Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Eleven

Dear Eleven,

Once upon a time, there was a baby. He was thin, long of limb, with a large brain or, at the very least, a big skull. As he grew up, he maintained his slight appearance, with the exception of a time during toddlerhood where he resembled an Easter ham--chubby, warm, and sufficiently succulent. One day, quite suddenly, he was eleven. His mother realized, with a bit of a surprised jolt, that he was somehow closer to turning 20 than he was to that day she first held his squishy body in her arms. If there was such a thing as late onset postpartum depression, she would certainly be presenting all symptoms. For it had come to pass in those days that her baby boy had grown up right before her eyes and she had somehow failed to see it until, perhaps, that very moment. Or she had seen it every day but faithfully perfected the art of denial. 

Garrett, you are, somehow, all grown up. And, oh, I know that isn't exactly true. I know that you have to grow facial hair still and eat me out of house and home and grow taller than me. I know there are still countless report cards to bring home and proms to go to. I know that I still have time. But you have become your own person and sometimes, I still want you to be that little boy who made me fast forward through the part of Finding Nemo where the mama dies, that little boy who made me sing him to sleep for years, that kid who kicked the preschool director in the gut because there was simply no way he was going to stay there for one second without his mom.

But mostly, MOSTLY, I really love this version of you. You are a joy and a delight to me. Son, in my days as a substitute teacher, I have met A LOT of kids. Some of them are wonderful, to be sure. But when I see you walking through the halls or laughing with your friends at lunch, my heart swells with pride. I am SO GLAD that you are mine. And occasionally, as misguided and arrogant as this is, I feel sorry for everyone else in the world because they aren't lucky enough to call you their own. Then you'll tell some horrendously corny joke, thinking yourself to be hilarious, and I'll close my eyes, shake my head back and forth, and praise God for humbling me.

You are bold and brave. So much bolder and so much braver than I am. You're smart and athletic. You take direction and criticism but don't let either soak in and change your core. This past year, you participated in a geography bee and were the only fourth grader to advance into the second round. Sitting at that table, with all the bigger kids, you looked small and nervous but somehow confident and sure. You're gaining skills and speed on the soccer and baseball fields, and in a quick minute you'll be trying your hand at football. We tried to convince you that you're too small, that you'll get smashed--possibly beyond repair--but you won't have any of it. Of course, we have friends who look at us like we're psychotic parents for even thinking about letting you play but, Son, parenting is nothing but a fine line between letting your kids live and keeping them alive. I don't want you to look back on your childhood and say, "All I ever wanted to do was play tackle football and you wouldn't let me."

You're already going to blame us for the fact that you'll never reach your full potential as a rugby player. Because that's what you really want to do. And fencing. But the closest fencing place (studio? field?) is in Park City and that just seems treacherous in the winter and rugby is like football without rules. I'm apprehensive enough about football WITH rules. But you look stinkin' adorable in the shoulder pads so I'm embracing it. I know, I know, you aren't "going for" adorable. You're going for menacing but have you seen yourself? You're nothing but lanky limbs and a cute smile.

You love Jesus and that is a source of abundant joy to me. I hope and pray that you keep that fire as you get older. This isn't the easiest place for a pastor's kid who passionately loves the authentic Jesus of the Bible to grow up but you've made the best of it for the past decade. I'm so proud of your unwavering dedication to learning about the one true God.

I continue to believe that you were born in the wrong decade. You're such a free spirit, like Huckleberry Finn without the abusive father, and seem to have been born to wander. But, as Tolkien reminds us in The Lord of the Rings (look at ME quoting LOTR!), "Not all those who wander are lost." You long to fish, hunt, camp, and live a life connected to the land, to the elements, to the wide open countryside or mountain top. Your soul longs for the next journey and almost everything is an adventure in those twinkling green eyes and welcoming grin. I fear and rejoice in the fact that you cannot be contained.

Use your wanderlust for good, my boy. Be respectful, always. Love others, always. Show the light of Jesus to an unbelieving world, always. And when they hit you hard in football, hop back up again because your mama can't handle waiting to find out if you're gonna live.

I love you.

-Mom

Monday, July 24, 2017

This Side of Grief

Before I say anything else, I want to preface all of this by saying that I know, by the grace of the detachment of time, that everyone meant well. I know that people were speaking to me from a place of utmost compassion and love. I appreciate the way that many of my friends reached out to me and gave me support, encouragement, and permission to be authentic. All of that needs to be recognized, thanked and celebrated.

I have an analytical mind. I'm organized and administrative despite my detestation of math, science, and pocket protectors. In spite of my penchant for the arts and my flair for the dramatic, I need everything to fit into appropriate boxes. Everything has a space and a home. Perhaps this is why I escaped into a place where grief was categorized and shoved into a sort of child loss flow chart.

I knew at the time that this was horrendously misguided but I couldn't stop the distraught thought process. I somehow needed to place grief against grief in some sort of fight to the death. I still don't know why this comparison felt vital to my existence.

In that intense Anger stage of Grief I wanted to say to everyone, "This is the worst thing I've ever felt. My baby died inside a womb that wasn't mine ONLY EIGHT WEEKS BEFORE HER DUE DATE! I held a pink blanket wrapped refrigerator bag at the funeral home! I drove my daughter inside of her casket in the back of my van to the cemetery!" Find me someone else who has done that. THAT woman I want to have a cup of coffee with. THAT woman has something in common with me. I felt all alone because my situation was uniquely mine.

In the many months since, I have purposed in my heart not to compare pain with an actively grieving woman. I will not feel the weight of her grief because it is uniquely hers. We can talk later, when the pain is not acute. Of course, if she asks, I will share. But I will not place my grief on top of hers, unsolicited.

Two and a half years after the fact, I'm not gasping for breath in the survival state of grief and I have come to recognize that It destroys people in different ways. It cannot be quantified. No one life matters more. No one human's existence is any less or any more important. No one mother's grief is bigger or better or more deserved than another's. I'm willing to bet good money that every mother, in the smack center of grief (and, maybe, forever), feels like hers is the absolute worst pain that ever there was. I realized that I was comforted most by hearing someone saying, "I cannot imagine your pain." Even if she believed she could. Even if circumstances were seemingly identical. Even if she believed hers to be much, much worse. Maybe if more people said, "Your pain is unbearable. It is the worst pain there ever was," the one grieving could honestly and wholeheartedly say, "Thank you. Thank you for seeing me and meeting me exactly where I am, swimming in the most pain I've ever experienced."

