Friday, September 29, 2006

It Should Have Been...

...our sixteenth wedding anniversary today.

I spent the day moving the last bunch of stuff from the rental house, and stowing it in the "new" house, all the while missing you. Wishing you were here to help sort stuff, or just talk to me, and occasionally flash a smile my way.

Then I went back to the furniture store at Southcenter where I got the kids' dressers, and bought a bed. It's cross-cut oak with dovetailed cedar drawers. It's mission style, masculine, and mine. And that hurt. A lot. Far more than I thought it would. Kayleigh still has her white canopy bed we got for her when she turned 3, and your cedar hope chest survived too (along with everything it contained, including your wedding dress). The oak rocking chair your folks bought us when Tyler was born sits in the corner of the living room. RestorX has cleaned the stainless dinner-ware we'd used since September 29th, 1990, so I'll be getting that back soon. And of course the house still stands. And that's pretty much everything of ours that remains in my life.

Not counting the kids, of course.

So our daughter turns 9 tomorrow, going on 24 - with talent and spirit and drama in ample supply. I remember celebrating our 7th wedding anniversary and, not 24 hours later, holding our little baby girl in my arms. That was the coolest anniversary gift ever. But it's also confusing when I feel melancholy on the 29th and have to be cheerful on the 30th.

It's almost a year and a half. I still miss you, baby. The special occasions are hard, but the day-to-day keeps getting easier to deal with. Although I still get incredulous stares when a sales clerk or contractor asks why I'm not consulting with the wife to make certain decisions, and have to tell them my wife is dead. I think I've accepted that this stuff happens all the time, but most people have a hard time wrapping their head around how a healthy 35-year-old woman gets a terminal cancer. I don't know... maybe if one person hears my story and it gives him or her a subtle shift in attitude, so that maybe life doesn't just consist of commutes and meetings and reports and minutia... so that they appreciate the fragile life they've been given, and maybe hug their kids a few more times each day... maybe then, telling the story is ultimately worthwhile.

We're taking Kayleigh out for her birthday dinner tonight. Most of the local family will be there. I will be thinking of you, and maybe you'll be peeking in to check on your girl.

It should be a happy day. Once upon a time, it was. But now it's one of those "It Should Have Been..." days. And that sucks. Don't get me wrong - on the whole, I think I'm doing pretty well. But this day has hit me hard, and I really miss you, more than most other days.

Love always,

Monday, September 25, 2006

A Moving Experience

The last week has been a solid block of throwing stuff in boxes, moving said boxes across the street and unloading the very same boxes so they can be reused for more stuff. In addition, I've had Dining Room rehearsals and costume meetings, and casting callbacks for Ordinary Angels.

The house is slowly taking shape inside. My stepmom helped organize and move stuff during the first week. Ron and Caleb have been over several times to help with setting up the family room sound system or construct my office furniture. Got a nice corner desk from Staples on sale - surprisingly well-constructed and hearty for the price. I have kids' furniture arriving tomorrow and the media storage pieces are on their way. All of the upstairs kit pieces are in the Mission style, which is really compatible with the craftsman design of the house. The sleeper sofa showed up, so now I have crash space for friends who decide to come visit. :)

Our second night in the house, last Friday, I was feeling stressed out because of the moving schedule and physical fatigue that comes from carrying boxes and assembling kit furniture all day. I crashed hard and had the first real "visit" dream about Sam since the very painful one months ago (described in the July 25th entry). She approached with a beaming smile, walking out of the sunlight toward me, arms outstretched. And this time I didn't push her away. I welcomed the reunion. We melted together in a tender embrace and she gently took my face in her hands and spoke in happy, encouraging tones about how much she loved what I'd done with the house, and how proud she was of me for handling the whole thing as I had done. I slept like a baby and awoke refreshed on Saturday, ready to take on callbacks and moving with renewed energy. It was one of those visceral experiences that made me feel like she was really giving her blessing to the whole thing.

When I awoke, I could smell her scent on my pillows and bedding for about 5 minutes until it faded away.

We have to be out of the rental by Saturday. There is only one more piece of furniture and some clothes and tech equipment. I should be able to get it all by Friday and let the cleaners go nuts with the place all day Saturday.

I look forward to getting some of our stuff back from RestorX. Preparing for a bit of a meltdown when we get to the photos...

Sunday, September 17, 2006


Our cable gets switched over to the old house on Monday, so that is what I'm using as the starting gun for our move (in big, echoing voice): ACROSS... THE... STREEEEEEEET!

