27 April 2013

Today is someone's 52nd birthday, and while I remembered to pick up a cake mix this week, I didn't have quite enough vegetable oil on hand (aside: because I made chocolate chip muffins last night so he would have something nice for breakfast when he got home...all I had on hand to make them in were some silicon muffin cups I bought probably 5 years ago and never used, and let me tell you, I'll never make muffins in paper cups again.) So I headed to Walmart before heading to Starbucks, and as I am wont to do, I wandered up and down a couple of aisles, trying to trigger any what-else-do-I-need notions.

There was a woman shopping with her little boy; I'm guessing he was about four years old. He walked next to her, so damned happy he was practically glowing, and he clutched a package of cookies at his chest. I passed them twice, and twice I head him ask, "I'm being good, right, Mommy?"

She assured him he was.

I wound up in the self-serve line behind them; she only had about 6 things, fruits, vegetables, milk, a loaf of bread. And the cookies. The cookies went across the scanner first and were set on the scale, and he bounced on his toes while Mommy scanned everything else.

And then she froze for a moment, her debit card in hand; he shoulders went a touch slack and she sucked in a breath, glance at her little boy, and back at the screen.

When she knelt down to get at his eye level, I knew what was coming. I braced for the temper tantrum. She didn't have enough; something had to be put back, and it needed to be the cookies.

He didn't scream. He didn't throw a fit. His lower lip went out just a little and his eyes flooded with tears, and I damn near wanted to cry right along with him.

"But you said if I was good today I could get some cookies. I was good, right?"

She promised him he was a very good boy, always a very good boy, but she didn't have enough money to buy both the food they needed and the cookies. And she tossed him the parental bone: maybe on payday.

Those tears spilled over his cheeks and as young as he is, I'm sure he's heard that before and felt the sting of how maybe tends to evaporate into thin air.

It's really not about the cookies...
In a fraction of a second, I felt the weight of nearly every parental bone I had ever thrown, so many times I said maybe next time. Far too many instances of when I said that instead of just being honest with the Boy and telling him no, because we frankly didn't have the money.

Parental bones are splintered with the guilt of not having guts, and they prick at you for decades.

I'm not going to say exactly what I did, but I will tell you this: when they left, he was happy, and the guy behind me and the lady to my right both had cash in hand and were stepping toward the little boy.

He wasn't leaving without those cookies.

I'm pretty sure that by the time they got home the chocolate chips in them were a little melted, and a few cookies were cracked and crumbled from being held so tightly. But I bet they tasted sweet, enough to tide him over to the next inevitable maybe.


26 April 2013

I don’t think my brain has come back from vacation yet. Sure, we left Vegas 21 days ago, but I haven’t been able to actively engage in much work since then. I have at least 3 different project simmering, and that back burner is starting to look a bit crowded. I’m blog-blocked; face it, the most inspired thing I’ve done all week was to post some funny-to-me GIF images. I don’t think I’ve even posted a real Facebook status update in a week; lots of pictures posted and some check-ins, but a status? Don’t think so.

Right now I’m sitting in Starbucks with Facebook open behind MS Word—because that’s how I work—and even though the couple of manuscripts I’ve tinkered with over the last year or so have good starts, nothing worthwhile is coming to me. I often sit here and hope that things I overhear make something in my brain click, but today is a quiet day at the ‘Bucks. Lots of people, but most of them are here alone and even the people who are obviously here together aren’t really talking. They’re studying or reading or working on laptops with lit-up little apples on the lids.

If you Google Q-tip, this guy pops up
Plus, today’s music kind of sucks. Ok, not kind of. It blows donkey balls. It’s bad enough to make me wish that whatever is wrong with my brain that makes it impossible to hear on a phone was making it impossible to hear the dreck seeping through the speakers. Bad enough that if I had a giant Q-tip, I might stab my brain right through my right ear. Bad enough that I would prefer cringing my way through the Spouse Thingy’s country music.

