Thursday, July 31, 2008

Use Appropriate Language When Talking To Inanimate Objects

Seattle is one rainy assed place. Oh, you already knew that? Sorry to bore you.

The Boss of Seattle is getting ready to move. Sadly, she will no longer be the Boss of Seattle, so someone else can try (just go ahead and try!) to take her place. (SJ?)

But she is moving on; moving from the rainforest back to the golden rolling hills of California. So basically, I win what Seattle loses. She is moving to another city which starts with 'S', so she will still be the BOS. More to reveal on that later.


Her youngest son, Little Frankie (LF) is getting pissed off with all the moving activities. Mom's busy packing. Dad is busy staying busy. The older brothers are busy eeking out the last bit of play time with their best friends. And LF is bored. B. O. R. E. D.=BORED!


Mom, can I watch a movie?


No, you just watched a movie.


Mom, can I go ___?


No.


Mom, can I watch a movie?


No.


Mom, can I watch a movie?


No!


Mom, can I watch a video?


NO!


Mom, can I watch something on TV?


WE DON'T HAVE TV!!!


Mom, can I watch -


NO, NO, and ummmNO! YOU may NOT watch anything. You may go entertain yourself with our chickens in the rainy muddy yard. You may go dig a hole to a new pipeline. You may go find a sharp stick. You may leave me alone. You may stop talking to me right now!

Subdued and speechless for the moment, and at the very least smart enough to not engage his mother in further conversation, Little Frankie trudges out of the room to find someone something else to talk to.

YOU!

He has found his target and moves in.

YOU! I hate you! You are BORING!

Finally! Thinks the BOS...finally he has found something to do!!

YOU! You are a BABY BUTT SNIFFER!

She finds him in the next room, insulting:




Umm....are you worried? I asked her, when she told me the details of the conversation Little Frankie had with the lamp.

Naaawwww, said my best friend; mother of three boys.

It's not like he called the lamp a little cocksucker. I don't see anything wrong with 'baby butt sniffer'.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Thoughts on Jealousy, Trolls, Love, and Sharing

When I first starting reading Tanis's writing, I had to take many breaks for sobbing. Yes, sobbing for Tanis and her family, because I am not a heartless bitch. But also? Sobbing for my own little pity party.

Sure, it's one thing to scream at your baby "DON'T YOU STOP BREATHING" as they lay dying in the backseat of the car which is hurdling towards the hospital at breakneck speed.
It's another thing entirely to write about it.

It's one thing to feel your child take his last breath, give CPR to him for forty minutes, and then plead with invisible forces to bring him back as you hold his suddenly still body for hours.
It's another thing completely to share that.

For some, the writing starts as a form of therapy, a way to process, vent, analyze, cope. Sometimes it takes on a new form; one that was unexpected. The words which were so hard to string together are suddenly making sense to someone else. This person is a stranger, but they share with you their intimate thoughts and thank you for your words. They may have even found them helpful. Your words, your process, your pain. Helped someone else!
Someone may write to you to tell you that you reminded them to kiss their babies an extra time that night, to hold them close, to read them just one more book. To be grateful for them.

Once upon a time, a mother with too many tears, a mother with very few ties to a normal life left, needed to reach out to share the son who had just died. She was afraid he would be forgotten, and wanted to share the year of his life, and the time passing after his death. She joined some email groups. Groups which were full of other bereaved mothers and fathers and anger and fear. Military losses, murdered children, and the babies and children like hers. All gone too soon. Everyone reached out, every parent reached for a hand to pull them out of the shitty quicksand into which they had fallen the day they walked away from their breathless child. Nobody could save them. Nobody could save her. They were all in the quicksand together; not one of them had the energy to save another. They told their stories over and over, and received more silence. They could only read about how another child had died, how the little girl had accidentally wrapped herself up in the window blinds cord and strangled, how the mother helplessly watched her husband run over her baby in the driveway in his raised truck as his stereo blared and she screamed. They could only gasp and sob more and run up to check on their living children and cut all the goddamned windowblind cords.
After I realized I could no longer let my three year old out of my sight and forced her to accompany me to the bathroom every single time, I figured out that these email lists were not helping me, not one bit.

Once upon a time, a mother with too many tears decided to write a blog. She did not understand the rules, courtesies, or mechanics of The Blog, but she wanted to write. She needed a place to write it all down, the words which made no sense while they swirled about in her head, looking for an exit. She started to write about her pregnancy, and that was fine. She wrote about baby names and funny little stories which her daughter would provide, and this was also fine. But then she wrote about her son and his death. Nobody commented, but that was okay. She wrote it for herself. Then she wrote some more about him and how, in the aftermath of his death, it was difficult to cope with the stupid things people would say. She wrote about her feelings of loss and hopelessness.
Suddenly she created a stir. She must have offended someone or six, because she was put right in her place by the person people everyone knows as 'Anonymous'. Anonymous told her that she was a real downer, and who the hell did she think she was bumming everyone out like that? Who did she think she was talking smack about well-intentioned people who made the innocent mistake of saying the wrong thing. She was lucky anyone even said anything to her at all! She would be lucky to have any friends left at all after being such a depressing bitch. She should get some prozac and a therapist.
She thought seriously about quitting this whole writing gig.
That mother had skin which had been thinned by the loss of her child, and could not, at that time, access her quick-thinking responses, so she deleted these comments and then closed anonymous comments on her blog. Even though she had closed the anonymous comments, she was still hurt by this revelation that she was a big downer, and just took a break from writing about her dead child. She looked for others writing about their dead children, but found nobody. Actually, not true. She found many women writing about their miscarriage losses, but however multiple or far along those miscarriages were, she felt separated from these women. She had experienced miscarriage firsthand before, and since losing her one year old child, the separation felt too wide...these were the stories of the loss of a dream, while she had lost an actual, living, breathing child. She found nobody who had taken the risks to describe their own losses and trials and how they got the fuck through it. Nobody who talked about their dead child in terms other than 'angel babies sliding on the rainbows of heaven', not that there's anything wrong with that...it's just...not...me.
So yeah, that mother is me. Was me, and still is me.
One day, with thickened skin and on a whim, I turned the anonymous comments back on. My friends were still reading and supporting me; even some strangers. It had been a while; and I figured I could handle it. I understood what a troll was, at least.
I decided to try and trust the internet again.
Some of the first anonymous comments came in, and they went something like this: 'I wept when I read your story/ My own child died and my family doesn't understand why I cannot get over it/ Thank you for sharing your thoughts on hurtful platitudes, I will put more thought into the words I say when I know not what to say/ Thank you for reminding me to cherish my children...' etc.
I was astonished. But gobbled it up. The internet did love me! I loved the internet and it was actually loving me back!
Around this time, I discovered Tanis. I laughed til I cried. Then I discovered her archives. I cried til I laughed. And when I read about how she started writing about losing her Bug and went from feeling cold and alone to warm and cyber-hugged and surrounded by supporters when she shared her story (and his), I cried.
I cried for myself. I had a big old pity party and wondered why I sucked so bad that people actually took time to reach out and tell me that I was depressing. And why didn't I go on prozac and get a therapist and shut up? (That last one, with a few years between us as distance, is the funniest one to me - since I did see a grief counselor for six months after Elijah died...until she suddenly died.)
I loved Tanis from the beginning, but I was insanely jealous of the fact that she got the big hug. Of the fact that her writing was accepted, her process was acceptable, and she was lovable. Of course when I met her last weekend, I had to pour my heart out to her and apologize for my misplaced (and to her..umm...invisible?) jealousy. At least I felt better. (And I re-directed my jealousy to a more appropriate arena, like her hot bod and consistently photogenic face.)
I had an interesting conversation about this with a far more seasoned (spicy, even) blogger friend last weekend, and she made me feel better with her enlightened take on it. She saw a shift over the years, from primarily troll commenters, to primarily groups finding each other and supporting each other. Wow. Simply bad timing on my part.
I got over it, obviously. I rarely get comments like that anymore when I write about Elijah, and I do feel the hugs.
I feel supported and I take the strength that readers offer me. I don't pray, but I accept prayers.
There is a huge gift in the realization that, when I woke up yesterday all FREAKED THE FUCK OUT, I could write, share, and get that damn hug I needed.
Thank you. You inspired this post, and this list.

