tiny bubbles / making memories

As some of you know my kids are down at Disneyland this week – with my mother. Monday I drove the lot of them to the Portland airport’s Radisson hotel. I walked them to their room, made pleasant talk, and then left. Like I was normal. I can still see my son poking his head out the hotel door, happy to send me on.

I walked through the lobby and out into the balmy parking lot. I climbed in my mom’s minivan and sat. I felt myself consumed with a terror and sadness. I recited The Three Jewels aloud, three times. I cried. Then I turned the engine over and got on the road.

Life is better than it used to be. Instead of driving in a numb haze of grief, I began to wake up. I began to breathe deep. By the time I met my brother and sister-in-law at the most amazing restaurant of all time (Country Mouse is very Country, & easily impressed) I was almost feeling normal – if hungry. I had a wonderful dinner and got back home a little after ten, to a tired husband and a clean home.

I have been okay since I got home. I have access to breathing deep, to being mindful. Seeing a little baby in a stroller today, kicking his legs, I got that pang. Seeing a tousle-headed blonde child at the hardware store, there it is again. I can’t believe how much less work it is, having no kids in the house. I’m on my last client costume of the season, and I’ve been able to work on that in peace. I can do dishes and laundry, and more do not pile up. It’s been nice.

But it will be lovely to have those little warm arms around me and hear their voices again. I don’t know how people can stand being away from their children but I’m here, and I’m standing it, and I’m even living my life a bit.

there and back again

Day surgery, a surreal experience. I slept poorly the night before but if there’s one thing I don’t need great sleep for, it’s anesthesia.

If you read here you probably know: I am terrified of medical procedures that involve being put under by narcotics. I am also terrified of needles. I mean my fears are huge. I don’t know why, and perhaps I will ever know. Today I accept these fears with a great deal of patience and kindness.

That’s all well and good, but these fears mean I have a hard time with all the minor hurts and indignities of the before-preparations. Like now: the nurse fiddles about trying to insert an IV in my left hand and instead stabs through the vein. The room fills with a small sadness as I turn my head and try not to cry. She hushes and wraps my hand and applies pressure, and tells me “sorry” several times – like about five. I am thinking this is not professional, but what is even more important and precious, I can tell she doesn’t want to hurt a patient. It is very amazing to me that some health care professionals, even after how hard they work and how much they see these things and worse, can still have that empathy over my little bit of pain. It really softens my heart.

My husband hates more than anything to see me suffering – it is kind of his Worst Thing. So even though he’s committed to being with me every moment, I know he’s uncomfortable here. I tell him he can go, I am okay. He tells me unless I request for him to leave he is going to stay because he is committed to being there for me anytime shit is rough.

The nurses come and go and now and then it’s just Ralph and I, sitting in the sunlight, both tired, both nervous. We turn and look at the cheerful placard that reads: “Tell Us What We Can Do To Make You Feel Safe!” I whisper to my husband in busted-down sotto voce, “Please stop stabbing me with needles!” He laughs but his eyes fill with tears. He jokes back, “Quit taking my clothes off and hurting me!” We implode into small fits of laughter and even though I am tired and frightened I am immensely cheered.

More procedures. More needles. I’m thinking, I will give you bastards one thousand dollars if you at least let me wear my bra and underwear under this hideous “gown”. I’ m not happy sitting here like a naked mole rat covered in thin cotton. A few specialists come by. They comment on the rarity of meeting someone on Zero medications. They tell me I am healthy, except for the reason I am here, for which I feel grateful. One specialist comes in and speaks to me in such a condescending, ridiculous fashion I gleefully store the exchange in my heart. If you know me IRL I am happy to relay an impression of this hubris to you, as it makes me laugh still. Then the final specialist: an anesthesiologist. We talk a bit and he has that efficiency and expertise of someone with the responsibility of placing another human being in death’s arms and then bringing them away again. He starts me on the medicine and begins to wheel me out the room. I tell Ralph, “Bye,” and I know I am going off to Won’t-Remember.

The morphine kicks in and it is not pleasant – I feel my body squeezed in a hot vise and I feel myself taken away to some other place, from somewhere in my chest.

Only a brief memory of the stainless steel, the friendly surgeons and other personnel, quickly and efficiently sticking sensors to my skin.

