Memory Loss

I was busily IMing a colleague and fielding urgent phone calls when Carlton called me at work this morning. As I typed I said, “can I call you back? I’m in the middle of ten things” and hung up.

Twenty minutes later I had a break and I called him back. He’d sounded concerned before, or I might have forgotten. I asked, “what’s up?”

“Uh, happy anniversary?” he replied.


I met Carlton about 10 years ago. He was different from the other guys at that party. We started dating and I knew this was truly different.

Carlton is amazing. He can explain a very complex theory to anyone of any experience level and make them feel comfortable. He is a born leader and a wonderful friend. But the best thing- beyond his intelligence and wit- is the size of his heart.

On our first date, Carlton told the heroic tale of how he’d rescued his cat from abuse. I thought yeah, likely story, is this how you get girls? But it was all true. He also loved my dog from the start. She’s a willful little dog, very feminine-looking but scrappy in personality. Lots of guys are trying so hard to be macho that they won’t even pet my dog.

We both love to have guests, and Carlton is a great host- always putting the feelings of the guests before his own. He is charming and effusive and funny (even if I don’t think the jokes at my expense are funny!).

But what makes this an anniversary isn’t just Carlton…it’s both of us. We are a good team. Carlton joked that our best teamwork is when we divide tasks and go our separate ways, but it does work! He is the balance to my personality. I tend to run wild and he tempers my emotions with thoughtfulness. I temper his cautiousness with my desire to try new things and enjoy the unexpected.

Tonight is not much of a big celebration…I’m home alone with Ainsley. Carlton and I had both kind of forgotten about our anniversary so we had no plans, other than the usual Monday stuff of having friends visit after Ainsley’s bedtime. But we don’t need a big celebration.

So thank you, Carlton, for being there for me through meeting, not dating, dating, and then seven great years of marriage.

I love you!

Minimus Maximus


Carlton: “I’m going to go feed the cats.”

Me: “The caT?”

Carlton: /sheepish grin…”the catS.”

We’d been feeding a little stray cat for a few weeks.  He was painfully scrawny and had nearly identical markings to Mr. Kitty.  I had said, no WAY, no more animals.

Carlton’s big heart saw room for one more.  Thus Mini came into our lives.

We took him to the vet and discovered he had FIV, a death sentence.  Also, if he bit our other cat, they would both be infected.  So they had to be separated.

We named him Mini because he looked so similar to Mr. Kitty.  Mr. Kitty’s real name is Baja, so this guy was named mini-Baja, the name of Carlton’s annual college project.  Mini was a little version of Mr. Kitty in looks but not demeanor.  Mini was spunky.  I don’t know if it was genetics or his need to fight for survival but it was alwas part of him.  In fact, one of Carlton’s first memories of Mini-Baja was of rescuing him from the bushes and being bitten.

Mini bit me enough to draw blood, with no provocation.  He was confused and never knew how to give love.  I was pregnant and fearful that his bite would transfer some infection to the baby.  He lived in our bathroom-bedroom-closet suite for a long time.

We moved him downstairs to the windowless backroom after he’d bitten me too many times.  We would cuddle him twice a day.  We’d let him out on weekends, unless we had a houseguest who was afraid of being bitten.  I tried to let him be on the back porch but he was so emotionally riled by the end of the day, wanting to attack birds, that he couldn’t handle the stress.

I don’t want to say it…I love animals…but I wished he were gone more than once.  When he was happy, he’d trip me; when he didn’t want me to leave, he’d bite me.  I didn’t know how to love him and make him feel loved.

Mr. Kitty’s health is bad and he’s 10 years older than Mini.  I had this sad but happy vision of the day that Mr. Kitty dies, when Mini gets to have his run of the whole house, no worries of infecting another cat with FIV.  He would run free and happy in my vision, and never bite anyone out of confusion or frustration again.

Monday he was scampering around the family room, chasing a little fake mouse and batting it around.  Tuesday he was moving slowly.  Wednesday he was very slow.  Carlton and I held him in our arms and petted him- he never wanted to be held so we knew he needed love.  I scratched his ears.  Tonight he was dead.

Was Mini ever happy?  Some cruel person(s) left him outside with no care if he lived or died, and we took him in.  He had to be locked away from Mr. Kitty so he never had freedom.  He was even named Mini, the smaller name of the “main” cat.  I felt like he spent his whole life waiting to be fully loved.

We loved him and we did the best we could.

I love you, Minimus Maximus.

My Girls

I’ve posted before about my dog and her health problems. Her joints have degenerated and the surgeon says she’s too old for the risk of another surgery.

Sunny’s heart is still weakening and is in the last stages of failure.  She has good and bad days, good and bad weeks.  Toward the end of August we started talking about the potential of euthanasia, then Sunny bounced back to life.  I’m sad to say her seizures have returned full tilt this week. The seizures are so bad for her; she yowls in pain, loses all bodily control, and falls to the floor, her back arched and her tongue lolling out of her mouth.  Small seizures last a minute.  Large seizures last longer and she can’t move for at least ten minutes afterward.

But today among the sadness of yet another seizure, something good happened.  My daughter ran over to Sunny to comfort her.  While Sunny was still seizing, Ainsley laid her head close and rocked Sunny in her arms.  I snapped these pictures as Sunny was reviving and gaining muscle control.  Ainsley stayed with Sunny throughout the ordeal and never once pulled Sunny’s ears or tail.

