Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Sometimes I don't make a bit of sense

I haven’t disappeared, or given up blogging… but the husband’s gone back to Italy and this means two things: I am the children’s number one entertainer and my photo editor, organizer and transferer from memory card to computer is gone. Hence, no writing and certainly no photos. Alas (or thankfully, depending on the points of view) we are flying back to Italy next week and we’ll be back to our regularly scheduled programming.

I wrote this post last week (or the week before, have completely lost track of time) and though it is long and rambling and not completely coherent I felt bad just leaving it sitting there so am posting. So for now, I leave you with this, and I’ll be back to writing and commenting (and tweeting, pining and what have you) next week if the jet-lag and my two kids don’t kill me.

The question I hated the most at the beginning of the whole leukemia saga was “how are you?”, with the head tilt and the concerned expression. And my answer was always “fine”, because what the hell else was I supposed to say, right?
I certainly couldn’t answer: “I feel like something large and slobbery ate me, digested me and shit me out and I was just barely conscious enough to experience it all”, because, well, who wants to hear that, and what could they possibly say in return. 
After two years nobody asks me that anymore, people go on with their lives and even though the husband actually was re-diagnosed this year and had a second transplant, the news was old and trite and simply didn’t elicit the same sensationalistic reactions. Which kind of surprised me, on the one hand, because obviously with cancer if someone relapses pretty quickly after treatment the odds of them surviving kind of start going down. On the other hand, I had fewer questions to answer and fewer people to reassure and that was definitely a good thing for me.

Now, though, I’m seeing lots of people that I hadn’t seen since before the illness so the how are yous have started all over again. And this time around, with a teeny bit more maturity and distance from the fact I’ve started giving it some actual thought. How am I? The first thing that popped into my mind when I thought this was, well, I’m way better than I would be if the husband had died aren’t I? Certainly on the more positive side of the spectrum as far as possible attitudes go, but not quite comforting either.

How am I?

I’m a little sadder, generally, than I used to be. Not about anything specific, I just used to be more happy-go-lucky. I’m a little more distant I’m trying to let go of my expectations. I’ve had some disappointments, throughout these two years of the husband’s illness, from people I thought would be closer to me, from people that really should have been closer to me, but I’ve learned something very important in the process. Most of our disappointments are the result of our expectations, if we can let go of those our lives will be much easier. I hope I learn to do this in this lifetime.
I also have a more developed sense of what’s important in life. Not that I don’t often find myself wasting time and energy on futile feelings and actions but I’m learning to recognize them as unimportant, and I hope to get to the point of just letting them go (soon). 

So, how am I doing? Better than I would have thought, worst than some people think. It isn’t all water under the bridge yet, unfortunately. Every day that passes that the Husband doesn’t relapse is a good day, but we don’t know it’s a good day until it’s over. It’s like you wake up and hold part of your breath, and you hold it all day, and at the end of the day you breathe out and think phew, one day further from the transplant. Every day we’re a little more optimistic, but the illness is still very much a part of our lives. Even though the people around us forget, and thank goodness that they do, we don’t forget. Not ever.

So this makes me more emotional and I have a shorter temper especially when I see people close to me getting angry and upset over stupid little things. I want to tell them, you’re alive, you’re healthy, you’re loved, stop fucking worrying about what people think about you, or stop getting mad because that guy cut you off or who the hell cares that this or that wasn’t perfect, but this is what people do and who am I to say they shouldn’t.

I find I’ve distanced myself emotionally from many of the people I love, but that happens I think when you try and let go of your expectations. With no expectations there are no disappointments, but there’s a certain, necessary, emotional aridity that’s a direct result.

So, how am I? Well, I haven’t really figured it out yet, but at least I’ve started asking the question too, and maybe, hopefully, someday soon I’ll know and I’ll start feeling normal again. 

