Tuesday, September 30, 2008

My Daughter

Eleven years ago, my daughter was born.

She was a Shettles baby, in that we followed the Shettles Method of Gender Selection in order to increase our chances of having a girl (since I have a preponderance of male conceptions in my family lineage, and we already had a beautiful little boy and knew that two was going to be our limit). Incidentally, my mom had used Shettles' principles to conceive my sister, and I'd recommended it to a coworker who was trying to conceive a second child with his wife (it worked for them as well). Anecdotally, it works pretty well - though I'm certainly the first to admit it's an imperfect science and there's been a lot of medical challenge to Shettles' work.

Anyway, Kayleigh was ready to come join the fun, giving Sam about 5-1/2 hours labor, total (from water breaking to delivery). We could never keep her from a party. As with Tyler's birth, we had a second birthing coach in the delivery room to run interference with the family and give me support when I was otherwise engaged with Sam's labor. They barely got the epidural in before Kayleigh Grace Downing made her entrance. Out popped a delicate little baby girl, and a proud papa cut the cord as our family doc attended.

It was the day after our 7th wedding anniversary, which created an interesting emotional dynamic, especially after Sam died.

From her earliest development, we knew Kayleigh (Old English, "rejoice") would be a performer (being the genetic product of two actor/artist/musicians). That theory is no less valid now, as she plays her clarinet, guitar, recorder, keyboards, bass and sings.

She's experienced a great deal more trauma and loss in her short time on Earth than most of her peers. And yet, she continues to meet the world with a smile and a hug. If I sometimes doubt my abilities as a dad, it is Kayleigh's amazing talent and attitude that re-inspire me to keep going. She's a testament to love and a resilient human spirit.

Happy birthday, Kayleigh. I love you.

Last Day for the Girl

Congrats to TBGE on her last day in her former department, and best wishes in the transition to her new gig!

Love you, baby!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Lows and Highs

I tried to stay distracted today. I tried to just put it out of my mind. But I don't think it will ever be possible to forget - nor do I think I should try to forget. It just is. It just was. The twenty years Sam and I spent together is, for better or worse, a part of who I am. The loss of that old life forged what was left of me at that rock bottom place into what I've become. There will always be a part of me that feels cheated by the Universe, by fate, by God, by whatever, for the loss of that life. And it would be so easy to be bitter, angry and play the victim.

But I'm not a victim. I'm a survivor. And there's a huge difference between the two.

And although I may feel a bit sad a couple days out of the year while I remember an important person in my life who is no longer here, it is not my full measure. It has never been.

I can observe an important loss AND be hopeful about the future. We're remarkably complex and resilient beings, we humans.

Yes, what keeps me smiling, even on the sad days, is this...

Anniversaries and Birthdays

Paul Newman died, and today would have been my 18th wedding anniversary. Yeah, I'm a bit down (I'm allowed, thank you), but I'm also not so focused there anymore. A lot is going well in my life, and I choose to focus on that to a great extent. So while I raise a glass in spirit to Samantha on this day, she knows I have good things in front of me and don't need to dwell in the past.

TBGE wrote up her experience of hosting 11 year old girls for a slumber party, so I won't duplicate. But I will say that it was pretty much my experience from the last 3 birthdays (and she did an awesome job being the mom/host). This time, however, I got to go downstairs with a Guinness and my painting supplies, and transform the bedroom while I watched football. The Stanford-UW game was sufficiently close enough not to be an embarrassment (Card won). Saw some of the WVU-Marshall game highlights (WVU won), and probably the biggest news in the Pac 10 was that Oregon State beat USC for the first time since the 1960s, and University of Oregon slaughtered Washington State 63-14. Oregon has come to kick some ass and chew some gum, and apparently they're out of gum.

Sunday started with the usual coffee-with-Ron tradition (the lady at the check-out counter at B&N recognized us as we entered - "Wouldn't be Sunday without ya!"), but we'd arranged to cut out early so that Raechelle could take off for some Kim time. While Raechelle was gone, I took the opportunity to paint the last wall in the bedroom, catch the Kansas City-Denver game (while painting), and do some yard work in the front. I felt very industrious.

(Two shades of tan now compliment the steel blue carpet
and oak Mission furniture)

Raechelle came home and oohed and ahhed at the progress (which is why I do it, ya know). We cuddled up for a bit (between the painting, yard work and not hydrating, I was exhausted), watched some of the Chicago-Philadelphia game, made some dinner, watched some Buffy season 1, then put the kids to bed and collapsed.

It was a good weekend. Barriers were crossed, strides were made. Raechelle gave me a huge validation in her blog which actually made me a bit misty. Things are good.

This week, we have much to celebrate. Happy hour for Rae's last couple days in her old job, Kayleigh's actual birthday and family dinner Tuesday night, and on Friday, I'm taking Raechelle to Port Townsend for a weekend at the Ann Starrett Mansion. Look at us go.

Friday, September 26, 2008

You're Kidding Me


Your social calendar is going to be buzzing soon -- people are feeling more affection for you than ever before, and your presence will be in demand for everything from weddings to house painting parties [emphasis mine]. Accept all the invitations you want, and be mindful that the older friends in your life still deserve your time too. Don't get distracted by the new and shiny people who promise so much intrigue and excitement. Remember to save some time for the folks who've always been there for you.

* * *

So... I finished painting the west wall. That's two down, two to go.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Zero to Sixty...

