Thursday, December 31, 2015

20 years ago today

20 years ago today, I received a marriage proposal. Mr. M and I had just moved halfway across the country and were renting a one-bedroom apartment as we worked to find jobs and establish our new life. To be honest, the proposal was not a complete surprise. I had given up everything I knew in order to start this new life with him, in the city where he had grown up. I made it fairly clear that, in exchange, I would be in need of some sort of commitment. :::cough cough hint hint:::

And so it was that on New Year's Eve, 1995, we went out to dinner at a supper club and then went back to our little apartment, where he dropped to one knee and asked me the big question. I accepted his proposal and started planning my wedding, which would take place 17 months later.

I've been wearing this diamond ever since. It was bitten by a dog once and was no worse for wear. I never take it off, partly because it doesn't come off without a fight from my finger. It's possible that I've gained an ounce or two or 500 since my wedding day.

Did you ever watch those paternity tests on Maury? Is that show still on?  I caught a few episodes years ago - it was pretty corny. One thing that always struck me was how young the who-fathered-my-baby chicks were. Also, I wondered about their math skills ("I'm 150-percent sure that JJ is the daddy!")  When the dude would come out, there was sometimes a conversation between the two that went something like this: "Baby, you and me been through so much together."  And I always thought, "What are you talking about? You're 16!"

Me and my guy, though?  We have legitimately been through some stuff. 23 1/2 years worth of stuff.  Good, bad, ugly, you name it. I still dig him, though. Would I do anything differently?  Probably not. I know I would accept that proposal all over again. So, I'll happily keep wearing this ring because well, you know.

One day, a few weeks ago, I pried off the ring to clean it. I realized I was ringless when I got to work. So, I was officially single for the day. Nothing exciting happened, though.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Snow What

More often than not, we get a white Christmas in these parts. But, we had nary a flake this year. It was unseasonably warm well into November and December. My daughter kept saying things like, "It's great that it's still so warm!" In my head I was thinking, "It's called global warming! We're all gonna die!" Anyway, Mother Nature got back on schedule last night and dumped a foot of snow on us. A foot isn't that terrible, but the high winds caused some crazy drifting. I made it to work on time, but I couldn't get into the parking lot. This never happens. My boss does not like to take any chances when it comes to employees being able to work a full, productive day. Normally, even after a major snowstorm, the parking lot is clean as a whistle. But not today. The office building is near a hospital. I thought of parking over there and then hiking to the office, but I wasn't really dressed for that (I was wearing waterproof boots, but they weren't tall enough to take on the snow mountains). So, unsure of what to do, I decided to turn around and head home. I can work remotely if need be. It's not encouraged, but I figured I had a decent excuse.

On my way back home, I got stuck on the road the leads to my house. Suddenly, I was re-thinking my policy of not getting chummy with any of my neighbors. I have this policy for two reasons:  one, when I was in fourth grade, we lived in Vienna, Virginia and had the world's worst neighbors. Apparently, our family made the mistake of being nice to them and then the next thing we knew, their kids were knocking on our windows when we were sleeping and stuff like that. Two, I have two dogs and usually have a foster dog, too. I worry that nosey-begosies will start complaining to animal control about the fact that I usually have an extra dog in my home (the ordinance allows for two dogs). So, I always feel like it's best if neighborly interaction is limited to a wave and the occasional "How's it going?"

As I was busily doing completely ineffective things to get my car to move (like switching from Drive to Reverse and back again), a neighbor I'd never seen before came out of his house with a shovel and started digging my car out. He seemed like a nice guy, even though he was wearing a Chicago Blackhawks hat (Go, Caps!).  Finally, with his help, I was able to get to my driveway . . . where I promptly got stuck again. I let the car sit there for a while  (half in the driveway and half in the street) as I pondered my options (I did my pondering indoors, where it was warm). Eventually I bundled up and headed back out to jab at the snow around the tires with a snow shovel. I am not good at this stuff, in all honesty. I'm way too prissy for shoveling snow. My husband was at work or I would have just left the job for him.

I felt sorry for the guy across the street who was clearing his driveway with a snowblower. I think he was trying not to make eye contact with me lest he'd feel obligated to help my sorry ass. I kept jabbing at the snow, periodically hopping into the car to try again. Just then, a woman came by with a younger woman - I think they were mother and daughter. I don't even know where they came from - they just appeared. They offered to push my car up the driveway. I gratefully accepted their help.

