Tuesday, June 30, 2009

181/365 Back to Badness

With all visits over and the house back to normal Hansel is back on his Bad to the Bone tour, standing everywhere he's not allowed to be. Good thing he's cute and furry...

Monday, June 29, 2009

180/365 Celebrity Pee

Playing Celebrity, the game with the big bowl and the little papers, is a tradition when the family is together. Today there was a mishap. Round 3 is acting only, no words. The pelvic thrust in the picture above was the perfect clue for A Rod (referenced in previous rounds as having shagged Madonna), but the funny part was that the windup to the thrust involved nearly knocking down the TV with her butt. I laughed so hard I had to go check to see if I peed myself. Laughter and silliness for a couple of hours, and no mention of brain fluids, bills to pay, or chores undone.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

179/365 Is June Over Yet?

Losing and finding, opening night and closing, visits from the West and the Northeast, steroids and differentiation... I'm pooped!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

178/365 Temporary

Shy Boy in the Pool
The company of family, enjoying a too-infrequent reunion. Hoping to create memories to last until the too-far-away next visit. We played and noshed until exhaustion.

Michael Jackson Music Video Marathon
Reminiscing in front of the TV and taking an afternoon nap, watching classic music videos and playing "remember when." With the help of Google we filled in the names and dates. What a melancholy reminder of youth's passing.

Closing Night
From curtain call to bare stage in 2 hours time. A lifetime of moments in one day.

Friday, June 26, 2009

177/365 Naptime

Summer is the time for productivity, the honey-do list, the home improvement project and the grand adventure. We'll get around to those eventually. For us lately, summertime has been the time for an afternoon nap. All humans and felines in the house gather on the temperpedic for a midday siesta. The mornings are exercise, cleaning, chores, and off to camp. Lunch, nap, and then evening bring their own adventures. I wish such a plan would work all year.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

176/365 "My Sucky Life"

Death and strange ailments all around us, I guess I can understand why the victim of a series of unfortunate and unlikely events may feel this way. It can seem like the world is cruel and vindictive. All the money in the world can't keep you from dying. A beauty queen is eaten alive by a disease. The deliverer of late-night laughter and sweepstakes prizes dies in bankruptcy. Maybe better to be Hansel. Unable to appreciate the nuances of life, his life is good if there is a nap, a nosh, a nuzzle, and a good poop. Really, what more do we need?

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

175/365 The Saga of Big Al

Heard a story from a fellow presenter and veteran of airport security. Evidently, the line was tied up at the Houston airport some time ago, when an unidentified electronic device was spotted by TSA. The presenter told that this device belonged to a very well-dressed businesswoman, one who clearly was a frequent traveler and used to the routine. This electronic device had to be removed from the luggage and placed in its own bin for scrutiny, and it caused the crowd to pause and the screener to blush. The woman, however, was unapologetic. "I don't go anywhere without Big Al," she explained.
Well, I guess this presenter has retold this story on several occasions, though today was my first time. Big Al has become a bit of a cult code among some presenters. In fact, another presenter sent a gift to the purveyor of the Big Al story. He was working in Peoria, Il, on the way to the airport after a training at a Catholic school when he spotted Big Al's strip club with merchandise for sale. He had to detour to nab a Big Al XXXL t-shirt. Of course, the packing tube made the gift complete. I love a good travel story, and this one was a peach!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

174/365 This crazy job of mine

I really do enjoy this job. For the most part (and with certain noteworthy exceptions) teachers who attend these trainings have the best of intentions and reaffirm my faith in the profession of education. Most participate willingly, bring ideas and open minds, and make my job a pleasure. I haven't had a lot of work lately, but this week as I observe/facilitate some training in differentiating instruction, I am reminded about both parts of my job. The good part - the professional development and the opportunity to use my experience and knowledge, and the bad part - being away from my family and home. Coming back to work after this hiatus it feels like the good is better, but for so many reasons, the bad is worse.

