Saturday, December 12, 2009

1958-2009

My heart is breaking today. I will miss my "little mama" forever.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The knight and the beast

My sister, A, is in Germany this week pursuing an experimental treatment to stop her cancer from spreading. It's, oh, geez...I'm very happy that there IS an experimental anything to interrupt cancer's rampage. And this experience is such a perpetually delicate, painful thing. I'm not sure I can really write about how afraid and wistfully hopeful I am.
We had this great talk, she & I, about her husband and his efforts to find the right treatment for her. She compared him to Wesley in The Princess Bride, doing anything to keep his love safe, and I know he'd come back from the mostly dead to save her if he could.
My brother-in-law is just blowing my mind with his desperation and determination to help my sister get the treatment they believe may stop the attack of new tumors.
As a physician, my sister's husband has access to a number of resources (hospitals, doctors, cancer research institutes, medical investors and entrepreneurs), and the industry clout which gives him credibility when he assaults those resources with his agenda.
He has stayed awake nights compiling reports and packets and amassing and clarifying data on this experimental treatment, which he has then packaged professionally and sent to any credible institution or research facility that might put this treatment into place soon enough to help A.
I'm amazed, and very very moved, by his fierceness, and am clinging tightly to my hope that his tenacity, this German doctor who just gave A the treatment yesterday, and just the power of chance, medicine, and determination, will put cancer - that bitch - on the run.

Friday, September 25, 2009

New Addition Announcement!

Evil. Not one of these: One of THESE:

WordNerdBird. My (technical) writer's musings and queries of the darkest, vaguest, stumbliest kind.

Monday, September 21, 2009

A big tornado of awesome

I have some lovely, exceptional friends.

For various reasons, this blog is not where I typically honor - or even mention - my friends except possibly anecdotally and briefly. But I really am perpetually amazed by the sustaining and enduring friendships I've been able to make in this incarnation of my life, post-college, post-bad-marriage(s), post-Utah.

And this is as good a place as any to note something a bit convoluted: My friends have - most likely unbeknownst to them - helped me process my ability to be a friend, and helped heal my perspective on past experiences. There is absolutely a time - more recent than I wish - when I would never have been able to, without judgment, speculation or fear, embrace forgiving, loving relationships with past friends, if I didn't have current friends who feed my sense of self-worth.

I'm not even sure that makes sense to anybody but me.

I guess my point is: I have a loving community around me full of women who have REALLY showered me with not just kindness and acceptance, but praise, sustenance, love and genuine affection. And the insecure or wounded parts of me which didn't think I deserved any of those gifts have finally, I think, been mollified into quiescence.

Last night, in a WHOLLY unexpected move, several of my friends (and with Jamie's help and blessing) surprised me with a half-birthday-and-congratulations-for-surviving-3/4-of-the-suckiest-year-ever party!

I can't even express how amazed and moved I was. Am.

So thank you, Angie, Jen, Joi, Karen, Ruth and Sarah. And Jamie. And the many other friends and family - online, long-distance, or otherwise - who have been supportive, kind, and just generally THERE recently.

Because you have really made me happy.

And loving.

(And even a bit tearful.)

 From a very grateful place today,

 -R Waffle

Monday, September 14, 2009

Unbelievably...

Even though today is close to my six year anniversary of being a parent, it's my first day as the parent of a kindergartener. And since I have about 8 snippets of memories preceding my own life prior to Kindergarten, I can assume that at most, the past 6 years will be encapsulated into 4 minutes of memories for Milo, 34 years hence. Good to know my time has been well spent. (and hold me - because today is just a big, jaw-dropping day of GAH! Kindergarten!)

Monday, May 25, 2009

Gadget Man Defies Gravity!

Jamie's not-so-secrety spy name is Gadget Man. And I'm going to leave it at that, letting you imagine the discourses endured enjoyed discussing shutter aparature, gigabyte capacity, widget blah blah.

Ultimately, if he's happy, I'm happy.

  And, sure, sometimes I learn more about something I will never actually use (cough cough video camera) than I might ever in a zillion years want to ever ever hear about need, but that's just fine. Really.

 However. However, there's one thing I think is worth talking about: gadgets require care. If you take it somewhere, you need to bring it home.

 For example: a couple of years ago, I pulled into my parking space at work (a 17 mile drive), when something loud clunked down the windshield. That something turned out to be Jamie's super special hand-held GPS navigation system. Which had apparently been capable of clinging to the top of the car for at least that drive.

 And then there's yesterday. Burned forever in my mind as The Great iPod Hunt 2009. Yesterday, the Waffles went to:
  • The pool
  • The bank
  • The toystore
  • The bike store
  • The grocery store
  • The river for a picnic
And after the kids were in bed, we ripped the car and house apart searching for Jamie's iPod - last seen at the pool. Guess where it was? That's right. Once again, the top of the car was the culprit. Apparently, I'm no speed freak...or Jamie's gadgets are resistant to things like motion and wind speed. And gravity.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Mother's Day...Late and later...

It's been sixteen years since I first (as an adult) met my birth mother, J****.

 I can't imagine what she went through as a pregnant fourteen year old, and then as that girl, the one who had a baby, when she went back to High School and then on through the rest of her own young life.

 I may not have mentioned this about her before, but she's really amazingly smart. She got a Ph.D. from a really REALLY prestigious university AND received a really prestigious fellowship.

She took her life story and turned it into one of strength and hope and positivity. When I met her, I was amazed at what a warm, bright, happy person she was.

 Sixteen years ago, I was...oh, not all that awesome in many ways. I was in a series of muddles: married to Big Gay Ex, having lots of problems with my adopted family, dropping in and out of college as I could or could not pay for each semester.

I was articulate, which sometimes made me seem bright and driven and determined, but I wasn't really, just smashing my way through a messy young adulthood. I screwed up a lot.

