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March 2004
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May 2004

Kira, the computer whiz

Today I was aimlessly browsing the online world. I know I’m supposed to claim to have been surfing, but let’s face it; surfing is much more deliberate and active. What I do when I get to poking about online resembles something more like a dust mote carried on an air current.
I headed over to the stupid grammar quiz. I was irritated with the grammar quiz because now two friends of mine have taken it and been declared Grammar Gods. Whilst *I* took it and was dubbed a Grammar Master.
Stupid quiz.
So I knew I must certainly be an actual God, not a Master, and decided to give it another shot. Sure enough, this time around the quiz recognized the obvious, that I am INDEED a Grammar God, take that John and Rich.
But, as I was looking at all the possible results, a strange popup appeared on my screen. I deleted it with my lightning fast popup deleting hate, but then odd things started happening. Then my virus detection program came up, alerting me that a Trojan had just infected my computer.
Well, it was swiftly quarantined and deleted, but then the program strongly urged me to scan all my files. Sounded reasonable to me, so I gave it an encouraging click to go ahead and do that.
Scan scan scan scan.
One infected file.
Scan scan scan scan.
I watched the file names flit by like some swift moving poem – music arcade lonely meter help.
I decided I didn’t like file name poetry.
I wondered how many files there could be on my computer and started trying to mentally convert giga into a number and bites into files.
I stopped doing that because I was confusing myself.
I became worried about the number of files that were being scanned. I worried that since I was still connected to the internet, my computer had decided it was the UN of the whole WWW and was out there, prowling the entire connected world for viruses.
I decided that probably wasn’t happening, but would make a great short story.
A weird looking screen popped up, instructing me to “Press Enter to continue.” – with a helpful picture of the Enter key.
I sadly decided that this would be the last screen I saw on my pretty computer, because it would shortly seize up, never to function again.
I started getting angry at the tech support people I was going to have to talk to.
Started planning my snippy responses to them.
I decided no, I’d call my brother Josh instead, because he’s so brilliant and just looooooves helping me out with stuff like this.
I remembered that Josh hasn’t said anything about how much he likes my new blog, and started getting mad at him.
Started planning my snippy responses to him.
And then – like magic – the scanning was over. One infected file, which a helpful little box advised me to delete. I did, and all was well.
Geez, I’m just so good at this computer stuff.

Wrong number 101

My parents have a phone number that seems to have come with an added extra feature of oddness. Since they first got this number four years ago, they have received more wrong number calls than ever before. At least twice a week someone calls, looking for someone else. Something weird about the wiring, I suppose. Since Mom and Dad aren’t here during the day, I answer their phone for them. This leaves me to deal with many of the errant calls. So after a while I’ve come to some conclusions about the way people react when they dial the wrong number. And here it is, Kira’s primer on how to respond to having reached the wrong number.

If you call and ask for “Chippy” and I respond politely that you must have the wrong number and you tell me with thinly disguised irritation that you meant “Chippy Anderson,” you need to accept that I am intelligent enough to know if there is any person by the name Chippy in my household. Have trust in your fellow human being. And get a friend with a real name.
If you are a man asking in a tremulous voice for “Jenny” or “Sue” or “Candy” and my response that you have the wrong number makes you fall silent for a moment, then apologize in a low tone, take heart. So one woman gave you a fake number – it doesn’t mean you’re a loser! And no, under no circumstances do I want to talk to you.
If you’re a woman and upon hearing my voice you snap that you want to talk to “Sam – NOW”, chill. When I tell you this isn’t his number, try dialing it again. DON’T hit redial seventeen times and hang up in a huff each time I answer. Good heavens, woman. If you’re that sure Sam’s a cheat, what are you doing calling him?
If you’re a child looking for your friend “Megan” and you get confused when she doesn’t turn out to live here, don’t give up and lay down the phone without hanging up. I don’t want to listen to you watching Sponge Bob. I have allllllll the Sponge Bob anyone needs in their life.
Whoever you are, if you get angry when I tell you that you have the wrong number, don’t snarl the number you had meant to dial at me. It’s just not my fault or an issue I need to spend another millisecond on. And don’t swear at me. Please, just apologize politely and hang up. After all, don’t you have some important road rage to get to?
And on the other end of the spectrum, it’s ok; it really is, if you somehow got connected with the wrong number. It doesn’t ruin my day or anything. After the third apology I start to get a touch annoyed. No, don’t then apologize for being annoying, please. Didn’t you just call for Jenny? Really, consider getting out more.
And everyone, please ascertain that the person you’d intended to call is the one actually answering the phone before beginning your conversation. I don’t ever need to answer the phone again to be greeted with, “Ok, so I puked again! And all I had this time was cottage cheese and grape juice. (pause) Anna?”
There, now. Don’t we all feel better?

