Friday, October 30, 2009

A Year Ago A Year Later

I dressed T up as some kind of football player (or was it the year of the ninja?) and we celebrated Halloween with my sister, her kids, our friend D visiting from Seattle.

I spent the better part of the month writing depositions, compiling evidence.

I went to court with the kid's dad the last time. I mean, it's probably not the last time, but it was, nonetheless, the last time he took me there.

I watched my dear friends made the difficult decision to take bone marrow from one son to save the other.

I was fresh off learning (again) that trust is elusive and slippery and love bites. That sometimes telling the truth is more difficult than avoidance.

I realized once and for all, that we are all, in fact, mortal.

I signed up to be a part of a cycling team.

I gathered up my closest friends and hunkered down, as if to protect myself from further disappointment.

I sat on Scooter's counter and drank his wine.
I sat on Scooter's counter and laughed.

I sat on Keri's couch and drank her wine.
I sat on Keri's couch and laughed.

I rode my bike more than ever before; in the living room, the basement, my bedroom, the gym, outside.

I pedaled until my mind stopped completely.
I found it usually took more than 25 miles.

I convinced myself every single day before bed that I would not die of a heart attack, even though deep in my guts I thought I would die of a heart attack.

I learned that those are called anxiety attacks, not heart attacks.

I kicked the bag at kickboxing so hard a 300 pound man peered around the bag and told me he was scared, wondered if I had an anger problem.

I probably had an anger problem.

I worked.

I slept.
I napped.
I slept.
I napped.

I drove my kid to and fro, although, little did I know, that to and fro had nothing on THIS to and fro.

A year.
Reluctant. Triumphant. Awful. Tragic. Hopeful. Endings. Beginnings. Life.

A Year Later:
I am less broken, more aware, and yet scarred.

I continually marvel at the freedom forgiveness brings.

I vow to never, ever forget the crazy tenacity of a child fighting for his life, his never asking once, why?

I ponder my friendship with his parents, wonder if they know I am a better, more equipped, grateful human for their journey.

I am aghast to look back at all that history and hurt and confusion I waded through in that month and marvel that love and hope did and will eventually creep back through the slats of a broken, cobbled together heart.

I am grateful my heart stopped beating like that, for the most part.

I am back to riding and loving my bike.

I have no idea what the kid's costume will be...again.

I face another year, it hiding under some mask.
Last year's costume is forever handed down, suddenly too small, exposed... we move on, with slight trepidation at what's behind this year's mask.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Just Breathe

By Pearl Jam:

Yes I understand
That every life must end
As we sit alone
I know someday we must go

Oh I'm a lucky man
To count on both hands
The ones I love
Some folks just have one
Yeah others they got none

Stay with me
Let's just breathe

Practiced on our sins
Never gonna let me win
Under everything
Just another human being

I don't want to hurt
There's so much in this world
to make me believe

Stay with me
All I see

Did I say that I need you?
Did I say that I want you?
What if I did and I'm a fool you see
No one knows this more than me
'cause I come clean

I wonder everyday
As I look upon your face
Everything you gave
And nothing you would take
Nothing you would take
Everything you gave

Did I say that I need you?
Did I say that I want you?
What if I did and I'm a fool you see
No one knows this more than me
I come clean

Nothing you would take
Everything you gave
Hold me till I die
Meet you on the other side

Monday, October 26, 2009

Bike Related Mayhem

Race Across the Sky

Great flick, worth the cash money, and gearing up for an encore performance November 12.

You should check ***him*** out (well worth the admission price to drool over this fine specimen of a man):

***Day of the Dead: Nine Circles of Hellingham

My Bellingham people, doing another alley cat. Those of you in that vicinity (or with a bit of traveling on the brain) check it out:

Homey Fall Fest:

Annnd, last but not least, a Minny 'Cat some of my Evil cronies covet. Check it:

Thursday, October 22, 2009

T Says...

Football ended Tuesday with an eating frenzy at one of the town's best places of gluttony: a buffet. The coaches were emotional and yet, I think relieved to see them go. Undefeated in regular play and a heartbreaking loss in the playoffs, half the team too sick with H1N1 to play.

Basketball started Wednesday, which is, of course, a whole other story. But after the party Tuesday night, we realized the kid probably needed basketball shoes for the basketball try out, which was the following day.

No rest for the weary around these parts.

We find the shoes, run into a couple of T's friends doing the same thing while we are there, which always makes me feel good: even the married people wait until the last minute and flounder from time to time!

