13 November 2014

Mother Guilt (and trying to get over it)

I think when anything unpleasant happens to one's child, one goes through a long list of impossible ways they could have prevented the situation. I am no different.

My mother guilt has put me through the wringer in the last few days. I've left it on the back burner because I had really important things to address, but Magnolia breaking her leg has been very difficult for me, as it would be for any mother.

There is obvious guilt about waiting two days to take her to see a doctor, but most of that is amended by the fact that in those two days she was mostly happy and still climbing behind the couch. I think most of the overwhelming feelings came from having new insurance and not having a primary care physician for my girls yet. Every orthopedic surgeon's office I called needed a referral from either insurance or a primary care physician. When I called to make some appointments, the scheduling staff would say, "If you don't hear from the office in a week, give us a call." A week?! Are you kidding me?!

I felt helpless. I felt like I couldn't give my child what she needed. I felt super flying off the handle, I'm about to yell at people crazy. I happened upon an Orthopedic Children's Hospital, going there would require that I go through their urgent care first, even though we already knew her leg was broken, but no referrals, and same day care. I went.

We waited for four hours before we were seen. The wait was good practice for keeping my anxiety at bay. I listened to two other women on the phone talking about who was cheating on who, with whom, how stupid some people were, etc.. I turned and asked the first woman if she could use better language around my daughter. She just stared at me. For seconds we just stared before I turned back around. It was like I was speaking a different language. By the time the second woman took her place behind me, I'd already been waiting for three hours. My eye was on the prize.

By the time we made our way to our room, it was pleasant. Everyone "on the other side" was helpful and pretty wonderful. Magnolia got to customize her cast, pink with purple stripes, and not complete without the addition of glitter. She has a follow up appointment in a little over a week to do more X-rays and perhaps move from a full cast on her leg to one that starts below her knee.

I'm trying to figure out how to occupy Magnolia's time. She doesn't seem to realize that her leg is broken, or at least the limitations a broken leg should bring. She wants to go to the park, to the beach, to the pool. She wants to jump off of all of the furniture like she's used to doing. She wants to go to the park with the rope tower that she loves to climb. She wants to climb trees and jump out of them. She gets more than a little upset when I tell her she can't. Any suggestions are welcome.

So after all of these emotional rushes, coupled with not sleeping well, my rope is a little frayed. I feel like I have a newborn and am sensitive to the slightest sound at night. I don't want to miss the call that Magnolia needs me. I've even thought about just sleeping in their room, so at least I won't worry about hearing her, and maybe that would help me sleep better. I don't know if I've been extra tired because everywhere I've gone in almost the last week has included carrying Magnolia, but I think it's probably the extra physical work mixed with the emotional side of this.

Today was Magnolia's first day back to school, and it has been a lazy one for me. I spent much of the morning in a bath reading a book I've been meaning to for a while. When I got out of the bath, I made my way over to my bed and read a little while longer before closing my eyes for a bit. I almost feel like I'm not on high alert. Just for a minute anyway. I spent today calming my nerves. Even though no one could feel as much guilt as a mother when her child is hurt, there are things that people say, unintentionally, I'm sure, that twist the knife into the heart of that mother guilt just a little further. I'm trying to remind myself to let these things roll off my back.

I'm also trying not to be completely irrational about this, especially since I'm still in a new place. Thoughts like, "If we never would have moved here" come to mind. And more than as a way to prevent her leg from being broken, I think it's tied to feeling like I would have my tribe. I would have had our amazing primary care physician, and I would have had numerous suggestions for an ortho, etc..  Here's to a good night's sleep and feeling more and more like we're on the road to recovery.

This image has made me want to toss my cookies more than once. I also was finally able to see the teacher who saw the incident that caused Magnolia's leg to break. Listening to the story, and this image already in my mind: Wowza.

09 November 2014

Day 97

Day 97 in Los Angeles is the day we found out that Magnolia really did break her leg on Day 95.

A spiral tibial fracture.

[Playing with a suction hose. She especially liked using it on the skin on my hands.]