"Just a second," said the mom-lady.  She grabbed my snow shovel and cleared all kinds of snow in about ten seconds flat. I mean, she must have been born in a snow pile or something. She was so fast - like a cartoon or something!  I seriously felt like a pussy.

I got behind the wheel again and tried my luck. The ladies pushed from behind and voila! I made it back into the driveway and into the garage. I thanked them profusely. I then vowed to stay in my house for the rest of my natural life.

I spent the morning/afternoon working from home. I was actually able to get a fair amount done. I moved Gideon's bed into the office so that he could be my assistant for the day. I've always wanted my own assistant. I guess I was envisioning someone more industrious, but I'll take what I can get.


Sunday, December 27, 2015

Christmas



Normally, I get the itch to take our tree down on December 26th. Mr. M likes to have it up until New Year's Day, though. So, I am trying to enjoy the Christmas-y ambiance instead of rushing to put my living room back the way it used to be. Of course, I did manage to flood an end table with red cinnamon-scented wax after leaving a lit candle unattended for a few hours. Ooops.

We had a good Christmas. We went to a candlelight service at church on Christmas Eve. My daughter sang "We Three Kings of Orient Are." She didn't practice like she was supposed to and flubbed a couple of lines, but the congregation didn't fire her or anything.

On Christmas Day, the kid actually got up early. Well, early for her. It was after 7, I think. She was so excited to check out her pile o'presents. Part of me was terribly sad when some brat told her about Santa a couple years ago, but I have to say it is also nice to get credit for all the stuff I bought with my hard-earned moolah. It was fun watching P watching her as she opened her gifts. He had no earthly idea what we had gotten her. Because the one with ovaries has to do all the shopping and wrapping (and ALL THE THINGS), dontcha know. Last week they went to the new Star Wars movie while I wrapped for hours. I guess it didn't occur to anyone that I might like to see that movie, too. :::cough cough:::

This year's big gift for the kid was a comforter set for her bed. She also got clothes, games, art stuff, and a skateboard. My middle sister got her some roller skates - they are hot pink and I'm pretty jealous. As for what I got for Christmas . . . I was super helpful and kept a running list on my Google Drive. I happily provided it to my husband when he requested it. I have to say he did quite well. He got me a new yoga mat, a choppy thing for the kitchen, a spiralizer, some cologne, a cutting board, an automated wine bottle opener, and two cookbooks. I've already tried two recipes from the Thug Kitchen cookbook.

After the gifts were opened, we went to our niece and nephew's house for brunch. A was excited to play with her cousins. I brought some roasted potatoes and some chocolate chip pumpkin muffins.  I was truly touched that my niece went out of her way to make some vegan food that I could eat. I am such a lucky goil. Anyway, it was a nice, relaxing way to spend the morning/afternoon. The mulled wine might be why I mostly remember it as relaxing. The three girls got along well - our normal rule of thumb is to leave once someone bursts into tears, but that didn't happen this year. Two of them got make-up sets so they holed up in a bedroom and and started slathering it on.

Banana bread recipe from the Thug Kitchen. Mmmm, nanners.
The actual bread was in focus, I should add.
When we got home, we spent the rest of the afternoon finding spots for new stuff. I was anxious to use my new choppy thing, so I made some tofu scramble with vegetables (I make it once every week or two, and then keep it on hand for breakfast). I may have gotten a bit overzealous with the chopper, as I ended up with zucchini pieces so small that they cannot be perceived by the naked eye. I'll get the hang of it.

It was a fairly quiet afternoon. It's weird having only two dogs in the house since Kevin got adopted. When I let the dogs out into the yard and then back in again, I keep trying to count to three. Part of me feels a real need to take in another foster dog right away, but part of me knows that I need to spend time with Gideon. He breaks my heart about fifty times a day. Random side story:  Gideon can no longer jump up on beds/couches/whatever. So last weekend I thought it would be nice if I took a little nap with him. I lifted him onto my bed and helped him to lie down. We snuggled for a little while. Then Gretchen tried to get in on the action. I explained to her that she's not my dog (she's my daughter's dog) and that she should try to talk to her owner about her needs. I should also add that Gretchen suffers from coprophagia, which is a fancy way to say that she likes to eat poop. Anyway, as Gideon and I were attempting to indulge in our little spooning session, Gretchen jumped up onto the bed, made a brief retching noise, and vomited poop. ONTO MY BED. If I were to make a list of the Top 10 Worst Things That Have Ever Happened to me, this event could easily make the list. Blech.

