Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Four

Most things are ranked on a scale of 1-10. Sometimes it's a scale of 1-5. So when I heard my sister say my dad's cancer had progressed to stage 4 I wasn't overly concerned. A little upset, yes, because any progression is bad but it could be worse, right? But when I got home and turned to my good friend google, he told me a different story. There are only 4 stages and that's where he's at. Sitting there at stage 4. And that's where we're sitting with him. Right there at stage 4.

Nothing has really changed since Friday except for that number. He's still in radiation therapy. There's still hope. Always room for hope. But that number makes it hard to sit still, makes it hard to hold back the water, makes it hard to breathe easy. Four is a hard number to swallow.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Pumpkin

I went to my sister's this evening to watch a recorded episode of Modern Family, eat a delicious wet burrito my brother-in-law created and play with my nephew.
I'm fortunate that I get to see my nephew as often as I do. Usually at least 1-3 times a week. I feel how lucky I am. How could I stand to be away from such a cute face?
And yet, I feel like I'm missing so much. Because just a few days ago he never would have thought to get into the cabinets. And tonight for the first time he climbed on top of his push toy by himself and his legs are almost long enough for him to start pushing himself around on that thing. And tonight, when I was coming up the stairs from the laundry room he was surrounded by my two dogs and all three of them barked at me. My nephew barked at me! And then laughed so hard at his own joke he couldn't catch his breath.
Then later, when I was crawling around on the floor with him and dancing and being all out goofy to get him to laugh he suddenly without warning flung himself into my arms and gave me a hug and my heart melted all over again. Because, seriously... I love this kid.

Who wouldn't?

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Thank You

I helped one of my students with their classwork today. I was a little annoyed because it was during my planning period and I had a lot to get done. I didn't really have time.

He asked me to sit with him even though he was capable of doing the work independently. I complied because I'm a sucker. And because I could tell he needed a little attention. This usually behaviorally challenged child really just wanted to do a good job and get his work done. I sat next to him and did my best not to think about the loads of work piling up on my desk. Instead I praised him on his careful writing, on his kind way of asking for help and on his smart answers to the questions on the sheet. He glowed. He ate it up.

The recess bell rang just as he was finishing. He jumped up and ran for the door but then stopped, turned around and said, "Thank you!"

Kids say those words to me all the time. Most of them are well mannered and polite. But this kid really meant it. I glowed. I ate it up.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Got Milk?

I went shopping at Target tonight with my mom, sister and nephew. B was tired and cranky so my mom got out his bottle and gave it to him. He drank a couple of sips and then handed it back. My mom took the bottle, turned it on its side and intentionally sprayed me with it, dousing the whole right arm of my new sweater. The new sweater that now smells like rotten whole milk. Confused I asked, "Why?!?!"

She stifled her giggle, tried to pretend it was an accident. "Oops! Sorry about that!" But it was no accident. My sister told her not to pretend it was an accident and we all started moving towards the registers again as I did my best to brush off the milk. But it left me wondering, why did she do this again? This makes the third time she has sprayed me with B's milk. This also makes the third time I got mad about it and the third time she tried to pretend it was an accident. What is it about her feeling the need to spray me with stuff? Granted, between milk and the household chemicals of my youth... I'll take the milk. But still... why anything at all? And why only me?

Earlier today I overheard her talking to my dad and sister while I was making dinner and she referred to me as "Em" as in "Em's making dinner." I have never heard her refer to me as anything but Emily before and was shocked to hear her use the nickname in such a casual manner.

I don't think the two incidents are related. I do think I'm surrounded by crazy.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Little Pill = Big Problem

Meet Zolpidem. It's otherwise known as Ambien. This is a picture of a 10mg pill. It's tiny. On the label is says to take only one at bed time immediately following a meal and that it's not to be mixed with alcohol. It says that right on the label. Any website will tell you it shouldn't be used for more than a month and warns of very serious side effects. Extremely serious not-to-be-messed-with side effects.

But she takes it lightly. She'll swallow 8-11 of them in one go. She's found receipts in her car proving that she drove while she was sleep walking while on this stuff. She chases it with alcohol, calls me with panic in her voice, begs me to come retrieve her. Her pulse gets so low I dial the first two numbers for the paramedics and then stop because she's moving again. She had a good month or so, seemed to be on the mend. We had scoured her condo while she was away, removed all substances not prescribed by a doctor and took the rest of the Ambien which was prescribed by her doctor.

She's doing well. Then relapses. She calls, asks me to retrieve her. She calls again while I'm on the road and asks me if I have any drugs for her. I curse at her and hang up. I pick her up. She smells like the inside of a liquor cabinet. She has packed items for an overnight stay but isn't wearing any shoes. She didn't pack any either. She struggles with the seatbelt and I reach over and buckle her in. I stop on the way to buy her water. I'm careful to bring my purse with me so she won't find and swallow any of the pills I keep in my bag. She passes out on the patio and we leave her there. We let her sleep on the cold pavement. Finally she rises and stumbles into the house and asks a million questions. But answering them is fruitless. She will just ask them again. Her eyes are open but she's not awake. Or maybe she's awake but still drunk. It's hard to tell. She doesn't know why she's there, doesn't remember how she got there. She just remembers swallowing pills and wine so she wouldn't have to think.

