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Monday, February 28, 2005

Aloha nui Sweet Girl ~ You gave us joy and we'll miss you. Posted by Hello

Bless The Beasts and The Children

Today at 5:00 we say goodbye to our much loved girl. Thank you for your love through this. Though our hearts are broken, as Stuart says, we get to keep the love she gave us. The happy memories will last a lifetime. She brought us joy. You bring us comfort. My humblest and sincerest gratitude to everyone.

Shanahan's Silver Cup
May 1, 1998 - February 28, 2005

Bless the beasts and the children
For in this world they have no voice
They have no choice

Bless the beasts and the children
For the world can never be
The world they see

Light their way
When the darkness surrounds them
Give them love
Let it shine all around them

Bless the beasts and the children
Give them shelter from a storm
Keep them safe
Keep them warm

Light their way
When the darkness surrounds them
Give them love
Let it shine all around them

Bless the beasts and the children
Give them shelter from a storm
Keep them safe
Keep them warm

Words and Music by Barry DeVorzon and Perry Botkin, Jr.

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Replacement bartender. Don't be afraid.

Hi everyone.

Pua has asked me to do the honor of guest blogging while she deals with the barrage of difficult circumstances she's been facing lately. And I say "honor" because I consider it a true honor to be posting in the place of such a remarkable woman as Pua.

For those of you who don't know me, I'm Rick and I tend bar over at RcktRamblings. That will be the one and only time I shamelessly plug my own blog while here, because I don't believe that guest blogging should be used to shamelessly plug your own blog. So there you go. I hope you'll drop by sometime.

It's a funny thing, guest blogging. It's like you're doing your own thing in your own space, yet you know that you are posting it somewhere else, for someone else, to be read by totally different people (in some cases.) I haven't been doing this for very long (only since June of last year), so I'm still learning new things about the whole process and finding new perspectives on it that make me glad that I started in the first place.

The first of which, of course, is the wonderful people you meet along the way. I can honestly say that I have made some dear friends in the time that I have been blogging -- Pua being one of them. Between blogging itself and the "alternate universe" (as I call it) at Tribe.net, there has developed a family of people across the miles unlike any I have experienced in my relatively short lifetime.

The second thing I've learned while blogging is how disparate the styles of blogging are; yet how universal the voice is. Some people keep photo-based blogs, yet intersperse them with humanity and reality (like Aaron), some keep politically-based blogs (like Andymatic) and some keep family-based blogs (like Pua, Feisty Girl and Karen). Some talk about their lives openly (like Patrick and Mark), some tell amazing stories (like Joe), some make us laugh at ourselves by laughing with them, while falling in love with their warmth (like Toddy and AuburnPisces). And some just post whatever comes to mind (like Wayne and Scott).

It's a crazy world, and I'm so glad to be a part of it. And while we all want comments, more hits, and new readers; it's the fact that we share ourselves with each other that makes the experience so special.

So to all the members of the blogging community-- those I mentioned and the zillions of others I didn't-- Thank you for sharing your love with me, and with Pua. It's times like these that we realize just how special this type of relationship is, and how good it is to have this. I'm glad I joined you all, and have had a chance to get to know you.

Finally, please do me a favor and send Pua and her family a note of encouragement. She needs it now more than ever.

Saturday, February 26, 2005

A Mother's Request

Please go and give my Averie a hug. You've been so generous with them for me. She really needs some too.

From the bottom of my mother's heart...I thank you.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Love Manifested

The outpouring of love has been overwhelming. From comments, to emails, to diversions. Even an amazingly funny and poignant lunch hour drunk dial from Toddy and Auburn Pisces, which I covertly ran around the corner of my office to listen to. I smiled because they thought of me. A lot. Especially AP. She's become celestially sent in my life, and now more than ever, when I'm holding on by the slightest sliver of fingernail, her laughter is a precious sound I find comfort in. You've all been amazing and if you don't already know, all the loving thoughts are helping to heal my breaking heart. I love how you love me.

I'll update on Shanahan's condition with apologies. I don't mean to mull on it too long because I know I'm doing that too much and I'm sure it's getting old. Believe me, no one would love to get back to "comforting shenanigans" more than me. This is just ONE major thing going on in my week. Charlie's mom's lung cancer is back and seems to have metasticized to her spine. In her biopsy yesterday, her lung collapsed and she was admitted. This 81 year-old Kiwi Wonder has kicked brain cancer's ass TWICE, lung cancer once, and lost part of her intestine and spleen. This time, it doesn't look as hopeful. Especially since she's as weak as she is after breaking her hip last summer. So, in this last couple of weeks, my poor husband has had to deal with my crying, my period and my crying, my new job nerves and my crying, and his mother and my crying. I'm surprised he doesn't slap me, but he doesn't. He just keeps opening his arms to hold me and tell me it's gonna be okay....eventually. As I said to Auburn Pisces, I feel like we're being attacked on all sides and I'm having a hard time figuring out why. When does the peace come?

After 7 nights in the hospital, Shanahan finally had some improvement. The doctor had been talking about doing a biopsy on the fluid buildup in her abdomen, but it miraculously dissipated. Her pancreas was still a bit swollen on one side, but it wasn't worse. She had no fever, no vomiting, she actually ate something and kept it down, and so on the 8th day (yesterday), they unhooked her IV and let me take her home...with a FAT $3,000 bill. They're letting us make payments. The doctor said that it seems to be one of those cases where you just don't know. She might pull out, and it's hard to say it's time to "pull the plug" when she's still viable and wanting to fight. He said she had a feisty fighting spirit. He said that if she were his, he would give her time. She deserves the chance. He said the best thing to do at this point was to take her home where she would be comfortable and just let her little body rest.

