Thursday, April 30, 2009

A Tale of Three Seizures

This is a gruesome, gory, medical story. It's two years old, almost exactly. And I need to share it. There's something in telling these stories that heals.

Phase I
It began with puking, 36 hours, every half hour on the dot. The docs congratulated me on keeping him well hydrated. He stopped his clockwork regurgitation for Blue's birthday. My parents visited. He laid listless and tired on the couch.

Phase II
The next morning he was sparky and alive. When he requested yogurt, I delightedly skipped off to the kitchen to fetch it.
A sharp garbled cry. And then Huck calling to me to dial 911.
"Are you kidding?" I asked.
"My God. NO!!" He screamed.
I dialed, then looked, a method I recommend for all moms.
Huck had him in his arms. He was curled up. Stiff yet vibrating. His mouth was foamy. He wasn't breathing. His lips were rapidly turning blue.
The operator came on the line and I could not speak. I could not breath. I could not stand. I could not sit. I could not exist in any way that I knew of. I handed the phone to Huck. He juggled all of it in his hands, while I circled the living room, moaning, half standing. A cry finally came from me and I could hear the operator say, "It sounds like he's breathing now."
"No," Huck said.
"But I heard a cry," She noted.
"That's my wife."
I heard those blessed sirens and flung open the door.
Coyote breathed a little. His body unclenched.
The medics ran full tilt in to the house. This look passed between them. One scooped up Coyote and ran back out. I jumped into the ambulance in my socks.
Huck, he of clear heads, dressed Blue, shut doors, hung up phones, put on shoes, and followed in the car.

Phase III
The ER was empty, except for us (and people wonder why I love small towns). The Docs asked questions while Coyote groaned and batted his eyes on the table between us. They assumed a febrile seizure. But the medics were sure it wasn't just that. And also, we kept explaining, he HAS NO FEVER!

Suddenly, it began again. The stiffness, the curled body, the shaking, the bluing, the horrific bluing of his lips. Only this time, I knew he would likely survive.
To stop it, they sunk him into a chemical coma. I sat in the waiting room with Blue, while Huck stayed for the spinal taps, the MRI, the CT, the yadadada. Everything came back negative. Which was positive as far as I could tell. No meningitis: YEAH! No brain tumor: YIPEEE!
He stayed unconscious, however, and we spent the night. I watched Oprah's Earth Day episode in his bed. Did you know that if we all stopped taking receipts at gas stations we'd save 14 billion trees every second?

Phase IV
When they pulled him up out of the chemicals, all he wanted to do was nunu. I'd weened him in February, but he still wanted that ultimate comfort. And who was I to deny him? I hopped right up on that bed and let him on.

And that is how I learned that people bite down really really hard when they are having a seizure. I shrieked and EVERY doctor and nurse in the building ran to us. It took several hands to extricate me! They calmed down once they knew where all that blood was coming from. I did not, however. They offered stitches once the seizure subsided and we all knew the child was okay. But I opted for the surreal "comfort" of a latex glove filled with ice, and then a bandaid. Coyote has never nunu-ed again.

Phase V
I decide to host Blue's birthday party anyway. The hall was rented. I'd made the world's awesome-est, glittering alligator-in-a-pink-boa pinata. And the list of phone calls to cancel was too daunting. What I remember: sitting, empty and exhausted during musical chairs and not standing when the music began. Kate made a cake. My friends invented games for the kids. They set up. They cleaned up. And my poor little Blue and I schlepped back to the hospital when it was all over. What a shitty little birthday! Luckily Grandpa Richard was there to perk it up for her.

