Archive for September, 2011

26 Sep 2011

A New Post. (Patting myself on the back)

26 Comments Uncategorized

Oh, dear God. Ten days since my last post. I’m slipping. I don’t think I’ve tweeted for over a week. My time management skills have all but vanished. I feel like I shouldn’t even be sitting here typing now, what with the Ikea returns, the grocery shopping, the trip to the bank and the car wash that should happen within the next 2 hours and 45 minutes when I have to pick up G.

It all feels non-stop lately. Not in a bad way. Just in a… Way. The goings-on are constant. The cooking, cleaning, laundry, shopping, replacing this lamp and that duvet. Running the dish washer for the 100th time in a week. Trying to organize the closets, figure out how to put more money away, and fit in a hair appointment before my roots hit the tops of my ears.  All in between doing what I love the most: spending time with G-Man.

He turned four last Sunday. There was a party. I stressed out through the whole thing as usual, as if four-year-olds need anything more than a bouncy house and some sugar to keep them happy. I stressed as though I was throwing the wedding of the Century, instead of a Batman party. I cried when I ruined my mac and cheese. I cried. I’m serious. I felt like such an ass afterward, but I cried. Of course, this came on the heels of finding out that the helium tank we bought had no helium in it. So naturally, I cried. You would have, too. (No, you wouldn’t have. But, shut up.)

G is four now. And he’s amazing. The Friday before his birthday, I had the privilege of spending the last three hours at school with his grandmas. (My mother-in-law was in town for the week of G’s birthday. We felt so blessed. And we were so bummed when she had to go!) We served the kids pizza and the muffins that G and I made. Then I read the class some dinosaur books, and G got up to teach them about his favorite dinos. I’m so enthralled with his ability to learn new things, and to want to teach them to everyone else.

We’ve been playing this game he made up called, “Excuse Me, Miss.” He says, “Excuse me, Miss but I have no mom or dad. Would you like to be my mom?” Then we go over all the things he’s looking for in a mom, and all the things I’m looking for in a son.

“My son has to like dinosaurs”, I say.

“I LOVE dinosaurs!”, he replies.

“My son has to like dogs”, I say.

“I LOVE dogs! Dogs even love ME!”, he replies.

Then he’ll say,

“I really like super heroes. Do you have any super hero toys?”

And I’ll say,

“I have a whole BIN FULL of super hero toys!”

Then he’ll say something like, “This is gonna be GREAT!” And we grab hands and act all excited that we get to be mom and son. Then I tell him I can’t wait to introduce him to my husband, who he just happens to look exactly like.

We’ve been playing it for months, but it just recently got very detailed. It’ll go on and on for a half hour sometimes. And each time we play, it makes me feel lucky that I DO get to be his mom. It also makes me see how fortunate we are, and how much stuff we have filling up our lives. It’s perfect, really. Right now, in our small house with the three of us.

I just wish every minute of the day wasn’t filled up with to-do lists. I feel like their used to be time to luxuriate for just an hour or two during the day. It’s important to replenish, and I don’t feel like that happens much anymore. Maybe I just have to add it to the list. Or walk up to a masseuse and say, “Excuse me miss. I don’t have a masseuse. Would you like to be mine?”I mean, it totally works for Garrett.

16 Sep 2011

All Of These Books Have Been Read!

27 Comments Personal Crap, Toddler

About a month ago, Garrett and I went to the library together for the first time. It’s not that I’d been putting it off, it’s just that I wasn’t in a big rush to get there. After all, there used to be a thing called “A Book Store”, where you could walk in and pick any book off the shelf. And purchase it. Yes! For reals!! But, since I have to drive 40 minutes to get to the nearest “Book Store” now, I thought we’d try the library. That’s a lie. It was G’s idea. He said, “Let’s go to the library!” And we did.

We walked in and headed straight for the information desk, where a lovely 20-something girl offered to help us find whatever we needed. What we apparently needed were dinosaur books. “Picture-books, or information-books?”, she asked. I looked at Garrett. “Information”, he offered. So we went to that section.

Within minutes, G had a lap-full of dinosaur books that he literally could not wait to start reading. “Let’s bring them to a table!” We did. And we spent the next hour going through those books, him telling me about all the dinosaurs and asking me about the ones he didn’t know yet. Every ten minutes or so, he’d tell me how AWESOME he thought it was at the library and how HAPPY he was to see these books. His head nearly exploded when I told him we could borrow them for three weeks. He read them over and over when we got them home.

The library is a magical place. But I’m going to admit something that many of you will not find at all surprising. Used books freak me out. I like new, crisp books that have not been read by anyone yet. And here is why:

As G and I read and became filled with dinosaur knowledge, I couldn’t take my eyes from the stains and splotches on nearly every page. These were my thoughts as we read: Why are the stains always brown? Do people take their library books to the bathroom and use the pages to cleanse themselves? Do they eat chocolate pudding, using the books as place mats? Do they clean their wounds with the pages and let the blood dry slowly on the words written there? What’s that awful smell? Did the man next to me just poop himself? Oh. Nope. G just turned a page.