As we are leaving I notice that there is a sale of work type clothes in one of the little visited department stores. Much to T's chagrin, we stop to look. Given that my current pair of work pants is splattered with spaghetti sauce, little lint balls on the butt, and is nearly two inches too short, we stop and I find a couple inexpensive pairs, hold one up for further investigation.

T says: And exactly who are THOSE pants for, momma, Shaq?

We left then, went home to watch the Biggest Loser.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Letting In

Complaining about anything, holds you in the place of refusing to receive the things you've been asking for.

Justifying about anything holds you in the place of refusing to let in the very things that you've been asking for.

Blaming someone, holds you in the place of refusing to let in the things that you've been asking for.

Feeling guilty, feeling angry, it doesn't matter what you call it, it is a refusal, not a conscious one.

You're asking; you can't help but ask.

The Universe is yielding; it must yield.

It's a big question, folks: why aren't you letting it in?


Thursday, October 15, 2009

Broken but Better

Tyler and I returned to our car from dinner with friends the other night to find this.

We left our dogs in their little space in the back of our station wagon, as we have hundreds of times. Except for whatever reason, this time, they decided they needed out. They tore to shreds the seats until they were both able to squeeze under the grate, and when we came outside there was one dog sitting there, in each of the front seats.

T and I laughed our butts off at the two of them sitting there, like virtual driver and passenger, driving down the road together; until it registered to both of us simultaneously that somehow they'd escaped and likely it wasn't going to be pretty.

As these sorts of messes go, it wasn't pretty.

In addition to the damage pictured above, one dog chewed through the passenger seat belt, and little toe marks now adorn the upholstery on the front seats, console, and near the windows.

T stood by my side, laughter suddenly curtailed and mouth hanging open, and then quickly tried to rally the dogs back in his command as they jumped from the car and scattered in opposite directions to hide.

This was one in a string of unexpected mishaps of the past few weeks, this one, with noticeable outside damage, the others, seemingly, matters of the heart for both T and me: trust, learning, anxiety, forgiveness, friendship, anger, moving on.

I have been vocal about each of them, in different ways, and I have also taken a lot of time to sit alone to reflect and actually feel each moment, no matter how uncomfortable, for what it is.

I've learned: we shy from sharing our vulnerable moments and yet this is when reaching out is the right thing to do. By virtue of our sharing we simultaneously allow others' lights to shine in ways we likely never dreamed possible.

The last couple weeks, the smarty pants comments, the laugh elicited at my expense, the not so helpful suggestions, they all became a part of my healing, my moving on, my fabric.

Following the posting of this picture to my Facebook page, admittedly a minuscule, teeny, tiny, minor bump in life's road in the scheme of things, I collected 27 comments, countless emails and lots and lots of text messages, each of them different in their nature, all volunteering to help in some way. Each one floored me, grounded me, brought me to my knees in wonder at my blessings, and a token couple made me laugh so hard I cried.

In the past, during my moments of need I never stopped to peel back and look beneath the ripped carpet in the back seat; the broken pieces of my heart, the crack fissuring just beneath my son's sweet surface, whatever the challenge, and take serious inventory of who showed up.

I also allowed very, very few people to see me weak, vulnerable.

No more.

Because of this swallowing of my proverbial pride, in a pinch or a hurdle or even a major obstacle, I know who will show up.

I have been surprised. In some instances, admittedly, I have been disappointed.

And yet, I can assuredly say, I am blessed beyond measure.

These silly mishaps, life altering challenges, senseless heartaches...plague each and every one of us every single day. It is our reaction to them and our ability to walk through them with the best people, the right people by our sides, that defines us.

If only we allow them to.

Friday, October 9, 2009


Despite shoveling down my throat with absolutely no abandon approximately 57 oreos, drinking too much shitty wine, not enough good wine, exercising exactly zero times, a crying fit over a mountainous zit, a corkscrew curly grey hair sprouting out of the middle of my scalp, and my heart generally feeling like it somehow shattered alternated with the overwhelming feeling that a very overweight man was standing on it, I've managed to dream about flying exactly twice in the past four days.

That is not flying, like on a plane to somewhere cool like Hawaii. This was ME FLYING. In my dreams, like a damned bird!

I have had flying dreams periodically since I was a kid. The younger flight dreams were recurring: standing at the landing and taking flight down my parents' stairs; then flying around their house. I recall flying once, and my mother reporting the next day that she'd found me in the middle of the night sitting at the kitchen table staring into the bread cupboard, sound asleep.

