Monthly Archives: March 2011

Ow . Ow. Tense.

I have had this same injury for over 20 years. My neck and shoulder get irritated due to me showing off in a weight training class in 1989. I can never say what sets it off, I could be sitting on the wrong side of someone for an extended period or I could just be too lazy. Sometimes, to be honest, it is a sign one of my favorite undergarments is wearing out.

Regardless, the neck and shoulder pain, combined with clogged sinuses can make for bad headaches. These days, I become paranoid about it. I am weirdly comforted by the pain I have right now. With motrin and ice, the headache went away. The neck and shoulder pain are still there, and my sinuses are still hurting. So I am happy my head is not pounding, even if my neck is on fire.

An Accomplishment

Not directly child related, not cancer related.

I had intended to make a complete class roster over the Christmas break (for Paco’s class). I never got there. We have a printed address list for the kids, and we have a separate email list. I had volunteered to do the merging of the two. It only took me 90 days to complete. To be fair, I only had a response from 5 parents and the directory was not published until the end of January. So ok, closer to 70 days.

The photo I did not get today was Clark walking Lemon out to the car after lunch. The small kid holding the finger of the 6ft dude.

Yea, yea Lemon bit Paco and left a huge mark on Paco’s waist. But just a few hours before, Lemon was as cute as can be.

Not Writer’s Block

Writer’s Gloom. The last few days have been the same as most, with the rain stopping the momentum of baseball practices and games and my not walking anywhere. I used to love walking in rain, Regretfully, pushing a stroller in the rain is different. Lemon kicks off the rain hood and then is soaking wet.

Steve and I are presently at a point of glumness. We each have our own stresses, but they are so different.  (Steve is hiring people and launching new projects; I am telling Lemon and Paco to listen and stop throwing things.) And we are different. We are back on the way up, and I know this is just the gentle roller coaster of marriage, alas, sometimes the up seems steeper than it needs to be. Steve is appreciating that we are actually in the best place we could ask to be in life. And I only remind myself of that when I tell my story for the first time to someone. When I can be an evangelist of positive thinking, it makes me think positively. When I have the chance to stew, I get pretty grumpy.

I don’t think this is Cancer-related gloom; I think, to some extent, my life is simply: normal.

And there it is, I can chose to see it as half-empty. I am incorrect. It is half-full.Yes, Lemon tried to bite me today, no nap, a lot of trying to throw peas around. But then, for a precious 45 minutes in Target, he kissed my hand, and kept nuzzling it as I pushed the cart.

Argh. I hate it when Steve is right.

A Repeat Blog

Addictions…Part I

My tongue is peeling. It seems anything can cause it. I am so lazy, and I think tracking the kick off to the peeling would just push me into a world where I do not wish to be. Everyone has vices or addictions. Mine is truly eating and something to put me at ease at night. I find I have three or four relaxation vices, benadryl, unisom, vodka. I see why Dr. Adams did not want to give me Atavan. I have not taken it, but it is more risky than any of my vices. It is more addictive.

I seem to waiver from wanting to be knee deep in the kids and wanting to be on my own. Today I sneaked off to …try on bras. So not really appropriate for bonding with the boys. I had 2 hours on my own and the entire time, I kept thinking about Paco.

I suspect that this is not so much cancer related, but rather stay-at-home mom related. We love our jobs, but man, a vacation in Hawaii sounds awesome too.

[Passion]

Geraldine and I always pick up right where we left off. I think we both miss us traveling to the UK. But for now, she understands why (more child and $ related rather than Glioblastoma-related). The trip was simply a good day. I went on a plane for the first time in 18 months, I was alone. I was good.

I rarely get to introduce Geraldine to new things. She has introduced me well to experiences. The experiences: Argentine market, Target and Tiffany & Co.

