've learned I'll have to settle for in this class.

After I finished, I got back my grade on my presentation (92, from Dr. The Deal, who is much more realistic about grades than Dr. The Other Guy) and my manifesto, the first 3 chapters of my thesis. Dr. The Other Guy had graded it and it was no surprise that he gave me a B-. He's not the qualitative guy, it's a qualitative study so I was expecting a disconnect there. I wasn't expecting him to tell me to learn and use APA style (ouch!) or to say that my study is an important study. So it's not all bad, nor is it all good.

Either way, I'm DONE with coursework. The bad news is that unless I get different grades than I'm anticipating, this semester will lower my cumulative GPA to 3.746, putting me once again hundredths of a point away from honors, though I'll still have well over the 3.5 needed for the lower set of honors. I'm not sure if the remaining 5 hours of independent study earn a grade or not, so I might be able to save it with those. Otherwise, I'm not above taking one extra, easy class to bring it back up. But we'll see.

The Bad
Sammi had another seizure yesterday. This time, Susan was holding her and it sounds like it scared the crap out of Susan. I think they're at the doctors or probably the hospital with her now.

The Worse Than Bad
Eric, our friend's son who spent so much time in the hospital this spring, has gone back to the hospital. First, they thought it was a sinus infection, so they planned a surgery to clear his sinuses, which are apparently almost 100% blocked. Ow. But he landed in the ICU yesterday and I just got an email saying he's taken a turn for the worse. I don't know what that means but it's not good.

5.25.2005

Not Fair
My friend Leah from school is also taking Research Methods, but she's taking hers in Sociology. Apparently her final is only a 50 question multiple choice test.

Ours will be a lengthy essay-style narrative work that will combine definitions of terms from 5 chapters of a very dry textbook, we'll have to provide spot-on regurgitations of those definitions and place them in context.

All so I can forget all about each and every one the moment I walk out the door.

Today Is...
The LAST TIME I have to go to school to take a final. Or to take any formal class, for that matter. After today, at 7:01 pm, to be exact (earlier if I finish the Monster Final sooner) I will be FREE FROM COURSEWORK and will have only to spend the summer interviewing women about their experiences playing hockey.

I've said it before, I'll say it again, please, should I ever decide that any other kind of degree is necessary to my life, please remind me of how goddamn tired I am right now. I say this knowing full well that there's a very good chance that I'll be even more tired than this a year from now, for more fulfilling and amusing reasons than a silly old degree, but at this moment, my ass is quite ready to go back to bed. For a month.

My Own Random Question
Andrea's been asking a random question of the day for a while now, but I've not been so inspired. Until now.

If you are a person who needs to pee on a stick during the day, to monitor something like ovulation, (for example) how do you deal with this while at work? It hardly seems practical to take the day off just because you might be on CD14 (or similar), nor does it seem quite okay to have said stick, which is now peed-on sitting on your desk. Because as anyone who pees on a stick regularly will tell you, even the best-aimed pee on a stick still results in pee on many parts of the stick.

So, what to do? Go home for lunch? Fine if you need to pee at noon, but what if you want to check at 2 pm for confirmation of a possible 4 pm trip to the sperm bank? Just hang out in a well-travelled bathroom and wait? Sneak said stick in your purse, then check surrepticiously throughout the 10 mintues it takes for a result?

Lemme know! Leave a comment below or if you prefer privacy, email me.

5.24.2005

Because
You can't cry forever, I'm doing my best to be my old self here. Because, you know, for my 3 loyal readers, there's a certain level of expectation about the kind of quality that the LizSpeaks Empire has to offer you. And far be it from me to disappoint such a loyal crowd.

On The End Of School
I can't wait to be done with this Master's because I miss writing fiction. I have a half-finished novel that I'd like to finish, so it can sit on a shelf and collect dust, next to my Master's degree.

Rental Car
My Jeep is finally getting fixed in response to the Great Front-Ending of 2005. I'm renting a Pathfinder (or similar!) and what I'm discovering, all over again, for the first time, is that my Jeep drives like ass. Every bump in the road, every mile = one more gallon of gas used, another day of frustration at my piece of crap car.

It is making me enjoy the Pathfinder even more, which is okay too. But I won't buy one, no, the RX8 is still the car of my future.

Hey Zawod!

Here's Dick Miles, former table tennis champion of the world, and the man who inspired many an hour of ping-pong (gnip-gnop) competition in Zawod's basement, which is now taken over by Papa Zawod's little world in the basement.

Oh, to serve like Dick Miles.

What's A Life Worth?
My esteemed collegue in bloggerdom, Dooce, writes about her beloved dog being sick, of how much it cost to heal him and the inevitable question of exactly how far you're willing to go, i.e. how much you're willing to pay to heal them when they are sick.

If you've read this blog for any length of time, you'll know that this answer, for me, is quite clear. I'm willing to fork over any amount of money necessary to get my dogs back. They're our only kids (for now), those furry little bundles of joy, who would do anything for us, who go apeshit at the THOUGHT, the mere thought of us leaning forward to pet them or hand out treats. Those little guys who bark like madmen when we come home, who fling their rumps in our directions so we can see their tails practically wagging off with utter glee at your return, whether it be 5 minutes, 5 hours or 5 days after you last left.

And yes, because of the drool, of the way Gus likes to put his head on your leg just after he drank water, water which spills out the sides of his mouth because he has no teeth, the way Patrick bahroos anytime I talk to him, the way Rainie charms the pants off of everyone and yes, the way Zeus barks his little old man bark whenever I mention the word 'Jena.'

