Monthly Archives: October 2010

Today Marks the Encouragement of Shannon

13 years ago, I went to a 20/30 charity dance at the Grand Ballroom in downtown Sacramento. I met the guy we called the other (4th) Saturn guy. 4 dudes who worked at Saturn’s Sacramento office belonged to same club Shan and Cindy did.

Steve and I hit it off and I needed to leave to hang out with Brandon and his crowd at the 2-Me.

So Shannon asked me “Do you need someone to walk you to your car?” And looked at Steve. Steve walked me and we exchanged numbers. He saw my old Chevy Nova (US Toyota Carolla) and was so overwhelmed by the standard transmission that he kissed me.

Today, I was so blue. My tongue has really been bothering me. I just wonder if it will ever improve so that I can eat fruit, vinegar, almonds, walnuts…It seems a waste to be sad about it when looking at the big perspective.

Steve and Paco decorated the front of the house to draw trick or treaters. And slowly, the blues went away. Paco asked if next year, we could have everyone over for a little anniversary party. He knows a lot of kids whose parents are split. He knows he does not have to worry.

Taken During the Game Yesterday

The coolest mom there (in my opinion) took this of Lemon. She is very helpful and practical.

The Benefits of Distraction

Paco soccer game. UC Davis football. I am tired but all is well.

I really enjoy watching Paco play soccer. Three seasons ago, in San José, he was outrun by everyone on the team. So he learned to be a good defender. His team lost for the first time today and we were all so involved. Go, go, go! Every kid sits out a quarter. The quarter Paco was out of the game the other team scored. Twice. I admire that he is the least afraid of the ball. He steals it, then passes it to the good scorer. He is six and loves being part of a team. He confessed tonight that he wants to score. The coach tries to set him up, but then all the boys go to where they are skilled. Paco steals and passes, the two best forwards shoot. I like to think of it as good teamwork.

We headed to the Aggie game today. It was pouring rain and the stadium half-empty. It was still great. They lost, and none of the Aggie fans were mad, they all just felt bad for the team. We took one of Paco’s friends with us and the two boys, rolling around the grassy end zone, was put on the video scoreboard.

Danny the super safety had left tickets for us. We had regular tickets too. Danny’s tickets were in the family section. Paco went over there and quietly went up to our Kate. What he did not realize was that at that moment, Kate was texting me, asking, “where are you?” I was chasing Lemon through the empty wet bleachers and Paco was behind Kate, working up the nerve to tap her. Kate turned around and beamed at Paco. He seems to be a legend in the circle of Danny Hart. I was stopped and introduced as Paco’s mom.  I was treated like a rock star’s mom.

Lemon kept trying to climb over the rails, down about 8 feet to the field. I tried to get a UC policeman to get mad at Lemon to get the child to stop climbing. Lemon threw his celebratory beads over the edge to the field. The cop gave them back. I had to chastise a cop. I had to say, “please be meaner and more stern.” It did not work. I could not get the cop to tell Lemon to stop climbing over the guard rails. Though from that point, one of the staffers had a little TV on the field where we could watch the Giants’ baseball game. At the halftime, as I walked up, I told Danny’s friends. They all hovered over the guard rail to see how it was going.

In the line for food, I had a cranky Lemon and everyone was checking their phones for baseball scores. We were having philosophical discussions (the line took a while) about the game. And then we realized that the Giants losing tonight is actually good for the economy. From the stadium employees, to the players, to the clothing makers, travel services, TV ads, more money will stimulate the economy with each game played. It made me wonder how much money changed hands with every game. So really, it must be good for the economy if the Giants lose another game. It would bring the games back to San Francisco and generate more income? How many people work at the stadium, just because of the series? How many taxi drivers in each city are working more? Restaurants? The extra jobs for so many, that is not nothing. Every penny counts these days. So yes, the Pollyanna can find a bright side to any loss by the Giants.

