Wednesday, September 23, 2009

6 months.

Rather than just a depression rumination on how I'm feeling, I thought I'd go for a depressing review of what's happened on each end of the year for the last 24 months.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007: We'd just returned from a beach trip with my dad & Randy. Alastair slept nary a wink, which meant we slept nary a wink, but we got to spend some great time together at the B&B, in the hot tub, on the beach, and playing with our little man.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008: Two days after Easter, and 11 days away from hospitalization. Amanda's skin-tone was non-existent, she was unable to climb stairs without being exhausted, and going through heart tests that were revealing nothing.

Thursday, September 25, 2008: The day of my bad review, and the day before my last full day of work at my old job. Also, the day before we learned that Amanda's chances were next to nil. On the 26th, we had a meeting with MCV's transplant team, where we discovered that her transplant, which had been scheduled to start the following Monday morning, was canceled. We then went to Dominion Shooting Range for a Fuck Leukemia party and enjoyed a great night out with friends.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009: The big day of suck. I awoke excited about the prospect of going to Texas on Friday, and set about getting stuff at work ready for my upcoming absence. About two hours into my day, I got a call from Ed saying that things were pretty bad, and that I might want to consider coming out to Texas that day, if possible. I changed my flight information, told my coworkers for the first time what was going on (I didn't want to come to work every day and spend 30 minutes giving updates on her condition), and headed home to pack a bag. On the way to pick up my mother-in-law, Ed called back and told me to get there as soon as possible, because "she's not gonna make it". I spent the next several hours completely numb, and the rest is well documented.

Friday, September 25, 2009: Here I am, crying at my desk. Somehow I've made this all about me again... Alastair is potty-trained, has really been expressive about missing Amanda recently, but seems to be doing all right. I'm a mess, and my baby's still gone.

First LONG car ride since infancy

This weekend was my family's reunion. This occurs every year, but last year we skipped it, and the previous year I have no idea if we went or not. Really don't care.

But this year we decided to go. Reunions in my family are always a mixed bag. They're generally just about exactly two hours long, the food is great, the meeting absolutely unequivocally MANDATORY and boring, and the kids run amok for a while. The running amok is fun, but the meetings make me stabby.

And the whole she-bang, which ends just as unceremoniously as it begins, is over 3 hours away. This would be our first test of Alastair on a long trip, and he did great! I put him in a diaper, just to be sure, but he was a champ and held his bladder for 2.25 hours without complaint.

We got there and he was introduced to his 7-year-old cousin Ryan, with whom he became instant buddies. They ran their mouths through lunch, had lots of fun, then ran off to play with trains. He sang the Boobies song and Doodoo in My Closet. He had a blast.

We stayed with my cousins Cory and Rebecca, and since they have 3 cats, Alastair was ready to stay there forever.

Sunday, just as quickly as we'd come, it was time to go. But this time we'd make two important changes to our drive: we'd pick up my dad and we'd stop at VIR to watch some racing. VIR was a big hit. They had a Porsche Club of America HPDE on South Course, and motorcycle racing on North Course. Dad got some pictures, which I hope to publish soon, but Alastair loved watching the PCA event. There was, after all, a racing MINI Cooper*! The motorcycles were fun, too, but the noise got to him after a while (at one point he was yelling at each motorcycle to "Stop it! Stop making all that noise!").

30 minutes after we left, we stopped at a gas station, where we took a potty break. After I'd, uh, handled his business, he turned to me and said, "Daddy, I wish Mommy wasn't in Heaven." It broke my heart, but I was so glad to hear him expressing his feelings for her.

The rest of the trip was fairly uneventful. Alastair finally got sick and tired of riding in the car about 40 minutes from home. I looked back to see him silently weeping. We immediately found a place to let him run around for a few minutes.

And, since he'd been so good, we came home to mac & cheese!

As an aside, it's incredibly challenging to take a young child to a public bathroom. Toilets are not shaped for little people, and I invariably wound up touching things I didn't want to touch. Either he ended up sitting side-saddle on the seat, or I'd suspend him in mid-air with his pants around his ankles, hoping he'd pee in roughly the right direction. But my fave is taking him to a urinal, where he always tells me "Daddy, that tickles!" when I try to help him aim. It's so completely embarrassing, and of course, his doodad is just exactly high enough to clear the porcelain. At the track, in the midst of peeing, he says, "Daddy, I'm getting splashed!" So yeah, we had to take something of an impromptu bath at the sink.

*For the MINI nuts--er, enthusiasts--who still read this, it was none other than Tony Nuzzo's car.

Monday, September 21, 2009

And then, on Friday

I came home and Alastair said, "Daddy, I love you." It took a few minutes, but I realized he'd pronounced the letter "L". Whoa.

So now he can handle every phoneme in the English language. Huzzah!

He's been tossing out L's all weekend. Singing the alphabet, spelling his name, slowly pronouncing his whole name, and professing his love.

And then we watched race cars. More on that later.

I love my boy!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

You Sitting Down?

Hold on to something. Something good and stable.

Ok, ready?

Alastair is... potty trained!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Overcoming Fear

I talk a pretty big game. I live and die by VB script, but when it comes to scripting, I feel much more comfortable querying than modifying. I'll pull information from Active Directory all day long, but please don't ask me to batch-mod 1000 users. I'll probably barf in abject terror. What if it goes wrong? The scripts generally run so fast that I can't stop them before they complete. What if I inadvertently disable 100% of user accounts on the domain, or delete an entire OU (I've seen both happen)?

But yesterday I took the plunge. Because of some buffoon's inability to properly code his/her software, I had to remove the dashes and parentheses from all phone numbers in AD. Easy enough to query, not so easy to modify, especially for the timid.

But I found a few tricks, cringed and hyperventilated while testing on a couple of accounts, and then closed my eyes and pressed the "Nuke" button.

Ho. Lee. Shit.

202 instantaneous changes, and no glitches. So I expanded it to all 10-digit numbers (essentially all US phone numbers). Again: no glitches.

So now I'm positively giddy. Today I undertook to change postal addresses in bulk. Every user now has his or her site's mailing address, including international (which meant learning about ISO 3166 A-2 country codes).

I am in nerd heaven right now.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Item not as advertised

Smell is an extremely powerful sense for humans. It, more than sight or hearing, has the ability to evoke memories, to repulse, to seduce, or simply to produce a sense of peace. Every time I smell axle grease, I'm instantly transported back to France, where I spent 37 days backpacking in '97. That smell reminds me of all the train stations in which I spent countless hours, but particularly Gare du Nord and Gare de l'Est.

Amanda had a smell, too. I don't know whether it was soap, perfume, lotion, or a combination of the above, but it was hers and hers alone. I knew she was near by that subtle scent, and it brought me instant peace and calm. But that smell is gone. It's not in her clothes, her suitcase, or her bathrobe. It's just gone.

Shortly after her first round of chemo, she changed her bathing habits, using new lotions and abandoning perfumes. Her old stuff either made her gag or wasn't seen as conducive to her health, so she changed it. I can't fault her for it, but her scent changed with it. The new one did not bring peace or calm, and I think to a small extent played a part in our distance during her battle.

But that's not the worst of it: both the old and the new Amanda smells were gone from this house before she died. And I've searched. I've gone through drawers, hunted through baskets of old laundry that never got put away, and dug deep into the coat closet. Gone. Poof.