4.30.2008

Three years ago this morning, I woke up to my dad calling to tell me that my Grandma was about to die.  Rather than leap into that grief, I sprung into action, calling the airlines to get a ticket home for the funeral of someone who wasn't yet dead.  The action of getting that ticket was preferable to starting to feel the impending loss. 
 
I guess I knew that I'd have the rest of my life to greive Grandma's death.
 
Later that morning, after our tickets were finally purchased, Dad called back to say that Grandma was gone.
 
All I could talk about was how I'd bought our tickets.  Even at the time, it seemed insensitive but I think I had some idea of how hard it would be from that point on.
 
Our tickets were for a day or so later.  We played hockey that night, all part of my need to put off the inevitable and somehow, I scored two goals in one game. 
 
In the week or so before her death, it was finally clear that the end was near.  Grandma was the toughest of the tough, she put up a brave fight against illness and a deteriorating body for longer than most people would, but in the end, the inevitability of death won out and we knew she was about to leave us.  Those wonderful women who cared for her stayed around the clock, kept her clean and comfortable.  Esther, who was from Africa, did a traditional dance a number of times.  Grandma loved to see her dance.  Lee only worked weekends but she knew what was coming and stayed over as well, holding Grandma's hand and showing her the kind of love Grandma deserved. 
 
At the very end, many many members of my family crowded into Grandma's room, gathering at her bedside, holding her hands.  She asked what time it was, then within an hour or two of asking that, she was gone.  She left this world surrounded by love.  You can't ask for more than that, you just can't.
 
I was not there that day.  I had debated going but in the end I knew that all the trips I'd made to see her were enough.  I'd said goodbye a thousand times, I'd told her everything I needed her to know, which in the end boiled down to one thing: that I loved her like crazy.
 
Andrea and I travelled with my brother to the funeral.  We missed connections, sprinted through airports and in the end, I talked our way onto the last connecting flight of the day, waiting patiently at the podium to speak to each group of ticket agents about our plight.  I like to think that I used the same politeness that Grandma showed me to get us onto that plane.
 
The visitation at the funeral home was loud loud loud.  My extended family is not small; we spilled out of the room and into the hallway, our din drowning out anything that might have been going on across the hall.  Some of my family saw Grandma's body beforehand but I could not.  I looked away from that side of the room until the curtain was closed.  At one point, it was just like a tv show -- I saw a relative who hadn't been speaking to another relative for some time beforehand.  That relative said 'I wasn't speaking to (other relative) because...' and at that moment I swear to you the volume of the room was turned a notch higher, drowning out the reason.  I just smiled and said 'oh,' because obviously I didn't need to know whatever that reason was.
 
Rather than be sullen mourners, I like to think we sent Grandma off right that night.  It was exactly how it always was at her house, with her there at the breakfast table, drinking her coffee while all of us carried on around her.  Except of course that this was the last time it would be like that.
 
The next day was her funeral.  I was to speak.  Somehow, I'd always thought that many of us would speak, after all I don't consider us a particularly shy bunch.  But somehow it worked out that it was all me, at the very end of the Mass.  My mom's main concern was that I make sure everyone knew we'd be having a bigass lunch afterwards, she'd spent an inordinate amount of time coaching me on the exact wording of what boiled down to 'hey, there's lunch in that room out back' but I guess that was her contribution.
 
Despite my sort of boisterous persona, the truth is that microphones freak me out.  So I'd spent the days between Grandma's death and that moment in the church being nervous about how my voice would sound in that cavernous church.  I was also preparing and rehearsing in my head what I'd be saying about her.Here's what I said, and now you can appreciate my mom's input on the last bit about joining us for lunch.
 
I delivered it like a pro. I owned that pulpit (you can't say that everyday!) and the most important thing: I sent Grandma off right, I honored who she was to me, I celebrated how very lucky I am to have had her in my life.  Adoption is a crazy, random business, at least it was back then.  I could've been placed with any old family but I wasn't.  I was able to share 32 years of my life with a wonderful, wonderful woman who I adored from the moment I met her.  Lucky, I'm so lucky.
 
Do I still think about her? Of course.  Do I still miss her like crazy?  You bet your ass.  I will miss her for the rest of my life but that doesn't mean I don't feel grateful as hell that I got to know her.
 
Rest in peace, Grandma.  I hope the canasta game is still going.

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4.29.2008

Those Aren't Pillows!

In preparation for preschool, I ordered 2 toddler-sized pillows, one for
Val to use at home and one for her to take to school. The place seemed
a little homey, but they're a yahoo merchant so I thought hey, should be
fine.