I would like to say that I've come out on the other side of grief. It simply isn't true and I'd be lying to pretend it so. There's a family at our school whose little boy is the exact age that my little girl should be. Their due dates were about a week apart. We ran into them at the pool a few weeks ago. I can still barely look at him. My brain fights my heart because I'd like to think that I'm not stupid. That little boy is not my girl. But my heart knows that his life reminds me of hers. It is not his fault that he makes me want to cry. The waves of grief ebb and flow and rush more slowly in the passing of years. But I do not think it is something we can walk through and come out on the other side. I think it attaches itself to our bodies, like a tattoo we cannot erase. It becomes a part of us. Forever.

It creeps in, like ink through skin, to the very fiber of our existence, so that when someone hurts, we long to tell our own story, to breathe life back into the corpse. As time goes on, tell their stories. For all the love in all the world, remind people that you had a child who is gone. Write. Share. Speak. Weave that One throughout your narrative because her life mattered. Because his soul still exists. But also, consider taking a moment to step outside of pain and whisper to the one who is surviving in the acute stage of grief, "I cannot imagine."

Because I think we can all agree that the weight of a little life lost is simply, unimaginable.

Interview with an 11 Year Old

1. What is your favorite T.V. Show? Dual Survival
2. What did you have for breakfast? A bagel.
3. What do you want to name your future son? (This is a new question. I got rid of "What's your middle name?" because, well, he's known that for years now. Interestingly, the answer didn't change even though the questions did.) John.
4. Favorite Food? Snow crab (Same as last year and the year before that.)
5. What food do you dislike? Mushrooms.
6. What is your favorite color? Brown. (Some things never change)
7. Favorite lunch? Totinos Pizza.
8. What is your favorite thing to do? Go on cruises.
9. If you could go anywhere in the world on vacation, where would it be? A cruise through the Mediterranean.
10. Favorite sport? Football, wrestling, soccer, baseball, swimming...
11. What do you want to name your future daughter? (This is a new question. I also decided to get rid of, "When is your birthday?" because he's also known that for years.) Lori. (Oh child. I hope not. Although it is better than Brickannlie. Or some other atrocious thing he could come up with.
12. Are you a morning person or a night person? Ummmm. Morning.
13. Pets? I have a hamster. (Now that he has his very own pet, he's forgotten the existence of his dog and cat.)
14. Any new and exciting news you'd like to share with us? Um. No. Not really.
15. What do you want to be when you grow up? I want to work at Little Caesar's and then Subway. Then I want to go into the coast guard. Then I want to be a pastor.
16. What is your favorite candy? 3 Musketeer.
17. Where is the farthest place you've ever been from home? Oh. I don't know. Is it Israel, Mom? Yes. Israel.
18. What is your favorite book? Stranded series.
19. What are you most proud of? Having hammy. (The hamster. It's a pretty big accomplishment. Lol.)
20. What is your favorite movie? Gettysburg. Or the Hunger Games. (We recently let him watch the latter. His brother has not seen it yet. He really liked it. I mean, in that way that you can really like something that has a very disturbing premise. Time for him to read the books, I think.)
21. Which came first, the chicken or the egg? The chicken.

And, for fun, I asked him the same questions that James Lipton asks at the end of Inside the Actor's Studio.

1. What is your favorite word? Probably dangit. Me: That's your favorite word? In the whole world? Him: Probably. (Oh dear.)
2. What is your least favorite word? Using the Lord's name in vain.
3. What turns you on? (I rephrased with, "What do you like?") I like pizza.
4. What turns you off? (I rephrased with, "What don't you like?") Asparagus.
5. What sound or noise do you love? I like Will laughing.
6. What sound or noise do you hate? Will screaming at the top of his lungs.
7. What is your favorite curse word? Shut up.
8. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? A person who studies hamsters.
9. What profession would you not like to do? Cleaning up people's flooded homes.
10. If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates? (I omitted the "If Heaven exists" part)? Welcome.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Bring Me Here to Die

The baby is asleep.

The big boys are at the lake with their dad. The dog went too.

For five minutes, it is as though I am the only one, the very last one left in this mountain escape.

I see the vast expanse of blue sky. Pine trees. Squirrels. Cones, fallen from their place in the needles.

I close my eyes and welcome the chatter of birds. A machine buzzes in the distance. The sound of tires on mountain roads-- taking people to all the places they want to go.

The smell of pine fills thick when I inhale. Reminding me of a time when I was five years old. Reminding me of yesterday. Reminding me of all the summers in between.

I feel the hot Sierra sun falling down -- not so far as it falls anywhere else. I am higher here. Closer to the light. A breeze meanders through my hair, blowing it slightly.

This place, this wonderland of nature and beauty, this small niche of space leaks nostalgia from my eyes when I am found alone. Memories of years gone by. Hope of years to come. A glimpse into the peace of eternity. If fate would so permit, bring me here to die. When my time has come, when my breath is close to done, bring me here -- if only in my mind's eye -- that I may leave this earth a little closer to heaven.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

The Tale of Two Messes

Disclaimer: I don't believe in psychics. I mean, I guess I do in the sense that I believe we can screw around with demons and stuff and get really messed up in all kinds of evil. But I don't believe in them in the traditional way that people do. I definitely don't believe in my own ability to have psychic premonitions.

Yesterday I had a psychic premonition. Except I did not because, as stated before, I don't believe in that. I do believe in the prompting of the Holy Spirit. Maybe, even, on really silly stuff. Like checking the outside freezer.

We're leaving for Tahoe tomorrow. I'm really glad that I had this strange premonition yesterday and not a week from now. I was backing up my car so that I could get to a cooler to take with us when I had the sudden and overwhelming thought that I needed to check my freezer. This was followed by the thought, "Well. If it isn't working, it's going straight back to Costco because we have not had it for very long!" I walked toward it and opened it. Cold air blasted me and I thought, "Oh good." This was immediately followed by my wondering aloud why the bottom of the freezer was red. And wet.

I don't know how long it wasn't working but it couldn't have been terribly long because the ice cream still had a partially frozen blob in the center. I was incredibly thankful that I had some ice frozen in there which had served, for a time, as a cooling device. The popsicles were everywhere. And no longer chilling in their popsicle formation.

I hauled everything out of there. I threw things away. I mopped up sticky juice. I cleaned everything up. Not once did I lose my cool even though I had 99 better things to do. And even though it was approximately 2,000 degrees in my garage. I was so happy for my strange idea that I needed to look inside the freezer. Praise God! At some point in all of this, I'd needed the scissors for something. I can't remember what.

I continued on with my day.

