Thursday, July 30, 2015
Tuesday, July 28, 2015
It was 10:25 and I had washed six loads of laundry.
Inside the room was an older man, around sixty, sorting his enviably tiny pile of men's clothes into two small loads. He had a hearing aid and socks with stripes at the tops. His head nodded gently as he worked.
"Having fun yet?" I asked.
I was instantly struck by the realization that he must have been the person in the elevator immediately before me, that he was the cause of the vision I'd had.
"Where are you from?" I asked, bluntly ignoring his question.
"Well," he began, slowly, "I grew up in Fresno. Do you know where that is?"
I stiffed my inner Angeleno and the sarcasm that comes with her.
"Yes, I do. My father-in-law grew up near there." I gave him the name of the town.
The man was amazed, and asked if he still lived there. I said no, that he had moved to the coast, a tremendous improvement from the heat and emptiness of the middle of the state. The man's eyes lit up.
"That is were I moved when I was in high school. I lived there for years before moving down this way."
It ends up he had attended the school where my husband's aunt had eventually taught, and his younger brother had attended the same high school as my husband.
"Why did your brother go to a different high school?" I questioned.
"He was much younger than I am. When I went to school, it was the only high school in town."
The world is small and full of the amazing.
We talked and talked while I unloaded the dryers. I had done more laundry that day than he had done in the preceding three weeks, and he correctly commented that B2 is adorable. As he spoke, his long, country drawl relaxed me. Talking to him felt, not like home, but like something better than home. Like the dream of home. Of grits and long grass and summers, of Papaw on the back porch with my Uncle Bud, smoking and taking about who earned more points in Canasta.
Once he had started his machine, he said goodbye, and moved towards the door. Just before it closed, I blurted out, loudly, "It was nice to meet you, sir. My name is Raychel."
He turned and held the door. "It was a pleasure to meet you, Raychel. My name is Bud."
Of course it was. Of course it was.
Monday, July 27, 2015
Me: I have over one hundred new emails!
B1: Ohhhh uhhhhh. That is a lot of emails.
Me: I know! What should I do?
B1: You should erase all of them.
Me: I don't think I can do that. Some of them may be important.
B1: So read all of them, then delete them if they are not important.
Me: Thanks, dude. That sounds like a plan.
B1: How about a fist bump?
Me: Only if it gets to explode.
I love that kid.
Sunday, July 26, 2015
- instruct my husband as to how to make me a cup of coffee, only to have him fail, completely, twice. Points were awarded for effort.
- receive a message from the site where I was trying to sell my old baby stuff reporting that Bumbo chairs have been recalled and can no longer be sold without a "repair kit."
- Google how to get two of these "repair kits" and find out that Target will take the ridiculous seats back for store credit. (Boo-ya.)
- have a lengthy discussion with a woman I meet waiting for the elevator who said I was a genius for carting my people around in my ridiculous wagon.
- contemplate the idea that I should get a percent of the purchase price if she, or anyone else, should buy a wagon at my recommendation.
- pay for and pack away all of our food in the car.
- go upstairs, let B1 put together his Legos, eat a bagel sandwich, remind myself that avocados are awesome, and allow B1 to cash in some of his stars to watch a show on the tablet.
- make a successful call to get a discount on the copay of one of the half dozen medications my family uses on a daily basis.
- make a failed call to Samsung to have my stylus, aka "the S-pen" and broken charger replaced because the person with whom I spoke transferred me to a department which is closed on Saturday. (Feel free to repeat that chosen expletive again here.)
Monday, July 20, 2015
Sunday, July 19, 2015
Saturday, July 18, 2015
Once the EMTs from CHOC finally arrived around 8:00, things started clicking into place. Three of them arrived with a gurney complete with a car seat strapped within a row of machine after beeping machine. I carried B2 from the room to the gurney, gently clicked him in, then kissed his tiny forehead as he continued to struggle to breathe.
The female EMT smiled and handed me a stuffed bear with an IV wrap which matched my son's. I nestled it between B2 and the side of the carseat, and he snuggled up to it and grabbed it with his non-IVed hand. He looked so fragile juxtaposed with all of the technology intended to monitor his signs of life that I almost cried, but with great effort, I managed to reach out and hold his hand instead, and he seemed to relax, at least a tiny bit.