And that's why I'm grateful that when one of them has a veternary emergency, hardly any of you give us a hard time about forking over the cash for them, even when it doesn't necessarily mean they'll be coming home, it just means we're giving them every chance to improve.

5.23.2005

It's Right, But...
It still can feel bad to acknowledge, even to yourself, that a friendship is over. Sure, you're still polite when you see the ex-friend, but something just hurts when you both try to pretend like it's all fine, when everyone knows that there's just been too much hurt, too much anger to continue.

Or, when you realize that someone you considered a friend is really a time bomb in your life, one that can only be prevented from going off (again) by not having that person in your life anymore. But you still might look at them, think about them and say, damn, when we were tight for a while, those were good times.

Until it all got fucked up and the road was paved over with hurt. Then being around them is too hard, you're just constantly waiting for the next episode.

I have this with a couple of people right now and it just bums me out. Instead of being happy to see them, I'm completely on edge, overly polite, lest I incur their wrath. Of course, the Internet is smaller than I think so I won't go into specifics. It's made harder because I see glimpses of the person I once thought I understood in there, but those glimpses fade pretty fast.

I am sure that for those people, they see the same thing in me, confirming what I know, that some wounds simply cannot be healed, even with apologies and politeness.

This Is What I Hope
That when and if we do become parents that I don't stop being me. That is, that I magically stop farting in public, then laughing when Andrea picks up the scent of my silent but violent calling card, that I stop burping while I play hockey, that I somehow cease to find random things hysterically funny, that I stop cursing altogether.

I suppose that I'm more than the sum of all these things, but I don't want to lose them just the same. I'd rather teach our kid to laugh off the small things whenever possible than to be caught up in a web of concern about what people think about this or that.

That said, my worst nightmare (and greatest secret joy) is a preschooler who says 'Fuck!'

Could This Be Your Dog?
Anyone who knows Rainie knows that she's at heart, a very good girl, with some very Bad Girl tendencies. She's super-smart, makes one hell of a seizure alert dog for Patrick, and loves to be the center of attention. But the back side of all that smartness is a bit of a devilsh streak. Normally, we can chalk this up to impishness and laugh at her but last night, she crossed a line.

I was sitting in the office/hockey supply room surfing porn checking my email when I see Rainie burrow into the outside pocket of my backpack and take out a package of airline treats I'd apparently forgotten about. I see her do this and say Rainie! Drop it!

But does she drop it? No, she high-tails it outta there and into the protectiveness of the big crate in the kitchen, snack pack still in mouth. I ran up to the crate, told her to drop it again, which she finally did. But when I reached in there to swat her on the nose for the offense, she growled like she was going to bite me.

Pissed off does not begin to describe how angry I was. She did it one more time, and earned herself an extensive time out in the crate. She also had to watch the other 3 get treats and be told they were good dogs while she was ignored. Eventually she was let out but still ignored, a large price to pay for a girl who wants to be the center of attention at all times.

I didn't talk to her this morning and she is feeling the stress. As she should. Snarling at a mommy means that she could snarl at a baby and that scares me to death. I knew this day would come, I've said it all along, that she's too smart and too alpha for her own good. We're going back to basics on training with her, I don't ever want this to happen again, nor do I want it to escalate to the point where one of us gets hurt.

Hockey=Fun, Fun, Fun
It was a hockey-filled weekend and every game was totally fun. Friday night had Le Snack playing a pretty tough maroon team. Our opponents had been beating other teams with crazyass scores like 8-1 and 9-1 so I'm sure they expected to dominate Le Snack in the same way.

But alas, the Mighty Le Snack was ready. Viv and I brainstormed all week about lines, the right subs and the right strategy. We worked with our coach to set everything up and man, it so worked. They scored pretty fast, but we didn't let that get to us. We stayed tough, focused on our strategy, and held them for the rest of the period. In the second period, I took a shot from the point, using my newly revamped wrist shot and holy shit, I'll be damned, I SCORED A GOAL!!! FROM THE POINT!!! My team cheered like assholes for me, since we all know that as a rule, I don't score. Especially not from the point. Wow.

At that point, we were back in the game and we stayed in it for the rest of the game, scoring again to counter the extra goal we let them have. We went into overtime 2-2 and holy shit, I'll be damned, we scored about 15 seconds into overtime and won! It felt really good. And that was only the first time we'd played them.

Vive Le Snack!

Afterwards, we had cupcakes, oranges, cookies and donuts. Vive Le Snack, indeed!

Saturday night at RWC was fun as usual, I think we lost, can't remember. That's how it goes there. Sunday started at noon when the A-Team 2 played a newly revamped Cheep Skatz. I brought in a few (legal) reinforcements and we did well, winning a close game 4-3 for our first win of the season, with my fabulously fun and good-looking line scoring 2 of the 4!

The afternoon's highlight was the A-Team playing the whyguys, a team who used to kick the A-Team 2's ass. This time, they're back up a division and playing my newly revamped A-Team, complete with a ton of really fun folks who happen to play very well. The whyguys had shed all the toned-down violence of last season and seemed out for blood. Okay, maybe I embellish a bit but damn, people. They were pretty rough. I got bear-hugged and twisted along the boards (thanks for fucking up my fucked up shoulder and helping to re-pull the muscle in my chest), then cross checked into the boards (thank you #9, could you please explain why THAT was necessary) and then into a bit of a tangle with a defenseman. I felt his stick up around my armpit so I did what anyone would do -- I dropped my bottom hand, grabbed that stick and threw it as far as I could. He spent the rest of our time on the ice together shoving, elbowing and being a goon. Thanks, you're too kind.