But we're all thinking. We're all thinking we're done. She needs help and it's not the kind of help that we can give. We researched rehabilitation options for her. We found phone numbers she can call and they're not ours. I feel horrible because I love her. I want to help her. But I don't think she wants it. So I'm backing off. This will be the last batch I flush.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The Reality of Fall


One of the best perks of being a teacher is that thing known as Summer. Therefore, one of the most difficult times in a teacher's life is that thing known as Fall. Because that's what it is. A giant fall. It's super exciting because it's fun to get a classroom all set up for new students and I'm just as excited and anxious for the first day of school now as I was when I was an elementary student myself. There's something awesome and magical about new beginnings. But that wears off pretty quickly. A little too quickly. By week two I was ready for summer again. Wonderful summer with his flip flops, Slurpees and random no-need-for-a-plan adventures.

This fall has been particularly stressful and it's presenting itself in the form of an eye twitch. My right eye won't stop twitching and I really can't think of a thing to do about it. Headaches can be killed with Tylenol. Sleeplessness with some time and relaxing music. Nausea with some water and saltines. But what can you do about an eye twitch? It's hard to hide something pulsating on your face. And while nobody has said anything about it yet, I'm pretty sure it's visually obvious. Hot.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Summer 2009 Part 2

Summer's over. I get that. I really, really get that. So let me recap the 2nd half of what was.

I went to the Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium with my parents.
We took B to KidsQuest Children's Museum in Bellevue, WA and ended up buying him a membership mostly because he loved driving this semi truck so much.
Some friends and I took B to the Olympic Game Farm. You drive around in your own car and these awesome animals come right up to your car... mostly because you're allowed to feed them and animals really like to eat.
On the way to the Olympic Game Farm we stopped at Fat Smitty's.
My sister, mom and I took B to the park. This is where we ended up having his first birthday party in September.
My parents and I took B to Woodland Park Zoo. He really liked the elephants.
Wesley, Tracy and I (and a few others) went to Northwest Trek together. There's a tram ride for the herbivores that roam free(ish) and then the carnivores are in more typical zoo enclosures.
My sister, David and I took B to the Seattle Children's Museum where David used to work. Obviously B had the best time ever.

I played with B a lot this summer. I love this kid!

Wesley and I went to the Torchlight Parade. I hate clowns. But this one I almost liked. Almost.

Wesley and I went to Experience Music Project because this Muppet exhibit was there for a while. It was totally worth the trip. Mahna Mahna!

My sister and David invited the rest of us to their friend's cabin on Panther Lake. We swam in the lake and had a picnic together.

Tracy's family, Wesley, Fran and I packed some food, tents and pups for a camping trip to Ocean Shores. I had never been before. The weather was beautiful. I love the ocean. And these people.

Fran, Tracy and I on the beach. This was day 3. Don't judge me. :)

My pups loved running in the sand! But they weren't a huge fan of waves.

Overall, summer was wonderful! Dad finished chemo by mid July so by early August he was feeling well enough to join us on some adventures. B turned 1 in September, my grandfather turned 98 and school began. But more on that later...

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Summer 2009 Part 1

It’s been a while since I’ve graced my blog and its worshippers with my presence. It’s summer and I’ve been doing the very best I can to keep myself occupied, working hard to maintain the peace and happiness I’ve been feeling. I’m strangely optimistic and light hearted. I laugh easily again. I believe some of this to be a direct result of jump starting my summer vacation with a road trip to Disneyland with some coworker friends. You know how I feel about Disneyland. It’s the happiest place on earth. Obviously.

Counting down to the trip helped keep me sane as I wrapped up a twisted first year at my new school. Not only did I have two dozen IEPs to finish but I also had to pack up my whole classroom for the move to our temporary location. Packing up an LRC classroom is a dirty work. If it wasn’t for my awesome para-educators and a few coworker friends willing to work for pizza and the likelihood of seeing me freak out at every spider that popped up behind abookshelf I’d probably still be there with a tape gun and tears. But they were there and they’re good humans so I got out of there, all checked out and in the car on my way to Disneyland by 4pm on the last day of school.

Knowing that chemotherapy is mean, I understood that much of my summer would be spent with my dad. So I did all I could to live it up on my Disney trip with my friends. All four of us crammed into my little Toyota Yaris and made our way down the coast. We laughed and played and spoke of nothing serious or of great consequence. I turned into the little kid I always do at Disneyland, skipping through the park, throwing my hands up on Space Mountain and The Tower of Terror and eating and drinking whatever I wanted whenever I wanted it. I used my Disney magic to persuade my friends to pose for silly pictures and ride rides they swore they wouldn’t. It was for their own good. On the way home we stopped at an historical site, got lost in the desert and continued our play as we got nearer and nearer to reality.

Once I got home I got right to work. I tried to catch up on my sleep between taking my dad to his appointments, watching B and playing with my puppies before repacking my bags for my next adventure.

On the 2nd, my brother and I drove up to Lopez Island with Sarah and Ben for their annual 4th of July family get together. This one was a little different because we were celebrating the end of season one of our own version of the Biggest Loser. My brother is down 40 pounds since January. I’m down 25. The whole gang looked great for our 4th of July getaway. The 4th of July is awesome on Lopez. The island is inhabited by an unique population mostly made up of tree hugging hippies. Which I love.