Later, I decided to get my spare key. It wasn't hanging where it usually does (correction: it WAS hanging where it usually does but I failed to see it there) so I started looking in places we've hid it before. That led me to a water toy that I thought would be fun to turn on for the boys. I needed scissors to free it from it's cardboard prison. "Where are the scissors?" I wondered aloud before remembering that they were in the garage. As I walked past the laundry room on my way to the garage, I saw it.

My entire laundry room and bathroom floor were covered in standing water. It was seeping into the carpet. I threw open the lid to the washing machine and the basin was full to the brim with soapy water. And that is the moment that I chose to start crying dramatically.

It was ridiculous. It was a cross between actual crying because I was upset and frustrated and theatrical crying because I did not feel like cleaning it up and if I cried loud enough then maybe the universe would hear me and come do it for me. This crying is reserved for things like minor floods and head lice. My boys stared at me.

"What should I do?" Garrett asked? I had no idea what to tell him because I had no idea where to start. He called Troy who did not answer. This is really quite common, When my husband DOES answer, I am genuinely surprised. I'm not sure why we pay for his phone. I didn't know what to even do but I wanted someone to feel sorry for me so I called my parents.

Meanwhile, I'd sent Garrett for towels. He returned with ONE dishcloth. To clean an entire floor of standing water. Good luck, kid. My dad told me to see if I could manually get the washer to engage in a spin cycle. I could. Praise God! Because I did not want to bail an entire basin full of soapy water. Within a few minutes, Troy came home.

Y'all, I was GEARED up. I am not typically a crier, as has been largely documented here. But I am dramatic. I will immediately think that my cough is lung cancer or my flooded washing machine is THE END OF THE WORLD. (Especially when I have somewhere to go. And where I needed to go was Vacation Bible School in two hours to do a skit which I did not have memorized yet. I also needed to go on actual vacation.) Troy came in and I was all high pitched and incoherent. He just looked at that DISASTER and calmly said, "Oh wow." Then he set to cleaning it up.

I decided to run a load and watch every step so that I could tell a repair man exactly where it went wrong. Strangely, the cycle went perfectly. More strangely, we have since done three loads of laundry without a problem. PRAISE GOD! I'm not assuming it's cured. I'm just thankful for the temporary calm before the storm of needing to shell out big bucks for a new one.

Guess who slept through the freezer fiasco? Guess who slept through half of the laundry room fiasco? That's right, the inquisitive man cub who would have found both messes to be thoroughly enjoyable adventures. PRAISE GOD! Because I would not have found it enjoyable when he went running through the neighborhood with all the temporarily relocated freezer food. And I would not have found it enjoyable when he began swimming lessons on my bathroom floor.

The point of this tale is not that I cleaned up two giant messes when I needed to be packing. The point is that while my reaction was to CRY on the phone with my MOMMY and my DADDY, my husband's reaction was basically a quiet, "Good times."

WHAT IF I HAD MARRIED MYSELF? (I mean, someone like myself.) That would have been the greatest disaster of all. Both of us standing, immobilized, in the bathroom, crying. Both of us calling our daddies? Thank goodness God brought that calming presence into my overdramatic life.

Friday, July 7, 2017

For Those Who Wait

My heart breaks in half inside my chest when I think about parents who are waiting for an adoptive situation. Every once in a blue moon, I look at the adoption websites and I click on the waiting families. I count how many there are. I cannot look more often, because empathy bleeds out thick through my eyes.

I look at their faces.

Some of them--many of them--have been waiting for a long time. Some of them have been waiting since before we were matched with Kate almost three years ago.

And I think about the grave that I visit.

And I think about the curly haired toddler who is sound asleep in his bed.

Sometimes, I forget about just how blessed we are. We have gone through the adoption process three times. We were chosen. It was not without heartache. Oh how the Lord knows He grew us and molded us and changed us through each of those experiences. My heart broke each time. But He brought those children to us. He was so very, very faithful to us. When the going gets tough, when I want to give up on whatever it is that has me begging for change, I think about this family He has made for me and I rejoice.

When I watch people waiting and waiting and waiting, it makes me want to cry a river that will flood an ocean. I believe in God's perfect timing, of course. But my mama heart is in anguish for those moms and dads who are desperately hoping that today will bring the call they are eagerly anticipating.

I celebrate those who are willing to wait, those who are willing to put their money and their energy where God has called--maybe not all of us, but so many more than actually answer--, those who know that their children are out there and must be found.

To those who are waiting, my friends as well as those I will never meet, I see you. I understand your frustration and your sorrow, your hope and your expectation. I hope for you because I see the result of perseverance and love in my own children.

You may never know me. You may never know that I am praying for you. But I am here, beseeching the Lord on your behalf. May He lead you to your children, wherever they may be.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Mooners and Flashers

When the boys were little, it was so easy to find things to blog about. They were hysterical little people whose toddler shenanigans were almost always blog worthy. And then they grew up. They're hardly grown, of course, but I don't have hilarious poop stories to regale you with anymore.

THAT'S WHY WE HAD ANOTHER KID.

Just kidding.

Mostly.

I mean, I'm glad that he'll soon enter the stage where everything that comes out of his mouth is funny as heck. He's not there yet. Where he is right now is throwing food, yelling at the tip top of his lungs, and refusing to say any words except, "Ah-duh," which translates directly to, "All done."

My older boys are playing sports and doing homework and generally living life in that stage between little kid and teenager. In some ways, it's the sweet spot. The place where they don't throw food anymore but all the testosterone hasn't flooded their cute brains and turned them into raging hormone monsters. But the sweet spot doesn't lend itself to funny blogging stories very often.

You might not know it. You may not even believe me when I tell you, but I spend a great deal of time trying to make sure my kids don't turn into ax murderers or juvenile delinquents. Consistency is my number one parenting goal and I strive--full force--to be stable and steady in my mothering. They'll make their own choices and their own mistakes but by golly I'm going to do everything in my power to shape them. I want their reputation to precede them in only positive ways.

Which is why I stormed up to the door of a neighbor I'd never met two days ago to give him the WHAT FOR.

There isn't a confrontational bone in my body, actually. So the fact that I was hammering this dude's door with my fist is astonishing. 

See, Garrett had come in from playing outside and he was laughing about how a neighbor of ours thought he had mooned him. HOLD THE PHONE. WAIT ONE SECOND. WHAT, NOW?

"So, he was getting his mail and he asked me if I was the one who showed him my butt a few days ago. I said I wasn't and he asked me which house I lived in. I pointed and he said, 'It was you then.' I told him it wasn't. He said, 'Well, he looked JUST like you.'"

