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


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

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


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.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Things that happened today

I was working with my co-worker on the system we use for tracking FMLA. She's trained in FMLA, and I have slightly more experience with the computer system. We're a good team. Anyway, we were doing something, and the system, which doesn't always make your updates in real time, did something weird with the record she was working on. She made a comment, "Who designed this program?" that made me laugh.

She had said it in exactly the same way, when things weren't going her way during a Skip-Bo game, my mother would say, in mock irritation, "Who SHUFFLED these cards?" Most of the time it was me. But sometimes it was her. We always laughed about it. I told my co-worker this story. She loved it.

Later, another co-worker, sitting at her desk with headphones on, singing a bit tunelessly, also brought a story about my mom to mind.

When my mother first started chemotherapy, she didn't have Kaiser. At that time, she and my dad had some other health insurance that I've forgotten the name of. Maybe it was Health Net. Her oncologist's office was not very nice. I had a lot of complaints about this lady and her office. One of them was that I wasn't allowed to sit with my mom while she got her treatment. So I would take my mom to her appointment, and sit in the dirty waiting room. Sometimes there would be a movie on the TV - something horrible, and loud. Anyway, I'd sit out in the waiting room, try to read, and wait.

One day I was sitting there, waiting. The treatment room was behind a door and down a hall. It wasn't far. It was a small office. And I heard a sound. Someone was moaning. Crying? No. Someone - my mother - was singing. She'd taken her iPod into the room with her and was wearing her headphones, singing along with whatever Christian music she had programmed on that thing, but in a key that was all her own. That key maybe had four notes in it. All of them, terrible.

And she wasn't being quiet about it - mom was singing in full voice. I don't remember if there were other patients back there - I just remember cringing. My mom was hard of hearing, and couldn't hold a tune to save her life, but the woman loved music. She loved it. I hope I didn't give her too hard of a time about it later. I told my co-worker, the one who was singing a little better than my mom, how she had reminded me of my mother at that moment. I had to be careful - I didn't want her to think I was criticizing her singing. But man did it remind me of my mother. I sat down at my desk and cried a little, thinking about it. I smiled, too. God I miss her. I'd love to hear her awful singing voice one more time.

Thursday, July 24, 2014


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,

Monday, July 7, 2014


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 You won't regret it.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

In consideration.

Yesterday I was asked to do something I had sort of told myself, that due to prior disastrous results, I would never do again.

On the one hand, it did feel good to be asked again ("you were terrible that one time but maybe this time will be different" - not what anybody said to me but now you know some of my inner dialogue), and on the other hand, oh my god, total anxiety now.

I told the person who asked me to do this thing that I needed to think about it and talk to Patrick about it (because it involves a really, really big time commitment), and I did, sort of, talk to Patrick about it last night. But because I know how protective of me he is (I was really shattered by, I know, my own feeling of failure; no one made me feel that way except me), I told him I didn't want to really discuss it just yet. I need to let it set for awhile. I know that his automatic reaction is going to be "no."

 Maybe that should be my automatic reaction, too. The thing is, I'm considering it.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

I've been around.

I haven't blogged in a while, and I blame Facebook.

All I can say is, I've been around.

Here's what I've been doing (none of it is super exciting):

1. Watching a show on PBS called "Super Skyscrapers" - though when I say "watching," I mean that I saw that it was actually a show that existed and that I thought I would be interested in it, and then I caught about 40 minutes of an episode the other day while JP was taking a nap, and then I also fell asleep - so by "watching," I mean, considering watching and then seeing a tiny bit of one episode.

2. Watching Jimmy Fallon/Seth Meyers - there have been a few sleepless nights in my life in the past couple of weeks, and instead of laying there in bed like I usually do, a couple of times I got up and decided to check out the new shows. Jimmy is a funny guy and enjoyable, as always. I thought that Seth Meyer's first night looked a little rough (those guest chairs are awful) and in spite of the very positive review the NY Times gave him, he seemed scared to me. I loved Fred Armisen, though. Oh, and whoever chose Big Cruel World or whatever that band's name is for the first night (they played a song that essentially made me want to die) should be fired.

3. Deciding that Lorde is not for me. I don't like it. I might just be old, but I might also be a genius. Who can tell so soon?

4. Not practicing enough. Flute choir is playing an arrangement of Flower Duet and there's a one bar spot with quadruplets (in 6/8) that I'm not getting (and I think I'm the only one not getting it) that's embarrassing the fuck out of me. Also my tone is coarse and my piccolo playing is spotty. I need time to practice.

5. Last weekend I went to see a friend's band, Bikos, in Santa Monica. They were awesome and I highly recommend.

6. Listening to Neko Case. We've had a bit of rain during the past couple of days, and dude, floating down the 5 freeway with "Ragtime" on the radio is one happy place to be.