The island has a parade each year and anybody (and I mean anybody) can join the parade doing anything they want. You’ve got random people just riding their bikes or driving their common cars. There was a group of young teenage boys driving a variety of riding lawnmowers. One kid doused another with water. That kid jumped off his riding lawnmower to get his buddy back but the lawnmower kept going without him. I didn’t notice it at all until I heard the screams. I looked ahead to see little Daniel (6) disappear under the mower. In a state of panic and, with the machine still rolling, I put my body in front of the mower somehow thinking that was the helpful thing to do. But it was bigger and heavier than me so the machine won the match, taking a bit of my flesh with it. Although, I didn’t notice it at the time. I, like everybody else, was just worried about Daniel who was now being carefully cradled in his father’s arms. An ambulance was called. Daniel was put on a stretcher and hoisted up into the back while other family members gathered Daniels siblings. They convinced me to get in as well when somebody noticed my foot. So there we were. In an ambulance. On an island. In a parade. Even with the lights and sirens going, of course we were mistaken as part of the event. We were on a parade route. Kids waved from the sidelines and I feebly waved in return while making several anxious looks back to check on Daniel. I couldn’t hear much over the roar of the engine and the blare of the sirens but I heard snippets of plans to call a helicopter to take him to Anacortes. I kept glancing back and sighed a deep sigh of relief as I saw him move his legs and arms. We made our way to the clinic which was pretty much just one room with two hospital beds. The doctor who was originally thought to be away from the island was still on Lopez and made his way through the crowds to the clinic.

After many basic tests (there’s no MRI or CT scanner or anything on the island) it turned out that Daniel was fine. No broken bones. No brain injury. No internal bleeding. Not even really a cut. Seriously. He was fine. Kids are awesome! His t-shirt has a fat tire tread mark across the back and yet… he was fine. The helicopter was cancelled and Daniel was released back into the wild. What a blessing!

My toes were cut up a bit but nothing at all serious. I’ve damaged myself more severely by tripping on my own feet. But since the beast was rusty and because I couldn’t remember the last time I had a tetanus shot I was given one. Those things hurt!

So out of my first 14 days of summer, a little more than 10 of them were spent away from home, (for the most part) delightfully distracted.

There has also been a Mariners game, a trip to the zoo and a drive out to the tip of the peninsula for the Lavender Festival and a few movies. This Friday we’re going to the zoo again (my family all bought memberships). Saturday some friends are going to the Torchlight Parade. Next week we’re going camping at Ocean Shores for a few days.

I’m confident it's these mini trips that are keeping me so content despite the stuff in between which have included new “masses” discovered on my dad’s eye, lots of doctor visits for him, a trip to the ER for my sister and my hot water heater exploding forcing me to fork over the money I had saved for new flooring. But new flooring doesn’t really matter. I have a place to live. At least I have a floor. My dad’s going to be okay. My sister is okay. And I'm happy. The rest doesn’t really matter.

Friday, June 12, 2009

It's My Blog & I Can Cry If I Want To

Last night around 3:15am I awoke to a crash and the sound of shattering glass, loud voices and the thud of a body being thrown against my exterior wall.  I laid there for a moment listening thinking maybe I was just having a nightmare.  But I was definitely awake and the noises persisted.  Domestic Violence issue?  I reached for my cell phone and dialed the 9 and the 1 then stopped.  I listened some more.  Well... maybe not.  Maybe I'm jumping to conclusions.  Should I get up and investigate?  Offer help?  I'm all alone and what if I find myself in a scary situation?  But on the other  hand I don't want to call the police, have them come out here for nothing.  I'd look like a loser.  An overreacting loser.  I'd better investigate.  I found my robe and armed myself with my keys and cell phone.  I kept the 9 and the 1 dialed.  I slowly opened my door and walked in the direction of the clatter.  

I smelt her before I saw her.  She must have bathed in the alcohol before she drank it.  She could barely stand and in the few moments we shared space together before she knew I was there I witnessed her run into my exterior wall twice because she couldn't stand upright any more without support.  In her hands were pieces of what used to be a stack of picture frames.  The rest of the metal and glass were scattered in a million shards on the floor.

"Um, excuse me?"

I watched the older woman turn and try to focus her blood shot eyes on me.  "What?!"

"I... uh... I was just wondering if you were okay.  I heard a crash and some loud voices.  Are you okay?"

"I'm fine." She turned a few wobbly circles, put down the frame shards she was holding and then picked them up again.  "I'm just moving out.  Gotta move out, you know."

"That's good that you're okay.  Is everybody fine?  Is everybody you live with okay?  It sounded like somebody got hurt."

"No, nobody got hurt.  But somebody's gonna get hurt on this glass here."

"Yes, I see that.  Do you need a broom maybe?"

"For what?"  She looked down at her hands and the floor seemingly surprised to see the broken glass.  "Yeah... I do."

"Do you have one?  You're welcome to borrow mine."

"No, I don't need it.  Just need to sweep this up so nobody gets cut."

"OK.  So you have a broom?"

"What?  Pick up some of that glass there and hand it to me."

I did as I was told.  I wasn't wearing shoes and I felt a piece of glass enter the bottom of my foot and I remembered that it was almost 3:30am and I was talking to a crazy drunk lady outside my condo.

"Sure you don't want a broom?"

"Of course I do!"

"OK.  Do you want to borrow mine?"

"If you've got it."

I went into my condo and retrieved a broom and dust pan.  "Here you go.  Do you want a garbage bag as well?"

"No... just gonna sweep this up."

"Right... but do you want a garbage bag to put it in?"

She looked in my direction, her gaze still unsteady.  "No!  I'm just gonna sweep it up!"

"OK.  Need any other help?"

"Nope, just moving out."

"Um... did you realize that it's 3:30am?  The crash woke me up and I..."

She swung around almost losing her balance and finally looked me right in the eye.  "You have dogs!!"