First, John honored my request of taking me to this small Argentine butcher in Burbank (I had flown into Burbank). It was a glorious few minutes of asking for what I wanted. What do the two people who worked there (butchers) prefer when it comes to Argentine Dulce de Leche or cookies (specifically, an Alfajor, which is a long explanation). The entire conversation was in Spanish (and too, I spoke Spanish to one of the airport traffic policemen). John and Geraldine noticed how I was treated because I gave Spanish a go. I am far from fluent, but my mom, has taught me to try. Always try. Because I tried, I was warmly helped in the circle of Argentine food. The butcher pointed me to the most expensive Alfajores, but to the cheapest dulce de leche. He could speak English, it was clear, but since I said why I spoke Spanish and I said thank you for letting me practice, he never switched. He just articulated words slowly and well. (Oh, the Alfajores were the best Paco, Steve and I had ever tasted from the box (bakeries, another story). We are now officially addicted).

Back to Geraldine…

At Target, she fell in love with the $7 t-shirts. At Tiffany, she was so impressed with how I was treated (I just went in to get the good earring backings they have, I cannot find the ones I bought in December!). Here I was, about to spend $5.00 and I was treated as though I were to spend $50,000.00 The man there even noticed the tiny silver Tiffany earrings I was wearing. This he expressed with a compliment. So from now on, she will go into Target, and go into Tiffany’s. I like this.

I was married before she was, but her marriage has been a wonderful guide. She and her husband were so different. We were gossiping (her brother and I) about how she and her husband have positively changed each other. Steve and I were more stubborn about changes, but we do try to follow the path they have articulated so well. He is the love of her life. It is such a huge bonus that she married a car fanatic. He and Steve have clicked from the moment they met. He has slowly let go of each of his collector cars (save for one) because he wants to share his life, substantially with her. She never thought that he should sell them, he just wanted to simplify his previous passions before he was part of her life. They met 10 years ago. And they still seem new. Vibrant. Impassioned.

I also felt unbelievably honored yesterday when she described our friendship (to another friend) over the last (almost) 17 years (holy cow). It too, is strong and vibrant. Her brother ensured that I knew of all my blessings. He knew the perfect words to say. He is a mentor in almost dying, and slowly moving forward.

I was speculating about relationships…those that last. I have a theory that it takes a third party to do the screening. I was thinking of my 5 Sac friends, and the good marriages we all seem to have (just the usual complaints, nothing crucial) and of the 6 marriages, all but one had a matchmaker involved (Shan was mine, thank you Shan!). All but one had a screening process of a friend or a matchmaking service. I was thinking that even for my mom, there was someone at the bridge center who thought she and Clark would make a good match.

Other than the chatting, the highlight of the adventure (aside from the Argentine interaction) was on the return flight. The plane was relatively empty, but across the aisle, a row back, was a guy who had been traveling. He was older, friendly, and had a southern accent, but had resettled in Roseville. The man in the window seat was also a local. I listened to them talk for the hour long flight and I held my tongue, tightly. The aisle guy started off ok, just talking about Japan and the tragedies in the news. They seemed just like two men chatting: one in his early 50s and one in his 60s. Then, clearly, the aisle guy let his politics show, (and not in sync with my own). I wanted to turn and start debating with him about ethics and morality but the man at the window eloquently posed logical questions and statements. Rather than arguing with someone’s politics, he chose to slowly and calmly express his views, his evidence. I was so glad I could hear how well issues could be put, how articulate one person can be in an intimate setting. The Window Guy wanted to make it a good, healthy discussion. He showed his political lean to the left, but no judgement for those leaning to the right. Openness. I was reminded of an old friend (gay) who said, if you want a world of diversity, one has to celebrate both sides of the rainbow.

I am worn out, for good reasons. Yesterday was a long and happy day. Today too. As Geraldine and John raved about my boys, I just missed them so. I missed them quietly for one, whole day.

I am now typing, listening to Peter Gabriel instead of Steve’s snoring. He told me I could stay up late tonight. It does not seem to matter what or why we squabble. At the end of the day, I cannot hold anger. I was frustrated by being…The Mom. All day I felt as though I were nagging (it was not even a bad day! It was a good day). Nag. Nag. Nag. I also felt like everything I said was being questioned (daily with Paco and I had a hilarious conversation with Judy about the Alfajores).