7. Bra shopping. After 6 months of no breastfeeding, the boobs are finally settling down into a realistic size. I know some of you might be thinking, hey, TMI (and some of you might be unnecessarily stimulated) but if I can't tell you, my blog, about my body, then who can I tell?

8. I lost 5 pounds over 5 weeks, and then last week I gained, inexplicably, 3. I admit it: I cried. It might be an anomaly that can be attributed to water weight (I had my period last week), or it might be that the Victoria's Secret "Body by Victoria" bra I was wearing for the first time to my meeting weighs 3 pounds. Hey, anything is possible. Needless to say, this is yet another reason to wear exactly the same thing (which I was, with the one exception) to every meeting.

9. Walking my butt off. Though I guess I need to ramp it up a bit. See no. 8.

10. Reading the same issue of The New Yorker for 3 weeks. Man. I never used to be this slow.

Monday, February 17, 2014

I'm in the waiting room of the mammography unit at Kaiser. It should all be fine and routine: I'm only here because when I had that infection and then surgery when Jules was a few months old, I was told to get this check up after I stopped breast feeding.

I stopped breast feeding when? In July? Anyway, here I am. Better late than never, right?

I have to say that I think it's pretty funny that the thing that's concerning me the most right now is the fact that I wish I'd worn pants with an elastic waist instead of jeans. I'm worried about my muffin top.

It's not my first mammogram; I had one several years ago after my doctor felt something that turned out to be a cyst: nothing.

The other ladies in the waiting room are speaking Spanish to each other, and I'm finding their camaraderie enjoyable. They're all older than me, but one is also wearing Uggs. I don't know what I mean by that. The other is with her mother.

The most chummy thing my mom and I ever did together was go to traffic school together.

Anyway, it's cold in here, my boobs are bigger than they were the first time I did this, and yeah, I'm a little nervous about other things than the size of my gut. Wish me luck.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Due to circumstances beyond our control.

During the two weeks I was out on vacation, staff in my office noticed that files and folders they normally have access to on the "shared drive" were missing. Someone called in to the help desk and opened a ticket but nothing happened. When I returned to work on Monday, this issue was brought to my attention. The person who opened the ticket wasn't here that day, but I used their employee number and called in to follow up.

The woman I spoke to couldn't find a ticket for this person, so I opened a new one (update: after reviewing all the back and forth emails that I was privy to, it turns out that the other person did open a ticket. I have no idea why the somewhat grumpy help desk lady I talked to couldn't find it). I gave all the information I had: that as of December 18, staff couldn't access the folders and files on the shared drive. The folder that they used to use was "gone."

What we do here isn't rocket science, but it does impact our department's employees. We use the data on some of the files to create reports for our department's executives, who use those reports, in turn, to keep their bosses informed. Lawsuits and record-keeping and employee confidentiality are all impacted when our staff can't do their jobs.

The next day, I received word from the IT tech who had been working on our problem that our files and folders had been restored, but only through October 30th. Why this date, I wondered, and I emailed him, this and a few other concerns.

After a long and complicated chain of emails, this person finally said, "Due to circumstances beyond their control, the most recent backup/restore operation was back in October."

Other information was provided to me, but all you need to know right now is that the backups, which are supposed to be done incrementally and on a set schedule, were not done. For two months. Two months!

Oh, and he tried to blame it on us! He said, Had we received word when it was noticed that things had gone awry, this could have been prevented. How!? The backups would still not have been created because we have nothing to do with that process. We can only sit at our desks, do our work, and hope that some guy in a server room is answering "yes" when asked "do you wish to create backup" or whatever the procedure is. I assume it's more complex than this but who knows? Dudes. Set up an iPhone reminder to backup our work or something.

Some of the things that are standard operating procedure in my office are overly complex and not very efficient, but certainly recreating two months worth of work is not a very good use of time.

So I thought about this for awhile, and I decided that this guy doesn't understand what "circumstances beyond our control" really means... or, more likely, or hopes that I don't. "Circumstances beyond our control" means, to me, that as the dude responsible for setting up the backsup was reaching for the mouse to perform that very action... as his arm was stretched out, that dude suffered from catastrophic heart failure. Or a meteor, undetected by scientists, struck the building in which he was sitting, obliterating everything.

Anyway, I've also been working with another guy from something called the "Problem Solving Unit," who apparently follows behind our techs and ensure that proper customer service has been provided. That guy speaks my language, understands our dilemna, and is (apparently) riding the butts of the crew who screwed up. Actually, I don't know about that last part. They may all just be putting off the inevitable, which is to tell us that our work is lost.

The good news is, I've engendered a nice jocular relationship with the Problem Solving Unit guy. His name is Claude. I'm hoping he comes out here one day to meet us all. And maybe take us out to lunch.