Phase VI
They put him on phenobarbital, saying it would make him uncoordinated and grumpy but halt the seizures. He was two and a half! So he was REALLY REALLY two and a half. We popped a helmet on his noggin and tried to not get bitten by the world's tiniest monster. He hated that phenobarbital! He would not take it! Twice a day we had hour long sessions trying to get him to swallow that stuff. I would weep, begging him, the threat of his blue lips driving me insane. I bought every sugary drink in the store to help him get that stuff down. Blue remembers those days with such sweet fondness: "Remember how sometimes sugary drinks can be really healthy? Mmmmm." Sheepish about the volume of sugar-crap I was buying, I insecurely told the 18 year old cashier what noble cause it was for.
"Does he take more than one kind of medicine?" The stupid kid asked.
"Does he refuse to take all of them?"
"No, just this one."
"Well, I'd listen to him if I were you. I did that when I was three and my mom had fits over it. But it turned out I had a life threatening allergy to the stuff. Kids know, you know."
Yeah yeah yeah, that's how I parent, you pimply nincompoop! But this is life and death! I smiled politely and left with my burgeoning cart of red flavored high fructose corn syrup.

Phase VII
The rash that followed did not concern the doctors. After two weeks of me not working and yet paying for daycare, we got the go ahead to put him back in with his less wobbly peers.

I stepped back in to the office, to lots of support, and to the phone ringing. It was the day care. Coyote suddenly had a very high fever and wasn't breathing properly. I ran right back out the door I'd entered just 3 minutes before. Luckily, there was lots of construction so the 20 minute drive was elongated to 40 minutes. It was not a calm, soothing trip and what the workers heard were not my most supportive comments.

Phase IIX
The week that followed involved daily visits to the doctors' office in which all the pediatricians gathered in our room to dance and sing "What do you do with a problem like Coyote? How do you pin a diagnosis to the ground?" They phoned their colleagues from various pediatric specialties. They pulled out their text books. They were in doctor heaven! This was no common cold. This was not a butterfly stitch. This was M*E*D*C*I*N*E! I don't think we could have gotten better care, even at the bigger hospitals.

Coyote indeed has a life threatening Phenobarbital allergy. His skin separated from his tissue. Each item on the list of "things to look for" came upon us. Goopy eyes: run to the doctor! Coughing: run! Coma: how can you tell?
At the end of that awful week, I looked to the backseat of our jalopy to see how Coyote was. He was slumped and listless, non-responsive. We flew to the doctors' office. They saw me running, Coyote flopping in my arms. They threw open the doors. We ran into an exam room, the doctors close on our heels.
They checked him. And then they left. One stayed, sat down, sighed.

What! What! What!

"This has been so stressful, hasn't it?" She began, calmly.
"I felt like I handled it well the first two weeks and now I'm a mess."
"Honey. Coyote is a very tired little boy. He is napping. I suggest you go home and do the same."

End of Story.

Coyote has been seizure free since. He had more tests, all wonderfully negative results. They don't know what causes these things. Perhaps the brain is just trying to "reboot"? He was never tried on another medication. Our current doctor says that if he makes it to five (3 months away!) without another seizure, we should be in the clear. I think we will be.

During this all, another cashier asked about Coyote's rash. And I told a bit of the story. She said the same thing happened to her when she was kid. Three seizures after a bad illness. She'd never had another one. By then, I was ready to listen to the cashiers, no matter their age or station. And I decided then that was the case with my boy. May it be so.

This is not a tremendously funny story. It's a story that haunts me when I'm reminded of it. And there have been several reminders this week, including the anniversary.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Neanderthal Fog

All this moving is causing me to develop a severe case of idiocy. Or it could be staying home with the kids all day. Some thing is causing the fruity filling in my cranium to go mushy, and maybe even sour.

My cell phone lays open, on the couch. Did I put it there? Am I talking to someone? I pick it up, "Hello?" In five minutes: where did I put my phone?

Coyote was invited to his first Wenatchee birthday party. I read the invite and lost it. We showed up on Saturday, obviously, at the Rotary Park. There was a birthday party. We joined it.

I didn't recognize anyone, which didn't surprise me. I wasn't expecting to recognize anyone. But I didn't see Dora, The Mom, who is a very black woman and rather obvious around here. "She must be in the bathroom or running off for supplies." I didn't see her kids. Also in the bathroom?

I was disturbed by the collection of overly-cared for children. Dora is a free spirit and I wasn't comprehending why she'd surrounded herself with control freaks.
What really ticked me off, however, was the tall pile of primly wrapped gifts. The invitation, if I remembered nothing else, clearly stated NO gifts, but a donation for mosquito nets. "Typical." I thought, "This ALWAYS happens. 'No gift' and I stupidly obey, AGAIN! Now we're going to look stingy and poor. And me having run out the door with my holey house shoes on again."