Easter Joy

It snowed much of this weekend. Yes, I’m a little bitter about that. It started snowing Friday night and all day Saturday it snowed. Wet, heavy, sloppy, mean-hearted snow. *sigh*
It’s snowing again right now, as a matter of fact. But I can deal with it because this morning the sun came out.
Easter Sunday, and even the sky cooperated with the mood of the day. I love church on Easter. We belt out joyous anthems, and the routine of church takes on a vibrance. What we celebrate today, after all, is what it’s all about.
I stood in church today, peeking at my boys occasionally. They were irresistibly adorable in their new Easter clothes, but I was also wondering if they could feel the difference in the day. Did they sense the mood of those around them? Could they taste, just a bit, the joy that brought tears to the eyes of many in the congregation today?
The priest stood up after communion and raised his hands to emphasize his triumphant words.
“Jesus Christ is risen!”
And in the split second silence after he spoke, Raphael called out in a clear and happy voice, “An’ now ah get my candy!”
Ah well. Joy, I suppose, is still joy – for whatever reason.
Happy Easter everyone.

I guess I have to get used to thinking up titles now, huh?

Is this better? Oh, the fiddling that went on to get this font size! I hope everyone’s happy now. I have to admit, this is easier on the eyes. Ok, I swear I’m done talking about my new blog now. Really.
Oh, except to tell Linda that the color is called parchment, but I think of it as more of a latte. Don’t you think?
Also, anyone who is wondering what Shelley was talking about can - no MUST - go find out for themselves. Click here to solve the mystery. Shelley, I'm pleased as punch to have been the first.
Ok, NOW I'm done.
Max has recently acquired a new fixation. He likes to unscrew all the zillion tiny screw that hold the switch plates in place around the light switches. Yesterday I kept finding switch plates set off to the side, along with a little pile of screws. We had a little talk about where you do and don’t put your screwdriver when removing switch plates, and I requested that he replace them all when he was done.
I should have known better than to expect a mere request to compel him to do something as tedious as replace a zillion tiny screws. Mom came home from work and went downstairs to discover the minor disassembly of her light switch. Max happened to be downstairs, watching TV at the time.
“What happened here?” she asked. Max shrugged. “Did Tre take this off?” This was a pretty good guess, as Tre is the one with the tools Max borrowed for this project. He gave another shrug. “Do you know who did this?” Max, who had spent much of his day on this project, shook his head and looked puzzled with her for a moment, then went back to watching Lilo and Stitch.
Why does that child do the things he does? I marvel.
Raphael is in the process of potty training. Now, this is my third child to go through this process and I still couldn’t tell you how it happens. Basically my approach is this: I follow him around and whisk him off to the potty any time he looks like he might need it. I fret and carry changes of clothes with me. And I fuss at Mom about not knowing the best way to approach this.
“You know,” she remarked, “you could read that book I got you. The one on potty training.”
I looked at her blankly for a moment.
“Yeah, I suppose I could. Excuse me.” And I went off to usher Raphael off to the potty again. I think I heard Mom muttering something about not understanding why I do the things I do. Whatever.
Finally, allow me to finish up here with a parental brag. Tre has finally mastered the times tables. He can give you the answers to any of the 1 – 10 times tables without even stopping to think about it. This makes him officially smarter than me. I couldn’t be prouder.