Monday, June 22, 2009

173/365 Keep the messages coming

We're more than 100 miles apart, and he's okay. But I don't mind him sending me regular messages reminding me.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

172/365 Only 2 hours away

Leaving home for a work-related trip feels awful. The good news is that I'm only in Orlando. The bad news is I'm away until Thursday. Good news is that EJG feels great. Bad news is now I feel like every second away from him and our girl is potentially a lifetime. For fun I will combine all the bad and good with my laryngitis-inspired, steroid-induced emotional rollercoaster of the last few days. Alone with my thoughts, but back at home in my heart.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

171/365 Too far, too fast

When she has these letters, I have a chance at winning!

The visit from my dear friend, her daughter, and the wonderful new man in her life has ended. Now they are on their way back to the other coast, and I wonder if we hugged enough. We packed our couple of days with good eats, laughter, more eats, beach time, eats, theater, eats, swimming pool, electronic Scrabble, theater, laryngitis and steroids, and then some more eats and laughter. They came for the show and saw it twice, standing for me and applauding from their second row seats. I spotted them there last night, thankfully not until the curtain call, because seeing them there for me caused me to tear up. All I had left to do was bow and smile, but I thought I was going to lose it. The people, the connections, the bonds in our lives, and how important they are - in this last month I've been held up by a chain of hands and hearts.

Friday, June 19, 2009

170/365 The patient is now the nurse

EJG/Guest Blogger; JSG started this 365 post project on January 1. Her goal was to document every day of the year with a picture and short comment.

Well, this picture says it all. JSG has lost her voice. So, with head over warm steam, Vicks smeared around her nose, and constant fluids going down her throat, she is spending the day trying to find it before heading back "Into the Woods" at 8:00 P.M.

If I can be so bold as to ask all those who prayed for my recovery to please put in a good word for JSG... that would be great!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

169/365 Because we kept you so darn busy today...

Not entirely sure where to begin - and hard as it is to decide amongst the many pics of the day - surely the highlight had to be the show! This is the kindergarten buddy guestposting. Being able to see JSG perform on stage again makes me so very proud! The last time I heard her perform in front of an audience was her college recital in Potsdam. She blew me away then - and perhaps even moreso now. Who knew that someday I would be able to bring my own daughter to watch her perform? Who could have predicted that our lives would be intertwined yet again through stage and song? This was by far one of my most memorable birthdays so far. Thank you JSG, EG and IMG. We are blessed to have you in our lives.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

168/365 Jewish Food, Old Friends... Delicious

Waiting for Diners
Any minute now the wheels should be touching down in Florida. My dear kindergarten buddy, with her daughter and "male companion" have planted their touchasses in some very uncomforatble seats for 10 plus hours to pay us a visit. Jacksonville can be lovely, and the beach will surely deliver a delightful diversion, but they didn't come for the scenery. They came for us. To celebrate I whipped up a little soul food, Brooklyn Jew style. The matzo ball soup (I didn't even use a mix) and 5 pounds of potato kugel create a potpourri that leaves those Yankee Candle people in the dust. A little challah and Jewish rye, and we're on our way. Feasting and kibbitzing shall ensue. If only their flight weren't delayed...

Update 6/19 - 12:10AM (guestposter) - something told me to take this pic from the plane...

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

167/365 Beached

He was snoozing when I took this shot. We were out on the sand just after 8 this morning. Our walk started out at the lifeguard station and went 2.5 miles north then back. So lovely, breezy, and bright that I never put in the ear buds. The music of the ocean and our intermittent conversation were soundtrack enough. Post-walk we fetched our chairs and umbrella and undertook interval training. Dip and nap interval training. We trained all the way till 1:15 when it was time to get our girl at camp. Days like this help ease the horrors of weeks past.

Monday, June 15, 2009

166/365 Same Old, Same Old...

For Hansel and Gretel, anyhow. Lined up at the pantry for AM Cat Treats. For us today it's back to Shands for staple removal (goodbye head bling) and a CT scan. The teen starts camp today at Theater Jax, our home away from home these last months. An evening grill and splash with the in-laws is on deck for later today, then hopefully we'll get in our Bucks n' back stroll after sunset.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

165/365 Upside Down

In a single moment. I guess I should allow him to wallow a bit, but I'm so very anxious to put this all behind us. When will it be over?