That is when I noticed that the names on the gifts were not ringing a bell. My sluggish, ape-like brain slowly formed the words, "Something is wrong."
We delicately backed away from the party. They were stand-offish anyway. Relief is realizing that you don't have to spend the next few hours in painfully polite chit chat with a bunch of prissy snobs who are ignoring you.

I sat on a bench and stared at the floaters in my eyes. And I apologized to a very disappointed Coyote over and over.

The next day Dora was there, hosting her son's party. As were the other two black people in Wenatchee. (I asked how they met and they said, "We stand out.") And a bunch of laid back white folks. And appropriately messy children. And NO presents!

That is but one example of my gaseous brain. The thing is DEAD! DEAD! It could be due to all the moving. I'm about to reserve the fourth moving van in less than a year. It could be the single parenting thing: alone, in a very small apartment/garage, in a town in which I have exactly 1.73 friends who aren't even in this town but are in the general geographic location an hour away.

This is the opposite of what I wanted. When I read "Of Woman Born" by Ms. Rich, I knew that what I didn't want was to raise kids in the isolation and rigidity our culture prescribes for parents. What I objected to was not off-spring, but the parenting culture. Obviously, it turns out, one woman could not do that alone. And certainly NOT while she has kids herself. One woman can only HOPE to survive, much less change her entire culture so that it allows the type of parenting experience she was dreaming of. And now. Here I am. In the exact opposite of what I wanted.

And it is killing my brain, as predicted.

Working was hectic. It was a wrestling match every morning. It was a race against the clock. There wasn't time for a single glitch in anything: the phone, the car, the routine, the health, and certainly no time for crying about hair deelies. And yet... and yet... There was this dark blue room for me, this contemplative den, in which I was paid to have one continuous and complex thought for hours on end. And what emerged from that thought was a strategy, a brief, an interrogatory, something tangible that left in the afternoon mail and some one else read it.

A stay at home mom has no complete thoughts. Does not complete a sentence. Does not complete a chore. Does not have a moment of clarity. And at the end of it all. After everyone is asleep. There is no one here with whom I speak. Just zygotes of thoughts, aimlessly swimming around my brain. Little specters of something that could be coalesced into a word or a phrase, if there were ears around. I feel like Helen Keller in her early darkness. I feel like a Neanderthal, awaiting language to make it all clear, to burn off the foggy banks and let the sun shine in.

Don't bother calling to save me. The reception in this electrified canyon in pitiful.
"Hello. Hello. Sarajoy, I can't hear you again."
"Well, I can hear you."
"Hello. Hello. I'm not getting anything."
"What do you mean? I'm crouching on the top bunk again. Can you hear me now?"
"Hello. Are you there?"
"Oh, okay, Now I did hear that."

I'm moving to another new town. Where I get to start all over again. yippee.

But I've got the right feeling this time. I'll find my place among friends again. I'll find good loamy things to dirty my hands. I just hope I can find my brain. Maybe it will turn up when we unpack.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Little Green Gables on the Prairie

So. Here it is. My big announcement. Perhaps premature. But I've waited almost a month already. That's a long time for a big mouth like me.

I'm in love.

With an object.

It's a house.

And I appear to be buying it.

I'm crushing so hard on this house. I think about it constantly. It actually makes my little heart go pitter patter and I get dizzy. It's like Stacy Brisky's 8th grade thing for Kirk Cameron. I'd slather this apartment with posters of it. I'd slide it's photo under the plastic of my trapper keeper.

Coyote loves this soft rock station and I consented to listen to it 1/2 time. But I love it now too. I sing along with the schmultiest love songs: to this house. I see myself in a video, soft on the edges. I'm running through the prairie, sparkling with wild flowers, passionate poppies, I think. I'm running in a flowing sun dress. I'm running. My arms open wide and I collide with the corner of the house. When I recover, I kiss it's white siding. And then we cut to the sunset. I'm snuggled on the front porch. It's railings wrap around me. The pink light bathes our faces in shades of new love. Celine Dion sings in the field beside us.

