Monthly Archives: September 2012

Just When You Think You’re In The Clear…

…you realize you are not.

I really clicked into the groove of loving our life this summer. I mean, really enjoying every moment of it. I’ve been making things pretty: our walkway is now lined with Gerber daisies and a brand-new gorgeous flag is flying. I’ve been taking pride in doing the dishes and laundry, cooking (mostly), decorating the kids’ rooms, designing the basement, and mostly just enjoying my children: hugging them and laughing at their stories, being dazzled by their talents (my son built a helicopter meant for a 7 year old all by himself, my daughter’s beautiful and capricious dancing is making her a star in her ballet class) and best of all: clowning around with them to Psy’s silly horse dance. Darcy and I have had a really nice time together this summer, whether working in the kitchen (I’m the sous chef) or just really focusing on appreciating each other. He’s as much of a romantic hero as ever: he has planned a BIG adventure coming up to commemorate our 10th wedding anniversary. More to come…

So, I was surprised by a few developments lately.

1) The round of third pregnancy announcements. The preschool is a bit of a land mine-littered road: everywhere I look are the emails announcing the birth to a school family of a third child, or the pregnant bellies of women expecting their third. For some reason, this triggers the ache, the pain of remembering we lost our dream of a third child when I miscarried two years ago. It’s the reminders. I would hardly think of that loss except for the reminders. But sometimes, there’s just a strong ache for a baby: I just want a soft and sweet and downy-headed little one to snuggle and feed and hold. My SIL is due to give birth any moment, so I’m hoping being an aunt (for the first time!) might be a consolation prize.

2) The relics. I was putting clean socks into my sock drawer when I unexpectedly touched the rough grain of paper. It was an envelope with our ultrasound photos in it, from that last pregnancy. I started crying, even though I thought I had let go of that loss. I’m hoping Saying Goodbye comes to the US. I think I could really benefit from one of their services.

I guess these reminders never leave us completely. What I can hope is that they affect me less as time goes on. And I really do believe that the more beauty I can see in my own life, the more wonderful it will become.

That’s what I’m banking on, anyway.

Do you find focusing on the positives help you sustain a happier existence?

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Filed under Parenting After IF

Funny Stuff, Man?

Humor is so subjective, right?

My sense of humor tends to skew absurd. Like everyone else, I’ll play certain videos from YouTube over and over again for a laugh. If you are curious what I have bookmarked:

Ridiculously Excited Guy Goes Nuts Over a Double Rainbow

Bonus: the Autotuned song about it. “It’s SO intense!”

Kids React to the Nyan Cat

CSI Miami’s Dumb One Liners (hat tip to Esperanza’s partner) YEEEEEAAAAAHHHHH!

Then there is the Regtretsy catalogue (hat tip to Jules)

This Cat Goes To Level Three

Ask Jesus to Tune Your Guitar

Finally, from Pinterest You Are Drunk

Because Apples Get Cold Too!

SO, I bet some of these were amusing to you, some not. Some might even be offensive, for various reasons.

I bring this up because the Jenny Allen piece in The New Yorker really split the crowd. I found it funny when I first read it but many did not. And I understand Pamela’s perspective.

What do you find funny? Are there certain subjects that should be taboo? Or handled more carefully than “I’m a Mom” anyway? And please, feel free to link to things you think are funny on the internet! I could use some new material.

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Filed under What Say You?

Family Outing

One of the many reasons I love our neighborhood is that it feels like a cocoon when you enter it. Tall, mature elms and Oaks block out the heavy traffic nearby, lavender, green lawns and large lots provide trappings of privacy yet there is a distinct feeling of neighborhood. Within this wooded and private retreat, we are lucky enough to have friends and family who live nearby. Best of all, the twins have two boy second cousins, one the same age as them, and they love to have rowdy light saber and robot battles. My daughter bosses them all around.

My favorite occasions are when one of the families hosts a dinner and instead of having to say no, we don’t have any babysitters, we are told to bring the kids along. Best of all, we walk a brisk 10 minute wooded trail to reach the cousins.

The children play together and tend to work out their own battles (mostly) while the adults adjourn to the outside table, overlooking the lawn and play area. It’s comfortable, we hold witty banter and just enjoy the company.

Tonight’s Menu: Smoked brisket, potatoes lyonnaise, broccoli and a homemade chocolate cake in preparation for Darcy’s birthday (in a few weeks).