Soon, we had all of his paperwork and a disk with his chest X-rays as we rolled into the second ambulance of the evening. I rode in front with B2 in the back while my husband took my car to fetch B1 from my friend's house.
(May I here thank the universe for friends who don't ask questions, who gladly house and feed and care for a child when his parents are frantically trying to care for another. Women who are friends with women deserve more praise then I am here able to give.)
Back in the ambulence, it seemed as though B2 screamed breathless screams the entire time I was trying to call grandparents, trying to make logistical choices about carpools and daycare and camp. Every decision which had previously been put into place had to be reviewed, revisited in the light of the ambulance headlights as we drove slowly up the five. His obvious fear and discomfort did not make the process any easier, I can assure you. It is almost impossible for me to think rationally when my offspring are in distress.
As we drove, the female EMT was talking to B2, telling him to stay calm and that his mommy was nearby. Over the beep of the machines and the noise of the traffic, I began to sign a hymn I usually sing to him at night, and I sang as loudly as I could to make sure he could hear me and know I was with him:
Breathe in; breathe out.
Breathe in; breathe out.
When I breathe in, I breathe in peace; when I breathe out, I breathe out love.
When I breathe in, I breathe in peace; when I breathe out, I breathe out love.
I sang the song over and over again, ignoring the EMTs and the cars and the beeping, releasing my stress and pain for my baby, a piece of my very soul, with every repetition. And as I sang, he listened, and his cries subsided; I imagined that he inhailed strength from my song, exhaled more slowly and found at least the smallest bit of confort in the words of his mother, singing a familiar song in an unfamiliar place. At long last, the male EMT in the back said B2 had fallen asleep, and I stared silently at the tail lights of so many cars through the windshield, full of love and utterly devoid of peace.
Friday, July 17, 2015
When I finally realized my husband had walked in the door, it was like heaven had ripped open and poured rain on the drought-stricken desert. I had been helping hold B2 down again while two nurses with matching reading glasses poked at him with their IV needle. They looked kind of adorable moving their glasses up and down together, chatting about veins as if they were skeins of yarn. In times of crisis, the smallest details seem to carry the greatest significance.
Once they finally found success, I turned away to breathe and found my man standing behind me.
"[Husband], I am so glad you're here! How long have you been waiting? No, wait, please don't move: I'll be right back."
I realized, all at once, that I hadn't been to the bathroom for many, many hours. After weaving through the throngs of humanity that peopled the hallway, I managed to quickly rectify that unfortunate situation. Then, I ran to return to my men.
When I came back to the room, my giant husband was crouched down next to my tiny child curled up on the gurney.
"It's going to be alright, pal. Just hang tight until your mom gets back."
Sometimes I am blown away by how much I can love another person.
"Better?" he asked as he slowly stood before me.
"Much," I replied. "You have no idea."
Thursday, July 16, 2015
A passing conversation in the hall at school went something like the dialouge as follows.
School Professional: I was over in the preschool today and I got to spy on [Boy One] a little.
Me: I hope you didn't see anything wrong with him that I don't already know about.
SP: No, no. It was really interesting. He seems to be the only one who really "gets" [a little girl from his class].
Me: Yes, he really likes her. He talks about her all the time. Is there something different about her? Why did you notice that he "gets" her?
SP: No, no, not like that. She is just completely no-nonsense, time to get down to business. [Boy One] seems to really get that.
Me: You have met his mother, right?
Wednesday, July 15, 2015
Tuesday, July 14, 2015
- snack bars
- hot lunch from camp
- pepperoni pizza and bread sticks from Taco Bell
- more snack bars
- several juice boxes
- hot lunch from camp
- cheese sticks
- a happy meal
- tortilla chips
- ice cream
I never saw myself as an ambulance chaser, one of those poor souls whose livelihood relies on catching an injured individual in the hospital loading dock, but yet, there I was, running a red light behind a shiny emergency vehicle as it barreled down Barannca Parkway, as though my life depended on it. Despite the radio on and the traffic outside, the only thing I could hear was my baby, crying as the EMTs had shut the steel doors in the parking lot at urgent care, B2 on the inside, me on the out. In my mind, he was louder than the sirins. There was no red light in Orange County that was going to stop me from getting back to him.