When she went in, she weighed 18.5 pounds. When I brought her home last night, she weighed 14.0. She's weak, tinier than we've ever seen her, and as the doctor mentioned she would be, she's lethargic. She was her happy self when she saw me, and was crying to go home. When we walked in the door, the kid welcome home committee was excited and she wagged and licked and loved them back. I was warned to give her high carb, no fat, bland foods; plain pasta, rice, or potatoes, two tablespoons every hour. Only ice cubes for her to lick on, no water. She seemed fine for most of the night. She ate a little pasta, and slept the rest of the evening. Charlie and I brought her to our room and put her at the foot of our bed for the night. At 2:45, it started. The racking vomit. It went on for an hour. Just clear water. At one point, she fell over and passed out and I panicked. I picked her up and held her and she came back to and finally just fell asleep in my arms from exhaustion. I brought her to bed with me and held her and she seemed to sleep peacefully. I called the doctor, who told me to just let her rest if she's resting peacefully and to try to get an antacid into her. The "passing out" he said, is because she's so weak, which is why the high carbs are so important. It's so hard to say at this point what the right thing to do is. But Charlie and I have agreed that there will be no more lengthy hospital stays hooked up to an IV. There will be no intestinal feeding tubes at another $2,000 with no guarantee of benefit. There will be no surgery when the chances of recovery are less than 15%. If this continues through next week, we will be brave and for her sake, loving, and see her to her peace. A peace that all of us deserve. Just not a peace in the way that any of us want it.

I'll Call Him "Distraction Patrick" From Now On

So my darling Patrick sent me the music meme. I won't call him a fucker like Tuna Girl called Scott. She's the sassy sister. I'm the sweet one. You believe me dontcha? Anyway, it actually came as exactly what Patrick hoped it would be; a distraction. A welcome distraction. I think you'll agree because I'm a little sick of myself lately too. So here goes me. Oh, and don't make fun of me, cuz I'll send Auburn Pisces over to kick your ass. And she will. Cuz she loves me.

1. Total amount of music files on your computer:
Music files? i-Pod? Wha?

2. The last CD you bought was:
The Best of Counting Crows - "Films About Ghosts"

3. What is the song you last listened to before reading this message?
Los Lonely Boys' "Heaven". It was on while I was typing.

4. Write down 5 songs you often listen to or that mean a lot to you:
"If We Hold on Together" from Keali'i Reichel's Kawaipunahele CD. It's especially fitting right now, and I keep clinging to the first verse; "Don't lose your way, with each passing day. You've come so far, don't throw it away. Live believing dreams are for weaving. Wonders are waiting to start. Live your story; faith, hope, and glory. Hold to the truth in your heart."

Yeah, it's from that dinosaur cartoon movie...so what. It's beautiful and brother Keali'i does it justice. If you aren't familiar with traditional and contemporary Hawaiian music, please do yourself a favor and go check it out here. The category was new to the Grammy Awards this year, and long overdue. Keali'i is one of the jewels of the polynesian culture. Not to mention he's woofy. Yes boys, I said woofy!

"Slow Like Honey" from Fiona Apple's "Tidal" CD. It says "Come do me". I'm sorry. It just does. "I'll let you see me, covet your regard. I'll invade your demeanor. And you'll yield to me, like a scent in the breeze. And you'll wonder what it is about me..."

"The Lady Wants to Know" from Michael Frank's "Sleeping Gypsy". Sultry, sexy, mysterious...and he mentions Coltrane. Sizzling. I love "Popsicle Toes" too, but I'm not counting it on my list.

"Long December" from Counting Crows "Recovering the Satellites" CD. I am in love with Adam Duritz. I think he's a musical genius much too underrated. He's his own person and has that "love me or don't..I don't give a rat's ass" attitude. He makes no apologies for critics who are harsh or fail to recognize his talent. I've often told my friend Steve that I'd like to crawl into his head, settle in with a warm blanket and watch the fabulous fireworks because he's an amazing person and brilliant with words and music. Not to mention he introduced me to the Crows that Count YEARS ago. I feel the same way about Adam Duritz. Long December is the "I'm gonna make it through this" song in my world. There's reason to believe maybe this year will be better than the last. I always keep hoping.

"Tapesty" from Carole King's classic "Tapestry" album. Nothing more needs to be said. It speaks for itself.

5. Who are you going to pass this stick to? (3 persons) and why?

Matt~Because I always knew what a wonderful kid he was, but I'm just discovering what an amazing man he's grown into from that shy, gangly teenager that hung out at my house with my daughter every once in awhile.

Auburn Pisces~Because she already started the ball rolling with her "Rascal Flats" song that Hot Toddy "stole". So she should get the chance, and then some.

Averie~Because she needs a distraction as much as I do. Thank you Patrick.

Again, I thank you, love you, and thank you for loving me. Us. Loving us.

Monday, February 21, 2005

So much to say...

There is so much I want to share. But I'm not doing so well right now. My friends have come to rescue me from myself. Poor Charlie; for a week now, I've been a complete mess. I cry at the drop of a hat, and even though I started my new job today, I can't keep my mind off my poor puppy in the hospital. The first day on the job was wonderful. People are so kind. It's too soon to really let them into my world and tell them that my insides are in knots. That I haven't slept in 6 days. That I get up every morning at 2 and 4 to throw up. I thought things were better, but along with the sweet comes the bitter. I know it seems so trivial....but my guts are in knots.

I called the vet as soon as I was off work today. I expected good news. I didn't get what I expected. Her blood work didn't bring the results we were looking for. They're now talking about putting in a feeding tube to completely override her stomach and pancreas. Dear God, how long do we go? My heart is in a million pieces. Tomorrow I will bring her home. No matter what. The vet says that if worse comes to worse, he is willing to come to our home to administer euthanasia. I don't want her last memory to be of the hospital. I want her to be here; in loving arms. I'm a mess. I love this little dog so fucking much. Excuse me. Too much vodka. I'm very angry and hurt right now. Perhaps I shouldn't write much more. If I can hurt this much over a little black dog...imagine how I am with loved people in my life.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Speaking of Cookies

Speaking of Cookies

I don't usually blog on the weekend, but I'm just feeling unusually calm and happy today and needed to write it. You guys have been putting up with so much of my whining and puppy-induced whimpering lately, I thought you deserved some relief.