...in the blink of an eye.

Had a Duo script conference with Jim on Tuesday night, and he had some suggestions both nit-picky and critical. Which means another dialog pass before we can effectively pitch again.

Competing for the same burner is the Ordinary Angels series pilot screenplay, which is at the time of this writing about 35% finished. Add to that a November deadline for pitching the series to a specific production company in Vancouver, and you have a suddenly very busy writer.

(Okay, look at both posters and tell me I'm not just a little fond of Eric Riedmann.)

So which to work on first?

That's easy. Neither. I just got paint for my bedroom, and started cutting in the edges yesterday. I may just finish the east wall so it can be drying while I write. Raechelle is going to help me with the other three walls this weekend. Apologies in advance if I go a bit quiet over the next week or two. I'll get a few posts in here and there, but I sense a manic workaholic episode coming on.

Wish me luck.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Four Months

For those of you keeping score, Raechelle and I have been together four months today. I may have mentioned that, after we'd passed three months, it became my longest relationship, post-Sam.

It's good. Really good. I look forward to celebrating many more anniversaries with this adorable little lady who makes me laugh and my heart take flight. Corny? Maybe. Deal with it.

Cheers, baby.

Not to Worry

The moment I mention health concerns in this blog, my loyal readers (many of whom are old friends) start pinging me with concern. It's okay. My BP is nice and on the low side of normal, I'm at a healthy weight and getting healthier, my cholesterol is getting checked as we speak, and - bonus - I don't have cancer.

No, the health issues of which I speak are of the merely-being-in-a-medical-setting variety. I hate hate hate hospitals, doctors' offices, exam rooms, lab coats, needles, surgical gloves and scrubs. Never had a problem with doctors all my life. Funny how being enmeshed in the cancer culture for three years while your wife and father are poked and prodded, stuck, bled, infused, irradiated and otherwise defiled puts a negative spin on things. While it's not a full-on medical phobia, I can say that sitting in two different exam rooms in the last week had me extremely uncomfortable and on-edge.

And the crux of the matter is really that in both exams, I had an acute symptom I needed addressed, and in both cases, I left with no answers. I could have saved the money and spared my dignity staying home and be no worse for the not-knowing. In the first exam, I at least got my ear canal irrigated and some greasy, obnoxious ear drops to try to kill the infection.

So that's what the cryptic note yesterday was about. He's okay, folks. Just a bit grumpy about the medical profession (and Colin, Ann, Jason and Beth, I know you know what I'm talking about). Which is just swell, as now that I'm cruising into midlife, the medical profession and I are statistically going to be seeing more of each other.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Me Too

Man, I hate doing "me too" posts, but Mark Bruno just featured this over on Signal vs. Noise, and I had to share it with my readers. Funny thing is, while the little girl is super cute and all, for me this video is all about the editing once it goes into the beatbox segment. Amazing.

I'll post some actual content tomorrow. Today has been a bit overwhelming on the health front, and I need to process.

I Must Share...

Classic Engrish, right here. It is the cool and smart. For relaxing pleasant time. You must check it.

Monday, September 22, 2008

...And They're OFF!

Monday didn't disappoint. Raechelle got off to work early, I got the kids to school on time, and that fortunately set the tone for the day. Any morning when I don't have a major battle with one of the kids is an achievement.

Got a bunch of busy work done, and crashed for a cat nap before Raechelle and her cousin Butch (husband of Tricia - I'll get all the players down*, I swear) came over. Katherine made dinner with the kids while I drove Rae & her guest downtown to Pike Place Market. We grabbed dinner at The Pike, and walked Butch around a bit. I think he likes our town.

We came back and showed him OA, which he thoroughly enjoyed, and the two of them headed back to Ballard. I have a Duo script conference tomorrow night, and seeing OA again has jump-started my creative impulse. I sense a return to the OA series pilot tomorrow.

*Speaking of players, Stanford beat SJSU on Saturday, bringing them to 2-2 nationally and 1-1 in their division. I would have liked to watch the game (as they are both hometown schools) along with a few others, but with moving Dan & Trish, that wasn't "in the cards" (get it? The Stanford Cardinals? "In the cards"? Sigh).

Before the kids and when they were very young, we could watch a couple games a day, or at least have them on in the background while we were being productive. Sam & I used to follow Stanford, Cal, and UW college ball, the 49ers, Raiders, and Seahawks (and Mariners, on the baseball side), and could spend a whole day in our PJs watching double-headers. The Olympics were sacrosanct. I could waste an entire day watching World Cup soccer or Irish hurling or lacrosse (anyone else feel a promo for The Ocho coming on?). But for the past several years, there has always been something to do, something to clean, some disaster to confront, somebody to care for, as much as we would have liked to just veg out in front of sports for an entire day (or weekend).

I long for the ability to just veg out in front of football for a whole day and not feel guilty about it. I freely admit it's old conditioning, and I'm working on overcoming it. Maybe Thanksgiving weekend. I'm sure Rae would be okay with that.

I can dream, can't I? Fer gawd sake, let me have my dream!

This is a bye week for the Hawks, and the weekend after that, they're in NY to face the Giants. Let's hope they can build up their 1-2 record a bit. We'll be in Port Townshend that weekend, but I'm sure it will be viewable/audible in some fashion. And I think I'll ask Rae to bring her TV over next weekend so I can watch the Stanford-UW game Saturday night while she and Kayleigh are girling it up with the birthday slumber party.