He had woken at two that morning, coughing as he tried to breathe. I gave him his inhailer, then we'd gone back to sleep, only to repeat the program at six, ten and two again. By then, he just wasn't himself, fussy and quiet instead of rampuncous, refusing to walk even the few steps from our car to the play structre when we arrived at the park. I decided to take him in for some help.
At urgent care, the flawlessly beautiful N.P. on call, with lock after lock of curly black hair, had told me that his vitals were bad, that he needed to go to the hospital, that she was calling 911. Within moments, the tiny room was full of giant men carrying giant bags, all arrived to whisk away my tiny, wheezing baby.
Once he was strapped and masked, short of breath and yet still screaming, the EMTs drove away, and I followed, terrified I would lose sight of the ambulance, assured I would lose myself in the suburban maze that is central Irvine. In slow motion, time passed, as did trees, a lake, and many cars, and somehow, magically, we saftely arrived at the emergency room entrance bay.
(To be continued.)
Saturday, July 11, 2015
The past few days, the toil of small people has worn me down. I have everything, absolutely everything, one could hope for in this life, yet my mind complicates and obliterates the good in favor of the empty, focuses on the lack in place of the bounty.
I work to bring my mind in line with the light, to see all I have and live in and the beauty that it has to offer, to disallow the view that there is smallness in tending, and to see instead the greatness in it.
May I find my way clearly, swiftly, and cease to suffer from an endless summer. May I impose the structure of work and progress on my struggle and benefit from it. May my anxiety find strength in production and my restless drive to produce find those who need an able ally.
In accomplishment, may I find space to be, and may my children benefit directly.
May the goodness overwhelm us all.
Thursday, July 9, 2015
What I have is Focus.
Tiny compartments, neatly filled.
What I need is Wind:
Bursting from the seams;
Exploding down the pavement
Unabashed and unafraid...
Wednesday, July 8, 2015
Today, for the first time, Boy Two drew blood from Boy One. B1 was on the floor looking at one of his coloring books, when, BAM, out of nowhere, he was hit smack in the face with a flying flashlight. B2 was the only other person home, and I can promise you, I am not in the habit of throwing camping gear in the apartment. The guilty party is clear.
At first, B1 didn't breathe, but his face made that square-mouth shape he used to make when he was little, when the injustices of the world were just too much to bear. Then, he took a breath, and then he screamed, a long, anguished scream, as the blood began to seep out of the new red line below his eye.
I looked at B2. He was smiling from behind his pacifier, reaching out his tiny hands to be picked up.
"Look, Mommy! I can throw!" he seemed to say. "Come and congratulate me for successfully passing the light stick to my brother!"
"Baby, you hurt [B1]. He is sad because you hit him in the face."
Confused and feeling abandoned, he began to cry as well. It took everything I had not to join them, to have all three of us sitting on the floor in the hallway, tears streaming every which-way.
B1 had blood dripping onto the carpet.
"Hold on. Stay there. Let me get an ice pack." I scrambled to the freezer and back, then carefully, gently, pressed the ice pack to his face.
"I'm going to get blood on it!" he sobbed.
"Better on this than on the carpet," I replied.
Tuesday, July 7, 2015
So, universe, please help me find what is good in each of my people and hold it up for praise without pushing anyone else down in the process. Help me to help them work together to be their best selves without endlessly competing against one another. Help me to build a cooperation machine, one that makes widgets of compassion to be handed out on every corner to everyone who passes by. And may those widgets be precisely engineered by my sons who are also good at math.
Monday, July 6, 2015
In the conservative Jewish tradition, a boy's hair is not cut until he is three year's old. Once he has arrived at this ripe old age, there is a ceremony called an upshernish, an event in which members of the religious community ceremoniously cut the child's hair, a symbolic cutting away of infancy as the small human enters into childhood and the beginning of his formal education. It is at this point that the boy begins to wear the traditional symbols of male Judaism, the yamaka, or kippa, and the tzitzis, a highly symbolic and specially knotted ritual fringe. To the uninitiated, these symbols seem strange and foreign at the very least, objects that set a group apart. But, just maybe, these symbols serve a purpose that is missing from the lives of the American gentile masses.
