gratitude-a-thon day 418: another day

 

images-4I don’t know, is cancer more common now, or am I just at that age? It seems to be more prevalent than the Kardashians (and just as disturbing). If I’m not hoping I don’t have it because of a suspicious lump, or bump, or mole, I’m hearing about someone who does have it, or someone’s mother, or brother, or cousin, or mailman, or 2nd grade teacher who has just been diagnosed, or treated, or has lost their long and hard fight against it.

Yesterday, I was told my cousin would be starting hospice care soon, and then today a very, very close friend’s brother died at 57. It’s just so funny how life is. Not funny as in ha, ha, but funny as in strange, bizarre, completely ironic. I was driving to pick up my delinquent son from work, who has yet to get his license, and therefore is making me drive him around at age 19, thank you, and my daughter was in the car, and we were waiting for Jake with the radio blasting and the air conditioning on high, and I got a text that my friend’s brother had gone. While I was singing, he was leaving. And my friend was mourning, and the US team was probably still celebrating from yesterday’s win, and the kids on my street were likely running through the sprinkler at the park around the corner, and my dog was licking his leg, and my sister was packing up her stuff to move back from Miami, and the 8th graders at my kid’s old grammar school were getting ready to graduate, and the people at Star Market were wondering how they were going to stay open while everybody was going to Wegman’s. And, well you get the point, everybody is doing their thing, but while we’re all doing whatever it is we do, some people are dying. And somehow that seemed profound to me today. And crazy. And it made me want to eat dessert.

I’m looking at a very big tree in my backyard right now. Actually, it’s two trees that are sort of intertwined, which makes them look like one. There are slivers of light coming through the green leafy branches and just when you think you see the picture as it is, a breeze comes through and changes it. If that isn’t just like life.

Here’s to today. The days aren’t exactly a given anymore. They seem to be numbered now. I’m glad to count another.

gratitude-a-thon day 417: the ball, the boys, the victory

Ghana v USA: Group G - 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil
I wasn’t even in the room yet, and Dempsey killed it.

Before I was even in the den, while I was cooking the rice and slicing the onions and peppers, for a dinner of burrito’s, Clint Dempsey put it away. Screaming ensued, social media roared, and the family text chain went wild, wooing and hollering. Could they hold on for 95 more minutes, though, when the headlines were practically already written claiming victory for Ghana? And did my neighbors realize nobody was killed in a  brutal attack inside my house, but just excited about soccer?

 

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It was not looking good for Jozy, or the US, when down he went.

 

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Fuggetaboutit, Dempsey wasn’t about to let a broken nose keep him off the field.

Then the injuries began. What appeared to be a torn hamstring that I could feel rip down my own leg. Striker Jozy Altidore was laying on the field feeling like I did when I was having Jake and the epidural didn’t work. He was down, and so was my family. Then Dempsey took a leg to the nose. Again, I could feel the pain on my own face. But Forget it, he was having none of it.  They stuffed some stuff up his nostrils, and he played on, while clearly in a massive amount of pain. And somehow, though Ghana had what seemed like a million shots on goal, the US hung on. When they finally scored, it seemed the dream might be over, and they’d finally hit their stride, but again, somehow, like magic, the US kept them at bay, and then with a few minutes left, scored again. An unlikely US victory. Against all odds, and just like that.

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My pick for MGP (MOST GORGEOUS PLAYER), Graham Zusi. Score.

We love soccer around here. My brother-in-law is a sports writer, and expert soccer guy. Ally plays on an elite club team, and just won the state cup, Jake knows more about it than he should, and Peter has watched more games than a high school coach. And me, I have learned to love this sport where you don’t use your hands. It’s fast, and fun to watch. And yesterday was a perfect example of riding the roller coaster of a soccer game. And while we were happy for team USA, we all felt that Ghana’s play had been superior, and that really they should have won, but that’s the heartbreak of this game. It’s what’s weird and hard, but heck, I’ll take it.

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We win. Bittersweet ending for Ghana. Why do I always feel sorry for the losers?

 

gratitude-a-thon day 416: letting it go

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What is it that makes those of us keep stuff that we don’t really want to keep anymore? Why, for some people, do we hold onto particular items like they were appendages, even though we want to shed them like unwanted body hair and cellulite?

I am cleaning. Cleaning like I’m moving. Getting rid of shit I don’t want, and allowing myself to let it go, buy bye. It makes me feel like I’ve lost weight. And that’s always good.