I got a call from Magnolia's school late Friday morning. She'd fallen off one of the tricycles, her leg got caught in the pedal (Magnolia later told me it was the wheel), she was crying and couldn't stand on it, so her teachers carried her to the office. I talked to M on the phone, and she sounded chipper. I asked her if it really hurt or if she wanted to go back to class. She said she wanted to come home. I had her give the phone back to Francis (the receptionist), and I told her I was having a weird parent moment trying to decide if I should come and get her or let her stay. (I didn't want her to figure out the "if I do this, then my mom will come and get me" trick.) Francis told me she tried a little trick of her own: She dropped a ball and asked Magnolia if she could pick it up and bring it to her. Magnolia said she couldn't. 1. That trick is ingenious. 2. I told her I'd be right there.

When I got to the school, Magnolia was in the office next to Francis. Usually when Magnolia sees me, she gets excited and smiles. When our eyes met, her chin started quivering. I did a walk/run over to her, asked if she was okay, and she buried her head in my shoulder and cried a little. [I cried a little too.] She was trying to be so brave. I told her I was sorry it took so long to get there. When I pulled back a little bit, I saw that she was holding a bag of ice on the lower part of her left leg. That sweet little tiny leg. She said she couldn't walk, so I picked her up and we went to get Cora, who was eating lunch.

[Playing with the dress-up stickers one of the doctors brought in for her.]

She seemed happy, but would complain a bit when her leg bounced too much as I was walking. Her leg wasn't swollen besides a knot on her shin, and only had two little circular bruises about two inches a part. Over the next two days, she scooted around the house, happy as could be. She climbed behind the couch, she did everything just like normal, but when we would ask her if she wanted to walk, she wouldn't, and she would still wince and cry if she moved her leg a certain way. After her "walk test" this morning, I took her into the ER (I called a few nearby Urgent Cares first, but they didn't do x-rays) at UCLA's hospital.

We were there for a really long time. The only time she was ever afraid was when she was getting x-rays. She saw the machine come over her, and she grabbed onto me. I reminded her it was the camera we talked about, and that it would never touch her. The part about it not touching her made her relax her grip a bit. When the doctor came back to our room after the x-rays, she told Magnolia that she had some really sad news, and that her leg was broken. I think everyone was surprised that it was a spiral fracture because I had a perfectly happy little girl. When I saw the x-ray, I couldn't believe how clearly broken it was. No mistake. No kinda sorta. It appears to have cleared the growth plates. I'm glad for that.

(Eating a graham cracker snack because we'd been there through lunch and dinner.)

We should be getting a call from someone in an orthopedic doctor's office within the next 24 hours to schedule an appointment and determine a treatment plan. We left the hospital in a temporary splint that starts at her toes and extends to her upper thigh. The back half is plaster, and just that is so heavy for her. They didn't have crutches her size in the ER, but the nurse said that the splint is probably too heavy for her to try and balance out with crutches. So for right now, I'm M's legs. Third floor apartment, no elevator, carrying a cute little love up and down. I have the easy job. I hope her long term splint/cast will be lighter, and that we'll figure out some device to help her get around on her own. And that's for her sake, not mine. ;)    

05 November 2014

John Fullbright and Patty Griffin

He didn't sing Me Wanting You, and I didn't eat any key lime pie, but John Fullbright and Patty Griffin = perfection.

The cherry on top of this evening was that I drove back to a home where Mary Fallin isn't governor. [That would not be the case if I still lived in Oklahoma.]

My favorite new songs they played were Patty's "Mando Song no.1" and John's "Stars."  When I was listening to Stars, I closed my eyes and thought of my friend Dan.
Well I’ve seen stars before
I’ve looked up and felt empty
I’ve looked up and felt nothing
I’ve looked up and felt sorrow
Like I was alone 
But tonight I looked up
To the stars brightly shining
And I felt like I was something
In the eyes of god as he smiled 
But I’ve known God before
One time he told me he made me
Told me he loved me
Told me not to be afraid of dying
But one day I looked up
And my sky was empty
And the world kept on turning
And I was forever alone 
But I’ve known love before
I’ve loved and I’ve been loved
I’ve loved and I’ve lost love
I found out that love was just God almighty
And love burns brightly
Just like stars up in heaven
To remind us that love means that nobody dies alone 
Oh I’ve seen stars before
Mando Song

