Monday, July 30, 2012


A spider has moved into the side mirror of our microvan.  We first noticed her in early July when we were back from a long weekend in Kentucky.  The car hadn't moved for a 5 days and I guess it seemed like a decent spot for a web.  She's a smallish spider and we didn't really notice her until the car was moving and she was struggling to climb to the relative safety of the side mirror casing.  "Tough break," I thought, as T slowed the car to give her a chance to get settled, "Guess she's going to have to move."

Two weeks later, speeding northwest on the NJ turnpike on my way back from the annual, family vacation, my mom noticed that the spider was still there--after 500 miles, a week of salt air, and one trip to the garage for tire rotation.  Still there, whipping around on the end of a thread while trying to repair her wind-ravaged web.


My boss is encouraging me to apply for a developmental work assignment.  I told him that I'd think about it but that I felt like my plate was pretty full at the moment because I'd just volunteered to coach C's soccer team and needed to manage my workload.  And then his face scrunched up in that way that indicates confusion.  

There's no point in trying to explain it, is there?

You either understand how much effort it can take to just stay even or you don't.

It feels like a cheat because I talk about acceptance...a lot.  Maybe too much for some who are struggling to get their feet back.  Sometimes I wonder if my acceptance is even like anyone else's.  Is a dead baby and a living baby at the same time really that big of a pill to swallow?  How does 12 days of life stack up against a baby who never took a breath?  What if dying was probably the best thing that ever happened to R?  

And what about all of the other trials that life can throw at people?  Do I really understand anything at all?  I took a pretty intense series of kicks and punches from fate but I had a deep well of support and good fortune to help me recover.  Do I have the right to even use the word acceptance?

Have I really made it if I'm just standing in the shallow end, shoulders hunched, soft parts covered, neglecting personal growth and forward movement while I wait to fend off the next blow?


I don't really think that there's a right way or a wrong way to proceed after your baby dies.  I'm not even sure that I believe that you must proceed, depending on the circumstances.  The whole my-baby-died-and-I-became-a-villain or the baby-made-of-hope-that-grew-in-the-garden movie plot seems perfectly reasonable and inoffensive to me. Because, my baby died and, sure enough, I went a little nuts for a little while.  Maybe not steal-the-neighbors-baby or hijack-happy-person's-life nuts but, close enough that I could see the gates to those lifestyles on the horizon.  I'm sure that there are countless other things that could happen that might drive me around the bend.  There's no point in judging a thing that I can't understand.

A lot of beauty exists in the place where I used to feel R's absence but there are still dark corners full of details about her life and her death that I can't forget.  I  keep them at bay through constant vigilance.  Vigilance takes time that, naturally, I'd rather spend doing other things but then the whole house would collapse and, dang it, I just finished painting the rec room.


Not that I can even begin to understand the criteria that spiders apply to web location decisions or relate to them in any way at all given their over-supply of scuttling legs and weird, shiny eyes and the way they bite you on the pinky finger and make it swell to twice its natural size.  It seems like this spider is either extremely brave or stupid or unlucky or some combination of the three.

It's been about a month now.  Yesterday the spider dined on a tiny moth while we drove to the hardware store. T declared her to be the Evel Knievel of spiders and wondered if she has some sort of genetic anomaly that makes her more of a thrill-seeker or if she got tired of her humdrum life and decided to step out to the ledge.

Or maybe she's completely unaware that there are places to build webs that don't hurtle across the landscape at 80+ mph.

Or maybe she's unhappy with the situation but striving to make the most of it.

"I used to have a web in a quiet corner of the garage," she says to the tiny moth as she binds it down with sticky fibers, "You should have seen me back then, eating moths thrice your size."

The moth doesn't reply.  They never do once she's paralyzed them with venom.

"Bloom where you're planted.  Isn't that what they say?" says the spider, bracing herself as the car makes a left turn.

The moth has given up now. The spider feels a momentary pang of regret, having known struggle herself ever since she got stuck on the side of this car.  She sinks her fangs into the still form and drains it, surprised and somewhat happy to find that it's just as delicious as the moths of her golden years. She wishes that she'd been able to tell the moth how delicious it tasted and briefly wonders if there might be a way to eat moths without actually killing them.  But then she remembers that she's just a spider.  Even here, performing amazing acrobatics while stuck on the side of a car in a twist of bad luck, she's just a spider.

Monday, July 9, 2012


I've had the same sharpie marker on my desk for 7 years.

It's not terribly useful for my particular line of business but I keep it around for two particular purposes.  I use it to mark my file folders for projects that are finished and have been consigned to my forgetting-drawer and I use it to strike the days from my wall calendar.

Once upon a time I'd take the final moments of my Friday afternoon to strike through the entire weekend in the spirit of efficiency--FridaySaturdaySunday.  One less thing to take care of on Monday morning when, naturally I'd be back in the office because of-course-I'll-still-be-here-on-Monday-what-could-possibly-go-wrong-in-two-days-time?

Do I even need to say that I've changed my ways?  Does anyone who reads here take a single day/hour/minute/second for granted anymore?

My new world-view has imbued my sharpie with magical powers.  It is now the destroyer of time and instrument of doom.


We're rounding third on year five and proceeding to home plate.  For those of you with half a set of twins, you'll be familiar with the annual, double-penetration mind-fuck of the weeks leading up to your child's birthday.

I'm really not one to compare scars but, folks, their birthday (and its concomitant stew of joy, love, logistics, sadness, and regret) still makes me feel like I'm turning inside-out and transforming into a wild beast.  By the time C blows out the 7 candles on her cake (1 for R and 1 for good luck) I'll be ready to howl at the moon.


We took another road-trip to Kentucky to visit friends and family this year.  It wasn't the 2-week-long funeral/wedding extravaganza of 2011 but the trip wasn't completely devoid of drama.

On  the first leg of our trip we saw an overturned minivan and an abandoned car that burst into flames from the extreme heat.  As that insane, inland hurricane passed through West Virginia, we hurried off the elevated highway to take shelter in a Wendy's. Disasters small and large everywhere but we managed to emerge unscathed.

The night before our return trip, C and I went to bed early while T stayed up to talk with his mom.  I had a couple of books but C didn't want to read.  She wanted to talk about her birthday and how it was only 6 weeks away and all of the things she'd do once she turned 5 like chew gum and start kindergarten and all of the birthday party supplies that we could get once we got home from Kentucky.

Meanwhile, inside a nondescript, beige cubicle, deep in the bowels of a government office building in Philadelphia, an evil sharpie marker twitched to life.

I should probably be encouraged that, in spite of everything, C still trusts that the sun will rise and that the next few weeks will come off without a hitch but I have to admit that I slept very poorly that night.  I wasn't really crying but it was like my head was so filled with worry that it started to leak.  The tears caught in my hair as I stared at the ceiling and sent a silent warning to the fates, "Leave her alone.  She's just a kid.  She doesn't remember."


I'm just going to end this one by noting that my trusty macbook pro died at the end of May, precluding my participation in the 'right where i am' commenting bonanza.  I haven't even been able to maintain my normal schedule of spotty posting and delayed commenting and, rather than try to make up for lost time, I've decided to just cut bait.  Not that you're all sitting around waiting for me to eject nuggets of wisdom via blogger, but, I didn't tumble down the basement stairs to my untimely demise and I think I'm back to normal operations.

Now...on to August...