Posts Tagged ‘love’

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Facebook: Family Losses and Gains

October 30, 2012

During the time that I was doing a lot of traveling for work, others in my life were dealing with major issues. Arresting issues.  Issues that made me stop in the airport, while trying to run between connections, and find the wall to support myself to breathe and to cry. And to cry.

First:

Last spring, I was thrown off by a facebook post by an old friend from high school (we’re the class of 1990, FYI) where she said that she took her oldest son (approx 2 years older than Em – i.e., 17 yo) to the doctor for what they saw as Swimmer’s Ear.

The Swimmer’s Ear was treated, the doctor asked extra questions, the son said he’d been feeling off.  The doctor ordered tests.

Leukemia.

Just . . . inconceivable.

My high school classmate shared her journey via a facebook page from the start.  There was a point where I told a local friend about the page and she thought “so public! that can’t be right!” and I said, “no, she is doing this so well, doing such a good job.”  And it’s true.

The journey was long, and it wasn’t easy.  There were 4 rounds of chemo, each one 29 days.  After the third, he was cancer-free.  It was amazing.  He was a fighter, he was amazing.  There were so many stories of his strength, his perseverance, his grace.

Despite the remission, he needed the 4th round to ensure that the cancer was truly gone.

I don’t know for sure how far in, but it felt like a very little bit into the 4th round, Tucker started to have some medical issues.  Not cancer-related, but infections and fevers and nausea.

it didn’t stop.  Time was odd to me, as an observer.  I’m not sure I realized, as I had trials and arbitrations and hearings and deadlines and briefs, that 6 weeks had passed, and Tucker was still in the ICU.

I think it was October 8, maybe the 9th.  It was around the Columbus Day when I was walking through the airport and received the news that Tucker didn’t make it.

I sobbed.  I was in the airport in my suit with my fancy lawyer-rolling bag, and I just stopped walking and I just cried.

I still cry.  At first it was every day.  Now it’s at least once a week.

It’s just . . . he went in for swimmer’s ear.  He was vibrant, he was connected, he was talented.

I have a couple of those.

And my classmate!  A mom.  She was so close with her son, so dedicated.  So – in love.

It hurt so much.  For them so much more than the tiny trickle down that hurt me, and honestly?  It hurt me a lot.  My classmate and her family are continuing with their amazing attitudes and their love of Tucker.  But without curling up in a ball and becoming absent from life.  I can’t imagine resisting that temptation.

I remain devastated.

Second:

I have another high school classmate.  We became friends after I had a social upheaval in my junior year, and she was just so very accepting and kind.  So widely beloved, and just an amazing person.

It was fun to reconnect with her on Facebook.  I think we both had fun.  We played games and traded witty comments.

She went to Ethiopia.  I think two years ago.  She worked in orphanages.

This year, she shared that she was adopting a baby she met in the orphanage.  The baby was wee when she met her in 2010 (I think), but continued to grow as my friend went through the application process.  She made the situation public this summer, just before she was heading to pass court in Ethiopia.  She was adopting this baby-girl.

I watched the process through a trip to see the baby-girl, seeing the baby-girl’s ambivalence at these near-strangers {i.e., parents} who had traveled oh-so-far to spend time with her.

I think that trip was in August. And then came a waiting-game.  It was so painful.  To watch my friend prep her daughter’s room, to buy her daughter clothes, to see her other children (ages 7 through 13, I think) prepare for their sister’s arrival (and conduct amazing, fantastic, effective fundraisers to help pay for the airfare to fetch their baby-sister) – but yet have to wait.  And wait.  And wait.  For the ok.  For the passport.  For the medical exam.  And the baby-girl’s 3rd birthday (3rd birthday!!) was approaching.  But the waiting continued.

She’s there.  Right now.  The baby-girl is coming home.

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I cry a lot, lately.  Some is sad, some is happy.  But I just feel like there’s so much going on.  I just — I just love.  And I want to find more ways to let people know that.  The people who are in my immediate life, and in my extended life.

