Tuesday, January 22, 2008

A Series of Unfortunate Events

If my life were a movie, that would be the title of it today. This day started like most other days, except a few minutes later than normal, as I had trouble rolling out of the warm bed. When I went to pick out my outfit I decided to wear pants so that I would be warm on this frosty day and so that I could wear my most comfortable flats to work. No such luck. Turns out it's that lovely time of the month when my stomach is inhabited by a giant beach ball. I looked like Santa Claus in my pants and couldn't even imagine trying to sit down in them all day. I was forced to wear a skirt because it was the only thing I could zip up and still breathe in... so the comfy shoes were out. Heels again - no big deal.

The clock ticked on, as clocks tend to do, and I soon realized I had better get a move on if I were going to be on time to work. Was there time for breakfast? Just barely, and then I would grab my yoga clothes and head out the door. I ran into the kitchen to grab some cereal and felt something wet come through my tights as I stepped onto the kitchen rug. I looked down to discover that the whole rug was soaking wet. The cabinet doors beneath the sink were opened to reveal the source of this mess, and I found that everything was soaking wet under there as well. Oh goodie. So much for the cereal. I glanced around the house at the mess I'd left behind... ironing board still out, dirty clothes on the floor, a few dishes in the sink... nothing major but still things I wanted out of the way before anyone came to fix the leaky sink. I proceeded to run around the house straightening things up. Yep, that's good enough. That will have to do.

I glanced at my water bottle on my way out the door and paused for a moment to weigh my options. I've kept this thing for so long that the plastic lid has actually cracked around the rim, which was really a thrill last week when it dumped over on my lap while I was driving. Hmmm... I could fill it half way up, bring it with me, and hope for the best... I could go without water for the day... what to do, what to do. The remembrance of last week's spillage and a lack of time won out and I left with no breakfast, no lunch in hand, and no water bottle. And did I mention I forgot my yoga clothes? It's just as well, I thought to myself as I drove away with a stomach the size of a beach ball.

Luckily, I still had a balance left on a Starbucks gift card a coworker gave me for Christmas. Yay - there would be breakfast after all! I victoriously pulled away from the drive-through with a fresh slice of pumpkin loaf and a tall nonfat chai latte. Mmmm-mmm! I got to the school and hopped out of the car to gather my things for the day. My purse, my folders, my latte, my test kits (which are like small suitcases), I was good to go. I was, however, a bit chilly. My tights just weren't cutting it in the 34 degree air and my legs were freezing! And did I mention that I was without a coat? Yep, left it at a friend's house last weekend. I set my latte on the roof and ran in circles around the car gathering everything I needed. Brrrr!!! Then came the trouble of locking the car. Did I mention that my keychain broke last week and I have all of my individual keys in a really inconvenient side pocket of my purse? I gathered everything in my arms, grabbed the latte (thankful for its warmth on my hands - at least one part of me would be warm) and made one more circle around the car to lock it from the driver's side with my single little key.

Yes! I'm here! I've made it! A little late, but I have arrived!!! I walked through the doors and - SLOSH! - my latte spilled all over my hand and went running down the back of the folders. Oh goodie. Nothing too terrible, but still, a series of unfortunate events.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Baby On Board

No, this is not my strange way of announcing to the blog world that we're expecting. It's just that I was driving to work the other day and I saw a little 4-door sedan drive past with one of those yellow "Baby On Board" signs hanging proudly in the back window. At first it seemed like a flash-back to the 90's because I don't think I've seen one of those in a while. But maybe I haven't been paying attention and those things are still cool. Wait, were those things ever cool? (My apologies to any of you sign hangers out there who may be reading this.) Even in the 90's when those things were everywhere, I remember thinking to myself that I would never hang one of those in my car window because I feel like it makes me more likely to be the victim of a car-jacking. My thought process was that if they know there's a baby "on board" they may want to steal the car, and the baby, in order to try for some ransom money. (I know, I'm really morbid, but this is how I think.) I certainly don't want anyone holding my baby for ransom, and once the car-jacker discovered how much is in our bank account they would probably just return the car and the baby and maybe bring us dinner. But, on the flip side, maybe it makes you less likely to be car-jacked. Probably they just want the car, right? They don't want a baby crying in the back seat while they're trying to be on the run or come up with a master plan for their life of mischief.

Most likely, I'll never be the victim of a car-jacking, but I spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about worst-case scenarios and what my best plan of action would be should I ever end up in one. For instance, I have this fear that when I'm sitting on the passenger side of the car and Krister is outside gassing it up, someone is going to run over, jump in the car and drive off with me still inside. (I'm guessing ending up with me in the car would be even worse for a thief than having to listen to a crying baby.) I try to think of the swiftest thing I could do to get to safety. If I were really fast and James Bond-like, I would reach over and pull the key from the ignition in one swift move and then hurl the keys across the parking lot. This would buy me time to at least get out of the car, and it's a good idea to get the keys away from yourself rather than hanging on to them because you don't want to get attacked for the keys.