I am starting a new links list on my sidebar.
A list of bloggers who are writing about loss as well as what they have. Parents who have lost children. Writers who write about smelling the flowers and wading through the piles of shit. Sharing their paths of grief and finding their way back to living a life.
They may need your support, or you may need theirs.
Find each other.
If you know of anyone who should be added to this category, please let me know, and I will.

To start with, I have:


Turtle and Monkey

Tanis, at Attack of the Redneck Mommy and Missing My Bug

Loralee, of Loralee's Looney Tunes

Kate, of Sweet/Salty
and co-founder of Glow in the Woods

Julia, of I Won't Fear Love

Monday, July 28, 2008

Before, and After


Last night I had one of those dreams which freaks people out when I talk about it, so I am not going to (talk about it). I had no idea where I was because at first, nothing made sense; I was either at Michael Jackson's neverland ranch or Dollywood, and since I have never been to either one, I guess it was just completely made up in my head land.
I apparently bought a ticket to go on the roller coaster, because when I woke up, I had the distinct feeling that I had ridden on one.


I had a baby in my arms, we snuggled in the mysteriously placed rocking chair. I thought he felt small for Bubbles, Bubbles was the only baby I could think of who might be in my arms. He was too light. I looked down and pulled him up to me at the same time. The smell, the whiff.
I was instantly transported. For a moment or six, I cannot say, as dreams tend to mess with my timeclock, I was transported to a life before he was gone. A time when the phrase 'before he died' didn't exist. The smell. The unmistakable smell of him.
Rainbows of color swirled above me, confused in their path, unsure of whether to create light or create a brown mud around me.


There was light.
For a moment, he was never gone, there was no 'before'. There was no 'after'.
There was only Elijah.
He was just here. In my arms. He was mine; he always had been.
All of his cedary sweet milky vanilla gorgeous cheeky delicious chunky ethereal baby awesomeness was mine.
For a moment I was allowed the thrill of him, the thrill of being his mother. The incredible 'I'm not worthy' feeling as I gazed at this beautiful creature and breathed him in. The pride.
For a moment I felt joy when I looked down at my son.
For a moment I felt the love gushing out of me, the dam had broken, it all rushed straight into my son while I watched it pour all over him. I could not stop it; it all was his and there he was, in my arms, absorbing every single drop.
For a moment and all at once, I felt the opportunity and risks of motherhood - I allowed myself a dream for this child I held in my arms who now held my heart and our future.

Which was my fatal error. Our future.

In a moment it was gone. The ignorance, the bliss, the absence of markers such as 'before' and 'after'.
The light swirled quickly, losing any color, creating darkness.


In a moment, my brain came back early from its vacation and tapped me on the shoulder.
Tap tap tap.
"Go away," I said rudely, "I am not ready for you."
Tap tap tap.
"Please," I began to beg, "Please let me have him."
Tap tap tap.
It was too late.


I knew there was something wrong. I knew I wasn't supposed to have him.
Suddenly, there was a 'before'. There was an 'after'.
I began to cry. I sensed he was going to be taken from me. I looked around for someone to help me, but nobody was there. I was alone in an eerie abandoned park with my baby.
I clutched him closer to me, I breathed him in again; his scent was the reassurance that he was still there, still mine, still Elijah.
He was.
But he was slipping out of my arms.
Tap tap tap.
Brain here. Memories accessed. He's gone. You're dreaming.
Tap tap tap.

"STOP!" I grabbed him more tightly. "I NEED HIM! YOU DON'T NEED HIM! WHY WOULD YOU TAKE HIM FROM ME?"

In a moment I knew again that I was not worthy. He was not mine.
I started to gasp - to suck him in faster.

Tap tap tap.
In a moment, there was the gut wrenching memory of him leaving us.
In a moment I remembered his last breaths, and in a moment, he was gone.


Before:


After:





Sunday, July 27, 2008

Blogher 08 in a (Very Large) Nutshell

Blogher '08 was a whirlwind for me, and from a few glances around my (ever-growing) list of writer friends, it seems it was an exhausting and exhiliarating experience for most of us.

I have not even sorted out all the new cards from my leftover lollipops.
The (non-edible) shwag remains bagged. I have not had much down time ("::blank stare::") since the non-stop Blogher conference. But here is my not very short synopsis.


Since the legendary Blogher pre-parties now start on Thursday (because who could possibly wait until Friday when (squeee) y'all are right in the hotel anyway and hell let's do some hugging!!), too many of us may have possibly given just a tiny bit too much energy to the earlier parties, not taking into account the time release action that would be necessary to withstand the pace of the weekend. Blogher is growing up into a far more sophisticated partier as it evolves into a more intellectually and/or emotionally challenging venue. Call it counterbalance?



So, Thursday afternoon I got to the St. Francis Hotel and I saw a bunch of people I didn't know but I did know who they were, and should I just approach them? And, YES! After I purchased some inner confidence at the store in the lobby, I did approach them. And it may have been the panties, but it was awesome. Aside from one ultimate snub moment in the lobby, (the one in which a rather bossy blogger looked at my card, and without changing her expression, handed my card back to me) most people were very nice to me. Even if they did think I was drunk when I told them about how I went and bought new panties. Not drunk because I was telling them about purchasing underwear, because I assure you that is a perfectly normal thing for women to talk about, but because I was all: OMFG I am so crazy listen to my story about purchasing fancy panties!!


(this is the story:)
I get nervous in big cities with tall buildings because the
buildings make me incredibly disoriented and I can't find my way anywhere.
(Do not follow me in cities, I am probaby lost.) So I got brave and walked
outside the hotel which is downtown San Francisco. Even though I
live not that far away, I live in the mountains. The barely singed
mountains. Right outside the hotel entrance were a few shops, so I walked
into the fancy pants store and tried to buy some confidence by way of
silkies. But there was some other chick who came in after I
did
and the hottie salesgirl was all 'ooohhhh, let me help you buy some
delicates!!' to her, and I was looking around me for signs of shlumpiness, but the real
problem with shlumpiness is that The Shlumpy can never really tell if they are
shlumpy, or it wouldn't be an issue. Since I knew I didn't stink, and
I knew my pants were covering up my bird-pecked wooden leg, I decided
it must just be shlump. I was all 'oh man I have shlumpy mom written all
over me and they don't even want to sell me underwear' and then the skinny girl
came over to help me (ME!!) and offered to sell me (ME!) some delicates!! I was so
incredibly flattered that I obliged and told her I would take three, and while she
was staring at my credit card with her photographic mind, my gaze wandered to
another exit from the store - one opposite the street side from which I had
come. "OH WOW!" I exclaimed, in my most suave and least mountain hillbilly
shlumpiness voice, "That rug is the same one as in my hotel!"

She smiled at me nicely but uncomfortably, the way one smiles at
a drunk grandma stumbling after thanksgiving dinner. She handed my credit card
back to me, and with it the bag of delicate panties. I was not
shlumpy. I was fancy. I was purchasing
confidence panties at vicky's secret!! I walked out the other door to investigate. The door which led directly back into the lobby of the St Francis Hotel.
(sssssttttt: that? was my hawtness sizzling)



So, not actually drunk but probably earning some reputation in the lobby for being totally drunk, and not sure I was going to be able to handle going to the party coming up with all those people, I decided to go back to my room. To get drunk. Which was awesome because the Boss of Seattle was in town to help us kick-off the pre-party Blogher weekend and she was meeting me in the room so I wouldn't have to drink alone meet all those people alone.



When we got to the People's Party there was no free alcohol left and the lame bar was charging ten bucks for a glass of really bad wine, so instead of drinking (more) we had to talk to people and so we did. We were lucky to meet up with the awesome fun SJ before hand (even though she made us scream loudly), so at least we looked cool when we walked in. I met Jenny that night and we talked for a while. She grabbed my lighter and stuck it down her cleavage and then totally stole it. I don't think she remembers the part where we swapped the spit in our palms and played jumprope games in the hallway but it's okay; I am comfortable with our relationship just the way it is.