Saturday, June 13, 2009

164/365 One Step at a Time

Back on the trail this morning, we did our 5 mile Bucks n' Back route for the first time post 5/31. Bittersweet in so many ways. Walking in lieu of "running" attracted the interest of the daughter, who loved the experience and wants to go again tomorrow. At Starbucks we attended a memorial service for Jack. Jack was a Starbucks A.M. regular who held court from the corner chair at our local store, nearly every day since the store opened. For the past couple of years, as we stumbled in, dripping in sweat and parched mid-run, we'd see Jack. Usually surrounded by a group of Bucks regulars, they'd solve the problems of the world, covering topics from politics to college ball. Hearing other people's public conversations like these often makes me cringe, living here in the red zone, but Jack was there for the company and the routine. A long battle with Leukemia ended last week, and his family planned the memorial at the store so Jack's Starbucks family could participate. So for us, the routine is different now. Walking, not running. IMG in our company, and no Jack. But we're still moving forward one step at a time.

Friday, June 12, 2009

163/365 Restorative Powers

Opening night tonight, but the festivities around here are pretty low-key. Housecleaning was overdue, and even the patient insisted in participating. I guess that a bit of sweeping and mopping wasn't too much, as he insisted it wasn't. I did the heavy duty work (bathrooms). Taking a break, Gretel must've sensed he needed to sit a bit. She is a cautious cat, and rarely does she put herself into vulnerable situations, but today she jumped up and took a lap. And everyone knows you don't get up and disturb the nap of a lap cat. I think they're both getting some well-deserved zzzzz's.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

162/365 Only 2/3

Final dress rehearsal. Waiting backstage to make an entrance. A little less elated than I had planned to be on this night, yet in some ways a little more.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

161/365 Guest Post by EJG

Life is funny. A week ago, I was attached to tubes in ICU struggling to live. Today, I am frustrated that I can’t resume my life just as it had been the day before my brain decided to bleed.

I am quite a miracle - the lucky recipient of the talents of a great surgeon and hundreds of prayers sent to G-d by a network of friends and family. I was visited in the hospital by so many people that I had no time to wallow in despair. The phone calls, guest blogs, Facebook comments, flowers, and edible fruit! were all daily reminders that I was loved. They lifted me up when I stumbled in self pity, and carried me back to the reality of my good fortune. No blog post could begin to express how much you have all meant to me. So I will just say, thank you.

One of the ironic downsides to recovering so fast was being able to visit the set of Theatre Jacksonville’s “Into the Woods” yesterday, in which I had been cast as the Narrator/Mysterious Man. Sitting there in the back of the auditorium, I looked out at something so familiar, yet untouchable. So close I had come.

In trying to get a good turnout at auditions, I often tell my students in the beginning of the year about the benefits of being in a play. I tell them about the camaraderie, the feeling of working on one thing to completion with so much intensity and focus. I share with them the benefits of teamwork and the pride in hearing your efforts and commitment pay off in the sounds of applause.

I started off my journey into the woods with double vision, the result of an earlier injury that most definitely led to this last week’s grand theatrics. In fact, I had to audition without my glasses on a stage that I had never been on… something I wouldn’t recommend to anyone. However, through dumb luck I was cast. Having not been in a play since college, I enjoyed every minute of every rehearsal; the musical rehearsals with Sam at the church, the crazy blocking rehearsals up in the green room, and the slow unfolding of the play on the actual stage. I enjoyed the camaraderie, the eating (weren’t we always eating!), and even the “waterfall” in the orchestra pit during that week of endless rain. I never missed one rehearsal… mainly because I was having too much fun.

