A Summer Spent Out There Doing Life And Stuff

We staycationed this summer, probably my favorite kind of vacation (for many reasons). I like traveling, even with kids, but that's not my idea of a vacation. Anyhoo, here are some outtakes from summer around the Bay. Click through on the photos for more shots of our explorations along the coast and around the Bay Area. From a late-night stop at Bob's Doughnuts after the Dramarama concert, to ollalieberry pie at Duarte's Tavern, I think we did our fair share of eating.

Watch me fly, pull my strings, and catch me when I fall.

Kite Flying

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Camera Obscura

Last night's post-Dramarama doughnut run = today's brunch.

Bob's Donut & Pastry Shop

Summer in SF

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 Santa Cruz Surf Museum

Wassup Partner?

The Cliff House

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Steamer Lane

wharf wharf baby

Capitola 

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Venetian Court

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Crab Cove in Alameda

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Sailboat made with found objects and sea glass from Glass Beach in Benecia

You are a part of me all your own, two feet to carry you on a path that is not mine.

From the outside it looks like patience, but it's love.

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No matter where our adventures led us, I found hearts woven in the rocks. Some were hidden, and others blindingly obvious.

Diamonds Of The Deceased

As I do most mornings, I checked my email this morning. One of them was form submission via my blog from a person telling me their site had selected my blog for a Top Single Parenting Blog award. Here is the email, with identifying information removed, because I don't want to drive any traffic their way, and you'll see why in a minute.

On Monday, July 22, 2013, Squarespace Services wrote:

This email was transmitted via www.califmom.com.

Submitted from address XXXX.

----------------------------------------------------------------------


Your Name: Ms. L
Your Email: XXX@XXXX
Subject: 5 Diamond Blogger award Winner
Message: CalifMom has been named a Top Single Parenting Blog!

We wanted to let you know that you have been awarded a one of our Five Diamond Blogger Awards.

Please take a moment to check out your blog’s profile on the XXXXX page.

We culled through thousands of blogs and received hundreds of nominations before we finalized our top blogger awards, and we are pleased to be able to include you on the list.

In addition to recognition on our website, you can grab the Five Diamond Badge and put in on your sidebar or footer, and feel free to write a post or otherwise let your readers know that you have received this award.


Here is the text for the badge:
<p align="center"><a href='XXXXX'><img src='XXXXX' alt='Top Single Parenting Blogger Award' width='150' height='150' border='0' /></a></p>

Here are instructions for posting the badge:
XXXXX

Here is a link to the announcement award announcement page:
XXXXX


Congratulations again!

Yours,

Ms. L.


Interesting, I thought. I'd never heard of the site, so I cautiously followed the link. I read their synopses of my blog and a few others I recognized. I cringed at the grammatical errors. And then I read more about the company and site itself. The site is a business that makes its money buying and selling the diamond rings of the deceased, their widows and widowers, and the divorced. Their tagline is something about finding the bright side in your tragedy by making a buck off your diamonds. 

Yes. I'm serious. 

No. I won't post a link, but I'm pretty sure you can find the site without much effort.

And yes, I wrote a reply.


Hi Ms. L,

 
Before I accept this "award" or post a badge on my blog, it's important to me to understand more about your company and what you sell. 
 
I took a few moments to read the synopses you'd written about my blog and those of some of my fellow bloggers. Aside from the extensive grammatical errors, it was clear to me that this wasn't about our blogs' content, per se, as much as it was about our blogs' content complementing your company's advertising needs. And that's tacky. 
 
Do you work for free, Ms. L? Maybe you do. I don't know. I can tell you something about myself; I don't work for free. My time is valuable, and the space on my blog is available only to those who earn that privilege. 
 
Your company's backhanded attempt to find free ad space for, of all the classless things, diamonds of the deceased and widowed on the blog of a widow!!, was a complete failure. 
 
I surely can't change your business model, but I do hope you'll consider a change to your PR. If you contacted all of those other widows and widowers as you contacted me, it is likely you have more damage control on your hands, whether they contact you directly or not. 
 
For shame,
 
Califmom
 

My Diamond Anniversary Band

We'd been married about seven years, I guess. I don't recall any itches, yours or mine. Dates and numbers weren't so much our thing; we've established that, haven't we?