This is the house I wanted to raise my kids in. This is the house.

Grandiose it is not. Chandelier-y: no. Wide, curving, spindled stair case: No. Daddy Warbucks: absolutely not. Me: YES! YES! YES!

It's perched up on a high plateau called Paradise Prairie (and that's not just in my head!). It is white. It has green trim. It is a restored 1901 farm house. Farm house: solid, functional, the real stuff. Solid wood floors. Ornate moldings. 2 x 4's that measure 2" x 4". Tiled sun room. Claw foot bathtub. But it's got all the new stuff too: new electrical, new plumbing, new kitchen with ornate slate everywhere, new foundation with a rock facade, new basement (which is 1 1/2 times the size of this place! And that's just the basement!), new heating, new everything, but the stuff that should be old!

And it's on 5 acres of prairie, with a new horse barn and a new garage. The dirt is considered top of the line for the region with a Rosarium next door. It's on a dead end country road with very little traffic.

And it's a 15 minute commute for Huck: door to door!

The down sides: the school situation is kind of confusing. And the mortgage is out of our comfort zone. But if this last year has taught me anything it's that the quality of my home REALLY matters to my mental health. Not everyone is like that, I know. Maybe it's just the Libra in me. But I NEED a good home. And I'm willing to pay for it.

I can scarcely believe my good fortune. I feel the angels of Anne and Laura watching over me. I feel, in part, undeserving of this good fortune. And yet, I also feel that I've earned it, as much as anyone earns it. I worked hard while Huck was in school so that we wouldn't have to go into debilitating debt. I did without so that we could do without credit cards. I drove an embarrassing crap-mobile so we wouldn't have car debt either. And this past year has been vicious: sleepless nights, tears, weeping, gnashing of teeth, the worst fears, the ego decimation, the humiliation, the cramped quarters, the loss of 1/2 my belongings (which is interesting since we are *hopefully* moving into a space 4x as big as this one!).

Some one has to live in an old farm house on Paradise Prairie. And it might as well be me.

If some one could have told me that at the end of this shit-rainbow, there'd be this honey pot, I could have endured it better. But all in all, I think I did a rip-snortin' good job, anyway.

Some of you may think it's wrong to love an object. And maybe it is. But a 108 year old house is not a mere object. It's not some Wal-mart book bag. It's almost a living thing.

And now I'm worried I may be jinxing it by talking about it (that's why there are no pictures here). We've got 3 weeks left to go. And the financing is the big question. The banks are just a little skittish these days and the mortgage is just a little bit of a stretch for us. So: collective crossing of the fingers please! And lets not say another word about it until the deal is sealed.

Thanks for sharing my joy!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Lessons from a Slumber Party

1) Have one other adult present, not as a guest, but as some one to help!

2) Do not give 10 small children stone bocci balls and then run inside to get the pizza out of the oven. The only instruction given at that moment was "So, you through the balls... Oh! The pizza's ready!" Everyone apparently survived, I hope, but I haven't been back to check for bodies.

3) If hosting a party in the middle of a blooming orchard, ascertain if any guests are allergic to bees before planning the entire party around this one feature.

4) Keep the wind down. Or at least hold the pizza firmly with both hands as you cross the driveway. I don't care if it burns you!

5) Remember, the 5 second rule does not apply to hot pizza in a dirt driveway.

6) Again, arrange for help.

7) Be amazed by your daughter's foresight in inviting her extremely useful babysitter, who steps up to the challenge.

8) If hosting a party outside, keep it close to the "house" and live on the ground floor. I may (or may not) jog with weights these days, but running up and down the stairs 500x loaded down with party gear causes a burn I thought was only reserved for hell.

9) Have a larger house for when the wind won't stop and rain suddenly comes. The forecast said NOTHING about a hurricane!

10) Do enjoy the sweet mudpies!

11) Be sure to watch the play. The parental job offers nothing better than a kid written and directed play, especially when the little brother is cast as a hobbie horse ridin', gun totin' mass murderer.

12) When serving the wee little guests chamomile tea to quiet them for bed, DO NOT under any circumstances, drink the tea yourself.