We've already done the requisite cleansing and smudging as per native tradition, and I am off to Home Despot to get an area rug for the dining room, after which time I can set up the dining table. Got loads of deliveries coming this week and need to make sure I have the rooms ready to receive.

I posted on my arts blog today.

The Grief Club is an odd entity. One never knows who will end up walking through the door. We had one very talented actor come in to read for our film project, and he mentioned he'd recently lost his father. I commiserated with him, explaining that I too had lost my father last year, and understood his situation (as much as another can). He was new to the grief experience. For a brief moment, I wanted to tell him that grief and I are old friends. I wanted to tell him my whole story - the loss of Sam, my father, the house, everything. Not to get in a pissing contest, but to show that I'm still here, still working, still creating, still trying to be a functional human on Planet Earth. To show that it is possible to continue despite great losses and pain. Renewal is born in the ashes of grief. Life must go on. Because the alternative is unacceptable.

But I resisted. It was neither the time nor the place. But as we shook hands upon his exit, our eyes locked briefly, and I saw a kindred soul. It was one of those bizarre moments out of time. One of those rare "hey - I know you" moments. Very cool.

those who will not slip beneath
the still surface on the well of grief

turning downward through its black water
to the place we cannot breathe

will never know the source from which we drink,
the secret water, cold and clear,

nor find in the darkness glimmering
the small round coins
thrown by those who wished for something else

- David Whyte

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Forget the Wicked... I Get No Rest, Period.

Crashed hard at 10:30 last night. Woke up at 2:30AM, my mind racing. Took care of some email and surfed the web a bit, but never got back to sleep.

Tyler's meds were out, and the doctor's office had neglected to tell me his prescription was waiting yesterday, as promised. So I drove Kayleigh to school, swung by the doctor's office, picked up the scrip, drove back across W. Seattle to the pharmacy, dropped the scrip off.

Went to Target, picked up a floor lamp for the master bedroom, a mission-style entry bench and a beanbag chair for K's room.

Went back to the pharmacy, picked up T's meds. They won't let him go to school without them.

Got home to discover that due to the shift in my medical insurance (I'm now off the state DSHS coverage and on an individual Regence Blue Shield plan), the pharmacy had replaced his normal meds with a generic. It should work fine in theory, but I kept him home today to be sure.

Went across the street to unload the Target stuff at the house, and happened to run into the inspector, who required a few little tweks to be made, but otherwise approved the house for residence. We can start moving in any time.


In reality, the painters still have some touch-up and trim work to finish before I will want to move any furniture, children or hairy animals in. But we are go for launch as soon as those things are done (and can start moving boxes any time).

I'm exhausted. Better grab a nap before I have to get K from school, take her to her dance class, pick her up early from dance class, and get to rehearsal.

Monday, September 11, 2006

As the World Turns

Well, the 5th anniversary of 9/11 (or 11/9 for my European friends) came and went. I steered away from mass media today, because I knew it would be full of either grotesque re-showing of the collapsing World Trade Center or of dramatic patriotic remembrances, neither of which I particularly wanted to see.

My grandmother is in the hospital. I won't go into detail here, but it's added another layer of stress onto everything else. I wish there was more I could do, since my mom is currently taking care of her mom, dad, granddaughter and husband (who is awaiting spinal surgery), while trying to earn a living. And out of her three children (my two siblings and me), we all have extremely full plates. My brother and I are in West Seattle; he, teaching full time, and I, finishing a home rebuild, raising two kids, directing a play, casting a film and organizing a move. My sister is in Bellingham, but she works full time to support her daughter and mortgage. Sigh... I guess we all send what energy we can.

We had our first Dining Room rehearsal tonight. It went well. It's good that I've done this show before, and can remember how we blocked it, what worked and what didn't work. I'm actually altering some things quite a bit (from the production LL Cool P and I were in). The cast is sound. It's a long way to the finished product, but we'll get there. The first step is getting everyone off book and blocked. THEN we can begin the finessing. Oh, and how we will finesse.

Spent most of the day cleaning up around the rental and over at the soon-to-be-ours-again house with the super. We walked around and I pointed out the odd issue here and there. We checked the lights, flushed every toilet, tested the hot water, turned on the new furnace (and THAT was a tense deja vu sensation, let me tell you). All systems go. The final inspection is tomorrow. After that, we can really move in any time. I have the cable set to switch over on Monday and a bunch of furniture being delivered over the next couple weeks. We're in the home stretch.