Or what if you're walking along a crowded street and someone comes up behind you with a gun and tries to force you to walk somewhere with them? According to my dad, the best thing to do in this situation is to pretend to faint and just collapse to the ground. This is a good move for a couple of reasons. First, it comes as a total surprise to the gunman, really catches him off guard (or her, I guess, though what are the chances?) Second, it kind of ends the conflict before it ever begins. No one is going to then shoot the person who's lying on the ground passed out. And they can't just try to drag you along behind them as dead weight because that would draw all sorts of attention. See what a great plan this is? I remember my dad telling me about this tactic one day just in case it ever happened to me. Hmmm... maybe I come by this morbidity thing honestly...

Also when I'm in a room I often mentally rehearse the best escape route in case an attacker comes in. (I promise I don't feel like the world is crawling with terrible people who are out to get me!) It's always smart to go somewhere with a window. There's a window in our bedroom closet (weird, I know) and I love it because if someone broke into the house we could shut ourselves in the closet and just climb out the window. This would also be handy in case of a fire. I guess if I'm going to worry about escaping, I should probably devote more time to worrying about getting out of burning buildings, as I'm sure that's more likely than having an intruder in the house. But, then again, if you only go by what you hear on the local news, you would think that there's a pretty even chance of either situation happening and that there's a pretty darn good chance it's going to happen to you next. It's probably not even healthy for someone with my imagination to be watching the news at all. Especially once I have a baby on board...

Thursday, January 3, 2008


Tomorrow night at 9:15 it will be two weeks exactly since I got the call that my grandfather, my dad's dad, had taken his final breath. He took it with all of his children and his wife gathered around him. He took it after three solid days of being surrounded by loved ones - sang to, prayed over, and loved on. I have written about Grandaddy before in a previous post (Leave Something Beautiful) and, though he lived an amazing, inspiring life, it is not his life that I want to write about today. It is the way in which he left by which I have been so touched and given such a sense of peace since his passing.

It was a Tuesday night when my parents got the call that Grandaddy had taken a turn for the worse. Hospice had been called in in the weeks prior, and it appeared to Nana, a former nurse, that this would be the end. All of their children and their children's spouses drove to my grandparents' ranch and arrived around midnight. Grandaddy had been placed on oxygen and was given a prognosis of just hours to live. The next morning, however, Grandaddy announced that he wanted to get up. The announcement in itself was amazing, as he had barely uttered any words the previous day. My father dressed him and brought him into the living room to sit with his family. Everyone was amazed by this, as they thought he would never again rise from the confines of the hospital bed set up in his bedroom.

Mom and Dad called me that evening to tell me of the day they shared with Grandaddy. He experienced an inexplicable amount of alertness and vitality that day, which apparently often happens when someone is about to die. (In fact, my dad remembers Grandaddy, who was a doctor, telling loved ones of dying patients that it is common for someone to rally strength to say good-bye just prior to their death.) A woman from their church brought communion and the whole family shared in Grandaddy's last communion service. Their Episcopal priest came out and did a Last Rites service for Grandaddy. These events were deep with meaning for the whole family and were fitting ceremonies for my grandparents, who have spent the last several years pausing each day at 5:00 for their evening prayers and scripture readings.

Grandaddy was able to sit up for most of the day and respond to his children as they took turns blessing his life and thanking him for the qualities he had so faithfully instilled in them over the years. They reminisced about stories from their childhood and all of the adventures they had been on with this fearless adventurer. They sang his favorite hymns to him (and even a rousing rendition of the Aggie Fight Song). My father gave him his last bath, his last shave. They shared with him in his last cup of coffee.

To the last, Grandaddy hung on to his spark and his sense of humor that had always been such a significant part of who he was. He pretended to try to trip people as they walked past, he squirted my father with the shower hose when taking his bath (Grandaddy always did love a good water fight), he was fully present with his family as they said their good-byes to this man we all loved so dearly. It was a beautiful day and the perfect way to honor his beautiful life.

Even though I wasn't there, I feel a deep sense of peace about the last days of Grandaddy's life. I feel thankful to have known his so well and for so long. I feel honored to be a part of his family and of his great legacy of love. Grandaddy lived a full life with no regrets, and he shared of himself with others so fully that those who know him are left with no regrets in his passing. His death was a good-bye in the truest sense of the word.

Good-bye, Grandaddy. I can still hear your hearty laughter ringing through the house; I can still feel your scratchy mustache when you'd greet me with a kiss; I can still see your strong hands working on the ranch, teaching me to build tree-houses and rafts, but more importantly, teaching me the value of a strong work ethic and what I am capable of when I try my hardest; I can still smell the thousands of pine trees we would plant together to make this world a greener place; I can still remember the encouragement I felt in your presence, the way you listened to people with your whole being. Thank you for who you were, for it has made me who I am. Thank you for leaving me with so many wonderful memories. I will hold tightly to them until we meet again...