 J**** is someone with whom I desperately want to have a relationship - for many reasons. Some of which I acknowledge are healthy and some not, in that they are snarled up in my own self-discovery rather than in focusing outward on that relationship. At first, I'd communicate with J**** every few weeks, though all the chaos that was my life in my twenties. That time period stretched until it was just at holidays - and when we did talk, things were a more and more awkward.

Things in her life also got more complicated, and a number of good things, but also a number of sad things, happened to her, which seemed to make the distance between us broader.

 A friend gave me advice to remember that J**** had a baby as a child herself. She went through HUGE difficulties to become the woman she is. Whatever painful stories she has been through, those, along with guilt and anxiety, surface for her every time we communicate. And each time might be as painful as the first time we met.

 I've really tried to take that to heart.

So lately (as in, the past 4-5 years), I've been sending her little e-mail notes 2-3 times a year, with pictures of us and a little summary of where we are and what we're doing.

Usually there is no response, but occasionally I'll get an e-mail and photos back. And even though each time she doesn't respond is privately wrenching, I just keep trying.

 This year, my most recent e-mail, with an update about Jamie's surgery and Mother's Day greetings, bounced.

 That was my last point of contact with her, and I have been finding this devestating. She's not dead, but she's removed the one way I had to reach out to her. 

That's all.

 I had written a longer, more self-absorbed post about all the screw-ups I've made which may have brought her to decide, despite my lack of recent crazy, not to know me, but ultimately, ULTIMATELY, I can only say that I've made mistakes but so does everybody. The mistake I want to NOT make, however, is that of giving up hope completely.

 So, in hope, and with the only method left to me at all, Happy Mother's Day, Janet.

I love you.

And thank you always,

 -Rebekah

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

God's underpants...

At our house, naked isn't common, but it's also not particularly noticeable. I think Jamie & I are modest by nature, but we're also not overly concerned with hiding ourselves.

Since the kids were born, I always wear pajamas (at least in part to prevent my still-nursing, co-sleeping 2-year-old from latching on in the night without my consent). And in general, I TRY to close the door to the bathroom when I'm using it (largely unsuccessfully - I can't count the number of discussions about WHO gets popsicles after dinner that I've carried on while I'm SO wanting privacy). But I do try...

Comparing nudity at our house to, say, my own upbringing, however, I'd have to say we're a bunch of nudist hippie freak-jobs. 

When I was growing up, we weren't provided words for any underwear-covering body parts aside from "down there" and "bosom". All euphemisms were determined obscene and discussion of bodily function was taboo in the extreme. I was raised to use the words "urinate" and "defecate" unironically; I once got grounded for using the ubiquitous 80's words "pissed off". And (my personal favorite), around age four, when I noticed that I had a mystery "third hole" in my genitals, my mother snapped back quickly "No you don't!" (Because thinking your vagina is aberrant is apparently better than acknowledging it and - god forbid - having to name it). Sigh...

So, I'd venture a guess that my idea of middle ground regarding body privacy, nudity and prudery might be skewed. Probably the Waffles are somewhere on the conservative end of that spectrum between all-out nudists and the completely over-the-top body-phobes I call "family".

When wonderful, lifesaver sister #2 came to visit and help with the kids last month, our free-flowing, laidy-back-nakedy habits got a bit of a system shock. Jamie's first night in the hospital, I came home to find my kids having a bath together, just like normal... ...but wearing their swimsuits. I don't know how she intended to actually WASH them, but I was intrigued by what the point of hiding their genitals was.

Since I was preoccupied with other things that week, though, I let that one go for a while.

Am I crazy to think that covering them up is like a fast-track to fetishizing? Generally, I am interested in the weird correlation between religious prudery and how that so much comes across as sexual preoccupation. Because if there's one thing Mormons are VERY good at, it's pushing young people to get married early and have babies (also multi-level marketing, but that's another discussion). This is such a big deal, they've designed their own mystery underpants to WAY cover all those dirty bits. And, from my armchair, it seems like my upbringing was FRAUGHT with preoccupation with general genital (of the boy/girl variety) business. Getting married was pretty much the #1 game we played as kids. And why? Babies? Sex?? I can't speak for any other person's upbringing, but I can certainly say my own was FAR more focused on sexual attractiveness, arranging pre-marital boy/girl get-togethers, discussions of marriage and having children at an early age, than my own children's is.

So what's the deal? If bodies weren't so taboo (I think they use words like "sacred"), would Mormons have this same preoccupation? Which came first, the prudery or the preoccupation with all things body, sexuality and underpants?

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

All the wonderful you never needed

This year my birthday was pretty cool. And weird. It fell a couple of weeks before Jamie's surgery, so it was full of anxiety. A few of my favorite family in-laws came down from Washington state for a visit, which made it special. And they, along with Jamie, gave me this:

Do you have one? I've NEVER had one. Until March 16th, if I wanted to listen to something specific, I packed a brim-full CD case around with me to play in my laptop or car stereo. A veritable homage to 1996. But now...NEVERMORE! And it is AWESOME!! And scary. You know the hidden thing that comes with an iPod? Need. Because suddenly I NEED albums by my favorite singers. And books. I NEED audiobooks I was always content to read in original format. And MOOOOVIES! TV Shows I've wanted to see but never had time for. As a mom, it's like getting a time machine - I can LISTEN to books at lunch while I walk. Or sit at my desk and watch the pilot for Chuck. I've seen more TV and watched more movies in the past month than in the past 5 years, I think.

It's like the most amazing marketing tool EVER!

EVIL! GENIUS!

(and wonderful...I'll never go back, but OY! Who knew??)

Monday, April 20, 2009

Facebook

This year has easily provided the most self-loathing opportunities of my life. Every failed relationship, every person who saw me at my worst, every person who knows things about me I wish weren't true, THOSE PEOPLE are now back in my life. Or at least enough of them that some days I think I've been nothing but a terrible person, the regret I feel just seeing their names.
  • The friend from High School I one day couldn't face dealing with anymore because her food issues made me upset - so I stopped talking to her with no explanation?
  • The boy I dated in HS who turned out to be gay AND who stabbed me in the back during a senior year, debate-tournament scholarship competition? (we're not "refriended", but he's friend to many of mine)
  • The friends I never called back? The ones I was disloyal to or too busy for?
  • The roommate I bickered endlessly with?
  • The boy I had a painful crush on?