In fact, I only missed a handful of rehearsals the entire three months. Unfortunately, they were the critical ones; the ones that took the play from a works-in-progress to a real, live, breathing thing. Watching last night’s rehearsal was tough, but I was able to make peace with myself that I was no longer part of it. Don’t get me wrong; it was difficult to see the play run without me. I still knew all my lines and songs, but something had changed. During the week I was gone, a level of confidence grew over the cast that would perhaps be hard for others to spot. But not me. I had witnessed this group of dedicated thespians struggling with Soundheim’s speedy music and James Lapine’s wicked lyrics. I was one of them. But last night, I saw none of that. This cast was a lean, mean machine… ready to charm any audience and bring them out of their seats.

And you can be sure that I will be in that audience. And I will rise up from my seat, applauding until my hands hurt after the last “tableau” has been constructed. Because I know things now, many wonderful things, that I didn’t know before….

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

160/365 Shit-Eating Grin

Jack's mother, feigning happiness. Her son is a dolt, and her husband is recovering from brain surgery. Too many emotions in too short a time.

Monday, June 8, 2009

159/365 Not your Average Cup

We went to Starbucks this morning. Komodo Dragon blend and a newspaper kept EJG busy while I ran into Publix for a few odds and ends. When I returned, he was still there. Every moment a gift. In my position of nearly-averted tragedy I can stand on my soapbox and admonish my small but loyal readership. Don't waste the gift. Love and live every day to the maximum.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

158/365 7 days later...

Update: My dream came true. In February, 1983, when I began a relationship with Prince Charming, and again today, when I took home that same prince. Healed well enough to be annoyed at the girls' talking during the Tonys, it's my man.

Moving forward, we're looking at 2 weeks with the Frankenstein look (30+ staples and sutures on the hairless pate) before our wonderful neurologist can begin her investigation to get to the bottom of this. The fact is that a spontaneous bilateral subdural hematoma sometimes just happens. The academic in Dr. H is determined to find and cure the chain reaction that began with the headache of March 19th, 100+ days before The Headache that almost claimed my P.C., above. Too many questions remain to be answered, but we love living too much to step into the future with fear. Caution, okay. But living half way isn't our life. We have a second chance at that life together, me and the shiny-headed prince.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

157+/365 Ah, the Royal Flush

Lucky me - my first guest post! Hi All - DA here. This day could not have brought happier news. While driving back home from my girl's audition I hear the familiar 'you've-got-a-message' beep coming from the phone. I look immediately only to be greeted by a text from JSG which reads 'Sitting and Walking'. Can it be true? I open the message to see this shot of Evan sitting up in a chair! OMG OMG OMG! SO excited! I call her immediately to express my excitement at the news. Hold on she says: I hear a flush! LOL! Normalcy is nearer than anyone ever expected. So honored to be able to share this with you all! You go EJG - flush away!

157/365 Thoughts and Prayers

I'm Lowell aka LJ for those viewing this on Facebook. I'm pretty sure I'm the only one (Lowell)in her friend list. She truly appreciates all of the well wishers and gestures in this difficult time.

I'll do my best to keep this brief. I was apologizing to a colleague Tuesday afternoon becuase I missed a Monday conference call. I was at Shands. I explained everything that was going on for some reason and as we were getting off the phone she said, "I'll definitely keep your friend in my thoughts and prayers." She always says this whenever something bad happens to anyone at my company. It annoys me. It's lazy and cliche and forced. That's why I'm always stuck for something to say when I'm the outsider. I won't give in to the cliche, but "That sucks", which is what's honest, is inappropriate coming from a 3rd, 4th or 5th party. Strangely enough, the T 'n P comment didn't annoy me, even though she said it at least three times. I appreciated the effort, and it made me understand that the cliche is okay. It's a cliche for a reason. As a true master of all 36 chambers of cynicism, that's hard for me to get my head around. There's no such thing as too much or too little goodwill.

Friday, June 5, 2009

156/365 Sweet, Sweet Nectar


LJ is your substitute substitute today.

EJG Status Update: 30 staples, 3 sets of stitches, and an upright posture. We’ll call that progress. Unfortunately, the rest is a waiting game.

Bad Teacher Joke: There are easier ways to get out of post planning.