Tomorrow I have another doctor appointment, and then Wednesday Rae & I celebrate 4 months together. And on we go...


I forgot to mention in Saturday's blog post that when they took my vitals at the doctor's office, my blood pressure was in the normal range and I weighed in at 247, which is 45lbs down from what I weighed at the time of Sam's death. Yeah, do the maths if you want, but I was 292. That sounds like a lot (and it is), but I carried it well on my 6'4" big-boned Highland frame. Regardless, I can feel a huge difference. 10 or 20 more pounds and I'll be in my perfect zone. And I'm gonna do it, not by re-joining my gym or doing any funky diets, but by maintaining healthy habits.

And maintaining healthy habits is a lot easier to do when one has a partner to help monitor stuff like that. I'll get back to that in a sec.

Saturday we curled up in our jammies and watched a couple movies. The Buffy the Vampire Slayer film, followed by Reign of Fire, which is an underrated post-apocalyptic fantasy with Christian Bale and an almost unrecognizable Matthew McConaughey. But not really up Rae's alley. Ah well. My record is still pretty good...

Sunday was a nice sleep-in, followed by organizing the dining room. Craft stuff: organized. Piles: gone through. Old dining chairs: out of there. We watched the Hawks beat the pants off the Rams. Apparently we should not wear our Hawks fan gear when watching from now on.

We showered and headed up to Ballard, stopped in at Archie McPhee to look for Kayleigh's party favors (and maybe some decor for our Halloween party). Then up to Rae's apartment so she could grab a few necessities. Then home. We put the kids to work with some chores while we beat the hell out of some chicken breasts and made schnitzels (like my dad loved to make, only with lime instead of lemon). Add steamed veggies and a side of mac & cheese, two kids and some festive tableware, and you've got an actual honest-to-God sit-down family dinner.

How cool is that?

Rae brought over season 1 of Buffy The Vampire Slayer, and we caught the first episode before bedtime. It was a good finish to a good weekend.

Dinner plans tonight, and a busy week ahead. Back on track with both Duo and the OA series. I can feel my block lifting. It's a good feeling. It's nice to have a muse again.

Saturday, September 20, 2008


One more smooch for the girl. Raechelle left work early to sit with me in the doctor's office while a readheaded Amazon irrigated my ear canal with a huge syringe of warm water and peroxide. After she'd flushed the gunk out, the nurse's assistant was able to detect signs of an infection of the ear canal - which is preferable to an infection of the inner ear.

Armed with antibacterial ear drops I get to use 4x to 5x per day, I left for home and Raechelle went back to her apartment to pack for the weekend. By the time Rae arrived and we'd shopped for french bread pizza makings and gotten into our PJs, we were exhausted - it had just been that kind of week. We watched The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys, one of my favorite little coming-of-age tales. Then we put in a few episodes of Freakazoid until it was late enough to justify going to bed.

Slept like a log until almost 9AM, then grabbed a quick latte before heading over to Dan & Trish's former apartment to help them load up the truck. Their new place is in South Seattle, almost directly across the Duwamish from us. It's a gorgeous townhouse on a quiet street, and I think they will be very happy there. On the way to the new place, we found ourselves in the middle of a police escort for three massive buses full of the St. Louis Rams, in town to play the Hawks tomorrow. Ordinarily I'd say something like "We're gonna kick your asses!", but not with the way our boys have been playing their season so far.

Came home and swapped some wet clothes for dry, then met DJ to look at three houses. The second one was almost a keeper, if not for the lack of a bedroom they listed was there. Otherwise beautiful and perfect for us. Just one bedroom short. We returned home (Tyler and I locking horns left and right), and Raechelle prepped to leave for her girls' game night in Covington, which she found out was canceled after she'd made it a few blocks away from home. We're pretty tuckered out from moving Dan & Trish, so I think we're gonna hole up in our jammies again (it's nice and rainy outside - perfect for that), have some wine and watch some movies. I might also have to sit in the jet tub... you know, for the ol' achey "moving" muscles.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Thanks Babe

I have to admit that I was in more of a panic about my impending physical exam than I let on in my previous post. Lots of triggers around doctors and hospitals, as you might expect. And freaking out that the one or two "creaks and rattles" might be something worse than they are. After all, it was a simple kidney stone CT scan that alerted Sam's doctor that she had a rare and frankly untreatable cancer. So... a bit touchy about medicine in general? You bet.

But mushy to the rescue. Raechelle called and talked me down. Best. Girlfriend. Ever. Can't wait for the weekend to start. Can't wait for the exam to be over. It's just a routine (and much overdue) physical. It's really nothing. It's really nothing. It's really nothing. It's really nothing.

What Gives?

Another 4AM wake-up. What's up with that? Weird energy going on. Could be the seasonal change. I hope that's all it is.

I'm going in today for my first physical in about five years. More than a little nervous about that, as it now will include a prostate exam. Joy. There are other aspects I'm nervous about, but nothing terribly serious. I'll let y'all know how it goes.

Ooh, don't forget! It's Talk Like a Pirate Day! Avast, me hearties!

There are some albums which are well suited to a certain season. Case in point, David Sylvian - Secrets of the Beehive, his amazing 1987 release with piano and string arrangements by Ryuichi Sakamoto. It is very much an "autumn" piece of music, full of melancholy chord progressions and poetic lyrics with a darker edge. Hauntingly beautiful.

