Thursday, July 24, 2014

Currently...

I haven't posted much lately here, but I wanted you to know that on Sunday, July 20, 2014, my mother, Henrietta Casarez, passed away. She has been bravely fighting cancer since 2006, but in December of 2013, decided to stop all treatment and to rest with her family. She received the best hospice care from Kaiser, and even better care from (mainly) my incredible sister Angie, and my brothers. I'd also like to say that the services we received from Social Worker Emily Graham were excellent, incredibly personal, and very caring.

We are all still feeling the loss. It's a blessing to have each other, and our friends and family. Today, we received a very beautiful card from my mom's friend Kathleen. It touched us all. I'd like to share it with you. Kathleen hits all the notes my mother would appreciate, and I think her letter tells you a lot about Kathleen, and my mom.

Dear Bob, Danny, Andy, Angie and Irene,

My thoughts and prayers are with each of you individually and as a family! I truly will miss Henrietta, my dear and precious friend. Heaven will be our place of reunion with Jesus - Joy!

I know that Henrietta is in my eternal future and in yours too. Now, however, I cherish the wonderful memories I have of our of twenty-eight year friendship.

Since I have been in Arizona the past eighteen years, Henrietta and I have shared dozens and dozens of phone calls, letters, and cards, all of which have blessed me more than my words can express to each of you.

Talking by phone we would laugh over fun and silly things. We would reminisce and share sweet stories of how dear yet powerful God was in our lives in ways that were so awesome and amazing to us both. I would pray for what was on her heart and she would pray for what was on mine.

Even before her illness, she always shared with me how deeply she loved each of you, and, especially during her illness, how extremely grateful she was to have the loving devotion, care, and help from each of you.

When Henrietta would speak about her love for you all, and your love for her, it would overwhelm her to the point of happy tears! She loved you all with her heart, and with each prayer she prayed.

I often spoke to her about her courage, strength, and steadfast faith as did many others. She was a godly wife, mother, and Grandma! She was a spectacular friend to me!

Thank you so much for the timely communications through the gift of Caring Bridge.

I will miss Henrietta immeasurably and those loving phone conversations and special card exchanges. She is surely a one-of-a-kind treasure! I'm assured and comforted to know that she is with Jesus, and yes, she is in our future! I look forward to Heaven where I will enjoy her warm embrace, loving smile and wonderful conversation.

May you all be comforted in that promise as well.

Lovingly sent,
K.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Perceptions

This morning, I was talking to my co-worker about some personal stuff. She's the woman training me in FMLA and she's a sweetheart - I hear her talking to employees on the phone all the time about their leaves, and she can be concerned and caring, as well as tough with these people. Some of our employees need the tough part more than the concern. Anyway, during our conversation, she made a comment to me about how I always seem so confident, and how "cute and professional you looked walking in here this morning." She knows I play the flute and she knows about my (meager) theater experience, but I think mostly she's basing this on a meeting we were in together, with our boss and the HR manager, when my job duties all changed. That day I was a little angry and concerned that I was being stepped on by upper management, and I was not in my usual meek little ol' me mode. I know her situation: she's incredibly knowledgeable about what we do, but this department has, for whatever reason, resisted updating her job title, which is significantly lower than mine. So here I am, the newbie, making way more, with way less knowledge and experience - it's an unfair situation. And I don't want to get stuck in the same predicament she has, when she eventually leaves. And she will, because she's great at her job and deserves more. Yet she's kind and helpful to me, and encouraging. Everyone seems to think (or at least hope) I have the chops to do this job, which every day sort of flummoxes me in new ways, and here I am, sort of bumbling along (in my head)... and then I find out that someone else (probably multiple someones) has a totally different view of me.

Anyway, I laughed, because recent situations in my personal life have made me realize that I have some work to do on the inside. I'm not going to outline this for you. I have sort of talked to a couple of people but talking about it now, here (and maybe, ever) would be too hard. So her comments, which seemed so off base and funny to me, either came at the exact right moment - whatever doubts I have about my abilities or my worth in this office (and anywhere else)... people don't always see that. The outside image, which hey, let's be honest, I'm not exactly relaxed about either, seems to translate into something else for them. This seems so obvious when I write it down, but I don't know: I guess I didn't realize.