Friends who'd married around the same time—all of the Joneses—were doing that circle of diamonds one adds to one's wedding ring. We had never even seen the point of a separate wedding band. Just one ring sat on my finger. Just one diamond. More than enough.

A circle of diamonds felt useless.

I asked you if I could have patio furniture instead of diamonds. A round table and four chairs felt right. We loaded it into the back of your new truck, trying our best not to scratch its paint. We brought it home and set it up in the backyard.

A circle of diamonds felt unnecessary.

We still sit at that table. We gather. We laugh. We eat and drink. And I remember.

Friends, family, children all come and go from that patio furniture. Parties, dinners, games played at that table.

Thank you.

A circle of diamonds would have been silly.

Why I Care So Much About HPV

Some of you might know why I started blogging nine years ago; most of you probably have no idea. Teaser: HPV was involved. And children. And death.

A brief history:
In the spring of 1996 a group of women formed a listserv for mothers with due dates in December of 1996. I joined that group along with about 250 other women around the world.

As you all know, online communities are a powerful thing. Our group dwindled in size over the years, but we still hover around 30-40 members. We've met in person many times, had reunions with our families, spa weekends with each other, attended weddings and funerals.

In early 2004 one of our moms from the group started a blog. A handful of us joined her in starting our own blogs. Two of us have remained consistently active bloggers since then. The original mom has not.

Her blog was started as part memoir and part update for those of us in the far reaches of the world who couldn't be with her as she lived out her final days with cervical cancer.

Her son and my son are the same age. They are both children who have lost parents to cancer. One of those cancers now has a vaccine. Vaccinating my children increases the odds a child won't lose a parent to cancer.

Dropping Stones

Waterproof mascara was the good idea I had heading into today. The dark eyeliner beneath was not. Sunglasses and lipstick. Why I ever stray from that simple rule is beyond me.

It turns out that holding a blow dryer pointed at your face in hopes of drying the tears as they come does nothing for your tears and horrible things for your already-dry hair. The end result is a wet, puffy face and scarecrow hair. This makes it hard to "blend" at parties.

Parties. That's what started this. Peanut had her birthday party today. Fifteen. She's turning fifteen.

And just like her past four birthdays, he's not here. And I can't do a damn thing about that. I can't resurrect him for her or for her brother or for me or for anyone. And every birthday I think it will get easier and it just doesn't. Because he's still not here to see his daughter grow up. And she's still growing up without her father who loved her so fucking much.

Fifteen. Another stone we dropped here along this mile we travel. Us without him. Us together. Us changed.

Lassie Asshole: The Lhasa Apso Who Had To Find His Girl

You see me. I know you see me. How could you not see me? You see me. You definitely see me. Hi! Hi!

This is Lassie Asshole (his name might have been changed as a result of this story, but just go with it) and once upon a time he met a girl, and he LOVED his girl.

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This is his girl. We'll call her Peanut. You know Peanut. 

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Peanut also has some friends. We'll call them Sassafrass and Sisterfrass. Collectively, they are the Frasses. We like the Frasses. 

The Frasses and Peanut spend a lot of time going back and forth between the Frass house and our house. It's easy because we live within walking/biking distance from each other—just under a mile or so. Sometimes the Frasses or Peanut will behave as though Mama Frass and I are one person and think that because they've told one of us where they are that we both know where they are and this doesn't always translate into reality quite how they planned, but that's not what this story is about.

The Frasses also have a canine. Her name is Olive the Other Reindeer. Actually, it's probably just Olive, but that's not going to work for this story. Lassie Asshole can't be hanging out with Just Olive. Lassie Asshole goes on long walks in the open space with Olive the Other Reindeer. Just look at this picture if you aren't convinced Olive the Other Reindeer is her Actual Factual Name:

OlivetheOtherReindeer

Image credit: Sisterfrass

(I might've stolen this from Sisterfrass's FB, but I did give her credit, so ya know, it's all good and could lead to fame and fortune for her and Olive the Other Reindeer.)

Olive the Other Reindeer and Lassie Asshole take walks together. On occasion. The Frasses and Peanut supervise these outings. Sometimes other dogs join them, since Sisterfrass has a bit of a dog walking biz going. Sometimes the dogs hang out in our courtyard for a little playdate while the Frasses and Peanut cool off in the pool on a hot day or the dogs play a rousing game of fetch under the shade of the ash tree with the many tennis balls acquired from our generous neighbor boys and their need to throw balls over fences.