The opening track is just over a minute long, but still sends a happy vibe to my brainpan when I hear it - not because of the lyrical content, but because it means autumn to me.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Thanks Babe

I have to admit that I was in more of a panic about my impending physical exam than I let on in my previous post. Lots of triggers around doctors and hospitals, as you might expect. And freaking out that the one or two "creaks and rattles" might be something worse than they are. After all, it was a simple kidney stone CT scan that alerted Sam's doctor that she had a rare and frankly untreatable cancer. So... a bit touchy about medicine in general? You bet.

But mushy to the rescue. Raechelle called and talked me down. Best. Girlfriend. Ever. Can't wait for the weekend to start. Can't wait for the exam to be over. It's just a routine (and much overdue) physical. It's really nothing. It's really nothing. It's really nothing. It's really nothing.

Open House

After a craptacular morning yesterday, I got home and tried to write. No luck. Funny how fighting with your teenager can take all the wind out of your sails. I burned a bunch of CDs I'd promised the girl, ran a couple errands and crashed out for a much needed 2-1/2 hour nap.

I felt better, and was looking forward to counseling. Unfortunately it turned out to be a waste of time and money. Tyler kept playing with a helium balloon he'd found out in front of the community center, rolling around on the floor, and deflecting the counselor's questions. When both kids lapsed into a giggle fit, I gave up. Don't get me wrong - I love to see my kids happy. I live for those giggle fits. But I was also hoping we could make some progress on Tyler and his relationship with others in his family. Alas, it was not to be.

Got home with a black cloud over my head. Discovered Raechelle reading her book on the sofa. We chatted awhile, then walked down to grab some teryaki before walking up to Denny for Kayleigh's open house.

Let me reiterate: Raechelle went to my daughter's open house. She took notes and talked to the teachers. She's dissected the school website. She knows when picture day is. It's pretty damn close to being a real family.

I won't lie. Sometimes I see where we're going and I panic a little. You see, there's a bit of a security blanket to being a widower, a single dad. There's some social leeway in that status. You get sympathy. You get help. You can be antisocial at your whim and people chalk it up to grief. And there's also the fact that I got used to being a single dad. Sure, it's hard; it's damn near overwhelming sometimes. But I got to where I not only could do it, but I'm pretty proud of the fact that I navigated my own immediate grief while providing a loving and stable home for my kids, helped them through their grief (as much as I could), ran my household and a couple businesses, and even managed to date. For over three years. I kick ass.

So I have some idea as to what Raechelle is talking about - she finally got out of her "couple" identity and became a strong, single woman. And now, here we are. I guess the Universe doesn't tolerate getting too comfortable in a given situation.

At least Raechelle isn't the only one having mini-freakouts. Kind of evens the playing field. This is exactly what each of us wants... which is why it's so scary sometimes. It's the crest of the rollercoaster, just before the first drop. You know it's gonna be fun. And scary. And your stomach wants to crawl into your throat (and if you're a guy, your nuts want to follow suit).

It's a good panic.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch:
After Raechelle left, I finished up some emails and put the kids to bed, following suit immediately. Awoke at 4AM. Jeez. Finally rolled out of bed at 6, showered and dressed. Took Kayleigh to school, came home and crashed for an hour and a half. Exchanged some emails with the girl and finished this very blog post. Tyler's having some cold symptoms, so it's lucky I'm taking the kids in for physicals today.

Really looking forward to the weekend. Helping Dan & Trish move, looking at a couple houses, and of course there will be movies.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


Some mornings really make you question whether or not you have the skills to be a parent. This was one of those mornings. Tyler was (and is) slipping into the same patterns that got him in trouble last year, and I refused to let it slide. It came to the point of physically removing him from the car in front of the school, locking the doors and driving away as he punched the passenger side window.

It's like taking a kid who knows how to swim and throwing him in the deep end, hoping to God you've motivated him enough to keep himself from drowning.

Hence the parental skill quandary. Grrrrrr.

I did have a fantastic evening with Raechelle last night, courtesy of Gavin & Michelle, who swooped in at the last minute to cover for the sitter who had to bail out. After wandering all over Fremont for twenty minutes, we finally found "parking". Walked to dinner at Blue C, then hoofed it to ToST (a comfy little dive) to watch Paul Benoit do a fantastic set. I talked to him afterward, and he's interested in licensing music for our film projects. We exchanged info, he comped me some CDs (I'd already bought his first one online), and Raechelle sat there amazed at my schmoozing superpower. "Magnetic," I think she said.

My girlfriend called me "magnetic". That's awesome.

Counseling with the kids today (and not a moment too soon), then we have Kayleigh's school open house tonight - and Raechelle is coming to that. Gee, I think she's getting to like our family, as weird as we are.

Or maybe it's just because I'm magnetic.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


So I spent approximately all friggin' yesterday in the car. Or on the phone with my bank and my phone company. There has been a series of double-charges on my online bank statement (which I check every day), and now they are being ironed out and credited back. Still, frustrating to have to jump through hoops not of your making.

Then it was off in the car to (dear God, WHY??) Lynnwood to rent Kayleigh's clarinet for the school year. Then back through Ballard to pick up the check to cover said clarinet rental from Katherine's. Then home, then to the QFC to make a deposit and get cash for a piece of furniture I found on Craigslist. Was supposed to go pick it up last night, but it got too late.