Folks, when I would prefer country music, you know whatever is playing is truly, deeply, awfully, wickedly horrible.

I may also be a little distracted by the guy at the table next to me; I can see in my peripheral vision that he keeps looking over and staring at me. He’s either enthralled by the fact that the 50+ year old woman next to him really needs to shave, or he’s totally digging on one of my chins.

Or maybe it’s the goosebumps. I should have brought a sweatshirt in with me.

And here we have it. Four hundred words about not having anything to write about. And hell yes, I counted them. Twice. Sort of. Maybe.


21 April 2013

Didn't see that coming...
Instead of poking through the 429 emails that are simmering in my inbox--seriously, that many, mostly spam I'm sure but I have to poke through to find out--I think I'll just sit here and watch that poor penguin and his soccer ball.

Or this.

Or this poor guy.



16 April 2013

Here’s my candidate for Obvious Statement of the Year: Yesterday, it kind of sucked.

I got up, a little earlier than usual, turned on the TV because that’s just what I do in the morning, and flipped it to the local news. First story: a double homicide in Davis, which is about 10 miles from here. Some assmunch killed a couple of elderly people, God only knows why. Second story: motorcyclist hit a school bus and died. They didn’t know why. It could have been inattention, could have been the light blinding the rider; maybe he sneezed and lost control. Doesn’t really matter; he’s gone.

I’d been awake for all of fifteen minutes, and the news of the day had already tinged the color of the glasses through which I was looking at the day. Fifteen minutes into my day and I was already thinking about lost souls, and feeling for the people who loved them, left behind and wondering why.

The TV stayed on, droning in the background as I checked email, read the comics online, poked about Facebook. One news program ended, I changed the channel and waited for the next, knowing what the stop stories would be. I surfed Fark, then opened a manuscript I’ve been playing with, and ignored the TV while I worked; I was waiting for a weather report, just wanting to hear when the predicted horrible winds were supposed to hit.

I only half listened to the beginning of the noon news, because I knew what they would be talking about. I kept a sliver of attention on it, wondering if they had anything new to say—they didn’t—and waited for the weather guy.

From ABC News
Then ten minutes into the news, someone tried to blow up the Boston Marathon, and all I could do was sit there and watch, all while keeping Facebook running on my laptop.

There really is something cathartic about being able to connect with dozens of other people while something so big unfolds. I think the reality of how social media can keep us connected during crisis really occurred to me during the Japanese Tsunami a couple years ago, and it was only reaffirmed yesterday.

What really stuck out to me was how the major online players stepped up to help in ways they could. Google reactivated their People Finder. became a helpline for runners stuck in Boston, as locals posted info about space they had in their homes, beds open to whomever needed one.

It reminded me a bit of the 1997 flooding in Grand Forks, ND, when news anchors stayed on the air, sandbagged into their newsroom, reading off names and phone numbers of people unaffected by the flood, who had safe places and were willing to take people in for however long needed.

We’re more connected now; in 1997 you really needed access to a TV to get that information. Today, you only needed a cell phone with Internet access.

Hell, in 2001, 9/11, the news was coated in the agony of people looking for loved ones, with little way of finding them easily. Yesterday text messages flew fast: I’m fine, we’re fine, we’re out of the area, we’re on our way home.

We’re now connected in ways we probably couldn’t have conceived of just a decade ago. Sometimes it’s annoying—there are times when we just want to shut down and not be available—but times like these, it’s like holding an electronic miracle in your hand.

That didn’t diminish the horror of what happened; with so many unanswered questions, nothing can. Three people, including a child, are dead and hundreds of others were hurt, many critically.

Nothing diminishes that.

But being able to touch base with other people, having others to talk to while the horror unfolded…it helped. And I’m sure I’m not the only one who felt like that. I’m sure I’m not the only one who remembered sitting there glued to the TV during the aftermath of 9/11, trying to digest what had happened and wondering what there was that could be done; we had online access, but nothing like we have now. I’m sure I’m not the only one who sat there yesterday, watching, worrying, and feeling grateful that connecting with other people, talking to other people, was as simple as holding a laptop and going to Facebook or Twitter.

