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Monday, September 19, 2011

Happy 12th!

for my love. . .
Last week was our (my wife's and mine) 12th anniversary.  So much was happening that we, by almost unspoken mutual agreement, put it off, electing instead to celebrate it this week.  That was a mistake, I think.  There's so much important stuff that's going on in our lives and lives of our family and friends, but I think I probably should have drawn some sort of line in the sand. . . or planted my staff on the rock and roared to the Balrog of impending family business, "You shall not pass!!" and made plans to take my wife out for dinner and exchange cards, etc.  I think the mistake that we made was not so much that we focused on others, but that we failed to prioritize ourselves as well.  At all. 

So this week we'll do our annual "go out to an awesome dinner" anniversary, and hit the reset button to some extent, and have another great talk (we always do our best talking when our brains are slightly addled on wine flight samplers and our stomachs are distended by difficult to pronounce foods).  But last week was Anniversary Card Buying.

And don't get me wrong. . . I don't dislike giving my wife an anniversary card.  I understand the necessity of restating what I consider to be understood (I love you, I'm thankful for you, I need you, etc) but, while I have no problem giving my wife a card, I dislike shopping for that card.

Because anniversary cards suck.  The challenge of the greeting card industry in general is that they are presuming to speak to your loved one on your behalf.  I've made my peace with the concept of expressions of love by proxy, but. . . I have to sift through a lot of greeting cards in order to get to one that sounds like something I would say.

One of the cards I read last week leaps to mind.  It took the greeting card lover-by-proxy mission statement a step too far and actually used the first person narrative.  I didn't so much mind the sentiment itself as much as the fact that it presumed to actually attribute to me things that I'd never expressed or considered.  I'll quote it, though I can't actually remember it word for word, "Happy You and Me day" it said, I opened the card, because so far I was okay with it.  "That's what I always think of it as, you and me day.  Because. . . " etc.  That's actually not what I always think of it as, and I, and maybe this sounds silly, felt vaguely insulted and offended by the greeting card taking that sort of liberty with my feelings/expressions.  I put it back.  It wasn't me talking, but it was saying it was.  It presumed too much, that card.

As I riffled through the cards, I reaffirmed how few cards I found that satisfactorily expressed me as I wished myself to be expressed by proxy.  Here are my rules for greeting card purchase:

1)  Start with the classy/pretty cards.  Not too frilly, not too lacy, not to busy or too loud.  Nice simple colors/patterns on pretty paper. . . start opening these in order from most to least tasteful.
2)  What's the message? 
  • Toss the religious themes. . . nobody reading this message could possibly think that card was read by me prior to purchase.  So, if it says "I thank god every night for the blessing" etc. . . it's gone.
  • Toss the overly mushy and sentimental messages.  "You have captured my heart.
    I put my hand in yours,
    and we began this
    wonderful journey called love.
    Wherever life takes us,
    the light of your smile
    will forever be my morning sun
    and the shelter of your embrace
    my heart's true home." etc.
  • Toss anything but the simplest of poetry.  If the poem is more than a few lines long I can guarantee I'm not on board, specifically if it rhymes.  These cards are often weeded out by the previous bullet point.
  • Toss anything that puts maybe too much emphasis on our love to the exclusion of the rest of the universe, "You are at the heart of all that is good and happy and meaningful in my life."  The next line might just as well say, "and if i ever lost you, your body wouldn't have a chance to get cold before I killed myself out of sorrow". . . pass.
  • Sort through the remaining messages, "The first time I looked into your eyes, I knew it was happily ever after."  That's not bad. . . but it's also not true.  The first time I looked into her eyes I had already had three or four beers and was trying to think of some way to ditch my friend and get a ride home with her.  And while to me (at 24) there was a 'version' of happily ever after involved, that's not what the card meant, and she'd have known it!
3)  Find the simple, honest message on the prettiest card, and purchase it.
4)  Insert mush.  This, above all else, is why I detest the annual card-passing ceremony.  Because my cards don't have proxy mush that doesn't sound like me, but instead have simple messages (by proxy) embellished with my hand-written personal mush. . . I don't want her mother reading them.  I don't want her friends reading them.  They're written for her.  Privately for her.  I'm not particular big on "sharing" emotionally in the first place!  Sorry. . . did I just interject personal baggage into this?  Yeah, I don't like when people pass cards around at a party or gathering.  Your card is for him or her or us, and those intended should read it. . . it's nobody else's business.

