Courtney wedding hair
I had an uncomfortable email exchange last night with a recent client who wanted an email address removed from the 'guest list' on her album of Flickr photos. Confused, I explained to her that her private album could only be viewed by allowed email addresses, and I'd only shared it with her. Apparently she was able to share it with someone else, and she didn't want that person having access anymore and asked me to "block it."

Not really sure how to handle it at first, I had her email me the address and said I'd look into it. I noticed it was a college email address, and I remembered her husband being a professor at that college. Due to my obnoxious curiosity, I Googled the email address, and sure enough, it was her husband's. Awkward and mysterious. Maybe his email address got hacked, or he's leaving the college? Or there are more scandalous options that come to mind. Obviously, I'll never say anything to her about it, and I'll probably never find out the story behind her strange request, but now I'm left speculating. This is the second year I've worked with them, and it makes me wonder if I'll see them again next year...

I don't post enough
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It's late and I'm having trouble going to sleep. It's late and I'm having trouble telling myself I need to go to sleep. Once I put away the computer and turn out the light, I'll be a light. Ha. It's true. I don't like stopping what I'm doing to go to sleep. It seems such an inconvenience!

The kids have started school and overall they seem to be doing great compared to previous years! Derek's new teacher is an older gentleman who started teaching after being a restaurant and deli owner in a previous life, has numerous college degrees, and slightly resembles Santa Claus. He has a love of learning and teaching that I hope will be infectious for Derek. They also finally got chess club at Derek's school, I think due to my pestering about it last year! I'm pleased, except they used a different company from the one at Derek's previous school (where Celeste currently is), which costs twice as much - so that's annoying, but we'll pay the extra since it's the only option.

Celeste's teacher seems nice, but I don't know much about her, other than that she's middle aged, dresses nicely and presents herself well. I'll be doing Art in Action again, so I'm sure I'll find out more soon. Two of Celeste's closest school friends are in her class this year, which is great, except for the obvious, and yet, unexpected consequence that there's a bit more competition between the three of them now. Oh well, such is life. It's also hard because Celeste's friends' mothers have grown increasingly close, but I'm not close with them. The mothers are both nice, but I think they are closer in age to each other and about 5-7 years older than me. I've actually known both of them longer than they've known each other, but I have trouble allowing myself to be close to the other moms. For whatever reason, I have a hard time relating to them (could be because of the age difference).

The house next door to us and the house across the street from us are both for sale right now. Both have swimming pools. I hope current friends, or at least two super cool families with kids our kids' ages will move in. We got off on the wrong foot with our next door neighbor, so I'd appreciate a fresh start with a new family. Also, pool parties.

so drunk
Courtney wedding hair
Welp. I'm really drunk. Just got back from the Swingin' Door with Dora, Annie, and Dayna. Brittany left earlier because she volunteered to get up with the wee ones in the morning.

Here's what I have to say. I'm wasted, and I'm going to take advantage of it. Because what better time to write than when in an altered state? I love writing, but sometimes it takes a while to free the mind. In fact, if marijuana were legal, I would definitely use it now and it is, I don't have an easy (non-shady) way to get my hands on it.

Let's just say that tonight I am drunk enough that I did the splits. At least three times. An act which I generally ONLY do when drunk. I am still completely plastered. Thankfully Dora's friend, Dayna, was the designated driver tonight. Dora's in town, so Dora, Brittany, and I went out for an evening of karaoke. And, obviously, karaoke is better experienced (from both a hearing and singing perspective) when drunk. So, we drank. Roger Niner is my go-to karaoke guy (dammit, we need autocorrect for livejournal because I keep missing letters), but he is out of town, and, furthermore, he doesn't even have a Saturday show (he and his girlfriend are amazing, I wish she could be at every show). So, Swingin' Door. Here's the weird thing. As you can probably tell, and, as I mentioned, I am completely inebriated. No sense whatsoever left in this lady over here. But...I DID NOT SPEND A PENNY at the bar.