All there. Every mistake made, careless word said. All. right. there.

Okay. Here's the other side of that. The "half full" part: I've reconnected with a LOT of people whom I have, at one point or another, shared really meaningful, positive experiences, friendship and love with. It's MY issue that the worst parts of those relationships are the ones I focus on, the things I didn't correct and now, 10 or 20 years later, I'm trying to sort-out (in my head or literally) and puzzle back into my self-image of happy-go-lucky kind person. Also? I think I have self-esteem issues.

Moving away from home (my theme, apparently, for this week), I've lost touch with more friends than I wish. Perhaps. And Facebook is like voluntarily returning to a giant reunion which is sometimes amazing, and sometimes absolutely bitter. I think I'm bad at Facebooking. I've used FB to apologize to a couple of people, only to never hear from them again...maybe because I reminded them that my "friendship" isn't what they want. Is this typical, my complex love for and loathing of Facebook? Am I just overly neurotic and self-loathing?

Friday, April 17, 2009

My favorite place...

When I moved to Portland, I bounced around for a while trying to figure this city out. It wasn't like Salt Lake or New York, but sort-of a weird combination:
  • Like New York, one of the first days I was here, I watched a group of junkies (or a diabetics club) shooting up out in the open.
  • People didn't seem to like to walk here.
  • It was DIRTY.

  • Like SLC, the mix of uptight people and punks made me feel at home.
  • There were a lot of independent bookstores and coffee.
  • The scenery was amazing.
Unlike NY, I could afford my apartment. Unlike NY, nobody seemed to be SO intent on being cool, going to the right school or buying the right shoes. Unlike SLC, nobody said anything that invoked God, scriptures or the lord to me without raising an eyebrow to invite me in on the joke. (For a week at least - my first job here was bizarrely populated with Mormons). Unlike SLC, I never just randomly ran into people I knew - EVER. (This is still true). Moving to a new city, even one in the same country, even one sort-of the same size as the one you grew up in, is disorienting. Everything you know isn't the same. All your comfortable places, the sights and behaviors you are used to - all gone. It's exciting, but also...hard to find ways to comfort yourself. Then I found this place:

The Tao of Tea is this amazing, cozy (possibly pretentious) teahouse. Jamie & I had many dates there pre-babies. (And pre-Jamie, I had a preposterous number of first dates there).

They also have the fancy-schmancy-disney version at the local Classical Chinese Gardens, but the main house, the shabby one with too few tables, is my secret Portland-home-away-from-home.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Open hearts

My little boy has been figuring out love for a while.

He asks great questions, comes up with amazing hypotheses and takes his experiences to new and unexpected places.

Even after he gets married, for instance, he's still going to come home at night to sleep in the family bed. And I'm still going to help remind him to do his chores, especially when he has too much laundry (HA!).

We recently figured out that I'll probably not be able to help him with "major" bottom wipes, so he's been working on that one, thank the stars, because I had been trying to figure out how to walk into a board meeting and call adult Milo out for a wipe down...

At least one BIG conversation, for me at least, has been about WHO he wants to marry.

At five, just like at four and three, Milo has given his heart and future plans to his friend Devious. Recently, his friends Trouble and Frat-bound have also joined that circle. Together, the four of them intend to buy a house and get married when they are older, like eight or nine or sixty. They'll live together building Legos and pooling their money to buy cool toys and eating chocolate all day.

I couldn't be prouder. Seriously. I know it's time to insert a snarky comment here, like about my future in-laws, Mr. and Mrs. Devious and their recent, silly immigrant comments. Or just generally about my son and his boyfriends. But it AMAZES me that he's so intent on building a loving circle around him of people he intends to always care for and about.

The fact that Devious, Trouble and Frat-bound have mocky nicknames doesn't mean I don't adore them for being kind to and beloved by my son.

But this brings me to the bigger, meatier issue: WILL he be able to marry Devious, Trouble, or Stan or Aiden/Jaden/Kaden or any other boy he wants to?

At least twice now, another child has told him that he CANNOT marry another boy. And both times, he's come to me looking very solemn and asking for reassurance that his world is exactly the way he left it - marriage to boys intact.

I don't know who Milo is going to grow up into.

I hope all the fine things I see in him now - his sense of honor, of gentleness, his analytic and engineering prowess, his artistry, his humor, his love of words - grow into gifts of mind and spirit that bolster him and keep his life beautiful and meaningful.

And I hope that his capacity to love and embrace his friends and remain loyal to them only increases.

He may, like many boys, discover that girls DON'T have cooties. And he may take any number of paths toward adulthood, toward love both romantic and sexual that continue to shape and alter him over the years.

Whomever he loves, though, what I hate, what I DESPISE, is how at some point I have to help him recognize that there is a world of people out there opposed to love the way he sees it today.

Jamie and I have told him, every time he asks, that even though WE are a man and a woman, many families have two dads, two moms, one mom or dad or other combinations - and we point to the families we know like that. And every time he asks about how he can be a dad (which he very much wants), we've pointed to all the people we know who are adopted - like his mom - and found a home and a family created by love rather than by biology.

It may be that we've given him seeds he doesn't need. That he'll fall in love with a girl or four and never need to worry personally about the people in this world who don't want love and commitment to be about love but instead about conformity and gender.

I don't get those people. I'm mad at them. At the ones I know (hi, Mormon nephew who posts anti-gay-marriage-Facebook links) and at all the ones I don't (hello 51% of California voters).

My little boy is growing up in a world that I just want to shake by the shoulders and point out how VITAL love is. I want Milo to perceive his world as loving, embracing and beautiful. Not hating. Not angry. Not biased or prejudiced or small.