Then Lassie Asshole stays here at Casa Best Together in his sweet digs with the insulated roof and custom window that looks in upon his people while the rest of the canines head back to their respective homes. Peanut assists in this process, and if it's a weekend she's likely going to spend the night with the Frasses. Because teens cannot be parted. We know this. It's THE LAW. 

Sweet digs, Carlito.

It also turns out that Lassie Asshole: the dog who does not bark; the dog who does not leave the unfenced portion of our yard unless on his leash and being asked to leave; the dog who only comes inside when invited—Lassie Asshole is under the impression that he, too, is required to remain with His Girl Peanut. Always. 

The first time we discovered this was a day when the little people were playing in the courtyard and coming and going through the gate to go out to their horse swing in the big tree in the outer yard. No big deal. Lassie Asshole never leaves the yard. An open gate isn't a dog issue. The pool gate remains closed for safety, but the courtyard gate can be opened as long as we know who's where with regard to little people. People. Not dog. People.

Peanut had departed on her bike. A 'Frass of one flavor or the other was with her. 

A brief period of time passed.

I decide to do phone. Not really decide. I receive a phone call. It gets interrupted by crazy, frantic Peanut who arrived home tear-soaked, inconsolable, because LASSIE ASSHOLE TRIED TO FOLLOW HER AND NEARLY GOT RUN OVER. He'd noticed her departing, made his way out the gate, and headed down our very busy street as fast as his squat little legs could carry him to find HIS GIRL. What he failed to account for were the cars. Holy crap, the cars. 

Somehow, he lived. Unscathed. And we vowed to be ever-vigilant about THE GATE. 

We were thankful. Incredibly thankful. They'd only gone maybe a quarter-mile or less. Still, it was a long haul for such a short dog. He was a determined little dude. This Lhasa Apso clearly thought he was Lassie. 

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This would probably be a good time to introduce the Frasses' dad, Father Frass. He's tallish. I mean, like even for my family. For example, at the last birthday party we hosted, I suggested the kids climb him rather than the tree. 

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So you can understand why Peanut and the Frasses woke Father Frass when they heard a scratching sound at the Frass's front door at 3am during their next sleepover. You expect to find some scary shit on the other side of a door emitting scratching sounds at that hour. And you want a giant-sized person to handle that. 

There was extensive debate about what they'd find behind the door. At 3am. Scratching.

Based on the text I awoke to later that morning I can tell you exactly what was found .7 miles away on that porch, at the door, at 3am. And I still have no idea how, under the cloak of night, using his best ninja skills, Lassie Asshole made it all the way to their house.

This muppet-head is excited about the pool's official opening almost as much as the critters who get to swim in it.

But he did.

He knew exactly where to go to find His Girl. 

He walked his squat butt up to that door and scratched until they let him in. Nearly a mile from his home, which he won't leave unless he is on a leash, or he has to find HIS GIRL.

Fucker.

 

About Bikes And Babies And Love

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The Amgen Tour of California has come and gone for the 8th time. Once again, we made the trek to watch it start in Livermore. Thankfully we scored the perfect spot for watching the riders pass by and grabbing some lunch. 

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(also home to the Livermore Rodeo, now in its 95th year!)

Unlike past years where the stages have progressed from Northern California to Southern California, this year they reversed it. It made for grueling climbs on hot days through Palm Dessert at the start, but gorgeous weather toward the end. Amgen Tour of California, Stage 7 start in Livermore

After the tour, it was time to SHOWER BABY. Peanut and I made our way to San Jose ('cuz we know the way, duh), and attended the baby shower for my teeny tiny even whilst preggo niece. How teeny tiny? Put it this way, the girl is smaller around than my hips and she's due next month, which was confirmed during that toilet paper game. I lost. That's what I get for using my own ass to measure things. Note to self.

My niece opening gifts at her baby shower while her mama and my girl assist.

Could she be cuter? No. No she could not.

(proud granny and Peanut in the background—also cute, for the record)

Proudest auntie-to-be! I might remember being a little excited about HER arrival WAY back when.

Niece's sister, also a niece, and PROUDEST AUNTIE TO BE

(also totes adorable, for the record)

The Ladies

My most favoritest picture from that day.

The Ladies.