How I didn't fall down the stairs and crack open my head open was a wonder, I remember her saying. It was no mystery to me: I flew.

Later, the nature of these dreams changed and I managed to leave my parents' house and fly outside. There were no specific places, just me floating around; through, above and beneath clouds. Sadly, with age these dreams dissipated, and in the past several years, they have been next to nonexistent.

Needless to say, two in one week? Heaven in my dreams.

As if I needed the souped-up-double-bonus-flight-dream-for-extra-points, something new happened this time: people. In the past, there have never been other people. Now, suddenly, there are people.

The best, most vivid of the two flight dreams involved a detailed "flying skills session." I had a student, who shall remain nameless because, well, I could not describe to you his face, although we were comfortable interacting; in my dream I knew he was not a stranger.

What I CAN remember, is how helpless I felt racking my brain as I tried to pull vocabulary to explain the feelings and therefore movements that one must undertake before and during flight. It was frustratingly apparent that I was trying to "teach" this man something for which there were no words. There was no human experience to match/compare this with, and therefore, I was at a complete loss as to what I might tell him to DO to emulate my experience, so he could fly himself.

I was convinced that his experience would be every bit as amazingly awesome as mine and therefore he must. also. jump. and take flight with me because not only would it be so life altering for him, it would also give me someone with which to share my most incredible adventure.

So there I stood, on the edge of this great expanse of open space, high on top of this cliff, giving these utterly unsuccessful, cobbled together "lessons" which were a mix of charades and foreign language; a helluva a frustrating failure.

I can sit here now, two days later and recall with acute precision the feeling in the pit of my guts of how agonizingly much I wanted this person to share this experience with me. And yet, he stood on the edge of a tan rocky cliff and stared at me; sad, confused, with a fearful look in his eyes. Repeatedly, I'd take off and leave him standing there, toes curled around the edge of that rock, totally awestruck and yet too scared to leap.

I remember with stunning detail: take off, ascending, floating and descending and then ascending again. I would return to that cliff again and again and again, hoping that after nine, 10, 11 times, he might find the magic formula and pull from my words and then subsequent actions, something that would assist him in taking the leap.

He stood: speechless, mortified, wide eyed and yet still. Finally, after doing all I felt I could, I took off a final time, and told him I hoped he'd catch me.

I consciously never looked back in fear of disappointment at his still standing there, and eventually I somehow knew, he never moved and he still stood on the edge of that cliff; alone and scared to death.

I woke up in the midst of my flight: in a near state of euphoria, alive in a way for which I have no words, but yet with a very real undercurrent of sadness slipping in as I imagined him there.

I also acknowledged to myself somewhere in the space between dream, sleep and conscious morning life, that I had absolutely no idea that upon all my teaching and prodding if he did jump; if he too would have been able to fly.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


A mutual friend drew us there together; same place, same time, his home. Yet when we left the next day, he too, was my friend, and by virtue of how he and his wife lived and had constructed their lives together; I was now therefore also, an extension of their family. No questions asked.

I sat next to him by chance, the warmth of the fire kissing our faces, a crisp fall Minnesota evening. He was worldly, intense, yet gentle, with dancing, piercing eyes and a smile that could light up an entire town. He thought about things before he spoke, asked lots of questions, and when he asked them, sometimes in rapid fire succession, I somehow knew, he genuinely wanted to know my answers.

Once he made sure we were all comfortable in our chairs that night, wine glasses full, fire properly stoked, he picked up his guitar, never missing a moment of conversation, and started quietly tuning, strumming.

It was as though the music made a quiet and yet totally natural entrance, like night creeping in. Eventually we all fell silent, the notes from his guitar falling one into another, the songs slow, contemplative and then crescendoing into something worthy of dance.

He later covered a Willy Porter tune, Watercolor, I quietly sang along, lost in thought, staring off into the trees. He stopped playing after; turned, asked quietly how I knew of him. We talked then, hours, between songs. We shared stories, more wine.

He wanted to know every detail about my son. He wanted one, wanted to know how I did it. Alone. They were the questions that people so often stumbled over, too uncomfortable to ask.

Without hesitation, I willingly shared with him my heart's cobbled together pieces.

He glanced at his wife across the fire as we talked; she laughed, told stories in her own world and yet totally inside his, sipping her wine, glancing up to catch his eyes there, holding them, grinning and then glancing back away.