Last night, Charlie and I attended Averie's play "Who Am I This Time?" a vignette from "Valentines from Vonnegut", which is being presented by theOCC Repertory Theater. You know, I've watched her perform throughout her high school career, but I have to say, now that she's in college, she's just blossoming. I sat in the intimate theater and just marveled at her. I watched, transfixed, as she brought her character to life before my eyes. I've swelled with pride before, but this was something much different. This was awe. I wondered quietly why she ever doubts herself or her abilities. She was less my daughter, and more this beautiful and talented young actor who was painting a live portrait before me. A portrait of someone else's life. I found myself watching people in the audience, studying their expressions as they too, watched her as she worked. I saw awe in those faces as well and knew I wasn't alone. When the performers came out for their bows, it was then that I felt that familiar sense of maternal pride. I first listened for their responses as Averie came to centerstage, before I offered mine. They loved her as much as I did. I squeezed Charlie's hand and when I looked over at him, he had tears in his eyes. I'm just amazed that we are so lucky to be a part of the magic as life unfolds before her.

In between all the emotions with Shanny's illness, I've still been diligently trying to find part-time employment in order to help Charlie with our rising financial setback. I had an interview on Monday for an Administrative Assistant job with a legal and financial planning firm, but didn't think I had much of a chance when the lawyer that interviewed me told me that he had over 80 applicants for the position. I got a call for a second interview and skills testing on Wednesday. After I met another of the law partners, the original lawyer asked if I had any questions. I smiled and asked if I should get my hopes up. He laughed and said that in all honesty, it was between me and another candidate and he was leaning toward me. I tried not to get too excited. The fact is that I've been looking for a job for over a year and a half now. I've been on over 50 interviews and with each rejection, I lose a little piece of my soul. My damaged self esteem just took beating after beating. It's hard not to take that personally. Last night, before we left for Averie's play, I received a formal offer for the job. Of course I accepted. It's exactly what I was looking for; Monday to Friday, 9:00-1:00. With these hours, I can still get the kids to school in the mornings, and be available to pick them up and attend any after school sports or activities. Housework might never get done, but when does it anyway? Best of all, I can help pay for Shanny's medical expenses AND help Charlie. There will be just a tad bit less stress. I'm proud of myself for hanging in there. Yep, I said it, I'm proud of myself. Yay Me!

This morning, I got up and baked 6 dozen cookies for the staff and all the doctors at the animal hospital. I wanted them to know how much I appreciated all that they're doing to try to restore our little girl's health. Someone is always with her; night and day. I took the cookies over, but in my heart I knew I was just using it as an excuse to visit Shanny. Then again, I also knew I didn't need an excuse. They've all been extremely accommodating to us. Averie has gone over on her own and visited her. We debated as to whether it was more upsetting for her to see us, or if we should just stay away and allow her to rest. They assured us they believed it was good for her to see us. It keeps her spirits up. When we're there, she perks up, wags her tail, and even sits up from her lying position and whimpers with recognition. Today is the first day her temperature has been "down" to a less scary 102 from 104.6 (reg temp for dogs is 101). There's been no vomiting and no diarrhea; a very good sign that the pancreas is calming down. The swelling in her belly from the building fluids has subsided. We're halfway there, the Gods and Goddesses bless her. Fingers crossed, she might be out of the woods and home with us by Tuesday or Wednesday.

Again, my heartful of gratitude to everyone. I haven't had much of a chance to get around to visit everyone's blogs in the past hectic and emotional week, but I promise I'll get there to thank you all personally and answer your emails. Please know that I love you all more than I can say. Your love has held me up through a really hard time.

A very special thank you to my genius adopted son Matt. He's been working his magic on the new "Warm Cookies" page for me, spending more hours than I can even comprehend because he's just that talented and adorable. I had always secretly hoped, back when he and Ave were in high school, that he was going to be my son-in-law one day (Oohhh, I'm gonna catch such hell for that!). But, I'm perfectly happy just knowing he'll always be a part of our family. If I never told you before, we couldn't be prouder of you Matt....and the next time you come home to CM for a visit, make sure that Averie's not the only one who gets to see you...understand?

I think I might see some sun peaking through the clouds.

Friday, February 18, 2005

Happy Birthday Sandy! Posted by Hello

Diamond in the Rough

Diamond in the Rough

Someone once told me that a diamond is a chunk of coal that stuck to the job. Well, motherhood often makes me feel like a chunk of coal. It's a tough job and often thankless. When I read about special moms who stuck to the job and turn out some incredible people, I can't help but think...yeah, that's why it's worth it. So, it often warms my heart to read Aaron's phlog and know how deeply he cherishes and honors his mother. The feeling is mutual. Her comments are classic, funny, and full of motherly love. It's a win-win situation. I envy this parent/child relationship. It's a tough world and if you come out of it the parent of a truly remarkable adult, you can honestly say "Yay Me". You've done well Sandy. Someday, when my kids are grown, I hope they still think I'm as awesome as Aaron and the rest of us think...no...KNOW you are!

Happy Birthday EvillMom. You're one rare and special diamond!

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Sick Puppy

It's been a long week. I haven't had much of a heart to do much more than hope and pray that our little girl is gonna be ok. In and out of the hospital without many answers. It seems that whatever is making her ill is evasive, and her symptoms are not completely symptomatic of textbook cases. Still, after she got out of the hosptial on Sunday morning after two days, and was only better for a few hours, I returned what amounted to a furry, black paperweight to the hospital Wednesday morning. Yet another blood panel FINALLY showed positive for what the doctor orginally thought was pancreatitis. He suspected it last week, but every test they did came up negative. NOW, a week and many dollars later, it's showing up. Talk of cancer and liver problems have now ceased. We are fighting a rogue pancreas that wants to take over. We need to quiet it down.