I've been taking the time to read more. If you think this is off-topic, let me explain: I've been reading more, and really enjoying words again. Maybe I'm not very good at it, but great writing is out there, and when I find it, it's exciting. Some of my friends, even, write these amazing text messages or emails to me - I'm not just talking about literature or books. Obviously I feel a need to write things down, or this blog, as neglected as it's been lately, would not exist. I want to be better at it. I'm going to make that happen.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Actual Conversation

The other day, I was complaining to my boss and another co-worker about people who use their foot to flush the toilets in the ladies room at work. It grosses me out. Is the bathroom floor not the dirties place in the world? I think it is.

They recently installed low flow toilets and in addition, these fancy green handles. You pull up for no. 1, push down for no. 2 (it actually says that. There's a diagram and everything). Supposedly the handles are coated with some sort of antibacterial agent.

My boss was in agreement with me (that people should use their hand), but our co-worker said, "Listen. I'm going to be blunt. My foot doesn't have shit on it."

This seemed like some seriously flawed thinking. I said, "Did you walk through the parking lot this morning?"

She said, "Yes."

I said, "Hmm. I may have run over the remains of a dead animal on the road this morning. My tires were touching the ground. Perhaps you unwittingly walked through dead dog today? What else is on the ground?"

Your foot is way dirtier than my hand, lady. And those bathrooms are probably cleaner than her toilet at home. We have someone in there every hour, cleaning up... I don't really know what the point of this post is, I started it with something in mind but I seem to have lost my train of thought. I guess what I'm saying is, I think everyone should think like me, at least when it comes to flushing the toilet.

If you're gonna be a tiny dictator, this seems like a good place to start.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Cutting a hole.

A few weeks ago, we checked out a book from the library called "The 108th Sheep." I chose it because I liked the artwork. I still had to do my read-through (after the incident when I checked out a really beautiful Caldecott winner - the illustrations were gorgeous - and it turned out that book was about killing bears) at the library, but I realized that it's just a sweet book about going to bed. Since that's when we do the majority of our reading, I thought this book would be perfect.

Here's the link to the book on Amazon.

The story is about a little girl who is having trouble falling asleep. After trying a few things, she decides to count sheep. She gets all the way to 107 sheep, but finds out that the 108th sheep can't jump over her bed. After working with the other sheep to help him, she finally decides to cut a hole in her very tall headboard. The 108th sheep makes it, and she (and all the other adorably drawn sheep) falls asleep.

This morning, Jules told Patrick that last night he "dreamed about cutting a hole."

Cutest thing I ever heard.

Monday, April 7, 2014

All gloom considered

I received an email notification from NPR music today. The number one story was that Afghan Whigs have released a new album, their first in 16 years.

I've been listening to these guys since Patrick gave me my first CD, way back in 1990. That album was "Up In It." It scared the shit out of me, and held my attention in the same way books do. In the same way the strange and scary plays at City Garage do.

After that, it was on. There was something horrifying and wonderful about Greg Dulli, who clearly is a man unlike any I've ever known in real life (thank God?). He's sad and scared and mean. And boy, does he write about it, and sing it, in an amazingly compelling way. I still listen to those old albums, on a regular basis, and they set a mood that, though maybe not the sweetest place to be, is interesting. The guy just made me want to listen. He made me feel lucky, knowing that the men in my life, though maybe not perfect for me or whatever, were NEVER going to treat me the way he treated women, or talk to or about me in the way he did. And yet, I would love to know him, or someone like him, or at least, to have known him and to have seen with my own eyes what he was like. As it is, I can only imagine.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Gigantor eats banana flavored ice cream.

Patrick has been showing our son a lot of old animation from his own childhood, and so my kid is now a three year old expert on shows like "Astro Boy," "Speed Racer," and "Gigantor."

