(no subject)
Courtney wedding hair
purrltea
We didn't do much today. Gene went to work, I hung around the house with the kids, trying to get them to clean and organize.

It feels like half our summer has been spent on trying to get the kids to help clean the house, and the resulting tantrums. The kids will whine and cry and scream and even at times become destructive, throwing pencils or ripping up things that they've written or created. This might be over something as simple as a request to sort their shoes, or put away laundry, or clear dishes from the table. It's so ridiculous. The kids think they should never have to do any chores, and that the "point of summer" is "to be lazy." Super frustrating. They also refuse to let me teach them anything, like musical instruments, or languages, or...well, pretty much anything. How are they ever going to becoming functioning human beings?!

This evening I went to another half hour SVJP photo shoot. Nothing exciting this time. No Masi Oka. But it's good I wrote this journal entry, because it has reminded me that I need to have my check mailed, because the woman at the meetings who usually gives me the check was seated at the front of the room, so it would've been disruptive to ask her for it when I was leaving, with an audience of people. When I emailed my client just now, I discovered a nice feature of Gmail's: When you email someone and mention within the email that you're sending an attachment, but then forget to attach the file, Gmail sends an alert when you hit "send" to point out that you haven't attached a file, and give you the opportunity to do so before sending. That's helpful!

I'm getting sleepy. My eyes are droopy with sleep, which is weird because a half hour ago I felt wide awake. Now I can't stop thinking about drinking coffee tomorrow. Mmm. Coffee.

Let's see, what else did we do today? Oh, I walked the kids over to Henry Ford and threw the frisbee a few times before we walked back to I go leave for my photo shoot.

Gene and I got in a minor argument over furniture arranging this morning (such a boring adult thing). I was upset because it felt like he was being controlling - when I told him I didn't want to talk right now, he said that was unacceptable - something we say to the kids. He was on his way out the door, so we didn't pursue the conversation, and it was fine.

We were supposed to go hiking with Trina in the morning, but she came down with some sort of sore throat illness, so that was unfortunate. I hope to do actual fun stuff with the kids tomorrow, something other than just making them clean all day. If they'd just get the cleaning out of the way I'd be happy to do fun stuff for the rest of the day! They just don't get it. Sigh. Maybe we can check out the food trucks at Hiller Aviation Museum.

ETA: I just remembered that food trucks were TODAY. I wonder if there's a Thursday Off The Grid food truck gathering anywhere nearby...clearly I am writing while hungry.

construction next door, ugh
Courtney wedding hair
purrltea
The jackhammering commenced around 8am this morning, and hasn't let up since (it's now nearly noon). SO LOUD.

I'm trying to decide what to do with the kids, and also trying to figure out a plan for the furniture in our home, but it's so damn hard with insanely noisy jackhammering interrupting my thoughts every few seconds. They've got multiple jackhammers going today. One in the front of the house, one in the back. The back one is right next to all of our side windows, right by our living room, office and mine and Gene's bedroom, so it's unavoidable unless we leave the house. It's essentially making our backyard unusable, and our house uninhabitable. Good thing I don't have work to get done in the office right now, at least.

Beach, Other stuff
Courtney wedding hair
purrltea
We told the kids that they're going to start writing a daily journal entry, so I figured that I should do the same. This is something that we meant to start at the beginning of summer, like so many other things that we did not, in fact, start at the beginning of summer.

Other things I meant to start/have done at the beginning of the summer that never happened:

1) Reading logs

2) Print and post lists of presidents and world maps

3) Japanese writing & language learning (taught by me)

4) Teach the kids music of some kind (also taught by me)

5) Have the house clean and organized

6) Plan out a schedule of fun outings

Things that I've meant to do regularly throughout the summer, that I have not done:

1) Write

2) Get the house even CLEANER and MORE organized (because, presumably, I'd already cleaned it...)

3) Practice music (ukulele, piano, guitar, singing)

4) Write songs

5) Carry out our schedule of fun outings, that I never planned

6) Keep practicing coding

7) Visit more friends

Things that I HAVE accomplished include:

1) Taking the kids to the Academy of Science before our membership expired, at the beginning of summer

2) Taking the kids to the beach, which we did today.

3) Reading. Although I haven't been getting around to writing, I've been slowly making my way through books. So far this spring/summer I've read:

- 1984
- The Handmaid's Tale
- The Knife of Never Letting Go
- The Ask and the Answer (sequel to above)
- Monsters of Men (sequel to above)
- Matched (first of a series)
- The Heart Goes Last
- The Declaration
- The Resistance (sequel to above)
- The Legacy (sequel to the above - most generically named trilogy ever?)
- Farenheit 451
- The House of the Scorpion
- Son

I have the MaddAddam Trilogy (Margaret Atwood) checked out from the library, which I plan to read (I've already read Oryx and Crake, but I don't remember it well), and I plan to read the other two books in the Matched trilogy along with the entire Uglies series (Joe gave me the boxed set years ago, but I never got around to reading it). Hurray for YA dystopian fiction. I'm absolutely devouring it right now.

4) Getting the house slightly cleaner & more organized. Discovering the joy of a cordless mini vacuum has changed my life! In that, my life is less dusty now.