So, anyway, Christmas 2015 is officially in the books. I'm hoping for a quiet week at work this week. The kid has been invited to a sleepover on New Year's Eve and P has to work, so I MIGHT JUST GET THE HOUSE TO MYSELF.

The cousins on Christmas.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Identity

For the past 15 years (a full third of my life), I've been a volunteer with a local Boxer rescue organization. I left the rescue in November. I still have my foster dog, Kevin. He is going to his new home on Wednesday. I'm very happy for him. I waited patiently for the right match (he has separation anxiety) and I think this placement will work out great.  They seem excited to get him, which is exactly what I like to see - enthusiasm!

Once Kevin gets adopted, my time with the rescue formally comes to an end. I've written a whole "why I left" blog entry, but I don't know if I'll ever publish it. I think I wrote it so that I could work out my own conflicted feelings about everything that has transpired.  I've spent the past few weeks helping volunteers take on my old jobs. I really want the rescue to be successful even though I'm not a part of it anymore. For some reason, handing over the Facebook page was the hardest part. I worked really hard to build the page to over 4,100 fans. I actually shed a tear when I removed myself as an administrator.

Me and a foster dog named Alex,
back in the early days.
Leaving is one of the hardest things I've ever done. I truly had a passion for the rescue. 15 years is a long time. I met a lot of great people, loved a lot of dogs, shed a lot of tears, and drowned my sorrows and frustrations in more than a couple glasses of wine. I sure learned a lot - about dogs and about people, too.

What I'm asking myself now is: who am I? What is my identity now? I feel a bit lost. In time, I am sure I will connect with some other organization that could use a seasoned rescue volunteer. I still want to help dogs in some way.  I know I will not take on a major role again, but I'd be happy to be a minor player. I have learned a lot over my rescue career and I like to think maybe someone would find my skills to be of value in some way.  I need to proceed carefully, though. 

My more immediate concern is the declining condition of my boy Gideon. He has degenerative myelopathy and is slowly losing his ability to walk. He has lost weight and experiences head tremors at times. On the other hand, he still gets pretty excited at dinnertime so I won't make any decisions as long as he still has some mobility and enjoys his meals.  I know he will leave me in 2016, though. I can't think about it too much. I love that goofy dog to a degree that defies definition.

Having extra time is somewhat of an adjustment. I devoted several hours a week to the rescue. During busy periods like the annual fundraiser or the end-of-year flood of donations, I sometimes had to devote entire days to rescue work. It feels weird not to have this "aaaaah, there is surely something I should be doing" sensation all the time.

I am not one to blather on about "focusing on myself" or "nourishing my soul," but I do think this is probably a good time to tackle a couple of issues that have overtaken me. One is my sugar addiction. I know I probably shouldn't throw around the word "addiction" but I think I could at least call it a fixation. I would like to get control of it.  I haven't been going to Weight Watchers but as I understand it, they've revamped the program and the topic of sugar consumption is addressed.  I need to get myself to a meeting.  So, I would like to focus on my health and well-being a bit more than I typically do. I will stop short of making a New Year's resolution, though. That always feels like a sure way to fail.

The other fun little tidbit is that I've developed plantar fasciitis in both feet. So fun!  It took me a while to figure out what was going on. I'm turning 46 soon and I've learned that when some body part starts to hurt, there is a good chance it will just always hurt now. So, I thought maybe that was the case when I started waking up to heel pain every morning. In November, I got really sick and couldn't go to the gym for a while (I typically clock 2-3 hours a week on the elliptical plus a yoga class or two).  My feet didn't hurt as much.  Then I went back to the gym once I was better and bam! Owie feet again.  I talked to the yoga instructor and then started doing some research.  There is a lot of conflicting information out there, though. So, I made an appointment with my podiatrist (the dude who operated on my left foot last year). I couldn't get an appointment until January 21st, though, so I'll have to tread lightly until then, I guess. I hope this is something that can be fixed because I, um, anticipate a need to have feet for the next few decades until I kick the bucket.