Steve asked me how he was questioning me. And I explained. Then I magically put the situation in a work context. We were lying here, describing completely different interpretations. It was hilarious if one thinks about it. He fell asleep in the process but my anger lasted about 70 minutes. Don’t get me wrong, I am listening to him snore and want to wake him up or turn him over. Or I want to make a list of naggable items and tape it to his head (garbage, garbage, garbage). But I have my headset in my ears and I am listening to Peter Gabriel’s Passion album and I am smiling to the snoring in the background. This album first came out in 1990 and I listened to the cassette then. I was not doing well with my father’s illness. I had a cassette walkman and would lie in the dark, listening to Passion. This time was before I had lived outside of Sacramento, before I had left the country, before I met El Roncador. In those days, it was escapism. two years ago, I listened to it to help me with the labor of Lemon. Tonight, it is to drown out the sound of snoring. To me, this is a sign of a simpler, better life.

Child-Free!

I flew down to LA for the day. Geraldine was in from England visiting her brother. They offered to come up here, but my mom and beau-père stepped in at 7:30 this morning to care for the kids. Lemon cried for a moment as I left, but I doubt it lasted long.

Seeing Geraldine always reminds me of the positive places I have been and the good friends I have. And her brother, having faced death and escaped from it years ago, is one of my favorite mentors. I can be frank and ask questions. So from 7:45 to (now) 10:00PM, I was child-free. I am tired, but happy.

I should write more in detail about what an eye-opening day it was in the positive measure…but for now, I need to sleep. Tomorrow I am back on duty and Lemon will be asking for Barbara all day.

Some Days Are Good: The Eve of St. Patrick.

Today was my Saint Patrick’s Day. Usually, in my family, it is treated like a family holiday. As children, we had itchy green wool sweaters we had to wear. (My mom’s cousin in Ireland knitted them 35 years ago. She has passed away, so perhaps she is feeling polarfleece and understands).

And then there is the New England Boiled Dinner = corned beef and cabbage.   With baseball as an interruption, the meal was made today. And Steve is still expressing his love for the corned beef dinner . (He is cleaning the big giant pot.) The funny part is I made a huge corned beef and it is over half gone. So tomorrow, I left the ingredients so Babs can make another one.

Tomorrow I will be visiting a good friend in LA and leaving my boys in the care of the Babs and Beau-père. I am only in LA for the day. But I am really glad that my mom is continuing the tradition that she taught us (btw, Mom, the cabbage and cooked and uncooked corned beef are inside, the mashed potatoes and the extra potatoes (good for hash) are in the garage fridge. Oh, and I usually pour in a can of Guinness, I left that out with the onion and garlic).

Someone also dropped off a package for purim, following the great tradition: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Purim#Giving_of_food_gifts_and_charity

Coincidentally, Fr. Brendan’s weekly homily was distributed today. I don’t go to mass these days, but I do try to follow the things that I am comfortable reading. Father Brendan is a great writer, and good leader. One of my favorite things about his writing is that he always starts with something either secular or personal. Then as he moves through the homily, slowly he steers back to the gospel that day. The first half of every one I have read is more communal to the world. http://www.holyspiritchurch.org/about-us/homilies/listening-to-the-right-voice. I guess what I liked about today is that we received messages from both of our backgrounds and were fortunate.

When Steve and I met and became engaged, whenever someone asked how we would raise the children, the answer was “The Church of Baseball.” This is not true; it is really the templar world of cars, but baseball seems to fit better poetically. I think Paco is the true pilgrim of baseball. He always has zeal and loves to practice. I wonder how much of this is my brother, Brandon, who twenty years ago visited all (at the time) major league baseball parks. This makes me smile.

Other than the boys and a good husband, the highlight of my day was talking to my friend Val. I was foolishly complaining about other people being negative and I called myself out. She then exhibited a few complaints, but in a way with humor and spirit that did not seem negative. She is truly my lesson of the day.

Toddler. PDT.