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Brookstone, vibrators and the economy - wtf wednesday

We all know the economy’s gone to the crapper, but there’s nothing quite like being reminded of this in the unlikeliest of places. The husband and I went to Brookstone on Monday, because it’s the classic place where tourists go to look for idiotic presents to bring home after their trips (although, some things I’ve gotten from there have been pure genius). We made our selection and went to pay, and I was a little surprised to see the checkout kid put the person in front of me’s purchases in a Whole Foods grocery bag. I paid and since I had a few things I saw the kid look around in a panic, and then he phewed in relief and picks up a large, worn, battered, clearly used brookstone bag and puts my stuff in it. At the questioning look on my face he answers: oh, we ran out of our bags right before Christmas, but we didn’t get our new bag budget until January 1st and we still don’t have any bags, we’ve been using old grocery bags but I’ve finished them today so we’re really happy when someone returns something and we can keep their bags!  Really? Brookstone, you sell a whole lot of pretty useless crap, how bout investing in some bags for the people buying your merchandise?

Also, on the way out we notice this display:

Now, we all know that 99% of the time “personal massagers” are vibrators in disguise for politically correct stores, but seriously the “disguise” part’s totally blown on this one! So, Brookstone, maybe less vibrators and more shopping bags in the future.

I was going to link up with Poppy at Funny or snot for WTF wednesday, but she's not doing the linky anymore... sigh.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Virtual Coffee {32}

Hello dear friends, and welcome to (this rather late) coffee. And since this is our first coffee together this year, also a belated Happy New Year!

I’m a bit sad today, because after three weeks together day and night the Husband is flying back to Italy. This is the longest vacation he has ever taken in his life, including our honeymoon, so it’s going to be hard readjusting to real life again (well, for him, since the kids and I are in Houston for another three weeks).
We’ve been busy, so we’ve made some really good memories and snapped about 2,500 pictures… no, I’m not exaggerating. He’s going to be very busy culling all the crappy pictures once he’s home!
Culling pictures like this one. Though we've been doing an awful lot of this since there's no Starbucks in Italy.

The kids have both managed to get sick in the last few days, but it seems they are on the mend now and we can resume our action packed holiday. Seriously. We’ve been to the aquarium, to the zoo, to the fire museum, to more playgrounds and indoor play areas than I can count, we’ve seen some friends and have many more to see still, we’ve eaten in all my favorite restaurants and discovered some new ones I didn’t know. 
yes, the fire museum.

We celebrated the Epiphany (celebrated by Catholics on January 6th , in commemoration of the Magi - three wise men, or three kings - visiting the Baby Jesus) with both the Italian and the Mexican traditions. Why the Mexican? Well, we have a lot of friends from Mexico and this falls under the category of any excuse for a party!

In Italy, the tradition is that a benevolent old lady/witch-type character called La Befana, who has no magical powers but flies on a broom, comes in the night and brings children candy or coal (depending on whether they’ve been good or bad) and maybe a small present. This is when people put up stockings in Italy, for La Befana, not for Christmas. And they’re not necessarily nice, fancy stockings, when we were little we used to use our own socks, or rather, we’d put out my Dad’s dress socks cause they were the biggest and longest socks in the house, in the hope that she would fill them up all the way (which, incidentally, she usually did).  

I look like an angel, but I'm really not

So happy to have stockings!

Not so happy about the coal (candy coal, but still look at her wtf face!)

this coal is pretty cool, and I can eat it you say?!

In Mexico, they have a cake called Rosca de Reyes, which is a round, bready type cake with candied fruit on top, where usually one baby Jesus figurine is hidden (although most of the time you find as many baby Jesuses as there are children present), whoever finds the baby Jesus has to have a party on February 2nd (Dia de la Candelaria or Candlemas day) – or alternatively take the figurine to mass for a blessing.

We found one of the baby Jesus but are exempt from hosting the party as we live too far away

Anyway, this is going to be a very brief coffee, as the Husband’s literally putting the luggage in the trunk as I type, but I’ll leave you with a few pictures of the past couple of weeks.

And when you’re done go visit our hostess Amy!

on the carousel at the aquarium. what? I like carousels and who can say no to riding a dolphin?

some sort of rescue operation going on in the fire museum playroom

sliding down the pole in full fire fighter gear (except the boots, he wouldn't wear the boots)

I had a mini internal freak out about germs when he put that mask on

we even ran into some real live firemen outside the museum and they let us get on their real live firetruck


Sunday, January 8, 2012

Bang, bang

Generally if you ask a European the first thing they think of when thinking of Texas they will say one of the following: death penalty, oil rigs, cowboys (and/or all the related attire), horses, beef and guns. Since I no longer ride horses, am married so the cowboys are out (and am frankly too Italian for cowboy attire), and the death penalty is certainly not something I want to experience, I decided to go shooting today.