 

 

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Flashbacks – vol. 1

May 25, 2011

Mouse’s birthday yesterday combined with a lull in work brought me to some huge photo-organizing and cataloging efforts. I scanned hundreds of photos, and uploaded thousands onto flickr. Today, I am going through Flickr and purging/consolidating, in the way I imagine most people do as they go. For now, though, I’m just grateful that we have as much photographic evidence as we do. Of the girls’ entire childhoods, of trips taken, of homes lived in.

I do not have a good memory. I really don’t know why, but either do my siblings. I remember snapshots here and there of every phase of my life, but not an entire narrative. So looking at these old, old photos is very rewarding. It brings it all back, in a way my brain doesn’t do on its own.

Some of the photos jut make me smile – oh, remember when Lemon used to make that face? Oh, there is Mouse’s favorite pillow – the one she loved so much, so intently, so constantly, that it literally disintegrated as the years went on. We* had to cut it down twice, and eventually removed all the stuffing, and she slept with a scrap of material from the pillow cover. She fell in love with the pillow when she was an infant, and it was finally retired when she was 6. So it had a good run.

Here she is, sitting on it when it was still full size. She was about 3 here. It was with her (in the house) at all times. (also pictured, my nephew.)

It’s fun to have a picture bring so much rushing back.

Here’s another:

That’s me. Years & years ago (we think summer of 2004, but 2003 is possible). A couple (ha ha ha) pounds thinner, and with henna in my long, hippie hair.

WD and I had been camping a good bit at this point. Some with the girls, but mostly without, while they were with the Ex. California was good for that – camping was always an option, and in such fantastic settings.

Once we got all set with car camping gear, we decided to try backpacking. We purchased a 2 man tent, a couple of backpacking sleeping bags, and set out to find a destination.

We didn’t want to go too far, because I’d never done it before. So we looked around the bay area, and settled on Angel Island. A very small island in the middle of the bay.

But, see, I remembered that. What this picture reminds me of is a whole phase of WD and my relationship.

I am sitting on that wall, sipping a Starbucks cup. That Starbucks coffee was a very hard-fought battle.

WD does not drink coffee. When we first started dating, he used to give me a very hard time about drinking coffee. At the time, I think I was drinking 2 cups a day. Morning and afternoon.

And he thought it was unhealthy and inconvenient. Giving him the benefit of the doubt, I think he mostly thought it was unhealthy. But that day, he was pretty pissy that I was insisting on stopping before we got on the ferry (no, Angel Island does not have a Starbucks).

Seeing this photo, and me with my coffee, I do not dwell on the pissyness. I think about how it’s changed. How that was a “thing” for us (and truly a minor thing, of course).

Probably soon after that, he got over it. Instead of being frustrated that I had to stop for coffee (or suffer the headache later), he just accounts for the time. He no longer offers caffeine as the reason for every ailment I may come across (weight gain? Give up caffeine. Insomnia? Caffeine. Trouble waking up in the morning? Caffeine. Menstrual cramps? It’s the caffeine!!). He found drinks he enjoys while I sip my coffee. He’s bought me coffee pots (2; most recently my adored Keurig).

Of course, I am sure to point out to him every. single. study. that comes out touting the benefits of coffee/caffeine.

That trip to Angel Island was awesome. Take a peek:

*At this stage of my life, “we” always refers to my sister and I.  We had both recently become single mothers, me of 2, and she of 1, and we essentially combined our households for a year or two.  I went to work, she stayed home and took care of the kids.  If Mouse got sick at school, my sister would go and pick her up.  When we needed to mend clothes or make some curtains – her job.  When we had to cut pillows down so the torn covering would actually enclose the foam stuffing – her job. Over and over again.  I think it was late 2003 or early 2004 when she moved into her own apartment (across the street), and then soon after, I returned to the East Coast.  But that partnership is definitely one of my favorite pieces of my past.