He could never do that, he told me.
Raise a child alone.

He told me how he lost his parents, both of them, an accident. He said it explained a lot about how he lived like he did, each moment as though it could be his last, that knowledge permanently tattooed there on his broken heart.

I try to make the most of it, every single moment I'm given, in the best way I know how, he told me. And he raised his hands, motioned around, as if to recognize it all, that place, those people, for what it was.

His loss.
Our gain.
These moments.
Each of them, precious.

We'd all stay there, at their home; it was easier, safer. It would be that way from each visit there on. We were their family now too.

John and Ann, Ann and John.

They were fiercely individual and yet so very much a unit: Her: working like a dog. Him: playing like a fiend. Both crazed by their individual passions, pasts and yet insanely an inexplicably drawn to one another in an undertow of love that shone on their faces the instant you met them.

They were the couple you caught making out in the kitchen when one went inside to grab snacks to go with the wine. The two you bust locking eyes across the room hundreds of times each night, holding them there, looking away, and then returning to their respective conversation.

They were fiercely individual, and yet they defined union.

They were quick to tell you that they, together, were not perfect nor were they without their faults, but that yes, they were still perfect for each other, full of gratitude, unconditional love.

They lived together with a grace for which I'll never quite have words; sharing however they could, never taking a moment, an instant for granted. I'd see pictures of them together, get the chills. Never, I'd tell my friends, has a man looked at me like that.

And yet because of them, I secretly believed we all should continue hunting for that kind of love until old age if need be.

Except now John is gone.

Taken tragically from every one of us in a senseless accident one month ago; leaving Ann, his three sons, everyone who loved him to navigate this world, each moment, life... without him.

Their light. Their love. Their fun. Their husband. Their daddy.

It was almost as though someone that insanely good, that kind, that fun, couldn't sing and dance among us forever, and seems impossible that the party, life could possibly go on for any of us in quite the same way without him.

It won't.

He taught every single person blessed enough to know him how to live.
And now we all stand around wondering what to do now that he's died.

Monday, October 5, 2009


My child and I have a small Biggest Loser addiction. Simply put, we are suckers for a good cry, and I can recall exactly TWO episodes in the bajillion we have watched where neither one of us erupted in a case of the sniffles. Aside from the cheesy product placement, the stupid cliff hangers during weigh ins that always, as T says, have the exact opposite answer that the expressions lead you to believe, we are still suckers.

Last week's episode again, left us both in a heap of tears.

Except this time it was different. The show's contestants this season are all marred by some type of tragedy. The one that stands out the most, I'd say, is one of the show's more optimistic participants, who three years ago lost her husband and two young children in a car accident.

That said, for once, it was not the stories and the struggle to shed all that goes with a packed on pound that got us, but the message.

During one of the challenges the contestants sat around as they were tempted by a plate of something fatty: cupcakes, if I recall (actually I swear it's donuts and T swears it's cupcakes...he's probably right, so we are going with cupcakes). There would be a consequence for the person who wait for it....MADE THE CHOICE to eat the cupcake first, however, the participants did not know what that consequence would be. Near starved from the show's diet, and not wanting to sit there all night, one woman grabs a cupcake and shovels it down. Her logic, in that moment being'll be easier this way.

And, as it turns out, the woman who eats the cupcake in turn, as her own chosen fate for taking the bite essentially becomes the person charged with thus sealing the fate of those people who would be eliminated from the competition altogether.

By taking that one bite, she was then forced to choose for each team which person would weigh in, or which person would bear the team's burden in the weigh in, among other things.

In the meantime as they prepped for the weigh in, during/before/after each workout, the lobbying and conferencing about what to do/who to select for the weigh in from each team ensued. The culprit/woman of sealed fate asked each team what they wanted, and then, in the end, turned around and most often, did the exact opposite.

Again, a choice.

She could not and did not see her part in the heartache and the trust broken with her house mates, nor did she have foresight into what might happen in ensuing weeks should she deceive nearly every other person in the house; rather she saw it as a guarantee of her safety, her continuing to play the game.

We see her curt responses to her house mates' disdain, and by one, each of the contestants affected by her choice as they wither/fall apart. We are reminded by all of them often and with great Hollywood's from this choice she made, to take ONE bite, and then the subsequent choices to choose who jumped on the scale, and the subsequent affect it had on each person down the chain.

It was heartbreaking. Tears were shed. And these people, raw, exposed from days and hours in the gym were taped vulnerable, pissed and deceived in their worst moments.

