Seven Years

As always, my feelings about today are put so much better by someone else. Sars wrote one of the most powerful pieces about that morning that I’ve ever read. While I was gripped by the horror of something like that happening, and I was struck by the strangeness of an empty, planeless sky, she trudged from downtown back to her apartment covered in ashes. Hers are the posts I seek out on this day every year since.
“Looking at the light columns downtown, it’s the same feeling, the same question. I love the lights, the way they look blocky and rectangular at the bottom, like buildings, and then as your eye goes up, they become fuzzier beams cutting through the clouds, but really, I want the buildings back the actual buildings, with the people in them. I know that will never happen, and I know why, but the buildings and the people in them were stolen from all of us. That skyline belonged to us! Those people were ours. They weren’t yours to take. Why did you do that? How could you steal them from us? WE NEEDED THEM.” (full entry here)
Read her original entry here.
Also, if anyone who reads this lives on the east coast and thinks they might know Don, please let her know.

Decision Time

So, I have this dilemma, and I’d love it if anyone reading this would weigh in. Who knows, maybe in writing this it’ll help make up my mind…
I’ve been taking hockey classes through the Pacific Hockey Association (PHA) since the beginning of June. My friends have played on PHA league teams in the past. But my friends have also played in the Northern California Women’s Hockey League (NCWHL). I’ve done two “Give Hockey a Try Day” (GHATD) sessions with NCWHL, and enjoyed them.
As with everything, there are pluses and minuses to both leagues- I’ve included here the points that are most important to me.
PHA: Your team picks a name and logo, it goes on your jersey (that you have to buy) along with your name.
Has stock jerseys and you borrow them for the season. No name or logo, and you don’t get to keep it.
(Lame as it is, I really want a “this is my jersey for the very first team I played on”, and I want to have my name on it. There is a possibility that I could just buy the jersey, but I’m not sure.)
PHA: 17 games + playoffs if your team makes it. It’s all gameplay- no practices unless your team rents ice time.
NCWHL: 21 games. At my level, it’s more like 21 ice slots, with some games and some practices.
PHA: My hockey class friends will be playing here. I’ve gotten close with like 5 of the people I met in class and we hang out a bit outside of class, and it’s awesome, and I want to play on a team with them. Plus Charlotte will be playing in PHA next season.
NCWHL: Nicky will be playing here, and at my level, but she’s a goalie, so she won’t really be on my team, even if we get to play together sometimes. There aren’t enough goalies and so they “float”.
PHA: $475 + jersey
NCWHL: $435 (maybe more becasue I’d be registering late)
I am tempted to add a last category here called “drama level” but I won’t. I’ll just say that all my friends have had trouble with their teammates in PHA, and I keep getting told that NCWHL is “nicer”. And from what little I’ve seen of this side of it, NCWHL seems better organized.
To sum up, NCHWL will give me more practice time, with others at my level. I am woefully behind the rest of my class in PHA in some things, and practice is a good thing. PHA lets me play with my new hockey friends (and yes I know I can make more friends in NCHWL, but I like my PHA friends), and I get a jersey. I know that’s a material thing, but I’ve never played a sport EVER and I’m sentimental, so it’s probably way more important to me than it would otherwise be.
(Third option- should I take a year off, work on my skating, lose some more weight and try again later?)
Seems like it should be a no-brainer, but it’s not, so weigh in please.

Criminal Musings

Driving home from our last Tuesday skate before she and her husband move to North Carolina, I see the sign for Dee’s exit and have to book it into the exit lane:
Me: Crap, I need to get over!”
Dee: You’re fine, you have a ways
Me: I was auto-piloting home
Dee: Well that’s a bigger problem. But I would have said something.
Me: Or I could kidnap you and then you couldn’t move away
Dee: It doesn’t work that way honey
Me: I dunno, I have a lot of duct tape
Dee: If you were going to kidnap me you’d have to use gaff tape
Me: Because it’s more expensive and therefore it’s a higher class of kidnapping?
Dee: No, becasue it leaves no sticky residue
Me: So you wouldn’t be mad at me for kidnapping you, but you’d be mad about sticky residue?
Dee: Totally.
(Later, we recount the conversation to Dee’s husband, and then)
Dee: So I could forgive her for the kidnapping, because that’s understandable, but not for sticky residue.
Chad: I don’t know, I might have a problem with the kidnapping
Dee: Yeah, but you know where she lives, and her door isn’t all that thick
Me: (referring to a friend of all of ours who once woke up to Chad standing in the middle of her living room looking for Dee) At least my door has a lock on it
Chad: I have an axe
Me: I wasn’t saying that the lock would stop you, but it’d at least take effort…
So needless to say, I did not kidnap her and she’s still moving away. I am still not okay with this, but if she has to move, better to keep my door intact.