I say this quite often to my teammates and to anyone who will listen and I'll say it again here: defensemen of the world, stop wasting your time with all that goonish bullshit in front of the net. Just lift your opponent's stick and you've wasted no energy AND stopped them from scoring. If you do it right, they just might fall down at the same time. As an added bonus, people don't leave the game thinking you're a huge goon, either.

But it's all good. Even though my everything hurts today, it's all good because we won 4-0, extending our winning streak to 5 in a row.

5.20.2005

Liz: i'm telling you exhaustion is not funny
Heather: it is when you laugh at it.
Heather: then, omg! so funny

The Last Time...
So I'm admitting failure in my PT 'home program' and heading back for another round, adding to the lingering shoulder problems my shiny new lingering ankle sprain. To get there, I had to see my regular doctor for a prescription so I did that this morning. She's very cool, had me in and out, armed with said script and on my way in about 10 minutes.

I met Heather for lunch, as if we don't sit 2 cubes apart or see each other all day. We went to our favorite dim sum place and as I stood there in front of the place waiting for her (because the instant you walk inside they will seat you and foist tasty food items on you, regardless of if your entire party is there or not) I remembered the last time I ate there.

A few weeks ago, when my parents were here. We met my brother and his gf, we all took pictures in front of the lion statues in front before we went in. A fun day, but most the notable difference between that day and today was that Grandma was still alive.

Standing there, in front of the lions, the breeze blowing and the sun shining, I started to cry.

D-O...
Half of that Done stamp is now complete. I took my first (in a series of two) final last night and I think it went well. There were only a few things I wasn't sure about, and nothing I didn't know something about. So even if I didn't have the whole answer, I think I had enough to get a few points for each question. Partway through I thought 'holy crap, I just might get an A on this.' Given the way the semester's gone, I'm sure that means I got a D+.

Working through the 8 essay questions, I kept thinking 'ooh, only 4 questions until I'm done. Only 3 questions till I'm done,' followed by 'oh shit, my hand REALLY hurts from all this writing. Why can't I type instead?'. But then there I was, taking on the final question and before I knew it I was handing in my test, hearing from my teacher that I'd done well on my paper/presentation and I was out into the wild blue yonder, heading up for a much-needed baby visit.

The girls did not disappoint. There was a great deal of laughing, dancing, the giving of hugs, falling asleep in highchairs and getting to watch the girls open their belated birthday gifts -- stuffed Snoopys that do not talk, walk, bounce or sing, they are just there to be hugged and loved. Sammi opened hers with her teeth, spitting each piece out for us, then grinning. Riley just held hers and grinned as if to say 'really? you got this for me? wrapping paper is FUNNY!' Once opened, the Snoopys were hugged, given to Daddy, nursed on, bitten and carried around by their ears.

For the first time in (our) recorded history, both girls went down to sleep without much trouble. It turns out that Riley is a bit of a night owl, so later is better for her. We went home, sated after a night full of baby joy and I cracked open the much-dreaded Research Methods book to study for final #2.

5.19.2005

On My Way
Leaving now for my second-to-final Final. Ever.

Please, if I EVER mention 'going back to school' again, smack me.

I should have known better.

Partici-Pants
The true meaning of Partici-pants. Thanks Heather.

Duh (or, Doieeee)
I couldn't figure out why I've been so damn tired lately, why I've felt like I've been hit by a truck. Then I realized, oh yeah, my hero, my best friend died a few weeks ago. No wonder everything hurts.

Though I take great comfort in the notion of Grandma being reunited with her canasta group, of her finally being free from the constant pain and indignity that marked her last years with us, there's still a gigantic hole in my heart that will never be filled.

I know this because the one Alice left behind beats next to it, even now. It just throbs a little less some days.

This Is Really It
My second to last final ever is today. I've been studying like a mad fool for the last couple of weeks -- I do not think it's physically possible to cram anything else into my brain.

As of 7 pm tonight, I'll have only one test then my research standing between me and being a Master of Recreation. Until then, I'll be living out here, on the edge of the hermaneutic circle.

5.18.2005

I Said This Out Loud
When asked at work the best solution to the problems we're having with ClearCase, I said, out loud, "CVS."

Which, of course, is what we switched FROM to go to ClearCase.

Feel Like Ass
I say this mainly because anytime I add the descriptor 'like ass' to something, it's funny. Sort of like kielbasa, which is also very very funny.

Last night, I was totally passing out on the couch so I went to bed early, only to discover I wasn't tired. So I watched this really uplifting documentary about teenagers who got hurt in drunk driving accidents. The most stunning was a 15 year old named Timmy who drank a case of beer then drove his ATV into a tree, slicing the tree in half. During scenes of his painful recovery I couldn't help but think of Timmy from South Park, then feeling both very right and very mean at the same time.

5 months later, good ole' Timmy was mostly healed. And out drinking and driving ATVs with his loser buddies again. I don't understand how his parents could just (seemingly) sit back and let that kind of shit go on after the kid NEARLY DIED from doing the very same thing.

But I digress. I finally went to sleep, then woke up when I heard Gus land with a thud around 5:30. In the A.M. I lay there for a while, having visions of a dead Gus or a hurt Gus, so of course I got up to check on him. He was fine. But I couldn't sleep so in the end I got very little, and only super crappy sleep.

