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Tis the Season

As my lapse in blogging may have tipped you, the competing demands of the season have caught up with me. Blogging has lagged. Multi-tasking has increased.

Per usual, the approaching holidays have generated the annual “hot potato” game at work, where clients and others try to pass off documents and deadlines to someone else before leaving town. I feel like I’m going to have some burning tuberous blobs sitting in my lap before the end of next week. I’m trying to manage expectations right now, because I’m scheduled to be out of the office the whole week of Christmas. I may pick one project to sneak onto my laptop during any quiet downtime with family, but that’s it. I can’t focus on everything at once.

I bought some presents for loved ones a month ago and thought I was going to finish Christmas shopping early this year. No. Not happening. I made a feeble attempt to start our Christmas card until Mike rescued me and made one up himself and ordered them. We may get them in time to address envelopes this weekend. We managed to get to a tree farm this past weekend and get a tree, which is sitting unadorned in the living room. It will stay that way until we can drag our decorations out the garage, hopefully this weekend.

And I’ve seen the comments and memes along the lines of “you are not obligated to do anything during the holidays that stress you out.” Well, that’s fine and good, but I want to do these things. I like doing these things. I love seeing the kiddos doing these things – hiking around a tree farm, decorating, making homemade gifts, spending an extra 10 minutes looking at Christmas lights while driving home in the evening. Those things don’t stress me out (too much). And work is quite capable of stressing me out at any time during the year, so I’m not going to give up my Christmas cheer just because deadlines coincide with holiday tasks. But yes, blogging has taken a hit. Cooking dinner from scratch is taking a hit. I’m trying not to worry about the little things. I want blogging and reading blogs to continue to be enjoyable, so I’m not putting too much pressure on myself. It’s nice to know you all are out there, and I’ll continue to hop around and read as much as I can. I agree that people shouldn’t do things that stress them out just for the sake of doing them. But you can also try to do things on your own time and in your own way, expecting that people will understand your best intentions. So, a Christmas card may be mailed after Christmas. OK, my floor may not be spotless when family comes to visit. Most people are too busy to notice anyway. And if it gets to be too much, sure, I’ll stick my head in my shell and let myself breathe deeply a lot before venturing back out into Holiday Land. Until then, I’ll keep drafting blogs in bits and pieces and feeding my kids spaghetti for two days in a row. Which, of course, is a Christmas gift in itself to my kids! Ho ho ho.

 

In the US, December 7 is Pearl Harbor Day. Pearl Harbor Day was established to remember and honor the 2,403 citizens of the United States who were killed in the Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor in Hawaii on December 7, 1941. The attack catapulted the United States into World War II, with President Roosevelt declaring war on Japan, calling December 7, 1941 “a date which will live in infamy.” As the years pass, fewer people are alive who remember the day from personal memory. Pearl Harbor Day is not just a vague day of remembrance for me. My father was a World War II veteran, having served in the US Navy near the end of the war. He was not in the service when the war started, nor in 1941. Like many other young men of his day, he volunteered when he was old enough to do so. Why he picked the Navy, I don’t entirely remember. He got seasick and he couldn’t swim. He had to communicate in semaphore, which he laughingly told me he could never master during his brief stint in the Boy Scouts. When the war was over, he left the service, tried out a couple of colleges, and then worked for others until he struck out on his own as a business owner in San Francisco. Where would my father have ended up if he hadn’t been in the service? Not sure. I think he had already dropped out of high school. I don’t think he could have afforded even the little bit of college he attended if it hadn’t been for the G.I. Bill. He was a child of the Great Depression and a bit of a rebel kid, from his telling of it years later. He never considered himself to be a member of any sort of “Greatest Generation.” As I mentioned before, Dad said he felt that every generation rises up to the challenges of its day. Some though, you would have to acknowledge, have had far graver challenges than others.