When I swim to consciousness and out of a hallucination (a twisted brick path, a nameless creature upon it) my throat feels terrible. It is sore, filled with the acrid taste of whatever lubricant they used to get me on a breathing apparatus. A kind nurse comes and helps me swab and rinse my mouth. She floats in and speaks to me with such gentleness I feel safe and cheered; she has no sadness in her body language or voice so I know I am Okay. Nevertheless, a few moments later I hear two other nurses, one of them disparaging drug addicts who come in with abscesses. I want to tell them of my dear friend who came in this way, and has now been clean and sober since this last event. But I am still muffled under fog and shifting sands and even five feet away they are not reachable.

As soon as I can speak, I ask if I’d had a stint placed. I am told, No. My mind eases a bit.

Back in day surgery my husband is given back to me and I am supplied with a small tub of high fructose corn syrup-sweetened cranberry juice. Nothing tastes better. I know I will vomit everything up again, but I am simply too thirsty not to drink it.

A wheelchair out to the car, a ride home. Vomiting and then again, and then rest.

And yes, in the evening after I slept, I pulled myself out into the world again. I participated in some work with other alcoholics – a very small meeting. I did this because I was okay to walk, and to speak, and it’s something I do if I can. And at first, I thought I was fine. But once I got home I was exhausted, and threw up again. That kind of violent even-out-the-nose vomiting.

But again, I am pretty serene. The vomiting will pass – it is the medicine, and I am sensitive to it.

I am still feeling the gratitude of being awake – and not having a bunch of needles and appliances in my body.

So today: more recovery. Trying to rest instead of working too hard. Hoping I can poop. Believe me, pooping after having morphine is like, a huge milestone of joy for me. I remember in November 2011 having a procedure, and being constipated (my first time ever) and boy by the end I was in fervent prayer.

And on that topic, my brother sent me a link. Read not one review, but several. You will be in tears by the end.

Vintage Surfers

we do not take a trip; a trip takes us

Vintage Surfers
I love vintage beach photos – the older the better! – and who wouldn’t?

We’re travelling again today – to Portland, for my only brother’s wedding. I am very excited about this, as you may well imagine!

It wouldn’t be a Hogaboom occasion if things weren’t a little busy right up until we leave. Ralph and I have two o’clock haircut appointments and we still need to do some housecleaning and pick up some suspenders for the kids. I have sewn a silk suit for each child, a shirt for each child, a bow tie for each child, two different headpieces, two wedding gifts, and a hanging bunting – all of this besides the effort required to find semi-formal togs for Ralph and I, who needed the works, including shoes. And of course, we are orienting our house-and-dog-and-cat sitters and the like, as well as wrangling our kids who don’t exactly slow down no matter how much we might like them too!

These past few weeks I have paced myself as well as possible, attempting to ameliorate my enthusiasm and creative energies with my family’s needs and my own need for rest and enjoyment. Daily bike rides and listening meditations have been essential in keeping me from growing ill or over-anxious. Today will be an exercise in trying to move slowly.

For me, a wedding is a celebration. Life is hard and being mated is tempting at times but doesn’t actually make things easier, or at least not in the long-term. Being partnered is quite a challenge – a wonderful, at times baffling journey! Tomorrow my family grows larger and my brother embarks on more responsibilities – or at least a new element to his life’s journey. I am honored and grateful to be included in this celebration and I am grateful for the health and well-being of those I love.

roostercore & other friday fun

“Sometimes I’m Still That Little Girl” – a great Flickr collection.

A bit about Imposter Syndrome, something most people can at least relate to.

Cora’s Story – a mother shares about her experience with the most common birth defect, congenital heart defects (between 1 in 70 to 1 in 100 babies). A very intense story, but well worth the read.

25 YouTube Comments That Are Actually Funny at buzzfeed. These are giggle-inducing in an aggregate way. Favorites: the two after the dolphin video, then later the one with the musician and his beard.

Reshared by the late Erica Kennedy, shortly before her untimely death – one of her favorite pictures.

Another hero MamaKitty – but no one compares to Scarlett, who holds a special place in my heart, and in literature.

Nature teams up to bring us something very special, and incidentally this is the kind of thing that makes my brother and I talk about constructing a stainless-steel bunker home with hydroponic foods and a germ-laser-toilet.