Bad Liberal Joke: I told you not to listen to the whole Rush Limbaugh show. He doesn’t give pain medication advice on the radio.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

155/365 A Good Sport

More from MJ: EJG is doing well. He's a good sport, too, allowing a picture for the blog so everyone can see that he's himself and looking pretty good, even with less hair on his head. When I asked what he wanted me to share in his update, he said "I'm still here." True enough. Patience is still the word of the day while everyone tries to adjust to hospital times and medical schedules--a different timeline than the outside world. So, nothing new medically speaking, other than staying still. The doctors don't want him to sneeze...literally. After he's healed from surgery, there will be more investigations and plans for fixing what ails him.

He's still got lots of visitors and his new room was packed with friends while I was there. It seems to help the time pass (see patience reference above). He did mention a way he's been able to hear from well-wishers first hand: caremail. The hospital hand-delivers e-mail messages to the patients with their regular mail. You can send him a message through this link: Maybe we can keep him busy with a little fan mail.
In other news, yesterday brought Jello, today brought potato soup--with real potato chunks. Tonight for dinner, he'll get his first solid food since last weekend. When they asked if he wanted to know what was on the menu, he said "No, surprise me." He must be hungry if he wants to be surprised with hospital food. He's been craving blueberry cheesecake but loving Jello more than he thought possible.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

154.5/365 A different promise... keep you in the loop. Another quick update from MJ. EJG was moved out of ICU tonight but cannot incline more than 15 degrees. Fifteen degrees meant the freedom to have jello, juice, and ginger ale. But JSG reminds herself (and us) that the recovery will be slow and she is preparing herself for a kind of patience she's never known. She and Dr. H. have been talking with dominos metaphors. They want to get back to the original domino that caused this but first he has to heal from the surgery (which was only to heal a symptom--the bleeding).
Right now for JSG, the update has to include the steady stream of support and love from friends and family. Two visits already from a new friend from the Into the Woods cast. The principal visited today. But EJG's best visitor is his best friend and now that he's in a normal room, she can be there all night. In fact, she's there now. Good night, JSG and EJG. We're all thinking about you.

154/365 Promises kept

MJ has been guest posting, but I think I can cover this one. I had a few hours at home and I read LJ's blog.

EG and I decided a long time ago that we'd have to die together. But then IMG came along and we thought it would be too much to lose both of us, so EG promised I could go first. He's much stronger than I am. Looks like he's keeping his promise to outlive me.

Moral I'm learning? Life does suck. It ends bad and ugly, and the end can come at any time. Think you're living high? Running in paradise, singing and laughing? It can all be taken away without notice. So the only sane thing to do is to act like it doesn't suck. Slap on a shit-eating grin and live. Live the hell out of every day and eliminate the woulda-coulda-shouldas.
Off to the hospital now... updates to follow.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

153/365 Vital Signs

Another MJ update: EJG is stable. He's still flat on his back to avoid any pressure on his brain. He's progressing better and more quickly than the doctors were expecting. There's talk of moving him out of the ICU tomorrow. He's asked for a Starbuck's; how's that for normal?
JSG is still trying to balance everything: IMG's next audition (for musical theater) tomorrow, her own Into the Woods rehearsal, and least of all, sleep. She spent last night on a folding chair somewhere under the monitor pictured above. Friends and family are still helping her hold it all together as they take each day, hour, minute as it comes.

Monday, June 1, 2009

152/365 Waiting and Worrying

MJ here. Does it still count in project 365 if someone guest-posts for you? If your husband had brain surgery it does.

EJG had emergency surgery last night to relieve bleeding on both sides of his brain. After he made it through the surgery, the biggest fears were wondering if he would be himself when he woke up. He is himself—albeit a flat on his back in ICU kind of self. But he’s doing well so far (less than 24 hours after surgery). He’s talking, smiling, moving arms and legs. He even said it would be embarrassing if he couldn’t remember his lines for the play. (Opening night on June 12th though won't be possible.)

The picture is of family and friends…sometimes too many to get in the door, enough to fill a room, but probably still not enough to keep JSG and IMG from worries. Everyone wants to do what they can and right now it starts with being there.