After the Spouse Thingy got up and was awake enough, I set the laptop aside, we turned off the TV, and headed out to engage in a bit of real life. News coverage would be there later; I needed a breather from it and from Facebook. My bike has been a bit bitchy lately, and we wanted to take it over to a safe road by Walmart so that I could run it, rev it high (and not bug anyone), and while we were at it, play with a new camera.

After we decided the Bike was running fine and we’d gotten a few pictures, we rode over to Denny’s for an early dinner.

Dinner at Denny’s just what we do on Mondays. Our favorite server works then, so it’s become a thing.

After 9/11 I think I felt a little guilty about engaging in real life for a while; after all, other than some pretty heavy security at the air force base on which we lived, I wasn’t personally, in-my-face, impacted by it. It felt wrong being able to get back to things so fast, when so many people across the country were never going to get back to normal. Not ever.

Lately, though…I think I’ve come to understand that normal has to go on.

Connecting with people online in the face of horror, that’s a new normal.

Soaking in the news, that’s normal.

Going out for a burger on the day you typically go out, that’s normal.

Normal HAS to win.

This is normal. Right?


12 April 2013

Odds-n-Endz #8765,455.176b/23d3f
  • Today was my annual appointment with my endocrinologist…last night I was chewing myself out for having made it for 9 a.m., because I am NOT a morning person, and having to get up at 7:30? It burns. So when I was making the appointment for next year, what did I do? Yep. I haz teh Stoopid.
  • The endo doc I used to see at the air force base was a decent enough doc, but he would throw drugs at me on request (not the fun ones, just the ones I need to stay alive) and didn’t really do much follow up, because I’d had these issues for years and knew what I was doing. This doc? She listens, but she doesn’t just toss them at me. And I think I appreciate that a whole lot more. I needed a dose adjustment on my DDAVP because I’ve been having breakthrough on it way too early in the day most of the time. She agreed to up the dose, as long as I agreed to get a follow-up blood test in two weeks to make sure I wasn’t screwing up my perfectly balanced electrolytes. Going up there will be a PITA, but at least she’s paying attention.
  • I headed to Starbucks after the appointment. I am sitting next to a guy that smells like vinegar. It’s actually not unpleasant. But now I want pickles.
  • Max has apparently forgiven me for abandoning him for four days…last night he plopped down onto my lap and stayed there for three hours. Even when I had to get up to pee, he waited for me to come back and jumped back up. He also spent some time petting my face and staring at me like he was memorizing my face. It freaks me out when he does that, because I always worry that he’s trying to tell me something I don’t want to know.
  • This morning he got all pissy because the Spouse Thingy closed the bedroom door when he went to bed, which meant His Highness could not nap in the closet, which he’s been doing this past week. There are a dozen other good nap spots for him to choose from, but no…he wanted that closet.
  • It just occurred to me that there’s no music playing in the ‘Bux today. I find this both oddly disquieting and enjoyable. On one hand, I want some music; on the other, I’m not being subjected to the same 40’s-era song over and over. On the third hand…it just seems a little wrong to not have the music playing.
  • It’s so nice out, I may have to abandon any pretentions of getting work done, and go home to get my Trikke. Today is just begging for me to go outside and play.
  • On the other hand, if I sit here long enough, it will be lunch time, and I can use it as an excuse to go across the street and get pizza.
  • Vinegar dude has left the building. He shall be missed.
  • Why are sleeveless hooded sweatshirts so hard to find? Doesn’t anyone else have my sharp sense of style?
  • Fine. The Trikke is going to win, even though I really want pizza now. And pickles. But not together…

    Here is a cute kitten. Just because.