I am tired and I hate these insipid side effects, but today, the day was busy and fun. The game was rainy and cold. We all had to change after the game. Paco is sleeping next to me now. None of us can heat up enough. But the fun, that was completely worth it. I only mentioned once that I had had cancer (to a PG&E rep at a booth). For me, that is rare. Not once did I say brain cancer. I know it sounds silly, but that is a growing moment for me.

Paco and Steve went to the monthly parent poker-party. Lemon was an overtired mess. So he stayed home with me. Paco asked to sleep with us. On the weekends, we usually say yes. I told him I needed to use my laptop in bed. He said, “I love watching you write.” I find that particularly complimentary.

“Mis Suegros Son de Argentina”

I say this every time I speak Spanish. I say it to warn people, why I speak the way I do. By the way, for the record, “castellano” is the word used in the Argentine dialect of Spanish, not “español.” And if you are from Buenos Aires (BA) you would say with a z where the double ll is: castezhano.

 

Our Trader Joe’s opened today. Everyone was upbeat and friendly. I walked there from Paco’s school. 10 minutes later I was there. Pushing Lemon around. We shopped from the stroller. We bought snap peas to munch, the family’s favorite cereal and chicken taco rolls.  On the way back, through the parking lot, there was an older woman smoking and I walked by her. I tend to be not offended by smoking. She apologized and I said, “oh, don’t worry.” But I had to ask her where she is from. The accent to her English was so…Hoodi. She said “Argentina.”

 

So I started my spiel about my in-laws and etc. (in my thick fake accent when speaking Spanish). And a new friendship began. She is about my mom’s age and her husband and 40-year-old son had still been inside Trader Joe’s and emerged. And they gave me a wonderful Spanish lesson. Now and then the son and I would switch to English, if it were complicated for me, but most of the time, the 15-minute chat was zhhh and vos. Our beloved neighbors walked by and I introduced them. And for a glorious 5 minutes my community expanded. My neighbor, Libby, she wanted to practice as well.

 

I had read that Davis had the 2nd highest rate of average education in the country. (Alexandria, VA is first). I wonder, is that why everyone is so open and friendly? Arrogance seems clipped by the MD or PhD standing next to you. Everyone is happy to share culture differences. Everyone wants to contribute. What do I have? A lack of fear of my fake accent in Spanish.

 

I walked home with a spring in my step. Any day I get to speak to a Porteño (someone from Buenos Aires), verifies my love of Spanish and verifies how I was encouraged to speak the same as Caro, Germán, Julieta and mis suegros. The experience has held my interest for so long now. Steve wants to go to Spain, which would be great. But part of me longs to live in Argentina. For a length of time where I would learn more words, drink the wine, eat the beef, and finally get the subjunctive tense down.

 

The afternoon passed with friends downtown and the crazy Halloween festival. Lemon was the octopus that stole the downtown promenade. The little round face and the tentacles drew comments from everyone we passed. I seem to be complaining about him of late. I whine about the wrestling to change a diaper, the throwing food across the room., the screams if he cannot see me.. But I forget his talent is charm. That child can get a smile out of most.  I have to remind myself more often: I can change his diaper. I could be in a position where I could not.

 

Paco loves knowing people. We hear “Paco” wherever we go. Today, we ran into a grandmother (the Spanish Perla) and then another dad while downtown. We ran into lots of people, but these were closer friends. Friends where play dates had taken place. I was in Pluto’s (for the Sacramentans, it is like Jack’s) and the guy handing out candy was named Germán. I somehow knew it was not just any Germán (I have met a few from Mexico before, but one of our closest friends is from Ventura, CA, with Argentine parents and has lived in Argentina). Yes, the cook handing out candy was from BA. The next thing I knew, our friend Eli walked in and he was on the cooking team at Plutos. Eli is awesome, from Honduras and he knows how much I want to practice. And he did. And his compañero did as well.

 

Today, I got to have a conversation class with four Argentineans, a Honduran and a Spaniard.  There were even hugs and kisses involved.