lessons learned

One morning when I was 22, Easter morning actually, I was in a car accident. It was apparently my fault, but I got a solid whack on the head and don’t remember the moments right before it happened. This is what I do remember.
The steering wheel wrenched out of my hands and spun hot under my palms. The horizon dipped and tilted and I grabbed the wheel and twisted it hard to the right as my car arced up through the air to the left. I stomped on the brakes, fighting for control over wheels that no longer touched the road. As the ground pivoted all the way around and I saw it coming back toward me, above me, I thought, I’m going to die. I can’t die; I haven’t finished reading that book.
Then there was the smash of landing, hood down on the road. Metal screamed against blacktop and the air shimmered with shards of broken glass. Everything shuddered to a stop and I realized I was still stomping on the brakes. Trying to, but my foot didn’t quite reach the pedal because I was hanging upside down by my seatbelt. I fumbled for the latch, but my weight against the belt made the button too hard to press. A man’s face appeared at my window. “Are you ok?” I looked at him for a moment, then realized my skirt was hanging down and clapped my hands to my knees to hold it in place. I nodded, embarrassed. “I saw it happen,” he stammered, “you just went up in the air…I’ll go call someone.”
“Wait!” The thought of him leaving me there panicked me. “I’m stuck! I mean, my seat belt! I can’t undo it!”
“I think I should call 911 first or something, I mean, you shouldn’t move, right?”
I was thrashing against the belt now, kicking and twisting in an effort to get loose. I wanted out.
“Please! I can’t undo it! Get me out!”
He looked worried, but reached in and lifted me at the waist with one arm. Then with the other he reached over and released the latch. The belt snapped free and I half-fell, half crawled out the window.
I stood there, blinking shards of glass out of my eyes, looking at my car and the car I hit, trying unsuccessfully to believe what had just happened.
I had to be observed for 24 hours because of the concussion. For days and days I found slivers of glass, pricking my fingers as I ran them through my hair, wedged between my watch and strap. I would reach down to scratch my knee and dislodge a bit that had embedded in my skin as I crawled out.
Eventually I was back to normal. I even went back to driving after a week. I seemed fine, until about three weeks after I’d started driving again. I was borrowing a friend’s car (awfully trusting of him, come to think of it), and on my way home from work someone rear ended me. Now, he was driving a Rabbit and I was driving a Ford Galaxy 500, so you understand who suffered damage. I got out, calmly exchanged information. It seems there was a cop there, I’m not sure. Then I got back in the car and started hyperventilating.
I sobbed and inched my way home, then called a friend to come look at the car. He came over and checked it out, declaring the extent of the damage to be a clean spot on my bumper. Then he suggested we go have dinner. I said fine, but then he tossed me the keys.
“Look, you have to drive. You can’t live a normal life if you’re too afraid to get behind the wheel ever again.”
This went on for some time. Finally I climbed in and started the car. I approached the exit to the street, then made a left turn and drove a lap around the parking lot. He patted my shoulder, and I headed for the exit again.
And turned before I got there.
By the fourth lap around the parking lot, he told me to pull over.
“Look, I know it’s scary –“
“You don’t know! I don’t even know how it happened! How do I know it won’t happen again? I could kill someone!”
“You’re right. I don’t know what could happen. But I promise you this: The reasons to get out there are better than the fears keeping you here.”

Lately I’ve been thinking about that day a lot. He was right – even though that didn’t end up being my last car accident. The reasons to go were better than the fears. So why this memory, now?
I don’t write here about the details of my divorce. It doesn’t matter, because the truth is that I don’t know why. One moment life was one thing and a split second later everything had changed. It was as bewildering as trying to steer wheels that don’t touch the ground. And for days and months and years after I continued to find shards of that loss.
Sometimes events remind me of how that felt. The upcoming meeting with my ex (which was rescheduled for April 28) is one of those events. It’s looming now, and I find myself tightening up, closing down.
But I fight it. I try to remember: The reasons to go on are better than the fears that would hold me here.