Dora was going to get me a coffee, because she wanted to pay me back for the airport parking garage when I picked her up. Ok. So, she bought me a bourbon on the rocks. Then, Brittany got me a cider, because she had to spend $10 to use her credit card. After that, things got a little fuzzy. But, I do remember enough to say that this regular named Dax bought drinks for me and Dora (Bulleit bourbon on the rocks for me), and then Dora's friends Annie and Dayna arrived and they kept buying me drinks. Eventually, of course, we sang Queen. Because when you're really drunk, that's what happens. Because Queen is passionate and amazing. So Dora and I did a duet: Under Pressure.

The bar was closing and we were waiting out front in the cold. But I wasn't cold. I was wearing a - I guess you might call it spaghetti strap - blue checkered dress and probably should've been cold, but was not. So, I demonstrated my drunkenness by doing "Down By the Banks" faster than my other drunken friend, Annie. Way faster, because I get fast. And then I did the splits again, because someone asked me to. And, it is strangely pleasing that I can still do that, for some reason, even though I'm sort of old. Not OLD old, but, you know, old enough. Getting into Cougar territory.

So, Dayna drove me home, since Brittany had left. I may have said some things that I MAY regret. Or maybe not. Right now, of course, I simply don't care what people think, so regrets are irrelevant/impossible. Maybe I'll feel different when I wake up. I think I made a few dumb and/or unintentionally offensive Facebook comments, and now I might go pee and then go to bed. I hope I won't be hungover in the morning.

That's all for now. My eyeballs are done with being open. I think I'm going to regret tonight tomorrow morning. Today morning? Let's be realistic. It's 3:04 am. It's TODAY. I'm going to go pee now an get some more water.

Courtney wedding hair
Trina came over to watch the kids at 5pm, just a few minutes after Gene got back from work. I'd been cleaning the house -- not just sweeping and putting things away, but, like, scrubbing around the kitchen sink, spraying and wiping down cupboards and doors, etc. Still, I managed to achieve readiness -- dress on, hair somewhat tidy, a quick, light brush of Bareminerals foundation, and Neutrogena mascara (the only kind I've tried that I like) in the nick of time. I'd even remembered to start preheating the oven for the kids' dinner.

While Gene took a quick work call, I put the frozen pesto tilapia (thanks, Costco) in the preheated oven, prepared plates of veggies (tomatoes for Derek, carrots and bell peppers for Celeste, and sugar snap peas for both) and salad for the kids, got out the hummus, salad dressings, etc. and had them totally set up for dinner before Gene and I left at 5:15pm.

Our plan, in its entirety: go eat good food and dessert, be back by 8pm, because Trina isn't able to stay up late. Prior to leaving, I spent at least an hour on Yelp looking at different restaurants and reviews. Seems like a waste of time (well, it is), but we don't go out that often, so I was playing a bit of catch up - and I didn't want us to be hungry and scrambling indecisively for a place to eat when it was time to leave. It turns out there are a lot of restaurants in our area that I really _do_ want to try. But a lot of the ones that sounded good to me didn't have the right ambiance for an intimate anniversary dinner. One Mexican seafood restaurant near us sounded sensational and had gorgeous photos on its website, but on Yelp I could see that it was a super casual (bench seating, menu in fluorescent panels at register) and just not right for our anniversary, despite its 4.5 stars (783 reviews) and delicious-looking food. We will definitely have to try it out some time with the whole family, or maybe with friends (Tracy?! Don't know if you read LJ anymore).

We drove downtown, parked at the library, and walked past Milagro's, Savers, and some trendy cocktail and "small bites" bar on Main Street until we reached Martins West Gastropub. It was bustling and noisy enough that we could have private conversation at our long, narrow two-seater table (nice, because I worried it might be all shared bench seating - but it was a mix). Another couple, about our age or maybe a little younger, sat next to us, engaged in a loudly complaining conversation, but apparently having a nice time - and not so loud that I couldn't tune them out. I also enjoyed trying to figure out what it was they ordered (sliced toasted baguette with various spreads and sauces).

