it’s still raw


A year later….a year after a friend and colleague, and her husband were so suddenly, cruelly, violently taken in such a shocking manner, it is still raw. I didn’t think that it would be. Like everyone else who knew her, I’ve hitched up my big girl panties. Yes, cried sometimes. Laughed sometimes too imagining what she might have said or done. Cried a little when it seemed that she said hello at work that one time. I still catch my breath and gulp back a tear or more when I see her garden outside of Room 3 when I get to work…when I get to work.

A year later we remembered because I can’t imagine that we will ever forget someone so remarkable. We all remembered and honored her and her husband in our own ways. We all were not together but we all remembered still. Some of us gathered with her daughter tonight and remembered.

God that was hard!

Her little girl’s physical, emotional, spiritual, psychic pain was so real, so raw. I just can not imagine. I don’t think any one of us could ever understand, ever know unless we too lost someone we have known and loved our entire lives taken so violently away from us. The mommy in me wishes I could take that pain away from their daughter. The mommy in me prays none of my children ever know that pain I witnessed today.

Those of us who gathered with their daughter stood together in Jacob Myers Park in Riverbank before the tree planted in their memory with a plaque placed before it. Dwarfed right now by 14 trees in what is known as Bicentennial Grove, it will soon enough someday catch up to their towering grandeur as it guards the entrance to that beautiful grove here in the Central Valley.

It’s a place to pause, to sit and reflect. A place for us to remember. A place for anyone else to just take in the cool of the shade these trees provide, the green-ness all around, the sounds of nature and families at play and the occasional startling rumbling overhead from the trains passing on the bridge nearby. It’s a place where I am reminded that we “hitch up our big girl panties“, as Janet would often say in some of the most stressful times in the NICU and we do that which we must do…we don’t forget, we don’t let go and we don’t stop.“…as her husband’s business partner reminded us tonight.

It’s still raw. It’s still so real. We don’t forget. We won’t let go. But we also don’t stop living as, I would imagine, our friend and colleague would expect of us all.

what not to do on an empty stomach


In life we all learn, usually the hard way, what we shouldn’t do on an empty stomach. At least I have learned that a number of times. Of course I learned it the hard way because I’m me.

  • take a very important test
  • work…guaranteed it will be the 12 hour shift from hell with little or no opportunity for a meal break much less a potty break
  • attend a few C-sections
  • run a 10K
  • grocery shop
  • jury duty

I could go on because too many times I have undertaken adventures on an empty stomach in spite of the fact that I know too well what happens to me when my blood sugar plummets.

But there is one thing one should do on an empty stomach, or perhaps with just a light snack beforehand and that is to see The Hundred Foot Journey.

I had the opportunity to see this film a couple of weeks ago while at BlogHer.