Suddenly it was Friday morning and I had to actually work. The hardest part was making it to registration and then to breakfast, considering there were only a few hours between the shutting and opening of my eyes. After that, it got easier because Blogher kept feeding us. There was no way to fall asleep with the incredibly thoughtful constant offerings of maintenance caffeine and sugar (two thumbs up!!). At some point that morning (was it the first keynote slash incredible swag-fest?) I ran into Em and fully squealed. If you knew Em, you would squeal too. Poor Em, she had no room and there were no rooms at the inn. Alas, poor Em, meet my roommate Tricia! Tricia, who has the same 'bring-the-puppy-home' instincts as I do, gave the nod and we gave her the keys to our room and sent her up for a nap. We ended up getting to keep her all weekend!

I pretty much ran the mic at all the parent track sessions, so once I got over my hangover got all the huge amounts of initial swag back up to my room (hello, Blogher? applause again for the 'all under one roof' plan!), I took my place at the mic in tower room A for most of the weekend. I will say this about mic running: I was nimble and it's a damn good thing. You would think it is a damn good thing because I was running that mic around from person to person. Nimble helped for that, but it became absolutely necessary when I needed to outrun the mobs of angry women who didn't get 'their turn' with the microphone and thought it was because of some personal hatred I harbored for them. There was some laptop slamming and cursing.

Hello, women? Manners much? And for those of you who actually did learn how to raise your hand when you want a turn to talk, did you ever think that someone behind you may have raised her hand before you? Grip on patience. Get one.

Other than the unexpected potential hazard of being hardinged, the mic running was the perfect 'fly on the wall' type of job. It also allowed me to whisper sweet nothings and admiration comments to the bloggers I wanted to meet who also wanted the mic (which was in my hand).

I wanted to pay closer attention to the MommyBlogging: Public Parenting & Privacy panel, but it was hard with Chris, Crystal, Shannon, and Shino Tanaka all making so much sense and looking damn sharp at the same time. With the newly missing brain cells, it was a bit of sensory overload for me, but the take home and sleep on this one message was a recurring theme for most who write about their family: Think about what you are writing and write as if anyone involved will see it. It will stick to you.
There was some awesome lunch, more caffeine, and a visit to the eye-popping Sesame Street Suite. Cupcakes, cookies, candy, popcorn! Grover, Abby Cadaby, videographers and puppeteers! I wanted to live there but they locked the room at night and I didn't get to fulfill my dream of sleeping on the stoop of 123 Sesame Street.


The community keynote on Friday evening was phenomenal. Stupendously, tear-jerkingly, pants-peeingly, fabulous.
Standing ovations and much hugging. No judgments. Just applause.
Don't let word get out to those who assume that Blogher is a drama fest; I would hate to rain on their snark parade by showing them the delicious nougat at the center of Blogher.


After this mind blowing show of talent, I pulled myself together for the Ruby Skye cocktail party; I had to work at the door, checking badges and tickets. Apparently this was the hot ticket, because we had to turn a ton of people away. I felt sad for the first hapless few (huh? I needed a ticket for this?) but then Loralee taught me how to say 'NO!' with glee and soon I was shouting at Tanis to get the fuck out. But it was Tanis and damn if that girl just doesn't listen so we had our pic taken together and she made me look all puffy and teletubby-ish but since I love her so very much I will show you anyway.






Loralee and I spent over an hour together before we discovered our dead baby connection, and then there was more squealing. Who would have guessed that would ever be something to squeal over. But when it comes to being in the company of that unfortunate club, it sometimes just is. She is righteous.
Once I was free to leave my new job as a bouncer, I headed into the club. It was loud and fun, and I still had my drink tickets! The BOS and I spotted an old friend and had our picture taken with her, but we were totally embarrassed when we spotted her underwear and realized our mistake -it wasn't Britney after all but some imposter who had slipped by me and gotten into the private party!







I was so shamed by this experience that I hid in the secret smoking room back room talking to Tanis, Biggie, and my new local friend Mindy for the next two hours, opting out of some big party to which I had not been invited but was supposed to attend. Then Chris Carfi noticed that my toes were painted in honor of his emoodicon rings and we were all OMFG LET'S BE FRIENDS! And then another hour or so went by and we realized we were still there!

After this, we met some new friends, went back to the hotel and brought our party to SJ's room, who was a great sport. Even when the chair was stolen from the hallway because, well, we needed one more chair. Some stuff happened, though Melanie will deny it all, and then we went to bed.


Wow. See? Aren't you exhausted already and we haven't even made it to Saturday? I was too, which is, I guess, why Saturday happened in bullet points. It was weird.


  • Starbucks is good for hangovers. Especially when it is free and bottomless and you are denying that you are hungover.

  • I learned that mic running in the ballroom is so much harder because the room is so much bigger and your coffee is so far away.

  • Finally ran into Amy and delivered the secret baby gift I had been carrying around for her. Also unintentionally made her pee herself when I read her baby-naming mind. No, I can not be bribed. (shhh...that's gwendomama at gmail dot com)

  • SWAG FEST: Thought about maybe giving Leapfrog another chance because their sigg-like logo swag bottles were so awesome, and had way too much fun getting free stuff in the 'like it? take it!' swag suite.

  • Loved the MommyBlogging: The Commercial Momosphere: Policies, Ethics and Outreach panel. Not sure why, but I want to hug this woman whenever I am near her, and although Kristen makes me feel small and awkward when I stand near her, I love her and never got enough time to chat with her (about how much more we should hang out).

  • There was some quick lunch and a whole bunch of ass-pinching as I ran through the ballroom. Did anyone else get their ass pinched as much as I did?

  • The afternoon was hard. I realized something about being a mic runner and having asked to work in sessions on topics about which I am interested. Not the most brilliant idea. I wanted to talk. The best panel for me, MommyBlogging: Blogging About Our Children with Special Needs, was also the most frustrating for me, personally. Only because I wanted so badly to say something, but there was never an open moment with the microphone; people always had their hands up. It felt wrong to use the mic when I had it in my hands. So much power. I can't abuse power. I know I'm all big mouthed, but my mama taught me some manners way back when. I had little volcanoes exploding inside each time I handed the mic to the next commenter (who always had something incredibly poignant to say, thus confirming my own suspicions that I should just smile, nod, and try not to cry).

  • I cried a lot during that session.

  • I am a stealth crier.

  • Last panel of the day was about blogging about adoption, loss, and infertility. More crying. But meeting some awesome women.

  • Some other stuff happened.

  • There was a party at Macy's which was...a good idea. I am thinking of starting a Kristy Sammis fan club, so that's all I'm going to say. It seemed like a good idea.

  • I missed out on the free vibrators and k-y samples, but Em did not.

  • She thought the k-y was perfume and thanked the woman at Macy's for the 'new scent'.

  • I saw almost everyone I love at the top floor of Macy's but they didn't trust us with red wine near the furniture so I had to blow out of there after I ate six salted caramel ice cream cones about an hour or so to go to the next party,

  • The cheeseburger party. Which got busted seconds before I got out of the elevator and saw Lindsay with a burger bag on her head pleading with the stern looking security guard (one of five!) who was herding the women to the elevator.

  • I pretended I didn't know them and walked right past but didn't want to get Isabel or Y in (more) trouble so met up with everyone in the lobby of the St Francis where we got quite loud,

  • And Laid-off Dad (aka Doug, easy to spot because of all his DAD-ness) entertained us by juggling cheeseburgers, since there were about eighty cheeseburgers left after the big bust.

  • Rachel (aka a different SJ) and I went on a mission around Union Square at 11:30 pm, dressed up in cocktail party garb, delivering the remaining cheeseburgers to the homeless and hungry. [Me: I feel kind of bad giving them cheeseburgers from mcd's. I mean, seriously. Rachel: BUT WE ALSO HAVE FRIES!!] The driveby cheeseburger drop-off was a highlight of the weekend for me. In sandals. With tall buildings all around. Rachel must have superpowers, because I did not get lost.