The gastropub was bright from the big windows at the front (where we were sitting), spacious and full of animated groups of friends and couples, ranging from a number of business persons and hipsters, male and female, younger than us, to the occasional well-dressed fellow 10-15 years older. I felt slightly tacky in my gold-sparkle wedge flip-flops, but 1) When are gold-sparkle wedge flip-flops ever NOT tacky? and 2) They're comfortable. Furthermore, half the staff was wearing "I heart Haggis" t-shirts and the other half was in plaid.

So, I got a Crispin Blackberry Pear Cider (from bottle), which was light and sweet - almost like soda, but not so sugary, and alcoholic. Gene had a Rasputin (bottled), which was also good. I ordered the Scotch Eggs (quail eggs soft-boiled in a crispy, lightly spiced bread-crumb sausage shell) as an appetizer and fish n chips as dinner. Gene got papardelle in a parmesan broth with morel mushrooms. In addition, he had one of their beers on tap - a strangely good, dark, rich cherry beer. Overall we were satisfied. It was a bit pricey for the serving size, and compared to what I would prefer to spend on food, but not pricey for our area. We decided to skip dessert at the restaurant (although we were intrigued by how disgusting a "pickled olive oil pound cake" sounded), and instead opted to walk around downtown until we happened upon a candy store. I half-filled a bag with self-serve gummies from their small assortment of jars while I thought wistfully of the candy selection at Ikea.

From there, we walked to La Tartine, which was a favorite little cafe of ours when the kids were young. It was quite uninspiring, though, except to inspire us to look elsewhere. We did, however, get a small-ish, and sadly dry peanut butter cookie for $1.50 (I remarked as we passed Whole Foods on our way home that we should've stopped there for their bulk cookie goodness). We walked from La Tartine back to our car nearby, I resisted the urge to have us stop in at Cost Plus (but it has so many good things!), and then we drove the block or two under the train overpass to Sequoia Station, where we ventured into our favorite local pearl tea place, Tea Time. However, we did not get pearl tea! Instead, we treated ourselves to tasty strawberry (and strawberry banana for Gene) crepes. Yum! We took our crepes to the rose garden at Red Morton Park, where we sat in the hazy golden sunlight by a fountain full of colorful rose petals, awkwardly trying to cut through crepe and strawberry with flimsy plastic forks, but reveling in the deliciousness despite the lack of proper utensils.

Thoroughly stuffed, we headed to Lucky to make a Redbox selection (cell phone research at the park resulted in our decision on the 2015 movie The Witch) before we went home. After struggling and many false starts, we finally got the kids settled in bed and started the movie. There were still frequent interruptions from the kids, and at one point Gene almost went to bed partway into the movie - but he persevered! Later we also sort of watched the movie Ex Machina, starring the guy who played Bill Weasley, but we both fell asleep. And that is the tale of our exciting anniversary!

Anniversary Song!
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The evening before our anniversary, I informed Gene that I hadn't gotten him a gift, because I recalled discussing not spending money on anniversary gifts this year and instead, deciding on other things that the family might need (or saving money). I realized as I spoke that we hadn't confirmed this, but Gene seemed somewhat in agreement (although he was tired, so he also seemed a little disgruntled).

Later that evening, I had sudden musical inspiration. I didn't buy a gift for Gene, but I'd write him a song. I was about to ride the exercise bike, so I figured it was the perfect time to write a song. I grabbed my laptop, phone, pretty turquoise ukulele and a wooden tray that sits to the side of the bike to put the laptop on. As I rode the bike, I strummed chords, sang whatever lyrics came out, and began typing the chords and lyrics into a file in my Google Drive - Music - Lyrics & Chords folder. As I tried out different melodies, I used my phone to record video, to back up my imperfect memory - even with the chords written down, it would be easy to forget the right tune. When I'd banged out all the chords and lyrics and figured out the rhythm, I looked down at the bike stats and had about 80 minutes of riding completed and 320 calories burned (supposedly). Probably slower and less efficient than riding without trying to type, sing, strum, etc, but this is great, because I don't like to think about exercising for the sake of exercise, but I do like eating food and fitting into the clothes that I own, so it is necessary. Multi-tasking win!