"Yes, I understand this.  I'm not accusing you of breaking rules.  I'm not calling the cops or anything here."  I put my phone in my pocket.  "I was just hoping that you could be a little quieter.  I have to be up in a few hours for work and..."

"I know about your dogs!"

"Yes... I know.  You sound defensive and I'm not trying to make you upset.  I just wanted to be sure you were all safe because it sounded like an emergency.  When there's noise like this in the middle of the night people assume the worst."

"We're fine!"  And with that she did the drunken shuffle until she was out of sight.

I went back to bed and tried to ignore the rest of the her "moving" but couldn't quite get back to sleep.  It was my second night in a row with less than three hours' sleep.  I can't go on like this.

I tossed and turned like I have for several nights now.  I was thinking about the crazy drunken lady and whether, since I was up anyhow, I should help her move.  And I was thinking about earlier that day when we got the good news.

My dad passed his final endurance test and his heart is officially strong enough to withstand the surgery that can potentially remove the entire tumor and save his life.  We went to Applebee's to celebrate and my dad had a terrible episode.  

He couldn't breathe and then he could and then he thought he would throw up and then he did and then he left to walk outside and we all contemplated calling 911 as we continued to watch his struggle through the glass.  I cleaned up his space and wondered what they could possibly do for him that his three teams of doctors had not yet thought of.  My mom finally got up and said she was taking him home.  She asked who she should call if he got worse and my sister and I both said, "9-1-1" at the same time.  She looked flustered as she left the restaurant and retrieved my dad.  

My sister grabbed the bill, I finished cleaning up his mess then went to the restroom where I immediately began to cry.  I chastised myself for being weak, dried my eyes so my sister and David wouldn't know I had let some tears fall and walked back out there.  I said my goodbyes, flew my nephew around the parking lot, buckled him into his car seat and kissed his cheeks before walking to my own car across the lot.

I got in my car, plugged in my iPod but didn't turn it on.  I reached for my phone and started on a few different numbers before I put it back in my purse without hitting send.  What could anyone say?  "Sorry you had a rough night?"  "It's going to be okay?"

I cried alone and became angry with myself for doubting, for being worried.  He'll get through chemo.  He'll have the surgery.  They'll get it all.  He'll be okay.  

So go to sleep...

Monday, June 01, 2009

6th Grade

Today during lunch recess I went outside as I have for the last week or so because the weather is all beautiful and sunny and warm.  And because I like to tease Fran and Tracy.  One of the little girls hanging on Tracy looked up at me and said, "What class are you in?"  I didn't understand her.  I thought maybe she was wondering what classroom I taught in?  So I asked, "What do you mean?"  She got all wide-eyed and said to Tracy in a whisper, "Oops!  I thought she was a 6th grader!"

Later today during afternoon recess I was outside again because the weather is all beautiful and sunny and warm.   And because I like to tease Fran and Tracy.  I had my cell phone out and one of the little girls hanging on Fran tattled on me, "Oooooh!  She has a cell phone!"  Fran told her that I was off duty so I was allowed to.  She said, "Oh!  She's a teacher?  I thought she was a 6th grader!" 

Seriously?  It's June!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Good News


Our family got some good news today.  It seems as though my dad may be a candidate for surgery after all.  

Just two weeks ago we found out my dad has cancer.  The news came out of nowhere.  He had been having trouble swallowing so he went in for an endoscopy.  The doctor found the cause of the problem, a large tumor right where the esophagus meets the stomach.  They ran a biopsy on the tumor and the next day we learned it was cancerous.  Without treatment we were looking at six months.  Thank goodness it's 2009 and treatment, although not glorious, is available.

Because my dad had that awesome near-death heart attack a few years back the doctors were initially thinking he would not be a good candidate for option A which would be surgically removing the tumor as well as part of his esophagus and reconstructing that part of the stomach.  This would remove the cancer pretty much completely and would subject him to minimal radiation and chemotherapy.  But my dad's heart is weak, he has the pace maker and he's on daily blood thinners that keeps his heart from... you know... stopping.  Blood thinners equals bad when you're facing a scalpel. 

So we were heading for option B which includes extensive radiation, chemotherapy and hope that it shrinks the tumor and keeps it from spreading.

But after what seems like a hundred additional tests and numerous appointments with doctors, it seems like surgery might work out after all.  His heart is stronger than they thought and a risk of a clot is not as significant a risk as feared.  He still has several appointments and maybe one more test to endure before surgery can be scheduled.  And surgery is no picnic either.  It would be a seven hour surgery with at least ten days in the hospital.  But the doctors are very hopeful of a full recovery afterwards.  

And although I have been doing my best to be optimistic all along and to have faith that my dad would be around to watch his grandson play little league and watch me become more than I am now, I was scared.  Really, really scared.  And... I still am.  We have a long road ahead of us.  But... I get to enjoy a new brand of hope now.  And it tastes really good.

Thanks for your prayers.  They have provided me with strength I know I wouldn't have had otherwise.  Please keep them coming our way.

Monday, May 25, 2009

AirTran Nightmare

My mom and I went to see my baby brother graduate on Saturday.  It was beautiful and my chest swelled with pride as he walked up to the stage to receive his degree which he earned with high honors.  I was so glad I was able to be there... in Rochester, NY... to see the moment live.  Especially since I paid for it with the last strand of dignity I had left.