So today, I want to say "Thank you, Iowa and Vermont. Thank you, Massachusetts. And FIGURE IT OUT, everywhere else."

My boy is five. I'm 39. And I expect to dance at his wedding.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

He's home!

And doing great...omg, bejebemusbums and all that is sacred, amen and hallelujah!!!!!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

The day after

Jamie made it through his surgery FABULOUSLY!! He's a champ and a warrior and a hero and all things strong and mighty. Also? Very very high on hospital drugs. Also...PHEEEEEEWWWWWWWWWW! Jebus-gawd the relief!!!!!! Here's what happened yesterday:

Pre-surgery

Post-surgery

Discovering he'll need respiratory help the rest of his evil life...

It was easy to convince him to put on the helmet...because? High on drugs.

Also, he won't remember this until I post it as his Facebook profile. Did I mention? High. On. Drugs. Thank gah for those, however, because they wear off too quickly and he's in a tremendous ammout of pain until they get him his next dose.

It's been a rough (and long waiting/stress-monkey) road to get here. Today. To the other side of all things heart-full.

He'll be out of critical care soon. And home maybe early next week.

You know, I discovered today that I have no filters left as I was vaguely describing his incisions and "artery harvest" to a co-worker and she turned green and backed slowly away from me.

I think I might need some recuperation time when all is said and done to regain some lost people skills.

Thanks again to you, blog friends, for all the love and support!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Guitar Keith

My 1st cousin, Keith Taylor, is an amazing guitarist. And a bit offbeat (not musically). Some of my favorite early memories involve sitting around a campfire listening to him play. His giant sideburns are gone, but he's still clearly amazingly gifted. Here are a couple of his latest videos:

Tick tick tick...

Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler. -Albert Einstein
_________________

Tomorrow is Jamie's pre-op. Wednesday morning, early, is his surgery. My sister gets here tomorrow. Before then I need to (deleted long list of a whole hellofa bunch of things)... Jamie's brother and his wife are driving down tomorrow, so they'll be here too. And Jamie's parents are driving down and staying with us Wednesday. All very amazingly kind. I'm so overwhelmingly touched by their generosity.

Yesterday J bought this Giant Recliner on Craigslist. Seriously, it's this big, poofy thing as big as 3 people in the middle of our living room. Like the proverbial elephant, but bigger. And from there, post-surgery, he will do his convalescing. And eating, because OF COURSE it comes with a tray. And heating pad. And vibrating massage...hmmm... And then...that's it. Are we ready? Nnngaaah! (that's my back-of-the-throat-sound-of-agony/fear/throat-clearing noise)... My friend R is helping us around childcare needs and helping my sister if/as needed. My friend Mrs. Naked Monkey is organizing apparently a load of some food love. EVEN though they both are totally busy with work and their own lives and has a bunch of difficult stuff going on themselves. And a huge group of my stellar and loving friends are contributing food this month - even though making vegan food is a lot of work. So much love. Jamie's brother T the 1st set Jamie up with an iPod full of music and books. Jamie's sister T has sent us books and movies and food gift cards and has generally gotten Jamie anticipating his convalescence - two AMAZING, AMAZING, WONDERFULLY KIND things. So...we have SHOCKINGLY stellar friends and family. Which so rocks, I can't TELL you...except I did. In no way effusively enough.

Here's my thank you, in the form of one of my all-time favorite songs: My nails aren't going to survive this week. I can just tell. If that's the least of my worries, I think that will be just fine...

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Things immigrant parents do better than me...

Do you ever wonder why you can't work out your relationships with certain people? Like...you want to, but...something is off?

I've got someone like that. The mom of Milo's friend Devious. She baffles me. In my world? She's rude. In her world? Maybe she's smart and witty. Or really passionate and thinks we are terrible parents. I don't know.

Here's our most recent exchange, about this certain school we'll call FAR AWAY MATHS ELEMENTARY (FAME) which she and I have discussed repeatedly. They are sending Devious there, but we aren't applying: (this makes more sense if you know Portland, but we live close to downtown)

Me: " You know, after looking at it, FAME is off our list. Because, really, it's not feasible. Jamie would have to always work in (remote area East of Portland vaguely near FAME) and never have personal plans or get sick. If Jamie couldn't come get Milo or drop him off every day for the next 6 years, I'd have to perform miraculous feats of time/space travel to drive 10 miles East to drop Milo at FAME, back downtown to Zel's preschool, and then another 15 miles to (suburb West of Portland where I work at the Swoosh) every day by 8 AM. And the same in reverse by 5:30 PM. We actually did a test run and decided we'd go insane by October of this year, let alone by October of 2015."

Her reply: "As for the totally inconvenient drive, I can't believe you. Immigrant parents sacrifice everything for their kids and you can’t drive across town for the right school?!"

***********************
I know it's not that dramatic. It's just immigrant icing on an already cold and bitter cake. Fueled by repeated weird judgmental comments over the past 2 years.

Sometimes I think people should come with their baggage all out there and ready to hand you. Like a name tag reading "Disapproving Parents Made Me Bitter and Quick to Judge You."

Mine would be "Secretly really lazy and sometimes snarky! - Should never be an Immigrant!"

What about you?

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Spin Cycle: "Adventures" in Technical Writing

For this week's spin, I thought I'd try to liven up the world with an adventure-filled account of what it is I do. Because? Technical Writing is like...whatever Chandler's job was. Technical Writing, What is it? 101: If you ever bought, say, one of these:

Chances are you received one of these: Which looked something like this:

Written somewhere, like say, here:

(gauzy finish courtesy of scratched camera phone lens)

By someone like THIS:

Who tried to make it interesting, accurate, grammatically correct, and laid out beautifully.

What this means is that I know a little bit about how to do a lot of one-time, ultimately obscure things. Like setting up your yacht navigation software. Or how to flash printer firmware. Or how to use your home gym equipment. Or set up retail software to track sales of athletic gear.