One problem I have is sentimentality. The blankets Jake and Ally carried around as toddlers, their “Bi’s” as they were called, and don’t ask, maybe they were bisexual blankets, I don’t know. Those are ok to keep, right? They might even like them when they’re older, but what about every piece of paper they ever touched with a marker, pen, pencil, crayon, paintbrush? Um, not so much. What about all those books that signify a time when we read to them, over and over and over again before bed? What if they want them for their own kids? Buy ’em again, I say, and purge. But these are the kinds of things I run into when I’m trying to get clean. These are the nagging decisions. An old soccer shirt collection of Ally’s, a million photos (and seriously, I think there might be a million), a puppet theater, a high end electric organ. I just recycled a pile of home magazines that I’ve been collecting over the past decade, if not longer. I believe, if I’d counted, I would have been at around 400, at least. It was like my hands were magnetic, with the pull those magazines had on me. But out they went into the blue bin. My kids think I might sneak out in the night and bring them back into the house. But they’re wrong. It feels good to liquidate. A little piece of my brain has opened back up for business.

And so, I will keep up this commitment to clean for as long as it takes. And I will float around feeling lighter, better, more organized. And I will try to stop being that person who keeps things because they signify a different time. That ship has sailed. And unless you allow it out of your harbor, no other boats can come gliding in.

 

 

gratitude-a-thon day 415: the best dad

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The kids who made Peter a dad.

My husband Peter has a lofty resume. He’s a biochemist and he is hoping to bring a drug to market to help people with Parkinson’s disease. That’s pretty great, but what he’d probably tell you his real profession is, is being a dad.

It wasn’t easy for us to have kids. I had infertility that took up three years of our lives, made us cry and worry and have sex when we didn’t feel like it. It’s a longer story, isn’t everything a longer story, but let’s get to the good part. The part where all that fucking actually worked and we finally brought two kids into the world (not at the same time), but they got here and that’s all that really matters, because that’s how Peter got the job of his dreams.

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He’s grown up right alongside of them. Maybe that’s what happens for all of us.

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This is daddy’s little girl. God, she loves her father.

Peter was smitten from the moment curious and energetic Jake arrived. He slept in the hospital with us, and looked goo goo eyed, and not just from lack of shut eye, but from pure unadulterated joy. He took a bunch of time off to be with Jake and didn’t mind the hours like I did. He was in awe of our new boy, and while I was crabby and crazy from not sleeping, he was just happy. He seemed to be able to exist on a diet of bottles and dirty diapers. When Ally came tumbling down the birth canal a month early with a full head of hair, Peter had a new girl in his life. He fell hard and fast. Ally cried for the first six months of her life, the doctors never knew why. She was inconsolable, and so was I. But not her daddy. He never quavered in his affection or endless patience for her.

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Sharing her passion, Peter’s made himself into a soccer guy. Here they are at the mecca–a game in Barcelona.
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Excited to watch Barcelona play.

We’ve both given our all to parenting. But Peter has given everything. In every way. Those kids are like oxygen to him. He has grown up with them, and made most of the large choices in our lives for them. He has kissed boo boo’s better, nursed the fevers and viruses that kept them up at night, and spent hours and hours on math homework (I was useless by second grade on this front). He’s been to every baseball, basketball and soccer game each of them has ever played. And that is a lifetime, I can tell you. When his kids are in pain, he’s practically incapacitated. He guides Jake on his choices, he supports Ally’s love of soccer and travel schedule with the organization of the Secretary of State. He attends every out of the way game, rain, snow, blazing heat (and believe we’ve been to games in all those kinds of weather). While I give in to sleep, he always waits up for them, and will be the pick up dad at any time of the night. He will even drive Ally to school, which is approximately 90 seconds from here (I didn’t say everything he does is good, I just said he does it).

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And he graduates. No lack of tears that day, but a quiet acceptance of a new part of life.

So, here’s to a dad who is present, giving, and always there for his kids. A dad who almost wasn’t (and what a damn shame that would have been). Here’s to Peter for the job he does best. It’s not always easy, but you’ve pushed yourself and made two very awesome kids. They love you for it. And so do I.

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Even Riley thinks Peter’s a great dad.

gratitude-a-thon day 414: kiss off, westboro baptist church

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The Westboro Baptist Church people have nothing to do with God. They aren’t a religion, they’re an ugly scar on the earth. They’re the exact opposite of all that is good and holy. So, I really liked this story. Anything anybody can do to piss this group off is just fine with me. In fact, I’m grateful for it. Nice police work, officer.