Showing his rump to a random neighbor is about the last thing I can think of Garrett doing. So, off I stormed to inform this guy that my child absolutely was not the one who had mooned him. First, we were out of town until Sunday. Second, our Sundays are very busy and the boys rarely get a chance to play out front and I knew they were never out on Sunday. Third, Monday they were at a church soccer camp in the morning and then running errands and doing chores until evening when we went out to dinner to finally celebrate Father's Day.

Up I marched to the neighbor's door. Garrett, at this point, was hot on my heels and in tears because he was so mortified about whatever I was about to do. I was concerned that his tears were a confession which is ridiculous because, as I've just mentioned, he hadn't been out front. Did I assume he sneaked outside in the middle of his chores for a good ole fashion mooning? "You better tell me right now if it was you."

"It wasn't me! I'm just nervous about whatever you're going to say," he answered. I'm sure that inside he was thinking, MY MOM HAS STRAIGHT UP LOST HER MIND! Bang! Bang! Bang! I rapped on the door. Now, I had absolutely no idea what this guy looked like. He lives down around the corner and I was taking the word of my eight-year-old neighbor--who looks and, occasionally, acts exactly like Dennis the Menace--that this is where the man even lived. The door opened.

"Hi," I said. "Did you just get your mail?"

"Yes," he replied slowly.

"Okay..." I started. And then I built my defense. My kids weren't out. It wasn't my son. I raise my children with a certain level of integrity and I didn't want anyone in the neighborhood thinking they were little miscreants. 

The thing is, my kids will find enough trouble on their own. They will be punished for it. I definitely don't want them getting a reputation for something they didn't even do. 

The neighbor told me that he simply asked my son if it was him and then informed him that he needed to tell his friend that behavior like that was going to land him in jail. Apparently, said neighbor was on his way to church when said miscreant pulled down his pants and wiggled his goods before spinning around and shaking his rump. Unprompted. Unwarranted. 

Now, Garrett hadn't told me that the burden of lecturing this kid (who we believe is our next door neighbor's nephew) had been passed on to him. It's not his friend. Garrett wasn't part of the situation at all. I'm still unclear as to why he needed to be the one to pass this information on. I also think it might be a stretch to assume that this kid is headed straight for the slammer because of a mooning.

"I just wanted to make sure you knew it wasn't my son," I said.

"Oh, sure. He said it wasn't him. He looks like a good kid." Sure. Except five minutes ago, he looked like someone who would flap his business at strangers.

"Alright, thanks. Have a nice day," I said and I headed off.

I do not normally go all Mama Bear freak out. I basically always believe an adult who tells me that my kid did something. They are not sinless little angels. But, when I am 99.99% sure they didn't do something, you're darn right I'm going to defend them. And thank goodness, as of yet, they are not the town flashers.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

What Exactly is the Beverley Taylor Sorenson Arts Learning Program?

When I was in high school, we had a Play Productions class, band, several choirs, dance, art electives, and, during my time there, a drama class was born. Also during my time there, a beautiful theatre was built. I was a good little girl who got all of her actual course work out of the way before taking any electives. I got to take Beginning Drama as a junior. By the time I was a senior, I was taking both Play Productions and Advanced Drama. After lunch, the only thing I had left to do was theatrical. It was, probably, the first time I couldn't wait for the weekend to be over. On Saturdays and Sundays, I desperately missed my performance classes. I have a vivid memory of walking to my car one Friday after school. I was fighting tears because a) I was dramatic and b) I didn't want to wait TWO FULL DAYS TO GO BACK TO MY PRODUCTION CLASSES.

It is my understanding that my high school no longer offers drama or theatre of any kind. 

When I was in college, I started off as an Elementary Education major. Every time I walked past the little white theatre that was centrally located on campus, I just wanted to walk inside in the worst way. I wanted to find my people. I wanted to belong. There. In the dark with the curtains and the energy and the aliveness of it all. I cannot explain it. It certainly wasn't the most level headed decision I'd ever made. But I simply had to walk into that building, change my major, and live frugally ever after. And so I did. I learned a lot of things that prepared me for my future. I worked extremely hard as the Production Manager and, sometimes, stage crew or stage manager or director. I found a home. I graduated with a Bachelors in Theatre and a whole heap of English Education course work.

My university no longer offers Theatre as a major.

When I was fresh out of the hospital with my brand new baby boy nearly 11 years ago, a high school drama teaching position literally fell directly into my lap. I was only able to do that job for a little over a year before we moved to Utah. I loved it. I loved watching those students, energized with the fun and force of creating their own story. I loved being a place where they could escape the structure of the core subjects. I loved helping them fall in love with--or nurturing an existing love for--the theatre.

I am a firm believer that the arts MUST be a part of our school systems. I am so proud of Utah's desire to include the arts even at the elementary level. My boys have had drama and music in their own school in past years. This is the introductory video I was sent when my sons' principal hired me as a Beverley Taylor Sorenson Arts Learning Program Theatre Arts Specialist for the upcoming school year. It explains a little bit about the program and the goal to reach our youth with the arts.

video

I'm overwhelmed by all I need to do to prepare. I'm excited. But above all, I'm proud to be able to partner with the BTS program to bring the arts to our children.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Summer Vacation

My parents took my boys (the older two) on an epic cruise two weeks ago. They flew them to Houston and left out of Galveston. The boys went to Honduras and Mexico, enjoying all the amenities of a cruise and participating in some incredible excursions. Soon, I'll have a bunch of pictures and will be able to tell you all about it.

They had a blast and even ate escargot. 

At the end of their adventure, my parents flew them to San Diego where I was waiting for them with Will. We stayed with my parents for the week. There are always so many people I want to see and so little time. I wish that I could see all my friends and family every time we're there but there are not enough hours in a day. This time, I focused on seeing family. I hadn't seen some of my extended family members since we were there last summer.

I have three living grandparents so we made sure to stop in and see them. That same day, we had dinner with my aunt and uncle. It was a great day hanging out with my family.

On that same day, the younger two boys and I went to visit Kate. Garrett and Matthew still talk about Kate with great frequency but they process her death very differently. Garrett is quiet about it and does not like visiting the cemetery. Matthew is much more open and always wants to go with me if he can. Garrett stayed with my grandpa and looked through his Navy books while the rest of us took our girl flowers.

Later in the week, we had a BBQ at my other aunt and uncle's house and swam in their pool. We'd spent the first half of the day with my father-in-law, sister-in-law, nieces and nephew. The boys had tons of fun playing with their cousins and swimming in my aunt's pool.