Naturally. I know all that. It's a GREAT hit at parties...

Maybe. I also have selective-job-amnesia, so I forget what I've written pretty much as soon as it goes to press.

I sound more and more like Indiana Jones/Tarzan all the time. Right?

Here's a question: How often do you use Owner's Manuals? Every day? Seriously. Have you ever read one? Ever?

That's what I thought...

Monday, March 2, 2009

Grr...attitude

Generally, I think I'm sort-of half-and-half on the half-full/half-empty thing. Like half "things are so great", and half "but why did THIS PART go wrong??" I feel lucky and grateful a lot, which I think I express. Sincerely. But when facing mixed blessings, maybe I've been a bit...cranky and cynical. Not my most endearing qualities. For example, when someone offered to give up their own time and personal life to help me cope with what is most likely going to be a pretty rough week, and did so in the most AMAZINGLY KIND WAY...I'm afraid I wasted a little time thinking it might be motivated solely by the proselytizing opportunities. Possibly that is because the BIG thing to worry about, like WHY ANYONE NEEDS TO MAKE THAT OFFER AT ALL, is so monumental that being cynical was easier. Time to say, "Duh, self! Get over your, er, self." So, in the spirit of opening myself up to the kindness that has been thrown so ENORMOUSLY in front of us all, I want to open my arms wide and say THANK YOU: To my Internet friends: Thanks. Even though we've never met, your supportive words provide a touching little bubble of good feeling that buoys me up daily. Thank you to my family, who has been IMMENSELY supportive to Jamie, even though they don't know him very well. The phone calls, advice, offers of help and yes, the prayers, are tremendously important to us. Thank you to Jamie's family, who have been very kind to me, and, some of them, SO VERY STUPENDOUSLY nice to Jamie since his diagnosis. Jamie doesn't see or speak to most of his family all that much. There's a lot of complicated history there. But they mean so much to him, and when his family does something nice like come visit and make a fuss over him, it is a HUGE, MOVING, VERY BIG DEAL. (You know who you are!) Thank you to my group of amazing friends. So many of you have made some great offers and just been generally supportive and kind and solicitous. And a few of you have listened to me go berserk over this latest development. Which I wish were anomalous to this one thing, but you know me well enough to know that my head spins around and I yak endlessly over trivialities too. Ahem. I hope to never need to repay in kind some day - but if the need arises, I'm 1000% there. Because I owe you all. A lot.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Wizards vs. Lovers

I had a good conversation last night with another mom at Milo's preschool. I regurgitated to her my fears that when my sister (not the one with cancer - the other one) comes to visit, she'll use her time alone with my kids to talk about God, golden plates, and "sister wives". (This isn't particularly paranoid of me - she ALWAYS finds time to corner me when I see her and ask about my current stance on religion. I have filed away an unsealed letter from her labeled "Open me when you are ready to talk to God". PLUS...Mormons=proselytizers. Those boys on bicycles aren't anomalies, you know, they're part of the general Mormon worldview on "getting the Jesus word out". Except they call it missionary work.) Anyway. Like me, this other mom is not very religious. She said when they talk about the word "God" to their kids, they tell them that it's how some people refer to "Love". Which made my cynical little heart feel kind-of small. Because "a wizard" isn't a very loving or respectful picture to have given Milo of religious beliefs. Cough. So...we're ramping up toward April. I'm anxious that the surgery be over. I'm thrilled that my sister can come help us. And this is as good a place as any to say that my sister is, by the way, totally dropping a crazy-busy life, including teaching elementary school, full-time parenting 4 of her 7 kids and foster-child, and a time-intensive church job. My gratitude is immense, which makes my fears feel even more petty. Which, really, I guess they are. I doubt Milo or Zel are suddenly going to start singing "I'm a Mormon, Yes I am!" (Real song. Seriously.) after a week with my sister. And...we're reminding the kids who my sister is, since we only see her 1-2/year, so that her transition into our lives is smooth. Annnd...we're helping Milo prepare for potential Wizard talk. Respectfully. Maybe not changing the terminology, but at least injecting the conversation with some politeness. We hope.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Spin Cycle: Loose change

This week's Spin is about CHANGE. And since I think of myself as having had multiple incarnations, I decided to just pick one changed thing I miss.

This is Liz.

She's my BFF. From forever ago. We worked in the Lipstick Trenches together putting ourselves through college. Liz lives in Denver being a psych nurse at an outpatient mental health facility. Often she is the emergency-omg-I-forgot-to-take-my-meds-there-are-snakes-on-me nurse. Sitting here in my cozy faux-asian office with mood lighting and rice-paper/bamboo walls at The Swoosh, I think Liz's career=DIFFICULT. Now that I have kids, I don't see Lizzie very much. Only once in the past 3 years. Last night we had our annual 3+ hour phone marathon critiquing the Oscars. Our take: Perhaps Sophia Loren had the WORST Oscar Dress of 2009, but her body is amazing. And, to be perverse in our logic, botox needs to go, because all those immobile 20-year-old faces were creepy (cough cough...Alicia Keys). But the CHANGE that I'm writing about is that, before kids, before Jamie, the way I got to see Lizzie was ROAD TRIP!

Me alone in my car for a day each way, unless I took detours. I once stood on the Wyoming highway replacing all the belts in my 20-year-old Subaru because one broke and took all the others out with it. I had 50 cassettes (see 20-year-old-Subaru) I'd compiled of Road Trip Music.

Since Jamie/kids/etc. the number of times I've driven anywhere far alone=zero. I miss it. And my favorite bobo.

_____________________________________

¡op uɐɔ ı ʇɐɥʍ ʞool

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Because? My boyfriend Davey in his saxiest incarnation (sez me).