Making up for the absence with a doozy

I’ve mentioned here before a family for whom I used to babysit, and from whom I have since become estranged. They’ve been occupying a lot of space in my mind and heart this week, and that space has weighed heavily because it has brought to light connection with more recent events… I’ve mentioned before their daughters, Deona and Gem (previously referred to as the Pigchild). But there was a third daughter, Cara, for whose birth I was so excited because I loved babies and this time I would be old enough to be trusted with her as an infant. I loved the family of which she was a member, so of course I loved her from the moment I knew she was coming.
But she came and went in the same breath in the middle of an early August night. I was fourteen years old. I knew about miscarriages but not about stillbirths, at least not as anything other than a general concept. When my mom told me that Matria was in the hospital, I thought the baby was just early, she told me that Cara had died before she was born. Very little else was said about it. There was a grieving period that, to me, seemed very short. 18 months later, my sparkling Gem (who would in a few short years become the Pigchild, but she seems to have outgrown the moniker and has now circled back to being Gem) was born.
I remember being angry that no one talked about Cara, especially once Gem came along. Gem was wonderful, and I was trusted even more with her, being 16 rather than 14 at her birth. I would sometimes wonder what it would have been like with Cara (as Gem and Deona could not have ben more different), and I couldn’t understand how her life, albeit short, could just be swept away as irrelevant or inconsequential. What is more likely is that I was 14 and lived an hour away, and the grieving just happened when I wasn’t there, and that if there were conversations, they didn’t include me becasue I was a kid. My parents never talked about it with me either. So in my head, my grief for Cara was my own and wasn’t something to be talked about because everyone else had moved on. It wasn’t constant, but it was there. And to be honest, given another focus, I thought about her less and less, until there was only the occasional thought flitting across my mind, especially once I severed the ties with her family.
Fast forward nearly twenty years. A woman I was just beginning to know online lost her son in similar manner. I felt terrible for her, said if there was anything I could do, to let me know- although really, is there anything you can to at a time like that? If there had been I would have done it gladly. She spoke a lot about it on her blog- of her grief, of her hope, of how supportive people have been, of how his tiny life has managed to touch so many. And, to be perfectly honest, after a little while, it bugged me. “Enough already”, I said to myself. “Aren’t we done with this yet?”, I asked no one but the air in the room. (I would never, ever have said this to her at the time) This woman is now well on her way to becoming a dear friend, and I have guilt that I felt the way I did. I almost feel like I owe her an apology, even though she had no idea I felt that way. Because if I’ve learned anything in the last few days, it’s that this isn’t something you get over. It’s something you learn to live with perhaps, but it doesn’t go away. And how selfish was I to want to control someone else’s grief because it was affecting me? Holy crap it’s a wonder I have any friends at all.
It has become more clear to me in the past few days, I think, why I reacted the way I did to my online friend. It is because the only frame of reference I have for something like this is through the memories of a fourteen year old girl. It went away then, it should go away now. I think I wanted it to go away for her the way it seemed to with Cara because I liked her, and because I cannot fathom that level of pain, so I wanted it closed off so it didn’t hurt her anymore. But I’m not fourteen. I am an adult, and I have to see the world as an adult and not as a child, and know that it doesn’t work that way.
I have also learned that Cara was never forgotten, in fact she was about the farthest thing from forgotten that there is. I discovered that her father writes a post to his blog every year at her birthday (and to an online bulletin board in the years before blogs)- this past Monday would have been her 18th. Her mother wears a pin every day, of the rose that is Cara’s symbol. Also I have discovered through her own words that Deona, having been only five at the time, was still irrevocably changed. The baby sister she waited and hoped for was lost, and the one she got two years later was not the same, could never be the same. I knew Deona almost like she was my own child and I never knew that she even really had a concept of what was lost when Cara died. They all still miss her almost daily, and it’s been 18 years.
I’ve seen people mention how my friend’s little boy has touched them, or how his little spirit has helped them, but other than the thought that every life is precious and that his was taken too soon, I just wasn’t affected in that way, and I felt almost guilty about that. But maybe this new understanding, this small bit of mental healing that I needed, is the gift he has given me, and I just needed some time before I could gain the perspective.
(P.S. I mentioned that Cara’s symbol is a rose. My friend’s son’s is a butterfly. When I left work, right after I emailed this to his mom, there was a butterfly sitting on my antenna ball, and it didn’t get scared away when I burst into tears…)

