Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The value of a handwritten note.

I don’t know if everyone who has lost a loved one thinks the same way I am, right now.

(Actually, I doubt very much that anyone thinks the same way I do. That statement probably has "psycho killer" written all over it.)

As someone who is unsure about God and all the things my mother believed so much in, it might sound crazy, what I’m about to say (any of it it, actually). I’m finding it hard this year to get excited about Christmas. On Saturday, December 20, it will only be five months since my mother passed away. I’ve been missing her so much lately. The few sentences in this paragraph seem to cover so much ground, and none of it goes together: faith, Christmas, grief. But the other day I was sitting in my car, driving somewhere. The car is where I either get a lot of thinking done (quietly, alone, moving along, or not moving along, depending on the flow of traffic) or I do absolutely no thinking at all (iPod on, volume set to very loud, singing badly and as loudly as possible). I was sitting there, driving somewhere, and for some reason I was imagining myself having a conversation with a friend, who was not present at the time. I don’t know why I was talking to him in my mind. Maybe because this person is a great listener, and unemotional but kind. It’s good to talk to someone like that – it makes me control my own emotions, and to be a better storyteller. In my head I was telling him about something that happened last week.

Jules found the little bag of cards I've been saving for him. I keep them hanging on the inside knob of his bedroom door, but he’s never noticed it before, even though it's been there his whole life. I thought it contained only the cards I received at each of the baby showers I was so lucky to have, but it turns out I had forgotten that I've been putting other cards in there for him. Birthday cards, Christmas cards, even an anniversary card from my husband. He dumped all the cards out on his bed, and started pulling out the ones he liked: one with a kitty on it, one that made sounds. I read them all to him. He was enjoying it. Then he found one that my mom had sent to him for his first Valentine’s Day. He asked me to read it, so I read the corny printed message. Then he asked who wrote it, and I said, "Grandma wrote it."

He asked me to read it, so I did. I don't remember what it said, but I remember feeling shocked to see her actual penmanship: her style of writing, which I always thought was so pretty. My sister agrees. Mom's handwriting packs a powerful punch. In those loops and swirls: my mother lives. She had a special way with the cursive capital letters. At the time she gave him the card she was still strong and able to move around well. Later her writing got messier and her thoughts weren't clear. I read what she wrote, and I started crying. It was the actual penmanship that made me undone: her strong hand that I'll never see or feel again, and neither will he. I wiped my face and said, "Let's go get your daddy." We went to the living room where Patrick was relaxing on the couch in the dark (only the Christmas tree lights were on), and Jules went back to his room to get something to show him. While he was gone I really started crying. Patrick rubbed my back and gave me a hug, and then he went into Jules’ room to finish getting him ready for bed. I went to my own bed and fell asleep for a while.

So... I’m telling this story to my friend, in my head, remember, and I say to him (he who is not present), as I get to this part in the story, “I miss my mom... I wonder if she misses me.”

I haven’t actually said those words to him yet. I don’t know if I will. It’s totally illogical, and therefore, something he would hate. But I think that’s what is at the core of my sadness right now. I'm pretty sure my friend would say, in response to my question, “I think that’s something one tells, not something one asks.” But how will I know if I don’t ask? I've been saying that my whole life. Anyway, there's no one to ask, is there.

(I think my friend would also remind me to not take what he says so seriously.)

She's gone. I don’t know how “gone” she is. I don't feel like, wherever she is, that she could miss me... but how could she not? - I don't know. I don’t know how to find out. 

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Dreams

Lately I've been sleeping pretty well. (Shoot, I just ruined it, didn't I.) I haven't even been waking up when my son gets in bed with us in the middle of the night. I'm not sure what the change is or why it's getting better. I haven't really been doing anything differently. Perhaps I should stop talking now.

In the past week I had two funny dreams that, since content on this thing has been slim, I thought I should share with you.

The first one was last week sometime. I think it was Wednesday.

I've been wanting to get glasses from Warby Parker for a while now. I even went there early last summer to check them out. I even recommended a friend get some (he did). Right now I don't really need new reading glasses, but I could really use a new pair of sunglasses. My old red Ray Bans are not really cutting it anymore. Plus the prescription is old. So I visited the store in LA in the summer (I think it was the hottest day of the year). However, when I was there I was told that my prescription is too strong, and they won't make it in sunglasses. It took me a while to figure out that I could buy the glasses from them and then have them made elsewhere. Anyway, that's not my dream.