In the Korean tradition, a child's first birthday is celebrated with great pomp and circumstance. As part of the fête, there are prayers, and later the child is given a choice of several items, each symbolic of a different life-path or occupation. For example, a coin could symbolize wealth, a book a life of scholarship, or a long thread a long life.
In traditional American culture, a child's first birthday seems to be an opportunity for conspicuous consumption, complete with goody-bags painstakingly crafted from Pintrest and several dozen three-dollar cupcakes, at least for the first child. Second and third children? Well, they are still alive, right?
But the point, I think, is that these traditions, these rituals, even the ones involving an inflatable castle, give shape and meaning to the existential nightmare of middle-class parenting, where, as a story I heard yesterday put it, children are "economically worthless and emotionally priceless," the capstones of a "successful" adult life. For after the years of school, the toil of work and career, and the struggles of even the best and most loving partnerships, it is our children who will serve as our references in the world once we have passed; the ultimate measures of our own successes and failures.
So, now, Boy Two, with your new hair cut and handsome look, you have transformed me from the mother of a baby into the mother of boys. My my failures be few and my successes beyond measure. And my you, and that brother of yours, find your places in the world more easily than I found mine.
Saturday, July 4, 2015
Standing on the side of Yorba Linda Boulevard, holding Boy Two while Boy One wrapped himself in a blanket, I leaned into my man and watched the fireworks. Next to me, a father held his young son on his shoulders, quietly singing, "Happy Birthday, America."
They have part of a conversation in another language, then switch back to English.
"How old is America?" the father asks.
"239!" the boy replies.
"That's right!" exclaims his father, then they stop, and continue to watch the burning elements explode across the sky.
This, to me, is the beauty of America. Here, on the side of the road, my fourth or more generation, WASPy boys standing side-by-side with the children of imigrants, celebrating the nation's birthday.
May we all continue to stand together.
Happy birthday, America. Happy birthday.
Friday, July 3, 2015
Today, I bought a fancy new purse and wallet to celebrate my 4,000th page view on this very blog. 4,000 page views? I mean, come on! That means, on average, that more than 60 people read each of my posts. Now, there are (at least) two possible explanations for this documented phenomenon: either sixty random people show up to read each of my posts and never return, only to have 60 more random people show up for my next post and get board out of their minds, or, and I find this second option far more likely, around 50 people are reading my musings on a regular basis, with a small number of transitory visitors who stop by, then move along their merry way. For each and every one of these readers, I am thankful. I like to believe that I bring a small sprig of joy to people as I write myself a path to sanity. Thank you, everyone, who takes the time to read what I have to say.
But now, I beg. According to Google, I have two subscribers. Two. One of those it probably my mom, and the other is an email address I made up for my husband to see how the whole following thing works. So, basically, according to Google, two people have read my blog 2,000 times each. I guess my mom has been really busy.
But you, fair reader, can significantly improve my standing in the Google universe, and, let's be clear, Google controls more than a fair chunk of the universe, simply by allowing the big G to send my blog to your email. Easy, right? Just think, you can add to my subscriber list by 33% by simply adding one more email to your day. Sounds simple, right? Well, it is simple, and this small effort on your part will likely earn you more karma points than your next self will even know what to do with.
So, please, if you enjoy reading my blog, please sign up to be a subscriber by typing your email into the box that says "Email address..." above this post and replying to the test email that is sent to your inbox. It will mean the world to me and help to ensure that I keep writing well into the future. Because for my mom and my husband's fake email? Well, they're fine without my blog. But, hopefully, you find some small piece of beauty in what I write, and, hopefully, that beauty is worth an extra daily email.
|Not A Cat|
"Cat! Cat!" he squeals, pointing excitingly at an overweight golden retriever.
"Dog? Do you see the dog? What a nice dog," I reply. (Note proper use of target noun used in context. )
Fine. Sure. I give up. Your ability to identify a large, four-legged, hairy creature walking around the apartment complex as similar to the small, four-legged, hairy creature that roams our apartment has been proven. Good job, dude. Mozel tov.
Good luck getting into college.
Thursday, July 2, 2015
|No toddler high chair is ever this clean.|
That’s all from Headquarters. Over and out.