That was 4/4. The pillows were in stock and the shipping was priority
mail. That should have meant they'd ship soon, right?

4/22 rolls around and no pillows. I email the merchant, they say it had
shipped that day and that they'd send a tracking number. Great, fine.

As of today, still no fucking pillows. So I email them again, no
response. I escalate it to yahoo.

The people finally write back, pissed off that I've escalated it and
finally sent me a tracking number.

They sent it out yesterday, 24 days after I ordered it and a week after
they said they would. I'm so not impressed.

The place is Peanut Tree Designs, in case you're searching on them. If
you have a choice, spend your money someplace else.

A Full Weekend

This weekend was just crazy busy. I had an end-of-season party for my
tournament team, Andrea had a practice and a game and I had yet more
band practice for this week's small ensemble concert.

In between all that, we had time to do something I'd been putting off
for a while: we shelled out for a new laptop for me. Thank God. I
didn't realize how slow mine was until the shiny new one arrived. It is
lightning fast and is solely responsible for me staying up till 4 am
playing Packrat on Saturday.

New lappy, I love you.

The biggest news is that we bit the bullet and let Val sport underpants
all weekend. She did SO well until Sunday, when she had 3 accidents
hanging out at Isaiah's house while I coached and Andrea played. But
today, she had 0 accidents so I think it's all good.

One other big thing is that I realized the preschool we'd picked out
isn't the best fit for us. It's just too far from home, especially with
gas at $4 a gallon. So we checked out a Christian preschool that's 4
minutes from home.

It's bright, sunny, clean and big. They have care for infants up
through pre-k, each group in a different room. We first looked at the
toddler room, for 18-30 months old. Those kids were babies who could
walk. Seeing all of them, kids who could be Val's peers, made me
realize that she's more of a little kid and less of a baby than I'd been
willing to own up to.

So we checked out the 2-3 year old room and even though there are more
kids per teacher than in the other room, it was quite clear that Val
belongs there. She went right to the toys and dug right in, she even
went and played with some of the other kids. One little girl fell and
hurt herself, Val went and asked if she was okay.

They have little kid-sized potties and work with them on potty
training. We liked the people and how clean the place is. The younger
kids play with older kids twice a day, there's learning and art and nap
time.

No matter how much we like the place, it still breaks my heart a little
to think of her going to a school where she's 1 of 20+ kids. I know
she'll do great, I have no doubt about that, but me? I might just be a
wreck at first.

I'll let you know.

4.24.2008

Not How It Was Intended

When Take Our Daughters To Work Day started (I can't remember if it was
Ms. Magazine or Lifetime tv who started it) the intent was to empower
girls, to show them what a successful career could look like. It was a
grassroots thing and it really struck a chord with me. It was
absolutely something I'd want to do for my daughter.

Fast-forward to now. I have a pretty decent job and lo and behold, a
daughter who amazes me anew every single day. My company throws a
gigantic to-do for this day, only now it's interpreted as a giant
fucking party, complete with more than one bounce house, a fleet of
balloon animal 'artists,' a gift bag that includes a blowup ball and the
only sort of redeeming thing: a badge just like mine, only with Val's
cuteass picture on it.

As Val and I waded through the crowds gathered at the carnival games,
past the bounce house and free water bottles, the feminist in me shook
her head at this. It is not what the intent was, the founders surely
didn't envision little kids trying to knock down plastic bottles or a
sea of popcorn being popped. No, I'd imagine they pictured little girls
and bigger girls alike sitting with their moms in meetings, helping them
work through the pitfalls of a typical work day.

Though it sounds nice, I can assure you that my typical workday does not
include face painting or temporary tattoos.

I do hear that the afternoon program for the older kids features a long
presentation about our company, so that's closer.

Val was there for all of an hour, she sat nicely at my desk writing with
every marker and pen I have while I wrapped up some work. By the time
we braved the registration table, the place was packed, wall-to-wall
kids and parents waiting in longass lines. It was almost impossible to
get back through my building to the lobby.

We went out for a nice panera lunch and she was so wiped out that she
konked out on the way home, then stayed down for 2 hours. Realizing that
almost everyone at work was knee-deep in face painting and afternoon
movies, I logged in for a while, then took a nap myself.

Not a bad way to spend an afternoon, but still not what it was meant to
be.