On my seventh birthday, we finished dinner, had cake, and my parents gave me my presents. Weirdly, seven is a birthday that I remember better than any other birthday as a kid. In fact, it may be the only one that I remember the specific presents. I don’t remember what my parents gave me, but my dad’s parents sent me a Little Twin Stars towel set (and let me tell you- I used the bath towel and washcloth til they were threadbare. I think I still have the hand towel somewhere) and my mom’s mom sent me a Cinderella dress.
After all the hubbub was over, my dad, who for some reason was wearing his jacket inside the house, said “You have one more present. I have it, but you have to find it.”
He had put something in every pocket. His shirt pockets, pants pockets, jacket pockets- all of them. Things like a rock, or a key, or a piece of paper. Things that were not my present. I put my hand over his right breast pocket, and there was a cassete tape in it. I took it out and printed on the front, in my dad’s careful all caps handwriting, was “JUDY’S TAPE”.
I had children’s records, but I’d never had a cassette tape of my very own. (keep in mind this was 25 years ago now…) I don’t think my older sister had one either, because she was really jealous. It was very short, only part of side A of a 60 minute tape, but it was probably about right for my attention span at the time.
Over the years I listened to that tape so often that I eventually wore it out and it broke. The saddest part about it breaking was the loss of side B, where my friend Jason and I recorded our eight year old selves being silly. At one point I was Dr. Jonny Fever; we tried to get his cockatiel Cracker to talk; and at one point his little sister was screaming in the background and there was the awesome “That was Emily screaming”. You probably had to hear it for any of that to be funny, but anyway…
I don’t have it anymore but I remember every song, and almost the order:
I’m Being Swallowed By a Boa Constrictor
I Have a Song to Sing-O
Grandma’s Feather Bed
Day is Done
(song that I vaguely remember but don’t know the name of and my dad doesn’t recall)
Annie’s Song
American Pie
Puff the Magic Dragon
Take Me Home Country Road
I could be missing a song, but I’m not sure.
This year, my dad made me a CD. It is Made Of Random, but they’re songs he loves, some of which he knew I liked (Maxwell’s Silver Hammer, White Rabbit, Flying Purple People Eater), others I’ve never heard of (Tan Shoes with Pink Shoelaces, Please Mr. Custer, Tennessee Bird Walk), and he wanted to share them with me. It’s been in the CD player in my car for 10 days now.
Every once in a while someone asks “What is the best present you’ve ever received?” and I think the answer has to be the tape when I was seven, with this new CD coming in close behind.

It tastes like burning!

I don’t know if it’s made national news, but Northern California is on fire. Where I live and work are safe, as are my family and friends, but there are 3 or 4 fires in this area, and when I breathe through my nose it smells like fire. I don’t like it.
The Oakland Hills seem to burn every few years, Tahoe had a bad fire recently, and there was a big fire south of here last year and I could see the smoke in the air, but I’ve never been surrounded by it to the point that I am able to smell it before. It’s really disconcerting.
Good thought for the firefighters and homeowners please?

Unmotivated is an understatement

I have hockey class in two hours and I don’t want to go. My gear is all packed and ready, except for my gloves which Chad is going to bring to me because I lent them to Nicky earlier this week.
Last night was Bravo, a big fund-raising event for the theater where I work. I spent a long couple of hours tending a bar set up on a too low table in heels, then another very long 90 minutes helping clean up and pack up afterward. There was not a single part of my body that did not hurt when I woke up this morning. I’m still vaguely stiff and sore after a long hot shower and lunch.
Hockey class is too hard when I’m at my best. I have no idea how today is going to go. I’m still going, I just don’t particularly want to today, which is sad given how long I waited to be able to take this class.
I went, I suited up, and I really tried. I made it through half the class before my legs just gave out. But I didn’t punk out and stay home, so for that I can be proud.

For Future Reference

I saw this in a sig line on a forum and wanted to stick it somewhere for later remembering.
“Discovery consists of seeing what everybody has seen, and thinking what nobody has thought.”
-Bill the Cat