Sweaty, but not tired, I moved to the office, and after a few technical hiccups (the kind of thing nobody wants to deal with at 2am -- electronics needing to be plugged in in hard-to-reach places, sound not working through one device, unresponsive mouse etc.) set up my microphone and recorded the song. It took longer than it should have, because my mouse is having problems and it doesn't always respond - I haven't been using the computer in the office, so I'd forgotten about it, but -- must get that replaced! I had to record through about three times, not because I didn't like the sound (which I'm often very critical of when recording) but because there was one rhythmic section that I kept screwing up. Funny to screw up the rhythm in a song that you wrote yourself, but it happens. The result was a 2 minute 48 second song with verses and a chorus and an ending.

The song brings me joy. The idea that I can create something new and complete in just a few hours appeals to my constant need to create. I like the end result, and I know it'll be the perfect song as a gift for Gene. And, of course, it appeals my to love of and (frequently unsatisfied) desire to be efficient.

the nine-year-old's existential crisis
Courtney wedding hair
Poor Derek. He was crying just now in his bed while Gene and I were in the living room watching Orphan Black together. We heard him call out, "Daddy, I'm sad," so I went in to see what was the matter.

"Hey, sweetheart. Why are you sad?"

He said, "What's the point of living if we're all going to die?"

What do I do when my nine-year-old asks me this question? We are a non-religious family, and I didn't know what to say! I just wanted to start crying with him, not because I wonder about the answer to his question, but because he's nine years old, and he's asking this question, and he's genuinely despondent about it.

I crawled up into his loft bed, lay down and put my arm around him, and tried to explain to him that there are so many wonderful things to do in life, so many wonderful people to meet, so many people to love, and who love you. I told him we can do great things, and create things - writing, art, music, science, etc. - so that even when we are gone, we will have left a mark. He was not mollified. He said, "But it won't matter, because we will be dead. When we die, it will be like going to sleep and never dreaming, and that would be terrible."

Gene came in and we talked about how one day, maybe there will be immortality. I even went so far as to tell him the major plot point in the show Caprica (great show, by the way - in case people haven't seen it, I won't say here what it is). I told him we don't know whether or not there is an after life - but there could be. None of this cheered up Derek. He said, "But we can't bring people back from the dead!" Then he wrapped himself in his blanket and sobbed, "Go away!"

This conversation went on for a while, and I left the room feeling very sad myself. Gene stayed and talked with Derek longer, and eventually cheered him up by suggesting that he watch a funny show, although Derek resisted at first, because "That's just make believe. It's not real." But Gene told him that a lot of far-out science in shows from when he was a kid actually IS real now, and that helped.

What a complicated thing to try to explain to your children. I found it strange and alarming that Derek would be thinking about such things, but then I thought back to my own childhood, and I remember now that I worried constantly about death when I was young. I probably worried about it far more than my children do, because Adrian was diagnosed with leukemia at four years old, and we were only eighteen months apart, so he was a large part of my small world. I knew that he might die from leukemia, and I knew what that meant, because we went to Touchstone, a support group for families with kids with life-threatening diseases. Most had cancer, some had muscular dystrophy, some had congenital heart defects, there were other various illnesses, as well, and shortly before we stopped going, they introduced a pair of HIV positive children. I was never close with any of the kids who died, but there were some who didn't make it.

My grandpa died of cancer within a year or two (or maybe less - my sense of time at that age, around five or six, wasn't very accurate) of Adrian's cancer diagnosis, so there was really no avoiding the reality of death. When I think about all the little kids at Touchstone who succumbed to their illnesses, about so many young people who were so joyous before they were brutally shot to death in Orlando, about Adrian's own senseless death at eighteen, I feel that when I tell my children that life is an amazing gift that has so much happiness and so many wondrous things, I also must tell them that it's freaking unfair and full of pain and challenges - you have to take the good with the bad - and absolutely nothing is guaranteed. But I don't think I will tell them this. Honestly, I just don't want to think about it at all, and I hope we don't have this conversation again - because when it comes to my children, this line of thinking leads to ideas so awful and unfathomable that I can't - won't allow myself - to hover on them long enough to put them into words.

