Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Cancer and Kittens

Home again. This time for good. No more Maine, no more driving outside the city limits, no more beach.


I went to Dana Farber, the cancer hospital of extraordinary care, with my sister yesterday. It's not the greatest news. She is going to have a stem cell transplant. We don't know when yet, but we know she will. Seems the doctor is confused by the aggressiveness of a cancer that is supposed to be very slow growing. The last chemo should have given her at least 6 months cancer free- it was barely 6 weeks.

Time for the big guns, the doctor said.

We did our usual in the hospital waiting around all day for tests... talked about the kids, where she wanted to be buried, where Jeanine and I would be buried (we will not- both to be cremated and then divided in three to be permanently on display in our kids homes forever more.)

(Kidding. Kind of.)

She reminded me of an ex-boyfriend of hers who was so drunk one night, when the grill was ready to start cooking, he decided it needed some "real" meat. Yup, the idiot put his penis on a hot grill. That got us through the 8 vials of blood that needed to be drawn.

I've known the cancer was back for a while. She decided not to tell everyone for a period of time, thus why I haven't written about it. Now the cat is out of the bag...

Which reminds me, we are getting a new kitten today. Calvin. An orange tabby 6 to 8 week old kitten. See, my sister really wanted a kitten but couldn't have one in her rented house. And poor Darcy has been missing her sister so... when the opportunity came up, I couldn't resist.

Jeanine isn't thrilled but I'm still looking at the puppy she brought home two weeks before Jake was born while I was saying, um... No. No no no. No dog. No.

Stem cell transplant this fall. Not even a kitten can make that news easy but it's worth a shot.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Adore: To Regard with the Utmost Esteem, Love, and Respect

One last day. Jeanine took the boys out to play mini golf while I cleaned the house. We're going to go swimming in a little bit- the ocean has been warm, the waves big.

Okay, it's warm for Ogunquit. Sixty five degrees is balmy for us.

It's hard to leave here, knowing the world will be moving at high pace when we get home. My sister has a doctor's appointment, the kids going to the dentist and Zachary starts school officially on Thursday. That means school supplies, real bedtimes, and my favorite rule- no TV or video games during the week.

At all. Ever. Period. Yup, I'm that mean.

It's been an important week for us. Finally, we've been on our own and with all of us here. Even Jeanine stopped working, which is a miracle.

A friend of mine has started a new relationship- she's been divorced for five years now. While I am very excited for her- she's certainly been through the wringer and deserves some love and kindness- there is a part of me that is very jealous.

After almost twenty years of marriage, listening to someone experiencing the new rush of joy is hard. I'm far far away from those days and when I was in them? I was only 28 years old.

What the hell did I know? Did I know to soak it in and cherish it because it wasn't going to happen again? Nope.

It's early on, and what got me was that the new girlfriend said she adored her.

Adore. Oh, how long has it been since I felt adored?

Then I realized something really important- it's up to me, and to my wife, to continue to find the new places of love in our life. It only stops if you don't pay attention, if you take it for granted. This friend's new love can be a reminder. Not just of what was, but what can be. What continues to grow. It's not about never again, it's about what's next.

It helps that we've had a few days without work barking down either of our throats.

As we enjoy our last day, I'm going to try hard and think about what I can do on a every day basis to remember how much I love Jeanine. I've asked her to do the same. To take that extra minute- kiss in the shower, looking long in each others eyes, sitting on the deck outside checking in on life not just schedules- to adore each other again.

If we can do that? We have another great 20 years coming.

Friday, August 27, 2010

The Birds

Back when I was in college, I was a waitress for the school's catering company. It was good money and free food. When you lived off campus, free food was key because no one ever spent money on food- only beer and bar hopping.

If it were a particularly fancy dinner, with a small number of people, there was no guarantee there would be leftovers. Thus a few of the guys I worked with would actually finish the food off the plates as they came back into the kitchen.

They called it "seagulling." The act of snatching food like a seagull before the plate scraps were dumped in the trash. I called it gross.

Yesterday, poor Jake learned the real act of seagulling from a seagull.

Look closely in the photo and you see not only is Jake's hot dog wrapper empty, but the seagull behind him is enjoying it.

Poor baby.

The seagull? Well, I got the wax paper away from it but the dog was gone. The offender taunted us for the rest of the day by the smear of ketchup on it's beak.


Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Monsoon Day

I talked to a friend in Provincetown yesterday afternoon and she told me they were having a huge rainstorm down there. All day, pouring rain, whipping wind... same here today.

So along with the entire vacationing population, we went to the Maine Diner for lunch.

My kids will always, always wait up to an hour, easily, for the Maine Diner. It is the only place on earth they will do this for- not even a ride at Disney would gain the same kind of confidence that the time waited would be worth it.