I dreamed that I went into the store, and stood looking at the display for a while. Finally a hipster-y guy came up to me and asked if I needed any help. I said, yes, I'm looking for a new frame. The guy and I looked at frames for a long time, and we chose some for me. He was really nice and the frames were beautiful. I took them up to pay for them, and told the woman at the register, "That guy was really helpful! I love these frames." She looked at the guy, who was walking out the front door, and said, "Oh. He doesn't work here."

The other dream I had was just last night.

I dreamed that I was hanging out with my sixteen year old niece. She and I were talking about boys, but she was getting annoyed with me for some reason (it's doubtful that this would happen. My niece is very sweet, very polite, and even if I was actually annoying her, she would probably not show it), and so I changed the subject. Then, for some reason, I started teaching her the words to "I Don't Like Mondays," which upon waking, seems like a really bad idea.

Neither of these dreams were particular interesting but as I said, there hasn't been a lot of activity on this blog. Gotta fill the space with something, right?

Monday, November 24, 2014

You may find this offensive.

Well, maybe if it was 25 years ago. Or maybe if you're Irish. Or a fan of Les Mis. Or just don't think I'm funny (the most likely option).

I've been watching "The Voice" a lot this season. I'm really enjoying it. But because my life does not allow me to watch it in real time, I'm a couple of weeks behind. And I admit it: I don't watch the cheesy results shows. So I just tune in and wait and see which "artists" I miss.

Anyway, tonight on my way home, I heard U2's "Sunday Bloody Sunday." This was a big song when I was a teenager. We didn't necessarily know right away what it was about (to me, in those days, songs were stories about things that hadn't happened in real life. It was that Crosby, Stills and Nash song "Ohio" that clued me in - these people are singing about shit that actually happened. Blew my tiny naive mind). Some of us had to be educated about the Troubles in Northern Ireland, and Bono was just the man to do it. This post is in no way intended to belittle or demean those sad events.

But "Sunday Bloody Sunday," while yes, is a political statement... it's also a story. It's a drama. It's Bono kneeling on the edge of a stage somewhere in a billowy white shirt, waving a flag, looking like a leading man in a movie. If it took hunky Paul David Hewson to get me interested in events outside my tiny little world, then hey, that's what it took.

So I heard "Sunday Bloody Sunday" in the car on the way home. It's one of those songs from my youth that's colorful and comes with a time and a place. But I was also thinking about "The Voice." And suddenly I was picturing little Regan James (is she still on? And can someone please explain to me why Blake thinks she's the next big thing? And yeah, she's 16, but there are way better, more interesting 16 year old singers in the world), dressed as a waif, with pretty Jean Kelly (is she still on?) inexplicably dressed as a World War II nurse standing behind her, and Elijah Rene (I know I spelled his name wrong. Is he still on? He's one of my favorites) also dressed as a waif, and all of them belting out "Sunday Bloody Sunday" in some kind of ripped off "Les Miserables" blocking, tears streaming down the waifs' faces, with John David Chapman climbing down from the scaffolding, and then sweeping up Jean Kelly in his arms, and then she busts out into "There Goes My Hero," by the Foo Fighters. And then there are fireworks. As the stage clears, leaving only John Taylor John Williams striding around in that hat, wearing a guitar, looking mournful and alternatively handsome, he starts to sing "Sugar Mountain" by Neil Young. For no thematically sound reason whatsoever.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

My first ride in an ambulance. May it never happen again.

Last night, Jules had a fever. I knew he was hot, and when he was in my bed, he was fidgety. The last couple of nights, I haven't been sleeping very well (as I told a friend the other day, "let's stop talking about my sleeplessness. It's boring even to me") so when he kept kicking and wanting to snuggle with me, I hate to admit it but I got a tiny bit annoyed. I got up with him to use the bathroom once, though, and he seemed fine.

We had a busy day planned for today - I had an appointment at 8 to take my car to the Honda dealer for the most recent air bag recall, then we had Jules' music class at 10, and then his school scheduled family photos today. I think one of the other parents is a professional photographer. We were going to do that at 11. However, when we got up, Jules still had a fever. At around 6:30 a.m., it was about 100.5.

