Where I'm From 06/29/2011
 
I saw this on Sweetney's blog and it charmed me so much that I wanted to try it myself.

I am from the center of a mountain bowl along the Arkansas River valley, from lush green trees and red clay dust, from dizzying heights and narrow winding roads.

I am from handmade polyester pants in contrasting colors, from Mello Yello and Hasbro Toys.

I am from the house on the corner with the crabapple tree in the front yard and the yellow roses in the back that smell like love and honey and my grandfather's hands.

I am from Columbines and Indian Paintbrush, from Fairy Slippers and Glacier Lillies. I am from towering pines and flickering aspens and gently waving willows. From boisterous afternoon thunderstorms that flash and crack and shake the windows only to be chased away by the big, bad sun.

I am from vacations spent in cabins by babbling brooks, from hot summers and freezing winters, from Murphys and Licks and Schlafs and Hendersons. I am from circus performers and fishermen and writers and artists.

I am from the Father. Son, and Holy ghost, communion wafers, and the Apostles' Creed. I'm from the Sunday choir and the seven sacraments.

I am from Huckleberry Finn and Augie Doggie, from Tom T. Hall and Roger Miller, from Laverne and Shirley, Fantasy Island, and The Love Boat.

I am from follow your bliss and find your passion and bloom where you are planted. From Ayn Rand and Albert Schweitzer. From Shakespeare and Socrates.

I am from Ireland and Sweden, Germany and England. From Corned beef and cabbage and hand-rolled pasta, and vinegar pie.

I am from rule breakers, crazies, philanthropists, and politicians.

I am from family albums, family trees, family gatherings. I am from love and pain and secrets and regret. I am from fresh baked cookies in the old wood-burning stove in my father's garage, from lions in the hedges, from late nights in my brother's room listening to George Thorogood and the Destroyers. I am from wild games of kick the can, from running until my legs burned under the bright moon through untamed fields, and from locking the doors and windows only when the prison alarms sounded.

 
Loss 06/29/2011
 
I've started and erased this blog entry so many times. I'm not one who often has trouble putting into writing what is in my mind but....well, I'm stumped.

On Friday, June 17th, the world lost an amazing little 7-year-old boy named Christopher. He drowned in a pool. And it seems ridiculous to sum up what happened to him in 5 words. It should take longer. It should require more words. I should not be able to summarize the end of a child's life in such a way and yet...there it is.

And maybe it is right that so few words be spent talking about how we lost him. It leaves more for telling you about him and that's really what matters.

Christopher was a classmate of my son Dax. The day I met Christopher he was dressed as the Big Bad Wolf to do a book report. He stood out. Not just because he was the most adorable Big Bad Wolf EVER but just because there was just something about him.

Here's just a little of what I know about Christopher. He wanted to be a fireman and "a police". He loved Star Wars and following rules but he hated belts. He was INCREDIBLY smart and a great singer. He played "cannonball" on the blacktop with Dax. He loved playing video games. He was a great big brother to his sister. He meant a lot to a LOT of people. There were over 600 of us at his funeral on Monday. Not a dry eye in the house. He was deeply, intensely loved by his parents who continue to absolutely amaze me each day that they continue to breathe in and out and put one foot in front of the other and EXIST in a world where there no longer is a Christopher.

I find myself wanting to tell everyone about this family. I want you to know about them. I want you to remember Christopher. Because without his ongoing physical presence I want there to always and forever be thoughts of him. I want him present in every heart I encounter. I want you to cry, too. I want you to weep over the unthinkable tragedy that a healthy, vibrant boy has died. Because part of me thinks that every piece of this insurmountable sorrow that the rest of us feel we might be lifting just a tiny bit off of those who have been hardest hit by this.

I feel guilty, too. I feel guilty for my own sorrow. It's not mine to own. People tell me they are sorry for me and I selfishly appreciate it because my heart really is hurting. It's hurting in the universal way that I hope everyone would hurt when they hear about such a horrible thing and it's hurting because I knew this particular child and it's hurting because my son is hurting. But this didn't happen to me so I feel guilty with every comforting word directed at me.