  • I have so many new crushes and friends. When I sort through the PILE of cards, I will introduce you to them!
  • SueBob let me have my way with her breasts, err, I mean with her stapler.

  • I discovered that Carmen, if you didn't already know, has fabulous boobs.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Random Blog Ethics Question

Do you publish content on your blog about someone which you would not say to or ask that someone in person?

Do you hope that they will find it, or do you hope that they will not find it?


....Just touching on a running theme from last weekend...

Friday, July 25, 2008

When Children Die; (insert appropriate phrase here) (i know, there isn't one)

Please excuse the delay in the long-overdue 'HERE are all the super-great things about Blogher, no really - stop looking at that other thing now' post. It will come tomorrow. ((hopeful))

I love all of you for visiting and your comments are making my day. And thank you for that.

But forgive my absence and pensive/broodiness..
Listen Up:
Of all the panels I attended at Blogher '08, the one most touching and near and dear to my heart was the one about 'blogging about our children with special needs'.
[Thank you, Squid]
Each woman/mother on the panel was a model of intellect, sensitivity, insight, and strength.
One of these mothers is Vicki Forman, whose son, Evan, died two days ago, in a sudden and devastating loss.

I wish for her family that nobody has the audacity to ever, ever imply that his death was 'for the best' or that he or his family was 'spared' in any way.
Because I will mess them up.
Seriously.

Please send them some love.


And for now, speak softly.
And hug your babies close to you.
Very close.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Sometimes the word 'Drama' is an overdramatization

I could never speak of this again, but that would be a personal compromise. There was too much backstory left unsaid with my rush to be so cutting edge and post video twenty minutes after shooting it. I usually spend more than zero minutes reassessing my words, having to live in the present is so much work that writing in the present would probably have me crushed under a metaphoric time-clock. So that last post about Blogher was a challenge for the virgo in me to post without review. I also did it because I felt so jaw-droppingly blown away by the scene which unfolded and the buzz of inaccurate gossip that seemed to follow.
And to those of you who think I am writing/publishing this to perpetuate the 'unfortunate drama', I say to you this: It is unfortunate that an opinion is called 'drama'. The fact that it is being called 'drama', I find amusing.

Backstory: Night before keynote closing speech at Blogher '08, Jenny approached Heather at a party and apologized if her post had offended Heather in any way. It was apparently brushed off, not with an 'it's okay', but with an understanding of an apology offered.
Jenny apologized to Heather for comparing her to a mythical creature, like a Hobbit or Santa Claus, and she apologized. I still don't understand the offense in Jenny's analogy to the elusive dooce, but it was nice of her to offer an apology for this slight remark to someone who has called her own nephews devil monsters, and accused the mormon church of being full of pedophiles.
At the closing keynote, Heather was asked (by the interviewer) about receiving hate mail. She mentioned that she occasionally posts some of it so that people can see what she has been through. Someone was so angry with her for 'exposing' her daughter's life that she said she wished she could throw hydrochloric acid on Heather, to expose her to the world. Pretty damn harsh. She also mentioned she has received doggy death threats. Then she mentioned that someone, someone who was perhaps even in this room, had written a post in which she was compared to a mythical hobbit.
Right after the death threats. Hobbit. Really.
Well, that someone was in the room, and she caught the context herself and wasn't particularly thrilled about her company.
Someone asked me to translate the video, so here is the closest approximation:

[before camera was turned on:] "yeah I said you were like an imaginary hobbit, but I said you were like a fuckin awesome imaginary

[camera on]hobbit!
I also said you were like jesus and santa claus...
and I bought your fuckin book!!
...and then we went to the party together and I was like... I apologized
and I... I really love you
and you said that thing..
and then everybody at the party was like
you fucking said that??
and I was like
NO!! and then half the people were like
IT WAS GOOD ...and I was all
I'm not sure what I WROTE!
...and I might have been drunk...
but I am now..
and I
apologized
...
but I didn't think hobbit was bad!"


Heather responded with a very uncomfortable look. And nothing more. End.

I wasn't expecting to video anything, but grabbed my camera when I saw that Jenny wasn't going to slink away as I would have done, had that person called me out to humiliate me in that crowd.
Oh yes - another interesting thing happened at our table, versions of which I later heard, which I thought worthy of the Onion.
Perhaps 8-10 minutes after the awkward exchange, a woman of incredible patience, objectivity, and compassion stood up at our table and asked for the mic. She mentioned that there felt like a lot of tension in the room, and did Heather wish to respond? Heather asked if 'That Person' was still in the room, and a number of people replied that no, Jenny was not.
Heather responded to Tricia (with the mic) that she would not respond if 'The Person' was no longer in the room. Here, she was applauded for her ethics.

After the keynote closing, Jenny was taken to a private suite in which Heather was signing her book. Jenny again apologized, but was again not 'absolved', and was told that she hurt her feelings and then ignored. (umm...hello? ethics committee on break?) **see edit below**

Later that evening I heard so many arguments about the 'drama'. For the record, I also heard a good many conversations about the fabulous panels and all-around Blogher experience.
But most of the snippets I overheard (and then broke up or started fights about) were of the 'can you believe she stood up in a room of 800 people and shrieked at Heather all drunk like that?!' variety. Hey - not drunk. Seriously. I happen to know. And why shouldn't she stand up after being lumped in with death threats? Was that not expected by the accusor?
My other favorite snarkfest was the one that claimed 'that beyotch - meow - who stood up and stirred up the shit by asking Heather talk about it more after the dust had settled!!'
OMG that was the funniest thing of all, because guess what? SHE WAS MY ROOMMATE and they could not have been more wrong. Ever.
All weekend I would come steaming into the room talking excitedly about the fun awesome people I met or re-connected with, and then spewing about the bitch snubbers and rib-elbowers (yes, it happens) I had had contact with. And Tricia, without fail, would have another take on it. (Okay, maybe not the time someone handed my card back to me, because that was the ultimate and obvious snub, but every other situation without fail).
See, she is, by nature, compassionate, objective, and lovely.
I am, by contrast, cynical, insecure, and pissy.
So when she asked Heather to respond to Jenny, it was because she saw Jenny in pain, as I did. But she also saw what she believed to be emotional pain in Heather's expression, and that's why she asked her to respond. Not because she was trying to stir up any shit, or even because she felt sorry for Jenny. Just because clearing the air is what a mother of eight children does best; and because who the fuck has time for any more dramantics when you are the mother of eight children?

So (::sigh:: ::phew::) that is it about that.

And now on to the rest of Blogher and the pics of ass pinchers and party queens.

**EDITED: *THAT PART DID NOT HAPPEN - Apparently there was NO book signing AT ALL and NO private suite. There was a lobby in which an apology was delivered and then kind of, somewhat accepted. There was a misunderstanding in which Heather thought Jenny was drunk (because Jenny said she was drunk) and reasonably did not want to respond to someone who was all drunky. But Jenny was actually not drunk, she just likes to say she is drunk when she is uncomfortable and rambly and afraid she said the wrong thing. There was some other stuff but I wasn't there for that so I will shut up now and not step any deeper into this pile.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Live Blogging Closing Keynote @ Blogher

Okay, something feels tense in the world of happy rainbows, unicorns and ass grabbers.
Seriously, people? My ass has never, ever been grabbed as much in one place as it has amongst this group of frisky wimmens. Not saying in a bad way, just a little....surprising? Each time.
There is a writer here at the Blogher keynote closing that many know by another name than Heather, and she made an unhappy reference to the person who had written a post in which she suggests that perhaps this writer a mythical creature like a hobbit. Or Santa Claus or Jesus. And she was not happy.
[edit: when she referenced the writer, she also acknowledged that she thought she was in the room and may perhaps wish to respond.]
Turns out of course, the person who called her these things is here in the audience and also not as shy as she claims.

She responds - more audio than visual here - don't judge me for staying in my chair and getting the back of her head - I am so drunk very tired.


video


And is met with a rather disapproving look (or what was that look?) from the Heather often known by another name.

Still trying to upload the hilarity of some of the keynote closing from last night. Is long.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Will My Words Come Back to Kick Me in the Arse?