I decided to get up and go to the Honda dealer, and on the way stop at Weight Watchers. Jules would stay home with his daddy, and then at 11 we would go take the pictures if he felt okay. I've been looking forward to it. If the photos came out nicely, I'd planned on using them for our Christmas cards. But when Jules heard that I was going to Weight Watchers, he wanted to come too (when I have him with me, we always stop at Starbucks for an iced coffee for me, a chocolate chip cookie for him). Even though he was hot, he was in a great mood. So Patrick started getting him dressed. They were in his room, and I was in ours, doing something (I was already dressed... maybe I was just making the bed), when I heard Jules cry a little. Then Patrick called me.

Jules was having a seizure.

We don't have a land line in our house anymore. We only use our cell phones now. I grabbed mine and called 911. I could hear the difference in my voice: I was precise, maybe too loud, unemotional. I said, "My son is having a seizure. He's 3." The woman on the phone asked me my address and within seconds I was on with someone from the local fire station. I remember thinking, "Speak clearly so you don't have to repeat anything." The firemen were here in minutes.

By the time they got here (I think the paramedics were right behind them), he was starting to come out of it. They evaluated him, and told me we were going to go to the hospital. I got a little choked up - I was scared. One of the paramedics said, "You're doing great, mom." I have to admit, it's weird to be called "mom" by a grown man. My room seemed so small with the firemen and paramedics in it. I carried him outside and they said they were going to put him on the gurney, which freaked me out. It may have been my only moment of being illogical. I said, "I don't want you to put him on the gurney!" But there was no other way to do it. Jules was pretty much alert by now, naked except for underwear. I calmed down and he and I got into the ambulance with the paramedic. His name, by the way, is Paul Rodriguez. He was awesome. He was sweet with Jules, and checked on me periodically. During the ride, he talked to Jules and tried to make it fun. I couldn't see much outside, and really didn't know where were going. The siren was on.

Patrick followed us in his car, and we went to Long Beach Memorial. The paramedics said that was the best place to take him. The nurses were kind, and the doctor who checked him. We stayed there for quite a while so they could evaluate him. He got an x-ray and they tested his urine. All that was fine. He still had a temperature (not very high) and he wanted to go home. I just realized: they didn't give him any medicine. He didn't cry or whine, though, and he was such a big boy with all the sticky things for the medical equipment on him, and when the doctor and nurses were checking him. We watched a bunch of TV. At around 12:30 we were released, and came home. On the way I ran into Weight Watchers. I lost almost two pounds this week. It's not really all that surprising, considering that last week we had the stomach flu.

When we got home, Patrick gave Jules some children's Motrin and then went off to get us some lunch. Jules ate great, played with his cars for a while, and is now sleeping with his daddy in our room. I just went in to check on him, and removed his socks and pants. He seems comfortable.

Needless to say, we did none of the things on our list today. I don't know if you remember, but this happened before when he was 15 months old. For some reason I'm having trouble linking to what I wrote then. It was in May 2012. On Monday I'm supposed to call his pediatrician at Kaiser to let her know what happened. I might just stay home with him, and maybe take him to the doctor. I called the school to let them know that we were going to miss the photo appointment, but I just told the director he was sick. I'm pretty sure I mentioned that other time he had a seizure on the medical questionnaire; I'll tell her in person about this one next week.

That time, I wrote about it a few weeks after the fact. It took me a while to be able to write about it, because it was so disturbing, but febrile seizures are very common. The doctor who treated him today said she and her brother both used to get them all the time, "and we both went to Harvard and became doctors." He's had fevers since that other time, and this didn't happen, so I guess I thought it was an anomaly that other time. I guess I was wrong.

Updated 11/16/14 at 9:54AM
ICP

Friday, November 14, 2014

Cell phone

My dad started using my mom's old cell phone and telephone number. I'm not exactly sure why his own was canceled; my sister handles these things, and I'm sure there was a great reason.

I haven't changed the contact information for that number, so when my dad calls me, it looks like my mother is on the line, at least until I pick up.

Maybe I should change it. I think I should... just not yet.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Catching you up

I keep meaning to write stuff here, and then I get busy, and then my computer time at home is way limited these days (as well as my TV-watching time, reading time, napping time, flute-playing time...), so more time passes between posts than I would like, but hey, that's life with a full time job, long, ugly commute, and adorable toddler. I get it.