 

My frustration of the day is that Tarceva seems to have really damaged my system. I am having minor issues. The top at the tongue and the bum-bum are irritated. Ugh. I thought of a bright side. I have started to remember names better. I have switched taking the anti-seizure meds to only at night and I feel that is helping my coherence during the day (it can make you soooo sleepy). Is it strange to feel that I need to start letting go of label I have given myself? Walking miracle? Nah. I won’t let go of that.

 

Every day I am alive, that is true.

 

Juli, Susy D, Cristina, Caro and Judy. These women encouraged me to speak Spanish like those I speak to the most. When I started, it was Juli and Judy, who both lived in BA for long period of their lives. And every time I meet a native Argentinean, I get complimented again and again on how well I speak. The work of these 5 women, who switch to English when it is serious, know to teach me during every moment of talking. I don’t get to see them as I wish I could, but every time I speak Spanish, they are with me.

 

Ugh. I still cannot nail the subjunctive. For this, I need to practice and read more.

Gym. Octopus. Giants.

Today is a day I should write something brilliant. I went to the gym. This is a moment of triumph. Lemon cried in the daycare for about 7 minutes. He was not happy, but he was ok.

In the afternoon, we gave up watching the first part of World Series to visit a Senior Center. Paco’s Sunday group had made a bunch of lanyards for glasses. They were cool. Paco had made one for a sports enthusiast; baseball and football beads were included. We found the biggest Giants fan and passed it along. Paco was shy, but genuine at the same time. He reminds me of Babs. Shy and extroverted in the same moment.; kind and full of support, just like his grandmother. In the next minute he speaks Spanish fluently, like his other grandmother.

 

We went with our former neighbors, the family that lived across the street at our old rental. A group of about 50 elderly were gracious and happy to meet everyone. Several tried to buy the lanyards. I had to say, “No, it is yours.” The kids were in Halloween costumes, the neighbor kids: a Greek goddess, a wicked witch, and a gladiator. Paco was Obi Wan Kenobi, and Lemon was an Octopus.

 

I am tired of wrestling Lemon at every turn: to change the diaper, get him in the car or the stroller. I had a stand off with him for 20 minutes today. He would not let me put on his shoes. He kept trying to break out of the stroller. We had a stand off. He let me put on the shoes and chased Paco around the blacktop. He and Paco are huge fans of each other. I was so frustrated with the face offs. Tonight he bopped around in an Octopus costume that Paco wore 5 years ago, and I am grateful. Exhausted yes.

 

As a family we watched the game tonight, Paco has become a dedicated fan of the Giants. He loved going to the minor league games in San José. I was tired and cranky and complaining to Steve…”fold laundry, do dishes”, I nagged. Then I exchanged emails with a friend whose marriage ended suddenly. No counseling, one person fell out of love, or perhaps was never in love, just in love with marriage. Steve and I have had one date alone in 6 months. And we still exchange the look about once a day. I am still in love and I still feel loved.  The boys remind us so much of what we have given to each other.

Now, if Obi Wan Kenobi can teach the octopus to stop wrestling so much, that would be a wonderful example of brotherhood.

Go Giants

We kept the TV on during dinner. Lemon cried as I took him away to go to sleep. I cannot complain. Today was a very good day. Oh, the kids, man they ate a ton of broccoli, corn on the cob and Costco chicken. And Lemon did not throw from the high chair for the first meal in ages.

 

It is this for which  I am quite thankful.

Pobre Lemoncito

Lemon was strapped into the stroller, the highchair, or the car seat most of the day. I went into Apple to get my iPhone checked (They replaced the entire phone!). Then Mom and Clark were sweet and met me at Nordstrom Café for lunch. Lemon just enjoys being near her. He let us talk and did not eat much, save for the chocolate at the end. He liked the tiramisu. (Babs did not think that it had any flavor.)