My son. Oh, my little one. This is his first dealing with death. He's only six. I don't think that, up until he saw his friend's body lying in a casket, he really understood the permanence of this loss. And, yes, he did see Christopher's body. And, yes, it did freak him out. We felt we should shelter him from it but he insisted on seeing and, really, how long can you hide death from a child? I explained to him before we went to say our goodbyes to Christopher and to share his parents' grief that his friend might look "weird" to him. As we paused in front of the casket I rested my hand on Dax's chest. I could feel his little heart pounding. I nudged him a bit when Christopher's parents were ready to speak to us. He got a hug from Christopher's dad who told Dax that his son really liked him.  He got an even bigger hug from Christopher's mom who whispered  some sweet words to my little boy. Then he burst into sobs.
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I took him to the back of the church and held him until he calmed down and then we went out front to watch them bring the casket out to the waiting firetruck for Christopher's last ride to his final resting place. Dax stood next to one of his best friends whose dad was one of the firemen in attendance. They were so impressed with all the fanfare. They stared in admiration as the firemen saluted. They asked numerous times about the helicopters flying above. They spoke a little bit about what they had seen in the casket, quietly and reverently. And I worried, just a little, about how they could never un-see what they had seen and what that would mean for them.

That night my worries kicked into full gear as I found Dax standing in front of the mirror, toothbrush in hand, crying. He said he couldn't stop thinking about Christopher. When pressed he admitted that he was afraid he would dream about what Christopher looked like in his casket.  I said that the reason his friend looked "weird" when he saw him at the funeral is because all the amazing things that made Christopher who he was are no longer in that body. It's just an empty shell now. No more thoughts, love, breath, soul.....all the things that make a body ALIVE were gone. That what he was seeing was like seeing an empty house or an empty box. I told him that, when he is seeing Christopher in his mind as he saw him today he should just replace that vision with one of his friend alive and healthy, as he was the last day of school. It must have worked because he fell asleep fairly quickly and slept through the night.

As for me, I am consumed with thoughts about Christopher and his family and death and loss and how to be the best parent I can be to the two small miracles who've been gifted to me. And you, if you've made it through this incredibly long and sad entry, perhaps are also thinking of these things. So maybe we can leave this with just agreeing that we will not leave any words of love and encouragement go unsaid. We will promise to live lives filled with joy and action and meaning. We will commit to teaching our little ones about all the things that made Christopher so special: bravery, kindness, imagination, joy. And, hopefully, we will teach them that sorrow sometimes comes in great heaps when we least expect it but that, on the other side, there is still life. Beautiful, meaningful life.


 
 
So, do you ever find yourself post-workout wondering how on earth you made certain parts of your body so veryveryvery sore? I do that all the time. I mean, some muscles I know are going to be sore and I even know the names of those muscles (abs, quads, gluts, biceps, triceps, blah, blah, blah, the obvious ones) but sometimes I'm sore in places I didn't really even realize I HAD muscles to make sore. I call this phenomenon "Exercise Induced Amnesia".

Now, here's a handy and FREE tip for you: when this happens go back to the gym and do the exact same workout and your muscles will quite happily advise which moves you are doing that impact them. They do this with a subtle and scientific method called HURTING LIKE HELL WHEN YOU MOVE.

If you need me I'll just be over here whimpering.
 
 
My husband loves the San Francisco Giants. He rarely misses a game (attending live when he can, watching on tv or listening on the radio when he can't). He has a flock (herd, slew, crew) of Giants bobbleheads including ones featuring Jon Miller, Mike Krukow and Duane Kuiper. He owns enough Giants related clothing that he can do an entire load of orange. A San Francisco Giants World Series Champions 2010 banner currently hangs above our fireplace and even I dare not question its presence because THE GIANTS WON THE WORLD SERIES and all is right with the world.
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Today I noticed he had posted THIS photo on his Facebook page saying, "September 1, 2000 and November 1, 2010....heh, heh...I'm gonna get in trouble for this." See, September 1, 2000 is when we got married and November 1, 2010 is (obviously) the date the Giants won the World Series. And my husband, who I had to CONVINCE to even WEAR a wedding band, now has willingly purchased a ring commemorating his beloved Giants.

And am I mad? Jealous? Furious?

No. No, I am not. Because the Giants have something for everyone, and if my husband wants to wear a World Series ring on his wedding ring finger then he can never, ever question my deep and abiding love of Brian Wilson.