Last Saturday, I took a self-defense class. My friend Marilyn notified me and my friends from flute choir that this thing was going on, thanks to her sorority, Delta Sigma Theta. I don't know much about her sorority except they like to wear purple, and that my cousin's husband's sister (?) is also a member. And, apparently they do a lot of great stuff for women and the community. Anyway, I've known Marilyn for a long time, this is the second time she's notified me of this type of event, and at the last minute Saturday morning, I decided to go.

(They were also collecting donations to Sojourn House, an organization for battered women.)

It was held at Kingi Kajukenbo Studio, a martial arts studio in Inglewood. There are details here that I just don't remember now, all of six days later (like, what type of martial arts they do, the names of the instructors we worked with...), but listen to me: I walked in that door totally nervous, unprepared for what was about to happen to me, and I loved everything I saw, heard, and did that day.

The session started out with a woman named Sa'ra (sorry if I got that wrong), who talked to us (it was a small group; me, Marilyn, and a few other women, mostly younger than me, I think) about domestic violence. She showed us some very short videos on her iPad that were touching, scary and heartbreaking. Can something be both touching and heartbreaking, or am I overstating it? Anyway, I had tears in my eyes. 

After that, we had to take off our shoes and get on the mat.

Okay, let's talk about this for a minute.

I was a band geek in High School, which means: I didn't take P.E. after the 8th grade. When I was in Middle School, most of my P.E. time was spent trying to get out of P.E. Any way possible. Poor Mses. Nestande and Tuggle probably thought I had the worst menstrual cycle of any teenage girl. Being in band meant I got to avoid that daily hell. I was not athletic, okay? I hate this stuff. My daily walking (my current goal is 11,000 steps a day, and I hit that... once in a while. My average is 9K) has been a little disrupted by some crazy back pain I've started having. So I was out of my element. Big time! But I took off my shoes and I stood there for a while and waited for stuff to get started. Totally freaking out. 

I said to Marilyn, who may not have understood the extent of my anxiety, "I am so nervous right now!" I positioned myself so that I was standing facing the portion of brick wall that wasn't covered with a mirror. I know I'm a dork, I don't need to see it.

Anyway, we started simply: how to handle someone who approaches and seemingly wants to mess with us: hands up, loudly say "Back off!" while backing away. We talked about how getting away from the situation is a really good first reaction. Then we practiced this. Marilyn was my partner, and pretended she was coming at me. I put my hands up, and said, "back off." 

You would not believe the effort it takes to raise your voice like that. At least, for me. Practicing this was really a great idea. We kept trying - and eventually I got it. "Back off!" Once I said "Back off, Marilyn!" which made us both laugh. If I'm ever attacked by somebody named "Marilyn," I'm all set. Or maybe I'll just say it to throw them off balance. Maybe "Marilyn" can be my power word.

Anyway, we worked on a lot of things, and all of them were shown to us in a fun way by the really kind and very talented (and, I have to say, extremely good looking) instructors. 

After all the training (among other things, I got to flip Marilyn off me - she did it to me, too - and that was really awesome) was over, we took pictures, and went home. 

The next couple of days I was very sore. Oddly, my back didn't hurt during the class. 

That's all for now. 

Friday, October 10, 2014

Grace

Allow me to apologize to poor, dear, dead Jeff Buckley, who has had to listen all week to me brutally butchering every song from his album "Grace" on my commute to and from work. I'm sure that Jeff, sitting up in heaven with my mom, enjoyed very much the story she told about the time she was left in my new house to clean the kitchen while my sister and I went to get lunch, and how the only CD I owned that interested her was his. The two of them probably laugh at my wild gesticulations and air drumming (but at least one of them must be proud when I hit almost every cymbal crash in "Lover You Should Have Come Over"), and cry over the fact that my voice will never ever match his. No one's voice will ever match his. Neither of them knew the beautifully sad and ultimately unknowable tall redhead who bought me that CD, or how when he kissed me on the beach in Malibu that one time (maybe it was two), we were both humming "Last Goodbye." My old boss once told me how she liked to listen to "Hallelujah" at top volume in her car, and I thought at the time that was a weird thing to have in common with her, but really, it isn't. His voice, his voice, his voice.