And all I could think sitting there, tears streaming down my face, is that this is so often how these things go, despite the horrific cupcake metaphor. People are, I believe in my core, for the most part, inherently good.

And yet, they make choices that absolutely suck sometimes, and I would like to believe, when they make these choices they have little to no foresight into the subsequent round of choices, and choices, each with a larger, more widespread impact. Likewise, with the case of the gobbling cupcake, we still must be held accountable.

Or at least we should be.

It was a wonderful, defining moment to share with my son, nonetheless. We talk constantly about choices, and I have often used the metaphor of throwing a rock into a pond of water, the circles that reverberate out from the rock as it enters the water as that first choice, then the subsequent choices. And then, how the events connected to it and subsequent choices go outward and last far longer than the initial plop that rock makes in the water. And yet, T's never fully understood it, by his own omission, until he saw that episode.

It is unfortunate and breaks my heart that the lesson T learned twice last week was from negative choices or illustrations of this, versus positive, happy ones. That said, it is nonetheless priceless to teach a little man of my own responsibility that a choice: an action, no matter how benign and no matter how harmless or insignificant it may seem on the surface; it has the ability to cause others inexplicable pain. It also has the ability to cause inexplicable joy.

I asked T to think about what he'd choose. He turned it around and asked me to do the same.

And then we talked about the latter, bigger portion of all this which is this: he, I, all of us will, in our lives make some awful, shitty, choices that affect many more people in ways that we likely never originally intended.

I told my kid, that my job is ensuring that when he inevitably makes that shitty choice; to demand that he not follow it up with more shitty choices, but rather, learn to take ownership, apologize and make amends, fall on his sword.

It will be a lifelong lesson, I suspect.

It should be for us all.

Omission and Aftershock

Thanks to all of you faithful people for leaving me notes, prods for additional information and also virtual hugs. It's amazing how they all have appeared when I've most needed them. My apologies for being vague of late. The past week was a challenge. Eventually when I am able to speak from less of a raw vantage point, the posts will come.

In the meantime, I hope I never lose the link to this site so am going to paste it here, along with and excerpt that helped me feel a lot less crazy this past week.

I had the unfortunate experience of losing one of my most coveted and beloved a huge lie of omission. In short, I gave of myself, my time, my love, over the course of a dozen years, only to find out that I only knew half the story. Half his story, maybe less.

Here's the thing: if you are my friend, and I don't trust you...we have nothing. All I hold close know this. I covet honesty first and foremost above all else.

To say that the choice/the lies of omission have been painful and rocked my perception of what is real and what is not would be a mild understatement. It is my hope that one day this person will find the ability to look at the choices he made with complete honesty and willingly accept the pain he caused by them. I also equally hope that with that comes an ability to create for himself so much better; to stop continuing down the same broken path. If not for his own sake, for his kids'.

For now, I concentrate on what this experience taught me. Most if it, sadly, is at this moment, far from positive. It will be a very, very long time before I trust in this way again, perhaps ever. I remain... however broken, happy to again have found sleep, to have put the initial aftershocks behind me, and to have found myself wrapped in love, understanding, and support by some amazing friends, both near and far.

I continue on my own path with a clear conscious, nothing hidden, nor nothing to hide. I will never take for granted those people who value the same. Nor should you.

From here:

A lie of omission is to remain silent when ethical behavior calls for one to speak up. A lie of omission is a method of deception and duplicity that uses the technique of simply remaining silent when speaking the truth would significantly alter the other person's capacity to make an informed decision.

To lie by omission is to remain silent and thereby withhold from someone else a vital piece (or pieces) of information. The silence is deceptive in that it gives a false impression to the person from whom the information was withheld. It subverts the truth; it is a way to manipulate someone into altering their behavior to suit the desire of the person who intentionally withheld the vital information; and, most importantly, it's a gross violation of another person's right of self-determination.

A lie of omission is the most insidious, most pervasive, and most common lie on the entire planet. Commonly, those who use this type of lie, have conned themselves into believing that to intentionally remain silent when ethical behavior calls for one to speak up is not a lie at all. In spite of overwhelming evidence that their silence deceives, misleads, and often causes untold grief and misery, they refuse to speak the truth.

The Inevitable Consequences: There is also the common misconception that intentional deception by silence has no consequences. Lies of commission (telling a lie) and lies of omission (withholding the truth) are both acts of intentional deception. Both reap the same consequences.