And it is always worth it. I had delicious Eggs Benedict but had to start with their seafood chowder. Ok, you might say icky combo but the truth is, the seafood chowder is light, and sweet with tons of baby Maine shrimp, scallops. After standing outside in the raw cold, it was necessary.

Of course, part of the wait is spent at the gift shop. No, we rarely buy anything, only poke around and look at what is pretty much the same ol' stuff year in and year out. Ben pointed out some fun cocktail napkins- I am known for my goofy cocktail napkins.

But there was only one stray pack of twenty - only deserving of a quick photo.

After our most delicious meal, we headed back, needing to stop at CVS for athlete's foot spray. Jake has been enjoying having feet of death- threatening to stick his toes in his brothers faces if they get too close.

Uh, time for that to end.

Jeanine went one direction, towards the foot fungus spray, I went another. Zachary tagged along with me, and said, Hey Mom! What are you getting?


I've never seen a boy turn on his heel quite so fast.

The rain is coming down from all angles. While we've enjoyed our quiet time, it better get sunny tomorrow or we're in deep trouble. I can't watch another episode of Courage the Cowardly Dog- which is simply weird, or the Suite Life, which is simply bad in every way possible from the acting to the script to the set to the hairstyles to the...

Like I said, no more monsoon days.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Do Not Disturb

Ah, moldy towels, unworn underwear and athletes foot. The joys of camp return. I will say, no lice this year was a lovely treat. To be safe, I left all the clothes in the garage for a night, did my check and waited to hear from any other parents on the status of bugs.

Only a few pairs of socks returned and they were so filthy, I threw them away. Not even hardcore bleach was going to save them. Surprised, I found piles of unworn underwear in Jake's trunk. I threw out the pair he was wearing when he got home- I don't even want to talk about the smell.

Honestly, I have no idea why we send them with so many clothes.

Today is cold, dark, and rain is threatening. It's the kind of day the begs for a book, a blanket and a comfortable couch. Grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup. I have no desire to battle smelly clothes today. It's not like they are going anywhere. I don't think.

I want one of those hotel signs- Do Not Disturb. Stick it on my forehead. No yelling, no fighting, no arguing, no laundry and no heavy lifting.

This is the last full week of vacation. Next week, school starts for Zachary, and Ben has an open house to attend. Jake starts Tuesday after the long weekend. All in good time.

Just not today.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Chicken Feet and Sweet BBQ Buns

I had to do it. I had to get the fried chicken feet at dim sum today. I mean, why go to Chinatown if you're not going to try something you've never had before. I can say the flavor of the fried stuff was ok, but the bones a little too crunchy for me.

I'll try anything once. Maybe only once, but once without question.

Zachary and Heidi both tried them, too. Neither felt they needed to have a second.

It's odd- Zachary won't eat anything most of the time. He's incredibly picky, and tends to gag if forced to take that one bite of broccoli that is certain to cause his death. But put a frog leg in front of him or chicken feet? Yum! He'll dig right in.

Somethings, I don't need to understand.

To do Dim Sum properly, you have to have about ten people around the table so you can keep getting dish after dish. I have to be honest- it's been over twenty years since I've been to Chinatown for proper dim sum. One of the best dishes today was a lightly battered tempura shrimp- head on and all, the salty crispness was beyond good.

Of course, the kids pulled the heads off and poked at the eyeballs with their chopsticks. They also declared them delicious.

The best treat, of course, was the sweet bbq pork buns. By the time that cart made it over to us, there would be only a couple left. We looked sad every time she passed and had none to offer. Finally, she felt sorry for us and brought out a couple dishes straight from the kitchen, not stopping along the way.

My poor sister kept asking me what the waitresses were saying, and I kept telling her I had no idea. It was like a poor game of telephone- she couldn't hear me, I couldn't understand them, and it was vital to know if there was shrimp in anything as my sister is allergic. Pork? she ask. Pork? I'd ask. Pork, the waitress would point to some but not all. Shrimp? Yes. Then point to some of the same.

Pork, no shrimp, please... And Jake would yell out, More shrimp wontons!! Making the bad communication even worse as the waitress would eye me like, what the hell do you want lady? Either learn Chinese or point already!

The oddest thing? A doughy wrapped hot dog- clearly an attempt to make nice with young kids in the place. It seemed... too out of place to be even remotely appetizing. Yes, of course the kids got it, and none was left at the end of the meal.

Would you order a hot dog in Beijing? Really?

Mostly? It's great to have my boys home. I've missed my full house. Today we have our three plus two extras, which feels almost perfect. We could use one or two more for the full effect. For the first time in a while, I feel my feet solidly under me.