Mother's Day, Motherhood
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I meant to write a post about Mother's Day, so writing about some of my thoughts on motherhood, while not what I was planning, is at least apropos.

To be honest, I wasn't originally going to write on Livejournal at all. I was hoping to do some relaxing creative story writing, but I had to open Gmail to get to Google Drive, which led to seeing notifications in Gmail, which led to photo albums of Celeste's Girl Scout Camporee on Google+, which made me think about the children. I re-entered the Gmail window and tried to get back on track, but I remembered that I'd opened a task window, and that reminded me that I should write down some tasks.

Earlier, I stripped off my pants and was in the bathroom brushing my teeth when I looked down and saw that the bare fronts of my lower legs had an angry red rash. They've had an ongoing rash for months, but today it's red. So I wrote down the task, "Make a doctor's appointment." That got me thinking about how we need to make dentist appointments for the children, at which point I began to feel my stress level rise. After last year's dentist debacle, where I carefully chose a dentist who turned out to be AWFUL for reasons I won't go into detail about, I asked Gene if he could be responsible for picking a new dentist and setting up appointments for the children. Even thinking about it is making me start to feel hot in the chest.

The more I let it simmer, the more it bubbles up and becomes bigger than just an overdue dentist appointment. It becomes about AM I A BAD MOTHER? As a mother, there's this ever-present fear that permeates my entire existence, that makes me doubt myself, that makes me wonder if my mothering is good enough. No, not good enough. THE BEST. Because if I'm not the best, then I COULD be giving my children a better life. I could be a better mother. And yet I just can't manage to do every single thing. Usually I push these feelings aside and tell to myself, "You're doing the best you can." But am I? I think maybe I could do better. Which leads back to the question of whether I'm a bad mother. Or not bad, but mediocre. I could read more parenting books, I could be more organized. And it's not that I look at those specific options and choose not to do them -- it's that I make other choices about how to use my time (like this one, writing on Livejournal) and they eliminate the need to make those choices, because I no longer have time for them.

I'm probably not a bad mother. I think I'm pretty patient. I try to be fair. I try to protect my children while allowing them to explore and grow and learn. I try to teach them to be kind and honest and compassionate, to teach them about manners and about how to be friendly. I've worked hard to avoid making the same mistakes my parents made, although I'm sure that I'm making new ones. These are all things I think about on a daily basis, but there's just so much to consider that it's overwhelming.

End stream of consciousness rant!

Courtney wedding hair
Celeste loved Girl Scout Camporee. Her entire troop of 17 girls attended this Saturday. It was at Camp Butano Creek, which is gorgeous, green, with small hills and meadows and cabins, full of redwoods and banana slugs and with a creek running through it.

I won't go into detail right now, because I'm tired, but I wanted to be sure to mention it!

Another sad post
Courtney wedding hair
A friend was having a birthday celebration last Sunday at this trailer park-themed bar in San Francisco called Butter. I'm sure I've mentioned it before. When their kitchen is open (it's not on Sunday, unfortunately) they serve all manner of deep fried atrocities (not as bad as that time Homer Simpson deep fried his shirt, or an entire platter of food, including the wine bottle, but it's up there), and some of their mixed drinks include grape soda, strawberry soda, and Dr. Pepper. I once selected randomly from their drink menu when the bartender got to me before I'd decided, and I ended up with "Shotgun Wedding": a shot of Jack Daniels and a giant can of beer (I think it was Bud). The huge can lasted me half the night, and I felt ridiculous.