When I was living on Maui, my sister and her family would come to visit. During one visit, we all spent a few days on Oahu. My sister, Mike, and I went to Pearl Harbor, and we went out by boat to the USS Arizona Memorial. It was an incredibly moving experience for me. I’d have to look back at my old blog entry (if I still have it) for more details, but I remember feeling less sad than I thought I would but also completely in awe of the magnitude of the events of that day. And still very sad for the Navy service members who lost their lives aboard the USS Arizona. And throughout Pearl Harbor. Hearing and reading about it don’t generate the feelings that come when you stand above the wreckage of a sunken ship somewhat frozen in time. Or see the wall of names of those who died. I’m grateful I had the experience to visit the memorials and exhibits in person. As more and more years past, fewer and fewer visitors will have had stories of World War II told to them in person by someone with firsthand knowledge. As it is, those of us with “Greatest Generation” parents and grandparents probably didn’t hear a lot of stories to begin with. It seems to be a shared trait of many WWII veterans to have rarely shared stories of their service. When my father halted his cancer treatments over 10 years ago, I realized I had no idea where he had traveled during his Navy career. I went out, bought a large paper world map, grabbed some pens, and put the map in front of my dad. I told him, “Now you show me where you went, where you stopped, how did you end up with those carvings you said you got in Africa?” I’m glad I had the chance to do that too. There’s a big chunk of collective history we are losing year after year.
And with that, I’ll post a few pictures from my trip to the USS Arizona Memorial. It’s been over 10 years since I was there, so I don’t know how much its operations have changed. I think it was shut down for a while. I hope there are still opportunities for others to visit it.
On a lighter note, December 7 also happens to be my parent’s wedding anniversary. And this year would have been their 50th, if my father was still alive. There’s a whole other set of stories about their meeting, and marriage, and wedding day. Mom loves to tell people a few particulars about the day. Maybe I’ll share that on a separate blog. Happy Anniversary, Mom and Dad.

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I had my first root canal starting two weeks ago. I say “starting,” because this lovely procedure requires three appointments. The first one to try and get to the roots and clean them out. The second one to, once again, try and get to all the root branches and clean out the twisty little *#(#!*.  My third appointment is scheduled for Friday to go in and replace the temporary filling with a permanent one. It was my first root canal. I’m hoping it will be my last. I’ve had many many dental procedures in my life. Extraction of adult teeth. Extraction of wisdom teeth. Braces. Cavities. I’ve endured all of them quietly without complaint. I usually sit still in the chair.  Last week’s endurance appointment was the last straw. I squirmed. I grunted. I may have growled. It’s really hard to lie in the chair seeing tools flying, listening to my dentist talk to his assistant about twisting roots, listening to the drill, feeling the drill, and not wonder how sideways the procedure was going without my knowing. The longer it took and the more tools that went flying above my nose tried my patience to its final end. The dental assistant could tell, I think, I was DONE. I politely paid my portion of the bill, bid everyone a good week, and told the front desk staff I didn’t want to see them again for a long long time after this week.

I lamented my experience to one of my co-workers this week. She put me in my place (kindly) by sharing her experience of multiple root canals, followed by a tooth abscess. My experience cannot compare to hers. I sympathized. I appreciated her support. Today, she sent me an email. A routine appointment for her to (I think) replace a filling unexpectedly resulted in, guess what?, a root canal. ACK!  How is that possible? Am I contagious? It’s like getting called for jury duty. The strangest things seem to be contagious in a small office. I warned a couple of other co-workers to stay away from me. The root canal syndrome is spreading. I’m contagious.  I’m not even finished with mine yet. Maybe Friday’s appointment to fill the tooth will cap off the cavern of pain and stop the root canal germs from flying through the air and infecting everyone else. I’m so sorry, world!

I had to leave work a little early today because my stomach was recoiling against its very existence. I’m not sure what cause this unhappiness. I had soup and bread for lunch, which I thought was rather innocuous. But no. My stomach was highly offended by something. Dinner was ok. I took it rather easy and ate leftovers, as did Mike and the kids. I was about to head to bed because I’m exhausted and feel like I’m going to just tip over. Then, I thought to myself, “Ginger ale! I’ll have a sip of ginger ale for my stomach.” I went to the pantry shelf in Mike’s office and grabbed a small can of ginger ale. As I grabbed it, my eye caught a glimpse of that orange and red bag that the kids and I purchased on a whim this weekend. I tried to walk away. But it pulled me back. I tried not to think of it. But not thinking of it just made me think of something else in the fridge that I was suddenly inspired to pair it with. What a crazy idea! I told Mike. He told me, no. I ignored him. Long story short, I just ate some Fritos with Laughing Cow cheese. And ginger ale. It was heavenly. (I love cheese.) I am now going to run to bed before the pain in my stomach knocks me over harder than my exhaustion.