The other day we were at Fry's Electronics, and I had taken Jules to the bathroom while Patrick paid for our items. We were walking down the cashier aisle on our way out, and Jules started singing the "Gigantor" theme song. You know those geeks in line and working there were all unexpectedly happy.

Every night, after I read Jules a book at bedtime, we turn off the light. Before he goes to sleep, sometimes I use the flashlight on my iPhone, and we make shadows on the ceiling. Sometimes I also tell him a story. I'll ask him, "What do you want me to tell you a story about tonight?" Lately his favorite topic has been Gigantor.

I'll admit to not knowing very much about Gigantor. He's a robot, right? A big one? That's about the extent of my knowledge. Oh: and I can sing the whole theme song. Of course.

On Saturday night, he said, "Tell me a story about T. [a kid in his class] and Gigantor!" I had to think hard. I said, "Okay..."

My story was not that great, but here it is.

"One day, T. was at the grocery store with his mama. T. was riding in the seat of the shopping cart, facing her [I included this detail because Jules doesn't always want to ride there, anymore. He'd rather ride in the basket], and they were having a very nice time at the store. Then, when they were in the ice cream aisle, T.'s mama remembered that she had forgotten to pick up some butter. The butter was just on the next aisle, and she told T. that she would be right back. She told him not to talk to strangers, and went off to get the butter.

While T. was sitting there, he heard something behind him. Clang! Clang! Clang! T. didn't know what it was, and he turned his head quickly to look behind him. Who did he see walking down the ice cream aisle? Gigantor! [J.'s eyes are huge at this point. I know this story is lame but my kid was eating it up.] Gigantor came right up to T., and he stood next to him. T. didn't say anything, because his mama had told him not to talk to strangers.

Gigantor asked him a question, though, and T. had to decide if it was OK to answer. Gigantor asked him, "What kind of ice cream should I buy? I don't eat a lot of ice cream, but I want some today!"

T. thought, and thought. He finally decided that his mama was coming right back, and that it would be OK to answer Gigantor's question. [I asked J.: "Do you know what T.'s favorite ice cream flavor is?" He said, "Banana!" I said, "Banana!? Okay..."] T. told Gigantor that his favorite flavor of ice cream was banana. Gigantor looked on the shelves but didn't see the banana flavored ice cream. Finally, he noticed the banana ice cream way down on the bottom shelf. Gigantor was too big to bend down to reach it. T. said, "Don't worry! Mama will be right back and will get it for you."

Just then, T.'s mama came back from the other aisle. She saw Gigantor standing next to the cart with T. in it, and she got a little scared at first, because Gigantor is so big. Then she recognized the giant robot, and realized that it was OK. When she reached the cart, she introduced herself to Gigantor.

Gigantor said, "Hello, T.'s mama! [Neither I nor Jules know the name of T.'s mother] Do you think you could please help me reach the banana ice cream on the bottom shelf? I'm too big to bend down."

T.'s mama said, "Of course, Gigantor," and she bent down and got some banana ice cream. Gigantor thanked T. and his mother, and went walking down the aisle toward the cash register. Clang! Clang! Clang!"

Monday, March 10, 2014

Technology, walking, and passing some chick like she was standing still.

Sunday, I went for a walk.

It was hot Sunday, but I was feeling guilty about the matzoh ball soup, cake, delicious omelette with bacon, fried chicken fingers, tacos, chips and salsa, cookies, scrambled eggs with butter, and other various bad things I had eaten since Friday, so I put on my sneakers, and, while Patrick was giving JP a much needed, "daytime bath," took off.