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The new normal

Yesterday, Jamie & I met with his surgeon. Or, anyway, probably his surgeon unless the 2nd opinion guy is for some reason more compelling. Based on that meeting and a conversation with his cardiologist, we are going to wait the 6 weeks until his disability kicks in. Which is, well, ok. A little egshelly. A little full of Please Please Please Don't Die! And every day, I'm in what appears to be the old normal life. Jamie doesn't have obvious symptoms - he looks the same. He acts mostly the same. There's no heart-clutching drama, anyway. I think we're sort-of happy and, well, the same. Most of the time. Gah knows we are eating better. And if we hadn't seen the angiogram, we might still be living the fantasy that his chest pain is asthma. It's good. I get to focus on this whole kindergarten thing. And maybe it gives me time to put to bed all my crazy fears. Because every day I have a few minutes all to myself, usually in the car on the way to/from work, where I just freak out and do all the things I can't do the rest of the time: cry, yell...mainly cry. Someday this will be "last month"...and someday "that time, a few years back, before we became SUPER fit". Right?

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Plain old regular insanity

So...I may have mentioned before that I tend to have this vivid idiot morbid imagination. My tendency is to imagine things that never happen...except in horror novels, television shows narrated by Jon Walsh, COPS, Unsolved Mysteries, or Will Smith movies. More on this in a second... Here in Portland, it's Kindergarten Roundup time. For us, this entails numerous trips to all the schools we'd LIKE Milo to get into. Portland Public Schools work this way:
  • You can go to the public school to which you are assigned by district boundaries.
  • You can go to private school.
  • You can home school.
Or
  • You can put your kid's name in a lottery for up to 3 public schools of your choice, including any public school not in your neighborhood, and something called "public charters", which function like private schools and focus on art, math, environmental living, or some other specialty.
Or
  • You can sign up for demi-public school lotteries for some slightly MORE specialized charter schools. Their lotteries are held separately from the public school lottery.
Confused yet? Our local school is ok. But not all that great. Their test scores are low. Their primary focus is on ESL (English as a 2nd language). We'll register there, but we're hoping to get into one of our lottery schools. So, every couple of evenings, Jamie & I find someone to watch the kids while we go to these mandatory roundup and miscellaneous get-to-know-you meetings at the lottery schools. Our kids go to an amazing preschool with a zillion teachers per classroom, fenced property with secure entrances, organic food, lots of staff vetting and reporting. Here's what I've learned: Kindergarten is not like preschool. Kindergarten is all...just like it was when I went. Big open spaces; no locks or keycards or gatekeepers; big playgrounds, big kids, big expectations; one teacher per 20+ students. It's just overwhelming and my imagination goes into crazy-lady overdrive. On each of these tours, all I can think is: "This is where someone could just stand and shoot at the kids" "This is where the kidnapper would hide and nobody would notice him" "That teacher looks SO depressed. What if she shoots herself in front of the kids?" "WHAT? They grow their own vegetables HERE in this garden where anybody could come along and inject POISON into the EGGPLANT???" Milo is ready for kindergarten. He's nervous, but looking forward to it. Me? I'm going to sit on the street outside the building all day looking for poisoning suicidal alien vegetable nappers.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Hey, Universe, you're a funny...um, entity

You know what the Universe threw at me yesterday? Free winnings! I donated to our local Public Radio station like I do...most every year. Usually. And THIS YEAR, I WON A GIVEAWAY!!! Prizes included: NEW BIKES! FLAT PANEL TV's! IPOD! TRIP TO EUROPE! MAC AIR!!! TRIP TO EUROPE!!!! (I know - twice, but it's what I so wanted) We won...free basketball tickets in a suite. You know what we don't really get into? Basketball. Like...never in the 7+ years of our relationship and never in the almost-39-years-of-my-life. HOWEVER...this year, Jamie is slated to have his surgery sometime soon (dates still unknown) after this game. So he's going to have himself a PARTAY with his Dude friends! Catered suite! VIP parking! BASKETBALL! It's funny. There are a lot of things I'd like to do for Jamie, and this isn't what would have EVER occurred to me, but...it's sort-of a cool thing I never would have imagined. So, thanks, Universe, for being WAY smarter than me I Rebekah.

Monday, February 9, 2009

The list of...is this the right list?

So...people, including you, blog people, are amazing. AMAZING. Since we first got a whiff of bad news, we've been INUNDATED with kindness of all kinds. Offers to give us food. Care for the kids. Drive us places. Pray for us. NOT pray for us. Do the woo-woo dance for us. Vet our MD choices. Tell us your stories. Tell us you are thinking of us. It's a big load of awesome, and you, blog people, are really, really deserving of all the good, best things. We'll be repaying everyone for the rest of our lives. Thank you, thank you, thank you. So now, I'm trying to figure out how to harness the kindness without knowing, at this point, what we might need. Here's the general lay of the land:
  • We need babysitters for a couple of appointments we had anyway. This has nothing to do with the surgery, so don't be duped into thinking it's helping us in a way we wouldn't normally have asked. So...that, but we've probably got it covered. (thanks MNMs)
  • We then also need babysitters for a couple of MD appts. This could include picking up the kids from their so-awesome preschool. At this point, we're a bit in the dark about how long it takes to talk to surgeons and jump through their hoops.
Once the surgery is scheduled, we'll need a couple of specific things:
  • The day of surgery, we might need someone to take the kids to preschool. Or pick them up. Or both. And to hang with them until I come back from the hospital.
  • The week after the surgery, if the kids can't visit Jamie, we might need people to help me take care of them while ~I~ go visit him in the hospital every day. I'll be working FT, but after work would like to be able to see J for a while before I go make things as normal as possible for the kids. Again, whether they can visit, visiting rules and hours, all unknown.
  • The month after Jamie comes home, he'll be not doing much. And possibly bored. He might want a visit, but since he's vaguely surly at the best of times, he might want no visits. He might appreciate funny e-mail. Facebook jokes. DVDs or music. His mom will be staying with us that first week after he comes home, and she's amazing. But after that, I don't know what J will do with his time or how he will get his needs met.
  • He also can't drive for the next 6-8 weeks after surgery. Since I'm concerned about the impact to our $$ if I take time off work, I might ask someone else to help drive him to a few of his follow-up appts. Which might be numerous or not. So many unknowns.
Food.
  • We would love a few meals, and would be a huge relief to not have to think about every one of them during the time right around the surgery. BUT... hum. But we ALL are going on a cholesterol-conscious diet. Forever. Jamie's problems are hereditary, which means the kids have to eat the same healthy things he does. This means our foods need to be super low fat, low-processed, low...whatever it is I like in food, I think I can't enjoy it again. Jamie is living vaguely vegan right now (he eats fish and fish oils, but no other meat, dairy or eggs). I hate having to follow other people's food restrictions, but as with many things, the thing I most don't want to do is the thing I'm doing. So...vegan. PITA, but there it is. So, while we would worship you, it might just be more than most people could do.