And now I must fall unconscious. My pillow calls, and I must obey.

Friday, September 08, 2006

"Telegram for Mr. Jesus Christ..."

My eight-year-old daughter just wrote the most amazing poem and posted it to her blog.

Let me back up.

I heard the front screen door close at about 8:30PM, and decided to go see which one of my children was going outside after dark. Kayleigh was standing on the porch in her fuzzy robe, gazing up into the sky.

"Whatcha doin'?" I asked.

"Thinking about Mommy."

"Yeah," I replied. "I've been thinking about her a lot recently."

Then my daughter smiled and said, "I'm starting to think that for the first time, things are going to start going well for us."

I hugged her and left her to her thoughts. An hour later, she had the poem in question. I don't know whence those words came, but that's not an eight-year-old soul talking.

My kids amaze me.

Almost Home

Well, it looks like we may be able to start moving our stuff into the house next week. There are still little bits here and there to be done: glass cabinet doors, the built-ins in the family room & office, that kind of thing. But all the major stuff has been taken care of.

Sure, there were some setbacks, like communication problems with the subs, and the carpet guys having to re-do the staircase, and the tile guy smoking on-site, and some things being ordered and not arriving on time (or not at all), but such is construction. All that aside, we're actually ahead of schedule.

Huzzah & hurrah. I started a whole new set of Flickr photos for you to enjoy. Enjoy.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Soooooo Not a Rock Star

Hats off to Mike Berg. Mike is formerly of the Seattle bands BRAD (Stone "Pearl Jam" Gossard's side project) and Satchel. He is also the father of two girls, the eldest of whom has been friends with Kayleigh since they were both in kindergarten. And when Sam was sick, the Bergs would often take Kayleigh to her dance class or keep her for an overnight. She was away at one such overnight the morning Sam died.

So naturally when I was planning the And Tears Fell tribute CD last year, I asked Mike Berg to sit in on bass, knowing that, even as rusty as he might be, he could play circles around my just-barely-adequate bass chops. Once we practiced together and I heard Mike play, I swore I would not pick up a bass on this project. He's the one.

Today, Mike & I went to a recording session at Brian Chase's studio, Kayleigh in tow. The girl has a real connection to this music, like it's a channel to her mom. And since we weren't recording anything with live mics, K could sit in the doorway and sing along.

Mike hammered out SEVEN of the eleven total tracks on the CD in a three-hour session, and I even added the electric textural and lead guitar to "Tapestry", the song Sam & I composed with then-bassist Chris Palmer for our second album in 1990.

It's really great to hear these songs filling out. Until today, most of them consisted of acoustic guitars and either placeholder vocals by me, or more finished vocals by Muriel. I've enlisted Bay Area drummer Steven Fox to fly up for a weekend and lay down drums for the album, which should sound great with Mike's bass. This will definitely be the fullest and best-produced And Tears Fell has ever sounded, but as I was plucking out the lead line on "Tapestry", I was struck by just how inferior I felt in the presence of professional-level musicians. Don't get me wrong - I love the music dearly, and I think I could write a pretty catchy shoegazer song, back in the day (which was a Wednesday, according to Dane Cook). But sometimes I wonder how mope rock from 15+ years ago will translate now. I mean, obviously there are neo-shoegazer acts around now (The FLIR, Autumn's Grey Solace, etc), and it could be argued that the genre never really died (see Robin "Cocteau Twins" Guthrie still at it), but really - this And Tears Fell music is a decade and a half old.

It's probably all in my head, and the finished product will be a joy to behold. And having such good musicians working on this project will end up making me sound much better than I really am. I just want to work hard and get these projects completed.

* * *

The flooring crews - both of them - arrived yesterday and installed ALL THE REMAINING FLOORING. The tile guy finished the grout in the master bath today. Insane. It's actually resembling a home. I added more pics (with floors, dirty as they are) in the flickr photo album.

Friday, September 01, 2006

House Progress

I promised to put some photos of the house up for viewing, and I finally located my camera's USB cable. So here are a bunch, going back to the drywall phase and including the more recent paint and some flooring. In this case, the slate-textured vinyl that is in the downstairs hallway and the upstairs halfbath. The cabinets are birch with a fawn maple finish, and the countertops are a dark black/gray slate-textured laminate.

The rest of the pics are in a set on flickr.