4.23.2008

Summerpolooza

Since Ohio really isn't that exciting, I've bravely offered to take Val
to my parents house for the 4th of July this year while Andrea stays
here. I want Val to see all the ginormous festivities that my hometown
has to offer on a holiday that isn't met with the same degree of fervent
enthusiasm that it is back there.

I've been scouring the interweb for tickets for months, ever since this
wacky idea crept into my head. But no luck. Just as I was about to
give up and pay more than I ever have for a ticket home, I decided to
wait one day.

So this morning, I looked again and didn't see the crappy fare with good
times I'd almost bought yesterday. Fuck fuck fuck.

But then I search again and ta-da, there's an even lower fare, by almost
$100 per ticket! My dear friend Jennie will be so proud of my savings!

So I'm going to do it, load up my carryon bag, screw the gogo kidz
thingie onto Val's carseat and brave the wilds of the airport by myself,
with toddler in tow. I have to say that it's only after travelling to
TN, a trip where Val had her own seat the whole way and we made
judicious use of the gogo kidz thing (just google it, it's hard to
explain but oh so fantastic though please note that you must remove it
when you install it in the car, it can, however stay on while on the
plane, just GET A SEATBELT EXTENDER FOR YOUR SEAT, this I cannot stress
enough) that made me think I could pull off a trip like this.

That thing let us roll Val, in her carseat, all the way through a very
large airport. Seriously, magic.

So we're all set for a wacky wild 4th back east while Andrea gets a
little quiet time at home. Wish me luck.

4.21.2008

I Suppose This Is A Good Thing

Val has unearthed two of her Abby Cadabby dolls. The reuniting of Val
and doll is enough to satisfy her question about where Abby is.

Oh, she said, here's Abby.

At least our hearts can stop breaking every 5 minutes as she asked
'where's Abby?'

4.19.2008

The Saddest Thing You Can Imagine

Today was Abby's memorial, at least the public one. I think the family
had a private one before now, but I'm not sure.

After much discussion we decided to bring Val. I went back and forth on
it, what would be appropriate, what would be respectful and in the end
it just seemed right to bring her along.

I'd tried to prepare her for it, I said we were going to church for
Abby, that she'd need to be quiet. When I told her, she listened very
earnestly then asked if she could bring along the piece of breast pump
tubing she's been having a blast with lately.

As you might imagine the place was packed. Young and old, we filled the
place, spilling out into and eventually filling the lobby. Val decided
to ask where Abby was, over and over. Talk about the most heartbreaking
question that anyone could ask right there and then, this tiny voice
saying 'where's Abby?'

It was a lovely service, as these things go, but in the end the only
thing I can say is that it was absolutely the saddest thing I've ever
experienced.

My heart goes out to Abby's family. I suspect the hardest days are just
beginning. She was a beautiful girl who absolutely did not deserve what
happened to her.

4.18.2008

I Have A Question

How exactly do you teach a kid to hold in their poop while you're not
near a potty?

Experiment, Day 1

Since Val has had very very few wet diapers during the day recently I
decided it was time for a change. Somehow, throwing out wet disposable
diapers sat okay with me but throwing out dry ones didn't.

And no, we're not going to have her wear the same diaper for more than 1
day. I wouldn't do that with underwear so there's the standard.

As of today, Val is wearing underwear during the day. Even if we leave
the house. I have 2 spare sets of clothes in my car, ready to swap out
but so far, we are 1 day into this Brave New World and it's going okay.

She had one minor poop incident at home before we went to gymnastics but
that doesn't count because 1. Less than half of it was part of the
'incident,' the rest made it to it's proper resting place, 2. It was at
home so cleanup was convenient, if not all that pleasant and 3. She knew
to tell me it was happening.

Daytime, diaper-free world, here we come!

4.17.2008

In Response...

Apparently my co-worker's comments struck a chord with the three of you
and inspired you to leave a comment. Thanks, I guess, except that there
are a few of you I don't know and you didn't introduce yourself. I find
that a little discomforting. So please, if you're gonna de-lurk, how
about some kind of intro?

To respond to what some of you said... no, we're not looking to move to
Canada just because someone at work spoke without thinking. And no, in
case I wasn't clear, I wasn't giving his random marital assvice any
merit, I was merely noting the fact that it completely excluded my
relationship.

Hope that clears things up a bit for y'all, whoever you are and however
you found me here.

The Work Report

No, I haven't talked to my co-worker who patently ignored my gayness the
other day. I'm ready, and I will, but I haven't had a chance yet.

Why? Because I've been busy working on stuff that's pretty
interesting. Also, in having switched to this new job, I took a ton of
pressure off and removed myself from a lot of the drama that had made me
so miserable.