[aside to audience]
Can I just say? The full moon has been wreaking a certain amount of havoc on the emotional state of those around me (and probably on myself), and I'm somewhat of an expert on havoc-wreaking. People are being generally bitchy and petulant. Yes, petulant. Look it up. And I'm not talking about hurricane survivors - dear God no. They all get a free pass, as far as I'm concerned. Y'all have earned the right to be all crankypants. Anyway, I just thought I'd say that I noticed.
[end aside]

Gotta run up to Queen Anne to pick up the aforementioned furniture, then up to Raechelle's for dinner and the Paul Benoit show at the ToST Lounge. Looking forward to some adult time out.

I think that's it for now. I may be attacked by a vicious nap at any moment.

Monday, September 15, 2008

RIP Rick Wright

Pink Floyd founding member and keyboardist, Richard Wright, has died of cancer. He was 65.

Another piece of my adolescence... gone.

But I'm sure my fellow Floydians out there will appreciate that he's gone to play The Great Gig in the Sky*.

* "The Great Gig in the Sky" is a track on the seminal Floyd album Dark Side of the Moon, and was composed by Wright.

A Good Weekend

We had a pretty good weekend...

Except for the part where we were glued to CNN and The Weather Channel, watching Ike updates. And waiting for any communication from Rae's folks (they survived - their roof didn't, but they did - we're so glad they're okay!).

And the part where the Seahawks sucked and got beaten at home by the Forty-Friggin'-Niners.

And the part where we went to the Bamboo Grill for dinner last night, and our server dropped off the food and immediately went to attend to the large party next to us without finding out if we needed anything else and I waited for fifteen minutes for anyone to check on us but no one did and finally as Kayleigh and Raechelle were almost finished and my burger was getting cold I went to the bar and got my own mustard thankyouverymuch, only to find out that the burger was totally undercooked and I ended up sending it back and having it comped on the check.

[deep breath]

So yeah, when the manager is busing your table and apologizing for his shite service, you know they're having a rough time. I didn't raise a fuss, nor did I leave a tip.

Friday night was a zombie movie fest, with pizza and wine. Fun times.

We drove up to Bellingham on Saturday to drop an old family gate-leg table at my sister's home, then went to Greek food and window shopped awhile. Then we dropped by my grandparents' place on our way out of town. Great visit, a nice drive, phenomenal weather, good bonding time with my girls.

Raechelle has indoctrinated Kayleigh into the COJ (Cult of the Organizational Junkie), and the two of them overhauled the front room last night. Earlier that morning, we'd gone to Home Despot and pulled some paint samples for the master bedroom. We settled on a two-color scheme (opposite walls). All day long, Rae planned Kay's birthday party with her.

With all of our tales about Raechelle getting more comfortable in our situation, I sometimes forget that I'm still out here on the path myself. And I did something symbolic today that was kind of a huge step. For the three-plus years Sam's been gone, I kept my old wedding band on my keyring with my keys. This morning, as Rae was getting ready for work, I removed the ring from among my keys and put it away.

Apparently, I no longer need the security of that symbol on my person at all times.

Methinks this is getting serious.

And, surprise surprise, I'm okay with that.

Friday, September 12, 2008

I (Don't) Like Ike

Just saw that Hurricane Ike picked up some mojo last night and is set to hit the Tay-has coast as a category 3 sometime tonight.

Best mind your manners, Ike. You leave my girl's folks alone, y'hear? And Goober and Miss Squeaky too. I don't wanna have to punch you in the face while drinking my kickass tea. I'm Scottish, ya know. We're a fierce and crazy people. The guys wear skirts. We play music that sounds like mating cats on a sheep's bladder with hollow sticks coming out of it. We eat entrails inside other entrails. Yeah, I know, you're a friggin' hurricane. You throw trees around because it's your nature. But we throw trees for fun. And big rocks. And each other. And we don't have the cushy benefit of 115mph winds to help us. You don't want any part of our righteous Celtic indignation.

You pussy.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Alki Makes It All Better

So, yesterday was, as the kids say nowadays, "the suxxorz". It seemed like every possible stresser in my life chose yesterday to crap all over me, after eating Indian food, Slim Jims and Wild Turkey.

Yeah, that bad.

I'm not gonna go into all of it here. Hell, I'm not gonna go into most of it here. Tyler/school issues. Work issues (serious writer's block). Health issues. Relationship issues. Money issues. Suffice to say, it was poopy, and I felt as if I'd been dragged under a truck down a gravel road. On fire.

Hey, what's with the overblown metaphors?

I should give big props to my daughter Kayleigh for finding me on the front porch and giving me a heck of a shoulder massage. Thanks honey. That was a bright spot in the day. As was hearing "you're the awesomest dad ever" at tuck-in time.

I also should mention Dan - you really helped by letting me vent, buddy. Thanks.

After said poopy day, which culminated in my actually cooking a nutritious dinner of multi-grain pasta and salad, negating same by slamming back a couple beers, and finally wrestling both of my lovely offspring into bed, I was ready to slip into my own bedtime coma and rest up for a better day.

Which started with me waking up at 5AM (WTF??). Undaunted, I headed upstairs to be proactive. I did some email, some research, took my supplements, did my isometrics, sent out a query to Rae's mom about Hurricane Ike, and then got the kids up and out. Another skirmish with Tyler, but no fatalities (although he is grounded this weekend). Dropped the kids at school and headed down to Alki with some kickass tea. You heard me. I used the words kickass and tea in the same sentence. Because I'm 6'4" and a deuce and a half, so I can effectively punch you in the face while drinking said kickass tea.

