Happy Bookiversary

Today marks eight years since my dad died. Every since, this time of year is difficult. Something akin to Seasonal Affective Disorder but not. Is Death Anniversary Affective Disorder a thing? Maybe PDDSD/post-dad-dying stress disorder? I don't know. I just know that I don't sleep very well, develop a very blahsy case of the blahs, and really, REALLY don't feel like talking about it, at all, with anybody, thank you very much. But this year I DID sack up and talk about it to my therapist, and not just in a dismissive, hand-wavy "oh, I'll seriously feel fine by April 1, nothing to worry about" way, but in a solution-focused "I need March to not suck so hard every year forever" kind of way. She advised me to find a way to untangle the Bad and the Sad and the Everything Else from today, and instead mark the day with something linked to the good and happy memories. She asked me to name one. Books. I remember his books. Hundreds and hundred of books, lining the hallways, his study, the floor-to-ceiling bookshelves in the living room. My own bookcase, packed to overflowing, because he would never, ever say no to... Read more →


From The Complete Poems of Robert Frost 1949 When I see birches bend to left and right Across the lines of straighter darker trees, I like to think some boy's been swinging them. But swinging doesn't bend them down to stay As ice-storms do. Often you must have seen them Loaded with ice a sunny winter morning After a rain. They click upon themselves As the breeze rises, and turn many-colored As the stir cracks and crazes their enamel. Soon the sun's warmth makes them shed crystal shells Shattering and avalanching on the snow-crust— Such heaps of broken glass to sweep away You'd think the inner dome of heaven had fallen. They are dragged to the withered bracken by the load, And they seem not to break; though once they are bowed So low for long, they never right themselves: You may see their trunks arching in the woods Years afterwards, trailing their leaves on the ground Like girls on hands and knees that throw their hair Before them over their heads to dry in the sun. But I was going to say when Truth broke in With all her matter-of-fact about the ice-storm I should prefer to have some... Read more →


I don't know what to say. Yesterday a friendly waiter asked Jason and I how our "day was goin' so far" and instead of answering "fine" like a normal human person, I think I just sort of stared at him with my mouth hanging open, like I didn't understand the question. Luckily my brain DID manage to send the abort signal before I said something like "yeah fine except my dog literally just died like two hours ago, so now I'm going to need all the nachos in this restaurant." (I really did consume a ridiculous amount of nachos, though.) Ceiba is gone. She died in my arms, on our couch. She spent the entire morning on our laps, being stroked and rubbed and babied. Max was next to her as the sedative took effect, Jason was was petting her the entire time. She didn't react at all to the second shot, but simply drifted away from us. It was the best death we could have possibly provided for her, but it was still a death, and I am gutted. Ceiba was the tiniest member of the household, but now that she's gone, the house doesn't just feel empty, it's... Read more →

Countdown to Goodbye

Slightly morbid but necessary update: We've arranged for a vet to come to our home on Wednesday morning to help Ceiba pass while the boys are at school. They understand Wednesday is our Goodbye Day and that she won't be here when they get home. In the meantime, we're all working on a Memory Box, full of pictures and drawings and even a teeny tiny Ceiba made out of Lego. We'll include things like her collar and favorite toys when the time comes as well. I have opted to get her ashes back and plan to scatter them on our new work-in-progress garden. No one else in the house wants anything to do with any sort of remains, but I have a mild panic attack at the thought of her just leaving our house and it being like...welp, that's that! So I'm doing that part solely for myself. We've been pretty straightforward with the boys about everything -- no sugarcoating so far, but lots of assurances that being sad is totally normal and it's okay to cry or feel other things, like anger or fear. I'm really proud of how they're handling things and working through it each in their... Read more →

So Long & Thanks For All the Waffles

Thank you, Internet, for the huge loving wave of kind thoughts and condolences. I really had no idea so many people had so much genuine affection for my little dog, and it was an unexpected bright spot in an otherwise total shithole of a day. So Ceiba has cancer. It is all very bad news. The cancer diagnosis was...not a huge surprise to us. Jason basically called it as soon as we got her first negative UTI result. I needed to cycle through a few more of the treatable possibilities first, but over the past couple weeks -- thanks to the blood and drastic weight loss -- I came to the same conclusion. I was possibly holding out hope that it was bladder stones, but deep down I was fully expecting the worst. Making it official and shifting our worry into our reality, though, is rough. Really awful and rough. Her prognosis is not good. There is no realistic treatment option at this point. We won't put her through chemo and surgery would be incredibly invasive (as the tumor is inside her bladder) and dangerous for a dog her age. There's a drug treatment that MIGHT slow the tumor growth... Read more →