She's been through the ringer, this poor creature that we love. A little trooper; she just lets them do whatever they need to do, all the while looking at me with eyes that say that she loves me and wants me to not give up hope. Please don't give up hope. I've asked repeatedly if she's in pain, if all of this is the right thing to do. They assure me that she isn't in pain, she simply doesn't feel well and has no energy to fight, and so we need to fight for her. They promise me that at this time, fighting is the right thing to do. It's too early to put her down. They've even taken hundreds of dollars off of her bill because they believe they can see her through this. No one wants to give up on her. The doctors tell me that they must literally "shut down" her pancreas. She can't have ANY food for 5-7 days and she will get her nutrients, medications, and blood sugar through IV.

The staff at the hospital have been awesome. They've let me come and sit with her, and put her in a bottom cage where I can lean in and stroke her tiny head. She musters a small wag and loves me with her eyes. I can see her in those eyes...she's in there, my little girl. Her spirit is fighting. Everyone is fighting with her. They're loving her through it. When I went in last night, one of the girls on the night staff was literally lying in her cage with her, talking softly to her, telling her she was going to be "all better" soon. When it's time to go, my heart breaks again, but I can see in that sweet puppy girl's eyes that she knows we're doing everything we can. And I know without question that she's loving us for it.

Thank you everyone. Thank you for your emails, notes, and cards. Thank you for loving me and Shanny across the miles. Thank you for your care, concern, and complete understanding of how difficult this is. And thank you most of all for knowing how terribly much we love her.

Monday, February 14, 2005




On this day that many people find overrated and commercial, I admit that I find myself concentrating on hearts. Not hearts filled with those fluffy, fluttery feelings of love and desire. But the hearts of my family as they ache for the health of our family pet.

Yes, we thought the worse was over. We thought on Wednesday when I brought her home from the hospital she would be fine. But she's not. In fact, she's far from it. I took her back to the vet on Friday morning...after she didn't budge from her spot on the couch for over 24 hours. Not to eat. Not to drink. Not to pee. They kept her for two more days and nights. They did ultrasounds, more x-rays, more blood tests, another culture. Still, no answers, although they said they were "concerned" about a spot on her pancreas after all and maybe some "fuzzy spots" in her lungs. The "C" word came up. The doctors apologized but told us they'd exhausted all their efforts without cutting her open. They just don't know. They let us bring her home while they waited for one more culture to come back. She'd be more comfortable at home with her family they said.

She seems a little better with the antibiotics they've been injecting her with, but the fever won't go away. Her little shaved tummy is still swollen. We make her comfy on her favorite chair. When we bring the water to her, she'll drink. When we handfeed her, she'll take it. But she doesn't lift her head much. We asked if she was in pain, but they told us she wasn't. How far do you go? When do you ask the question about quality of life? Just a week ago, she was barking and chasing birds in the yard. Just a week ago, she was fetching tennis balls. Just a week ago, her eyes danced when one of us walked into the room and there was the unmistakable joy of a madly wagging tail. Now there's quiet concern. My kids look at me with tears welling in their eyes and all I can do is tell them I know. I understand. I want to make it all better; kiss it and make the boo-boo go away. But no kiss can cure this. No hugs make the tears go away.

I knew I'd have to deal with this sometime. I just thought that it wouldn't be happening until 7 or 8 more years from now, when the kids were all gone and on their own. I thought she'd grow old with us and we'd see her through her golden years. Charlie always says that Shanny will be our last pet. That after she's gone, we'll be enjoying our time together as a couple again and not have to worry about pet-sitters and such. I just don't think he thought it would be so soon, and I always jokingly retorted that he was mistaken. I'll always want a pet in my life. Now, I'm rethinking that. I don't know if my heart can handle this again. It's just too painful feeling helpless. It hurts knowing she's sick but not knowing why. It's just not fair.

Friday, February 11, 2005

This is what we're working on. Now, if we can just make it happen! Posted by Hello

Rx: Name Change

Rx: Name Change

I'm sick. Sputtering. Coughing. Sneezing. It's not pretty. The best part about it is (please sense the sarcasm) I have a job interview this morning. In an hour to be exact. And I'm sick. I don't think they'd appreciate it much if I brought the creeping crud to their offices and spread it around. I also don't think they're going to think much of me for calling in sick. I called and explained my predicament. The HR Director could hear without my explanation, and immediately asked if I would like to reschedule. I blessed him. Monday at 10:00. A reprieve.

Earlier this week, Averie and I were having a conversation about jobs, life, love, writing. I live for these morning conversations of ours. A cup of coffee and an easy flow of words with my daughter. I miss them. Monday she took a housesitting job for a family that was going on a South American cruise. She won't be back for a couple of weeks. Well, she'll be back to eat, of course, but she'll (I'll) miss our morning cawfee tawks.

Anyway, before she left, she told me that I really needed to change the name of my blog. When I started blogging, "The Abyss" seemed to fit. I was in the rough, feeling the world was not my friend. I'd walked away from an awesome career, dejected and laid flat by co-worker lies, my self-esteem non-existent, my self-worth nowhere to be found. When I look back and read those first year's worth of entries, I can see the pain, the need to vent, the desire to set the record straight. But more than anything, I can feel the anguish all over again. As I've said before, sometimes it's good to backtrack to see how far you've come.