Our flight was set to take off at 11:30 PM (PST) on Thursday.  This would take us to Baltimore where we would have a 5 hour delay before our connecting flight to Rochester.  We would land at 2:15 PM (EST) which would leave us plenty of time to get to our hotel, hang with Wayne and get plenty of sleep before his graduation at 8AM the next day.  

We got to the airport early.  By 8:30 we were checked in, through security and at the gate.  At 9:30PM they announced that our flight was canceled due to an "insufficient crew."  I walked up to the counter to ask questions.  I was the third person in line.  They were going to postpone the flight to 7:30AM and transfer all tickets for that flight.  This solved the problem for the 90% of the passengers that were flying just to Baltimore.  But it didn't solve the problem for me.  11:30PM - 7:30AM is more than a 5 hour difference.  We would miss our connecting flight.

Apparently neither of the only two people AirTran sent up to the gate knew how to solve my problem.  Oh, they tried.  They tried really hard.  For almost two hours... in between other customers.  They helped me intermittently between the easier-to-help passengers.  When they finally told me they couldn't help me there and to go down to the check-in desk on the other side of security there were only 6 passengers left.  I went to grab my original boarding passes but the girl, the supervisor, said to leave them there.  She would be down shortly to help me at the other desk... as soon as she helped the rest of the passengers.  I hauled my mother and I down the two sets of escalators, onto the stupid tram thing and back to where we had started over four hours ago.  I waited there for 30 minutes.  The supervisor hadn't shown yet.  The other passengers who also had to go down there to receive their hotel vouchers were all but gone.  I approached the counter thinking somebody else could start working on this problem.  

A girl worked on it for about three minutes before she called another supervisor who wanted to know where my boarding passes were.  He couldn't help me without the boarding passes.  "Can't you just look me up in the computer?  The girl upstairs said to leave them there."  The problem was that he couldn't find me in the computer (a persistent problem).  I suggested he use the walkie talkie attached to his vest for good.  So he jabbered a lot on his walkie talkie to the girl upstairs at the gate and began to sweat.  He told me since it was Memorial Day weekend that all connecting flights to Rochester were booked... actually oversold.  Could we go Saturday and be there by Saturday night?  No, we'd miss everything.  He graduates in the morning.  He sighed.  He thought that maybe he could help.  Maybe.  But he couldn't do anything that night because "Ticketing" was closed and wouldn't reopen until 5AM.  It was almost 1AM so I asked for a hotel voucher and said we'd be back at 5AM.  He said they were all out and walked away.  So, while I was standing at counters for four plus hours not getting help, everybody else walked away with vouchers for a free bed to sleep in.  Awesome.  

My mom and I found a patch of crappy carpet and set up camp for the night.  It was horribly uncomfortable and I "slept" for maybe an hour combined between blinks.  At a quarter to 5, my mom and I went back to the counter where I gave the completely new crew my name and a brief description of the issue at hand.  The guy at the counter said the problem had been fixed and handed me my tickets.  I looked at them.  There was a flight to Baltimore leaving at 7:30 as planned and a flight to Rochester.  Yippee!!

My mom and I went through security again and made the trek to our gate.  By 5:30AM we were sitting at our gate waiting for our 7:30 departure.  Which was now an 8AM departure for unknown reasons.  The guy that had helped us last night was there and he came up to us and asked if we had received our tickets.  I said we had (obviously because we were at the gate and not crying) and thanked him.  Prefusely.  Because we were going to make it in time after all.  He smiled and walked away.

I looked at our tickets again, so pleased we had them at all, when I noticed a problem.  Our first leg landed in Baltimore over an hour after our second leg took off.  I looked around.  Not an AirTran worker in sight.  I ran around the gates and finally found somebody.  He looked at them, shrugged, and went into a bag cubby to investigate.   He came out 30 minutes later and pretty much just said, "I don't know.  All flights to Rochester are oversold."  He found another worker who looked about 16 to get on the case.  There was another flight leaving to Atlanta whose customers took priority.  The guy told the girl not to help me until everybody else was taken care of because my problem would take a while and the others' were easy to fix.  By 7:30 when I still hadn't been helped I demanded to see Rudy... the guy that had "fixed" them earlier and came to receive his compliment this morning.  He didn't come.  I saw him on the other side of the terminal talking to other workers.  I pointed at him and did the teacher finger that means, "Get over here right now!"  He Charlie Brown walked over to me.  The plane to Baltimore was boarding.  My flight would be leaving soon.  I demanded that he figure this out immediately because I was going to miss it.  I was going to miss my brother's graduation even after I spent an entire evening standing at AirTran desks not getting helped and sleeping on an airport floor... with my mom!

He suggested I just get on the plane to Baltimore and see what they could do for me there.  I was already on the standby list for that flight.  It was over sold by one and my mom and I were number 3 and 4 on the standby list but sure... maybe 5 people would decide not to use their tickets to Rochester that day.  I told him that there was no way in Hell I was going to fly my mother and myself across the country to Baltimore just to see if maybe five people would randomly ditch their airplane tickets.  I had endured enough and, up to this point, had never raised my voice or become emotional.  He looked at the gate that they were about to close and said, "Get on the plane!  I promise you that I'll call Baltimore... I'll make them get you on that plane!!"  And I did.  I grabbed the luggage, yelled at my mother to follow and we got on the plane.