I know it's borrowed time. I know something will shift, change, as the only constant in the last couple years has been change.

I know.

Unlike having carts upon carts of choices pushed by, what will come will come whether I am a nervous wreck or mellow. I'm not great at it, and still need a ton of work doing it, but I am starting, slowly, to be able to simply sit with it all.

I didn't like the chicken feet. But I do like feeling calm. That's the real treat for today.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Soaking in the Green


I love coming home after being at the ocean for a while because everything looks so green. It's new and refreshed.

For the first time in what feels like forever, I woke up this morning without a stabbing pain in my back. The cat was curled up next to me as if to make sure I wouldn't bolt out the door again. It's cool outside, that wonderful shift in the late summer from searing hot to mornings with thick dew on the grass.

My boys are coming home today.

A month is way too long for them to be gone. Zachary will be a foot taller and Jake will have a deep nut brown tan, his hair blond from the sun. We have a stack of birthday presents for Zachary, as the day passed when he was at camp. He wants falafal and cake, not to mention a long stretch of sitting, eyes glazed, in front of the television.

Ben has said he misses his brothers terribly. He woke up early to jump in the car with Jeanine to go get them. He has bounced between being incredibly sweet and being absolutely a pain in the ass for the last week. One minute, I'm beautiful, the next, he's certain he got his looks from the donor.

And I thought I had big hormonal swings going on- geesh.

I have dishes to clean up from last night, presents to wrap. Open the window in Jake and Zachary's room, so some fresh air can circulate. It's almost time to shift gears again, the beginning of school just minutes away, filled with excitement and trepidation. The kids will be running on high anxiety, every moment charged with anticipation. I love this time of year.

For now, though, there is nothing more important to do than to take a cup of coffee and sit, soaking in the green.

Thursday, August 19, 2010


At my sister's insistence, I'm writing a blog.

I'm nervous. For the first time since I started writing this blog, I've become frightened of it's impact. Not only are Ben's friends reading the blog, Ben's older "fans" on facebook have been reading my blog.

I am quite uncomfortable.

I know, everyone can say "I told you so." Everyone can say, "You should never have done it, never been so open, never talked so much..." and I can only say, Yup. You're right.

So much has been shifting this summer. We've divorced the two dads. Yes, they still see the kids but only under very specific rules. Jeanine has grown more and more unhappy with her job- not the job itself but the distance she's grown from writing music. I've spent an incredible amount of time on Mass Equality, all completely worthwhile but the result has been distance from good friends that does not feel good.

Distance from writing for me.

When I don't write, I lose an important piece of myself.

Jake and Zachary have been at their month long camp and this year has been by far the hardest to have them away. We had such fun in July, all of us. I miss their presence and how they balance the family- make us whole at a time when we've cut out a huge piece of who we have been for what seems like forever.

There have been significant victories in political/judicial fights- many others have written eloquently about California's Perry and the Gill lawsuits. The right wing is looking silly now with their pounded fists claiming that the world is going to come to an end.

Zachary would say, another state we can live in, Mom.

Still... many people are without basic protections. Job security, housing availability and personal safety continue to plague a great deal of LGBT folks all over the country.

A movie comes out about sperm donation and one of the lesbian moms has sex with the donor. Really? C'mon. Can't we come up with a better plot twist that doesn't involve a penis and a lesbian? But in the long run, it's progress. Top actresses, a well made film. I shouldn't complain too much.

I've been in downeast for so long, I didn't know about the floods in Pakistan. I feel terrible about that. While visiting with my good friend from home, her kids teased me that everything was "gay" to me, all I thought about was gay stuff.

It's true. Maybe I need to think about expanding my horizons a bit.

Mostly, I've been having the mantra "simplify" go through my head over and over again. I want less stuff, less requirements of my time, less people pulling at me. I have a few short years left with my kids- I want to soak it in.

And they all need me to be there. In some ways? A lot more than they did when they were little.

My sister... the last round of chemo left her in great shape. She has energy and life in her again. She, Ben and I are in downeast right now- her relationship with Ben has grown back into the goofy, fun that it was before she was sick. It has been wonderful to see.

She's finally come up with the answer to worrying about where her cremated remains will end up and if she'll spend eternity looking for a hand or foot- she's going for the box in a grave. I told her that was fine. Whatever she wanted, I'll make sure it happens.

I didn't mention the worms or bugs that would be with her for eternity.

I told my friend Bil I needed to think long and hard about keeping up this blog. The good I believe it does has to be balanced with some of the real fear I've had in the last few weeks.

Maybe I'm done trying to save the world and need to only focus on my own children, my own small world. Maybe my need to be known and understood as gone too far.

For now, I'm going to watch the tide come in before I go stack some wood. Take the dogs for a walk. Sweep the porch.