My best attempt at the lyrics:
I’m gonna let it be the field
One that rain forgot
I’m gonna let it be the summer
I’m gonna let it be your face
The one that ran away
I’m gonna let it be forever 
I’m gonna let it rain and hail
Gonna let the rusty nail
No longer hold this world together
I’m gonna let it be the sun
In more ways than one
Shine a different way tomorrow
Shine a different way tomorrow 
I’m gonna let it be the moon
Gonna let it play a tune
The one that keeps repeating
I’m gonna let it be your will
Let it have your thrill
If that’s what you were needing 
 I’m gonna let it start again
Gonna let it face the wind
With my arms stretched out before me
I’m gonna let it look at me
As I am sleepin’ in the dark
And love me like a baby 
I’m gonna let it be the sun
In more ways than one
Run out of its horizon
I’m gonna let it be the night
For I have had my day
Dancin’ at the back door 
I’m gonna let it hear the prayer
No matter who is there
No matter who is listening 
I’m gonna let the dream tell me
For it has always known 
The moonlight and the glistening
The moonlight and the glistening
The moonlight and the glistening day

04 November 2014

Voting and Music and Pie

I want a Flavor-Flav-timepiece-sized "I Voted" sticker.

It's a badge of privilege all of us can wear.

I'm happy my sticker on this election day is teaching me many different ways to say "I Voted." Something about it makes me proud.

And I'm always proud to take part in this process. I feel it's more than just a right, it's a legacy.

Voting in California was good, but I couldn't help really really wishing I was voting in Oklahoma today. There have been few elections with something on the ballot that I felt so passionately about.

Speaking of Oklahoma…Tonight I'm going to a Patty Griffin concert. Patty Griffin and John Fullbright! Jake bought the tickets a while ago and has been holding out. [And for you non-Okies, John Fullbright is an Oklahoma musician.] A month or so ago I posted this:
If I had my druthers this evening, I would be in Oklahoma City at The Paramount eating key lime pie from Pie Junkie and listening to John Fullbright sing Me Wanting You.
Instead of Oklahoma City, I will be at a beautiful church in Los Angeles listening to two of my all-time favorites. But I'll probably still want some of Pie Junkie's key lime pie.

[The Cathedral Sanctuary at Immanuel Presbyterian]

Totally comparable. And then there's this:

[Key Lime from Pie Junkie]

30 October 2014


I'm a worrier. Mostly about things I have no control over. Usually either the future or the past.

About this time of year four years ago, I discovered that yoga could help combat my inner worrier. For however long I'm on my mat working through asanas, my mind and body are fully engaged in the present. This has been so good for me.

Here's a portion of my [Surya Namaskara - (sun salutation]: 

[Adho Mukha Svanasana - (downward-facing dog]

[Phalakasana - (plank]

[Chaturanga - (four-limbed staff pose]

[Urdhva Mukha Svanasana - (upward facing dog]
Yoga is all about me learning more about me. And the magic is that the more I learn about me, the more I understand about so many things outside of myself. I can work on something new or go back to poses I think I know by heart, feeling my way through them, making new connections between my mind, body, and spirit, and finding they feel new again. 

This is a sequence from [Prasarita Padottasasana - (wide-legged forward bed] into [Sirsasana II - (tripod headstand].

It's an on-going practice. As cliché as it may be, yoga reminds me that the journey is far more important than the destination. My work will never be done. It helps me understand the value of right now. It's constant mix of old and new that helps me continue on in my evolution. In my becoming. 

[Eka Pada Rajakapotasana - (pigeon pose]

A series of asanas I'm working on:

[Astavakrasana - (eight-limbed pose] - My hips need more lift.

Double jumping into [Adho Mukha Vrksasana - (handstand] - Yep...

21 October 2014

All of These Lives I've Lived

I've been touched by the number of friends who've gone past Dot and told us how she's doing since we moved from Oklahoma City. The latest report said she looked grand. These reports make my heart so happy. More than how Dot is doing, I've loved how everyone has said they wish they could stop on their way by and say "Hello" to us. I wish you could too. Thank you. Not only for thinking of us, but for sharing the kind thought.

