Thursday, July 17, 2008

Remembering Josh

On the morning of Saturday, October 8, 1983, the phone rang pretty early. It was my grandmother calling to let us know my aunt had given birth to her third child, a boy she and my uncle named Joshua Jeffrey. I remember being so excited to go to school on Monday morning and tell everyone I had a new cousin in New York, either named Joshua Jeffrey or Jeffrey Joshua. At the time, I was a 9 year old fourth grader in Davenport, WA and New York was a far away place on the other side of the country that took days to get to.

The first time I met Josh was the summer of 1986 when my brother and I went to New York to spend some time at Grandma's. (Turns out it doesn't take days if you go by plane). I was 12 and Josh was almost 3. He was a very happy little boy-always smiling-with a head of blond curls. The things I remember most from this trip are that we went to the Scottish Games Festival and he got this plastic constable-style hat that he absolutely refused to take off. There are a lot of pictures with him in this hat! The other thing I remember is that we had watched "Back to the Future," and he kept jumping on and off the couch saying "I have to tell you about the future! I have to tell you about the future!"

I next saw him two years later but I don't remember a lot from this trip. It was a shorter trip and we didn't see as much of my aunt and uncle and cousins as we had the first time. The only thing I really remember is my cousins had friends over and my cousins got in trouble and my aunt made us all go play kickball to punish us. Eventually, she came out too and I realized what I cool aunt I have.

The next time I saw Josh I was a sophomore in college and he was 9. By this time, we had moved to Idaho and the New Yorkers had moved to Florida. Grandma flew me down there for Spring Break. By this time, Josh was a baseball fan and I noticed he had an autographed picture of one of my favorite players, Walt Weiss, which I thought was so cool. Even more cool was that Josh had met Walt 3 times. He also had the game "Guess Who?" that he loved to play and since I was "new" I was the only one who would play it with him. I think the others got tired of getting beat by a 9 year old. He was pretty good at that game.

The second day I was at my aunt's house, my aunt took me to the beach and conveniently "forgot" the sunblock. You do not take a girl from Idaho to the beach in Florida in March without sunblock without consequences. I have never been so badly sunburnt in my life! I felt so bad when Josh got home from school and came over to give me a big hug and I couldn't let him because it hurt too bad. He also did something to tick off his big sister, as little brothers often do, and she told him he was adopted, which is why he didn't look like her or their older brother. He was crushed, and I wanted to kill her I was so mad! So, I told him that I very clearly remembered the day he was born and he didn't look like his brother and sister because they looked like their dad and he looked like their mom. He seemed to accept this as his beautiful smile returned and he suggested we play a game.

I never would have guessed that would be the last time I would see Josh alive. Two years ago yesterday, my youngest cousin died as a result of injuries sustained in a motorcycle accident. He left this world entirely too young at the age of 22, but was welcomed in Heaven by my dad (his uncle), our aunt and our grandfather that none of us grandchildren got to meet in this life. I cherish the few memories that I have of him. I didn't get to know him as well as I could-or should have. But, he has and always will have a very special place in my heart.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

I am grieving

I am:

Going crazy
In denial
Not myself

Monday, July 14, 2008

Okay! I'll talk! I'll tell you everything!!

Feel time slip away
Waiting in the dentist chair
Let the "fun" begin.....

Today I learned about a perfectly legal form of torture that I am sure would get even the most hardened of criminals to spill their guts. No, I was not arrested; my life is not that exciting. Today I had my records appointment for my braces.

It sounds innocent enough: "We're just going to take some pictures, x-rays and impressions." First up, Jill the Torturer, as she is now known, had me stand in front of a wall. "Okay, first we are going to do a serious picture." Naturally, I started laughing. Once the serious picture was done, it was time for the full smile. I do not smile naturally when on the spot, so she got what James always referred to as my fake, Suzie Sorority smile (yes, I am a sorority girl). Then, it was turn to the right for the last of the mug shots.

We returned to the patient room and I asked if she would be doing my fingerprints next. At least she had a sense of humor as she found that funny. Or, maybe she was laughing because she knew what was coming.

We then had to finish the pictures, which involved putting these weird plastic sort of Y-shaped thingies in my mouth and stretching it unnaturally while I bit down. Turns out I have a small mouth. That is not something I hear oh, ever, but is good to know for the next time I encounter someone who feels otherwise. So, Jill the Torturer went to find the child-size plastic thingies. Apparently, having a child sized mouth means I needed to be talked to like a child for the remainder of the appointment. First, my mouth was stretched out as far as it would go to the right. "You're doing so good," cooed Jill, "now can you just stretch it a little farther? Good girl." Jill would not have thought I was a good girl if she knew what I was thinking! Then the left side, which had to be done twice because she did not realize the memory card was full and the first picture didn't take. "You're doing so good" said Jill, as I glared at her.

