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? 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


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.