I've been thinking about how we live hundreds of lives in the span of one lifetime. One of my lives included Dot and Mesta Park and Westminster and Pie Junkie. I loved so many things about it. In another life, I was a high school English teacher. In another, a new mom. I spent a short life being a pretty good runner. A life in Chicago. Living in an old orchard. Watching every sunset in my life in Arizona. The life playing out here in Los Angeles. So many places and people all encapsulated in neat little boxes together forming a single life in the span of my lifetime. 

Sometimes my memory takes them off the shelf and I spend time reminiscing with each of them. Sometimes I actually speak up and reach out to people from the past, from a different path. Sometimes the lines of each life can bleed together, they blur, and it feels like they're all touching. I love those moments, even if they ache a little (or a whole awful lot). Those days and weeks where I get to pretend like every single part of all of my lives is within reach.

We make so many choices and each one clears a new little way on our path. Making choices has been on my mind too. There are many choices I've made that I can't imagine ever regretting. Even with these, I get caught up wondering where I might be had I chosen differently. Often these wonderings end in a sense of relief. But like everyone else, there are other things I look back on with sense of longing. A desire to know what would have happened had I turned left instead of right.

In an attempt to not live in what-ifs, I try really hard to remember gratitude always. To say, "I could be living a completely different life right now, but all of my choices so far have led to this life, and I'm going to make the most of it." But there are also times when there's an unrest inside (I hope you all have heard I Wish it So from Juno), when the path I'm on doesn't feel just right, and I know that doing something about it is completely up to me.

Sometimes the unrest is related to insignificant circumstances that affect my current comfort level, other times it has to do with something that could potentially change my course. Lead to an abrupt new life. I feel like I'm at the cusp of some big choices, but the dust still hasn't settled from the last big transition. I really want to be patient, but not complacent. I really want to pick a path and run as fast as I can down it, but there are times when I feel frozen thinking of what I might miss, or if I've seen my current path through.

When I think about the summation of my lives so far, I'm relieved. Because I know that somehow, in some way, everything always works out. Even if the thought of being proactive in helping things work out is really scary. Life can't be forced. It shouldn't be anyway. If the choices I make lead to Point B and then a Point C to recover from Point B, and even if I make it through the whole alphabet several times over, I'm trying really hard to trust that Point Z.47 will be the best one. Because at that point, everything I've been learning along the way will be present. That's the beauty of a lifetime. All these lives knit together to form one Life. My life. With each place and person, wherever I am and in whatever way you are present, making my experience what it is on this earth.

There are ribbons of sameness to all of these lives. Events I'll spent my whole lifetime growing from, tripping over, and finding ways to grow again in a new way with help from new friends, and sometimes old ones. There are places that will always be home. There are loves that will last a lifetime. I'm grateful for all of them. And for the ones still waiting for me to find them.

04 September 2014

Time Travel and a Geek-Out

I've been home from Arizona for three days. It feels like I had to travel six hours and eleven years to get back.

Last weekend could have happened just as easily eleven years ago as it did less than a week ago. Fully transitioning back to real time hasn't happened all the way yet.

And fully transitioning back to reality hasn't happened either. Part of it certainly has to do with the shock to my system that was losing Dan. My world isn't quite right yet. It won't be right the same way it was fourteen days ago. Or even before this great transition back to grad school life in a foreign land.

I got to Arizona on Friday afternoon, and I left on Monday morning. In the meantime, I got approximately eight hours of sleep. There wasn't enough time for all of the catching up. And my sleep was still very interrupted by the events of the week prior.

A brief recap:
Friday -
- Dinner with friends at Oregano's where I heard the "Oh, BrieAnn" story for the first time. With that story came mortification and flattery, quickly followed by laughter and tears all at the same time.

Saturday -
- Dan's "Celebration of Life." His sisters, Kim and Colleen spoke. The stories they told kept the mood light and very Dan. They did a beautiful job making Dan feel present and putting our hearts at ease with their words. I hope our collective presence did the same for them.
- Old band and choir videos at Sarah Keller's mom's house. Lots of good reminiscing and many a photo share.
- The get together at Travis's house. It was fun and loud. I enjoyed yoga with Kristin and the quiet one-on-one conversations I was able to have. Despite all the talking, the yoga, and the laughter, I still found myself alone in the loft scribbling notes about an irretrievable friend, and with a handkerchief that wasn't big enough for all the tears.  