After Jill the Torturer got a new camera, it was time for pictures of the top of my mouth. This involved using both the grownup and child-size plastic thingies AND shoving a mirror in my already crowded mouth. This wasn't so bad. Pulling my bottom lip down to my knees while holding my mouth open as far as it could go and holding my tongue behind the mirror shoved in my mouth pretty much made me want to confess to crimes I didn't commit just to end things. And of course, this shot had to be done THREE TIMES.

That was the end of the pictures. Next came the impressions. Okay, if they can make the flouride taste somewhat okay, you would think they could do that with the impression paste. But no. I am pretty sure the impression paste and drywall glue can be used interchangably. In fact, I am pretty sure they are actually the same thing. I have a VERY sensitive gag reflex, so as I am gagging and practically throwing up, Jill is holding the tray in the bottom of my mouth with a brute force such a petite woman should not possess. She decides I should do the top over the sink since it is "far worse" than the bottom. "Oh goody," I think. The top turned out to be a piece of cake, other than it getting stuck and not wanting to come out.

Then it was on to X-rays. I had been dreading X-rays, thinking it was going to be those horrible plastic things they cram in your mouth and make you bite down on while they go out in the hall and take pictures and exchange recipes with the other hygenists. This was actually the X-ray where you stand in the Star Trek machine while it scans your head. Big sigh of relief as there is nothing painful about that.

Last but not least was the biting of the wax. I'm not sure what this was for, but it was quick and painless so I didn't ask. It was probably to make sure my mouth was still working properly.

Jill then took me to see Cheryl. I like Cheryl. She is one of those nice, bubbly people you just want to be friends with. Cheryl, who thinks I am going to look cute with braces, asked if I was excited. I told her I was a lot more excited until Jill the Torturer (yes, I did say that) got a hold of me. I then signed my life away and made my next appointment.

Next up: the consultation and the "seps"on the 28th. That's separators for those not up with orthodontic lingo. I have heard this is the worst part. Goody. But I get to eat soft things like Twinkies and mashed potatoes afterwards to make up for it. I also have to have the "syphs" done since the "syph" machine wasn't working. I know this has something to do with X-rays, but that does not get the image of George O'Malley tackling Alex Karev in the locker room of Seattle Grace saying "YOU gave me syph?!?! " out of my head.

Ah yes, the fun has begun....

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Stepping out of my shell

I am one that prefers to stay behind the scenes. I do not like to draw attention to myself, and I do not like to be the center of attention-unless its my birthday because that is the one day that really should be all about me. Everybody's birthday should be all about them; its their own special holiday.

It's not that I don't have an interest in stepping up or out of my comfort zone, its that I have been painfully shy my entire life. I can sit here and hide behind a computer screen "talking" to others until my fingers fall off, but out in the real world, I am very much aware of where the exits are and the quickest route to get there. Once I get to know people, I don't shut up but initially, I am very anxious of strangers-almost terrified, which is interesting given that I do a lot of volunteer projects where I don't know anyone ahead of time. That has helped draw me out of my shell some.

Being that he was a Gemini, James was good for me in this aspect. He was quite the social butterfly and people just gravitated to him. He always made sure I was okay though; he made sure that I was relaxed and having fun. Now that he is gone, it would be so easy for me to just retreat and never voluntarily face another situation where I didn't know a single soul. But that is not what I am going to do. In fact, I am doing the opposite of that. I have agreed to be a project leader for a group I regularly volunteer for, and I have started a Meetup group for young widow and widowers in this area. I am sure that the evening of the first meeting, I am going to be full of butterflies and wanting to back out-my typical response for the unknown social setting. But I know that I won't do that-I will go to the dinner and meet these new people who have unfortunately also lost their partner way too early. I am hoping this group will help us all in our healing process or provide support for those who may not be blessed with a wonderful family and friends like I am.

I have to admit I am proud of myself for taking the first step and setting up this group. It is definitely a huge thing for me to have done and I feel really good about it, even though the reason this group is needed totally blows.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Independence Day

Webster's New World Dictionary defines independence as follows:

in-de-pend-ence: n. 1. the state or quality of being independent; freedom from the influence, control, or determination of another or others 2. [Now Rare] an income sufficient for a livelihood.