Alas, I went back to Apple to work out a battery issue on my laptop. My check-in was lost and we waited for an hour. Being trapped in the stroller legally frustrated lemon. Finally, the appointment was re-found and followed through. Long story about battery life and other details, read: not worth writing about.

Two interactions balanced out our long wait at Apple :

1) Someone heard me speaking Spanish to Lemon and started to speak to me in Spanish. I could understand him and asked where he is from. Buenos Aires! His wife is from Tucumán and they have lived here for almost ten years. The practice was great and reminded me, yet again, how much I love to visit Argentina.

2) While I was waiting I saw a dude (in his 50s) wearing a Kaiser polo. I did my usual missionary work for Kaiser. I said on my way out, “Kaiser saved my life.” And it turns out he is an ER doc. I mentioned Terry Williams and told him the whole story and he was overjoyed. He asked if it was ok to tell my story to the group. I explained I had already signed the HIPAA release and forwarded him to this site. As always, I have a great marriage of care with Kaiser and UCSF. I think I did exaggerate and say that 5 MDs look at my MRIs the first 48 hours. It is only four. Then within a week, six MDs have checked it out.

So poor Lemon, but I saw my mom & beau-père, and I spread the word of walking into Kaiser South Sac at 10:00 AM on the 4th of July, and having the tumor out by 7PM on the 7th of July. I love bragging about that.

I walked. I talked.

I walked Lemon around in a stroller. That kid is cooperative if on the move. I wonder what he will be like when we get the opportunity to take him on a plane. No sleeping, but flirting a great deal.

I walked for two 40-minute saunters and there was no argument from the little one. Mambo Italiano playing on my phone seems to make him happy to look at the world.

I also joined a gym today. (yea!). Paco came with me and Lemon to give it the kid’s approval.

I was sleepy all day, as always. I am wondering if it is the anti-seizure medication. It still feels drug-induced, constant yawning.  A desire to close my eyes is rampant throughout the day. If I am outside walking I am ok. But in the house, I want to sleep.

Here are reasons Kaiser is on edge on the digital side. Dr. Adams was out last week. The system told me this. I emailed him this morning (through the secure servers) about whether I can go to taking Keppra only at night (the full dose). Toby, the one with the most experience in seizures, switched to just taking it at night as she gets the majority of her occasional seizures in the mornings. I got a fast response that he would be back today. 5 minutes later, I got the direct response from him. Go Kaiser!

The highlight of my day was on my walk and running in to the aftercare director, whom Paco really liked. We were discussing when Lemon can go there and Paco’s age, etc. The director said, “Paco’s is not 6.” He said it sarcastically, and went on to relive moments of my articulate son. Paco seems to have hit a fantastic stride. That is yet another gift from the kids.

24 October, 2010 23:44

This is Steve. Here is a picture of the boys enjoying the rainy afternoon at the UC Davis football game.

Don’t Watch _Gladiator_ With Cancer

I took it too seriously.

 

Dear Bea,

I am not a huge Russell Crowe fan. He is so talented that I put aside who he is and enjoy most of his roles, but in general, I don’t see him as a god. Gladiator seems to be on TV all the time. And I have to admit that I get sucked in, every time. Tonight, I got sucked in as the gladiators entered Rome. And to me, the Djimon Hounsou character is invaluable. Juba seems to keep the Spaniard’s faith alive.

Every time I watch it, I cannot shut it off at the ending: the final match in the Coliseum, the walking the line between living and dying. You make me feel (in a positive way) like your general, and you are Juba. Your expression of affection and admiration, your open speaking about what we have both suffered through is immeasurable.

Watching the end of the film just made me wonder who would be in the Elysian Fields waiting for me. And then I re-read what you wrote, on the blog and to me personally, and you remind me what our battle is. Find a new way to live, a new way to fight. The keys are happiness and faith in ourselves. You reminded me how grateful I need to be for my world, geographically, familial, and comradely. You give no judgment, just gentle reminders.

You are my fellow soldier.

Like you and the Spaniard, I, too, am weepy.

Love, Erin

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