I don't even know what to say. It feels all grabby to put this out there, but...I am. And I hope it's clear: I love everyone who has offered. We are grateful and humbled. Thanks...

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Down the rabbit hole...

Here's the word on Jamie's heart, actually two: Quadruple bypass Here's another one: ASAP (maybe technically that's four) So...here we go. I'm already overwhelmed by lists. What do do next. Who to call. How to cope with the 4000 things that have to be done: phone calls. A zillion of those. Scheduling everything. The budget. OMG. We don't have awesome insurance. In fact, we took a gamble and LOWERED our insurance a couple of years ago. So now...our out of pocket for this is going to be pretty high. Today's is Zel's 2nd birthday. Next week we start kindergarten round-up at the FIVE schools we're trying to get into. That's five times 2-3 meetings with each. So...that. Jamie will be out of work for 6-10 weeks. I can't take time off. Because? Money. So we're figuring out who can come help out with his needs. Hopefully his mom. And we're getting 2 opinions next week on surgery options, but it's pretty clear: there are five blockages in his coronary arteries. Waiting, as the cardiologist put it, is like adding a lot of "the unknown" to our choices. Frankly, I liked it when THIS was "the unknown".

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

A little more cheez, please

I may or may not have heard this song before this morning. It hasn't registered with me. But it was playing on the radio during my drive in, and I should have pulled over, the way it made me...oh, sap out. I love this guy's voice and the passion just resonated so deeply with me today.

Monday, February 2, 2009

A month of heart...

Did you hear this one?
Man says to doctor I eat spamburgers daily: angioplasty!
Ahhh...haiku. So wise.

Jamie doesn't eat spamburgers. Not even once. But apparently his heart hasn't heard the news. This Friday he's scheduled for an angiogram to see why his heart's not doing the things it orta.

Jamie is 36. He's my younger man! But he's inherited the cholesterol problem of someone much older.

After a routine physical last week, it seems like we've gotten daily doses of bad news about the state of his health. Words like coronary blockage, out-of-control triglycerides, stent, bypass. Immediate action. Words like heart attack.

Ironically, it's almost St. Valentine's day. February. The month of love. And hearts. There are effing hearts everywhere I look right now. But the one I'm looking at with real emotion is scaring me.

I don't want to overreact. Or overdramatize. We have options, doctors, insurance. I don't want to be so wet, but this is my partner - my kid's dad. It's been a strangely tremulous year, this 2009.

Thus far, I'm all for burning off the things which slow me down, make me less of the person I want to be. But a trial by fire from fear-of-loss, fear-of-death, just fear, I'm not sure I'm ready for all that.
We'll make it, but I'm afraid of being afraid.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Spin cycle: the hokey-pokey!

My first attempt at Spin Cycling! Jamie & I aren't necessarily the most overtly romantic couple you'll meet. Like, uh, at all. But we are closet cheeseballs. And this? Is our song. All passioned, bad hair, big plaid shirted 80's angsty rip-your-heart-outyness.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Interview, Part II

Remember this post? From 2 days ago? Babawawa time! A few people agreed to be my interviewee-guinea-pig types - Hooray...suckahs!
  • Arwen, of The Difference Between Shooting Stars & Satellites, All Your Yarn Are Belong to Us, and Basically, we effing Rock! (because she's prolific like that). Arwen is hilarious, and touching and spunky and all of her blogs are delicious. Check her out!
  • Captain Dumbass. Does anybody not read his blog? He's like...the blogger demigah. Half the blogs I read are part dumbass. In the good way...
  • The River Grey. I'm too close to this knitter/chef/snarkass to quantify her. She's the snide in the snide patch who would give you her last...barbaloot. Cooler than crafty-punk, sweeter than mojitos. Smarter than most.
  • Mamazen. Another blog lovah. Plus back-cracker, fighter, artist mama and source of cheer.
  • Jenn at Wordy Mama. Boy, so I just started reading this blog, and it's SMART. And funny in a stealthy, ear-worm, creep-up-on-you-and-then-stay-with-you-way. Woof!
So I think the deal was that I would send each of you guys 5 unique questions, but instead I'm just going to put a bunch of questions here, from which you can choose 5. Or 15. Or 2. Please answer on your blog, link back, and comment on this post when you've done so? And please join in if you want. Because? Why not! Questions
  1. Are you now or have you ever been psychic? How do you know?
  2. Would you rather die heroically or cowardly?
  3. How hard would it be for you to live somewhere without fresh indoor water? Electricity? Plumbing?
  4. What is your primary cellphone ringtone?
  5. Are you more witty or snarky?
  6. Most extreme personal change or changes you've ever made?
  7. Favorite city you've lived in or want to live in?
  8. Has your life up til now been more blameless or messy? Moving forward from here, which one would you choose?
  9. Worst kiss (or kiss-like experience)?
  10. You HAVE to pick a religion to practice. Evangelical Christian, Zoroastrian, Jainist or Scientologist? (and why?)
  11. The person you are romantically involved with announces they are getting a sex change. Would it change your feelings for them?
  12. Meat helmet or thigh-high golden boots with large wings attached to them?
  13. How many times have you been what you consider REALLY in love? Do you still love those people/that person?
  14. When you die, what do you think happens? Do you hope to be disappointed or somehow wrong about that?
  15. Do you know your ethnic ancestry? Is that interesting or otherwise important to you?