I didn't grasp how miserable I really was until now that I'm away from
all that.

I'm back to thinking that I work at a pretty decent place. For now,
that's a very good start.

4.16.2008

We're Not Quite There Yet

Today a co-worker was talking to a bunch of us about his marriage.
Nothing too revealing, just some generalities about ways to handle
different situations. Eventually, he goes around the room and sort of
points out who's been married a while, who's a newlywed, who's single
and could benefit from his marital advice.

Completely glossing over me.

For the record, Andrea and I are coming up on 12 years together. 12
years and it's not enough to count in the eyes of the guy at work who
hears me talk about my family every single day.

Real fucking nice, like the lessons we've learned in those 12 years pale
in comparison to all the straight people in the room. It's not separate
but equal, folks, it's equal. We fight the same fights as everyone
else, we battle the same inner and outer demons, we love the same and we
are a family just like any other. And yet it's amazing to me how
consistently people forget that.

Yes, of course I'm going to say something to him about it.

And if somehow, the ruling comes down this summer that lets us get
married, you bet your ass we'll be down there getting hitched and you
bet your ass I'll mention being married a thousand times today if the
mood strikes me.

So the next time you find yourself talking relationships, please take a
half a second to acknowledge the many varieties of families that might
be represented in the room or in the conversation.

Bedtime Math

We are starting to grasp something really key to our ability to rest at
night: for every minute Val naps in the afternoon, that's one minute
longer it takes her to sleep at night.

Today she napped for an hour and a half. Guess what I've been doing for
the last hour and a half?

I'm thinking she's ready to give up her nap. She wasn't that into it,
anyway. I also think she's ready for a switch in the bedtime routine
but I'm not sure what that might mean.

Going to bed has just never been her event.

4.14.2008

What 4 a.m. Brings Me

I stayed up waay too late, farting around on pac.krat so by the time 4
am rolled around, I'd had a whopping 2 hours o' shuteye. At that point,
I woke up to Patrick howling outside. This can mean only 1 thing: the
man has had a seizure (note to self, please double-check how long it's
been since he had one, less than a month, I think) because if anyone in
this house sleeps through the night, it's my man with the long body and
the small helping of brain power.

Dude needs his rest.

I get up, go outside to call him in. The telltale drool is there on his
chest but we'd slept through most of the seizing festivites because,
thank the Jesus, his tail is already back to wagging. I slip him an
extra dose of his meds and check for damage.

Ew. Ew. Ew.

Usually when he seizes, he's sleeping in a bed or in a crate. He'll pee
and drool a lot but we can wash the bedding without too much trouble.
Whatever the hell went on tonight resulted in dog crap spread somewhat
evenly around the dining room, though mainly on the hardwood.

I went to grab paper towels and get to work, mainly to prevent the
spreading of said crap throughout the house. Naturally the paper towel
holder was empty so I had to go down to the basement for some more. On
the way, I found a mostly full bottle, er, jug, of Nature's Mi.racle so
go me!

I got down on my hands and knees, grateful that we'd forgotten to turn
the living room lights off since that helped me see the wake of
destruction better. As I'm cleaning, Pat comes sauntering in and I see
that he's ripped his nose open again. The bleeding has stopped and he's
mostly back to himself so I decide to leave well enough alone.

There is still bedding and a dog to be washed but at 4 a.m., enough is
enough. I checked on everyone one last time, then came back to bed.

I'm sure Val will wake up any minute now, I hear her in there coughing.

I worry that Pat's seizures are getting closer together. We've already
upped his pheno dose once in the last year, it's probably time to do it
again.

4.12.2008

Just Like I Promised

So as you know, we've said all along that if Val chooses to wear
dresses, she can wear them. It was absolutely my intent to not force
any style of fashion on her, to let her choose her own way. In case you
hadn't guessed, this is a choice I was not given when I was little so
it's important to me that Val have a different experience.

Today, we returned some perfectly nice shorts and t-shirts my mom had
sent her a while back. I'd been saving them for summer when I tried one
of the shirts on her. Lesson learned: "boxy" cut shirts are waaay too
wide for itty bitty toddlers. Oops.

Instead of the shorts and t-shirts, Val now has 2 ridiculously cute
Hann.a Ande.rsson dresses. One striped, one with polka dots. She
helped pick out both of them, to say that she's proud of herself is a
vast understatement.

Obviously it's not how we dress. But that's the point. It's how Val
chooses to dress.