Inside, Out

I almost made it through Father's Day without thinking about my dad. Okay, that sounds horrible, and isn't really true. There's no way NOT to think about him, what with the sheer volume of irritating PR email pitches that pile up all month. "Don't forget about Dad!" they say in the subject lines, "Please please blog about some crap we think is perfect for your dad! Who is dead!" is how I sarcastically translate them, right before I dump them into the trash can, unread. It's a new yearly tradition, although the righteous anger I used to feel over some poorly targeted email blasts has faded over the years. (No, I am NOT getting an early start on my Father's Day gift guide. Because I am at my father's FUNERAL, motherfucker. UNSUBSCRIBE.) I almost made it through without thinking about my dad in any painful, punch-in-the-gut sort-of way. That's more what I meant. I focused entirely on Jason (who also had his birthday yesterday), so I had lots of extra planning and shopping to focus on, with a goal to give him an entire weekend of fun and presents and relaxation. We got together with friends, went to picnics and... Read more →

An Ordinary Day Like Every Other

Today started with Noah's face inches from mine. "Mom! You told me last night to remind you to give me money for the book fair," he says, lifting up the covers while I blink blearily at him. "So I'm reminding you." And we're off. I pull on some clothes and pull my hair into a ponytail while Jason gets Ike ready. Ezra, as usual, needs to be physically dragged out of bed and deposited on the floor of his room, at least four feet away from his bed so he won't immediately climb back in the minute our backs are turned. I distribute underwear and socks and shirts and hope that there are clean pants in the drawers — by Friday it's usually a laundry crapshoot. I inform Noah that the shirt he put on is too small for him. He insists it's fine, it's okay, he just won't raise his arms too much. Downstairs: Cheerios, milk, juice, grapes, eggs, bananas, pancakes. Second, third, fourth helpings. Good Lord, they eat so, so much. Noah rehearses a presentation for a school project — a shoe box decorated and filled with representations of our family's cultural background. He struggles with the pronunciations... Read more →

Sounding the Everything Is Okay Alarm For the Millionth Time

So I wrote about four sentences' worth of an entry yesterday, an entry I didn't really WANT to write but simply didn't know what ELSE to write: My mom was in the hospital. She'd been in the hospital since Friday. They didn't really know what was wrong and the tests were starting to creep up into the realm of OH SHIT. (At least according to ME. My mom was like, "whatever, I'm FINE.") And so I finally caved and figured that writing a blog entry telling the Internet about it was a slightly better use of my time than all the WebMD Googling I was doing, Dramablogging may be ill-advised at times, but my Internet browsing history was becoming a full-on experiment in terror, so I figured I better let it out. I only wrote four sentences because — as you may have surmised by all the past tense I'm using — that was when my mom called to report that the tests all came back normal and she was free to go home in just a few hours. Okay then! And so we can add this incident to my upcoming bestselling self-help book, tentatively titled "The Power of Bloggable... Read more →

Home Is Where He Isn't, Anymore

Near the end of the long (looooonnnng) (stupid rain) car ride up to Pennsylvania on Friday, we passed a billboard for my dad's cancer treatment center. The billboard immediately after it was for the apartment complex where my mom moved after he died. "Argh," I said. Trips back home are weird now. I mean, PA is not my "home" anymore, and hasn't been for 15 years now, and my parents sold my "real" childhood home a couple years before that. But now that he's gone it feels even farther removed. More different. More not the same, more never to be again. And yet despite everything feeling so different, his memory starts looming large almost as soon as we cross the state border. The Phillies stadium, where we went to all those games together. That church we went to for awhile. The other church we went to for awhile. The summer jobs he'd drop me off at, the movie theater where he and I would go see movies that were too violent for my mom. (All movies were too violent for my mom.) The restaurants we ate at, the car dealership that used to be over there and that store that... Read more →