Thinking Kink: Debunking BDSM Myths at bitch magazine.

& the newest music scene I’m into. Oh, internet. I love you so much:

“Loneliness comes with life.”

I have this odd thing about milestones, an internalized pressure I have to have a good day. I’m supposed to, you know. On Christmas, Valentines, my birthday. That “supposed to” leaves me little room for being human, being fallible, making mistakes, not knowing what’s going on, committing errors. It’s not a very good force in my life, that “supposed to”. I’m sure many people can relate.

It happens I used to feel some self-pity when my birthday came and I felt blue, or things didn’t work out to my satisfaction, or the boyfriend wasn’t nice or I didn’t have a girlfriend or whatever. A long time ago, I think, the self-pity bit. Because several years ago I realized I had been given a very special life to live. Maybe this sea change germinated during my 17th and/or 18th birthdays, where both years my close friends pulled off some excellent surprise party-age for me; two years in a row tricking me, by the way – I was totally convinced nothing special was going down (and yes, I felt self-pity before the “SURPRISE!”, then felt like an ass, predictably). Or my 21st where I got a car with a bow on it from my parents, after a lovely dinner at the posh little restaurant my brother-in-law worked at. Or my 30th, the last few days in Port Townsend, when I had the most overwhelming and lovely going away/birthday party (P. remember you came down with gastritis?!). Or just the many little and brilliant things that have happened on so many birthdays. The small little stack of cards on my shelf right now with wonderful things written in them from good friends.

I have had in my life a lot of love and many wonderful friends. They’ve given me so many gifts: their time, their handcrafted wonderfulness, their gifts, sometimes quite extravagant, their gifts, usually knowing me and what I adore. They’ve given me their company and their kind regards and even those emails and little DMs and IMs and texts and handwritten cards. They’ve given me flowers and cakes topped with flowers, and wrapped-up lusciousness and very dear perfumes which were a pleasure to apply every morning. They’ve given me coffee and teas and soaps and candles and lipsticks, those things in life that make such a gift out of the smallest rituals. They’ve given me their company whether I felt happy or blue, whether I was being selfish or rude or distracted or happy. They’ve given, given, given.

They’ve gifted me all this and more.

I can only say Thank You to these friends and family; I can only say Thank You to the universe and re-commit to appreciating those in my life. I can re-commit to being kind and telling these people how I feel. I can only commit to taking more care to gift others, not out of obligation but because they are special people to me and gifting is a wonderful privilege. This sounds like only a little, but it is a lot. It is easy to get distracted and to not appreciate those in life when they are right here with us, to love or ignore, our choice.

I seem to have less of a mind for detail than I used to. I used to be able to remember so many things the kids and I did and I would write them all up here on this journal. Reading my old entries causes me pain. I think I was funnier, I know I had more pain and was more crass, I know I had more drama, but I think I’m still about as passionate. Still, I can only write as well as I do.

Here’s one event from the day: Phoenix and I were lying in bed this afternoon as I didn’t feel well (seriously I really did injure myself on that dance floor last night, my creaky old joints need more practice!), and she started making fun of my saggy boobs (they aren’t that saggy, but, whatever). And she was going on with quite a bit of prose on this fantasy so like really quickly all of a sudden I grabbed at her and poke-tickled her ribs (my brother had this move down with his boney-ass fingers) and she collapsed laughing and said, “I love insulting you!” and I said I would smash her flat, and she said, “You can’t control who you gave birth to!” and I said, “I know, and I immediately regret the choice to have you!” and we laughed really hard.

Then she fell quiet for a moment and corrected herself that yes, I could have chosen to not birth her, or to birth her but not raise her. And she grew somber and said how people who had too many cats would take a new litter and put it the creatures in a bag and throw it in the water. I said, “Yes, that is a sad thing.” She said, “It’s awful.” Then she said, “I think people might be doing this right now,” and her perfect little mouth was quite grave.

And I said, “Now that you have that awareness you can take care of animals, and teach others the value of caring for life.”

And Phoenix said, “What I’d like to do, is cross-breed kittens with snakes. Then if someone went to put them in a bag, [ mimics hissing / striking action ].”

Kitten-snakes.