Ok. I agreed with Averie. It was time to no longer be "A voice in the darkness". Over time, I've peeked my scared little head out of the dark pit and beautiful people have put their hands out to offer me safety. One feather at a time, they gave me new wings so that I could fly again. They loved me, ugly days and all, and told me the zits and bad hair would go away. Slowly, the hurts became less evident, and the joys were easier to find. When I was down, I got calls. When it was my birthday, I got drunken calls and serenades. When I couldn't be there, I was remembered in song. Every single day, I gather NEW hugs around me and think how lucky I am.

I remember once getting an email from Hot Toddy's Toaster Oven, wherein he says "Your entries are like a plate of warm cookies with a side of whiskey to me. Just the right mix of comfort and shenanigans." I saved that because it warmed my heart. I've saved a lot of hugs from afar in my file cabinet AND my heart. I ran it by Averie. She said it couldn't be more perfect. So thank you Toddy. How appropriate that "Warm Cookies" should come from your oven.

Averie began to work on the new "skin" of my blog. We sat and worked on it for hours on Monday, but neither one of us is all that html literate. So the finished product will have to wait. Suffice it to say that I've stepped out of "the bottomless hole". Hopefully, the next time I stumble upon it in my path, I'll step around. There are wonderful people on the other side.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

To Everything, A Purpose

To Everything; A Purpose

I'm one of those people who believes that everything happens for a reason. I once believed in an omniscient and omnipotent creator. But that just didn't work for me. I found too many reasons to question the way things were run, and that just runs against the grain of faith. And it depressed me even more. But I do believe there's a reason why things are the way they are. I still have questions, but it's easier for me to grab hold of that concept than the other.

In that light, while yesterday I was worried, frazzled, and frustrated; today I find comfort. On Monday, Caris's casting management called. The casting director of a feature film in production picture-picked her. She was his first choice for a role in a movie called "Crazy", based on the life of legendary session guitarist Hank "Sugarfoot" Garland. The fact that she was first choice was a huge honor. The fact that it was a period piece (1956) would rock Caris's boat...she LOVES period pieces. They said she'd be needed on set on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, and possibly next week. They also wanted to know if she was willing to cut her hair. I knew that Tuesday and Wednesday were doable. I also knew that next week wouldn't be a problem. But Thursday was opening night for the renaissance play that she's in. I told her manager. He said to call and find out if she had an understudy. I already knew the answer to that, but I didn't say. I wanted Caris to be able to make the decision for herself. I told him I'd get back to him within the hour.

Whenever her agent or casting manager calls, I ALWAYS talk to Caris before I accept a project. I never just assume that she's going to want to do it. This is HER choice in life, HER dream. Not mine. I'm just her facilitator. I get her to where she needs to be. Over the last year, we've learned the process together. I did my homework, she did hers. We made a deal; we'd give it a year and after that time, she'd let us know if it was really what she wanted to pursue. But I'd be with her all the way, to protect her and make sure she was safe wherever she was. She said she wouldn't have it any other way. She brought the information home about showcases and agents, and we got her there. She landed an agent on her very first showcase. She brought us the information about Central and LA Casting, and we got her there. Her first project was a movie, "Mrs. Harris", with Annette Bening and Sir Ben Kingsley, apparantly to be released AFTER the Oscars. Just in case Miss Bening receives the award. It's a year later, and Caris still loves the work, which doesn't pay much ($118.00 scale, of which she gets around $84), and isn't really that glamorous. She still says she's a theater girl at heart, but this is a fun experience for now.

So, I call Caris at the Lyceum where she is in dress rehearsal for the play and relay the exciting news to her. Of course, she was thrilled, excited, and asked for the details. I could hear her sharing the news with her girlfriend Taryn, the ONLY one who really knows that Caris does this "extra-curricular" work. Caris keeps it on the downlow. She doesn't want people to know because she's afraid they will treat her differently. I have to admire that. I know a lot of kids who would let it go to their heads. Then I tell her about the days of her call time. I heard the air go out of her balloon instantly:

Caris: Thursday? They want me Thursday too?

Me: Yes, Honey. Thursday too.

Caris: But, Thursday is ope...

Me: I know Caris. It's opening night.

Caris: It's opening night for Averie too. If you went with me, you would miss the opening night of Averie's play too. (Averie is starring in a play, "Who Am I Now?" at her college and Charlie and I were going to "split" the night; me at Ave's and he at Caris', so that one of us would be there for each opening.)

Me: I know Honey. It's a tough decision.

Caris: No it's not. I can't let the kids down. I can't let the director down. You can't let Averie down. People are counting on us.

Me: You understand what you're giving up, don't you?

Caris: I've given up stuff before, and something always comes and takes it's place.
Tell them I'm honored and grateful, but I have no understudy and I can't leave my team hanging.

Me: I will Honey. I'm proud of you. Something else WILL come. Because you deserve it.

So I get off the phone with her and I call Casting. I tell them "no understudy", which they seem to understand. He tells me not to worry, they'll get Caris a new project soon. That was that.

Cut to Tuesday morning and our very sick dog who I rush to the animal hospital, as you know. I go home and wait like they tell me to and throughout the course of the day, there are phone calls going back and forth with updates on her condition. The doctor tells me at some point that had no one been home with her on Tuesday and hours had passed before she got treatment, it's very possible that we would have come home to an unsaveable dog. She might have died in quiet pain. I think on that as I wonder how to tell the kids when they all get home from school about where their puppy is. I took her in so quick yesterday that they didn't even know what was going on.

I told them about Shanny when they got home, and calmed their fears, reassuring them that she would be okay. And then I told Caris that just for THIS reason, it was a good thing she made the very adult, and responsible decision that she did. Because of her sense of priorty and fidelity to her team, Shanny is going to be okay. Had she decided to be selfish and take the project, we might be a puppyless family today. She smiled.

Caris: You know, I felt bad ALL day today because I kept thinking that I could be working on that movie right now instead of sitting in stupid class. But now, I don't feel the least bit bad. I won't even feel bad when the movie comes out and I know I gave it up like I did with "Fat Albert". I'd rather have Shanny alive and healthy and home.