So last week I bought my card and embellished it with mush.  This year's mush said essentially (because it's actually nobody's damn business but hers and mine, but I can hand out the essentuals) that she's a higher priority to me and my life than we exhibited over the course of our actual anniversary, and that I'm going to try harder to make sure we reprioritize "us" amidst all the festivities involving "them".  (Where "them" means. . . everyone else in the world, kids going to games, kids going to kindergarten, relatives getting married, relatives moving their houses, relatives putting on charities).  And let me further soften it to say. . . all that stuff I just mentioned in parentheses is EXTREMELY important to not just her, and not just me, but US. . . but not to the EXCLUSION of us. 

Anyway. . . Happy Belated Anniversary to us.  From me!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

A Little Rain

I guess I've already lounged through whatever guilt equity my new injury may have originally engendered.  Gone already (sheesh, has it even been 48 hours yet) are the offers to carry things for me or perform "boy chores" on my behalf.  She's already making plans for me to carry the loveseat out to the curb tonight for the garbage men to collect tomorrow.

"But what about my foot?" I sputtered indignantly.

"I'll help carry it," she replied.  Fantastic.

This morning I underestimated both the volume of rain that was falling as well as the length of time it would take me to limp from my car to the front of the office.  This underestimation resulted in my election to forgo the umbrella and feel the rain on my face.  But when I got inside, I felt it everywhere else as well.  With any luck it'll be dry by the time I leave the office.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

I Broke My Toe

Actual toe pictured.  Arrows added for clarity, these do not occur in nature.
  Yeah, I did actually not only feel like I broke my toe but literally broke it also.  See picture.  Now, not only do I have to limp around the office until it heals, but I must do so in some sort of bizarre velcro post-op shoe monstrosity that the doctor said was the modern medical equivalent of strapping a board to the bottom of my foot.

How long must I wear it?  Three weeks, if it heals nicely.  This neatly solves the problem of "who will watch the youngest while we participate in the charity walk".  Me.  I will.  Becuase I cannot walk. . . only thump, drag, thump, drag, thump.  Like a pirate (see previous blog) or Mad-Eye Moody.

"What if I don't wear it?" I asked.  It turns out nothing much.  It may not heal as quickly.  it may not heal as nicely.  It may, opined the doctor, create an extra joint.  I tried to fathom what it would take to create an extra joint, and the mental image, of bone grinding itself smooth over time against another bone, didn't seem awesome to me.  So I'm wearing the stupid shoe. 

How long will it take to to heal?  The doctor indicated that his rule of thumb was 6 weeks to heal any simple break, and that the break should be immobilized for about 50% of that time.  So in an effort avoid creating a new joint utilizing the process I've imagined above, I'll wear the stupid shoe for three weeks and follow up with an orthopedic surgeon next week.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Ow, My Toe

Dramatization.  My actual toes not pictured above.

I broke my toe last night.  I mean. . . I think I broke my toe last night.  I've never broken anything to know whether what this feels like, and what broken feels like are the same thing.  Here are the major symptoms:  1)  It really hurts, 2)  I can barely move it, 3)  my toe has never hurt this much ever.

That's pretty much it.  Okay, i stubbed it.  I stubbed it and it hurt really really bad, and the only thing medically that leads me to believe it may not be broken is that I never actually swore outloud.  I always assumed loud swearing pretty much meant it was broken.  That's just medically though.

parrot not included

Most of today has been spent limping from point A to point B, alternatively emitting involuntary gasps of pain as I misplace my foot, or wry laughter at my gasps, punctuated by the odd rhythm of my fractured gait. . . thump-thump - pause - thump-thump - pause, and so on, Gasp, laugh, thump-thump-pause-thump-thump, gasp, laugh.  Like a mortally wounded pirate with a good sense of humor. 

Later this afternoon, when I was limping around the grocery store trying to find an Anniversary card for my wife, i realized that if I angled my foot to the left, i could push off the inside of my foot and use my big toe and I didn't have to limp as much.  I'm going to "buddy tape" my pinkie toe to my (what. . . ring toe?) next-to-pinkie-toe tomorrow and see if that helps. 