So, there you have it.  I'm feeling like a bit of a train wreck - both emotionally and physically - but I am also feeling hopeful. On January 9th, I am getting a tattoo. Don't worry - I will show it to you whether you want to see it or not. I am very excited about the design that the artist, Tara, has created for me. It will honor my love of dogs, my 15 years of rescue work, and my beloved Giddy Giddy Gumdrops.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Festivities

First, I have a message for parents: If you go to an elementary school to attend a concert, you need to sit through the whole thing. You don't leave after your kid sings. You just don't. Rude!  Yesterday I attended the annual holiday concert at my daughter's school. The show always starts with 4K (with the adorable wee tykes waving to their parents and occasionally singing a few words) and then proceeds through each grade. This was my seventh and last year attending. It seems like just yesterday I was attending my first school concert. Next year, my daughter will be in middle school. (waaaah!)  This year's concert was particularly exciting because my kid had a solo.  The fifth grade was the last to perform.  The people sitting next to me were there to see a girl in the 4K class. After she was done, they got up to leave and never came back. I noticed others trickling out after the younger grades had performed. It definitely occurred to me to trip some of them on their way out.

By the time the fifth graders had scaled the risers, a friend of mine invited me to move up and sit by her. Her daughter is close friends with my daughter. Anyway, this was perfect because it enabled me to record my daughter's solo with my crappy phone. I tell you, I don't know when I've felt so proud. I shed a tear or two as she sang. Later, I uploaded the video and then my mom called, crying. I think we are just that excited to have a singer in our tone-deaf family.


Today, I attended another school event: gingerbread (AKA graham crackers) house-making. Parents and grandparents were invited to come and join in with the construction. Several people (including teachers) came up to me and complimented my daughter's performance from the day before. I always feel a little weird about saying "thank you" in those circumstances. I didn't make the kid (as in, construct her from my own DNA) so I feel like I probably shouldn't take credit for her singing voice. I'm no less proud than if I had built her from scratch, though! I also shared the video with her birthmom, as I knew she'd be proud, too.

The gingerbread house project was interesting. I'm not very good at that sort of thing.  I kept encouraging the kid to think it through before she just started slapping stuff together. It seemed like she was mainly concerned with running her mouth and checking out what everyone else was doing. Then she just started slapping stuff together. You'd think that a kid who has spent 9,486 hours playing Minecraft would know a little more about building stuff. It was fun, though.

I've finally reached that point in the pre-Christmas frenzy where I can start to enjoy the festivities without suffering so much anxiety (because now I've gotten everything done that I was obligated to do). Last Sunday, my daughter and I went to a Christmas program that was completely amazing. I think this was the fourth year in a row that we attended.  Even my little non-believer heart got a little gooey at the beautiful music and the living nativity at the end.

I'm looking forward to Christmas next week. I would like to thank the universe for placing Christmas on a Friday so that I don't have to go back to work the next day.  I do have to work a half-day on Christmas Eve, though . . . also known around the office as "zero productivity day."  More good news for next week: my foster dog, Kevin, is going to his new home on Wednesday. Woot!

Friday, December 11, 2015

The Performer

My daughter had her first choir concert last Saturday. She is part of a city choir that is comprised of four separate choirs. There are two training choirs (beginner and advanced) and two upper-level touring choirs for older girls. Singers must audition to get into the touring choirs.  My daughter is in the advanced training choir. I'm very happy for her to have this opportunity because she receives formal voice instruction. With public school music programs being what they are (her music teacher services two schools and is spread pretty thin), I don't think she is able to get a lot voice instruction at school.

I always thought my daughter had a pretty good singing voice, but it was hard for me to tell because I am basically tone deaf. As much as I love music, I can't sing at all. Not even a tiny bit.  So, it's been nice to get some confirmation that she really can sing. With more instruction and practice, I think she might even be awesome at it.

The concert was held at a large Catholic parish and included all four choirs. A few weeks before, my daughter came home from choir practice with a note saying that moms could sing with the choir during the last song (Silent Night) of the concert. I think she understood when I explained that me singing would not be a good thing for the show. So, I was content to sit in a pew with my other half and listen to the concert from start to finish. It was really beautiful. Plus, I was so proud of my baby.

Tomorrow morning, she'll be singing (with the choir) on a local radio station as part of a Toys for Tots event at the mall.  Next week, she has a solo in her school's concert.