9 April 2013

I think most moms will understand: I could not bear to go watch my son jump out of an airplane. Logically, I knew he would be fine; the place he picked for his first jump has been in business for over 20 years and has a Zero Death Rate.  It wasn't one of those places tucked into the middle of nowhere, a place where tandem jumps are done only once or twice a week. They run jumps all day long, every day. They have the experience and a stellar reputation, so I felt as good about it as I could.

But I couldn't watch. I couldn't go and sit there and not only subject myself to increasing degrees of misery as he went through all the important preparations to make that jump, I couldn't subject him to his mother melting into a giant pile of please-don't-do-this goo. If he backed out, it had to be because he wasn't ready, not because he wanted to spare me anything.

I knew he wouldn't back out, but moreover, I really wanted this for him. I understood why he wanted to jump out of an airplane; it probably isn't all that different from why I wanted to learn to ride a motorcycle, and why I still love it.

It's a hypocritical kind of thing; there are risks I'm willing to take, but that doesn't mean I want my son to take them.

It does mean I get it, though.


I sat in the hotel room and waited; his dad, on the other hand, went. I don't think it's a gender thing; I suspect there was a huge part of him that both didn't want to see his son take that jump and a huge part that did. He was simply able to shove down the agony side and enjoy the fact that his son was doing this.

It was a huge jump into turning 30.

And let's be honest: life just starts getting good when you turn 30. You're over your teen angst, you've gotten through the final frontal-lobe developing thing in your 20s, and you're settling into who you really are. You have a better grasp of who you want to be. You can look at life and not feel like you're trying to grab things out of reach; you look at it and realize that the things you can't quite reach, you'll get to. There's always a way.

And there's joy; just in the simple act of being alive, there's joy.

While I sat there and waited, I was fully engaged online, getting updates from the Spouse Thingy on Facebook. I couldn't be there, but I could follow along. I was simply overjoyed that my son was doing something huge for a milestone birthday. I was simply overjoyed that he made it to 30. And he'll probably live a very long life, hopefully as happy as mine as been.

While I was on Facebook, allowing myself to run the full gambit of emotions that swirl around having a kid turning 30 and doing something so big, I also got a cold smack in the face: an icon in the 3 Day community--someone I asked you guys to go read about, to burn into your brains--was in the very last days of her life. Back in December, she asked everyone to let her go; she'd fought hard for far too many years, and was ready to take what time she had left for herself and her family.

She did not want to be forgotten.

She had a goal, to make it to her 30th birthday. That doesn't seem like too much to ask for, after battling cancer for 7 years, making to it 30 seems like something reasonable. But her birthday was months off, and she had only hours left, days if we were lucky.

Selfishly, I think most who were aware of her wanted just the idea that she was still in this world, even for a few more days.

The enormity wasn't lost on me. My son was jumping into 30; Bridget Spence was fading from it. I still have all the light and joy that comes with knowing my child, adult as he is, is fine; Bridget's mother is suffering the agony of a loss no parent should face.

I enjoyed the flood of relief that came with finding out the Boy had made the jump and had both feet safely on the ground; I embraced the enormity of what he had done, and the idea that he would certainly do it again. I spent his birthday feeling every degree of grateful that I could; I checked Facebook off and on for the next couple of days, waiting for news I did not want, all while celebrating that we have this incredible young man in our lives, that he's ours, and that he turned into one heck of a good person.

Bridget died on April 4th. On her own terms.

My heart breaks not only for the 3 Day family, for whom she was an enormously bright light, and for her husband, but especially for her mother. I don't think there's any coming back from losing your child, no matter how old.

Today was her funeral, and hundreds, if not thousands, of 3 Dayers wore pearls in her honor. Lacking that, I wore my pink 3 Day t-shirt. I don't pretend it makes any difference; no one who saw me had a clue why. I don't think I even mentioned why to the Spouse Thingy. And I didn't do it for all the reasons one might suppose.