We met my friend, my other sister-in-law, and my niece at the zoo one day. I learned that my children are represented in three gorilla brothers that live at the San Diego Zoo. There is Maka, "The Ace." He's intelligent, sensitive, and brave. Mandazzi, "The Comedian," has boundless energy, is a show-off and a real cut up. And Ekuba, "The Peacemaker," is curious, playful, and loyal.

So, I mean, I don't think you even have to know us in real life to know that these adjectives basically describe my kids perfectly. 


On our last full day, we headed to the bay. It was gray and chilly for most of the afternoon but we had tons of fun anyway. We BBQ'd hot dogs and played at the park.


I have a lot of pictures to sort through but we're home now and already thinking about our next trip. Tahoe is just a few weeks away.



Friday, June 16, 2017

You Can Call Me Dawn Lazarus: Part II

No. I didn't have another "episode" thank goodness. Let's just get that outta the way right off the bat. I did go to the neurologist though so that I could find out what had me all Dawn Lazarus-y.

He looked at my brain scans and asked me to recount the situation to him. I talked about how long it had lasted and what had happened and he told me I was very brave for not going straight to the emergency room because it sounded exactly like stroke symptoms.

Except that if I had THOUGHT at the time FOR ONE SECOND that I was having a stroke then OBVIOUSLY I would have gone to the emergency room. I had no idea what, on earth, was happening to me. Also, I mean, is it really bravery to sit around waiting to die when someone could help you. No. No it is not. Other than his (obviously sarcastic) quip about my heroics, I liked him just fine.

I'm not sure I mentioned anywhere in my original Dawn Lazarus post that I started getting a migraine in the middle of the whole situation. I did tell the ER doctor about it and, turns out, that was a pretty important mention. It wouldn't have been weird at all for me to leave out that detail because I typically don't talk about my headaches.

I know a few people who have chronic headaches that never go away. So I don't talk about mine--which do go away. But I get headaches several times a month. (I know, I know. The chronic headache people would give a limb to only have a headache a few times a month.) Inexplicably, this began happening immediately after moving to Utah. I would blame it on altitude or lengthening my proximity to the equator or something but, now that I get them, I am not immune to them in California or any other place we go. They also seem to be hormone related. So I have no idea why they started when we got here and whether or not Utah was some sort of trigger. It was CERTAINLY A TRIGGER FOR MY TERRIBLE EYE ALLERGIES SO I WOULDN'T PUT IT PAST HER. Oh Utah, you dry, fickle minx.

At my last annual exam, I mentioned to my doctor that they had gotten worse and more frequent. She did give me a prescription for a headache medication but I never filled it. Excedrin still works--I just have to take more of it now. This working Excedrin phenomenon is, I believe, directly related to the fact that I almost never, ever have caffeine (because it makes me urinate like a racehorse, if you must know and I hate that) so when I shoot caffeine straight to my brain, it kills the headache. Anyway. None of that is important. I could have simply said, "My headaches have gotten worse." But, then you wouldn't have had that beautiful horse imagery. And, now that I think about it, why do we say that? Do racehorses go more than other animals?

I googled it. "Racehorses are commonly given Lasix which is a powerful diuretic. They pee a lot right before they race, we're talking gallons and gallons. The medication is thought to help prevent nasal bleeding, which sometimes happens when racehorses supremely over-exert themselves." So there you have it. I feel sorry for racehorses.

My headaches have gotten worse.

And this was also very pertinent information for the doctor who diagnosed me with a complex migraine or, as it is referred to now, migraine with aura. The aura--which can be anything from seeing strange light to lost vision to the inability to speak--typically lasts less than an hour. The ensuing headache can last up to three days.

On the one hand, I'm pretty glad I'm not dying. Other than a big giant and potentially embarrassing pain in the neck (or, in this case, head), the only lasting effect is that it does slightly elevate one's risk for stroke. On the other hand, this could happen at any time and in any place. It can also begin happening with regularity. GOOD TIMES.

If I get one and my symptoms are the same, I do not need to do anything about it. If something similar happens but my symptoms are not the same, I have to make quick to the emergency room. I'm starting to wonder if I shouldn't print up a card that says, "Hello. I am having a neurological episode and cannot speak or read. It's likely a complex migraine. I'll be fine. In the meantime, I need you to call my husband."

Triggers include (but are not limited to): Stress, pressure or altitude change, and hormone levels. Good thing those are easy to avoid, right?

Anyway. I truly am glad that it's nothing more serious. I'm pretty happy that I didn't have a stroke at 35. And I'm blessed to only have several headaches a month. But just a warning: if I seem super disoriented and unable to speak. I probably am. You can just call me Dawn Lazarus.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Bon Voyage

Years ago, my parents asked us if we'd be open to having them take our boys on a trip--when they were a little older. Of course, we enthusiastically agreed. They talked about all the different options. We were really up for anything. I mean, we're the parents who took our kids to Israel when they were four and seven so, short of them planning a trip to Afghanistan or Syria or maybe the Gaza Strip, we were fine with it. 

The time has come. At eight and almost eleven, the boys are ready for an adventure with their grandparents. It's a combined birthday present (and, really, it could count as their birthday gift from now until forever) and they've known about it for several months. They've been receiving twice weekly clues to try to figure out where they're going. 

Clues like:
You'll need a passport
There may be an animal in your room from time to time
Many cultures come together
You will have the opportunity to go back in time

And so many more.

Garrett was dead set, most of the time, on it being a cruise. Matthew wasn't quite as invested in the clue situation as Garrett was but was very excited when he found out that there would be a lot of opportunities for eating.

I had told only a limited number of people because I was so worried that the surprise would be ruined. When I told people, most of them made requests for my parents to adopt them as grandchildren. Most of these people are close to my age and I'm not sure my parents are looking for adult grandchildren but I GET IT because this trip is AMAZING.

My parents flew in on Thursday and told the boys on Thursday night where they were going. They're cruising to Honduras and Mexico! (And, yes, their parents are JEALOUS!) Here they all are just before we took them to the airport...

Last night, they stayed in Houston and this morning they went on to Galveston. They've boarded the ship and are waiting to set sail.

They've already found lots of yummy food and have enjoyed one of their favorites...crawfish.

My parents booked the MOST FUN excursions for them. We cannot wait for pictures so we can live vicariously through them. We hope they know how very blessed they are and we hope they're minding every last manner. Bon Voyage, Boys!

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Happy Birthday, dear Will

Dear Will,

There's no way I could have known, one year ago, the way you would change me, the happiness you would bring me, the incredible blessing that you would be to me. Twelve months ago, when you came into the world, I didn't even know it. I was watching a softball game and laughing with friends and then, two states away, you were living and breathing and existing.