But Alki is not about punching people in the face. It's about calm. It's about recharging. As I sat on the cement steps, watching the tide come in, some movement caught my eye. Not twenty feet away from me, an osprey flapped its way inland with a whole fish clutched in its talons. The screenplay would have gone something like this:


[wriggle wriggle]

It put my problems in perspective. I don't have to worry about where my next meal is going to come from. Nor do I have to worry about a big friggin' osprey hauling me away for breakfast. Nor do I have to worry about a hurricane blowing through my neighborhood. Perspective, man.

It's coming up on the end of a rough week. Being down at Alki the past two mornings has helped my outlook immensely. I'm fortunate to live in such a beautiful part of the country. I'm fortunate to have good friends, a supportive family, loving children (even at their worst, they are pretty damn cool), and a wonderful partner. That knowledge and perspective helps me to be able to weather a lot of crap.

Lunch with Raechelle today, and the weekend kicks off tomorrow with zombie movies! Huzzah!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Jealousy Ain't Pretty

But this is gorgeous.

I was just surfing my blogroll, followed by my friends' blogrolls, and ran across this on Planet Dan. He makes a good (and funny) comparison with his iPod, but portability and sound quality is not what the jukebox is about. Man, I can't stop ogling that thing - it's so very 1973-licious.

Short Attention Span

I totally feel like this...


It's mornings like this when I'm glad I live so close to Alki beach.

Had our celebratory dinner with Raechelle at the California Pizza Kitchen at Northgate last night, but Rae was so frazzled from work that it was somewhat less celebratory than we both would have liked. Still, the food was good and afterward we went to Display & Costume to browse Halloween costumes and decor. I got a pair of little ghosties to hang from the porch roof with the skull lights (more detailed pictures coming at some point). Then we browsed the Christmas section and let ourselves become lost in that warm holiday feeling that comes from looking at beautifully decorated trees and white lights and crystal snowlakes. Turns out, Raechelle and I have the same holiday design aesthetic (classic/Victorian decor, reds and whites, white lights, no blinkies, etc). Go figure. It's been a long time since I've even wanted to decorate for the holidays, and I'm pretty much the first guy Raechelle's been with who has been into the holidays enough to want to decorate.

Even with the nice diversion of D&C, the energy was definitely low, so following a quick stop at Staples for school notebooks, we went home so Kayleigh could do her homework and I could fill out a gajillion school information forms and releases. Tyler complained of having no clean clothes, so I had him get a load of laundry together, then suggested we go to Target to get him some new track pants (you know, the kind that actually fit his rapidly expanding-in-all-directions 14yo frame), but he declined. He then waited until 9PM to make his own dinner, so there was a bit of conflict and lecture about time management. I hate having to give those lectures, but until he gets it, lecture I will. I tucked in the kids and fell asleep as my head hit the pillow at 10:30.

Woke up at 5:59AM from a disturbing dream (been having a few of those in recent months, all part of getting my past baggage squared away). I hate abrupt awakenings - the ones where you sit bolt upright, heart pounding, adrenalin surging. I don't remember what the dream was about, but at least I know it's a symptom of PTSD and can talk about it with the counselor. Came upstairs to find the remnants of Tyler's dinner project: an open can of tomato sauce, the lid to said can of tomato sauce on the opposite counter, splats of tomato sauce all over the freshly cleaned stove top, and the pot from the pasta dumped on the sink, half full of water (and the rest of the sauce dried to the top). So Tyler awoke to another lecture. That's gotta suck. I would hate to have me on my ass all the time.

My standing offer to the kids is for a one-way ride to school, as it allows us more time to prep in the morning. And my kids totally need that extra time (although they are slowly getting more of a handle on time management). Dropped Kayleigh at her school, then took Tyler across West Seattle to his. He fired an opening salvo of criticism regarding the notebooks I'd purchased, and my response was swift, surgical and left no room for argument. If he declined to go shopping for clothing and supplies when I offered, then he has no right to complain if I got the wrong stuff.


Maybe he got it? Hope springs eternal.

After dropping off my surly boy at high school, I found myself so close to Admiral Way that I decided to recharge. I found a shady little spot by the Alki Tully's, grabbed a coffee and headed down to the beach to watch the fog burn away and the ferries go back and forth. It's so peaceful there in the mornings, as traffic (of both the wheeled and foot variety) is extremely sparse, and one can actually hear oneself think. I hadn't been to Alki on a quiet morning since last summer, so this was definitely what the doctor ordered. Feeling much more serene and energized, I returned home to take care of doctor appointments and financials (Q3 reporting is almost upon me).

Looking forward to a fun weekend. Zombie double feature on Friday night, trip to Bellingham on Saturday, and the 49ers play the Hawks in Seattle on Sunday. Hopefully our boys won't suck like they did last Sunday.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008


Gavin brought over the film Fido to show me today.


I must have it. I must own this little piece of Canadian zombie comedy (or zomedy). Billy Connolly, Carrie-Anne Moss, Dylan Baker (you know, that guy). Amazing production value, a witty script, great soundtrack, and all sorts of really scathing social commentary (on many levels, yet not beating the audience over the head). Possibly the most compelling role I've seen Billy Connolly play (and I'm a big fan of his character in The Boondock Saints). The fact that it's a 1950s period piece is pure brilliance.