I am sitting across from a panel of mommybloggers, trying to get Chris to crack or giggle, but damn is she poised. And so freaking cute I want to cover her with frosting and take a bite of her!
We are talking about security and exposure and protection of your children in your blog.
I won't have a chance to post later, as I am working each and every mommyblogging session after this.
This is a loaded session - people have concerns ranging from privacy and embarrassment of your children to kidnapping and sexual predators.
Ramifications of the internet exposure that we choose are mind-boggling. Tanis' mothering skills were challenged during the process of adoption because the adoption agency didn't like her sense of humor and found her to be inappropriate.
I fear that we will lose help for our child or mark him for the future by merely writing about his special needs and our journey. I fear that the parents of the children I teach will discover my blog and my liberal use of the word 'fuck' and then decide that I should absolutely not be singing happy songs to their babies.
I worry more about the implications of exposure and choices that I justify now and how they may bite me in the ass later.
Chris says if you write it out there, it will be found. (take home message: Don't write about anything you don't want the wrong person to read.)
Call me a rebel, but I am just going to choose to ignore that to some degree.
I hate restraints. I resist them.
Stay tuned to see what I have written so far that kicks me in the ass in the future! Should be fun.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

BlogHer 08's Me.

Within the first five minutes of walking into the St. Francis Lobby:


  • I introduced myself to Catherine and her sweet baby boy, and she said....ummm....Gwendowho? Ummm.....okay......somethingsomething....meet...you? (Awesome! Already making new friends everywhere!)

  • Started to check-in to the hotel and saw standing next to me (trying to check in but dealing with some red tape shit about the deposit on the room, etc) one of the only people I actually know. Yay! Jess is here! And I know where her room is, too.
  • Jess asked who my roommate was, and when I joked about the 'she has eight kids I doubt I could piss her off this weekend' thing, some complete stranger, also checking in (and I bet she is also a blogger), said "I know how to piss her off! Get her PREGNANT!"

  • The woman checking me in? She handed me a BlogHer '08 pin, and then two minutes later, she forgot and asked if I got one so I said no, so she gave me another one and then three minutes later, she asked me again if she had given me a pin and I said no, so she gave me another one. (one of those is yours, Judy!)

First hour after checking in:


  • I discovered Victoria's Secret next door in the hotel, and I purchased new panties. Yes I did.

  • I got snubbed by Guy Kawasaki by not getting invited to The Exclusive Hawt Party. What's up with that, Guy? You put me on the ultimate mommybloggers list, but that's not enough I supposed? Your loss. My panties look lovely.

  • I saw someone else I actually know IRL and love. Love. Respect and Love. And looks super with her flourescent hair. Now I have seen two out of the four people I actually have met before. I gave her one of my extra pins; she had missed out on the pin. She said that she used to feel freaked out about coming to this thing but now that she knows so many people, she doesn't feel that way anymore. I smiled, nodded, said I didn't know anyone bu wasn't prone to freak out so easily.
  • I lied!!
  • I am still alone in the hotel room, my roommate is not yet here, the BOS (who is making a surprise guest appearance and might even guest blog for me tomorrow while I am actually at The Blog) is on her way over the GG Bridge, and I get first pick of the beds.

  • Sadly, there is no top bunk over which to fight.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Guilt is a Dirty Little Secret

A mother of an 18 month old in my class asked me today if she could bring her older son along for the last three weeks of our session.
She said, "If it's not okay I understand. He's five." Here she looked at me closely, something flickered across in her gaze, searching my own. "He's autistic." She sucked in her breath and waited for my response.
"I would love to try that," I told her. I meant it; she knew. She wanted to say more. I smiled, hoping that she would take that to go on.
"It's just...he's just....well he's not really five. He's always had some delays...but...well...music has always been good for him...I just want...I hope...." Her words lost their shape, floated like thin clouds into the ether.
I wanted to hug her.
"My son is in an ABA program," I said.
"Does he have autism?" was her fair enough and predictable answer.
I shrugged. "I don't think so. The ABA is for speech therapy. I think he has verbal apraxia, but we have yet to get that diagnosis. Or assessment for that matter!" I laughed as I told her how comical but sad it was to listen to Bubbles' own indecipherable language tumble around his mouth. I told her that I certainly have concerns about it, as Bubbles' vocabulary seems to be increasing, but his articulation is not improving at an expected rate.
She commented that I seemed to be handling it well, and I responded that we had been through early intervention before with Elijah, of course we were hoping for a different 'outcome' this time... She grinned at me and asked if we could go out for coffee sometime soon to talk about ABA (her son is just starting a program) and everything else in the world. Aha! I have sucked another friend into my world!
Her son received the diagnosis just a few months ago. That part shocked me. But it also reminded me of how fragile our concepts of our children really are.
She actually knew long before the diagnosis. Of course she did. He is five.
There is so much wrapped up in a diagnosis. Maybe relief, maybe shock, mourning, fear.
And guilt. Let us not forget guilt.
I have a secret.
I usually think I am the only one with this secret, but the sad truth is that most mothers in my position have their own secrets.
We, above all medical professionals and developmental specialists, know what is wrong with our children. We are sure we know what made them different.
Because, you see, we grew these children. So of course we must be the source of their pain, their differences, their challenges.
I am sure that my childrens' picky eating habits are one of my lower gene pool swimmers, and I feel horrible about that. It also makes my life as their mother who needs to feed them very challenging. Dh knows that our kids are freakishly stubborn because of his own gene pool. We all know that we will pass some of our traits along to our children; others will be unexpected.
But growing that baby? Is delicate work.
Every time a child comes out looking like what you may consider 'perfect' (you who all counted toes and fingers), I consider it a miracle. Those are the kinds of miracles that I even consider at all. Every baby who is born with the ability to suck? Another miracle. Babies who grow and learn to sit up, crawl, and walk? Wow. Lucky. Seriously gifted.
Children who learn to talk, converse, hug, function? Don't get me started on the fireworks of miracles happening there.
When pregnant, most us of spent some time dreaming about that little nugget with limbs and her future. There were, of course so many variables, it was hard to actually picture her. And in the name of freedom of personality, who would dare to try? But really? Would there be sports in my future? Because I hate the sports. Would she want to go to college or move to Costa Rica? Would she want to get married someday? To a guy? Would she do my bidding and eat the homemade pureed organic spinach brown rice babyfood (no), wear her hair in long braids and favor smearing homemade jam on her homemade pinafores as I homeschooled her? (no, no, and no)
And he? Would he be taller than his tiny sister? Would he want to take ballet? Would he want to live with us in his twenties? Would he sleep through the night?
And of course....did you get the prenatal testing done? Phew, because now you can stop worrying about those 3 things that they can screen for.
Because you of course are spending all your free time wondering if he (or she) will have a neurological disorder, developmental delays, autism, apraxia, PDD/NOS, etc.
Oh, not?
No, me neither. Until it happened once. 'It' being merely something different. Something mysterious, yet unexpected and glaringly different.
And then we had this little window, this snippet of time to hold on to this mysterious, glaringly different, and glaringly precious bodhisattva before he moved on. *poof*
But on the days when I am feeling less gifted and more cheated, he was not a bodhisattva. He was just not given everything exactly right. From me: right time, right place. When I was growing him, of course. If something went wrong there and then, I do believe that all of the rational thinkers and doctors in the world could never convince me that I was not at fault.
There were all those drugs pumped into me for six weeks. I consented; I was told it was the best thing for my baby...to try to keep him from coming too early (he never did). There were the weeks of hyper-emesis and weight loss, the weeks without vitamins or solid food of any kind.
My dirty little secret: My child was different because I grew him wrong.
We're in the park of differently-abled people again, but on a different ride. This time around we are dealing with what has been classified as 'a severe expressive language delay'. His supervisor for speech therapy and ABA (all of whose services we will lose in 3 months) is extremely confident (her words) that he does not and will not meet the criteria for a spectrum diagnosis, though she shares my concern about the verbal apraxia and is arranging for an assessment. Not that a diagnosis of apraxia would get him any more services after he turns three, at which point we are basically going to get screwed by the school district: fact. Stay tuned.
So here I am again hiding my little secrets. When I was pregnant with Bubbles, I didn't eat enough vegetables, I forgot to take my prenatals on purpose when I was nauseous in the beginning, and in the last trimester, I drank a full glass of wine on more than one occasion!
I screwed him up; I totally never gave him a chance to talk pretty.
Secrets.
Exposed, now.