13) Check out their Native American village in the orchard, complete with a teepee of pruning scraps and a real, authentic "Native American Fence!" Overhear a proclamation that your daughter really wanted a Native American themed birthday party, but that there are so many different types of Native Americans that she thought it would just confuse everyone.

14) I now recommend against taking all the tired little guests to a kids fishing derby the next morning. It was just as bad as I imagined. 2,843 children randomly flinging hooks and worms occasionally into the water (crossing lines) but usually into each other. In the hour we were there, only one person caught a fish. Given the net of tangled lines over the pond, it's a wonder anything got away. Those smart fish wisely hunkered down at the very bottom of the pond, where it was likely quiet and dark and they were likely napping and I likely wanted to join them. The gods were on my side again that day, however marginally; we caught NO FISH! I should make an offering or something.

15) Do not arrange for the grandparents to visit the day after a slumber party. They will not be impressed with your surly, sleepless little darling growling at them from the doorway.

16) Have you considered not hosting a slumber party? Maybe you will next time.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Rather than clean

Honestly, I'm supposed to be cleaning. My sister's coming this week and I need all of our 600 square feet spanky clean. In this place, even the tiniest little mess seems huge. I walk in with the mail and it's ~*PANIC*~: "This has to go somewhere right now!!!!" It'll only take an hour, two if I want to organize the papers I'll clear off the flat places. But here I am instead.

Ooops about those pictures on my last post. They don't quite fit on there. You may already be aware that my tech skill set has a few holes in it. But things could be worse. My last boss was King Technophobe III. He was really attached to MSDOS Windows95, in 2005. He'd passed up an entire decade of upgrades! He'd say, "I want those interrogatories done by Thursday."
And I'd respond, "Are you sure? Y/N"
And he'd say, "N. Finish them by this afternoon."
And I'd say, "Control Fu."
And he'd say, "Control Alt Delete."
And I'd say, "Are you sure? Y/N"
And he's say, "N. I need those done."
I even had my office painted blue, in hopes that he'd listen to me more.
Anyway, Mr. Windows95, Esq. was outed as capable when we found out he had figured out both 1) e-bay and 2) how to become addicted to it. The staff then took measures to forcefully remove the virus called Windows95 from the office. We did this delicately. That being North Idaho, the boss kept a gun in the office.

I'm going to try again with some pictures. Forgive me if I mess up. You deserve better.

The orchard blossomed mightily this week. All of a sudden: BAM!! BAM! BAM! POP!! The whole thing slammed into spring. And the weight of winter lifted. And everything felt good again. I can actually stand up straight, naturally, without an hour of yoga. The trick? Taking off the bulky winter coat.
I got a full moon stroll in the warm wind through the white orchard this week. And I even got a sweet scented little nap one afternoon, under the hum of happy bees. And here's an odd sight that caused a double take on Good Friday:
That one's for my mom.

The Easter Bunny hid WAY TOO much candy around the place this morning. Damn Rabbit. How about some carrots?

I stayed home all week. Because last week I drove: Wen to Spoke, Spoke to Wen, Wen to Salem, Salem to Spoke, and Spoke to Wen again! Sheesh! If I sat in the car one more second, my ass was going to stand up, slap me across the face, tell me to get someone else to sit on, and walk out on me.

Here are photos of the traveling week. Rushing water in a hurry to travel long distances seemed to be the theme.
M. Falls in Oregon

Spokane Falls:

Monday, April 6, 2009

The Death of Shimmer

As I have noted in this virtual tome so recently, and as you yourself may have also noticed, death happens to every living thing. And it has come to our house. Thankfully, we were gone. Except for Shimmer, Blue's beta fish, a male, as she so carefully informs one and all. Because they are the fancy looking ones.