Our flight to Baltimore landed late and it took longer to unload because the ramp guy couldn't get it lined up right... maybe it was his first day... I dunno.  This left us with 40 minutes before our connecting flight, which we didn't have boarding passes for, was set to take off.  My mom and I ran to the gate and... stood in line.  There was one person manning the counter.  He was arguing with some woman about a seat assignment for a flight that was to leave in four hours.  The time ticked away.  My mom went to the people collecting boarding passes and explained what we needed.  They said to talk to the guy at the counter.  We waited some more.  When the last call had been declared I finally yelled, "That's my flight!  That's my plane and Rudy from Seattle promised us we'd get on it!  It's about to leave and I'm not on it yet!"  The man said not 
to worry and turned to help the woman again... the one that had four hours.  I told him no.  That I was panicking.  He stopped, apologized to the woman who was more irate about a window seat than I was about being ignored for 35 minutes and printed me two boarding passes.  I thanked him and got on the plane.

We made it.  But I was dead inside.  In 72 hours I had slept for a total of 4 hours and had had exactly 2 meals.  I had rescued my mother from security during our first trip through because they had dropped her hearing aides and she started to meltdown.  But we made it.  

We had dinner with Wayne and his friend, took a tour of his boy-smelling apartment and his awesome looking campus and then went to our hotel.  It was almost midnight by then and I got a full five hours of sleep before I had to wake up at 4:30 AM (PST) to attend Wayne's graduation.  The graduation that was beautiful and so worth the torture that led up to it.  Because look at him! 

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Kid You Not

No kidding.  Ichiro Suzuki, Ken Griffey Jr and Mike Sweeney among others came to MCMES Elementary today.

One of our tutors sent a letter to the Mariners months ago and they agreed to set up an assembly.  We all assumed they'd send the Mariner Moose, the team mascot, or maybe a random player and we were excited about that.  But... wow!!  These guys?!?!  Awesome!!!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

This Week in Pictures


I volunteered at our school's Beach Party.  
It was great to be able to just play with the kids without having to be all teachery.

My baby Yaris hit 20,000 miles.


I drove down to Lakewood to have dinner with some past coworkers.  
I had a great time catching up!

I took advantage of another opportunity to see B swim.  Besides my sister and I, my parents came along and so did my Aunt Wanda.  B was in good form that day... obviously.

OK.  Just one more video clip of B for good measure.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Snooze

My nephew seems to be going through some type of incredible growth spurt.  Within one week he went from sitting and cooing to crawling and making human sounds assisted by two brand new teeth.  But I think I'm going through a growth spurt too.  Or something.  I have found myself doing some things that just a few weeks ago was totally out of character for me.  I went to  a huge singles activity even though I didn't know a soul and stayed much longer than even I thought I could last.  I got excited over my recent (boring) purchases that included a vacuum cleaner and interior doors.  I didn't freak out over spending the money on those items either when just a few weeks ago anything over $20 sparked a long internal personal debate.  I told somebody no.  I took a mental health day and don't feel guilty about it.  And... I hit the snooze button now.  I never could before because before I go to bed each night I make a mental list of all the things I need to get done before I walk out the door for work and then I calculate approximately how long it will take me to get those things done and take that number from the last second I could leave the house without being late for work.  I give myself no buffer time.  This forces me to jump out of bed and start running as soon as the alarm blares.  But even though my bedtime tradition hasn't changed I have found the ability to snooze anyway.  I just run faster once it goes off for the second (or third) time.  And I haven't been late for work.  Yet.  Except now that I've taken the time to write this blog... I might be late.  Gotta run!!

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Swimming B


Brayden is in "swimming lessons" at our local pool.  He's in the toddler class for kids 6 months to 3 years old.  He totally loves it!  It's not like he's actually learning to swim or anything... he's 8 months old.  But they throw water in his face and dunk him which doesn't faze him a bit.  They get him used to the feeling of floating on his back and teach him to kick as he's propelled through the water.  He laughs and splashes and doesn't want to get out.  I went to watch him on Tuesday.  David's a swimmer and it was cool to see father and son doing something they love together even at such a young age.  Just wait until he's old enough to start playing catch... :)

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Snaily


This little guy has been hanging around my condo for over a week now.  I've grown accustomed to his shell.  Here's the thing about snails.  They're kind of cute in a completely disgusting kind of way.  But of all the garden pests, the snail is my favorite.  Their cousin, the slug, is intolerably gross.  I get that all the parts are pretty much the same besides the fact that the snail carries his own house.  In any case, Snaily has been in the little garden space in front of my bedroom window.  And I'm okay with him staying.  But cute-ish or not I'd rather he'd go.  Because I'm pretty sure he's the one eating holes in the flowers.  Also, I almost stepped on him today and that would have been icky.

Monday, April 27, 2009

From Flakes to Fantastic

Last night I had a dream that all my skin was shedding off as if after a moderate sunburn (but without the pain of a sunburn).  It was just flaking away.  After the initial shock and slight panic, I started to help it along and discovered that underneath was new, beautiful, soft, preteen-before-the-acne skin that almost glowed.  So I worked harder.  And before the dream was over I was looking good!

This dream could mean one of two things:
1.  Something very good is coming up just around the corner
2.  I really need to think about applying sunscreen every day  

Monday, April 20, 2009

Friday, April 17, 2009

Work

I really wish I could write about work on this thing because I think you may all find me a lot more interesting.  But probably not.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Happy

Everything has been crappy lately.  So I'm trying really hard to find things that are good.  Here are a few things that have made me happy this week.  

One of them is this.  There's just something about watching a woman's dream come true paired with shocking a large number of doubters that makes my chest swell with feelings of triumph. 