I also feel the need to wash my hands even MORE than I usually do, after touching library books. They’re gross. But Garrett has found a place that he loves, and it’s filled with stinky, poop-stained, disgusting books that are filled with fantastic information. We’ve gone a couple times now, and both times have truly been wonderful. He pulls books off the shelf with such excitement and we spend so much time reading them at the library, and then at home. I do love it there, and I love our time there.

I just wish I was really rich, so I could fill the library with brand new books, and enforce jail time for anyone who stains them, writes in them, rips the pages, or uses them as loofas. Reading is fundamental. But library books are funky. (And not in an R&B or Hip Hop kind of way.)

*The views expressed in this post are not supported by my son, the information girl, the librarian who helped us get our library cards, or the man sitting next to me who did not poop himself.

06 Sep 2011

Guest House

26 Comments Family, Personal Crap

My brother’s guest house is Spanish-style, like the main house. It sits back behind the pool area next to beautiful, green grass.  The inside of it looks like a cabin you would find in the mountains; blonde wood covering the walls, Indian rugs on the floor, a small bedroom with a single bed, a lovely bathroom and a small kitchen with a retro-looking, turquoise fridge.

There are pictures on the walls; one of my dad’s Junior High class. He’s in the upper left corner with a wry grin on his face. Next to that is the framed menu from the deli my grandfather owned in the late 50’s. There are photos of my brother and sister-in-law at past jobs, pictures of dogs who aren’t around anymore, framed mirrors, and many books. The bedroom holds a lamp with a lovely shade and fresh linens in a wicker chest.

This is the house where my cousin came to die.

In his early 20’s my cousin battled and beat Hodgkins Lymphoma, and changed his life. At the time he was a stoner, a surfer, and a punk. When he was well again, he became a vegetarian, a staunch supporter of vitamins, and a very hard worker. After years of building houses and work as a general contractor, he went to school to become a chiropractor because he wanted to help people who were in pain. He practiced in that field until last November, when he was diagnosed with stage 4 throat cancer. He had just turned 59.

My cousin is only 11 years younger than my mom, by virtue of her sister being 13 years older than she. My mom fell in love with him the second he was born, and always looked at him more as a younger brother, than a nephew.

He fought this cancer valiantly, doing all he was told to do and believing with all his heart that he’d be back to work by now. He charted his calories, making sure to take in at least 2000 a day, so as not to become weak. He walked, he checked his Vitamin K intake, he dealt with the nausea and the frustration of chemo.

Two weeks ago it became clear that his fight was over, and my brother and sister-in-law immediately offered their guest house, it’s bright skylight and cheery decor a welcome change from the hospital he has been in and out of, and the village apartment the hospital provided so he could be close to chemo. A welcome change also from the apartment he still rented over an hour away from where we all live. My brother and sister-in-law invited my cousin to their home to die close to his family in the San Fernando Valley where he grew up.

Today I was there a lot. I went back tonight and sat on the couch next to the hospital bed that hospice set up. A caretaker and hospice nurse were there, checking vitals and monitoring his breathing, which is slowing. I pulled a book from the shelf and started reading, “My Name is Asher Lev”. The first 20 pages were depressing as hell, which actually seemed appropriate.

Watching my cousin die is different from watching my dad die a year ago. I don’t know if I can describe all the ways it’s different right now, but maybe someday I will. I feel like a bit of a veteran now. It’s all less scary, but not any less surreal. My cousin is not letting go as easily as my father did, and I know he has his reasons for that. I can’t imagine what my mom feels, watching her nephew, her brother, leave. Their relationship is special. He even told me so on Tuesday.

I am amazed by the generosity of my brother and sister-in-law. It’s a big thing they’ve done. Their kids, who are 10 and 13, are finding it difficult and sad, but they knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that it was the right thing to do. My nephew moved his drums out of his space and my niece hung a big sign on the wall welcoming him there.

Death is an interesting thing. I’m starting to see it as just one of the many phases of our lives. It is inevitable. It will come. There is great beauty in it. And great sadness.

I listened to an Adele song on the way home tonight, because nothing beats a sad song when you’re blue. I know I’ll always remember this time, this sadness, and this beauty. I will carry it with me like I carry my father, but in a different place. And I promise I will be even more grateful, even more joyous, even more aware of all of the bounties of life.

This is it, folks. Use it well.

**********************************************************************************************************

I wrote this post Saturday night, three days ago. My cousin lost his battle at 1:30 this morning. Or maybe I should say he won the war. It was the first time in six days that there was no family around him sharing memories, crying, or laughing. I’m positive he waited until it was just him and the nurse. He hated being a bad host, as he told me many times on my visits with him over the last year.

Funny thing: Until he was diagnosed, I only saw my cousin about two or three times a year, on birthdays or holidays. He lived over an hour away and worked crazy hours, six days a week. Since he got sick, I saw him at least once a week, usually more. I think we learned a lot about each other over the last year.

He told me at least three times in the last month to be grateful and thank God every single time you wake up healthy.