While it was in honor of Bridget and her fight, it was also for her mother, whose child didn't get to hit the milestone mine did.

I am so, so grateful that I have my son, and that he took that leap. I know Bridget's mother--even though I've never spoken to her nor is it likely I ever will--is deeply proud of her, as much as I am of the Boy.

We both raised good people. How could she not be proud?

By now, Bridget Spence has been laid to rest, but she's still very much on everyone's mind. And she will be tomorrow, and the day after.

We promised her we would not forget her.


6 April 2013

No I've barely been able to blink, so tired and feeling beat up that all I really wanted to do was curl up and watch TV. After a quick trip to the grocery store I did just that, and Max snuggled up in bed with me to watch some Doctor Who. He was pretty annoyed with me yesterday, but I think he's forgiven me now for being gone. Or for the Grandma leaving. I'm not really sure what he was most upset about.

But the trip--that was a whole lot of fun. I went through the pictures we took and realized 95% of them were of the Bellagio Fountains...for some reason the camera remained in the backpack and we just didn't take many.

When we decided on this trip, a vacation to celebrate the Boy's 30th birthday--which had to be done right because you only turn 30 once and it's a milestone and I'm all about the milestone moments--it was agreed that we wouldn't cheap out and stay at the so-so hotel and we would eat mostly decent food instead of 90% fast food. We would get rooms with a view and eat what we really wanted and the Boy would literally jump into his 30s by diving out of a perfectly good plane.

Part of the room the Spouse Thingy & I was HUGE. And the bathoom was WHOA AWESOME!
He loves the Bellagio and plays poker there any time he goes through Vegas, so we reserved two semi-suites with views of the fountains, and it was just a bonus that I made the reservations on apparently the perfect day, because I got them at an Oh-Hell-Yes price. And they needed the Boy's name and birth date for his room--mostly, I think, to prove he was over 21--and I didn't think anything about it.

When we checked in, they had two rooms available: one was the Salon Suite I had reserved, and the other, the one they had for Curt, was not.

No, they put him in a room that did not have a fountain view.

They put him in this:

The Boy's "room"
He was upgraded to a full suite with a king sized bed, dining area, living area, bar, two bathrooms, and more amenities than I could count, I think because of his birthday. It was almost the size of our entire house.

For some reason, he was not upset at the lack of a fountain view.

But the view from our room...I loved the view, especially at night.

All in all, we had a great time. There was a lot of walking--roughly 8.5 miles a day--and we saw two of the Cirque du Soleil shows, "KA" and "O." They were both terrific, but I have to give "O" more points; of the three we've seen now, LOVE is still my favorite, with "O" a close second and "KA" seriously close behind.

I think we had every dinner in the Bellagio Cafe--they owe me a free dessert or something for putting out a fire at the table behind us. Seriously...the people who had been there just tossed their napkins on the table, as people are wont to do, and one landed on a candle. When the Spouse Thingy's eyes went wide and he started saying something, I turned around to look, and sure enough, fire. I got up and dumped a glass of water on it. That makes me a damned hero, right? SAY YES, DAMMIT!

Staying there kind of spoiled us for any hotel we may ever stay at. It for sure makes the one we stayed in last year look like a total dump.

I'll need another day or two to recover, but so far I haven't gotten sick, which is what I seem to do any time I go somewhere like this. Knock on wood. I think the Boy had a terrific birthday--crossed a major thing off his bucket list and he wants to do it again, played a lot of poker and not badly, drank A LOT of scotch--and we enjoyed the hell out of it all.

My goal now is to see every Cirque show. I better win the lottery, because I sure as hell didn't win anything on the freaking slot machines...


5 April 2013

I think he had a good birthday...helluva way to jump into your 30s.

And this just looks like complete contentment

(I did not go watch...I could not make myself.)

We had a great time in Vegas... but I am so wiped out that's about all I can manage about it for now. Suffice to say, we didn't not win twenty million dollars. Dammit.