Did I mention somewhere that I like food? To my own detriment, it would appear. Ow. But yum. Buy, owwwww.

Holidailies #4

 

A Pandora Introduction

I was working a little late in the office tonight, so I turned on my Pandora station for some background music. I have several stations on Pandora (yes, I still use Pandora). Some are seeded by only one song or artist. A few are seeded by a mix of specific songs and favorite artists. Tonight’s selection was my station. The one I named “Stone Girl’s Tunes.” I created this station in February 2007. I listen to it all the time. Pandora reports that, through the years, I’ve “thumbed up” 602 songs and “thumbed down” 905 songs while listening to my station. Tonight, for the first time in a long while, I looked at the list of songs and artists I chose to seed my station. Like my blog introduction, I feel my Stone Girl station is still a fairly good representation of me. I’ve discovered some new now-favorite musical artists in the last few years. I’ve outgrown a few from my old list. But it’s a good list and a good station. And it is, perhaps, another good way to introduce myself to others and perhaps to learn more about you. What songs, which musical artists, seed the music station in your life?

My list, from 2007.

Artists:

  • Imogen Heap
  • Kosheen
  • Lijie
  • Art of Noise
  • Fool’s Garden
  • Maktub
  • Ella Fitzgerald
  • Paul Simon
  • Tears for Fears
  • Maura O’Connell
  • Cause & Effect
  • Rob Zombie
  • David Lanz
  • Delerium
  • Sting
  • Third Day
  • Hungry Lucy
  • Scorpions

Songs:

  • Santa Cruz by Fatboy Slim
  • Home by the Sea by Genesis
  • (Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay by Otis Redding
  •  Haunted by Poe
  • No Mermaid by Sinead Lohan
  • Fear by Sarah McLachlan

 

Holidailies #3

Before I dive into a blog post that involves a bit of a whine, I feel I should explain my hangnail theory of suffering and complaint. Years ago, my sister was talking to me about something (I don’t remember what exactly) that was really bothering her. However, she also expressed a little bit of guilt for complaining about something that she felt was minor compared to major troubles that other people were experiencing. I told her to think about how much a hangnail hurts when she has one on her finger. It may be the smallest piece of skin and seem like nothing in itself, but hangnails HURT. They hurt like crazy, and I always feel so relieved when one is finally gone. I told her, “When you hurt, you hurt.” Comparing your hurt to others’ hurts doesn’t help your hurt to go away and rarely even dulls that constant nagging hangnail pain that can take over your thoughts.

My hangnail for the last week has been a temporary bout of single working motherhood while Mike was out of town for work. I won’t go into the boring details of trying to maintain a work schedule and stay on top of work deadlines after being sick for two weeks and then being home alone with the kiddos. The particulars of my temporary single motherhood may change from trip to trip when Mike leaves town, but the overall effect of exhaustion and stress have been pretty constant over the years. And I don’t want to complain too much because I recognize how lucky I am to have such a great parenting partner around most of the time. And also, because I recognize there are men and women all over the place for whom this is a normal condition. Normal to be the sole caregiver/organizer/taxi service/nurturer/disciplinarian/provider. Normal to be solely responsible for getting kids where they need to be, feeding them, keeping them on schedule, playing with them, comforting them, perhaps even yelling at them (*gulp*) on occasion. Normal to know that sickness cannot be accommodated with extra rest. Normal to live with the demands of work life and home life without consistent help. And, just as I could not explain how I manage to get through my temporary full load on my own, I doubt many single parents could explain precisely how they manage. These are just the types of situations where you deal with the hand you are dealt. Week by week. Sometimes day by day or hour by hour.

The kids and I had our good moments and bad this week. School was attended. First-grade homework was completed. Meals were eaten on a regular basis. The weekend brought a trip to our neighborhood pizza place for dinner out, a sleepover for both kids together in one room (which they think is just the best thing ever…until the 4-year old wakes up crying at 1:30 a.m. because she’s slightly disoriented from sleeping on the floor), and a little more TV watching than they would normally get. The bad moments usually involved me losing my cool and yelling at them or losing my whine containment field and babbling to Mike about some random work stress. I’ve told him before, I try and teach the kiddos not to say, “I can’t.” Especially if they haven’t really tried to master whatever challenge is in front of them. Say, “It’s hard.” Or, “I need help.” But don’t just say you can’t. This is a very tough lesson for me to try and embody when I can’t successfully juggle work and home duties, sometimes even when Mike is around and trying to cover for me. I can no longer function well on very little sleep, which used to help me work much much later into the night than I can do these days. Some would argue I never functioned well that way.