I did dream that I was at a tournament where the Burninators were playing Adobe. And we were all staying in someone's ranch-style home.

5.17.2005

Boiled Down To The Essence
Or, Too Much Time On Their Hands. This site has only the explicit parts of NWA's album (they pretty much had just the one, at least that we all know about) for your one-stop bitchass needs.

Reminds me of that time Dan felt the need to drive by the police car with "Fuck the Police" blaring from his mom's pimpass pontiac, then seemed surprised when he was pulled over.

Ahh, the joys of our turbulent youth.

Boy Sized Is Better
The great advantage to discovering that I have boy-sized hands and feet is that I can now buy really nice hockey equipment for extremely reasonable prices. Case in point: I just scored Oakley gloves for $35! $35!

Even if they don't fit, for $35, that's a chance I'm willing to take.

The Final Push
We're entering what I hope will be the final chunk of time when I can skate every game, all the time. Leading up to this period, I've been nursing some injuries -- my still not-really-healed shoulder and a sprained ankle that just won't heal fully. I've countered the ankle by sharpening my skates less sharp than usual -- that's helped a bit. However, playing center more and more doesn't help this since I'm now much more in the fray along the boards than I've ever been.

But last night, I got bumped (okay, actually, the team tells me that I did the bumping) and the guy fell on top of me, twisting that ankle yet again.

Were I sane and not facing a self-imposed period of stoppage in the near future, I'd go see a doctor, get some sort of splinting device and take a couple of weeks off. But I am not sane when it comes to this, so I'm loading up on Advil, arming myself with 2 ice packs while I elevate and busting out my own over the counter splinting device.

Because soon, a soon which is both way too soon and not soon enough, I'll not be playing and the ankle can heal then. Until that soon arrives, play on, limping or not!

5.16.2005

I Guess You Can Say I'm A Snob
But if you sit in class for an entire semester like a lump on a log, then send out a paper to the class that looks like a fifth grader wrote it, how, I ask you, how the hell do you expect to get through graduate school? I absolutely respect that international students have multiple hoops to jump through when it comes to learning but in the end, the standards I'm held to are the same ones that they are.

And some of my classmates, one in particular, fall way short of that mark. The paper I got today was worse than the worst of the freshman papers I graded last year. And this guy's in GRADUATE SCHOOL.

Wow.

More Math
I just realized that I'm spending $500 a month on my Jeep, between the payment, the astronomical amount of gas the thing uses and car insurance.

That's just dumb, for a car I don't really like. We're wrapping up the refi now and as soon as it closes, bye bye Jeep, hello, completely impractical RX8.

You Do The Math
This morning, my mom brought up the rarely-discussed topic of my birthmother. She had been thinking and noticed that my birthmom is only around 50. Of course, she'd been thinking about that because this weekend I jokingly threatened to put her into a home, so I had no doubt inspired the line of thinking.

Yes, mom, that's right, I said. And her parents are only a little older than you.

That was so not what she wanted to hear.

Tonight
Marks the first Monday in TWO YEARS (not counting last summer) that I don't have class to attend. I can do whatever I want and it won't impact my GPA in the slightest.

So I'm playing hockey.

I'm also in denial that school is really almost over for me. Two finals, one Thursday, one a week from Wednesday, then my time is my own, save wrapping up my thesis. Then, one day not all that long from now, I will be Liz Doughty, Master of Recreation.

It Comes When You're Not Looking
Most of the time, I'm okay. Not falling apart in public too much, probably not crying as often as I should be. The downside to this apparent togetherness is knowing that the grief will hit me when I least expect it. This weekend? Three times, at least three times that count. The many times where I sort of drift away from what's going on just can't count.
  1. Saturday afternoon, we went to Brenda's baby shower, held at her parents' house. They served spinach dip, the dish of choice for me and Grandma. I put some on my plate but could hardly eat it, trying to hold back the tears. Even now, just thinking of that little bread bowl at the shower is making me cry.

  2. Saturday night, I subbed in for Jeannette's new RWC team (and had a blast). We were having a hard time scoring, though everyone played great and had a bunch of good chances. Jeannette and I were sitting on the bench when Jeannette says to me "normally, I don't give you advice, but..." And I figured she was going to tell me to keep my stick on the ice, something I don't do as often as I should. But no, she told me to take care of myself right now and to not overdo it.

    Solid advice, but man, it socked me in the gut, to think of why I'd need to do that, of how much my heart hurts. I spent the rest of the game fucking up, falling down more in one period than I normally do in a weekend. That's grief for ya.

  3. Yesterday morning we watched a recorded episode of Intervention, where a 24 year old meth-addicted mother can't get her act together. Her family was tearing themselves up about it, including her grandma. Just seeing that woman and her grandma, seeing the heartache she was causing her grandma, was more than I could take. We had to skip the part where the two of them had lunch together. It was too much like the many many lunches I had with grandma. Except of course, that I'm no former beauty queen, nor am I addicted to meth. Nor have I ever broken my grandma's heart the way that this woman did.

    I was, at least, grateful that I never did that kind of heart-breaking crap to my grandma. Being a largely well-behaved person means that you are free to love your family and friends without a lot of regrets.

But oh, my heart aches without Grandma here.

Sometimes Victory Tastes So Sweet
Last season, the A-Team 2 (aka the Bad News Bears) tried very very hard to win our games but a couple of teams were just too much for us. Most notably was Adobe, who I swear to you, are all 8 feet tall and HUGE. HUGE! And even taller in hockey gear. They beat us every time we played them, to the point where many folks on the team would dread the games. The only mystery to the outcome was how much we'd lose by. Not that much fun for anyone.