 
Happy, happy day 05/08/2011
 
I had a lovely Mother's Day today. I got to sleep in and then my boys greeted me with flowers, breakfast, a card and a gift.


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And THEN my husband saw me hunched over my laptop drooling for one of these amazing Epiphanie bags and told me that it was REASONABLY PRICED and that I should get one. I wasted no time in placing an order for the Belle in red. (Even though it might clash with this gorgeous new neck strap I just ordered.)

The only thing I find myself still wishing for tonight is a three day weekend.
 
 
I'm a Project Manager by profession. It's not a bad gig. It's challenging but not TOO challenging, the pay is good, my boss is awesome. But, let's face it, as a child I did not profess to want to be a Project Manager when adults asked me what I wanted to BE when I grew up.

And so I present to you "An Alphabetical List of Jobs I Have Considered In My Lifetime". This list is NOT comprehensive but, Lord love a duck, it is entirely true.

Aquatic Scientist
Botanist
Cartoonist
Disc Jockey (DJ)*
Exotic Dancer
Flower Arranger**
Go-Go Dancer
Hula Hoop Champion
Interpreter
Journalist***
K - I can't think of any careers that start with k. Killer? Kinesiologist? Kitten cuddler? Kangaroo Handler? They all sound like they might involve quite a lot more poo than I'm willing to deal with.
Lion Tamer
Musician
Novelist
Office Worker ****
Phone Sex Operator *****
Queen******
Real Estate Agent
Social Worker
Technical Writer
U - Again, I am failing to come up with something here. Umbrella Maker? Unarmed Security Guard? Both are probably more dangerous than they sound.
V- Veterinarian
W- Web Designer
X - I am pretty sure X-Ray Technician is the ONLY job in the world that starts with X. Am I wrong? Is there such a thing as a Xeroscopist or something? A Xeroxer? I do not want to do any of these things so let's move on.
Y - Young Adult Author (as in writing books FOR young adults, not being a young adult who writes books)-
Z - Zoologist

*I actually was a DJ in the 90's. For a short bit I did a very cheesy love song request and dedication show.  It was every bit as AWESOME as you are imagining. Yes, tapes exist. No, you can't hear them. (Ok, maybe YOU can. But not you.)

**Another one I actually did. If by "did" you will accept one day of training during which I proved to be woefully inept at arranging flowers. My color vision is not good and I also apparently lack "any creative vision" according to the shriveled old lady who attempted to train me.

***Yep, did it. Loved it. Started in college and continued until the late 90's. My career started out with winning awards in college for my coverage of a bank explosion and for my coverage of the war in Iraq and then later ended with me getting fired from my position as an Assignments Editor at a tv station. I was strictly radio from then on out.

****The surprise with this one isn't that I did it (did and still do), it's that I WANTED to do it. Seriously. After years of working in childcare and then radio and television (which sometimes are not THAT different from childcare) I wanted to sit in a cubicle. It seemed so grown up.

*****See? I told you I didn't say "Project Manager". Also, did you skip straight to this one? If you did then you are a dirty, dirty bird. Maybe YOU should look into a career in phone sex. The pay is great. Um...I hear.  Don't know how to get started? Try Craig's List. I'm guessing.

******To be fair, when I wanted to be Queen I did not understand that it wasn't really a job you could just go and get.


 
 