I've been feeling very scattered, as usual, but trying to focus more and get things done. We were hoping to rearrange our home so that we can put Derek and Celeste into separate rooms. This would involve moving our office out of the office and putting it either in the garage or our bedroom, so that Celeste can take over the room that is currently the office. We could really use some extra help with this if we move our office to the garage, as it'll involve the tedious, time-consuming job of clearing everything out of the garage so we can clean and paint it (right now it's all dark wood, and not that pleasant for hanging out inside), but we haven't really wanted to bug people to help us with something that's so annoying, so we'll probably just end up doing it on our own. Either that, or we move a few things, and paint a little at a time. Either way, if it happens this year, it needs to happen in summer, when paint will dry faster, before it gets rainy (if it gets rainy, you never know around here). Otherwise, we can move out furniture from our bedroom and make one corner into an office nook. I'm not sure how well that would work, considering our bedroom is not very big. Another option, I suppose, is to move the office out into the family room or living room area, near the front of the house. Right now Celeste has her own "office" area at the front of our house. I suppose if Gene and I move there, she could move her "office" to the bedroom that will be hers. If only I'd become an interior designer, as I originally intended, this whole situation would be so much easier to handle!

Moving on to less theoretical things, today, as I mentioned briefly in my lists of lists, I took the kids to Miramar Beach in Half Moon Bay.

We parked in front of the Cypress Inn, sprayed sunscreen on our bodies, slathered the white stuff on our faces, I grabbed our bags of towels and such, had Derek carry our fold-up blue beach blanket by its strap, and we turned left onto the narrow road directly adjacent the sand and the seashore.

The not-a-thru-street road by the ocean is lined with funky private houses and shops, most of which weren't open, and a short drop off to the beach opposite them. I believe some of the structures are homes to artists guilds, one with a glorious garden of cacti and flowers, a carved wood winged angel statue piercing the sky from the tall roof, glass facade showing colors and shapes inside, though I didn't look for long enough to get more than an impression of "art" and a sense of its beauty. I love walking past that building.



We tromped over a wooden bridge, past another mom with kids, who turned and started back in the direction we were heading, to find a stairway down to the beach. The trail passes by a sparse, gnarled evergreen forest, through which the main road is visible. The weather was nicer than expected, sunny and in the 70s (Half Moon Bay tends toward cloudy, cold days), and there were other folks walking the trail in the opposite direction.

Cones and tape marked the usual spot ahead of us where we would've descended from the short cliff side to the beach below, so we chose another spot that involved one short jump, but was otherwise okay. In fact, most of the paths that led down to the beach appeared to be corroded, crumbling rock and steps, and blocked off.



"It's smelly, Mommy!" the kids had complained the moment we stepped out of the car, and I told them, "That's what the beach smells like." But as we approached the water, it was obvious that the pungent odor of fish was due to the thousands of dead, silver anchovies washed up, and continuing to wash up, on the shore, mouths gaping, eyes wide, sometimes tangled with one another, but all very still and dead.



That's all for now. Gene and I are going to watch Mars Attacks!

today was a good day
Courtney wedding hair
purrltea
It was Adrian's birthday. He would've been 35.

This morning, Celeste got into the bed with me and read Beatrix Potter stories. She loves Squirrel Nutkin. I was tired and drifting in and out of sleep, but her adorably enthusiastic reading made me happy.

Celeste and I completed a 500-piece Ravensburger hot air balloon puzzle (minus one piece, which we couldn't find), and around 4pm, Britt, Miles and Max came over. They went out for frozen yogurt at Corner Yogurt while I showered and got ready.

Gene was home at 5:30pm to watch the kids, while Brittany and I drove in rush hour traffic for over an hour (for comparison, the drive back was 26 minutes) to see The Book of Mormon at the San Jose Center For the Performing Arts with my mom and dad. Brittany and I got lobster rolls (cheap ones, too - $14 compared to the $18-$28 they charge at the Lobster Shack near my house) for dinner at outdoor food stands within the theater's property (you needed your ticket to get into the food area).

The play was great! It's hard to say which part was my favorite, but I really liked Spooky Mormon Hell - the music, dancing, and decor captured the chaotic hellscape well. The baptism song and dance number was also *mwah!*.

Afterwards, Brittany and I drove back to Redwood City, she took her kids home, and I headed straight to The Standby for karaoke. I got there around 11:30pm and it was a very light crowd. Samantha, Marlon, Nathan, Genevieve, and this other guy named Bob, who I don't really know, but is friends with the others, were there. Also, there was this guy whose name I don't remember, but I've known him long enough that I feel weird asking at this point. He once told me about how he had a heart transplant, because he'd been in the army, and contracted an infection that grievously damaged his heart. And yet, I don't recall his name.

In honor of Adrian's birthday, I sang "Caress Me Down" (Adrian's Hotmail handle), "On My Own" (Les Miserables was one of the plays he was in shortly before his death), and "I Lost on Jeopardy" (Weird Al, who he introduced me to). Right after I sang "On My Own," a group got up and sang "Top Of The World" by The Carpenters", which is the song that was playing in my head when we viewed and later buried Adrian's body. That caught me off guard and almost had me in tears in the middle of the bar. I composed myself, though.

I danced around like an idiot with Genevieve when Bob sang a boy band song (can't recall the name) that always played as the slow song at junior high dances. We did the junior high slow dance, with our arms on each others' shoulders, until Keith came over and played the part of holy ghost between us. Which might've been a bit awkward, but I felt very good and relaxed, so it was fine.

I left feeling uplifted, so, all in all, a good night. Now I'm going to read my book - one in a series of dystopian/post apocalyptic fiction that I've been binging on lately - this one is The Ask and the Answer and is part of a YA trilogy about a society where everyone can hear men's thoughts - and then I shall go to sleep!

awkward
Courtney wedding hair
purrltea
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
Courtney wedding hair
purrltea
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 out...like 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
purrltea
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 again...as 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.

Anniversary!
Courtney wedding hair
purrltea
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!
Courtney wedding hair
purrltea
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.

https://soundcloud.com/courtney-warren/happy-anniversary-06-30-2016

the nine-year-old's existential crisis
Courtney wedding hair
purrltea
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.

?

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