Me: Me too Honey. Me too.

To everything; a time and purpose. I wish I knew this when I was 17.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Puppy Love

Puppy Love

I know it sounds silly. There are much grander issues going on in the world. But the family baby is sick. I just took our dog to the hospital. She hasn't barked in days, she's lethargic, dehydrated, won't eat. Last night, she didn't even move when Charlie came home. That's when I knew for sure things weren't right. He's her whole world. He's her person. She lives for him. This morning she vomited bile. They wanted to keep her, test her, put her on IV fluids. She's only 7. Suddenly, I'm that mommy from a long time ago again. Scared and worried. I can only imagine she's scared too. When they took her out of my arms and carried her down the hall, she just looked at me with those dark, sad eyes.

I called Charlie at work. I cried. He always acts tough like pets don't matter to him. He says after Shanny there will be no more pets. He says he could walk away from her tomorrow and that if there were some illness that required surgery, he'd put her down before he'd spend money we don't have. He talks tough, but he's always the first to scoop her up and love her. He calls her every silly, cutesy name in the book; "ShanaBan" "MonkeyButt", and "ChunkaChange". He always makes sure she's comfy on his side of the bed. He always plays with her, cuddles with her, and he admits that he loves the little barking dance she does when he comes home from work. Now the tough man cracks. On the other end of the phone I hear strength, but I hear worry. I tell him the x-rays, IV fluids, and animal hospital watch might be a little spendy. He says let's not worry for now. Let's just get her well and get her home. Please call me as soon as the doctor calls. Not the words of a tough guy. Not the words of a man who carries the financial and emotional burden of two families on his shoulders. More the words of a loving dad. My typical Charlie.

Today, I'm going to sit by the phone. For both of us. For all of us.

UPDATE (4:00 pm): Just got a call from the vet. Shanny has canine pancreatitis. We don't know what caused it, but he said that it was good that I was home with her. A few more hours and she might have gone into shock. She's doing better. Fever's gone and she's on an IV drip for rehydration and electrolyte replacement. They're also giving her an anti-inflamatory for her swollen abdomen. They're keeping her for the night and hopefully, she'll be home tomorrow. Thanks for your thoughts and prayers. They mean so much.

Shanahan and her man Posted by Hello

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Basket of Hugs Posted by Hello

Hug Leftovers

Hug Leftovers

When I look at my knitting basket these days, I often see the faces of people I love and care for. Family and friends; far and near. I equate color and texture with a name and city. It makes me smile.

Caris and Averie always name the scarves I knit for them. There's one named "Geraldine", there's one named "Mike&Sully", there's even one named "Bernadette". Averie has one knitted by her friend Mary named "Gryffindor". Guess what colors that one is? One day, I'm going to take these "hug leftovers" in my basket and make one really funky looking scarf to wrap myself in. I'm going to name it "Group Hug". It won't be so pretty, but it's gonna make me really, really happy.

Friday, February 04, 2005

Wooohoooo! Tickets to Dane Cook! Posted by Hello

Crazy Love

Crazy, CRAZY Love

I know. It's one of my favorite Van Morrison songs too. But this time, it's less about me and more about Averie. This kid goes above and beyond the call of duty to make me laugh. She's good at it. Yes, I've been down. But she's been right there with a cup of coffee and a willing ear. She is the Princess of Randomness with an emphasis on Levity. Hers is the Kingdom of Mirth. And yes, by making me giggle, she rules supremely and gives me crazy love.

Yesterday, she was doing this funny little dance she does that always makes me smile, but she was performing out of sheer excitement. She landed some tickets for her and her friend Mary to see Dane Cook, who I've been told is supposedly on the list of my prospective son-in-laws. No, Dane isn't aware of that yet, but I'm sure Averie'll find some way to let him know.

This morning, over our usual cuppa, she tells me in dreamlike detail about Dane Cook's funny fabulousness the night before. He apparantly has a routine in which he laments the fact that girls don't like to give head. Personally, I find that an erroneous sweeping generalization, but far be it from me to share that thought with my 19 year-old daughter. Even if I did, all I'd really get in response is; "Mommy, PLEASE!" And now, I'm off-course....that's what happens when I think about BJ's. Sorry.

So, Averie is giving me the routine, word for word, because she is the WALKWoman encyclopedia of comedy, and gets to the punchline where Dane tells his fellatio-challenged girlfriend, "Hey, it's better than a Dirty Sanchez!" Now, I think I'm pretty well informed. And the look on Averie's face once she delivers this line to me is a look that says; "Okay, so tell me what a Dirty Sanchez is Oh Knowledgeable Mother of Mine." But all I can muster is a blank stare:

Averie: So? What's a Dirty Sanchez?

Me: You think I know? How would I know? It sounds like a Margarita gone wrong.

Averie: Oh please. Save the innocent act. You usually know stuff. You're like the Sex Queen or something.

Me: I thank you for the vote of confidence Sweetie. But you got me. So Dane says "It's better than a Dirty Sanchez" and what happens next? In what context does he use it?

Averie: He's talking to his girlfriend about blow jobs...then he says this Dirty Sanchez thing. Everyone busted up laughing. I looked at Mary and she looked at me and everyone around us were laughing their asses off. We didn't wanna look stupid, so we laughed too. And then Mary said she'd call and ask Bobby (her ex) when she got home.

Me: Let's go Google it!

Averie: NOOOOOOOOOOO!!! Do you know how much porn is gonna pop up?

Me: (laughing) Like I care. Let's go! I gotta know!

So we Google. And both of us sit there staring at the Urban Dictionary definition.

Averie: *blink*

Me: *blink*

As I begin to burst into laughter, my poor daughter gets a look of complete disgust on her face and runs out of the room.

Me: (laughing) Averie, where ya going?