Sunday -
- Brunch at The Coffee Shop at Agritopia. I had Tofu Benedict, and Emily and I split a cupcake as an appetizer.
- Church at the Ironwood Ward with my aunt and uncle. It's always nice to see the familiar faces there.
- A visit with Don and Verda. I pretended like their love seat was a couch in a therapist's office. It was good to get some things off my chest.
- A trip to the Coleman's to see the progress in their kitchen makeover.
(In-between was a failed attempt at seeing my friend Monika and her new baby.)
- Dinner at Chipotle on our way out to Scottsdale to Bryan and Matt's mom's house. There I enjoyed some FaceTime with my family (I got some in on Saturday, too), Muppet Treasure Island, and some fantastic hairstyles courtesy of Bryan's seven-year-old daughter Bailey. [She felt like home to me.]
Sunday into Monday -
- An entire night under the stars I've missed, against the silhouette of the mountain I love, and a conversation that didn't give out until the stars faded away into the sunrise. Yes. I stayed up to watch the sunrise. I needed to be present for that transition.
- I dropped Nathaniel off at the airport bright and early (which didn't feel quite so bright and early because of the lack of sleep), and headed further west to Sarah Keller's for a little nap. A little nap that was interrupted by over a hundred texts in a group message about this picture:

And later this one:

Oh the Selfie Stick.

- I hit the road at 10:30 and got home at 4:30.
- I think I was asleep somewhere between 8:30 and 9, after watching my first episode of Derek. (I love everything about it except for "Kev." He's too much.)  

Every night I slept, I fell asleep talking to Sarah Keller. At her mom's. On the new sectional. The first night, we had to make sure our heads were close to one another. The second night it didn't matter as much because it was 4 AM. Her mom made me Snickers Salad, and her famous sweet spaghetti sauce, which I shared at Travis's house.

Old Times is exactly what it felt like. But it wasn't our only reality, it was an alternate reality, and we all had our real lives waiting for us to go back to. The circumstances that brought us together were difficult, but being together helped ease the grief for a while (even if there were solo intermittent bawling-my-eyes-out sessions involved).

While there, I revisited old dreams, and felt things I was surprised to feel. Things that have made the transition back to real life and real time a little hazy. The patterns of my real life here aren't very well established yet, so I think that's making it even more difficult than it might be otherwise. (maybe?) In some ways I am rattled. And in other ways I am resolved. Or trying to be. Or wish I was. I'm still processing. I'm still transitioning. I'm still trying to figure out what just happened.

I'm not always sure what day of the week it is, and I currently seem to be confused by what year it is, but I know there is a fluidity to time. And there are occasions when it folds back on itself and you can reach through and find yesterday or peek into tomorrow. It feels the same as when I first heard about Dan, and was sure I could reach through and grab his hand to pull him into the present. Back into existence. I still like to think about N. Scott Momaday's interpretation of time - rather than time passing us by, we are passing through it. Either way, there is movement.

Finally, I need to share a random Geek-Out. I haven't done so since writing about Barry, our mailman, and it was a really normal feeling part of today. A few weeks ago, we were driving through a lovely neighborhood here in Los Angeles. When we got home, I looked up Cheviot Hills and discovered that one of its most famous residents was Ray Bradbury, and he'd lived there for over fifty years until his death in 2012. He authored one of my all-time favorite books, Dandelion Wine. {I think it's interesting to see how many times I've mentioned something on my blog. Dandelion Wine shows up in six posts. You can find them here.} Today, before the La Brea Tar Pits and the Farmer's Market, I was at the corner of Cheviot and Queensbury (a short drive from my home, mind you) doing this:

I can't help but feel a certain connection between this yellow house and another very particular yellow house that is dearest to my heart. If I had the 1.7 million dollars Bradbury's home sold for in June, you'd better believe I'd happily spend my time loving it back to life. Perhaps I can convince its new owner (though it doesn't seem occupied, and certainly needs a lot of work) that they should donate it to me to live in during Jake's time in grad school, and when it was time to change hands, they'd have a perfectly perfect home to move into. I hate scraping wallpaper, but the tile is perfect. You can see interior pictures here. Oh, how I hope they don't tear it down.



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