The Little Things

I struggle sometimes celebrating Lily's small victories or milestones, conflicted by some superstitious dread that I'll somehow jinx it, that a celebration of a week without any potty accidents will inevitably lead to a day with ten. I'm even worse at relaying celebratory stories with friends.  Every story shared about Lily with my peers requires a recap of where she is now and where she's come from in order to lend the listener any kind of context of the enormity of what they might consider the tiniest of milestones without.  

I'm trying to get better at letting myself celebrate.  It's not fair to my daughter if I don't. We celebrated Emma's milestones.  And yeah, they were "typical" milestones, but no more valid or momentous in their relative context.  And it's denying myself a little extra sunshine. And why?  No rational reason that I can determine.

This morning she stood very close to her big sister, just invaded her personal space, blundering happily over and standing uncomfortably close to Emma as she sat eating her morning breakfast.  This is a physical closeness she rarely seeks out with anyone unless thoroughly exhausted.  And her big sister just smiled indulgently and let her hover; suffering the occasional awkward bump of heads or pull of her hair just to be close to her little sister for a little while, joining our amusement, giggling good-naturedly at bonks and swipes. And it was sweet, and wonderful, and I think we all celebrated a little. And I told Emma how Lily never does that with ANYONE and made a big deal of it, and I could sense her swell a little with the pride of being Lily's favorite.  And when Lily started to get a little rougher, reaching up to grab her hair, or pushing her fingers at her face, I reached across Emma to ward her Lily off, and Emma just batted my hand aside reflexively, protectively, and said it was okay, happy to share even this rough rare closeness with her little sister.

It was a win. 

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Umbrellas and Planes and Buses

It's raining in Pittsburgh.  That shouldn't shock anyone, I suppose, although it doesn't really RAIN that much in Pittsburgh so much as it THREATENS to rain.  Anyway, I have an umbrella to keep the damp off me.  I brought it in the office with me this morning from the car.  It had a cover, like a slip cover over the top of it.  Why?  To keep it dry?  It seems like a stupid design to me. 

Tomorrow Lily goes to Kindergarten for the first time.  To SCHOOL for the first time.  We'll go watch her pile on the bus, and there'll be an aide for her, but I just have such a sick feeling like a knife-twist of dread in my stomach about this whole thing.  Emma goes to HER new school too, and I'm proud and excited and even a little nervous for her, but she'll be fine.  And so will Lily I trust.  But I'm still apprehensive.  She'll ride the bus, she'll have a homeroom, and circle time and eat in the cafeteria, and I'm scared. 

I guess it's just one of those things; like when I fly on a plane.  I get air travel.  I understand the Bernoulli effect.  I'm fully vested in the physics that allow airplane wings to lift the plane off the ground and keep it aloft.  I TOTALLY saw that episode on Discovery Channel where the wings can bend back almost double and still not snap.  I've read the statistics that say air travel is a safer method of transportation than driving, or, at least I know a guy that says he read that article.  I've watched my fellow passengers calmly sip their drinks or laugh at some conversational quip with their traveling companions as the airplane hops and dives and yaws alarmingly underneath my feet and I push the imaginary brake pedal and white knuckle the arm rest, putting away my novel du jour so that I can focus fully on my terror and trust in the physics to keep me alive.

And I know that the supports and protections we've put in place in conjunction with Lily's IEP team will protect her and keep her aloft, and help her succeed . . . but I'm scared for my little girl.  Scared of the bullying.  Scared for her confusion and her struggles.  And like the airplane, there's just a certain amount of trust I have to rely on, and just deal with my terror quietly until there's something that I can actually address.

It's supposed to rain again tomorrow, and I'm having trouble with the bus company.  It seems they don't want to pick Lily up and drop her off again at the curb of the daycare where they picked her up and dropped her off last year.  Because they don't know if it's possible.  I'd have thought the experience of all last year would have proved that beyond a shadow of a doubt to them, but they're citing new resources (a different, longer bus, perhaps) . . . may not fit.  So they agreed last week to contact us and let us know if they'd be able to make it work before school started.  School starts tomorrow and they haven't contacted us.  It's not even the first day of school for my little girl and already the physics and protection and support is failing and the airplane is crashing down and all I can do is call and leave messages for the bus company politely asking them if they've figured out yet whether the bus they're sending tomorrow morning will be able to accomodate my daughter's special needs, or if I have to STOP trusting in the process.

Lily's going to need an umbrella if the bus won't meet her at the curb, and she'll need an aide to hold it for her.  Stupid bus company.