I didn't know. For two entire days.

But then, when you were two days old, this picture of you came across my phone.


I don't think I used to believe in love at first sight. I loved your brothers the moment I saw them but when I saw them they were tangible and squishy and in my arms. It may well have been love at first snuggle. But you, Will, I loved the second I saw your picture. I loved a photo so intensely that I couldn't stand the thought of being away from you for one more second. I became a powerful believer in love at very first sight.


You were wonderful, precious, delicious--even. I almost couldn't believe that you were mine. I took twenty gazillion pictures of you, knowing that, though the nights were long, you would stay like that for no more than a quick minute.


Summer faded into fall and we tried to figure out how to get you to sleep without being swaddled. It was rough. I thought we might have to send you off to college with a large blanket, some strong Velcro, and solid instructions for your roommate on how to wrap you tightly. We pushed through and, it turns out, you won't even go to preschool still needing to be swaddled. Your pacifier is another story. That thing may be hanging out of your mouth in the third grade.


Seasons are prone to moving quickly. One jumps on top of the other and soon, an entire year has gone. How much quicker they go when raising children. Fall turned to winter and on that first day of the season marked by snow and frigid temperatures, we officially adopted you. It was a beautiful day and my mama heart--the one that always hopes and always believes but is always just a little afraid that something might happen--exhaled a sigh of love and dreams and endless possibilities. 

You. Were. Mine.


The winter turned into "Little Bit Warmer Winter" which, in most places, is called spring. You didn't seem particularly bothered by the cold weather of winter or "Little Bit Warmer Winter" which is weird because you spent your womb-months in Riverside. It is H.O.T. in Riverside. But, you are definitely my kid and a So Cal boy because you will remove your socks and shoes at every opportunity. You want to be barefoot all the time, with your feet in the sand and a non-alcoholic umbrella drink in your hand. (I'm guessing on those last two but, I mean, who doesn't?)

"Little Bit Warmer Winter" has turned into "Hot Summer" even though summer won't officially be here for another two and a half weeks. You've taken to playing in the backyard, swinging in your new swing from Grandpa Jon and Grandma Ginny, splashing in your new water table from Grandpa Gary and Grandma DeDe, climbing on your brother's old helicopter toy, and working on your tan. I assume your olive complexion will turn sun-kissed brown in a matter of days.


You are determined, noisy, strong-willed, feisty, joyful, and smiley. There is so much personality in your teeny tiny body and you are so full of life that I sometimes wonder if you'll just spontaneously burst and send glitter and confetti flying everywhere. Your smile lights up the entire room. Your giggle ripples through us all until there is a symphony of laughter that shakes our world in all the best ways.

You crawl at lightning speed, toddle everywhere, and aim to destroy absolutely everything absolutely all the time. One of us has to redirect you every 2.7 seconds because you will almost positively kill yourself if we give you a five second head start. Outlets, cords, and heavy objects would be your toys of choice if we turned our backs for only a moment. You will, occasionally, play with your actual toys but are much more fascinated by ALL THE THINGS IN THE WHOLE WORLD that are not toys. On her resent visit, your Grandma DeDe commented that everyone should just get you random household items for your birthday. You were thrilled to play with her dental floss for a good ten minutes. I'm thinking of taking your presents back and getting you your own checkbook, a set of Tupperware, several rocks, a ballpoint pen, and disposable baking tins. Because those are, quite literally, your favorite toys.

You eat ALL THE FOOD. Certainly, you have your favorites and bread is not among them. I worry for you in this family. If it's true that you are what you eat, your oldest brother is a walking carbohydrate. While you enjoy taking a few bites of pancakes and toast before throwing chunks on the floor, your favorite foods include blueberries, bananas, vanilla Greek yogurt, carrots, and beans.

You carry around burp cloths like blankies, enjoy throwing--but not reading--books (I will persevere. I will win. You will, ONE DAY, sit in my lap for more than three pages. Annnd, dude. It's not like I'm asking you to sit through three pages of Dostoevsky. We're talking about cardboard books about farm animals and dinosaurs for crying out loud!), find Peek-a-boo to be utterly hilarious, enjoy bath time, love your brothers and your dog and cat and the hamster (who does not love you but, can you really blame her? Her experience with you is limited to a couple of very rough encounters.), and you thoroughly enjoy babbling incomprehensible chatter.

You say, "All done," although it sounds more like, "ahduh!" You say, "Dada," although less so lately. You, apparently, say, "MOM!" but only when I'm not around to hear it. And that is about it. It's fine. If I had a child who attempted to speak before he was twenty months old, I wouldn't know what to do with myself. Eh. Einstein didn't talk until he was four and it turned out alright for him.

They say that in parenting, the days are long but the years are short. I don't even know if the days seem so long to me anymore. I've got your big brothers as proof that the world just keeps spinning faster and faster with each phase of the moon. But it does seem impossible that almost a year has gone by since I first saw your face on my phone, since I first stepped up to your bassinet in the hospital and laid eyes on you, since I first lifted your tiny body up into my arms and snuggled you in to the place right next to my heart, where my love for you had grown for all those many months.

Happy Birthday, Will. It's been an amazing year.












 


The way that God designed things, a rainbow often appears after a storm, giving hope of better things to come. That is why a baby born after the loss of a child is called a Rainbow Baby. The literal definition of a rainbow is an arc of prismatic colors appearing in the heavens opposite the sun and caused by the refraction and reflection of the sun's rays in drops of rain.

Will, you are prismatic colors--vibrant reds, oranges, yellows, blues, and violets. You are the reflection of sunshine. You are all I waited for and so much more. Everything about you is warmth and wonder, crisp and clean. You are the way the world looks after it has poured down rain, after a storm has wreaked havoc, after the sun has come back out again and made everything new.

"There may be storms that rip up your world, but heaven can come down and brush a rainbow across all that pain like a sacrifice--and make you believe the promise of justice and wholeness to come." -Ann Voskamp

You are the rainbow that Heaven brushed across my life. Happy Birthday, dear Will. Happy Birthday to you.

Love,
Mama

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Punctuation Name Game

In the continuing saga of NAMES YOU ONLY HEAR IN UTAH, allow me to tell you a story. There's a teacher who works at the boys' school who had a student named La-a. Now, I'm unclear as to whether this teacher had this student here in Utah, the great naming apocalypse state, or if the student hailed from another state but regardless of where she came from, her name was straight up La-a. When the teacher called roll for the first time, she said, "Uh...Lah ah?" And, I mean, what the heck else would you say?

The girl, clearly annoyed said, "It's Ladasha!"