How do single parents do this all the time? It’s an impossible question to answer with specifics, I am sure. Hopefully, some or many have support networks of friends and family. Hopefully, they’ve adjusted to this normal in such a way that everyday stress levels are manageable. The single parents I know have stress, yes, but also have amazing relationships with their wonderful kids. They have much to be proud of, from what I see of their ability to juggle work and home and life and chaos. I have to think it helps when you can acknowledge that one bout of yelling or one extra-lenient moment doesn’t affect resilient kids at all, as long as they know you love them and are doing your best. It’s one of the reasons I never subscribe to anything close to a “mommy war.” Who am I to lecture someone else on how to raise a kid, or criticize someone who is working his or her fingers to the bone to maintain a household? So, I apologize for whining about one week of extra duties and stress, but I will express how happy I am to have the hubby home again, finally, finally, happily.  Except, did I mention he got sick while working away? I’ll try not to throw every responsibility back at him all at once, to give him a day or two to recover.  Maybe. Potentially. Perhaps.

 

A Holidailies Hello

Hello, again, Holidailies!

It’s been a while since I participated in Holidailies. Nine years, or thereabouts. I have to admit, I was surprised to see the site still running. Kudos to those who maintain traditions, write all year long, and keep on blogging. My blog has gotten quite stale in the last few years. So, I decided to sign up again this year. I am partly motivated by the desire to blog again. And I’m greatly motivated to get back in touch with others’ blogs, to regain some sort of writing community and to read some funny stories, wise insights, and whatever else my fellow participants come up with. I am happy to see many of the same blogs I read years ago: Thankful Runner Girl (*wave!*); Hat on Top, Coat Below; Tuna News; Red Nose; Funny the World (who may or may not know that I was a Lawsuit fan, back in the day!). And I’m looking forward to making new blog discoveries. And with that, who is this Stone Girl, anyway? It may be time to dust off the old introduction. Here is my old one (complete with two spaces after a period, as we writers used to do, back in the day):

 

My blog, you will find, runs the gamut from “What I did today” to food to political commentary to food to creative writing to…..uhhh…..did I mention I like food?  There is no great theme for this blog.  If you can handle the randomness, please pull up a comfy chair, stick around, and drop me a comment from time to time because I have an insatiable curiosity about why other people think the way they do.  Maybe I would have been a sociologist if I didn’t hate statistics sooooooo much.  Oh, except for the occasional dislike of human interaction. I am more than three names and less than the legacy of my four grandparents.  I am a world-traveling homebody.  I am an occasional insomniac and often-vivid dreamer.  A wife to my Sweetie, daughter to my mom, Lil Sis to my Big Sibs, Aunty to my nephews, and you-gotta-love-me friend to my pals.  A recovering workaholic who has learned how to slack off while living in Maui.  Raised in small-town California.  Born in small-town Europe.  Technical writer.  Creative writer.  Blogging writer.  Laugher, crier, worker, player.  Hiker, music-lover, piano player, seeker, and student-of-life.   Environmental analyst, which means few people understand exactly what I do for a living.  I am comfortable in my own skin and always trying to grow a little more.   Loyal Aggie.  Lactose intolerant.  An open-minded Christian who counts the Dalai Lama as one of my only heroes.  Comic book collector.  Professional when I need to be, goofy by nature.   I believe in self-reliance for myself and helping others when I can.

 

Hmmmm, that’s all pretty much still true. I started my blog to try and stay in touch with friends and family when I moved to Maui in 2006. I suppose an update should mention that I’m back living in California. And, Sweetie and my family has grown by two since our Maui days, I am happy to say. Which may explain the lack of blogging in the last few years. Maintaining a job and household with two kids is about as much as my aging brain can handle these days. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean that my brain doesn’t still run about 200 miles per hour with overflowing opinions, ramblings, and questions. There are many food [Edit: I realize I erred and misspelled “good.” But…..did I mention at some point that I like food??] reasons to get back to blogging. I’m looking forward to reading lots of blog entries this month. Hope you all stop by from time to time. This is who I am. Who are you? Happy Holidailies!