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My Valentine’s Day Resolution

February 15, 2011

One thing I have always loved about my beloved Writer Dude – going back to the days that we were only friends and dating wasn’t on the table – is his self-sufficiency.  Especially in the kitchen, but also with most household tasks.  Laundry, repairing broken items, building items, interior design …. you name it.  Couple that with his complete lack of sexism (COMPLETE lack), and it you have one very equal partner.  But then, if you couple that with a wife who maybe – just maybe – drops her part of the bargain, and you have an unequal partnership.  Which is bad.  Hence my Valentine’s Day Resolution.

My first marriage was to someone who was raised in a very conservative Christian home.  The wife’s job was to respect and honor her husband.  His mother used to wake up at 5 a.m. to make her husband (my ex’s step-father) a full breakfast before he went off to work.  His church (and mine) preached the importance of a submissive wife, and both cultures supported the wife taking care of the children and the home while the man … I don’t know.  Did manly things.

That did not work for me.

The first reason it didn’t work for me is because — cleaning.  Ick.  Cooking.  Bleh.  I’m really not very good at those things.  As I’ve made very clear.

The second reason it didn’t work is because – well – it’s unfair.  It’s disrespectful.  It’s WRONG.  Also, because the ex was in grad school the whole time we were married, I had no choice but to work so that we could do things like … eat.  And buy diapers.  Stuff like that.   But the fact that I was doing this “manly thing” such as “bringing home the bacon” didn’t change the fact that cooking, cleaning and tending to children’s needs was beneath him.

When WD and I were dating, I was thrilled to be sharing recipes, talking about cooking ideas, etc.  There were times that I would make pizza dough, and then he’d come over with the toppings and we’d cook and eat the pizzas.  That was fun.

Then we became a family, and I started law school.  We started out taking turns cooking, and taking turns shopping.  But school was intense, and even though WD was working full-time and battling the train and commute hours, etc., he slowly started taking on more and more of the cooking.  He would get up early before work and prep a marinade, or fill the crock pot, rush home to finish up and get dinner on the table.  [Yes, he is, in fact, Prince Charming.]

Our rule back then was what I think is a typical one – one person cooks, the other cleans.  And I did a really shitty job, and he’d get irritated with me when he woke up the next morning to prep the night’s dinner, but the things he needed were still “soaking” from the night before.

And at the same time, as he took over lion’s share of the cooking, it stopped making sense for me to do the shopping.  I would get the wrong things.  Make substitutions that didn’t work.  It wasn’t the smoothest thing in the world.

So the shopping became “his.”

I recognized, at that point, the inequity, and in an attempt to balance things out, I said, “okay, I will do your laundry.” Because up until that point, I did my laundry and the girls’ laundry, and he did his own.  He squirmed at the thought of having me do his chores, but I convinced him that because of the way things evolved in the kitchen, it was  – actually – fair.

But somewhere along the way, I stopped cleaning the kitchen after dinner entirely.  It just stopped being my job.  I think he declared it in a huff, and I’m sure there was resentment behind it.  But by that point, I’d started working, and my hours were long, and we’d shifted the work/home balance so that he was not working outside the home, and it seemed relatively fair.

It also seemed relatively fair because this husband of mine … he is picky.  He has a way that he likes things done, and to him, it is the right way.  It is not ‘a good way.’  It is the way.  The only way.  So even when I was putting forth a solid effort, he was less than thrilled with the way that I loaded the dishwasher, or dried the bowls, or put soap on something that he didn’t think should ever be touched by soap, or put a wooden spoon in the dishwasher, or whatever else he had an idea about.

Then  –  yes, more little stepping-stones of imbalance – I stopped doing his laundry.  Again, work, and the hours and oh my!  His laundry kept getting put off and he’d run out of underwear, and after a few months of giving me very sweet and respectful hints (that was not sarcasm), he just started doing it himself.

Somewhere around the end of 2010, start of 2011, WD has been expressing some frustration at how much people leave for him to take care of.  Initially, I didn’t take it too seriously.  I even made jokes with friends that I was like a bad husband from the 1950s.