So anyway, that’s one of the people I live with, and how their mind works.

Oh and yeah? It turns out, after a rough start, I did have a very nice birthday.

***

R.I.P. Whitney Houston; & here I have a dedication to my homegirl J., remember when we used to watch this in the apartment on 8th?

as close as hands and feet

Happy 33rd!

Myself, Billy. And our fridge-magnet creation we dispassionately display here: “Mad Max”.

Today is my brother’s thirty-third birthday. He and I were born a year and a half apart, more or less, so his age is about as easy to keep track of as mine (this endeavor grows more difficult every passing year, especially as my basic arithmetical skills have atrophied).

It was pointed out to me yesterday the people we have the longest relationship with in our life are our siblings – not our spouses or partners, friends, or even parents. Holy shit. I hadn’t thought of it that way. My half-sister Jules and I weren’t raised together and I got to know her best the brief time we both lived in Seattle, while I was attending school – and of course, I get to know her today, I’m fortunate to. Having been raised with my brother, and without my sister, I can say it sucks not to have known her more, had her as a regular part of my life.

But still, back to Billy, his big day. I’ve known him ninety-six-point-five percent of my life. I can’t remember a time without him. He was a sweet boy and the grownups (in my opinion) didn’t give him enough of the right stuff. It seemed to me like my mom worried about him and prodded him to do better in school (he was a straight-A and B student), more socially than anything else, whatever that meant as he always had friends and teachers liked him. Family told us “they” (who? teachers? family?) thought for a time in early childhood Billy was “retarded”. Yeah, “retarded”. You heard right. I don’t think my mom, brother or I use that term anymore. Anyway, I mean just the way it was said, not so sensitive nor apt, not because if he’d been neurologically atypical I would think that’s a bad thing, it was fucked up as there was an unspokent judgment in that whole story: you know, be like everyone else whyont’cha? (product of baby boomer mentality)

I mean like I said, this was a student who did fine and a boy who always had friends and had a lovely character. Yet almost every year on his report card a teacher would write, “Billy needs to finish things on schedule”. These teachers always meant their schedule of course. If Billy had been my son (I know, weird), my eyes would have rolled ’til they clicked and I’d have said, “Fuck your schedule.”

Because Billy was, and grew up to be, and is to this day – as far as I can tell – a detail-oriented, kind, caring, intelligent person with a deep love for his close friends (of which I am not sure I am one … yet), a strong commitment to his work and a desire to do it well (both our parents were this way, except, notably, our father when it came to home repair projects). He’s ended up in a detail-oriented position with employers who love him, and he them, and he takes deadlines seriously. He’s the same as he was when a boy, or at least all the good parts. As far as I can tell. He’s a bit private and I only know him as well as he lets me. I think he did pretty well or has so far because mostly he got love from our mom and dad despite their shortcomings.

Our dad was kind of a dick to him, by the way. Again, at least I think so, I don’t know if anyone else does. Shortly before my dad died, but when he could still get around, he showed up at my house on Eklund and rambled about Billy and how he, our father, wasn’t as tender and loving as he could have been, and he thought Billy suffered because of that. It was weird, my dad talking to me like that because that isn’t how my dad talked (adulthood – I only remember him hugging me and saying “I love you” to me just before he died). Anyway after a while of this sitting there having coffee I said to my father, “Shit, it sounds like you need to talk to your son, not to me.” I don’t know if he even did. But then Billy wasn’t there when dad died. So there you go you old weasel, you get like you served up.

Billy and I are so physically different it’s funny. He’s thin and I’m plump. (Our parents used to tell me not to bully him because one day he’d be bigger and would retaliate. I think I still outweigh him by about forty pounds.) He’s dark-haired and olive-skinned (but pale) – like our sister – and I’m fair(ish). He can grow quite the beard and I can barely manage a mustache. We used to make jokes when we’d go out in public, as if we were perceived as a couple and somehow people also knew we were brother and sister, and were creeped out.

My brother is hands-down the best listener I’ve known. He’s also been so supportive of my parenting and marriage as far as I can tell. Get that, I just told you our siblings are who we know longest and I have this loving guy who’s a great listener and supporter. He’s also very funny and we share a lot of jokes. I’d like to think we can make new ones, not just have the old ones.