Another happy is this.  Mariner baseball.  But not just any Mariner baseball.  Good Mariner baseball!  I'm going to the game tomorrow night.  I'm hoping to see some Griffey magic and a win.  But if not... just the ballpark hotdog in a ballpark will be worth the ticket price! 

Also, no matter how crappy my day is my puppies love me.  When I come home they're so happy to see me that they jump up and down, run circles around me and give me puppy kisses.  It's hard to be sad when there are two dogs that happy that you're alive and came back for them.

I am convinced that Spring has finally arrived.  The tree outside my balcony that has looked like a giant dead twig the entire time I have lived here suddenly burst into pink.  The sun came out again this afternoon.
I think I'm going to be okay.  :)

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Easter 2009

This is my new favorite picture of B for obvious reasons.  I feel that my sister owes me a great deal for capturing this moment.  

Easter went better than expected.  Although I don't really know what I was expecting.  These people are hard to read.  

We had brunch at my sister's before we let B chew on his Easter basket which, quite frankly, was pretty fun to watch.

I went to church and experienced the most... unique?... Easter program yet.  To keep myself from deep sighing I did some journaling and scripture reading.  It was for the best.  

I went to my parents' house for dinner which consisted of a small bowl of plain spaghetti.  After which I helped them figure out how to post and print pictures of B.  Now that everybody's life seems to be centered around buying B presents, spending time with B, documenting B's life, talking about B and making B happy... the old family dramas have kind of melted away.  I'm glad about this.  Obviously.  But are they really gone or are they just lying dormant?  I can't decide if I should be running through the meadow while the credits roll or if I should be running for cover.  Either way there's going to be running.  If the weather's good I'll run forever.  It rained in a downpour all day today.

Monday, April 06, 2009

What's a girl gotta do to get a Coke in this town?




Today I had to go to the district office during my lunch break to turn in some important paperwork.  I understood that I would be going without lunch.  But, you know what?  That was going to be okay as long as I could grab a Diet Coke before I had to be in front of a group of 6th graders at 1pm.  A Diet Coke would see me through.  So I stopped at the Shell station.  I looked around and around but I didn't see a soda fountain.  I asked the lady where it was and she said they didn't have one.  Seriously.  No soda fountain.  At a gas station.  

So I ran back out to my car and drove to the Mini Mart that I could see from the Shell station.  I ran in, looked around and saw only porno magazines and videos and a small fridge of bottled beverages.  I understood right away that they weren't selling what I needed and jumped back in my car feeling a bit defeated and entirely violated.  Since when did "Mini Mart" mean "Nasty Naked Times" anyway?  I shook it off.  I was on a mission.  No time to analyze what just happened in there.  

I could see a 76.  Certainly they would have what I needed minus the gross.  I parked in a no parking zone (leave me alone... I was running out of time!) and ran inside.  I looked and looked.  I was not seeing the soda fountain that had to be there!  The lady was chatting with a friend.  I waited politely.  But only for about 5 seconds before I said, "Where's the soda fountain?  I need a Diet Coke!  Quick!"  She said they didn't have one.  I said, "What do you mean you don't have one?  Seriously?!  You're a gas station!  What gas station doesn't have a soda fountain?  Apparently every station and mini mart on this street is conspiring against soda drinkers!  Where can I get a Diet Coke?  Where?  Where??  Where?!?!"  Once she got over the initial shock of an adult throwing a tantrum over a soda, she pointed across the street at a purple building and said there was a place called Andy's across the street from there... that I couldn't miss it.  

I ran to my car and made my way to Andy's.  I love Andy's.  Sure, they had three cup sizes and only two lid sizes and the size I wanted was sold out which forced me into buying a cup of soda larger than my head but you know what?  I was okay with that.  Andy's my new best friend.

Once I had my soda and was back in my car cradling the giant cup between my legs (there seriously isn't a cup holder big enough for this thing) I looked at the clock.  12:50.  I turned on my GPS and started making my way back to work. 

I'm the only person I know stupid enough to get lost while using a GPS.  OK, I'm the only person I know stupid enough to get lost using a GPS in a town she's been working in for eight months.  Despite missing my exit and having to backtrack twice, I still made it back by 12:59.  Ah... the power of the Diet Coke.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Turbulence

My flight from SLC to SEA was pure carnage.  There were at least two dozen children on that flight under the age of 2.  Almost all of them were at the back of the plane where I also happened to be located, seated next to a 7th grade girl very excited about life.  She was delightful and full of questions about how airplanes work which I just happened to know the answers to which made me feel like a scientific genius.  Which is awesome.  Because I'm not.  I'm really, really not.  But I did know why the flaps on the wings go up and down, what that whirring sound was, how the de-icer crap works, why we get turbulence and how it affects (effects??) cabin pressure, the inner ear (especially the inner ears of the two dozen now screaming children under the age of 2) and the stomachs of at least two of our fellow passengers.  I know things.

I also appreciated the fact that she was much smarter than the guy I encountered several years ago on the same trek from SLC to SEA.  He was tall, thin, smelled of marijuana and wore army fatigues and an unkept beard.  He laughed and asked similar questions that my little friend asked today.  One of them was, "Do you ever... like... wonder about what... like... stuff like clouds are made of?"  Actually... clouds are evaporated water.  "Hu hu-hu.  Hu... wow... wouldn't it be awesome if that were true??"  It is true.  Water evaporates into the air and collects together in a gaseous state that we see as a cloud.  Then when it becomes dense enough it falls again as water which we call rain.  "Hu hu... Hu!  Woah!!  That would be awesome!"  I was going to explain it better but I realized this last comment wasn't directed towards me.  It was directed towards his top button.  