No. No it isn't. At the ABSOLUTE BEST, it is Lahyphena.

Hyphens and dashes are two different things. A hyphen joins words together. A dash separates words into parenthetical statements. Sorry, Lahyphena, your name doesn't make grammatical sense. But who am I to point fingers? My last name is sporting an extra, and very confusing, S. The only thing that extra S is good for is weeding out the telemarketers. Everyone on the planet thinks my last name is pronounced as though you're combining two different food items--fish and pork--when, in actuality, it sounds like something an angry linebacker would yell just before the sack.

I see a lot of weird names that I have no idea how to pronounce in the subbing business. (Subbing profession? Subbing industry? I'm cracking myself up over here trying to make it sound like I do something more glamorous than glorified babysitting.) But if I ever see anyone with a "-" in the middle of their name I am going to straight up pronounce it hyphen. Just to be a jerk.

I pass these terrible names on to my sister-in-law who, even when she isn't currently gestating a human being, likes to hear them. I use the word "likes" rather loosely here. It's possible she's merely humoring me. She is, however, growing an entire little life inside of her at this very present moment and so I've been sending a whole heap of RIDICULOUS names to her. Sometimes, I make them up. She's never certain if they're real, in the sense that someone actually bears the moniker, or made up by me. As opposed to the parents who must, literally, pull Scrabble tiles from a box and then make it work.

I actually just tried this intriguing notion and randomly pulled the following:

JSAIQOK

I'm annoyed that I pulled a Q with no U but that is of no real concern. We could just leave them like that. In fact, I'm now wishing for a fourth son so that I could have Garrett, Matthew, Will, and Jsaiqok which is, OF COURSE, pronounced J say qwok. But I could rescramble them and have little Joqiska. Oh please let me do one more because I'm on a roll. Kajqosi.

Anyway. This La-a has us RUNNING WILD with the possibilities. What fun you can have throwing a dash into any name you can think of. But why stop there? There are so many other punctuation marks that haven't even been invited to the party. My husband came up with Ca... which, of course, would be pronounced Cuh lip sis.

How about the ,? Tre, (pronounced Trey comma). It could absolutely be a name here in the great state of Utah.

And why isn't anyone using the :?

Whatever happened to Melissa and Diane and Michael and James? Those names we could pronounce. Those names passed the substitute litmus test. And really, when naming a child, ask yourself WWASS? What would a substitute say?

I guarantee that this sub would have said, "La ah." If met with the giggles that always accompany a good name butchering, she'd maybe have said, "Lahyphena?"

But then, she'd have to introduce herself by writing her name on the board. "No," she'd say. "Not Bassham like fish and pork. Bashum, like a pumped up linebacker." Or, maybe, a serial killer.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Imp Baby

Will was the chillest newborn. I'd heard that youngest children, especially ones that were just sort of thrown into the car and carted all around after big siblings, were often calm and passive. It was certainly true of Will. He was just content to smile his way through life, hanging off my hip. Or anyone's hip, really. I've had a great deal of baby experience and he was one of the easiest little people. Ever. 

You guys. Something happened to the angel baby. I can't really explain when it happened. I think it was one of those things that occurred slowly, over the course of time. He learned how to crawl at eight months AND HAS NOT STOPPED MOVING SINCE. Couple his insane energy with the fact that there is more personality in his little finger than some kids get in a lifetime and it is a recipe for a 21st century REIGN OF TERROR.

This is pretty much his face all the time...


It's two parts sheer delight and one part lunatic. Every single thing in my life takes seventeen times longer than it should because this maniac needs to be redirected every two seconds. (I wish that were an exaggeration.) The other night, I turned my back on him in the bathtub for ten seconds. Matthew was in the tub WITH HIM and by the time I turned my attention back to them, Will had pulled the toilet plunger into the tub and was floating it like a barge. He unrolls toilet paper faster than the speed of light. Seriously. It is actually his super power. It's completely useless but it's a super power nonetheless. If we leave the pantry door open, you can bet that he will absolutely scurry in and begin destructive behavior immediately. Grab him, redirect him, turn back to begin returning the pantry to a state of order, and he will frantically yank everything off the refrigerator. Or pull over the trash can. Or climb the stairs and atomic bomb his own closet.

He is rarely self entertained. If there ever was a kid's picture in the dictionary next to the word extrovert, it just might be this one. He does not like to be alone. He recharges his batteries solely off the power of being the center of someone's attention. Thankfully, we all wanted him really a lot and there's always a willing participant to serve as an audience member for the one man Will show. We've been working on trying to get him to play on his own for a few minutes at a time because THAT IS A VIRTUE, Y'ALL. So imagine my surprise a few weeks ago when I heard him happily squealing in the next room for a good FIVE MINUTES. Troy was at work. The boys were at school. There was no explanation.

I should have realized the falsehood of that last sentence. After a few minutes, this crawled in...


As it turns out, he was in the big boys' room and he found a large chunk of clay. I honestly have no idea where the clay even came from (but I'm looking at you, Sunday School!) but, as it turns out, when mixed with the spit of a not quite one year old, it makes for a fascinating finger paint. He was white from head to toe. Needless to say, because of this and the fact that he has an intense passion for throwing the boys' ball caps ALL OVER THE PLACE ALL THE TIME and flinging their swim trunks over his head, I usually keep their door closed when they're not home and we are.

The other night, the boys and I started a movie while Will was still awake. This involved pausing it every few minutes to:

A. Tell Will to stop playing with the DVR player.
B. Put the batteries back in the remote after they fell out when Will threw it.
C. Play with Will for a few minutes because he started shrieking upon realizing that no one was paying attention to him.
D. All of the above.

We finished the movie after we put him to bed. Garrett, snuggling into the couch, let out a long sigh. "Finally. We can watch our movie in peace." After a brief pause, he gasped, "Is this how you and dad feel every night after we go to bed?" I nearly died laughing.


The imp streak is strong in this one. 

But he is DARN DARLING and he knows it. Ask him for a kiss and, even though he knows how to give one (in all its open mouthed glory), he will, nine times out of ten, lean his forehead gently onto your lips with a sly smile. Ask him to say, "mama" and he will look right at you and say, "dada." And then giggle like he is the funniest human on the planet. Chase him, grab him, tickle him, and he will squeal like such shenanigans have never, ever been done before. 

There is A LOT of redirection happening with this one. There is A LOT of the word NO happening as we strive to correct an eleven month old. There is A LOT of sighing with tranquility when he is down for the night. But there is A LOT of love.