But this frustration wasn’t just about ME.  It was also about the girls.  When they were younger and had less activities and less homework – they had regular chores.  Put away the dishes, load the dishwasher, clean the bathroom, etc.  That system has broken down since they have gotten older.  They set the table for dinner, and they are responsible for taking their own dishes from the table and into the dishwasher.  If I ask them to clean the bathroom when guests are expected, they do (with little complaint).  They do their own laundry, and are supposed to clean their own rooms.  But there are no regular chores that benefit the household at large.  (Well, except for the cat litter … )

They have been dwindling in their consistency with putting their things in the dishwasher, and WD is stuck with the mess to deal with.  And he was expressing frustration.

I didn’t blame him, and I helped to reinforce with the girls that they need to do better.  But it was impossible to ignore that I was telling them to do things I was not doing myself.

I took a closer look at what was going on.  I saw how many evenings I’d head to bed with a book while WD headed to the kitchen for 45 minutes or more of clean up.  How my dishes would sit in the sink because “the dishwasher is full!”  Like I was one of the whiny teens in the house.   There are also many times where the mess is huge – whether because it was a big dinner or for whatever reason.  Even though there are some things he is particular about – there is nothing preventing me from picking up part of a large task.  Nothing preventing me from saying, “hey, let me help.”

And that is what I’m trying to do.  I am deciding to be a better partner.  I am deciding that just because WD can take on the cooking and the shopping does not mean that he is my servant.  Because he is so willing to be an equal partner does not mean I should take advantage and become the unequal partner.  Even if something is officially “his job,” it does not mean that I cannot be there to support him in it.

It is true that since we now have people cleaning the house that I feel more able and available to be work on these things.  The stuff taken on by the housecleaners are mostly (but not entirely) things I used to be responsible for (even if they didn’t actually get done).  But in general, the house is a lot cleaner now, and because it is a lot cleaner, I feel like it’s easier to get it to perfectly clean.  And I’m not resentful about the mounds of dust in every corner, or the bathroom that isn’t touched unless I touch it, or the many other corners and issues that used to cause me great stress.

Maybe next year’s Valentine’s Resolution will be to take back his laundry …. but baby steps, baby steps.

 

 

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Happy Anniversary to Us.

February 3, 2011

Last night, WD and I went out to celebrate our anniversary.  It was our 4th wedding anniversary.  We went to a fabulous restaurant and had a thoroughly enjoyable meal.  I swear, I would go back there today, if I could afford to (I can’t).

When we went to New Orleans, we ate in restaurants as good as this one, maybe better.  They were all definitely more famous.  One of Emeril’s restaurants, another that is – I don’t know – 500 years old or something?  In the Garden District.   And because we were in the south, all of those meals were almost a full $100 less than last night’s.

But, it was our anniversary, and we budgeted for it, and we deserved it.

[We had steak.  It was delicious.]

[I had oysters.  Again, delicious.]

[I also had a fantastic cocktail with my oysters.]

[and two fantastic glasses of wine with my steak & salad.]

[and while we chose not to have dessert, WD hadn’t yet finished nursing his drink, so I ordered myself some Grand Marnier.  I love that stuff.  It is so amazing.]

________________________

For the past few years, I’ve been irritated when people ask how long WD and I have been married.  Not irritated with people for asking, but irritated with what I have to answer.

This was our 4th wedding anniversary.  We got married in 2007, on Groundhog Day, in Provincetown, MA, in front of a Justice of the Peace, and no one other than Mouse and Lemon in attendance.

We weren’t going to get married.  When we first started dating, we both talked about our disapproval of the institution.   We both had failures in our past (his more distant than mine), and weren’t really all that convinced that “marriage” was so important.   Our relationship progressed, and our minds didn’t change.

We aren’t members of a church – or even of a faith.  So that wasn’t pushing us toward marriage.  We lived in Berkeley, CA, and several of our peers were in long-standing relationships, children & all, that did not have a marriage certificate to go along with. Looked good to us.

But when we moved to New England, it felt different.