Contrast these pictures with just one week ago.  This is the essence of Sunny: her little spirit beaming out as she bounds along.  She has always disliked children but has been very patient and tolerant with Ainsley. I feel that Sunny’s generosity with Ainsley has shown Ainsley how to respect her pets (she is also very sweet to the cats and VERY sweet to Silo).

Things are worsening and I know I’m going to have to say goodbye soon.  In the meantime, I’m so happy that I’m raising a little girl with so much compassion and that I live with a dog who has given so much love.

Oktoberfest 2008

This year’s ‘fest was much smaller in scale than previously. However we still had a great time. Homemade sauerkraut, carmelized onions, veggie and pork sausages, handcrafted brew. Great friends and good conversation. I love the picture of all the shoes at the door; it seems to say that everyone was relaxed and at ease.

Thoughts on Fourteen Months

I’ve been mostly posting on my lazy blog, so my apologies if you’re using Google Reader to keep up with me.

This month has been trying for our family. I have had the luxury of having a job with a lot of flexibility in my hours. Basically, I work until the job is done. Sometimes that means I leave the office at 3:00PM, then resume work at 8:00PM when Ainsley goes to bed. Sometimes I start work at 6:00AM, then pause at 8:00AM to take Ainsley next door and commute to the office. Sometimes I work through every one of her naps.

I’ve had it all. I’ve done most of the cooking and cleaning, but have allowed myself to give up on doing every single bit of housework (e.g. ironing) because I would rather pay someone to iron and spend more time with Ainsley and Carlton. When my wonderful friend Khyati lived with us, it was approaching nirvana: we shared the household duties and I could really enjoy the time with my daughter.

I’ve had a great marriage. My husband respects me and shares in the joy and difficulties our daughter has brought to our lives (mostly joy). He likes my cooking and has been very flexible around my work schedule.


This month, I managed a very large project at work, creating a conference for many people from around the world. I had lots of help from lots of great people but shouldered a lot myself. Carlton and I had discussed that this conference would take me away from home and he would be the sole parent and the sole housekeeper and be responsible for everything. Part of the difficulty is that with a young child, you can’t just wander in from work whenever you like, then stand in front of the fridge munching on whatever’s convenient. She’s depending on us for nutrition and for structure. Carlton and I both knew it would be busy; I even asked our housekeeper/cook/nanny/superwoman to come in for extra time to prepare meals and clean. But I was so absent it was ridiculous. It started about a week before the conference and I worked 10-16 hour days for a week and a weekend, then 16-20 hour days for a week. Let’s face it. I’m exhausted.

I arrived back into my normal life on Saturday. I was still living a surreal dream. Even as hard as my job is, it is so much easier than maintaining a household and family. There’s direct feedback from work and direct rewards. Plus, any effort I make is mine alone and I can feel a personal sense of pride. I was completely surrounded by the conference and felt very gratified by the results of my efforts. I wandered back into my old life and I saw how hard it was going to be. I felt totally out of place. Carlton and my sister had run a tight ship while I was gone. Every time I tried to do something, from laundry to cooking to playing with Ainsley, I was doing something that was out of step. I didn’t feel needed and to be honest I didn’t want to be there- like I said, work is easier. The lack of sleep and the physical/emotional rollercoaster finally got to me. I snapped.

I’m still not back to normal. I’ve lost my patience with my sweet daughter more than once, something I never did before. I am going through the motions of resuming my household chores. I’m realizing that I can’t have it all. I have to choose my career or my family.

It’s not a hard choice, is it? I choose my family. But I want to have a career too. It means I’m going to have to work twice as hard to maintain any sort of work-life balance. I’ll be shuttled out of my current role (a role designed to be temporary) and into a different role at some point. Can I strike a balance? I have to constantly step back and evaluate if I’m letting my family responsibility slip just because I enjoy my work. I will never get this time with my daughter back.

I’m going to take a moment to tell you that I’m not going to whine about gender roles. Nobody forced me to choose between my career and my family. I have a basic desire to run my household and be the support system for my husband and my daughter.

It says something that this post, designed to be about Ainsley’s milestone of being one year and two months old, is mostly about my job. I missed a few weeks of her life. It’s not as though she was sent to the gulag; she was with her aunt, some of her cousins, her grandparents, her father. But I don’t want to miss a few weeks at a time.

Ainsley has been growing. She says more words and has developed quite a spunky sense of humor (Amy says it serves me right). When I walk with her to the bathroom, she likes to close the door between us. She giggles and puts her plum on her head instead of eating it. She will give me any object I request… unless it’s a cookie, in which case she squeals and runs away. She hugs Sunny and Mr. Kitty and Silo and rocks them gently. She runs as fast as those little legs will carry her. She delights in playing with her friends and she concentrates on her work as well.

What’s next for us? I don’t know. I’m going to let Ainsley guide me on this one.

Would You Like Chips With That?

I’ve been under huge stress at work, and I’ve been leaning on everyone too much. I was working on a project only to find that someone threw away what I printed (even though I left them a message that I was printing it, and please don’t throw it away).

I’m stuck at work until at least eleven, if not midnight, as a result.

I made a political comment on a blog and got flamed. It hurts. All I wanted to do was start a discussion about viewpoints and it came out wrong. I even got flamed after I said I was sorry. I am a very sensitive person and I can’t take when people lash out at me.

I have barely seen my little girl this week, and next week will be worse. I’ve barely seen my husband and we miss each other.

So I went to the convenience store and bought a big jar of queso sauce. I ate the whole jar using tortilla chips, but mostly queso. Emotional eating, anyone?