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Gently reconnecting my head to my body

So I recently returned from a trip home to see the familial bosom and hang out with my sister and the rest of my family. My mind is still racing. Here's what I like about Utah: Here's what I don't like about Utah: I have a lot to say about the state of cancer, the state of my family and the state of Utah. But I think I'll sit back until I'm less frustrated and overwhelmed. Glad to be home, though. Yes indeedy.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Interview Pass it On by The Jason Show!

(like a me-me, but different!)

Have I mentioned The Jason Show before?

I should have. I found his blog via Bossy a few months ago, right around the whole Prop 8 debacle and very soon after I found my friend Chris' Gay Mormon Teen Torment letters in my garage.

Jason is an easy-to-lurv ex-Mormon with a touching personal story that has always particularly spoken to me given our matchy-matchy upbringings in the bosom of Vatican City, Mormonville, USA. As far as I know, we never met, but we COULD have...

Today I'm participating in Mr. Show's Interview Pass Along...skip to the end if you don't want to hear about me, but DO want to be interviewed your own sassy self!

1. Leave me a comment saying, "Interview me."
2. I will respond by emailing you five questions. I get to pick the questions.
3. You will update your blog with the answers to the questions.
4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same post.
5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you ask them five (different) questions.

1. How old do you wish you were and why?

Huh. Sometimes I think I'd like to be 25 again and go whisper some truths into my own ear. But I think I'm talking about time travel... What was the question? Anyway, if I WERE 25 again, I'm sure Mistakes Made would be Mistakes Remade. I'm pretty happy being 38 as is, because the sweet things in my life far outweigh the problems I could have corrected with my fabulous hindsight.

2. If you found yourself, entirely by accident, on a nudist beach, would you go native?

Sure. I would and I have, but maybe not if all the other nudists were my co-workers or my parents.

3. You're 15 (or whatever) and the world's about to end. Is dying a virgin really the thing that concerns you most?

Whaa-aaaa-at? I'm so confused. WHEN I was 15, my preoccupation with virginity wasn't all that powerful (17, yes, maybe...probably). If I was a virgin and my own 38-year-old-self simultaneously, I might wish I'd made a few more lascivious choices. But wait...the world is about to end? I'd want to hold on tightly to the people I love and comfort them. I think at any age that would have outweighed getting it on.

4. Why do you find yourself coming back for more and more of The Jason Show?

Because Jason is so endearing, of course.

5. Why did you leave Mormonism?

Because...oh, 5000 things. Because Mormons kept telling me things that didn't jive with my own experiences and observations. Because I never REALLY felt any burning bosom or still small voice, just my own brain sometimes appreciating their small truths, and more often not. Brown skin is a curse from God? Men get Priesthood, Women get Motherhood? Casseroles and jell-o taste good? Celestial Marriage? Relief Society? Popcorn popping on the Apricot Tree? The planet Kolob??!? But mainly, I probably left when and how I did because I was supposed to BELIEVE, not just coast along pretending. My father was a Bishop and my entire family was UBER Mormon. Up at 5 AM reading the D&C before breakfast every day, my whole life. Scripture games at the dinner table. Kneeling-down family prayers at least twice daily. We were supposed to REALLY FEEL it. Tesimony x 1000. So when I wasn't feeling it, I couldn't just let that be my answer. I tried. But it felt less and less true. The more I dug, the more it stank. A lot contributed to my realization that I didn't believe in Mormonism or (eventually) religion in general, but once my blinders came off, Mormonism in particular seemed like a farce. Ahem.

So...wanna be interviewed? Wanna submit interview questions for others? Comment me!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Welcome to your post-apocalypse

So I finally saw the movie wall-E. And I've been thinking about how it fits in the lexicon of children's film and fiction. Which it so doesn't. I mean...stripped down, this is a movie about garbage, dystopia and solitude. Everything potentially familiar to children like cities, roads, houses, humans, and toys have disappeared, been covered with waste, or converted into square garbage-based-building-blocks. There is no greenery anywhere and it's pretty heavy-handedly explained that the familiar world has been destroyed by short-sighted human consumption. Human beings, meanwhile, have turned into amorphous, futuristic-wheelless-chair-bound, disconnected blobs living on a space outpost. They perpetually use Facebook and shop using the digital screens attached to their wheelfree-chairs. And drink Big Gulps. Human babies live in incubators tended to by robots. Only wall-E displays anything like a familiar "humanity" or a childlike interest in the world around him. If this were not animated, it would be the bleakest, grossest, saddest movie of the year. wall-E lives in a battered bunker, his playthings are beloved, muck-covered cast-offs, and he comforts himself by singing along to grainy videos of Hello Dolly and cuddling his pet cockroach. Then he goes to space and uncovers a plot to keep the blobs away from earth forever because the garbage problem is unsolvable. And he finds love. With another robot. Who is 800 years younger than him. So, as plots go, you know, GLARGH! When I was growing up, I remember my first glimpses of dystopian society: Logan's Run. Planet of the Apes. Westworld. What strikes me is that I was frequently drawn to dystopian film and literature because it was so completely opposite from my own childhood. The order and straightforwardness of my world made these films ludicrous and therefore enjoyable. Although my family believed in a pending religious apocalypse, it was clear there wasn't much concrete about that. Jesus rising in the East like the sun? 1000 years of war? 2 years of food will keep us safe? Oh...kay. I wonder what my kids think about this movie. It's almost impossible to chat with them about the grimmer aspects, and they both think wall-E is cute. Which he is. Scarred little freak. What do you think? Is wall-E part of the Soilent Green lexicon, or more Bugs Life? Did you see it? Did you like it?