Now those teams have moved up to the division where the Mighty A-Team 1 plays and it's payback time, every week. So far, we've beaten every team we've played, including, yes 2 of the teams that beat on the A-Team 2 last season. Last night's victim was Adobe, who we wore down after a period and a half. They held us to 1 goal until (I think) about halfway through the second, then the scoringpolooza went into high gear.

We won 5-1 and their biggest player landed his bad self in the box 3 times. Smooth. It was good to confirm that they'd been toning down their agressiveness with the A-Team 2, if any of you are reading, I thank you for that. But it sure felt good to beat you, especially without 3 of our ringers.

5.13.2005

Not Quite True
In my metrics for last week, the only close-to-appropriate description of where I was is 'Holiday/Vac,' which is sure wasn't.

But there's really not room in the form for 'Heartbreaking Trip of Sadness,' either.

Zeus' New Love
Zeus has a confession. He is madly in love with Jena. So much so that when she comes over, he can't stop barking his one-timbre bark and hippity hopping. So much so that the last two nights, he's insisted that I call her to share his love.

How can I refuse the little guy?

Nearly Done!
My final presentation and class period as a graduate student were yesterday. This presentation was a bit better than Wednesday's -- I even used the entire time instead of just half because I talked too fast! Turned in my (sorta lame) final paper and headed out of there free as a bird.

Free, except for the final I have next Thursday, then the truly hellish Research Methods final I have on 5/25. But I'm close, oh so very close. Once I get past the finals, all that's left is to get my thesis proposal before the IRB and get approval to talk to my 'subjects,' aka 'partici-pants.' I'll spend some time over the summer talking to my partici-pants, then compiling what I find (ironically, with a software program called NUDIST. Some things are too good to make up.) and finally, in October, I will be truly DONE with this.

I will be walking in a teeny ass graduation ceremony in December. You all are invited to watch me truly become a Master Of Recreation. Just in time to go back to work at my Internet job. But my resume (should I ever have to look at it again) will now say Liz Doughty, B.A., M.S..

And that's nothing to sneeze at.

Internet-Enabled
When we were in Ohio last week, Andrea noticed that my dad was sporting the same sorryass, tired pair of sandals that I'd bought for him when I sold shoes and lived in Ohio back in 1994. It was no doubt a good year for sandals, but 2005 is not the best year for those well-loved sandals. So I used part of my bonus and bought him a pair of Keens from our friends at Zappos.com.

All I can say is, Zappos rules! Not only did I get free shipping, they upgraded me to free overnight shipping so Dad's sporty new sandals arrived yesterday. Sadly, they are a half-size too small, so he called for an exchange. Again, Zappos came through and is sending the new pair overnight, he'll get them Monday!

After dad called, I was sent an email confirming the exhchange. I send it to Dad, to show how very responsive our friends at Zappos are. Dad thanked me for my efforts and wondered if I'd arranged a duplicate order -- could I please cancel it since he'd already called for one?

So close, so close.

5.12.2005

When People Ask Me Why
We want to have a baby, I can only point them to this: picture of Sam and Riley in their amazing new baby wagon. And if they don't get it, then they just don't know the silly joy that is babies.

The Flight Of The Z-Man
Well, he's not really flying but that sounded like a nice title, so that's what you get.

The Zeus man is back, totally back, more like 110% back. Yes, he still has some really minor neurological issues, mostly with fine motor skills, and we can totally live with that. When he was so sick, I had visions of having to walk him outside every time he needed to pee. We were prepared to do that, so having to watch him be unable to scratch the back of his neck properly is no big deal at all. We even pitch in to help with the proper scratch placement.

He's been eating baby food mixed with kibble since he came home (well, the kibble was added about a week later, when he came off the 5 medicines they sent him home with) and I'm thrilled to say that HE LOOKS GREAT! The extra nutrition is helping his coat be almost shiny and though his little spine still pokes out a bit, he's put a lot of weight back on and is pretty much at his fighting weight. Given that, we'll be keeping up the baby food probably forever for him.

He hippity hops ALL THE TIME and I admit it, it moves me to tears just about every time. To think of all we've lost in the last month, that somehow God or fate or possibly my Grandma left this little silly man here for us to enjoy through all the heartache. Well, we're just lucky to have him. And I won't forget that.

5.11.2005

Little Teeny Done Stamp
Somehow, I managed to crank out 38 pages (after edits and stuff) comprising the first 3 chapters of my thesis. Naturally, when I turned it in, I discovered that my classmates had written 25-30 pages so maybe I'm actually an overacheiver. I also did my presentation in my usual spoke-too-fast style. I finished in 7 minutes -- I had 12 total to use. Oh well. So the paper is done and turned in, the presentation is done.

I'm now working on part deux, the paper that's due tomorrow. I cranked most of it out in a hurry two weeks ago when I realized that Grandma was soon to leave us. Which is good, but I couldn't remember what I'd done, nor had I started the presentation that's supposed to go with it.

I'm cracking myself up by using a picture of none other than AndreaTan Zass playing hockey as the background for these fabulous presentations. No matter how frustrating the writing is getting, the sight of Andrea's rear end is still making me smile.

5.10.2005

Progress
Last night was my last Monday night in class. Ever. Unless I become absolutely INSANE and decide to get either another Master's or a Ph.D. Should I do that, please remind me of how exhuasted and frustrating this process has been and assure me that I NEVER want to do it again.

