Wednesday, November 25, 2009


Today marks 8 months, and tomorrow is Thanksgiving. My favorite holiday, and the one with the most tradition in my family.

For decades, my great aunt held Thanksgiving dinner in her house. Their sprawling quasi-basement/bar area easily held 30 or more people, year after year, and we (my dad and I) only missed it once, when I was in college. It was a tradition that Amanda fell into easily, as her family had no strong tradition for the holiday, and it was something we were excited to pass down to Alastair.

But then my great aunt had a hip replacement. And her daughter convinced her to sell the house. And that year we were uninvited. I was devastated, and it really upset Amanda to see me like that.

Well, the un-invitation caused ripples in the family (turns out we weren't the only ones), and we were surreptitiously re-invited the next year by my grandmother. We went, taking Alastair (he was 10 months old), and had a nice time, though it was clear that we were not expected.

The following year Amanda and I decided we didn't need the heartache, and like the big trouper she was, she suggested we try forging our own tradition. We baked a turkey, we made all manner of fixin's, and we had a fabulous Thanksgiving dinner at home. A new tradition was born!

And then she got sick.

No turkey making, no trip to Greensboro. We spent the day out of town with her parents, and it was nice, but cancer is a gloomy bitch and tends to overshadow even the nicest of days.

This year we (Alastair and I) were officially re-invited to Greensboro Thanksgiving. And we were excited about it. (Ok, I was excited about it.) But now I'm fighting a cold, and our accommodations fell through. So I should be glum, but I am not (well, ok, maybe just a little bit).


Because the future is no longer just a giant black spot. That's all I could see in April and May. I tried surrounding myself with shiny objects: new car, new PS3, new fancy gaming chair, pretty young ladies. But none of it mattered. I cooked, I cleaned, I cared for my boy, and I distracted myself. Normal stuff, I guess.

I also had no concern for whether I lived or died, which made my track weekends much more interesting.

But now I see in color again. The tones are still muted, and the lighting's a bit dim, but it's there. And I can see that it's vibrant and beautiful.

For all of my family and friends, who have helped make the last two years bearable, I give thanks. For my beautiful boy, I give thanks. For the 15 years, the love, the joy, and even the sorrow of my dearest, I give thanks. And for the future, the opportunity that it holds, the new paths yet to be discovered, I give thanks.

Happy Thanksgiving

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

'Manda Moment

I just had the best Amanda moment. I was watching the news, and they were reporting on an attempted burglary where the homeowner shot at the perps as they entered the house. He hit one, and that dude's in jail.

Bored by this, I turned off the TV, which takes about 5 seconds to complete. The last thing I heard was a woman--evidently a neighbor--saying "I just hope this sends a clear message that he was tired..."

Instantly I heard Amanda guffawing at that out-of-context gem. And then repeating in her most absurd South Side drawl, "Yeah, I shot his ass. I was real tired."

And just writing that I still can't stop laughing.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Introductory Martial Arts Class

Last night, Alastair and I went to a free introductory martial arts class.  We had gotten a card at a Halloween festival and I figured it would be something he'd enjoy doing.  Amanda and I had also talked a lot about getting him involved in martial arts, both for the dexterity/agility and the self-discipline elements.

As the date approached, though, Alastair got less and less excited about it.  I looked online and found that parents were encouraged to take the class right along with the children, and that got him really excited again.

But it was a lie.

When we got there, we spent a few minutes watching the prior class finish their lesson.  It was kind of fun to watch, but I didn't see any particular rigor applied to the style or the movements.  It seemed a little hokey, to me.

When it was our turn, Alastair was called first.  He and another little boy sat at the very front of the class, closest to the teacher.  I was placed at the very back of the class, just about as far from him as possible.  The teacher then told him that if she caught him looking for me, it would be a sign of disrespect to her.  Um, uh oh.  This might not end well...

But he was pretty good.  He didn't sit still, because he can't, but he did the moves, the kicks, the punches, and seemed to enjoy it.  He didn't enjoy the discipline, though, and had to be told a couple of times to face forward.  And he REALLY didn't enjoy the fact that we weren't doing it together.  He didn't cry, but he was very confused.

At one point the instructor was talking about the goals of the class, and they included a citizenship program that students could participate in.  It comprised doing 7 chores around the house every day, and she had one girl stand up and recite some of her chores.  Um, ok, but Alastair already does all of those things:  he cleans up his toys, he takes his dirty clothes to the hamper, he takes his dirty dishes to the counter, and he puts his milk cup in the refrigerator if he's done with it.

Later, the class was going through a range of 16 moves, with the teacher calling the number and the class repeating.  Well, Alastair knows his numbers pretty well, so he started calling the numbers right along with her.  Self-discipline be damned, even the teacher found it funny enough that after a few numbers, she stopped counting and let him lead!

And that was the only positive experience I was able to take away from it.

My back hurts, Alastair was confused, and we got a really late start to bed-time.

I don't think we'll stick with this.  He's just too little for that kind of regimentation, and given what he's been through this year, I think we need to focus on hugs and fun.  Discipline can come a little later.  Besides, he already gets a taste of it at the Little Gym.
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Tuesday, November 03, 2009


I was lying in bed last night after staying up way too late, as I am wont to do, and my mind was doing its usual refusal to spin down.  And, as usual, my thoughts went to Amanda, what I had with her, what I'll miss about her, and the things she'll never get to see.

But then something different happened.  While I was reminiscing about short walks around the halls of North 6 at MCV (Cletus the IV pole on one side and I on the other), I smiled.  I didn't get upset.  And then I realized that I was not upset, which usually undoes me.  But it didn't.

I was able to happily remember little moments of peace, serenity, and joy in the midst of all the pain.  That's a first.
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