Averie: I have to call Mary! She'll be really embarrassed if she calls and asks Bobby about that. That's just wrong.

Me: So, I guess I can cross Dane off the list of prospective son-in-laws?

Funny. She didn't respond.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005



I'm prone to depression. That's not news and I know I'm in good company. Still, I feel that demon clawing at me again. Yesterday was a particularly horrific day. It didn't get better even after I blogged. In fact, it got downright ugly and very painful. I can't go into detail because confidentialities are at stake. Both on the homefront and otherwise. I feel like a complete and utter failure as a mother. I know that's my emotion talking. Chatterbox, that one. I spent this morning crying my eyes out and pouring out my worried heart and frazzled mind to my sweet sister Lokelani. The gods blessed me in a profound way by putting her in my life. I will never be able to convey that enough.

I was going through my journal and found something that I wrote 10 years ago. You don't have to bother to read it. But it helped me get a few things in perspective. I'll survive. And this really difficult time will pass. Sometimes, backtracking is a good way to find your path forward. Even when you don't want to.

I Breathe

“I breathe…therefore I am”. At least that’s what I thought. An involuntary expansion and contraction of muscles and organs that causes me to live. I contemplate that offering of words. Perhaps I should say…”that causes me to exist”. Yes, exist. The most menial of descriptions seems to fit where I am, who I am, what I am. Simply; One Who Exists…no more, no less. Which would lead one to the obvious conclusion that I am on this Earth merely to take up precious oxygen. Then again, I might be leaning on the edge of assumption; for what would anyone really know about what happens inside the cranial cage that encases my cerebral sponge? I barely know myself.

It would take a voluntary act to cause the involuntary act to cease. Imagine though I might, I am far too cowardly a creature to make it so. Cowardly but hopeful. Hopeful that there will be something more waiting in the wide expanse of breathing room. I cohabitate on this wide expanse of breathing room with 4.5 billion others who also have muscles and organs that involuntarily expand and contract. Inwardly I wonder if they merely exist as well. Or perhaps someone has found the great secret that the wide expanse of breathing room has to offer and has moved from the “Simply Existing” stage to the “Living” stage. It seems to be a well-kept secret. Maybe I choose not to see it.

Despite the fact that I am not alone, I am lonely. More often than not, my brain is on overdrive. Vicariously, my thought processes are a wild, breakaway stallion. When he runs, I don’t sleep. I want to sleep. Sleep is the necessary escape my body needs from my brain. Sometimes it seems that this gelatinous mass of exploding synapses seeks to cause my involuntary motor actions to cease. It’s a little game we play; my body versus my brain, my brain versus my body. In my cerebral wanderings, I often think it might be a blessing. I think it…but I’m not always so sure.

So many times, when this demonic melancholy takes hold, I run to the nearest self-help book and try to fill my mind with what’s “good” and “pure” and “right”. But more often than not, I find myself betrayed by the very thing that I sought to take those steps of faith toward. Self-improvement became self-deprecation. I am my own worst enemy. There is almost a sick sense of pride in that. No one can be as cruel to me as I have been to myself. I won’t allow it. I smile as I say it…feeling much like Dr. Seuss’ Grinch. If I say it first, then it invalidates anything else anyone might think or have to say about me. I lose, but in losing I win. I smile again, but I’ll be damned if I know why.

Life 101: Secretly I wonder if there won’t indeed be a quiz at the end of this course. I try to remember back if I ever signed a contract, or registered for this program to begin with. Yet here I am, stuck smack in the middle of it, and still looking for crib notes. There must be a shortcut. There’s a shortcut for everything. I don’t really care about what I’ve been told. That you can’t get something for nothing, that nothing is free, that you can’t go around it, over it, under it, you must go through it. I’ve heard it all, read it all, done it all. I’m still looking for the crib notes. Then I wonder again, what happens after the test? Where is pass? Where is fail? I think I may be in the wrong class.

I raise my hand and look desperately around the room for the teacher. “Oh God, please call on me…please. Because when you do I’ll simply asked to be relieved of duty, or whatever this hell is that I’ve been assigned to”. It’s then that I notice that there is no teacher. No teacher. No other “students”. No other anything. Just me. I’m alone. All alone with my arm raised in the air. Waiting to be called on by….no one. I smile at the ridiculousness of it. My smile widens into a grin. The grin grows to a feeble snicker. The feeble snicker becomes a sinister laugh. What else is there to do? It’s ludicrous and at this point uncontainable. The laugh is released into the wide expanse of breathing room where it bounces off the walls of the empty space I occupy. The empty space where I wait with my arm raised in the air.

Slowly, I let my arm fall to its rightful place by my side and contemplate my options. The sobering reality is that I can simply sit here and wait to be called upon by no one, or set my mind and body in motion, and move along. I surprise myself by standing up and moving my feet, one in front of the other, toward what I perceive to be a door. Really, it’s just a hole in the empty space I occupy, but my brain tells me it will suffice to be a door, and so I trust it. This is no simple task…trust. I’ve gathered in the time I’ve occupied this body that trust is not something to be taken for granted. I do not give it freely or easily, and I’ve learned that once it has been abused, it may never be regained. It is a commodity most precious; but it cannot be bought. It is harbored by an eggshell perched precariously on the wall. I sometimes think that the rhyme from my childhood about Humpty Dumpty was nothing more than a lesson on trust. But that’s me…and I’m pretty much cracked anyway. There; unbelievably enough….I’ve just smiled.