Guilt has gripped me ever tighter each year of motherhood.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Going to The Blog

So...everyone's a-talkin about the Big Event. Some of us have concerns that our children may not make it without Mama for three (or four) whole days, nights included.

I am pretty sure mine will be okay, though I fully expect Daddy to be demanding to sleep in all of next week. Truthfully, we don't leave our kids. I can count the number of times we have gone out together without our children on one hand, and I am fine with that. I actually love it. I didn't put off the childbearing portion of my life for so long just to have someone else raise them.

But we're no fools. We know that even we need breaks from the kids and each other. Our way of doing things usually involves one parent leaving and one staying home with the children. Except 'our' is a relatively new term in our household, as I have not been able (nursing toddler) or willing (toddler) to leave overnight until very recently. Daddy has had a fair share of ski and backpacking trips, but I was slower to ready myself for escape.

It dawned on me that perhaps breastmilk wasn't so necessary in my two year old's diet anymore, and even he could make it through the morning without a little moo (his word). So, back in March, for Elijah's birthday, some girlfriends got together and took me (20 miles) away for the night. It was good.

About a month later, I went up to the city (75 miles!) for another girls' night out. It was actually a smashing good time, but 'we' allowed one of the chicks on board to get way too drunky on a way too empty stomach and she ended up needing to be rescued from herself as she was discovered stirring vomit soup in the (clogged) hotel sink. I haven'tbeen able to write about that night, because one of those victims was a blogger and I couldn't get through the story without

a) peeing myself, or

b) revealing her name.

But now I have much better self control and I'll never tell.



So today I took myself out for a bra. One that might even match the dress I might even wear instead of the one other fitting bra I own, which happens to be black. When you breastfeed for as long as I have, you find that

a) not one bra you had previously worn will ever fit those titties again, and

b) you (I) kinda really need one. (in urban public, so shut up if you are my friend reading this)

With bra, I am now officially ready for Blogher, and so are the girls.

We are ready to plod ahead bravely, boldly abandoning the children for the weekend to their Daddy and his chef skills (scrambly eggs, check; spaghetti & meatballs, check; nachos, check), a weekend in which they won't once be able to have to ask mama to please stop 'working' (ha) on the computer. Not once will I have to change a diaper, read a book in large print, refill a sippy cup, throw away yet another full plate of small cut up uneaten food, brush another person's teeth. Even as I feel the relief as I write those words, I feel the twinge of guilt for feeling it.

This morning, supergirl climbed into bed with me, and skin-to-skin we cuddled for a long time together. "Mama," she whispered, "When are you leaving?"

"In two more days," I assured her.

"Mama! When you go away this weekend to the blog, I won't see you again until Sunday!"

"I know honey, remember we talked about that. Please try not to be sad about Mama going away."

No! Mama! When I see you on Sunday, it will be my birthday and I will be finally seven! It will be a special day because when we come to get you in the city, I will finally get to see YOU, AND I WILL FINALLY BE OLDER! ALL AT THE SAME TIME!"

Indeed.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

The Hardest Question to Answer

Most often I am asked the question: How did Elijah die?

There should be a straightfoward answer, but there isn't. Not because it is hard to talk about - really, ask me anything about Elijah; I don't mind!! - but because it is hard to come up with an answer. It blindsided us at the time and I never really figured it out. (Not for lack of trying, or re-living over and over and over.)

Here is the story of his death. That is 'how' he died; 'how it happened' in literal words. But the story of losing him isn't really the same as 'how he died' (which usually means, 'from what did Elijah die?').

If you are just looking for the quick answer, scroll down past all the emo stuff to the bottom of this post.

I realize that I never really specified the actual 'how', which could also mean 'why', in which case I certainly don't have an acceptable answer. It's when I start thinking about the 'whys' that gets my anger juices flowing.

I do remember, after he died, being in a frame of mind which, when resembling some coherence and not a heap of soggy snot and tears, was the Gwendomama equivalent to benevolence. I was at peace. I was sitting with Mother Theresa.

I didn't need the bad, there was no bad; only good all around us and us taking it all for granted. I was changed; how could I not have been?
I could not change the outcome; it had been pre-determined by the permanence of death and loss. I was determined to make something good out of this. I would wear the rose colored glasses; I had drunk the koolaid and swallowed with it my former angst-ridden self. I swallowed her and peed her out.

So I thought.

In the direct aftermath of Elijah's death, nothing was clear. There was blurry vision obscuring every moment, every action, every sunrise and sunset. It was easy then to maintain being peaceful. I pretty much had two moods: Mood A - Sniveling in bed and refusing to get up for 24 hours, or Mood B - My new 'beauty is all around us and all we have to do is see it' stance. Mood A took alot of energy, and I was usually so wiped out after a bout with Mood A, that Mood B was a welcomed respite. It required so little of me. I think people who knew me before thought I was on high doses of valium (which, in retrospect, may have been a preferable choice).

Eventually and very gradually, barely noticeably, the fog became less thick and my vision became less blurry. And what I saw and heard made me angry. I tried to pretend it didn't - for the only thing that scatters a social gathering faster than a straightforward dead baby conversation is an angry bereaved mother wanting to talk about her dead baby. I smelled the flowers, I smiled graciously behind clenched teeth while I endured the many many emotionless platitudes I was offered, I traced his face in photographs and cried wistfully.

But inside I was undeniably angry. And one day, ((surprise surprise)) the anger began to bubble up and leak out. I snapped at someone who told me my baby was in a better place. I barked at the (other) SIL who said Elijah was watching us from a cloud, waiting to send just the right little angel down to us. For months, people would ask us how we were doing. There was a prescribed answer to this question, I soon found out. If I deviated from the scripted answer (I am ___, DH is ___, Supergirl is ___) by using my dead son's name or having the audacity to mention how much we missed him, I would be met with the universal eyes glazing over, staring past me to the shiny object that would save them from the rest of the conversation.

This too, made me angry. "WHY DO THEY EVEN FUCKING BOTHER TO ASK?" I would go home and cry to dh, who, stewed in his own paralytic thick grief, could only nod blankly back.

Pretty soon, everyone avoided me. I was too angry. What if they said the wrong thing and I lashed out at them? What if? What if the conversation we had about my dead child caused them to think about the possibility of losing their own child and how painful that would feel? It was better to avoid me. Best to avoid the possibility of reaching out and being brought the fuck down.

To this end, the blog and all of its grudges were born. The rose colored glasses were crunched underfoot. And I have written both angrily and wryly about these bumbling fumbling exchanges.

But what I have not written about is the most painful of all of these exchanges and the completely unexpected fallout of losing my son: my family's reaction and my now strained changed relationship with (some of) them.

My mother is so sad that I am angry. She is also very sad that I cannot forgive. I am the first person to admit to being slow to reach for the olive branch, but I also maintain that sometimes, it's better to fuck the forgiveness and shoot it straight to someone who continues to utter stupid and painful comments and shows no sign of letting up soon or ever.

It hurts my mother to see me so angry about this and she is disappointed in me for not being able to forgive or let it go.

WTF?

"Mom," I said, " Maybe instead of constantly telling me to forgive the mouth which spills idiocy, you could possibly hear that what I am saying is that I am repeatedly hurt by this statement and maybe you could stop defending the person who delivers it."

No. It is my 'job' to forgive. To forgive what will never ever stop unless I stop it myself. Which would be 'wrong' in my mother's opinion. Because it would hurt someone else's feelings, as she never intended to hurt me with her words. Not only that, but she would be disappointed in me if I asked my sister-in-law to please stop saying that and why. Because it would mortify my sister-in-law to know that she had hurt my feelings (even though it will continue).

Mmmkay.