4.11.2008

I Learned A Valuable Lesson

If you have a child who is on the small side for her age and that small
child is (mostly) potty trained ahead of her peers, do not let that
child slide all the way back on a child-sized potty at the mall.

Because those potties are made for regular-sized older kids and your
kid? She'll fall in.

4.10.2008

We're Feeling Better

Though a cough lingers, I think we're all on the mend. So that's good.
What sucks is Andrea's back now is causing her big trouble. Which is
not good.

The job is also better. I'm growing into my new role, it's a lot more
interesting (possibly because I'm doing new stuff) and the pressure I
felt before is off.

God, this is such boring post. But at least it's short.

4.08.2008

The Plague

Whatever Andrea and Val have, I thought I'd avoided it. Until last
night, when all of a sudden I started feeling like crap. I was so cold,
I used every blanket I could find, but still sooo cold. By morning, I'd
sweated some of it out but still, I felt like crap.

I had a meeting this morning, part of my new job. I didn't want to miss
it so I drove in, weaving a bit on the road and thinking 'hrm, I'm kind
of an idiot for doing this.'

So I went to my meeting and for what might be the second time ever, I
went home early. Val and Andrea were home sick, too, so the family
project became Let's All Nap.

It took like 2 hours to get Val to sleep. Note to self: now that she
sleeps in her crib, it's almost impossible to get her to go to sleep in
our bed. Sigh.

Finally, she fell asleep and I tried to get some rest myself. Until
Patrick starting his low arooo of lonliness because Andrea had taken
Zeus into the vet for bloodwork (yes, of course, as always, he's fine.
The new pain meds are helping.) Val woke up and came back to our bed,
where we both slept until Andrea got home.

I still feel like crap but at least I'm more rested. I can only hope
that tomorrow brings more health for all of us.

4.07.2008

Trogdor, in Kuwait


Trogdor
Originally uploaded by notsambass
Thanks, Viv! The power of the Burnninators* is known far and wide!

* In this case, the middle eastern location apparently requires the use of an extra N

4.05.2008

This Was Bound To Happen

Today, I offered Val some Top Quality clothes to wear, fine cargo shorts
and a nice purple t-shirt to go with it. She said no, she wanted
pants. Fine, so I let her go into her drawer full o' pants.

Where she spied one of the 2 dresses she owns and said 'wear my dress,
please.'

And thus, her dress was worn today. She twirled around every chance she
got and was quite pleased with herself. I suspect this means more
dresses in our future, which is fine because as we've said all along, if
she chooses to wear them, she's welcome to.

As I watched my daughter twirl around in her 'very nice' dress, I
couldn't help but think about Abby's family, in a neighboring town and
the fact that they'll never see Abby twirl in her dresses again. I
understand that Abby played hockey like her mom does: bigger than her
small size would dictate she should.

Every parent who I've shared Abby's story with has the same reaction:
something like 'wow, that's awful' but then quickly, they change the
subject. Because no parent wants to imagine going through that.

There are no good words. It's just too damn sad.

But that's not the right phrase. It's not enough. No words will ever
be enough.

Abby Leslie

I'm so sorry to have to tell you that Abby Leslie, our teammate
Theresa's 12-year-old daughter, passed away this morning after a
months-long battle with glioblastoma (brain cancer). Please keep Abby,
Theresa and their family in your thoughts and prayers.

If you'd like to send a card or flowers to the family, their address is:
18925 Bellgrove Circle, Saratoga, CA  95070.

4.03.2008

In Case You Were Wondering

Cheez-its that are really old taste like total shit. Just because the
box is sealed doesn't mean that whatever badness happens won't happen.

Blech, blech, ew.

4.02.2008

Some nights are better than others

We're on this routine now where Andrea and I swap nights to put Val
down. Most nights it goes fairly smoothly, 20 minutes or less. Last
night she went down for me in like 5 minutes but tonight, she's really
giving Andrea the business.

She did get out of bed to poop in the potty, so it's not all bad. But I
feel the rising frustration and the creeping exhaustion that comes from
sitting there, waiting for her to fall asleep.

It's nights like those that make me wish that we could be the kind of
parents who, when she was little, forced her to cry it out and go to
sleep on her own. Those parents now just plunk their kids in bed,
trusting that they'll fall asleep. Sounds nice, so nice.

But then I think of her being so little both then and now, how well she
responded to being cuddled when she was little, how deeply she slept
between us all those months, how genuinely upset she gets when left
alone before she's asleep and I know that we have done right by Val,
even if it's harder for us.