I had a challenging parent-toddler morning. Then a challenging 7 year-old child afternoon. Lemon seems so stubborn compared to Paco. I wonder if in 5 years Lemon will be especially manipulative. At 2, he is more manipulative than Paco has ever been. This said, those boys keep me in focus. Because of the stand-offs, I forgot about having cancer for four hours. I know this seems like a small amount of time. But for me, it is a first.

This said, I forget why I obsess about negative comments. Poor Judy, every time she said anything that could have been rephrased in a more positive way, I revised the statement. I teased her a great deal when she did not like Grits. She made a Barbara face while Steve ate them. She acted as though they were really stinky fish raw at the table and no one should ever eat them. A few days before, Lemon and I were eating ice cream at the table and Judy decided to join us at the table. She pulled out gefilte fish (so stinky) and ate it next to us.

Poor Judy, every time she said a declarative statement or expressed a strong opinion that seemed pushy, my nerves twitched. This was not to protect me, but to remind her of who she is. She is someone open and tolerant. Ironically, if I were truly tolerant, I would let her talk without having her daughter-in-law give a review of the statement.

Today, I got to school and was talking to a parent. She did not like daylight savings time (PDT). She said, with determination, that she thinks we should drop it all together. I don’t object to the concept, but rather I do object to being self-righteous about it. She is a morning person, she wants more sun in the morning and not at night. I had to use an excuse to sort out something with another parent to get away. I wanted to say, really? Do you know why we have it? What kind of research has been done? Blah? Blah? But, no, I walked ahead to the other parent. I am bossy at home. But when it comes to worldly issues, I think most opinions have something we need to learn from. Good or bad, we need to learn all the angles.

So in my home, with my rules and my kids, I am soooo bossy..but in the outside world, I do try to avoid it. Part of this is cancer related, but part is due to my older child expressing drama about so many things. I wonder, will he remember why we squabbled? Does he not know that if he leaves that lego on the floor, the chances are high his little brother will step on it or throw it?

Perhaps my immediate goal should be to retrain myself to be tolerant and less snippy. And if the parent speaks of not liking Daylight Savings Time again, I’ll say, “I realized it is likely safer for evening drives. Steve is exhausted at the end of the day, so I would rather he drive his long commute home in daylight rain than nighttime rain.” It is a minor point to make, but at least it is on the positive side.

The Last 48 Hours.

My mom and beau-père came to the house yesterday for lunch. They wanted to take us out, but with Lemon, it is simply easier to eat at home. Judy made an incredible tortilla española and we ate it as fast as we could.

Lunch was wonderful. In a restaurant, we would have been overstaying after 90 minutes. Lemon would have been yelling and Paco would have been bored. But instead, we put Lemon down for a nap and Paco took a break from the table (he came back for dessert). And while we missed Steve’s dad at the table, it was a great time. I think having grandparents that get along well is a true gift.

This morning, Paco seemed slightly sick and I wondered if I should make him stay home from school. He loves school. By 8 o’clock he seemed to have improved and I was confounded that he was not jumping to go to school. It turns out, he wanted to come with me to take Judy to the airport. I smiled and said, I almost pulled you out of school to come with us. He was overjoyed. So was Judy.

When we got to the airport (after 2 stops due to car sickness from Paco, ok to tell the truth, the first one was due to me wanting Starbucks), and Lemon clearly remembered taking Miguel to the airport and started to cry. “Acá, acá” [Here, here] he cried, pointing to the front seat of the car. He did not want her to leave. Paco stayed by her side while she waited for the wheelchair to push her to the gate. (She had foot surgery last fall and is still getting her stride back). As we left the airport, Lemon called “Aba! Aba! Aba!” and Paco said, “I wish I could have taken Abu to the airport too.”

Paco was getting carsick again and held it until we got to Pinole, about halfway to Davis. Then, as we pulled into a Target lot, he rushed out to throw up. And this sounds crazy, but he did elegantly. Nothing in his hair was present, not on his clothes.

We met Steve for lunch before heading home. Lemon napped and I did too. The entire house seemed low. We miss those Argentine Michiganders a great deal.

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