What is it that is 'so horrible' that I have not yet written the source of the angst?

This simple statement, which I have heard repeated (by the same person) at every family gathering in the past four years in which someone has the balls to mention Elijah's name:

"I can't help but feel that he was spared."

If that sounds benign to you, then you have never lost a child. Or maybe you're just a bit slow (not that there's anything wrong with that).
Think about it. Elijah wasn't dying of a degenerative disease. He did not have a fatal brain tumor. He was not in pain; he was conversely, quite blissful. If he was 'spared', then what life was he 'spared'? That of being constantly loved on and entertained by his adoring mother, father, and sister?

There is no truth to that statement, there is no real thought behind that statement.

It is a platitude and a stupid one at that. And I am sick of hearing it.

Not too long ago, a reader sent me a comment about an article in the SF Chronicle about children with an enzyme deficiency whose story reminded her of Elijah. She wondered if she was 'too intrusive'. She was not intrusive at all. In fact, I think she may have been spot on.
So much, that it became Too Big to write about for a while.

These children looked mind-blowingly similar to Elijah, while we (and doctors claimed they) had never seen a child who looked like him before. The enzyme deficiency was a real possibility.



check out the adorable baby on the right...

...who looks so much like my adorable guy:



We were supposed to go to a specialist at UCSF to take Elijah for testing for metabolic disorders. We had been through hell with another nearby world-reknowned hospital; Ivory Tower and Useless Childrens Hospital. And we had not only gotten nowhere, but we had actually met up with some severely deficient physicians who, although they themselves could not diagnose Elijah, refused to refer him out to any other specialists. It took until Elijah was eleven months old to even get an appointment with an endocrinologist.
But at each and every appointment at IT/UCH, and without fail, the next 'specialist' we saw would react the same way.

  • Shock. (OH MY! He is HOW old? He is SO VERY SMALL!!) (duh)(maybe we should see a doctor for that...)
  • Concern. (Family history intake - again, though it is at their disposal on the computer nine inches from their elbow.)
  • Tests. Run Some. (This is not an arguable suggestion for doctors, but each and every time, the doctors would ask us what tests had been run already -again, see above re: computer- and then order more tests to run...and then? NOT TELL US what tests would be sent to the lab, so that when we went to the next 'specialist' we could: Repeat the entire process over again.)

It got to be tiresome. So our kind (yes, part of me can still say she was kind, even if another part of me knows she made a stupid mistake at the cost of our child's life) pediatrician recognized the lack of cohesion or guidance for what it was instead of her alma mater, and decided to refer us out to some endocrinology Experts. She had arranged for a coordinator who would work with us at each visit, and handle Elijah's records and walk us through each department as necessary, in efforts to avoid the redundant idiocy and condescension of the previous fabulous hospital.
We were supposed to start taking Elijah to UCSF Medical Center in May of 2004.
He never made it to the first appointment.

When I saw these children at UCSF receiving enzyme replacement therapy, I cried pitifully. That should have been my child. My child should have had the time and the opportunity to receive not only a diagnosis but also treatment.

I felt cheated all over again. I started to feel depressive just thinking about it. What I didn't anticipate was, when I shared this article with family members, I would be 'called out' by my own mother as 'difficult, angry, and unforgiving'. I certainly never thought that sharing the article with my family would warrant the 'I can't help but think that he was spared' response yet again.
I thought wrong.

Again, I ask you. SPARED WHAT?


The only answer I can justify in my mind, is that the only real person who was spared, was my sister-in-law. The sister-in-law with her own four healthy children and a baby obsession, yet who could hardly bring herself to hold Elijah when he visited her home. I have concluded that her sentiment of being 'spared' is more about her than it is about my son's actual life. Because if it was based in reality and about my child's existence, then she couldn't be more wrong.

But yes, it's a bit of a downer to have your own mother defend and protect someone's intentions over her own daughter's raw feelings.

This has been going on for years. I am getting worn down by the loss of not only my son, but family members as well. My brother (married to afore-mentioned sil) is another post entirely. We used to be close. Very close. But he's now a smattering of libertarian, and when he told me that Elijah really 'should never have lived' because of our lack of health insurance coverage....well...that changed our relationship rather permanently. (tmi? tuf.)

There was so much more to lose than what was obvious upon his death. Behind the scenes, you could say. But I am done with that. The lenses of the rose-colored glasses were smashed years ago. This is me.
This is my reality.

Death is not pretty. When your worst nightmare comes true, it's hard to pretend that you are living your dream.

So, how did Elijah die?

Okay, I am going to try to answer this one. Because, like I said...Not clear. Even to us.


  • There was the growth hormone he was on which appeared to debilitate his metabolism. That was right before he died.

  • There was the bronchitis he got from the visit to the pediatrician's filthy waiting room when we went to discuss the growth hormone.

  • There was the tracheomalacia.

  • There was the fact that we lived 30 minutes from a hospital and he should have been admitted with bronchitis.

  • There was the pediatrician who didn't put it all together.

  • There were those last moments of recognition. He looked at me desperately and I could not give him air or save him.
    I know, I was there.




Officially? I don't know. I don't even know what his death certificate says. Oddly, the ashes did not come with one.

I think it says 'heart failure'.


But it was mainly bronchitis+tracheomalacia+bad call doctor.


So there. Now that's answered.























Friday, July 11, 2008

As If You Needed to Know More About Me

In the name of making new friends and playing nice at Blogher, I play the meme:

1. When you looked at yourself in the mirror today, what was the first thing you thought? DAMN GIRL YOU ARE SO HOT WITH THOSE WINE BAGS UNDER YOUR EYES!
2. How much cash do you have on you? I AM FLUSH-$72 (I am counting the $7 in change in my car) (ooh I bet there is more in the laundry room - that place is a freaking goldmine)
3. What’s a word that rhymes with DOOR? FUCKOR. (I just made that up)
4.Favorite planet? Animal Planet keeps my kids happy for at least 30 minutes.
5. Who is the 4th person on your missed call list on your cell phone? My cell phone doesnt work up here in the mountains so I have no idea. On my regular phone it's the Boss of Seattle. But that's nothing new.
6. What is your favorite ring tone on your phone? I let my daughter choose. Boy was I surprised to find the Hallelujah chorus coming out of my pocket the other day.
7. What shirt are you wearing? Black Jones NY tee shirt.
8. Do you label yourself ? Huh? Can you repeat the question?
9. Name the brand of the shoes you’re currently wearing? Birks.
10. Bright or Dark Room? Sunshine Day!
11. What do you think about the person who took this survey before you? I think she has great tits. But I'd have to meet her in person to verify that.
12. What does your watch look like? WHAT WATCH? Don't put your own time issues on me, woman. I'll get there when I'm good and ready.
13. What were you doing at midnight last night? Drooling over these.
14. What did your last text message you received on your cell say? I don't do that texty thing. See #5. I live in the boonies.
15. Where is your nearest 7-11? I don't really consider it mine. It's near UCSC, about 8 miles away.
16. What's a word that you say a lot? YESIMEANIT. (yesitis one word)
17. Who told you he/she loved you last? Bubbles.
18. Last furry thing you touched? My eyebrows. I am taking them out for a date today tomorrow. With a waxer.
19. How many drugs have you done in the last three days? Wine, beer, sugar. At least three.
20. How many rolls of film do you need developed? Somewhere around here is an underwater camera full of blurry blue shots. Not a high priority.
21. Favorite age you have been so far? Each year as a mom gets better.
22. Your worst enemy? Like most people, its myself.
23. What is your current desktop picture? Bubbles.
24. What was the last thing you said to someone? If there's a busy signal then you need to hang up.
25. If you had to choose between a million bucks or to be able to fly what would it be? Cold hard cash.
26. Do you like someone? Trick question?
27. The last song you listened to? Crazy bastard wants to hit me.
28. What time of day were you born? Eight-oh-five am.
29. What’s your favorite number? The next one.
30. Where did you live in 1987? Cambridge, MA - moved to CA that year.
31. Are you jealous of anyone? Yes I am and I am not saying who.
32. Is anyone jealous of you? I am pretty damned fertile. So, probably.
33. Where were you when 9/11 happened? Sleeping with my first newborn.
34. What do you do when vending machines steal your money? Get pissed and write letters. Okay, maybe not to vending machines, but anyone else who steals my money.
35. Do you consider yourself kind? To those who deserve it, to a fault.
36. If you had to get a tattoo, where would it be? Your ass.
37. If you could be fluent in any other language, what would it be? Chinese.
38. Would you move for the person you loved? To a tropical location: yes. To anywhere else: no.
39. Are you touchy feely? I often hug people. But it ends there.
40. What’s your life motto? Repeat yourself until further notice. Oh wait -that is my parenting motto.
41. Name three things that you have on you at all times? underwear, a child, a grudge.
42. What’s your favorite town/city? Kapoho, HI.
43. What was the last thing you paid for with cash? Crazy chicken.
44. When was the last time you wrote a letter to someone on paper and mailed it? Does a gift card count? If it does, then 2 wks ago.
45. Can you change the oil on a car? Don't you know that shit's toxic?
46. Your first love: what is the last thing you heard about him/her? Runs a theatre program in Seattle.
47. How far back do you know about your ancestry? Just to the part where the savage injuns hooked up with some savage anglicans.
48. The last time you dressed fancy, what did you wear and where did you go? Pretend you are in a time machine, and next weekend is actually last weekend and I looked super hot at the Blogher cocktail parties.
49. Does anything hurt on your body right now? I bit my tongue a minute ago.
50. Have you been burned by love? Yes, but not in the way you are thinking. Is burned the same as 'ripped off'?