In “The Hundred-Foot Journey,” Hassan Kadam (Manish Dayal) is a culinary ingénue with the gastronomic equivalent of perfect pitch. Displaced from their native India, the Kadam family, led by Papa (Om Puri), settles in the quaint village of Saint-Antonin-Noble-Val in the
south of France. Filled with charm, it is both picturesque and elegant
– the ideal place to settle down and open an Indian restaurant, Maison
Mumbai. That is, until the chilly chef proprietress of Le Saule Pleureur,
a Michelin-starred, classical French restaurant run by Madame Mallory
(Academy Award® winner Helen Mirren), gets wind of it.
Her icy protests against the new Indian restaurant a hundred feet from
her own escalate into a heated battle between the two establishments
until Hassan’s passion for French haute cuisine – and for Madame
Mallory’s enchanting sous chef, Marguerite (Charlotte Le Bon) – combine
with his mysteriously-delicious talent to weave magic between their
two cultures and imbue Saint-Antonin with the flavors of life that even
Madame Mallory cannot ignore. Madame Mallory eventually recognizes
her culinary rival’s gift as a chef and takes Hassan under her wing.
“The Hundred-Foot Journey” abounds with flavors that burst across the tongue. A stimulating triumph over exile, blossoming with passion and heart, it is a portrayal of two worlds colliding and one young man’s drive to find the comfort of home, in every pot, wherever he may be.
Exactly!
The actual distance from Le Saule Pleureur Restaurant to the Maison Mumbai is not far: one-hundred feet, no more, no less. It’s a journey…albeit a small one…that both the Kadam family and Madame Mallory make numerous times throughout the film, but it represents more than just the distance between these two locations. It’s that point in our lives where we step out of our comfort zone and cross over into unfamiliar territory on a quest of self-discovery.
Oh, and it’s a love story and a love story with food…so much delicious, glorious food that you can almost smell and taste it all while watching this film.
A victory of passion over prejudice, “The Hundred-Foot Journey” is the convergence of two worlds through the power of acceptance and understanding and the unifying nature of food. I love what Helen Mirren said  about this film, “Don’t go to dinner until after you’ve seen this movie. Then go to a really nice French or Indian restaurant.” I would wholeheartedly say yes.
“The Hundred-Foot Journey” is presented by DreamWorks Pictures and Reliance Entertainment, directed by Academy Award® nominee Lasse Hallström and stars Academy Award winner Helen Mirren, Om Puri, Manish Dayal and Charlotte Le Bon. The film is produced by Academy Award winner Steven Spielberg, Academy Award
nominee Oprah Winfrey and Juliet Blake. The executive producers are Caroline Hewitt, Carla Gardini, Jeff Skoll and Jonathan King. The screenplay is written by Academy Award nominee Steven Knight, based on the novel “The Hundred-Foot Journey” by Richard C. Morais.
I was invited to a special screening of this film and received no compensation other than admission for two to the film and a small popcorn and soda. What I wouldn’t have given for some Chicken Tikka…just saying…

inclusion, exclusion, privacy, the 1st day of school and, sigh, picking the battles


Here under The Big Top we are officially BACK TO SCHOOL!

Can I hear a YEAH, BABY!!!??

OH, YEAH BABY!!!

And for the first time since 1997 I only have one child of mine heading back to school which means…

yeah, I know it means this is my last baby and all my babies are growing up…

More importantly, this means that I only had ONE ream of repetitive back to school paperwork to fill out, also known as “Mom-work” in Daniel’s classroom this year. For the record, I got my Mom-work done.

Leading up to the first day of school was so much excitement and nervous energy…totally normal I assure Daniel. Hazel excitedly shared the day before how she couldn’t wait to go to her school and see her name posted under the name of her assigned first grade teacher. Who would it be? She was so excited with the anticipation of it all as were pretty much every other K-8 child in this town. It’s part of the Back to School tradition.

Daniel wanted to be a part of that too. Last year we went to his school the day before the first day to view the class lists and…nothing. We downplayed it reminding him that we had the letter from the district telling him what school he would be going to and he wiped away the tears but not the worry…what if his name wasn’t there for a reason? But the next morning the principal assured him that yes he was at her school and in Mrs. B’s 4-6 SDC class. It’s privacy concerns she tells me when I ask why his class list wasn’t posted.

Privacy?

Privacy. People might KNOW that he is in the SDC class, she explains with a warm smile.

Um, okay. They already know.

So this year I decide to call the school and ask do I bother to drive over to the school. Do I put my child through that feeling of exclusion again?

You don’t need to come, I am told. Daniel will be in Mrs. B’s 4-6 SDC class.

Okay.

YES! Daniel is thrilled. Daniel is also kind of disappointed.

Disappointed? The principal wonders why.

Well, he doesn’t get to participate in that annual ritual of going to the school the day before the first day and looking for his name…and then the names of his friends.

I’m reminded again of the importance to respect his privacy which is why the SDC classes are never made public…at least at this particular campus in the MUSD district.

I think the principal heard my head thud on my desk because she then commented that I might not like that policy.

I don’t. Daniel (and his classmates in Mrs. B’s 4-6 class) are known on campus. All of them spend some length of time every day in mainstream classrooms. They participate in all activities on that campus. Everyone knows them.

Respecting their privacy?

I don’t get that.