After a spirited and disturbing discussion of “Deliverance” (which I have never seen) we retired home, pushing the stroller within our safe confines, with me pushing the Citi-Mini a bit faster than necessary because of the chill that had settled in quite suddenly.

We changed and tucked our little ones into bed.

I never had cousins who lived nearby and I feel privileged to be able to provide my children with this experience. The twins and their younger cousin are almost like triplets because with such close birthdays, they will enter their kindergarten class together. This makes me very happy.

He also makes me very happy.

Are you close to extended family? Do you like to interact with them?

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Filed under Family, Parenting After IF

Terrible News

Photo from Snips, Snails and Puppy Dog Tales

About a year ago, I asked Esperanza if there were any bloggers she recommended who were not in my reader. She told me about her friend Elizabeth, whose son has special needs and whose grace, courage and resilience always blew her away. I quickly added her to my reader, and have been inspired and moved by her writing many times since. Elizabeth’s beautiful son Grayson was diagnosed with Mitochondrial Disease. Elizabeth has been fiercely fighting for answers and treatments and today she received the worst answer imaginable. Grayson has Leigh’s Disease and isn’t expected to live past childhood.

Elizabeth is handling this diagnosis with her typical mixture of grace and love:

“I do know that we are more determined than ever to give Grayson the happiest life we can – however long or short it is. And this little guy certainly doesn’t know anything has changed. We just love him so, so much and will celebrate his life every day (and big time next Saturday when he turns TWO!).”

I often think of Elizabeth as Supermom: strong and brave and smart. But today, this Supermom could use some support. Please visit her and shower her with love and light.

Elizabeth, you and Grayson are in my heart tonight. I wish I had more to say, but please know that I am here abiding with you.

xoxoxo

Jessica

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Filed under Sad

Time Warp 9/11: Last Year, My Story and Today

Today, I decided to replace our American flag. This wish was a surprisingly urgent feeling. I’ve felt our home seems naked without our old glory, somehow. It comforts me to see it fly out our front window. It wasn’t until tonight that I realized tomorrow is 9/11.

My father-in-law confronted me about the flag, not long after I decided it needed to be retired and unfurled.

“Why do you keep that flag up?” he asked, genuinely perplexed. “I like it,” I replied. Not really sure why. I hadn’t grown up with a flag flying outside my home, but somehow, here, it feels right.

“You know that famous quote about patriotism,” he stated.

‘Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel.’

This afternoon, I found a flag. But his words echo in my mind.

*****

Last year, I wrote about September 11th.

I didn’t tell MY story, because I wondered if it was my story to tell. And I still wonder that today.

Every year, I read “For Thou Art With Us,” still the definitive essay of the event for me.

*****

The morning of September 11th 2001, I flew into London on a red-eye flight from San Diego. A great friend had gotten married in Mission Bay, and I had risked jet lag hell by flying from London to San Diego and back in four days. I remember not being able to attend the beachside rehearsal dinner because I had SUCH a headache. I took a black cab from the airport to my flat early in the morning, and ever the workaholic, I was worried about missing any emails or phone calls from my important clients. So I took the tube to my office in Piccadilly Circus just as soon as I showered and changed. Darcy was in the South of France for a conference.

Around 1:50 PM, I went to CNN.COM, and before I could click on the technology tag (keeping on top of that news was part of my job) I noticed there was a headline that said “Small Plane Crashes Into World Trade Center” in a very straight foward manner. There was an accompanying picture of a hole with smoke (but not flames) in the midst of the famous building’s pinstriped facade.

I blinked at my computer screen, unable to compute this message.

Then I went to a local newsstand and bought a Dr. Pepper and a package of Starburst. I remember that, well. I remember thinking I was going to need some sugar to withstand such awful news, especially given my jet lag. It was one of many odd things I did that day.

One thing to explain about my office is that I was the only American who worked there, other than an intern who was out that day. The office was staffed, appropriately, mostly by Brits, but there were small packs of Aussies and Kiwis too.

When I returned, almost everyone in the office was standing and staring at one of the many TVs populated throughout the office. (It was the firm’s job to monitor broadcast media, too.) I saw the image of the enormous firestorm consuming the North Tower. And as I watched, still unable to compute and perplexed that I was listening to Katie Couric instead of a British talking head as usual (BBC had cut to live American TV), the second plane hit the South Tower. “Bloody HELL!” exclaimed one man. Bloody was not a word that was normally acceptable (as I had found out painfully, early on) in the office setting. That exclamation was about the only signpost I had the rest of the afternoon that what was going on was extraordinary in any way.