Now, if we believed in marriage at the time – if we thought “marriage is the final expression of our love for one another, proof of the commitment we are making to each other” – I believe we would have done it before moving to New England together.  Because of the girls, that step was not taken lightly.  It was the first time WD lived with the girls, that he became a part of the family.  We wouldn’t have done that on a whim, and without having taken many smaller, building steps before hand.

But we didn’t.

So as we acclimated to our new town, our new community, I found myself struggling.  “How do I introduce him?”  I started with “this is my partner,” which was fine, but seemed overly formal (and led more than a few people to assume that my “partner” was a woman … not sure why, come to think of it.  I live in one of those awesome states where gay and straight people are allowed to marry …)

And “Boyfriend” sounded so … unclassy.   I *hated* to hear the girls say, “well, my mom’s boyfriend lives with us.”  It just didn’t adequately represent how we felt.

The girls both expressed their desire that we get married.

And so, after many conversations and discussions, we did it.

We made it low-key, and we didn’t really feel like it was the start of anything.  It was just the formalization of something that had been in place for years.

But still, this was my fourth wedding anniversary.  Even though we’ve been a family for 6 1/2 years.

And that was bothering me.  I was almost resentful of it.

For some reason, starting this year, it doesn’t bother me anymore.  I’m okay with it.  We’ve been married for 4 years.  We’ve been a family for 7.  He and I have been together for 9.

And that’s fine.

 

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Writer Dude & I — a Study in Contrasts

December 10, 2010

Suzie

One day, while bored at work because she is hiding in a corner until after the school play hoping to avoid all assignments and requests, Suzie decides to peruse iTunes via the iPhone to see if there is any fun Christmas music out there which she Must Own.

She has – while feeling very mature and restrained – avoided purchasing the Glee Christmas album.  Although the real reason for the restraint is not really maturity, and certainly not frugality, but rather she assumes Lemon already bought it with a gift card, and Suzie would rather not – despite all of her impulsiveness – pay for it twice, so she chooses to wait to get home and copy it from Lemon via Mojo.

She peeks and browses – buys a lone Coldplay holiday song.  Keeps browsing.

OH MY GOODNESS!!  Annie Lennox has a new Christmas CD out!  Suzie LOVES Annie Lennox!  Buy buy buy!!  Download faster!!  Why is it taking sooo long!!!!???

Writer Dude

During one of his many trips to the library* this week, Mr. Dude makes his usual stop at the music section.  He looked around for the 10,000 types of music he likes.  And – as is his nature – kept Suzie, Lemon and Mouse in mind all the while.  “Oh, look!” he thought to himself.  “A new Annie Lennox Christmas CD!  Suzie would be very happy to have this!”

The next day (note the lack of urgency?  the ability to let things just sort of sit?), he remembered about it and said, “I was at the library, and I saw this, and thought you would like it!”

But Suzie had to confess.  She had already bought it.  Because it existed.  And she HAD TO HAVE IT.

Suzie did not (yet) confess that it’s actually not very good.  And that she wishes she didn’t pay for it.  But she did tell Mr. Dude how much she appreciates his thoughtfulness.

 

*Where Suzie cannot go, because she owes them too much money for a book sitting right over there —–> on her work shelf.  It was so late, they decided she has to just pay for the damned thing.  So now she owes late fees PLUS replacement charges.  Also, it’s not just this book.  There’s also another one, which she left on the bedroom floor.  Not typically a problem, except, well, Suzie has two kittens.  One day, the kittens took a great interest in a glass of water that Suzie also left on the bedroom floor.  The only remaining water was so deep in the tall glass, that the kittens employed their craftiness and knocked the glass over, so they could then lap the water up off the floor.  Most of the water, anyway.  The rest went on the book.  And now the pages are warped. Suzie also suspects there is a third book, somewhere.  Because she always checks out books in 3s.

Writer Dude, however, has extreme feelings of guilt and upset if he accumulates a $0.10 fine for being one day late.

Conclusion

Suzie is very lucky to be married to Writer Dude, but would be luckier if he would rub off on her, at least just a little bit.