Quite possibly the most loving, accepting group of women you will ever know. I am thankful for every moment I've had knowing them, and I've known three of them since before they became them (including the fourth one who was hiding on the other side of the camera). Bob's sister is amazing, in her own right—not only for how she has handled the loss of her baby brother—but for how she handles everything. Her compassion and love inspire me. Her brother loved like that, too. It's a rare thing to love people with abandon. It's a gift to be loved like that. It's a greater gift to love others that way.

 

 


Phoning It In With Faux Toes

Each bloom reminds her she is alive—they breathe together.

I've fallen for the air-plant thing all the cool kids are doing. Looks like one might actually bloom. File under: thing I've keep living.

Letting go was what allowed her to grow in ways she'd never dreamed possible.

The only difference is that sometimes I put mine in Etsy-inspired doll parts. Blame the cat lady thrift store. They sold a basketful of them for a pittance.

Sometimes it's about returning to that place that feeds you.

The hills surrounding one of my favorite Tassajara barns are all but brown now. The sun has turned up her thermostat to Hotter than Hell this week.

Bay Bridge

I never tire of driving over this bridge. Every time is breathtaking.

Your Tree

You were born during El Niño, rodeo weekend and even though it was June, it was rainy and cold. The gladiolus in our front flower beds were taller than I'd ever seen—I swear some were four-feet high. To celebrate your birth, Grandma asked if she could buy us a tree to plant in our yard. We picked out the biggest fruitless plum the nursery had, mostly in hopes it would survive. As new homeowners, we weren't sure how green our thumbs would be yet. Every year, I would prune your tree and watch it grow. I would also watch you grow. Eventually, your tree and you reached a size where you could climb your tree. This became one of your favorite past times. When we moved, I think leaving your tree was difficult. Today, I went back to prune your tree. Just like you, it has continued to grow and change into an amazing part of the universe. And I sent you a picture, but I thought we should share it with the world because it's kind of impressive to see how much a tree can grow in fifteen years.

Days And Dates

When Bob and I got married my mother cross-stitched a quote from Shakespeare along with our wedding date, framed it, and we hung it above our bed in our apartment, then our first condo, and eventually on the wall of our bedroom in our first house.

And that was how I would remember the date we got married.

Still, there were years where the two of us would note the actual date of our anniversary had passed without us noticing. Sure, we'd have celebrated in some fashion around that general time, but the specific date was often missed.

Dates. Days. I'm not great with them.

When I wrote the blog post about the three-year anniversary of Bob's death, I noted the day as Wednesday this year, all-the-while knowing in my head the date of his death was the 18th (something I've had to look up on occasion, if I'm being completely honest).

Days and dates.

I can tell you his two high school football numbers, the addresses of our college apartments from all five years, his cell phone number, social security number, my credit card numbers, the hour I was born, my childhood phone numbers, employee ID numbers from places I worked in college—but days and dates? I get them wrong. Often.

And it has nothing to do with how much I care, love, hurt, feel.

They don't stick in my patterns. The feelings surrounding them? The people? That sticks.

That Day: Three Years

I don't know if I'll post Thursday. It will be three years that day. Three years since the children and I and our friend gathered around Bob's bed and said goodbye.

Three years.

I can't explain that time. The three years.

one more time

I could tell you how many days it's been (1,094 as of right now), but it doesn't feel like days. And this hasn't been a completely linear journey.

I could tell you how many hours—26,256, roughly, as I can't bring myself to pull out the death certificate and do that exact math.

And it doesn't feel like the hours, either. Unless I can write a defining moment from each hour on a post-in and stick it to an enormous wall. There would be spirals of time.

And then the tracks. They aren't marked equally in hours or days.

Going

Some tracks of time have moved faster than others. Some stopped altogether. He stopped that day. Dead. Stopped. Part of me stopped that day, too. Same track. How could it not? Twenty-one years together, you're going to leave some of yourself on that track.

The rest of me started on another track, moving at my own pace—still have some of the same luggage (a carry-on, I think; added a new bag or two along the way, boy did I ever).

And the kids kept going. They kept me going. Tracks of their own, but merging in and out with mine.

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Grief is a funny thing; not stages like we've been told—it goes in circles. It wraps around itself. It repeats sometimes. It skips parts. Jumps ahead. Comes back. Asshole will drop you down. And then you won't see it for weeks, it seems. Or maybe that track runs parallel in a way that gets hidden behind the bushes once in a while so you see the scenery on other stretches life brings past.