6:30 PM: I leave the house, looking forward to the workout. My shoes feel funny. Why do my shoes feel funny?
6:45 PM: Arrive at the gym. Park as far away as possible because then I'll WALK more and walking more means burning more calories. Yay, me!
7:00 PM: Oh, yeah! Here we go! Gonna work out! I'm READY! Woooo! My shoes still feel funny, though. Whey do my shoes feel funny?
7:01 PM to about 7:20 PM: I LOVE TO WORK OUT! I DO! I LOVE IT!
7:21 PM: Oh, God. I can't breath. I think I may be dying. And my shoes feel funny!!!! DAMN SHOES!!!! Am I getting a blister? CRAMP. Ow. This hurts. Make it stop.
7:22 PM to about 7:25 PM: THIS SONG! Oh, I LOVE THIS SONG!!!! YEAH!!!!!! I TOTALLY KNOW WHAT I AM DOING! I AM AWESOME AT THIS!!!!!!!
7:25 PM: What the hell song is this? I don't know this song? What is she??? How???? What? Where does my foot go? I don't think my body will move that way. Why is "Disco Duck" in my head? Oh, man. I suck at this. I have no idea what I'm doing. Just....um...ok, shake it this way and then I'll just...yeah. Whatever....just keep moving. NOT into the person next to you. Careful...."Disco....disco duck." I seriously look like a duck right now. Do not look in the mirror. Do NOT look in the mirror. I'm a DUCK! No...ducks are less....well, they don't really flail this much, do they? I've never seen a ducks arms pinwheel so awkwardly. Ok, wings, whatever.
7:26 PM to 7:40 PM: Ok, I'm ok. I'm doing this. I! AM! DOING! THIS! Yeah, I WILL shake "what my momma gave me". Is it normal for someone to sweat this much? Am I having a heart attack? I will be SO pissed if I have a heart attack right now. Oh, no....I just had to burp. I'm ok. At least I've forgotten about my shoes....oh, dammit!!!!!
7:40 PM: ADRENALINE RUSH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
7:41 PM to 7:55 PM: I COULD DO THIS FOREVER! I HAVE NEVER FELT SO AWESOME!!!!!! Am I even WEARING shoes right now? WHO CARES??? WOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!
7:56 PM to 8:00 PM: What? Cool down? No. NO! No cool down. Let's just keep going. Come ON! Let's just...damn. Fine. Ok....cooling down.
8:00 PM to 8:05ish PM: Why, oh why did I park my car sooooooo far away? My legs don't work anymore and I can't feel my feet.
The rest of the evening: Ouch. Oh, ouch. I didn't even know I had a muscle there. Ouch. I need more water. Can someone bring me more water? Because I think I'm just going to sit here until my ass grows into the couch.

Shower, rinse, repeat!

 
 
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"HOBBY/ˈhɒbi/ [hob-ee]–noun, plural -bies. 1.an activity or interest pursued for pleasure or relaxation and not as a main occupation: Her hobbies include stamp-collecting and woodcarving."

I've never really had a hobby before. When filling out any sort of "tell me about yourself" paperwork and it got to that section I was flummoxed. I mean, really, what could I say? "Reading, breathing in and out, trying not to be accidentally killed in violent and bizarre ways, baking." It's not that I didn't TRY to have a hobby. I once taught myself to knit but it turned into a carnival of errors featuring three rings of failure (IT'S JUST WRONG, THESE STITCHES ARE TIGHTER THAN, and THIS IS MORE STRESS THAN IT'S WORTH).

But when I met my husband (before he was my husband, of course) I became interested in photography because HE was interested in photography. Not only was he interested, he was really, REALLY good at it. I? Was not. Sometimes I would show him a picture I had taken and he would say, "What exactly were you LOOKING at when you took this." You know, in a voice hinting that he thought I had been distracted by a seagull flying overhead rather than focusing on taking a photograph.

Once I got my first digital camera things starting looking up. I could take HUNDREDS of horrible pictures that slowly turned into "Meh." pictures that slowly turned into not bad pictures and now I'm getting much better at this hobby of mine.

I actually opened an Etsy shop which feels a little bit dirty and embarrassing (like what I would imagine being caught masturbating on a city bus might feel like) but I did it anyway. I don't really know what will come of it....maybe nothing at all. And, really, I'm ok with that because  I am a still proud of myself for taking this leap of faith and believing in myself.





 
New Beginnings 04/11/2011
 
It's been a long time since I've blogged and I've missed it. So many times there's been something I've wanted to write about and I excused it away saying I had nowhere to put it when, really, the truth is that I've been doubting my words as well as my capability to express them in writing. The old blog crashed, I don't know how to fix it, I don't know how to create a new one, I can't afford to have someone else create it for me, blah, blah, blah, excuses, excuses.

Enough.

My favorite aunt used to say to me, "Bloom where you are planted." Often you cannot choose the path life leads you down. Frequently you look around and wonder how you got here. Many times it is not where you'd hoped you'd be. That's ok, though. You can still stretch deep into your ground and set your roots to soak up every nutrient, stretch wide your mind and heart and collect every sunbeam. Bloom, blossom, be.