It was sort of anti-climatic. We went to an undergraduate research symposium, held by an upper-division writing class. The topics they researched ranged from interesting to ridiculous and they all were nervous as hell to speak for 3-5 minutes in front of their class and us. I realized that after speaking about Grandma last week, I could have gotten up there and presented for an hour about anything and been fine. But again, I'm 32, not 18 or 19 like these folks were.

But I digress. The highlights included the woman who talked about 'Weddins Abroad' (pictures of her display that confirmed this wasn't a typo, or rather, that it was a collossal typo to come), then mentioned how important location is to your weddin aboad for pretty much the entire time ("and then, location is important. Also, location is important,") and the woman who talked about Word Of Mouth, or as she calls it, 'WOM', pronounced Wahm. There was also mention of an interview with a woman who had travelled the world and the woman who ran the snack bar at an elementary school. I'm all for primary sources, but hearing that made me sort of wistful. Why couldn't I just spend some time talking to someone who plays hockey instead of researching the studies about it, reading the studies that were the framework for those studies, then, designing my own? It would really be a lot easier, and who needs rigor, anyway?

After the presentations were done, we headed back downstairs, to the conference room that I've sat in at least once a week for the last two years. This was the last time I was to sit there and it felt good, yet empty. I'm just tired. Tired of school, tired of not having any time to myself and yes, very much tired from the loss of Grandma.

I got out of there in time to get to the A-Team 1 game, which was big fun. And we won, woo! The A-Team 2 game later was just as fun, if a bit slower. We lost 2-1 but it was close the whole way and I think we all had fun. If you can't win, fun is just as good.

Today, I've spent some quality time with the thesis and I'm now on page 41. At this point, I've looked at it so much that I don't know if it's coherent or not and I think it's about time to wrap this puppy up. I present to the class tomorrow, then I just have a much shorter paper to turn in Thursday, another presentation to do for that paper, followed by 2 finals next week.

Then, you can slap a Done stamp on my ass, just like the ones they put on each project on Monster House. (wow, I just wrote Monster Ass, which will no doubt amuse the googlers who come here later).

5.09.2005

On Grief
I am constantly on the verge of tears. One sad note of music, one glimpse of a thought about Grandma waving at me, smiling at me, laughing at my jokes, of her bedroom now empty, of her car now about to be sold, of the contents of her house being divided up among our family, opens the tenuous floodgate that holds those tears back.

When Alice died, the grief was so intense, it clouded everything I did. Her death was so sudden, the loss of her made me mean for a time. Grandma's death is entirely a different ball of wax, it's a subtle pain that sneaks up on me every time I turn around too fast, the empty space where she once was fills up larger than seems fair.

I'm so very very sad, but at least I'm not mean. I also know that 4 years from now, the loss of her will be as strong as it is today, that I'm forever less because she's not here anymore.

About The Scholarship
We founded a scholarship in Grandma's name at the elementary/middle school attached to her church. Apparently, a hefty sum of money has already been donated, thanks to my uncle's business associates. Now what's left is to determine how it's distributed.

Given that Grandma only ever wanted any of us to do our best, no matter what we were attempting, we're going to try and award the scholarship to a worthy C student who is doing their best. I'm not sure how it's all going to work, but I'd like to be part of choosing that student, so I can share a even a little bit of the values that Grandma had.

The Price May Never Be Right Again
Confession: Grandma had a crush on Bob Barker. He was her Silver Fox, she watched him hawk Ambesol and Jiffy Pop every day that she could. When I went to LA with Amy to see a taping of the famed show, it was as much to fulfill the dream Amy and I had shared for years as it was for Grandma.

Friday morning, I was flipping through the channels in our hotel room when Price came on. For a second, I thought I could watch it, that I could remember the good times and many, many, many episodes that Grandma and I had watched together.

I quickly discovered that I'm nowhere near ready to do that yet. I may never be.

When we went, Grandma said I should tell them this: "I'm Liz Doughty and my Grandma said you should let me spin that big wheel. So let me on the stage!" But I wimped out and was not called to the stage. I have no doubt that if I'd shared Grandma's instructions, I would have been called.

If we ever do go again, you bet your ass I'll have the guts to say exactly that, and if I get that chance, I'll spin that wheel with all my might. Because Grandma would have wanted me to.

A Little Bit Of Good News
Got the Jeep over to the Allstate people today. The adjuster guy (Action Travis, with his mighty digital camera and lappy 486) took a zillion pictures and confirmed that the damage is consistent with my being hit the way I was. They're going to cover everything, to the tune of (their estimate) $800+. The car heads back to the dealership from whence it came next Monday and I get a free rental car (or similar) for the duration-ination.

I feel sort of weird about doing all this, though, to be fair, the car was in perfect shape before I met Ms. Not That Nice. With less than 10,000 miles on it, it makes sense to repair what's been damaged. But I would have settled for an $89 alignment job instead of all this.

Working on my thesis, I've written the word 'particpants' so many times that I can only think of it as 'partici-PANTS,' then chuckle to myself about 'pants'.

I think it's time for bed. The good news? I'm on page 35.

Other Happenings That I Can't Possibly Say Enough About
First, the worst. And yes, I forgot to mention it, wrapped up in my own grief. Baby Delilah died around midnight on April 29, roughly 12 hours before Grandma. I can only hope that the two of them met up on their way to a better place. I have no spare emotional strength to cry for her mommies, though I have no doubt that one day I will feel that pain as well.