I am an independent woman. It is up to me to make all my own decisions for both myself and Sammy and Charlie. The consequences of my actions are mine and mine alone. I have the freedom to come and go as I please, to do whatever I want whenever I want to do it. If I want ice cream for dinner, so be it. If I want to spend my weekends volunteering or staring at the TV, that's what I am going to do.

There may be some out there who think I am lucky that I have the freedom to do as I please without answering to anyone. Those are the people who did not really know what my life was like with James.

James had a motto: "what Heather wants, Heather gets." (With the exception of a 3rd dog, that is!) He was not the least bit controlling. He once told me that just knowing I was there was enough. We had our date nights on Thursdays and Sundays and we did do a lot together. But we also had very different interests. If I wanted to go see a play with a friend, his response was "better her than me." The theater was not his thing, but we would go see comedians we liked when they came to town. If I wanted to do a volunteer project and we didn't already have plans for that day, he would just ask when I would be home. On the nights my bunco group met, he would always leave the stove light on for me so I could see when I finally made it home. All that really mattered was at the end of the day, I came home. And it went both ways. If he wanted to meet up with friends after work, I just told him to be careful. If he wanted to go play golf with his buddy, I just told him to have fun and I'd see him when he got home.

We talked about me not working, only working part time, only working tax season and me going back to school. Although James would have loved for me to stay home and provide for me, he knew that wouldn't ultimately make me happy. And that was all he really cared about: that I was happy. He encouraged me to try things that appealed to me that I was too nervous or shy to pursue without that little nudge. He knew me better than I know myself and he gave me the freedom and the strength to explore who I am. I am now drawing on that strength to be the woman I know I can be.

I am an independent woman. I have been one all along. And I would much rather be an independent woman with a partner than a independent woman flying solo.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Breaking the law?

I was driving home from dinner with a friend tonight and there was a whole string of cars pulled over. I thought it was a multi-car accident, but none of the cars looked damaged and all the drivers were in their cars. So, now I am wondering if a bunch of peeps got pulled over for talking on their cell phones without being hands-free, which is illegal as of yesterday. Because if you are going to break the law, everyone knows the smartest place to do that is while passing the sheriff's office. And if you don't know you are passing the sheriff's office, you really aren't paying attention, given that they didn't exactly make an effort to hide what that building is. (Yes, I am feeling more than just a bit sarcastic this evening. Nothing a little chocolate won't cure).

My new stoplight game is seeing how many people are breaking the new cell phone law. I figure since I will be sitting there anyway, I might as well have some fun. And at the right time of day, a lot of cars can pass you in the two minutes it takes for the light to turn green again. My tally for today is 5. Apparently not everyone got the memo.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

My latest culinary creation

I keep stocking up on Rice and Pasta-Roni. At a buck (or less) a box, it is really hard to pass up. I have been trying to come up with creative ways to make it last longer, mainly so I can have leftovers and don't have to try to come up with something to make for dinner every night.

My last creation involved Rice-a-Roni Broccoli au Gratin as the base. I made that according to the directions on the box. While that was doing its thing, I seasoned and baked a couple of chicken breasts and steamed some broccoli pieces. When everything was done, I diced the chicken and mixed everything together. I find the chicken easier to cut when it is cooked, and there is the added bonus of not getting raw chicken goobers under my nails. Eeww!

I like cheese, so I shredded some Tillamook Extra Sharp Vintage White Cheddar cheese on top of it. (I would have used regular cheddar, but this is what I had. I don't really like sharp cheddar, but it was part of a gift basket that I won). I also threw in some sliced olives (black) because olives just make everything better. I thought that onion would probably be a great finishing touch, but I was feeling lazy so I sprinkled in some onion powder instead.

It turned out really well and I got 4 decent sized servings out of it. The only down side is that my kitchen still smells like broccoli. Either that or something curled up and died and I just haven't found it yet. I'm really hoping it's the broccoli.

Not nearly long enough

Yesterday, when I was trying to think of something for my profile, it dawned on me that at 34, I have been an adult for 16 years. At the time of his passing, James and I had been together for 8 years, 1 month and 6 days. So at that time, we had been together for more than 1/2 of my adult life by 51 days. Now that he has been gone for almost 5 months (on Sunday), I have spent more of my adult life without him than with him.

I have been struggling with this all day; it has created a new sense of sadness for me. It doesn't matter what the numbers are. No matter how you calculate it, the bottom line is that it wasn't nearly enough time. But on the other hand, it was 2,959 wonderful days that I wouldn't trade for anything.