She can't get up on time and she can't get dressed on time, and she generally just doesn't do what she's told, but she can sing!  Here she is practicing for her solo:

Do you want to build a snowman? 

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Ice and Fritos

Now that I got the serious stuff out of the way, I want to take this opportunity to blather on about the rest of my trip. It had been five years since my last trip to Oklahoma, which is much too long.

After our travel delays, the kid and I made it to my mom's house Sunday evening. I had booked a rental car, so we didn't need anyone to pick us up at the airport. The first thing I noticed when I arrived at the house, other than the fact that my mom has more cats than anyone really needs, was that there were mostly just condiments in the refrigerator. So, I headed "into town" to buy groceries.  I had planned ahead, too. I had shipped a box to myself ahead of time. I wanted to send some vegan goodies to my sister, as well as some stuff for myself that can be hard to get in rural (very rural) Oklahoma.  Nutritional yeast and vegan mayo, for example. I also brought along some cookbooks in preparation for Thanksgiving.

The next day, the kid and I visited my sister, who lives about 20-25 minutes from where my mom and stad live. My sister and her husband have three boys. It was great to see my nephews. My sister made us some dinner and then the kid and I headed back across the miles of country roads.

On Tuesday, I did absolutely nothing. I helped my mom troubleshoot some issues with her iPod and that was about the extent of my activity. My mom took my kid out for shopping and dinner, so I just hung out. It was fabulous. There aren't many days in my life when I don't have anything I need to do or anywhere I need to be. I made myself dinner and then spent the rest of the evening batting away various cats who wanted to be all up in my business. I'm mildly allergic and I think they know that.

Random anecdote: my mom dug out some old photo albums during our visit. I had a lot of tun looking at them. I showed my prom photos to my daughter.

"My dad looked different," she said.

"Sweetie, that's not your dad." (Did she think her dad and I have been together since infancy????)

She gave me a disapproving look, like I was the whore of Babylon or something. 

Wednesday was fairly uneventful, too. I noticed that my kid had fallen into what we call "Meemaw Time." One night I woke up at 1:42 a.m. and found that my daughter was still up, blissfully playing Minecraft on her iPad. Again, my apologies to her future employer. She'll be at the office by mid-afternoon at the latest. Anyway, I needed to head back to the grocery store for Thanksgiving stuff so I left her at the house - in as much as she wasn't conscious and whatnot. This issue continued to get worse as the week wore on. She was staying up later and later.  On Wednesday afternoon, we met my sister and her kids at a park. It was unseasonably warm. The kids had so much fun, running around without jackets. Little did we know that the weather was about to tank big time.

The next day was Thanksgiving. I got up early (I'm surprised I didn't pass my kid in the hallway while she was on her way to bed) and got all of my cooking out of the way. I made gravy, green bean casserole, and a chocolate cake. All were vegan, of course.  My mom made mashed potatoes to go with my gravy.  We all headed over to my sister's house for dinner. We had an all-vegan meal and guess what? We were none the worse for wear. It turns out that Thanksgiving is just another meal and that no one will go into convulsions if they don't eat any dead things. My sister made all kinds of goodies, including pizza for the boys. It was a good day.

My mom and my stad took my kid back home with them and I stayed at my sister's that night. We had planned it this way on purpose. My daughter needs an ugly holiday sweater for a concert at school. I had suggested to my mom that they buy a sweater at a thrift store and then ugly it up. So, they needed to finish that project. The plan was for me to pick up the kid the next day. So, naturally, we woke up to a crazy ice storm. My baby and I were separated by miles of icy roads. Seriously, I'd take three feet of snow over that kind of ice. Despite the less-than-ideal conditions, I headed out after lunch to retrieve my kid. I knew she would be very upset if I don't come to get her. As a mother, I try very hard never to let her down. If I tell her I am going to do something I do it. I drove slowly and steadily there and back. Whew! For the next two days, we basically stayed indoors and watched ice piling up on everything. I was able to do some online shopping for Black Friday before my sister's wifi gave out.  The kids played together well - there was no bloodshed. My kid got her cousins hooked on Minecraft. On Saturday, the younger brother (he'll be four on December 26th) actually fell asleep on me while we were all watching a movie. It's been a long time since I had a little kid fall asleep on me. When he was awake, he made me scratch his back and then demanded that I scratch it faster. He also made me pretty paranoid by constantly asking, "What's that 'mell?" I had bathed but still, I wondered.