My son, and his classmates might be differently abled. Perhaps they learn at a different pace or in a different way. Still they are included in classroom settings with their also “normal” abled peers…and the benefits abound. We’ve seen it in interactions through the years with Daniel’s teachers, with his classmates and with their families. And we have seen our son, and his SDC peers thrive…thrive in the least restrictive environment for them, for their classmates (normal and different), for their teachers and support staff and for the families. Yes, some families and even a few teachers struggle with this, but overall the results are positive all around on campus and I imagine, wish, hope and pray will continue to grow and flourish as my son becomes a young man.

No, I don’t get it. I respectfully disagree with respecting their privacy, I explain to the principal. I’m glad that I called the school first, I tell her. I’d hate for Daniel to again feel excluded from this back to school tradition.

She never thought of it that way, she tells me.

I know.

I could fight. I could argue with her. But I don’t. You pick your battles. This isn’t even an argument I decide.

We need to focus on this.

6th grade life, people!!!

And let us not forget, 1st grade! Hazel Faye is now a 1st grader!!!

“I like your show…can you send me some underwear?”


Overheard under The Big Top:

Daniel- I want to write a letter to Ellen.

Mom- Okay

Daniel- Can I give her a picture of me too; so that she’ll know it’s from me?

Mom- (with a little sarcasm) Do you want to autograph it too?

Daniel- YEAH! AWESOME!

This is what happens when your kid realizes he is like Internet famous. No, not viral or like a celebrity, but he knows he has fans thanks to mom’s blogging and the fact that he is pretty awesome. Does he imagine that Ellen reads Adventures in Juggling? I’m not going to ask.

So he sits down and autographs a picture of himself signing it: To Ellen, Love Daniel xoxo. And then he begins his letter telling her that he likes her…he likes her a lot. He loves her show. She is so so funny. She’s kind too. Oh, and he just loves her underwear….Can I have some of your underwear? he writes. Yes, he wrote that. He also offers that if they were to ever meet he would hug her because he loves her and because he is a pretty great hugger…a lot of people say that about me he adds.

Daniel- Can I ask her to give me a giant $10,000 gift card too?

Um…

We sure could use that like pretty much anyone else I know. Actually the IRS would LOVE it and definitely take it because that’s what they’re doing to us right now but…

Mom- No, son. You shouldn’t ask her for money. I think just telling her how much you like her is enough.

Daniel- I’m still asking her for underwear.

Mom- That’s fine, son.

 

therapy


Sometimes, some days the weight of all that presses down on my heart, my head, my soul is just too much.

Like today. For so many reasons, today was one of those days. The sadness overwhelmed, pressed down and enveloped my very core.

And so I forced myself to run. I didn’t want to; but run I knew that I must do today…especially today. Today I ran because I knew that for at least the 30 minutes and 3.2 miles that I was running all that is right now always weighing down my heart, mind and soul was behind me. It wasn’t gone. Today I feel like none of it will ever be gone in my lifetime. But at least it was behind me for a blessed half hour.

And then reality.

What a bitch reality is.

It wasn’t all bad. No. One problem that in the last month went from bad to worse to clusterfuckedupness when Bill’s car met it’s demise in the Santa Cruz Mountains last month and then when he broke his motorcycle this weekend was solved…with monthly car payments to now worry about. Then again a family with a Bay Area commute to one job and a commute to Stockton with another job and a commute to Modesto for another job and school starting next week there was no way that we could survive with just one reliable vehicle that remains.

I should be thankful. I am. But today was a horrible, rotten, no-good, very bad mental health day and so I let the can-we-really-afford-this-car-payment-when-I-get-cut-from-work-pretty-much-every-scheduled-shift overwhelm me because, I got called off from work. Of course!

Bill handed me the keys telling me to take it for a drive. So I did.

I drove and drove and drove all over the place, past orchards and vineyards and parched fields and into the sunset with the windows rolled down and Iggy Azalea loudly promising that in spite of her 99 problems you won’t be one on the radio.

Therapy, much needed therapy for a pretty emotionally fucked up day.

Tomorrow’s another day. It might be a better day. It might not be. But it will be tomorrow.

One day, one hour, one minute at a time.

It’s therapy.