If only Washington State had the same support programs for film that BC has... Sigh.

Tuesday Round-Up

Tyler had his first day at West Seattle High yesterday, and said it went well. There are several former Pathfinder kids there, so he has some built-in camaraderie.

It was Taco Del Mar and Time Bandits last night, given the headache, fatigue and cough brought on by all the activity last weekend. Raechelle was complaining of cold symptoms, and I may have had a slight brush with whatever was ailing her. Promised myself a soak in the jet tub before bed, but ended up falling asleep on the sofa and had to do a last-minute bedtime roundup of kids and chores. Didn't sleep well at all. Feeling a bit more on the ball today, fortunately.

Celebrating a work-related triumph with Raechelle and the kids tonight, and perhaps a trip to Display & Costume to check out some Samhain decor/costuming. Last Saturday, I hung Halloween lights on the front porch for the first time in a decade. Somehow the feeling of a more complete family unit has stirred more holiday spirit than I've felt in a long time. That makes me happy.

Much to do today - Ciao for now (or should that be niao?).

Monday, September 8, 2008

Oh, the New!

I invite my loyal readers to check out Raechelle's post (with pics) about our massive cleaning/organizing effort in the master bedroom. It's a totally different space in there now. And since I hate the wall color (not the color I thought I was getting when the house was rebuilt), I'm going to do a different scheme in there altogether.

Okay, so, backing up... Friday night vampires. Good stuff. Saturday morning, up early (bleh), took the kids to meet Katherine, and they went camping while Rae and I rolled up our sleeves.

I really should mention what a huge thing this is for me, sorting through not only fire salvage, but old files and Samantha memorabilia. And I got through the whole stack of boxes in my bedroom. Every now and then, I'd get a hug and kiss from Raechelle, and would continue purging. I got rid of a lot of junk (literally and figuratively) from my old life.

Raechelle took off in the afternoon for a celebratory lunch with Jamie (congrats!), while I ran errands, took boxes of stuff to my brother's house, and put up Halloween lights on the front porch area. The girl got back and we chilled awhile, then went to dinner and headed to the pie party. As Raechelle stated, we made three pies, hung out and socialized a bit, then took off home.

Up relatively early (what the hell is this pattern?!), prepped the house for our first brunch of the football season. Had a house full, with some good food and (thanks to the lousy performance by our Hawks) lots and lots of mimosas. After everybody left, we went back to cleaning, moved the cleaning out into the carport, then picked up the kids from camping. Dropped Tyler at home (by his request) and had dinner down at Bamboo Grill on Alki. Got back in time for jammies, tea and Family Guy.

Back to a normal schedule this morning. Dropped Kayleigh at school, then took Tyler to his first day at West Seattle High. They have some really great folks there. And he got the same web design elective that he had at Sealth! And to top it off, now he'll be a Metro veteran (Meteran?).

Orchestrating yard service and office tasks today. Since I'm not playing taxi all day, I'll hopefully be somewhat productive, although I've got an inflamed ear canal and a headache to match, so I may need to have an "old man" nap in the afternoon. Fortunately I have my first physical in over 5 years coming up this week. Raechelle was snuffly and a bit warm last night - hope it's not a cold (which would suck).

That's all for now... I know, aren't you just on the edge of your seats??

Friday, September 5, 2008

It's So On!

Kayleigh just walked in the door from school. I went to give her a hug and take the mail from her. She kicked off her shoes and ditched her backpack, and the brief conversation went like this:

Me: Hi!
K: Hi!
Me: Happy Friday!
K: YOU'RE a Happy Friday!
Me: YOU'RE a Happy Friday!


Me: Your MOM'S a Happy Friday!
K: Oh, it's ON now!

Sigh. Good times.

We're In!

Just got the call from West Seattle High. Tyler starts on Monday. I'm taking him in so he can plan a schedule with the counselor. And the school is 100% Metro bus - no school buses at all. All students get a Metro pass from the district.

And last night when Kayleigh and I were in Rite Aid, we ran into the mom of a Pathfinder friend of Tyler's, and it turns out he's at West Seattle High. Which makes at least three or four friends already there.


An Eighties State of Mind

I didn't mean to be in this headspace, but when I booted up this morning and opened my playlist, it just happened to be my '80s playlist, which just happened to randomly start on Howard Jones - Things Can Only Get Better, which just happens to have pulled me out of more than one pre-suicidal depression, especially the bridge:

And do you feel scared (I do)
But I won't stop and falter
And if we threw it all away
Things can only get better

Go HoJo.

Which reminds me, I saw the Dream Into Action tour at the Concord Pavilion in 1985. Marshall Crenshaw opened. Crazy, the stuff you remember. Mind like a steel trap, that's me.

Which reminds me, the movies on the bill tonight make an '80s vampire double feature. We're screening The Lost Boys again (for Trish's benefit, and because it makes my woman go all squishy), and following it with Tony Scott's The Hunger (which makes me go all squishy, especially when Catherine Deneuve and Susan Sarandon throw down). Another full house for movie night.

Then I get to take the kids to Northgate to meet Katherine at 8:30AM Saturday so they can go camping. It's a job I'm willing to take on, however, as it will mean Raechelle and I can have a full Saturday night to ourselves. Never a bad thing, that. We have a "pie party" to attend with Rae's work friends. Fruit, knives and alcohol - a delightful combination.