Maybe.

But I don't know about Thursday.

I did give up predicting things three years ago; I did not, however, give up.

The sayers of nay, and oh how they say, were so wrong that day and many a day and that is okay. Fuck 'em.

It's all downhill, until you look up.

It's all downhill until you look up, you know. That's why I bought the house at the bottom; I like to be able to see where I'm headed.

Yesterday Forever Ago: The Wave

It's been almost three years since Bob died, and it feels like he was just here.

And it feels like he's been gone forever.

Every year, every day, it's different. And I miss him.

I remember in those first months after Bob died, widows and widowers more years into this journey seeming like seasoned pros to me, so wise, but they always had this thread of commonality—there remained this instant access to the raw emotion of their loss. Years out. YEARS.

It didn't matter if they were happily remarried, had remained single, or what their relationship status was, so much as it did that they had this loss and this journey and it was part of them.

It doesn't mean grief defines you in a negative way, per se—though I guess it can. But just as any tragedy can be faced with courage, losing your partner gets incorporated into who you are in some way. It's never NOT a part of you. You don't "get over it."

What I find myself doing is learning where my loss fits, how to breathe through the waves of grief—that come less often, but still do come and deserve to be honored—and what it means to have this duality of love lost and love found living together in my heart so comfortably—I never expected that would be the case, by the way (love again? Ha!)

My life feels very chaptered as I reflect, and I'm thankful for the ability to see how this next chapter holds hope, love, dreams, and possibility. I have been an incredibly fortunate woman.

And still, as this month arrived, I find myself weeping, sobbing, missing. So I make space and learn, keep learning that it's okay to need this time and this space to ride this wave.

 

Green Hills Every Time

It's April. You probably knew that. It's a hard month to forget, starting with the fools on the first, but mostly because the green makes me remember.

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It starts in March, really. And I remember driving. 

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Bob and I would wind our way through the hills to chemo, or the emergency room, or appointments, and the green would make me feel safe. 

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His initial diagnosis was in March of 2009. And that green—I hung onto it with white knuckles.

Out the Car Window

It was my meditation as we would drive our familiar route from home to Kaiser. Then home to Stanford. Then home to whichever hospital could get us in the soonest. It was my meditation to look out at those green hills at just breathe. Take pictures. Be still. And breathe.

He died three years ago this April, and I still remember driving those green hills that spring. To the airports for trips to carry me away, to the family and friends who just let us be us. 

April hills

And as I wind my way from the place we now call home, back to the ranch, I am folded into those green hills again, each year, each spring, and I remember feeling safe, and knowing I would be okay. I will be okay. I am okay.

So I apologize to the line of impatient people who couldn't understand why I was only doing 5-15 mph over the posted speed limit on my way to the ranch this afternoon when y'all were in a rush to get home from work on the backroads. You were in my Happy Place, and y'all need to breathe. In through the nose. Out through the mouth. Some day those hills might save you, too. Until then, just slow the fuck down. I've seen enough accidents on those roads to last me. Nothing is worth that kind of hurry. 

Gone. She's Gone.

And not because it was God's fucking plan as some douchecanoe felt obliged to offer up in a "comforting" comment to her husband on her blog, and not so she could now find peace with Jesus.

Cancer.

Or what do I know. I'm just a bunch of matter on a planet, but I can HONESTLY say that anybody who feels obligated to comfort someone with that sentiment doesn't understand the meaning of comfort. Doesn't understand the best place for your loved one is here. Now. That you will not feel peace for some time, so you cannot fathom your loved one's peace or lack thereof.

You just want to remember how to breathe without telling yourself if it's time to exhale or inhale and why are there only four sympathy cards on this planet that you'll be receiving in duplicate, then triplicate, and then not opening at all along with the rest of the mail.

Let's skip guessing what was planned for this occasion. I think your god will probably be okay with you offering comfort and not worrying your pretty little head about the plans. Mkay? Mkay.

Pink Chocolate Butterflies

When you're asked to make pink butterfly cupcakes, you make pink butterfly cupcakes because, well,  that's kind of your thing.

If I didn't enjoy the challenge, I wouldn't ask the kids what they wanted for their birthday cakes. And if I didn't have a daughter (with an equally willing sidekick of a BFF) to help with the baking, I wouldn't be quite so fortunate to pull off these little feats. An enormous debt of gratitude to Peanut and Totes Ameghan for their tasty chocolate cupcakes (and cake, for the actual factual birthday!) and delectable buttercream frosting. 