I knew Shimmer wouldn't last long. He had ick and he was elderly. His lavish iridescent fins had thinned and looked like wads of hair from a drain. When last I saw him, he was bouncing along the bottom of the tank on his side, one "lung" bloated and white.
I dropped by the apartment on Wednesday to do some paperwork and the land lady caught me before I went up. "He doesn't look good," she confided.
"I know," I said.
"I think he's dying," She warned.
"He's old and he has ick," I said.
"He doesn't have long," She worried.
"It's not your fault," I said.
"I know not to over feed fish," She fretted.
"Yes, You can't over feed fish," I allowed.
I breathed deep and trudged up the stairs. What would I find? How decomposed would he be?
He laid at the bottom of the tank. I noticed my mother had turned off all the heat before she left and the tank was chilly. I chipped out some ice and poured a little hot water in. About 1000 un-touched pellets of fish food flew up. And Shimmer skipped feebly across the bottom.

Yes, you can't over feed a fish. Unless your a little tipsy.

I recently cleaned his tank, but it was now a cloud of soggy fish food. As I washed and rinsed, I wondered what the hell I was doing. This fish was obviously near death. He couldn't eat. He wasn't going to last another day or two. And I was cleaning his tank.
I laughed when I realized I was trying to ease his passing. If he was going to go, I didn't want anyone, not me, and certainly not the fish-Valkyriesthat would carry him from this world, imagining that I had killed him through neglect, that I had let him slip from this life in a dirty cesspool of soggy crumbs. Maybe a vet would prescribe morphine drops for his water? Should I dump in some whiskey? Or make a quick finish with the garbage disposal? In the end I decided that if suffering to the very last breath was good enough for humans, it was probably good enough for a beta. When last I saw him he was struggling along the purple rocks at the bottom of his tank, gasping for ... um... air?

When we returned there was a note on the table, a fancy and formal script. "The fish died." The tank was empty. The lid was off.
She said that he was dead the day after I left him. She flushed him down the toilet. I thanked her for not leaving him in the tank for me to fish out his half decomposed body. She said she'd considered freezing him, but felt that would be over kill.

Later, her husband commented that the fish had ick.
"Yes, I know, but what was I going to do, bring a $3 fish to the vet?"
There. I'd said it.
I'd tried to ease his passing, tried to preempt guilt, and now here it was, staring me down. I'd killed a $3 fish because it was a $3 fish.
"You know there's stuff you could get at the pet store that would've taken care of the ick."
"REALLY!??" How should I have known that?! But then, it wasn't even worth it to me to Google "ick" and get an answer in 3 seconds. Why not? Because it was a $3 fish.
PETA is going to KILL me!

I love PETA, most of the time. But they are really not going to like this: I hated how that fish had to eat every damn day. Every damn DAY! We had to feed him. I had to hire a pet sitter once for $30, just so the $3 fish wouldn't die of starvation, and then he dies anyway! And what's more, the beta is a fighting fish. That F-er would've killed me, eaten me alive, piranha'd me in 3 seconds, given the slightest advantage. If Blue would forget to feed her fish, I'd go over and he'd puff up like a bully and swim back and forth looking tough. Had our sizes been reversed, he'd have gobbled me: a vegetarian (mostly)! He was $3, with a surly, possibly even dangerous, personality.

He will be missed.

I broke the news to Blue.
"What did she do with the body?"
"She flushed it down the toilet."
"Darn, I kind of wanted to see what a dead fish looks like."

Sunday, April 5, 2009

A chunk of something operatic

The kids are eating yogurt.
C "I just got a chunk of something."
B "It's probably sugar or cream."
C "Really?"
B "No. Mom bought it for us, so it's probably just a chunk of healthiness."
C "I like the kind Oma and Opa get for us. That has chunks of sugar."

I was commenting to someone about Coyote, that his current interests would predict a future of opera and baseball.
"Hard to see how those would combine."
"Not really," I said. And I suddenly had a vision, as if I were there, on the astro-turf, singing in his baseball opera. And then, I dove head first in to it: I actually improvised a segment of that opera to my Real Estate Agent and the Inspector's Wife! What I was thinking, I cannot imagine. I think, now in retrospect, that I was not thinking at all. In my falsetto opera voice, I belted out a tune about how I was hitting the ball, it popped straight up, and then the tragedy laid me low, low, low down. It was a foul ball.

Certainly, there is no market for this.