I hope your journey is a beautiful one, Bill. I hope you’re surfing and that you have ten big dogs. I hope you get to see your dad and Grandma and my daddy. I promise I’ll remember to be grateful. Every day.

To my readers: There is no need to say you are sorry. I am more happy for my cousin that he is free of his pain, than I am sad. I know this will be hardest on my mom and on my cousin’s sister. For the rest of us, we will miss him dearly but we feel blessed for all the time we spent with him since he was diagnosed, and we are so glad he is out of pain. I mostly wrote this so you could use his advice and be grateful for your health, your family, and your time.

03 Sep 2011

Flawless Saturday Question

20 Comments Flawless Saturday Question

When I was a kid, school was like a prison to me. Not a high-security prison, but I guess more like jail. I felt like they had the wrong guy. Whatever they thought I did to get in there, I didn’t do.  I had a 13-year sentence.

Of course there were aspects of school I enjoyed: Drama, English, History, making fun of cheerleaders… And, even though Back to School commercials in August left me nauseated and trying to claw my eyes out… I LOVED Back to School Shopping.

I remember walking up and down the aisles at Thrifty, and picking out the things I wanted:

The perfect Ticonderoga #2 pencils

Pencil sharpeners

Bic pens

A pencil holder

Peachy Folders (How AWESOME were these?)

And my absolute favorite. The only thing that cushioned the blow of having to walk back through those prison doors:

College-Ruled Paper Spiral Folders

To this day, I have an obsession with lined-paper folders. I love them. It’s hard for me to pass them up. When I finally graduated, I wrote every sketch and monologue I was ever in on a college-ruled folder. I still use them for to-do lists, grocery lists, and to write the occasional treatment for a show or movie I’d like to write.

What are your favorite memories of back-to-school shopping? Or am I the only one that has them?

02 Sep 2011

The Sand

11 Comments Personal Crap

G and I went to Huntington Beach to stay two nights to be near Russ. He was working there all week and his hours have been crazy for the last two months, so anything we can do to see him… We do.

G and I spent most of the day on the beach Wednesday. I’m not entirely a “beach person”. There’s a lot of shit you have to carry. There’s a lot of sand that gets into the shit that you carry. There’s a lot of sunblock that needs to be applied, that the sand then sticks to. There’s a lot of people. Did I mention the sand?

HOWEVER, since I have become a mom I try to “go with the flow” a little bit more. I try to stretch my wings, change my mind, and enjoy the beach.

We both thought it would be a great idea to make a sand castle. I was actually excited, because I haven’t made sand castles since I was a little kid.  I immediately got to work, taking all of our sand toys out of the bag and running to the ocean to fill our pail up with water. G was right behind me, cheering me on but not wanting to get too close to the waves. Running back up to where our gear was, I started pouring water on our chosen castle location. A couple more trips to the sea gave us a wet enough product to begin working with. I immediately made a small moat and a platform in the center of it. G and I started patting down the sand, getting ready to begin construction.

Then Garrett poured a whole lot of dry sand on the platform. I patiently tried to explain to him that you can not build with dry sand. He insisted I was wrong as he poured more dry sand onto the platform. “Garrett”, I lovingly said, “We need the sand to be wet so we can build with it.” I generously showed him how dry sand merely slipped through my fingers while wet sand stayed together. “See?”, I gently nudged, “The dry sand just falls away.”

My detailed explanation was met with more and more dry sand being recklessly thrown onto my would-be castle.

“I’m done!”, I defiantly exclaimed. “You can build the castle however you want to build it.” Then I laid back on our giant blanket and shielded my eyes from the sun. I daydreamed about falling asleep and waking up to Garrett and a group of helpful surfers having built a castle, the likes of which had never been seen. Actually, I was really just daydreaming about falling asleep. Period.

I took a few deep breaths and decided it was more important that G and I have a good time together than it was for us to “properly” build a castle. I sat up, checking to see if anyone was checking out my pathetically pale skin, and said, “Let’s build!”

“Yes! Let’s build a volcano!”

I quickly got to work, before he changed his mind. I made a volcano-type structure out of the WET sand I had previously made and G asked me to make a deep hole in the center. I did. And he filled it with dry sand. It looked awesome. We had come together, the two of us, and used our materials in a fashion that made us both content. I felt like a leader. I felt like a teacher. I felt like an accomodater (even if that isn’t a real word). And as I sat there, glowing in our achievements as a team… Garrett stomped the shit out of our volcano.

I then went back to spraying on sunblock, arranging towels, staring at tan people, and watching Garrett get as much sand as possible into his hair, bathing suit, and butt. At one point he agreed to hold my hand and let the water hit his feet. That ended with him screaming at me because it was too cold, and a couple of nearby dads laughing at me. By 3:20 we were both tired, starving and ready to pack it up. We met Russ for lunch, G drew an amazing surfer on the waves, and he and I headed back to the hotel room for baths and showers.

It was a good day. And that night, while G slept, I told him I love him. Then I subliminally whispered in his ear about the properties of sand, and how you can’t build a freaking thing with it if it’s dry.

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