Which is why we call it farfernuggen around our house...

A friend of mine's two year old daughter was with me at the grocery store.
She pointed to an ambiguously dressed androgynous customer who was in line ahead of us.
She asked, in the hushed tones of a jet airplane, "HAS A VULVA? HAS A VULVA OR A PENIS?"

After I stuffed a wad of receipt tape in the cashier's mouth to stop her convulsions, I responded, "VOLVO! I am pretty sure has a Volvo!"

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Want Some Candy?



I reconsidered my last post, realized that I really am going to Blogher and need shoes.

But then I realized that I don't really, because if I get shoes that make my ass look great (lordy knows I care more that my ass should look great in front of 1000 women than 100 men), then I will fall and bruise myself, thus compromising the decision for ass.


When did a weekend away from the kids (and dude) become so complicated? Wouldn't it be easier to stay home in my pajamas/summer tank top and shorts/cause I said they are/ and scrape fruit leather off the carpet?



The answer is: HELL YES IT WOULD BUT ARE THOSE POOPING FRUIT LEATHER SMOOSHERS GOING TO FEED YOU YAHOOTINIS FOR YOUR TROUBLE?? NO THEY ARE NOT.

So...come say hi to me. Do you like lollipops? I will give you candy. If you don't know how to find me....I might be wearing this:



Wednesday, July 09, 2008

When a Stranger isn't a Stranger (right about when you get a hotel room together)

Okay, even though I have barely mentioned it (maybe I was bitter for keeping the Macy's secret for so damn long), yes I am looking forward to Blogher. In ONE WEEK.
I realize that saying 'looking forward to' doesn't actually sound like I am getting my freak flags ready to fly, or even packed. But there's been so much going on in this other thing I call my life; you know, like holding back a fucking ocean of emotion...my excitement caught the back burner and my calendar kicked me in the ass today.
So yeah. Woohoo for Blogher.
I am also 'looking forward to' meeting so many of my favorite urls, irl.
If you are running in the mommy blogger circuit, then I will probably see you (I'll be the passive agressive bossy shy one coaxing the mic from your hand). If you are running in the sex and crazy blogger circuit, then say hi to Jenny for me.
OH WAIT! I get to do that myself. Hopefully she won't be hiding in the bathroom.
Not that I wouldn't go opening stalls to track her down.

A while back, after being stood up by my one true love, Jenijen, who claims that she works for Blogher and would be far too busy to slum with me, I proposed a blind hotel date to dear Tricia. I figured, as a mother of eight children, there wasn't a whole lot I could do as a roommate to piss her off. On the other hand, she could have just told me to take a hike freak, ya think I'm giving up the privacy of three nights in a hotel without my family??? Luckily, my charming ways convinced her to share my childless room (I am cheap and don't like to be alone at events which could possibly trigger that excluded high school anxiety-ridden shame feeling)! My charming ways being that I warned her I would be the prime suspect if all of the complimentary bath products disappeared(my hair; it is long), I most certainly poop every day, I would surely drink too much (did I mention the no kids?), and I would probably repeat myself as I surely would drink too much.
Good times ahead.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Heroes Are All Around Us


All of Legoland Does Not Suck

So, even though the 'Safety Supervisor' at Legoland is a passive aggressive good cop/bad cop type, who does her mediocre best and left me with nothing but the knowledge of what 'unresolved' tastes like, I will still share with you the good parts of Legoland.

My point here is, if you spent $60 for a full priced admission ticket, and you missed my warnings about the incongruous and ill-fated water park within Legoland, (and also ignored Furiousball's advice to carry a dart gun) and may have had a chance encounter with a misguided power-hungry sixteen year old whom you did NOT even smack around, and this encounter leaves you feeling well...a bit ripped off...DO NOT DESPAIR! Even YOU can still have a good time at Legoland if you can just let that incident go.

Really, you can! So just unclench those fists, let the bank statements wash over you, and remember the good...just the good....only the good....

For instance, when we got to the entrance, there was this freaky Lego family greeting us:

Yes, they are made out of Legos. The car is real.



AHA! I said, as we walked through the gates, "I get it! Everything is made from Legos!" (umm, yes, sharp as a tack am I)



Like this elephant, made from exactly 425,000 910,000 725,678 a hell of a lot of legos.



To be perfectly honest, the main attraction to Legoland for us was one thing: The height restrictions on rides. My children are of the miniature variety (though Bubbles' latest sprout may challenge this theory), and Supergirl has routinely been turned away from rides on which a tall four year old is allowed (the most glaring memory being a waterslide at a hotel in Hawaii which allowed tall toddlers who met the height requirement on with arm floaties because they could not swim, while my daughter who was six and could swim like a fish, was not allowed on because she was not tall enough). We had heard (and researched) the height restrictions were more geared toward younger children, thus assuring a rare adventure for Supergirl in an amusement park. We were happy to discover that Bubbles had suddenly sprouted into a tallish two year old; he grazed the 36 inch bar with the top of his poofy hair and was allowed on many more rides than we thought he would be. Like the sky cruiser:







Which may not look like that big of a deal, but the track was really high. Like - up in the sky omg.






While we held the place in line for the sky cruiser, Daddy took Supergirl up the Kid-Power of Tower as we watched...




The Technik Test Track roller coaster was a thrill for Supergirl, who has been waiting for three years to get on a fast roller coaster. She loved it!



So did Mama, who showed her how it's done properly:

EVERYONE GET YOUR HANDS IN THE AIR YOU WUSSIES!


Miniland wasn't very seat-gripping thrilling, but it was fabulously colorful eye candy:


And afforded many educational opportunities for colorful discussion, such as this New Orleans jazz funeral scene...

...and the explanation why graveyards are above-ground in New Orleans...


Our favorite ride was the coastersaurus, which I don't have a picture of because we all got to ride it together, and this is probably why it was our favorite. It was Bubbles' first coaster (I believe in breaking them in young) ride, and watching our kids shriek with joy down those fast hills was priceless. We are definitely keeping them.



Mama's favorite ride was the Robotic Arm of Whiplash. I think they call it something else at Legoland like a Knight's Tournament, but clearly they have mis-named it. While we were waiting in line, Supergirl bailed on me, the little chicken. This turned out to be an excellent choice on her part, because if she was riding with me we could only have gone to level one. OUT OF FIVE.
So when this random dad hopped on the ride with me, I challenged him to take it to eleven. Okay, it only went to five, but he accepted the challenge, and off we went.
He is the one screaming like a girl. Even if it sounds like me, I swear I didn't scream once while I was peeing myself.

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