Sunday morning we are hosting a football brunch for the Hawks/Bills game, with a bunch of friends. And there will probably be more organizing and cleaning in there. It's really amazing how much fire salvage I can get through when I have a caring partner there to back me up.

And I just checked Rae's blog to see if I could track down a link to her pie party post from last year, and found that she's pretty much wrote the contents of this post. How's that for sharing a brain cell?

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Rock With You

For some reason, I awoke with this perky little ear-worm from the late '70s. It's insidious, but there's no way I can possibly be sad with it rattling around in my brainpan.

Anyhoo, stuff is done, bills are paid, work commences on the packets and packets of back-to-school paperwork. Looking forward to the weekend!

That's all for now...

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Good Day, Sir!

Yes, it was, actually.

After my moment of temporal clarity dropping my kids off at their respective new schools, I headed home to blog, shower and get some work done before heading out to Rae's work with a sushi picnic. It was great to be able to chat from more or less the same place on the path. I explained it thusly: it's not like I was waiting at the end of the path, it was like I was waiting for her to catch up with me in the middle so we could walk it together (velvet ropes and all).

Headed home to find a few things of interest in the mail, so that was nice. Walked to Westwood with Tyler, got a backpack for him and a knee brace for me (I'm starting a new low-impact physical regimen, but I want to make sure my knee is taken care of, regardless). Katherine came over to work in the garden, and later she and the kids walked to the store and brought home a big ol' steak to grill outside and eat with chard and broccoli stir fry and rice. Looks like there's a camping trip on the agenda for the kids this weekend, which is perfect timing.

Katherine and I caught up while the kids sat under the darkening sky out front on their blankets. My little guys are actually happy at having started school. Even Tyler is raving about how good his teachers are and how he loves his math class. There hasn't been a single "incident" between them. And he didn't crash out after school today, which means he will be ready for bed on time tonight!

I'm just savoring the day with a glass of wine (and hopefull a phone call from my girl at some point), trying not to jinx the bounty the Universe has laid before me.

Old Man

I awoke to the Psychedelic Furs "Love My Way" on KMTT this morning. That should have been my first clue. You know, that I've suddenly become an old man.

Kayleigh bounced into my room to hug me good morning, already dressed for the first day of school. Tyler followed, equally excited (buh??), and also tackled me in a good morning hug. We joked a bit, then I had them get packed up and shoes on, and we grabbed some muffins (and a coffee for me) at QFC.

Then I dropped my daughter off at middle school.

Then I dropped my son off at high school.

Then I wept a bit on the way home, and blew a little kiss at Sam. "They're growing up," I whispered, thinking of all the growth and development she's missed in the last three-plus years.

And I breathed a huge sigh of relief, knowing that I would not have to be the sole witness to my children growing up, and that - hopefully - this would be the last major step I'd have to walk them through alone. I will be able to share the future triumphs and challenges, the happy times, sad times and momentous occasions.

And that makes me very, very happy.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Weekendus Updatus

Friday 8/29

Big football get-together. Raechelle, Kayleigh and I hosted some friends from each of our crowds, thus beginning the cross-pollination process. Seahawks steamrolled the Raiders. I thought my loyalties might have been somewhat divided, but although I don't mind seeing the Raiders do well, I'm not sad watching them suck. There was much pizza, beer, and/or margaritas. Ay carumba!

Saturday 8/30

Raechelle stayed Friday night, and we headed out early (for us) to check out a house owned by Raechelle's ex's girlfriend ("Programs! Get yer programs! Can't tell the players without a program!"). Then we went to Doug & Ann's engagement party at Gillian's at Lake Union. A nice buffet, arcade tokens for the kids, a car made of chocolate and tiramasu, and plenty of pool. We took off a bit early due to fatigue and a bit of "buyer's remorse" from Friday's margaritas. So of course, when we'd dropped the kids at Gavin's for their Star Wars RPG, where did we go for dinner? Maharaja. Yeah, a little Indian food really settles the stomach.

About then, we began to get a bit of a second wind, and walked across the street to The Corner Pocket, where Travis bought us a round and Raechelle and I played another 4 games of pool. We picked Kayleigh up at 11PM and Tyler stayed at Gavin's overnight.

Sunday 8/31

Sunday morning, I left Raechelle to sleep in while I had coffee with Ron. Came home in time to chat with Rae before she left to have lunch with Val. I got some school shopping homework and scheduling done, and when Raechelle came back from lunch, we headed out for school supplies and clothes. We returned in time to get started cleaning and organizing the master bedroom, then reheated some pizza and watched Cars and Raising Arizona.

Monday 9/1

Labor Day! We slept in, then went to Home Depot to pick up a hand towel ring for the half bath and a bath towel rod for my bathroom (because some chick has been hanging her towels over the shower curtain and they're getting in the way). We met up with DJ at Noon to look at three houses. Still no luck. Then it was Thai for lunch and a mad whirlwind of cleaning and organizing. Lots of triggers, but I did really well, if I do say so myself. we finally got to a stopping point at dinner time, and went down to Southcenter for dinner and a quick trip to Guitar Center (as this time, not only my capo disappeared - it seems to have taken the tuner with it).

Home just in time for the train wreck that is Gossip Girl (similar to the feeling I get when I watch old Ed Wood movies), then to bed.

It was a productive weekend, not just from cleaning and sorting and organizing, but from some really positive relationship steps. Whodathunkit?