And now, the other news. We played in a tournament this weekend in Denver. It was fun, but I doubt we'll go back. The altitude sucked and the teams we played played like JERKS. Absolute Jerks.

Every day, I wake up and remember something new about my life, now that Grandma is gone. The last couple of days it's been this:
  • Her phone will eventually be shut off. I've known this number longer than I've known any other, I learned it long before I knew my own. Armed with this knowledge, I could always get back to Grandma's house if lost, even if I couldn't get directly home, I had the security of Grandma in my back pocket.

    That security is gone now and I feel utterly adrift in the world.

  • Her cable will also be shut off. My mom got it for them before my Grandpa died and just kept paying for it all these years. That bill, in my Grandfather's name, has been coming to my mom's house since the early 1980's and now it, too, is going to stop.
Every time I have even the shortest of moments alone, I start to fall apart a little more. The first three chapters of my thesis are due on Wednesday, I also have to present those chapters to the class and turn in another paper on Thursday, along with giving another presentation.

I know this: after standing up in front of Grandma, God and over 100 people last week, delivering what was the hardest speech I've ever made, the thought of talking to 22 of my classmates about something as benign and painless as women's hockey seems, well, easy.

5.06.2005

Images Of Grandma
I now have a thousand images to add to my extensive list of memories of her.
  • The brand new pall that the priest was kind enough to buy for my Grandma. You see, she always kept herself and her home immaculate. My aunt asked the priest in advance if he had a clean pall for her -- he responded by buying a lovely new one that matched his garment. It was exactly the level of class she would have wanted.
  • Going into my grandma's house, half expecting her to be upstairs, waiting to greet me with a grin and a hug. The repeated heartache of sitting in her living room, then remembering she wasn't there anymore.
  • Having to discuss what I'd like from her house. I'm lucky enough to be getting the Breakfast Table, the round piece of wood that shaped so many of my memories of her. But do I want anything else? Not really, I just want the house to be filled once again with her, walking around without pain, laughing and dealing the next hand.
They say it takes a year to get past the grief of losing someone. I've read that, seen it and heard it, listened intently when my cousin told us all that it takes a year to tell all of the stories about someone, to put together the larger picture of their lives and their love. But we're almost 4 years past losing Alice and I can say only this: the hurt remains the same, that hole in my heart where she once was is just as large. It just doesn't throb like it used to. Not all the time. It breaks my heart to think that our child won't get to know her.

My cousin Anne told us to honor Grandma at each holiday for the next year, to tell a Grandma story at each holiday. I will do my best to hold to that here, sharing a story about her at each one.

I am lucky to have known her, to have learned from her. She has given me the gift of honesty, of laughter, of compassion, of always doing my best and the ability to make people feel welcome. Each time I refuse to lie, laugh at a joke, extend myself to someone else, I am honoring her.

But that doesn't stop the pain of missing her. I can only bear the pain with grace and hope that someday soon, I'll dream a dream of a little yellow dog walking in peace with my very best friend.

5.04.2005

How It Went
Last night was the visitation for Grandma. We gathered at the funeral home, the immediate family was supposed to come 45 minutes before the thing began. But the thing about my immediate family is, there are about a thousand of us and the room was quite full. And loud, so loud, before the time officially began. For 2.5 hours, we chatted, reminisced, laughed at Grandma stories, did some crying, but mostly enjoyed each other's company. It was, in short, the most amazing way to celebrate a life.

They stopped us for a prayer service toward the end. It was a somber thing. We listened, participated, and when it was done, went back to talking. Loudly.

When Grandma was sick, she'd often have more than one visitor at a time. Sometimes, she was so tired, she would choose to just listen to her guests talk to each other. That's how last night was -- Grandma there in the corner, listening as we all talked and laughed.

All week, I've been visualizing how I'd do my reading. Going over what I'd say, how I'd do my best to slow myself down. Being anxious about giving my talk at the end of the service kept me from being too hysterical during the service. Even as her casket, which I'd avoided looking at during the visiting hours and even before the funeral, when we all met at the funeral home to take her to the church, was unloaded by my brother and many cousins, even as I stood with Andrea at the doorway of the church I attended as a child, the same church where my grandfather's funeral was held back in 1983, I mostly held myself together.

Finally, the mass was over and it was my turn. I'd printed out my text, which was pretty much what I posted yesterday, blown it up to HUGE type and folded each of the corners of each of the 6 HUGE typed and spaced pages it had come out to be. I carried it in a manilla folder and walked up to the podium, set it down, took a breath and did it. Yes, a little too fast, yes, I shook so hard that I wasn't sure I could keep standing, but I did it. Read every word, reminded everyone there how amazing and funny, yes, how very funny my Grandma was. When I read the part about the wave, I raised my right arm and waved towards her casket.

Afterwards, many of my relatives said they hadn't lost it until I read my piece. It seemed like everyone was crying, but smiling too, at the image of Grandma laughing in so many ways.

Reading it, writing it, sharing it with my family was the right thing to do. I will always be glad that I spent those final moments with Grandma talking about her in that way.

We processed behind Action Ron, the Processional Professional, aka the motorcycle cop who escorted us. He was amazing, stopping traffic in it's tracks the entire way with a gesture or a wave. Grandma would have giggled at how many people had to stop for her. When we pulled into the cemetery, Action Ron blocked 2 lanes of opposing traffic and saluted the entire procession.