Chocolate butterflies.

The original source for these cupcakes came from a book, Hello, Cupcake!, which I have never read, but I have read the blog post at Annie's Eats that the book inspired, which also inspired me to create my own interpretation for our littlest person's birthday party this past weekend. It was the first time I'd done anything serious with chocolate, and it was actually pretty fun, once I worked out the kinks. And they were a big hit with the party goers! A++ would make again!

 

Boys And Girls: An Experiment In Conditioning

The little boys who live next door are forever throwing their balls over into our yard, and our girls are forever throwing them back over the fence. The boys decided this is a fun game, and started intentionally hitting tennis balls over the fence with a racquet, some of which have cleared the house, but most have collected in our courtyard. 

Balls

At first, our dog thought mana was falling from the sky. He'd run around the yard, his little Lhasa jaw unhinged, carrying each ball back to his dog house, but then it got to be overwhelming. Even a dog has his limits, and though he's never seen Hoarders, he could sense this was going to lead to An Issue if he didn't draw the line.

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The boys, however, have no such boundary. The balls keep coming. 

The girls stopped throwing them back long ago.

And so our courtyard has taken on the appearance of Wimbledon sans ball boy.

Once in a while, one of the girls will throw a ball for the dog, and he'll jog off the grab it, sit down, and stare back at the child. She'll pick up another and throw that one. The cycle repeats. Ad infinitum. Truly. AD INFINITUM. ALL OF THE TENNIS BALLS. We have them. Also, one very confused dog.

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Books I Might Write: A Partial List


  • How To Wipe Your Butt: A Primer

  • Learn To Listen By Not Talking

  • Is This The HIll You Want To Die On?: Choosing Your Battles

  • Slow Down: How To Travel With Purpose Instead of Up Everybody's Ass

  • Rights Are Not Absent Consequences: A Discussion on How What You Do Affects Others

  • There's A Sociopath In Our Midst: Identifying The Cray Cray In Your World

  • Yours, Mine, And Ours: On Blending It All Together Without Feeling Like You're Living In A Blender

  • More China?: Wedding Etiquette for The Previously Wed

  • The Meditative Qualities Of Nail Art

  • Cats: A Study In Narcissism



Trampomese? Bounce wit 'mese?

US Bank Can Dere-lick My Balls

When Bob died the paperwork alone was an overwhelming task, and I was fortunate to have people helping me, people lined up to handle things, and most everything in order. Still, there were things that got overlooked, and I'm sure that is a normal part of the process. A small stock account with almost no money in it, or a bill that got missed, or a bank account long since forgotten would slip through the cracks, and over the past almost-three years, I'd do my best to sort it all out.

Having moved twice since his death, things are a bit more complicated by forwarded or not-forwarded mail. The US Postal Service, it turns out, is somewhat inconsistent in their ability to forward items. Sometimes they manage to get it right, and sometimes they don't. For example, I recently received a forwarded postcard about my son's long-since-forgotten savings account at US Bank with information saying it was going to be turned over to the State of California because it had been inactive for so long. Interesting, as this was the first notice we'd received about his account. Also interesting as my daughter has an account at the same bank opened at the same time, yet no notice arrived for her. 

So I contacted US Bank. I told them our situation. It turns out that Bob and I still had a joint account there that was also deemed inactive. They could change the address on our joint account, savings account, and a credit line (one we had attempted to close MANY TIMES) over the phone and update the information for it, but since I wasn't the guardian on the children's accounts (US Bank only allows one guardian on accounts opened for a minor), I would have to appear at a US Bank branch in person with a copy of the death certificate and my identification in order to make any changes to the children's accounts.

I explained that I was holding in my hand a piece of paper from US Bank asking me to confirm that my son's account was still active. And, as the trustee for my late husband's estate, I was entitled to complete the paperwork they'd sent me, I could fill it out and mail it without appearing in their branch office—they said, no I would still need to come in.

I asked if I could fax or email the death certificate. I asked this of the person on the phone. I asked this of their online help desk. I asked this of their support person on twitter. I received no reply from twitter. I was told no by the person on the phone, and I was told by the person online that my joint account was now active, but only one guardian could be on the children's accounts, and then I never heard back from them.