So, now the feet have moved, one in front of the other, and have brought me to this brain-perceived door. I stand at the threshold of it before I venture through. What will be there? Another vast space of nothing that I call my heart. No, it couldn’t be that, for that is now lodged in my throat. Strangely enough, I still feel my pulse, which tells me I’m alive though I’m not sure I’ve moved out of the numbness stages of this experience. I must have…because my heart, despite all I have told it, continues to maintain it’s function inside this shell I call a body. Suddenly, I’m aware that I have a friend. This heart. This damn heart. This heart that has been empty, and full, and empty again. This heart that has heard my cries, felt my pains, risen in my joys, soared at my accomplishments (though I don’t allow myself to feel that pleasure that often; as if I were undeserving). In the past, I have taken up allies with my brain to cause this friend of mine to stop beating. I have willed it so, to no avail. I have taken up chemical “warfare” against it. Yet it struggles on, despite my best attempts to end its being. What more can I call it? There is no higher accolade than this…my friend. Yes, it hits me again. I actually have one.

I gather my courage. The courage that my friend gives me as it beats wildly in my chest. The sound is overwhelming and I know the volume has been turned up so that I will understand that I am not alone. I take a deep breath and look through the doorway. I voice the words, “one foot in front of the other” and then I giggle because my voice sounds so funny to me. Another deep breath, another audible affirmation “whatever it takes..whatever it takes”. Then I hear it. The voice of my friend. From deep within me. From that place that has been so quiet for so long. From that struggling spirit who has stayed with me through all of this and begged for my attention in the darkness. “Do this..you can do this..for me”. I stop dead in my tracks for the moment. My God…that was my own voice. My very own voice.

I listen. Standing before the unknown, I reach out toward the darkness with my hand, and then I think better of it. No, I cannot take baby steps in this. These must be the footsteps of a grownup. It must be so right now…or it will never be. Right now. I close my eyes, lift my face to the darkness, hold my breath, and step out. For the first time, in a very long time, I do not feel afraid or alone. Trust guides my feet. Faith steers my brain. Love lifts my soul. I realize that all of this was in me all the time. I thought those demons took them from me, but they merely masked their existence. They lied to me and I allowed myself to listen. Never again I say. Never. As I step through the door…..I open my eyes, rub them slowly, and try to focus. No, this will not be an easy task. The struggle will continue with every new step, every new breath I take in this wide expanse of breathing room. I speak the words..”Here it is, the beginning…” I throw back the covers and get out of bed.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

It's sunny! Get OUT of the house...please! Posted by Hello

Tres Amigos de las Ondas Posted by Hello

Routine Broken

Broken Routine

I'm having a hard monring. See? Can't even type. I'm sitting THIS close to tears. Just got home from dropping B and C off at school. Then I came home and hugged A. I wanted her to know how much I appreciate her. I never had the kind of issues with her that I seem to be having with the younger two. God (or whoever) has a really twisted sense of humor. Gave me the complacent, mild, easy version before giving me the true test. Gave me the calm before the storms. It's only 8 am and I'm feeling less loved than dirt. But things could be worse, so I'm trying to find the bright side of this morning. Later on, the Grommet and Caris will call and they'll probably apologize for being asswipes. Right before they ask me to come and pick them up. I'll accept their apology. But I might think twice about picking up their ungrateful butts. Let 'em walk.

This weekend, my friend N invited me to come away with her to her dad's little beach house in Mexico, a short 2 hour drive from our homes. The problem is, it wasn't just the two of us. She was bringing her son and was allowing him to invite two friends, one of which is; you guessed it, The Grommet. So, now what I envision as a nice little getaway, has turned into "JACKASS Jr." Three edgy 15 year-olds. All mouths on legs. Did I mention that my friend N is going through a divorce after finding out her hub of 25 years was porking a co-worker twenty years his junior and decided that he liked it so much that he was leaving N and the kids? No? Oh well yeah, there's that. So let's look at roll call for the "restful" getaway weekend again shall we?

1 frazzled and emotional, soon to be divorced friend
3 mini Bam Margera wannabes
1 Pua on the verge of breakdown but holding it together
1 beautiful blue bottle of Tequila Corralejo helping Pua hold it together.

Did I mention that it rained the whole first day? Stuck in a small house with three testosterone-filled, fart-producing, dumbass joke-making, 9th graders. Fun. I felt like I was directing "Dumb, Dumberer, and Dumberest". At one point, my poor friend N went absolutely off her rocker and kicked them out of the house and into the rain. She handed her son a Duraflame log and locked the door. There they stood, the three of them, using their boogie boards for umbrellas, laughing their asses off over....absolutely nothing.

Over the two days, she worked her way through a bottle of scotch and I listened while she sobbed through her lost marriage. My heart ached for her. It ached for her sons. It ached for our friendship; the four of us have been through so much together and now it will change. We always talked about how, one day, N and her hubby would inherit this little beach getaway from her dad, and Charlie and I would buy the little place next door, and the four of us would retire there and watch our pudgy little grandkids play on the beach. Just like we watched our pudgy little kids grow up together. It was a nice dream. But now it will be one person less. I let her cry, then I listened to her anger, then I held her hand while she cried some more. We grieved together.

When the sun finally emerged, I walked with the boys down to the beach while N slept. So many good days at this beach. So many lovely sunsets. So many happy stories. This is where my 3 year old son first flew a kite with his daddy. This is where my girls were first buried in the sand by N's boys and left completely helpless and screaming while they ran away laughing. This is where we wondered ahead what the kids would be like as teenagers, and if they would go to college. This is where we had bonfires and s'mores and listened to mariachis. This is where I first tasted 100% agave tequila and fell in love with it.

I've never been down here and felt a bad day. But this one was melacholy. I watched the boys swim out to meet the waves and thought how lucky they are to be so carefree in this moment. I longed for the comfort of carefree days. I wanted more than anything for my dear friend to not hurt anymore. I thought about her husband and I worried for him. I worried that through his choices his loss would be greater than he could even imagine and I wondered if he was thinking about the things he would now miss. Things like watching these boys celebrating joyous youth. Things like bonfires and dreams of the future. Things like the vibrant laughter of his wife. Right now, I miss that too.