The graveside service was very Catholic, lots of traditional prayers and signs of the cross. After it was over, we all lingered and the family took turns blessing the casket with holy water. For some reason, I couldn't bring myself to wave the wand of holy water. I stood instead with my mom and cried at last. When we left, I placed my hand on the casket and said "I love you," but not before many of my cousins did The Wave to her.

We headed back to the church for a catered lunch and a few more shared memories. The party spilled over to my uncle's house, where we stayed much of the day and into the night. Throngs of my second cousins ran around the house while we were once again a very loud bunch.

I'm amazed, touched, saddened and pleased by what's gone on here the last few days. Most of my family has come together in ways we haven't in years, I've reconnected with so many folks. As we pulled out of my uncle's driveway tonight, the remaining family members gathered to give us The Wave. It was ridiculously sweet.

Yes, oh yes, I miss Grandma like crazy. But I know in my heart that she's in a better place now and that, right now, outweighs the pain of the loss.

5.03.2005

What I'll Speak Tomorrow, Take 1
This is the first draft of what I plan to say at Grandma's funeral tomorrow. Comments welcome...

The Best There Ever Was
Someone gave my Grandma a pillow that says the World's Best Grandma. Maybe those people who made it thought it would apply to a million grandmas around the world but I know the truth: it only truly applies to mine.

Since the moment we met in 1973, we lit up each other's hearts. I was lucky enough to grow up a block and a half away from her. I had the chance to spend many an afternoon, many a schoolday lunch with her, eating egg salad sandwiches on her fancy red plates, drinking Pepsi that came from a glass bottle. The grandkids would gather every Sunday to play in her yard, to climb the old maple tree that was just big enough for a kid or two. We’d drink our Pepsis and sit in Grandpa’s red chair in the living room while the grownups visited and sometimes played cards in the breakfast room. Yet Grandma would always take time out from the grownups to give a hug or just say hello when we wandered into the breakfast room.

Grandma came with my family to Florida when I was twelve. She and I were roommates for a week, sleeping in bamboo framed beds in a cottage that faced the water. We played gin rummy for hours and hours in that cottage, laughed at each other’s jokes and we were both scared to death when I met a water bug in the bathroom in the middle of the night. Even with the bugs, I wanted to share that room with her forever, to play gin rummy with her every night for the rest of our lives.

With Grandma, there were always the cards. Mostly gin rummy, but poker and blackjack, too. The important stuff. She taught me a million solitare variations and no doubt, knew a million more that I didn't get to learn. We shared many a summer night at her breakfast table, playing cards, drinking Pepsis and eating Knorr spinach dip that we'd rate with each reincarnation. We kept a running tally of points in our games, I'm pretty sure she won in the end. My mom says that even two weeks ago, Grandma was beating her at rummy, too. (pause)

I didn’t know Grandma when she was a nurse, I didn’t know her as the mother of young children, running a very full house. I have no doubt that she did those things with the skill, grace and laughter that she approached life with. But what I knew her best for was being a Grandma. In the movies, kind Grandmas are portrayed so much like my her that I’d wonder if she wasn’t due some kind of royalty for being the inspiration. She had no qualms about letting anyone she thought was nice call her Grandma, offering more than one of my friends the chance to experience the World’s Greatest Grandma.

When you left Grandma’s house, she’d come to the door to give The Wave, watching until you slipped out of sight. After I learned to drive, I’d back down the driveway, then slide the car into forward just to see her waving for a minute more. She’d laugh at my antics, but never once stopped waving before I was gone. That’s how I think of her now – waiting patiently in the doorway, chuckling at our shared joke and waving her love over all of us.

Please join us for a celebration of Grandma’s life, love and laughter with a lunch at the Kennedy Center next to the Church when we return from St. Joseph's Cemetery.

It absolutely breaks my heart to write about Grandma in the past tense.

Destination: Chicago?
We slept for only 2 hours Sunday night, then headed to the airport for our 6:30 am flight to Columbus, via Chicago. All was well, I slept most of the way there and we bounded off the plane ready to finish our trip.

Except when we looked at the monitors, we found that our flight had been delayed. For 3 hours. Great. We headed to the gate and got on the standby list for the 2:45 flight. All was well until they announced that our flight was cancelled. We got waitlisted for the 3:45 flight, but that left from pretty much the opposite corner of the airport. It was now 3:20 pm.

Andrea, my brother Chris and I all ran through the airport, me deking around members of the general public all the while. We made it to the gate in time to hear that there might be one seat. We quickly decided Chris should go and he was led down the jetway. But no, there were no seats in the end and Chris came back up the jetway. We waited patiently right next to the counter, explaining politely to each new agent that we were headed to a funeral. Never yelling or demanding anything, just explaining our plight. That tactic worked -- at the last minute before the 5:55 flight, the gate agent brought us 3! 3 boarding passes and we got to Columbus at 8 pm, arriving at the same gate where I'd picked my Grandma up from her last plane trip a number of years ago. I thought of her being wheeled up the same jetway, past the unchanging vintage 1980's United advertisements and somehow, that calmed my nerves, to be walking a path she'd been on. Our luggage was waiting for us and we got to my mom's house in time to have some dinner, then promptly fall asleep at the same hotel I stayed at last summer -- the one featuring the Wall of Entertainment.

I'm the only one speaking at Grandma's funeral tomorrow -- everyone else declined, thinking they'd end up crying. I will do my best to not cry, to remember her laughter and love well. She gave me 32 years of love and joy, I owe her a few minutes of well-spoken words.