So I did what I was authorized to do as a representative of my late husband. 

I logged into our joint account on his behalf. I updated the addresses of the children's accounts to our current address. I transferred the funds from our children's accounts into our joint account, and I submitted a payment to myself as their guardian, which I will then dispense to them. 

US Bank, in an effort to "protect" the security of our accounts failed. Instead, they lost a customer. I would have been fine leaving my kids' savings accounts with them, but not after the stupid hoops they wanted me to jump through and lack of followup I received from their organization. I'll keep my money with my current bank. I find it impossible to believe that I would need to appear in person to verify my husband's death. If I'd had to do that with every account after his death I'd have lost my fucking mind. They are a bank. Certainly they have the ability to receive a fax or email of a death certificate. Shame on you, US Bank. 

Oh, and how secure is it to send a confirmation of an address change on account to the prior address that then gets forwarded to the new address? Pro move, US Bank. Pro move. Glad our money is no longer sitting in your bank, no matter how little it was.


 

Suicide Is Not Selfish: Listen To What I'm Saying

Wut?

Is dying from cancer selfish? Did my husband not try hard enough to get better from the disease that afflicted him? Did the doctors not try all of the treatments available to him to cure him? His death from cancer wasn't because he was selfish.

And someone who dies because of suicide is not selfish. Depression is a disease. It is not a choice. Treatment can be complicated. It is not a matter of willpower to just "get over it." (More than 90% of the people who die from suicide has risk factors related to depression or other mental disorder, or a substance-abuse disorder—often combined with a mental disorder.)¹

So, when I see remarks about suicide being a selfish act, I call bullshit. Loudly. 

Do the grieving have a right to be angry with the loss of their loved ones? Fuck yes! Depression, just like cancer, robs us of too many too soon

And unlike cancer, mental illness is still taboo to discuss. It's hard to find treatment. And the stigma of telling people you struggle with a mental illness will give you pause in the workplace, with friends, and with family members who don't understand that it IS a disease and not a choice, that you are not weak, that you would love nothing more than to "get over it."

When was the last time you were asked to donate to a mental health cause? How many colored ribbon magnets do you see on cars for depression or suicide? 

How many do you see for cancer? Which types? What colors? I bet you can name at least three colors and what cancers they represent, and another few ribbons for other causes, none of which relate to mental health.

Nowhere in the list of risk factors for suicide will you find selfishness. Shock. Awe. Or, just logical if you stop and think about it. 

 

If you are in a crisis and need help right away:

Call this toll-free number, available 24 hours a day, every day: 1-800-273-TALK (8255). You will reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, a service available to anyone. You may call for yourself or for someone you care about. All calls are confidential.

Celebrating Life: Bob's Birthday

You would have been forty-three this year. We spent your last birthday together in the hospital; it was your 40th. Inpatient chemo in Santa Clara, I think. Or was that Christmas. No, I think Christmas was in Hayward.

These are the details that get blurry for me, and I'm not sure why I want them to be important, because they aren't. You'd laugh that I think they should be. We weren't about birthdays or holidays or the events. We were about the everyday moments. That's why we worked as a couple for all those years. So this past weekend, for you and for me and for life, I celebrated outside in the world around me.

One Barb

Follow

Triple Gall

InorOut

2 Barbs

Ascending a Sugarloaf

Ridge Top Trail

Loookout

Panorama - Ridge

Mt Diablo in the Backdrop

Peeking Peaking

Three Barbs

I miss you every day, and I thank you.

Thank you for letting me love you, for loving me, and for being an amazing father, husband, son, brother, and friend. Thank you for being real, and flawed, and human and for letting me be the same. Thank you for sharing over half your life with me, growing up together and not apart; learning how to be partners and parents together; make mistakes, and fix them. Thank you for teaching our children, loving our children, and inspiring them.

Thank you for showing me how a marriage and partnership can work, so that I knew what to expect for and of myself and of someone else in the next go 'round. Thank you for teaching me how to give to someone else, love someone else, care for someone else in his hour of need, and figure out what matters in life, so that there are no regrets at the end of the day.

And thank you for our children—they continue to be the light of my world, the pain in my ass, the laughter in my day, the love of my life, and the two most uniquely different expressions of the same genetic material to be enjoyed under one roof. Thank you. Eternally, in the truest sense, grateful. 

Thurston Howell or Bob?  You make the call.