Since the kid and I were leaving Sunday morning, I decided I'd better get some of the ice off my rental car. It was quite the project. My brother-in-law even came out and helped me. Seriously, I've never seen anything like this ice storm. The kids had been desperate to play outside all day but we could hear tree limbs creaking and breaking. It just seemed too dangerous. So, we kept them in.  There were also six dogs in the house. Speaking of which, I played Rock-Paper-Scissors with my nephew and won his dog fair and square. I'm waiting for Moose to be shipped to me.

The next morning, the storm was over and it was safe to travel. My daughter and I had about a 90-minute drive to Oklahoma City and we saw an insane number of downed power lines along the way. My mom had already been without power for a day at that point. We saw tree limbs down all over Oklahoma City, too.

While I really enjoyed the quiet days that led up to the trip to the city, we were ready for a little more excitement. We met my friend Susie and her kids at a place called The Main Event that featured laser tag, a ropes course, video games, and bowling. The kids had a blast and of course it was great to see my friend. It had been too long!

After that, we checked into our hotel.  We were spending our last two days of the trip in the big city. My stad works for a hotel chain and had gotten us a friends and family discount. It was a really nice room. Two beds, thank goodness. Any day that I don't have to share a bed with Kicky McKickerson is a good day. I asked the woman at the front desk for a recommendation for dinner. She recommended a Mexican place that wasn't too far away. I pulled it up on my GPS and headed out. However, it turns out that I goofed and went to the wrong restaurant. There were so many Mexican restaurants in the vicinity that apparently the names all just sort of ran together in my brain. The restaurant I chose was one of those Mexican restaurants that actual Mexicans frequent. The server was so sweet. He could tell we weren't local and asked us where we were from. He then told me all about his road trip to Iowa City to meet his new cousin.  I don't live even vaguely close to Iowa City but he really seemed to want to tell that story.  Also, he seemed to understand me when I told him I wanted my burrito with no cheese and no sour cream. "And no meat," I said.  He nodded and told me that he understood because he is a Seventh Day Adventist and doesn't eat meat.

Let me take this opportunity to attempt to explain Oklahoma's liquor laws to you.  The main goals of the liquor laws are to, um, prevent you from getting any. Liquor stores are closed on Sundays. If you can find a liquor store, they will sell you some alcohol, but don't bother asking for a corkscrew because it is not legal for them to sell you one.  You can buy beer at the grocery store, but the maximum alcohol content is 3.2%. (You hear people referring to "three-two" beer a lot.)  I don't even drink beer. I just think it's funny. They also restrict what can and can't be sold cold. Anyway, I was on vacation and thought it would be nice to have a margarita at the Mexican joint. I asked the server if I could get a "real" margarita, because the description on the menu was a little confusing. He nodded. "Yes, real margarita." Anyway, he brought me some sort of carbonated thing that only dreamed of being a margarita. C'est la vie.

When we got back to the hotel, the kid and I went for a swim and then went to bed.  The next morning, we had breakfast at the hotel and then I yelled at the kid to get dressed. It took her about two hours to get dressed. I am not even exaggerating. Meanwhile, I was doing research on places I thought we should check out. I found an awesome spot for lunch called The Red Cup. If you ever get to Oklahoma City, you have to check it out. The all-vegetarian menu had tons of vegan options.  I had the Frito Pie (they removed the cheese and sour cream to make it vegan). I have to tell you, this thing was life-changing.  I am going to try to make something similar at home. It was so good. I ate every bite - it was like all of my fat vegan dreams came true.

After visiting the memorial and museum (as described in a previous blog entry), the kid and I met my mom in Yukon so that she could spend the afternoon/evening with us.  It was our last hurrah with Meemaw before heading home the next morning. During my morning research, I found a candy/bakery place called Pinkitzel in the Bricktown area of the city. It was so much fun!  I bought cupcakes and candy for my mom and daughter, and some cotton candy for me.  Finally, for my third awesome find of the day, we went to dinner at a joint called Picasso Cafe. I had - get this - a chicken-fried portabello mushroom with gravy. All vegan. I would try to recreate that one at home, too, but I wouldn't even know where to begin.