It probably will surprise no one to know that I have a fair few friends who own guns and use them to shoot things, I mean, what else would one do on a sunny Saturday morning? So we were thrilled when they kindly offered to take us shooting, though the kids had to stay home (see, we’re not barbarians!).

The first gun safety talk given to us by our friend (the giant you see hovering over me in the pictures), managed to thoroughly freak me out and elicited visions of me accidentally loosing control of the gun and shooting everyone in the range dead (thus seguing straight to the death penalty portion of this post). I regained some of my composure whilst reading the half-assed gun safety rules we initialed at the shooting range and the disclaimer that clearly stated they were NOT responsible if I lost control of my gun. (Although, they probably are responsible for cleaning up the mess afterwards). Thankfully, the giant’s wife found a shooting instructor to go over the rules with me and I got all jittery again, which is precisely the condition you do not want to be in when handling deadly firearms.

We “suited up” i.e. put on glasses and ear muff thingies, I opted not to put on two layers of ear protection cause I wanted to actually hear the instructions coming my way. Let me tell you, hearing a gunshot in closed quarters even whilst wearing ear muff thingies will make you jump about a foot off the ground for at least the first ten or twenty times, then you get used to it.

These are some of the things I learned today. Most people who handle firearms are not idiots and though they are very concerned that guns be handled properly they have no fear of the object in and of itself, which is strangely comforting. Gunshots are very loud. One must have a strong hold to properly shoot a gun, hence the sideways “gangsta rapper” hold should be avoided if you want to hit your target. Loading a gun is way, way harder than one would imagine. The casings are very hot and they will probably get in your shirt. This is NOT an excuse to lose control of your gun. Shooting at a target is a lot of fun.

I scared the husband with this one

they have zombie themed targets, who would have thought...

shooting's fun!!

you can even shoot at numbers

Seriously, what better way to spend a Saturday with friends in Texas?

on the windowsill behind us was a stuffed rattlesnake. I forgot to take a picture of it dammit!
A heartfelt thanks to our friends for "risking their lives" with us today!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Time passes, friends stay

Sometimes when you’re feeling lost or adrift all it takes to bring you back on course is a day with old friends.

I’ve mentioned before how I don’t have many longtime friends but the friendships I do have are tried and tested and hopefully there for the long run.

With our wee ones

They’re built on experiences past, on teenage angst and drama, of melodramatic fights and teary reconciliations, on growing pains, on monumental milestones both exhilarating and tragic. 

These friendships withstand the test of time, of distance, of months without speaking, of years without meeting. We don’t really know what’s going on in our day to day lives but when we meet it’s like no time at all has passed. True, we have to catch up on each others’ news, but we already know and love each other, we accept each other, we understand where we come from and where we’re going in a way that newer friendships don’t.

In our hearts we’d like to be closer, we’d like to share more and be there for one another more, we’d like our children to be friends, to share in each others’ lives. And yet these days, though few and far between, that we have together are like prized treasures that we can keep in our hearts and memories till the next time. And I hope that our children will value these friendships, built on their mothers’ past, and will one day feel the anticipation of seeing their far-flung friends for an instant, a precious, cherished instant that will bring them joy for years to come.

So a few pictures of a day with old friends, cause spending a day with friends is good for the soul and good for the heart.

The boys playing with the funnest big boy toy of the season - a remote controlled helicopter that sounds like an annoying fly buzzing around the house. Thankfully the battery only lasts about ten minutes, but those ten minutes bring pure joy in the boys' hearts.

Cooking breakfast for the Italians

The chef

Venison and pork sausage, a family specialty

Can you tell we're in Texas?!

trying to figure out how the large, professional helicopter works

more complicated than one would think of a toy...

I wish we had this playroom!

Enjoying the balmy Houston weather


The husband and me

Daddy's hard at work


All this digging.... I'm exhausted!

trying to be like the big girl

Look Ma, no hands!!

What says Texas more than riding in the back of a truck?!