I can only speak on my brother and his childhood from my perspective, and I can’t know if he relates at all. I think about him often, and I’m always glad to see him or hear from him. I am glad he has a good lady in his life and great friends and a good job. And I send him – regularly – pictures and videos of our cat bullshittery (LEGION!) which I know he appreciates.

Happy birthday, Lobster Eyes. Many more I hope.

***

Myself taking a picture of my sister taking a picture of my brother and daughter (you can tell the picture’s a few years old by how little my Phoenie is!):

My Sister Taking A Picture Of My Brother And My Daughter

fête

Phoenix Fire Hogaboom Turns 9

Phoenix Fire Hogaboom Turns 9

Phoenix’s ninth birthday is coming up. I want to have one hell of a shindig. I’m concerned though. I worry I’ll think of great details and lose steam as the date approaches. This has happened before. The trick, for me, is to plan and work for a nice event but remember, life goes on afterwards – no need to obsess.

So right now I’m planning the menu, which is going to be a vegetarian dinner, not party snacks but an awesome dinner including foods that make you want to punch yourself in the face, they’re so good. I have some help from chef-extraordinaire Amore.  ALSO I must wrangle the music, decorations and the prizes. These latter two categories is where I can lose steam. I do not want to buy a bunch of plastic or Dollar Tree provisions; I love to create with recycled, upcycled, and recyclable or reusable accoutrement. I also want my mom’s house (where the gala will be hosted) to be a big fucken undersea kingdom. Yet adornment is not my strong suit. Have you seen my house? I have three pieces of artwork total hanging on the walls (my favorite is probably Phoenix’s bloody fossil, marker and paint on cardboard).

I loved how our invites turned out – Ralph and I have so much fun with stuff like this. If you want us to send you an invite, wherever you live, let us know, as we have a few extrys.

baaaaaaallllls

I’m glad it happened, really. Things have been going so well on the Christmas front. Tiny, well-crafted yet frugal gifts; homemade music and Christmas cards out on time (um, today, so expect yours soon), a few home-sewn items, a few excellent purchases from our local bookstore (yay!), several very well-curated bits of goodness (specifically for my mother and kids; I’ve owned it this year). This season people often ask how it’s going and I’ve been able to truthfully say Very Well, very pleased to celebrate and honor friendships and family, but I also laugh and add there’s some mini- (or, and I hope not, major-) disaster on the way –

So today after literally sewing until I bled (Stabby McNeedleson) I put the finishing touches on the lovingly-crafted button-up shirt I was making for my brother, made from crisp and delicious Essex linen/cotton blend and Pam Erny’s awesome pro-weft interfacing, and stitched up all eight buttons with a trademark thread finish, 100% flat-felled seams (yes, including the armscye!) and a narrow hem to die for and a wonderful weight and hand and looking sharp. And I wash the shirt it and remove it to dry and press and immediately perceive THE FUCKING FABRIC HAD FURTHER PRESHRUNK, resulting in thoroughly ruinous interfacing/fabric bubbles that cannot be pressed out and cannot be ignored either as in, I will not be gifting this to my brother, no way. OH GOOD LORD NOOOoooOOOO

I can tell Ralph’s worried about money. By little subtle hints like his IM today that says, “I’m in so much pain right now, worrying about money.” Also more concrete sea changes like the fact instead of the typical breakfast cereal my kids like he purchased Junky-Os, you know the kind in the bag made of teflon-ass so a kid has to tear and tear and get a kitchen knife (unsupervised as I’m all Twittering and shit) and saw and tear and then suddenly BAM! the whole business asplodes all over the kitchen floor, which perhaps may even the financial savings inherent in a lower-grade purchase a bit moot, but my daughter cleaned the whole business up except for a tidy little pile of Os that later the cat was messing about with while tangling herself up in my serger foot pedal since the serger is sitting on my tiny kitchen counter since, even with a super crafty family, we have only one table, one, which is in the sewing room now which means we eat sitting on the floor again, no big deal but still.

Ralph and I are home at 1 AM after wrapping up Christmas presents at my mom’s house, our package for the Portland crew: my sister, my brother and his girlfriend (and her cat). At least I know my mom and the USPS won’t fuck-up the mailing of the package so all that will go well enough.

And that’s just all I have to say about all of that.