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Sigh.

My first instinct is to call this woman stupid and laugh.  OK.  I did call this woman stupid and laugh.  But I shouldn't have.  Because I have no room to talk.  Remember this?

WEDNESDAY, MAY 26, 2004

Dude, Where's My Car?

Sunday Afternoon

Villa Parking Lot

Chris, Ann-Marie and I walk out to the parking lot to attend the Deaf Ward. I lead the group to the spot where I always park my car. Except... it's not there. "What the crap? Where's my car?"

Thinking that maybe I'm just an idiot and parked my car some place else in the lot, we started wandering around looking for it. But it wasn't there. I thought that maybe somebody was just playing a prank on me and moved it. I mean, I did steal Ramos' car last year. A couple times. And moved it to make him crazy. I had it coming. So we looked around the entire Villa parking lot. No car. Ann-Marie and Chris went to my place to listen to Kat laugh about it. I went to Provo High School and the Seminary building with Lisa to see if it was over there. It wasn't.

By now, an hour has passed and there's still zero sign of my car. And I don't know anybody who would play a prank like that any more. I mean, I only know my parents. And so I came back to the apartment. A small crowd had gathered there because somebody losing a car is entertaining and new. Who loses a car? It's not like I lost the keys. I lost the whole freaking car! What's left to do? It's been an hour. I can't find it. I guess it's stolen. I don't know who in their right mind would steal my car but it's the only other thing I can think of. So, I called the police.

And they hung up on me.

So I called back.

And I reported it missing.

"I'll send an officer over."

"Okay," I said.

And I waited. The people talked and laughed about funny mission stories. I laid on the big yellow ball of happiness, sprawled over it on my back. And I just thought as I waited for the officer to arrive.

I thought about my checkbook balance. And about how I needed to repaint my toenails. And about how much I disliked police officers. And about how the school year was almost over. And about how I should probably visit my family at some point. And about how lame yesterday was because I had to be at work on a Saturday at 7am...

I shot up! I gasped! "It's at WORK!!!" I yelled. "It's at work because I had to be there at 7:30am and then I carpooled up to Salt Lake for that convention thingy but I got out an hour early and so YOU drove me home!" I pointed accusingly at Kat. The room was silent only for a split second before the laughter and mocking started. Yes, I am an idiot. I didn't forget that I parked my car a few slots away than usual... but a few blocks away from usual.

And so I called the police back.

"Hi, I'm Emily Hansen and I just reported my car stolen. But I just had an epiphany and... it's not."

"Okay, we'll cancel the call."

"Thanks."

And that was it. 

SLC

I'm in Salt Lake City this week and my heart is happy.  I hate the snow and I'm not a big fan of the whole desert but... man!... I love these people!!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Tear Free

I need to cry.  I have that tight feeling in my chest matched with the mild but ever-present headache residing at the nape of the neck and mid-forehead as well as the burning eyes and tight throat.  It's like when you need to sneeze and even though you don't really want to sneeze, it's way better than holding it in and it's kind of upsetting if it never comes because... man... you needed that release.  Just like that dumb volcano in Alaska that everybody's been freaking out about because it's going to blow at any moment and then it didn't for weeks and weeks.  Then finally it gave a few puffs over a few days and that was it.  How disappointing.  And I'm disappointed.  Because all of the signs are there but I just can't cry.  No release.  I have reasons to cry.  I'm upset about them.  I'm sad about them.  I'm kind of mad about them.  But there's no release.  Maybe I put it off for too long.  No time to cry now, much too busy!  I can't cry yet, the trial's not even over yet.  I can't cry now, people will know.  And now after all that waiting, I can't cry at all.  I put on my sad songs, took in the crap, processed the garbage and feel I understand my predicament.  It's not awesome.  But even with that... no tears.  And now that I've typed this... I'm kind of over it.  Kind of.

P.S.  I just got a call that I have to pick up my mom.  Nope... still nothin'.  :)

Expired

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Run!

There are two types of runners.  

There are the runners that run for the joy of running, hope and exploration.  

Then there are the runners that run to escape pain either real, perceived or potential.  

As much as I wish I were type A, I think we all know that I'm the latter.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Albuquerque




















Also, this particular episode is one of my favorites.  I'm just saying.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Random Facts

I dyed my hair.  It's dark.
I'm totally pumped that Griffey is back and equally bummed that Opening Night is sold out.
My mom gave me poster board to make my brother a welcome home sign.  He doesn't come home until MAY!
The woman who did my makeup at Dior has twin girls who are named Paris and Dior.  No joke.  I promise never to name any children after my place of business.  There will be no future
 McMickens running around unless I open up my own McDonald's and name a new sandwich.  Or maybe McMickens would be bite-sized Chicken McNuggets.
I had a shopping day with Kari and it was awesome!
A kid I used to pick up in nursery when I was like twelve showed up in my single's ward today.   I smiled, shook his hand and welcomed him but I cried a little bit inside.  When did I get so old?
I watch TV with the Closed Caption on even when Wayne's not here.  Partly because I feel like I miss something when it's not on and partly because I don't know how to turn it off.
I only have one week left before Spring Break and I am so very excited!  I'm not, however, excited about the mountain of paperwork I have to get in beforehand.
But after the paperwork?  Only awesomeness!  I have already burned a few books on CD for the road trip down to Utah.  I can't wait to see My Loves again!!