After saying good-bye to my mama and taking her back to Yukon, the kid and I went back to the hotel to prepare for our early morning flight. I guess I mean that I packed while she played Minecraft. So helpful, my girl. We flew back home the next day and it was all very straightforward - no drama like we had on the flights to Oklahoma.

It was a great trip and I'm happy to report that Okahoma is still OK.  Ya'll can keep that ice, though. Sheesh.








Thursday, December 3, 2015

Good Stuff, Solemn Stuff


During our visit to Oklahoma, I took my daughter to the memorial museum in Oklahoma City. I felt that she would be mature enough to handle it. I told her what happened and explained a bit about what we would see. I explained to her that the bombing in Oklahoma City is one of a handful of major events seared into my memory. The bombing takes its place among: 9-11, the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger, the fall of the Berlin wall, Hurricane Katrina, the OJ Simpson trial, the death of Princess Diana, and the shooting of President Reagan. I also have fuzzy memories from my childhood of John Lennon's murder and the Iran hostage crisis. In her lifetime, I fear that violence will have become so commonplace that nothing (good or bad) will seem particularly significant.

If you ever get to Oklahoma City, the memorial and museum are definitely worth seeing.  I didn't take any photos inside the museum. It seemed . . . in poor taste, I guess? The museum is very well done, very informative. The tour is self-guided and easy to follow.  We started out in a room full of displays about Oklahoma City itself, making the point that April 19, 1995 was just an ordinary day. Then, we heard an announcement over a loudspeaker that a water resources board meeting was about to begin. We were ushered into a conference room.  There were a handful of other museum visitors in the conference room with us. There was nothing in particular to look at - just a table with chairs and a blank wall. Soon, we could hear a woman's voice. If memory serves, this is the only audio recording of the bombing. The meeting had been held in a building adjacent to the Murrah Federal Building. The woman's voice droned on and on about some sort of water proposal. If you've ever worked in an office for even five minutes of your life, it was one of those mind-numbing meetings you dread the most. Just sheer drudgery.  Then, we heard a massive explosion, followed by chaos and yelling. Just then, the faces of the 168 people killed in the bombing flashed on the blank wall. We were then ushered into the next room.

The rest of the exhibits had as much impact as that audio recording of the bomb detonating. We listened to news reports about the bombing, we saw piles of keys found in the wreckage, and we read stories of survivors. I had a whole new appreciation for the efforts it must have taken just to coordinate all of the different first responders and agencies that were there. There was even an exhibit to honor the search and rescue dogs that assisted in the recovery efforts.The exhibits proceed chronologically: the bombing, the aftermath, the investigation, and the trials. I was particularly touched by a room filled with photos of the victims. Each photo was in a clear lucite box, each accompanied by a memento of that person. The photos of the children, accompanied by their toys, were particularly heart-breaking.

After we completed the tour, my daughter and I went outside to see the 168 chairs displayed outside. Part of the original fence, where families and friend of victims left flowers and personal items in remembrance, still stands at the site.

My daughter seemed to take the visit seriously and took the time to read and interact with the various displays. I told her that whenever something like this happens, there is a counter-action, an attempt to make sure it doesn't happen again.  "This is why," I told her, "If you drop someone off at the airport, the security people lose their minds if you try to leave your car there for a few seconds. Also, some dude tried to put a bomb in his shoe and get on an airplane, so now we have to take our shoes off when we fly somewhere. There is always a reaction."

The harder part of the conversation centered on the death penalty. The end-game for Timothy McVeigh was execution, of course. His accomplices were sent to prison. I explained to my daughter that I'm against the death penalty but that I really struggle when it comes to someone like Timothy McVeigh. He was clearly a monster and yet his death did not bring those poor souls back. So, I don't know what to say about cases like his. It's not like there was any doubt that he did it. I can certainly understand why society as a whole simply did not want to have to look at his face every again. Hard stuff to ponder for me, and hard stuff for a fifth grader to understand. 

My daughter asked me why he did it. "He was mad at the government," I said. "He wanted to make a point by killing innocent people."

"What point did he make?" she asked.

"Exactly," I said. 

She and I haven't talked too much about the recent spate of violence. As a parent, I don't even know what to say about it. :::sigh:::



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Good news: I have another blog post about my trip. This one, you'll be glad to know, involves Fritos.