Phones began ringing. Our Business division of course had many ties to New York. Guys would calmly run in and say stuff like: “Ten planes are unaccounted for!” Then they ran back to their phones.

Suddenly, I realized my parents might be on an airplane: they were scheduled to fly from New Orleans to Salt Lake City then Montana that day. I tried to dial information for their hotel in New Orleans. But I couldn’t get through to America. “Circuits are busy at this time,” was the message I kept receiving.

Right about then, the jokes began. That “Keep Calm and Carry On” business is for real in Britain. One guy kept making the remark, “Where is Charlton Heston when you need him?” Referring, I think now, to The Towering Inferno. At that point, I started to have difficulty breathing. My parents were unaccounted for. Darcy was in another country. Why wasn’t anyone taking this very scary situation seriously? It was a cultural divide that seemed unconquerable at that moment.

I finally reached Darcy by calling his hotel and asking for his room. “Are you SEEING this?” I asked him. “What?” he replied. And at that moment, the South Tower fell, crushing itself into dust as it began its slow descent into nothingness and ash. “My God, one of the World Trade Center Towers has just collapsed!” I shouted into the receiver. “I don’t believe you,” he said.

He didn’t know. He’d been writing a story in his hotel room with his cell phone turned off.

“The Pentagon has been hit!” politely yelled a Business group person, shortly thereafter, in the same manner he would report that one of our clients was on BBC, and we might want to pay attention to the TV.

A co-worker came up to me and asked quietly: “Are you familiar with New York City?”

“Sort of,” I replied.

“Is Greenwich Village near the World Trade Center? My son is staying there.”

I blurted out in an ugly stream of words: “I think so! You should try to call him! This is serious! Really serious! My parents are supposed to be flying! I can’t reach them!”

“Right,” she said, and politely stepped away.

I regret now that I hadn’t said something more reassuring to her. I guess I was trying to wake her up to the severity of the situation. Everyone seemed to be walking and talking, and yes, laughing (gallows humor) with ice water running through their veins.

“A plane is suspected to be heading towards London!” called out one of the business guys, matter-a-fact.

At that point I approached my boss. “My parents may be flying, I can’t reach them and I just want to go home and try to find out where they are.”

She told me: “The clients need us. You need to stay at your desk and…”

Just then, the North Tower fell.

I guess this kind of response to crisis is what allowed the Brits to hold up so well during the Blitz. It’s admirable no one lost their shit like I did. They had friends and relatives in NY and maybe they even knew people who were on airplanes too. They kept their cool.

Finally, I called Darcy again, even though my boss was giving me the stink-eye and probably was wondering why I wasn’t writing a press release or something. “The Second Tower has fallen,” I screeched.

“I saw that,” he replied hollowly.

I couldn’t hold back the tears anymore. I silently stood with strands of wetness running down my cheeks, fully aware that I was the only one who was giving into the instinct to cry, as the footage of the crash in Shanksville was shown. I knew I had seen thousands of people die. It was beyond my comprehension and the tears were the only release my body could find. And then I quietly made my way to the door, and for the first and last time I worked there, I left promptly at 5 PM. And because I couldn’t be alone, I went to a friend’s house and we stayed up all night watching the footage over and over and over.

I didn’t find out that my parents were safe until that night.

Later I found out that my building housed the conference firm which had handled the “Windows on the World” event. Several people in our very office had died in the awful attacks. Tony Blair visited, and we weren’t allowed to leave our offices for security reasons. I saw him out our window stepping back into his Jaguar.

I may have been the American, but so many people suffered that day. It’s important to remember that. And we all responded in our different ways.

*****

Even today, I remember the horrible, abruptly assembled footage of photographs on BBC of 9/11. I remember in particular Adagio, by Samuel Barber, playing in the background. I have to change the radio each time that song plays. I detest that composition, now, and will probably for the rest of my life.

*****

For my children, 9/11 will be history. There will be a few pages dedicated to the event in their American History primer.

This is the music I prefer to play, to honor all those who lost loved ones during 9/11.

Go here for more Time Warps about 9/11.

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Filed under Time Warp Tuesdays