We were planning to celebrate Steve's birthday with his wife, Elizabeth, and a bunch of friends, but Steve caught the flu, or something equally horrible, and had to cancel. However, I'd made arrangements to pick up and carpool with our friends, Gabe and Cathy, and since I'd already planned on going out, and they're regulars, I decided, why not?!

The bar was emptier than I've ever seen it in the few times I've been. Once it was so packed that you couldn't move without rubbing sweat onto at least one other person. This time, expecting a rainy, wet, traffic-ridden drive, and instead experiencing a relatively dry, traffic-free journey, we arrived early, just 20 minutes after opening, and we were the only customers.

A hefty bald man sat at the bar engrossed in his laptop, but he looked up and smiled when we came in. He's the manager, Dennis. We'd met before, but it was probably on the day everyone was wedged in like a disorderly pack of Crayolas - a bit chaotic, and harder to remember one face among so many - and I've since changed my hair, so we "re-met" since he didn't remember. Behind the bar there was a tall, bald guy, who was not introduced, and this very chill late twenties/early thirties guy, tallish and slim with longish brown hair, a t-shirt and jeans. His name is Kevin, or "You can call me 'Squid.' Either one," he said.

Within the building, the bar is oblong, with plenty of space for customers around its entire circumference, while the bartenders are situated within the oval and all of the alcohol is on a wall in the center. A pole or metal pipe extends high across the ceiling, strung with around fifty bras.

...well, I guess I rambled too much, and now it is late and I didn't get to the sad part. I'll try to remember to continue this post tomorrow!

Courtney wedding hair
My cousin's girlfriend, whom I've never met and am not even friends with on Facebook, made a very sad post today. Colin is a cousin that I've always had a particular fondness for, since we were little kids, so even though I don't know his girlfriend (they live in another state), I feel a sense of closeness to her. In pictures together they always look very natural and happy, and it makes me happy that she does that for him, and for his daughter (his wife left him a few years ago - long story short, he's a good guy and she was having a mid/early-life crisis). I want to write to her, to let her know how sad I feel for her and her family, but she doesn't know me. I feel like it helps to hear that other people have gone through the same things that you're going through, but I also don't want to come off as self-indulgent in a note of condolence, so I'll post it here, just to get it off my chest.

"I'm so sorry, Mallory. We haven't met and are not friends on FB, but I love seeing all of the photos of how happy you make my cousin, Colin and his daughter. So even though we don't know each other, we are connected in that way.

My brother died suddenly when he was 18, with so much going for him and so much left undone, and although the circumstances are different and I can't say I know exactly what you're going through, I do know what it feels like to lose a sibling, someone you thought would do great things, someone you thought would always be there, the way he always has been, who you can't imagine living without. I'm sure you're still in shock right now -- and you probably will be for a long time. I remember thinking how strange it was that the world kept going without my brother in it, even though my own world was shattered. It's strange and awful that your brain is making the biggest ever adjustment to reality, but you go to work or walk down the street and on the surface, everything seems like business as usual. I wish I had something more comforting to say, but honestly, nothing can make this suck less. I think the best I can do is let you know that you're not alone. You are surrounding by loving friends and family. Colin is a good guy, and I'm glad that he's there to support you at this terrible time."

That's what I was going to write. Her post that made me cry was a photo of her hugging her brother in his hospital bed. He's a young man, probably in his twenties. If it weren't for all the tubes, he'd appear to be healthy, fit -- like he could just get up and walk out. From what I gather, he had diabetes, and somehow slipped into a diabetic coma. Doctors gave the family the results of the brain scan two days ago: "little to no brain activity." The photo today read, "This is the last picture I will have with my brother and best friend." An hour later there's a photo of Mallory and her parents, smiling and holding up a white paper with a big ink hand print on it. A memento when you take someone off life support? How odd that we smile in pictures out of reflex, even when someone just died.

I'm so sad for Mallory and her family, sad for Colin, that he will be denied the friendship of a brother-in-law if he and Mallory one day get married, and sad for Maelie that she won't get to have the cool uncle. Sad to hear of a promising young life cut short.


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