In some regard, I wish you could have been there. In other ways, I'm very glad you weren't. And now I will brag for a second: it was REALLY FUNNY!!! And I am not the only adult that thought so. But it's always hard puzzle out what people are laughing at: me or the opera? But at least they didn't stand there, in silent shock. Huck and the kids loved it and keep demanding that I do it over and over again. And because I continue to play the fool, I am telling you about it.

And then there was this funny little cherry on top: someone asked me if I taught our kids music lessons! I have never been accused of having an iota of musical ability. But she disagreed. That's my fake opera voice, I noted, THAT can carry a tune, but not my real voice. My real singing voice will be taped and played back to us all in hell. That is what my real singing voice was made for.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

What I want?

The impossible: to name your desire. This is the hardest part of house shopping.
What do I want? The agent asks me.
What do I want? I repeat, incredulous.
Do I get that? It's always seemed like such a pointless exercise. Why imagine it? Why want it? Why create the suffering of wanting what does not exist and what I can never have? Why begin such a path of pain and disappointment?
This is where my mind resides. This neuro pathway is practically worn through. I think I need a new one.

So what do I want in a house? I tried to write it all out. But some things I simply couldn't even write down: too fantastic, too absurd to even imagine it all coming together.

What do I want in a house? It sounds as shallow as finger nail polish. But it cuts to the core of values and identity. Country? City? Easy payments with more money left for fun stuff? Hard payments with nothing left over? Cookie cutter construction or an individual stamp? Do you want to make that stamp or accept someone else's?

Most of the stuff we've looked at is slopped up old crap with asbestos siding sliding off into a yard full of garbage. One squat little shanty looked like a disembodied mental illness had simply taken over the entire acreage. In another house, the renters hadn't washed the dishes in months and didn't even try to hide the four foot bong in the living room. Well, I'd probably be taking as many drugs as possible too, if I had to mow the green shag in my living room every week and eat in a kitchen over run with red and yellow plaid tiles.

There was a pretty nice place, but the living room was as big as our current bathroom. Everything else in that house was enoromous, but we're not a family that likes huge private spaces and no public space. This means that every conversation or interaction would take place on some one's turf. A family needs a no man's land, where there is no mine and yours, but a space that allows an ours and an us.

Of course, if I did, perchance, find Paradise, a paradise beyond my meager imaginings, a paradise with all the things I couldn't bring my un-presumptious, un-entitled self to write down on my list of wants... If I did find such a thing and if I did make an offer on such a thing, I probably wouldn't tell you until everything was in place. Real Estate deals are known to careen off their rickety tracks in ugly, painful crashes. I'd opt for silence until everything fell into place, even the keys.

Success, raging success, can make some of use feel horrifically guilty. It's hard for me to tell my friends about anything truly wonderful that I do or experience. The sting of jealousy and the guilt of not being able to give everyone everything they want and need (no one has ever accused guilt of being reasonable!) is worse for me than risking pity by broadcasting my troubles.

Perhaps the hardest part about blogging for me will not be the year of tribulations, but a year of jubilations. Can I share my joy with you? Can you understand that any joy I may have or may only dream of having is a joy I want for you, too? Is a joy that I wish I could bring in to your life? And if you can understand that, then my joy will increase as I share it. And your joy will too. If you sympathized with my plight, felt my pain, wondered what me and my family would do, then you also deserve to feel my joy and to share in that too, to let that shine on you and brighten at least a moment of your life.

The shit is going to be there. It is going to hit the fan. And we are going to be covered in it. It's inevitable. The fear, the ugliness, the wreck, the death, the tragedy. And this means that the joy must be revelled in all the more. With intention and determination, we commit ourselves to happiness when the sun breaks through the clouds. After all this, we owe it to the light to give it our full attention as well.

I am in Salem tonight, picking up the kids from their spring break in my parent's fabulous new house. So modern! So beautiful! And my mother's job at the capitol? So fancy! So much energy and passion in that marble and brassy place. But it looks like a Mormon temple with that burly brass man on top, the Angel of Logging.

And the kids? They are genuinely sick of each other after a week of no other kids. And so, I am going to buckle them into a car tomorrow, side by side and drive for 7 hours. We may survive, Lord willing, as they say. But when we get out of that car, I am determined to revel in peace and freedom for at least as long as we were cooped up.


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