I've been a little lost without my Fitbit Force, which I returned about a month ago. No, I didn't (surprisingly) come down with the dreaded mystery rash many Fitbit Force users succumbed to, but instead, my Force just stopped worked. The display would freeze, and then the thing stopped recording my activity. Patrick returned it for me, got a store credit from Best Buy, and advised me to sit tight until whatever Fitbit replaces it with comes out. I've also had a few people telling me that Apple may (or may not) be working on a fitness band, too... which is intriguing. In any case, without my Force, I've been using the (horrible, I do not recommend, I downloaded this thing years ago and need to upgrade) app "Map My Walk" on my iPhone. I hate this app. Maybe if your activity (run, bike, walk, whatever) is continuous, it's OK, but because I usually walk with my toddler (who sometimes wants to get out of the stroller, and who, when he gets out of the stroller, sometimes wants to pick a dandelion... or twenty) and because sometimes you have to stand there and wait for a light to change before you can cross the street... it's not a good fit. And, I hate having to pause my workout - it should intuitively know that I'm not dead or slacking but that I'm waiting for something important (a green light). The last few times I used it, it didn't even actually "map" my "walk" (I know for a fact that I walked at least 2 miles, and it only logged 0.6). And the stupid thing doesn't count steps (it's not a pedometer, so calling it stupid for not doing something it doesn't bill itself as being something it even does is unfair, but I just want you to see how useless this app is for my purposes), so whatever. Oh, the "pace" thing drives me nuts. Normally I'm not at all interested in how fast or slow I am going - I walk as fast as I can, and that may be pretty slow, but telling me I'm walking a 25 minute mile pisses me off, and not in a "get out there and go!" kind of way.

So anyway, it was hot Sunday, and I had shorts on for the first time all year (these shorts... are not cute. But when they fit me, I get excited, because they tend to feel small), and my big goofy floppy hat, and I took off. I decided to check out a new bunch of streets on the other side of Bellflower (judging the exteriors and yards of the houses in the immediate vicinity of my own home has gotten to be very boring), and I was feeling pretty good, if also pretty sweaty as I was coming home (gone for about 40 minutes; hence the 2 mile estimation). Then I spotted a woman ahead of me.

She was dressed in jeans, wearing sneakers, a pink jacket, a pink baseball cap, and was carrying a lightweight burgundy sports bag over her right shoulder. I was pretty sure she'd gotten off the bus, so she hadn't been walking for long. Her hair was long, straight, brown, and pretty, and as I approached her, I realized a couple of things.

1. This woman was not old. She was my age or younger.
2. She was probably on her way to the park for a game.
3. I was going to have to either slow down to avoid passing her, or... stay at my pace and pass her.

This kind of thing causes me all kinds of unnecessary anxiety. I like to say that I'm not competitive... but dude: I totally am. I know when I'm outclassed, though, and I accept that (usually). But, I had to do it, so I passed her.

"Excuse me!" I said.
"Oh! Sorry!" she said.
"Have a nice day!" I said.

Now, if she'd decided to break into a run or something (attack me, for example), I would've been screwed. Outclassed: I know when it happens. But she didn't, and so, in passing her, in my dorky old green Gap shorts and big ass floppy hat, I felt pretty good about myself. That I did it with a sweaty smile makes it feel even nicer.

The so-called "Goddess of Light and Sound" rides again!

Last week, unexpectedly, I received an email entreaty to resume my duties in the booth at City Garage for the next production. After my last total failure over there, I was pretty sure I was never going to hear from them again... but desperation makes people do some pretty desperate things (deep, right?). The other thing was, I was also pretty sure I never wanted to do it again. I took it pretty seriously (all the mistakes!) and just felt BAD about it last time.

However, if they hadn't asked me, I probably would've been upset about that, too. Aren't I a strange woman?

Anyway, I talked it over with Patrick, and on Sunday, told him that I wanted to do it.

There are few reasons why I decided to put myself through this again:

  1. My old friend Bo is in the show, and he and I can carpool (so if I screw up I don't have to kick myself all alone; he's quite good at making me laugh).
  2. The show is written by Charles Duncombe, the director's husband and the man I work with in the booth; his work is always really interesting to me.
  3. The show has connections to the last one; I like that kind of continuity. 
  4. I'm only being asked to be available for 4 weeks (two weeks of rehearsal, plus two weeks of shows). Who knows if this is what it will really be as time goes on, but that's a pretty good gig.
  5. Redemption, motherfucker.
So. Look for me in the booth starting April 4th. Yeah, I know the booth operator isn't exactly a draw for most people going to the theater, but you're here to read about ME, right? 

For more information, go to www.citygarage.org. You won't regret it.