The Reign of Terror Imp Baby has every single one of us around his little finger. He loves life and exploration and smiling. He is always so happy to see us in the morning, as though he can't believe he had to go a whole night without us. Joy seeps out of his very existence and I am so thankful for him...

even if his belief that he is royalty is wholly misguided.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

You Can Call Me Dawn Lazarus

I have a new appreciation for learning disabilities. It started out like any normal baseball game. The weather was warm, the kids were in good moods, and Troy and I were chatting as we watched Garrett's team swinging their bats. I started to misspeak.

You know what I'm talking about, when a word just comes out wrong for whatever reason. My mom tells a funny story about her and a friend. One of them simply could not say "white bread" and repeatedly said, "bread white." Even after pausing and collecting herself, she focused all her attention on the phrase at hand and blurted out, "BREAD WHITE!" It happens. But I said a lot of wrong words in a short amount of time. I finally widened my eyes and said, "What is happening? It's like I'm having a hembolism." I am not even 100% sure that embolisms occur in the head but that's neither here not there. What is here and there is that there is no such thing as a hembolism.

Troy thought it might be the heat or a lack of water. I was skeptical because it was not that hot and I'd been drinking water all day. I stopped talking and suddenly became verbally disoriented. I was not confused about where I was or what was happening. I knew we were watching our kid play baseball. I could think conceptually. I just could not, for the life of me, string my words together to properly form a sentence. My friend asked me a question and I had to concentrate so hard on how to say a three word answer that my head actually started hurting. I also felt very foggy, as though I was having an out of body experience. Within minutes, my head was pounding.

Garrett took his turn at the plate. As he stood there holding his bat, I realized that I knew his name. I knew he was my child. But I could not say his name (first, middle, last) in the right order. That's when I really began to get worried. When the game ended, Troy told me to go to the car and sit for awhile before Matthew's game started. I walked just fine to the car and climbed in. Terrified of what was happening to me, I finally decided to sing a song that I should definitely know. I chose the ABC's. I think I sang it correctly. I took myself through several more brain exercises and felt like I was starting to return to normal. That's when I took out my phone to scroll through Facebook.

And every single one of my friends had posted status updates that were something like this:

Greatest the husband birthday to the world in happy.

Or

Make dinner should I what tonight for?

I blinked. I knew that all my friends had not simultaneously gone crazy. The same thing that was happening to my speech and my memory was also happening to my ability to read. I could see the words, they just weren't in the correct order. Also, my right eye seemed blurry.

I had become foggy, verbally dyslexic and somehow lost the ability to remember things like the correct order of my child's name. I started sobbing. I was terrified that I would never have a coherent thought again. Except that I was somehow having a coherent thought about not being able to have coherent thoughts. It was all very...incoherent.

Just then, Garrett came to the car to tell me that Matthew was about to bat. He saw me crying and asked what was wrong. I told him I didn't feel very well. My words came out okay. Together, we walked back to the fields. He took Will for us while Troy and I talked and tried to figure out what was wrong with me.

I asked him to throw a baseball back and forth with me. I wasn't sure that I didn't also have physical limitations. We tossed a ball no problem. I even alternated closing one eye and still managed to catch it most of the time. We sat down and I asked him to quiz me on various things.

"When was Garrett born?" he asked.

"July 20, 2006," I answered. But it took me a second to pull the year from the vault of my strangely clouded mind.

"What are our kids' full names?" he asked.

I rattled off Garrett's and Matthew's. For some reason, it took me a second to remember Will's middle name.

He continued asking questions and I answered, becoming more confident with each question until he said, "What is Moses's mother's name?" My mind was blank.

He kept asking me Bible questions. If it was a well known person or story I could easily recall it. If it was more obscure, it was as if I'd never known the answer before in my life. He then asked me about characters on shows we watch together. I could picture them, but I could not tell him the character name or the actor who played them.

At one point, frustrated, I stared long at a water bottle sitting on the bench in front of me. I could read it. And, as Matthew's game went on, I found that I also began to remember names of people on TV shows and Bible trivia.

From saying words like hembolism to my memory fully returning to me it was about an hour and a half. The part where I could not speak correctly or read lasted between 30-45 minutes.

I saw this clip from SNL this weekend and told Troy that this is what it sounded like in my head. I was so embarrassed to even try to talk because I was terrified that it would come out sounding like this...




On Friday, I called my doctor to see if I could get in to see them just to make sure everything was fine. When I explained what had happened, they put me on hold. Within a minute, the doctor got on the phone. And, I mean, that's really never good. When I WANT to talk to my doctor, it's impossible. She told me that she wanted me to go directly to the ER. Y'all, I did not want to go to the ER. We pay roughly $1,000 in monthly premiums and on top of that an ER visit costs me $400 just to walk in. Then I have to pay for whatever they do to me until I hit my deductible. None of this was my idea of a good time.

I asked if I could wait until I got off of work.

"In my medical opinion," she said, "you need to go now."

I checked in within the hour. Ten minutes after I got there, they put me in a room. Seven very boring hours later I was finally free to go home. You know what is not fun? Sitting in the Emergency Room when you feel JUST FINE waiting for them to tell you if you are JUST FINE or SERIOUSLY NOT FINE. My EKG was fantastic. My blood pressure was terrific. I'm notorious for giving too much information, for telling in twenty minutes what could have been told in two. But I didn't know what was important to the story and what wasn't. So I told it all. The doctor called me a good historian. I felt like I'd been too verbose.

But when he consulted with the neurologist who ordered an MRI, he came back and told me that giving him all the information had helped them decide to run the MRI. Apparently, the same part of the brain controls speaking, reading, and right eye visibility. At that point, they were thinking that perhaps part of a blood vessel in my head had detached. He said it sounded worse than it actually was. That was reassuring because it sounded AWFUL.

My MRI was totally clear. No one knows what the heck happened to make me LOSE MY MIND FOR AN HOUR. It could have been a migraine. It could have been a partial seizure. It could have been a transient blocked vessel. It could have been a dozen other things.

But it wasn't a mini stroke which is what I was afraid of.

"I believe you," the doctor told me. "I don't think you're making it up. I just don't have an answer for you."

"I don't care if you believe me," I told him, laughing. "If it didn't happen, I just need the name of a really good psychiatrist."

"No, no," he said, "It happened."

I'm following up with a neurologist next month.

Until then, I live my life with the peaceful knowledge that the images of my brain were clear and with the unsettling horror that it might happen again at any time. Although, if it does happen again, I am supposed to go directly to the Emergency Room. Given that I will not be able to speak and, presumably, will be unable to write, I will just pull up this video of Vanessa Bayer and gesture wildly until they figure out that I've lost my mind. Again.