I’d like to respond to

I’d like to respond to a few comments over the last week (good week for comments). First of all, Heather points out that I was supposed to admit she was right and I was wrong. Yet again, she is right and I…well, you get it. So in case there was any doubt, let me announce here publicly before literally…dozens of readers, Heather was right on March 23, 2004 and I was wrong. I was whiny and being a big baby and I don’t know why she puts up with me at all.
Moving on, Josh put this cryptic little comment in; “Yeah, YOU never threw rocks at anyone as a child, now DID you, Ki?” Oh, *cringe*. Ok, here’s that story. When I was about eleven and Josh was about thirteen or so, we were hanging out outside the Catholic school my dad taught at. It was bingo night or something, I dunno. Anyhow, the girl I was hanging out with, Deana, and I were hiding behind things and spying on Josh. Why? Because he was my older brother and we were bored and who knows why kids do anything. Anyhow. Josh was onto our spying, which was awfully annoying to us. Big brothers, I swear. Somehow at that point our innocent game morphed into the sport of throwing rocks at the brother. Now, in my defense, I mostly threw them at his feet. And the one that struck him in the back of the head? Deana threw that one.
But when I saw him clutching his head, with his t-shirt plastered to his back with blood, the fact that I hadn’t thrown that exact rock didn’t comfort me much. What I thought was, “I’ve killed my brother.” I had nightmares for years featuring that picture.
So, Josh, what that means is that when I give lectures about rock throwing, I know whereof I speak. No fair bringing up ancient history to make loved ones feel guilty. Remember that, oh dropper of sons in the ocean.
Mark, you’re welcome to steal any phrases you like of mine. I don’t know why someone who wrote, “The first year’s quarter was to catch your breath, the second to stretch your powers. Change calendars today and soon the clock will snip an hour from sleep” would want me writing his material. I do have to warn you that as a man who has no children, it may sound…different when you say, “I wanted another baby with wild-eyed determination.” But hey, have at it.
Finally Toni and Angela, who kindly nudged me toward submitting things…aw, shucks. Thanks for the encouragement; it means more to me than you know. I’m working on it, I really am. But not as hard as I should. I need all the kicks in the pants I can get.
Everyone who’s commented or emailed me, I have to tell you how much I appreciate the feedback. It’s interesting to me that I never know which entries are going to get the most comments. But whenever you do leave comments, I just love it. During the day I check in shamelessly to see if anyone had anything to say, and when you do I just glow.
Smooooches, all.

I went to see the

I went to see the chiropractor today. I’ve been in far too many car accidents in my life (not ALL of them my fault, I’ll have you know), and so owe my sanity to Dr. Michelle. She’s pregnant with her second child right now, and just amazingly adorable. If Disney made a pregnant character she would look like Dr. Michelle. She has a tidy little basketball of a tummy, and she fairly glows. This despite the fact that she’s just started her third trimester. If she wasn’t so sweet I’d have to hate her.
Anyhow, she was telling me how smooth this pregnancy has been. She feels great and has hardly been sick. I guess she was discussing with a colleague recently the idea that there is a lot of emotional transference between unborn baby and mom – accounting for some of the differences in pregnancies. When she first said that, I started to discount it as crunch granola chiropractor notions. But the more we talked about it the more I started to wonder if there might not be something to that.
When I was pregnant with Tre I was physically pretty much ok. Sick in the beginning, sure, but other than that I was fine. My emotions on the other hand were wild. I remember watching ER one night while my husband was at work. On the show a teenaged girl had smashed up her dad’s car and was fretting over his reaction while her leg was stitched up. I called my husband at work, hysterical. It took him a while to figure out what I was crying about, but what it boiled down to was this; this baby was going to grow up! And DRIVE!
He did his best to comfort me, but really what can you say? And I was forever falling apart over things like that. The day we brought the baby swing home I sat in the living room and cried for hours, because now we owned baby furniture. And we would have some sort of furniture for this child in our house for the next 18 years! Because our lives were changing forever! I called my mom and wept, “What if I screw up with this baby?” Her response, by the way, was a comforting, “Oh…you will. We all do.”
Now I look at Tre and he’s pretty healthy, but he does have the tendency to…stress. He can react to things with an intensity that’s bewildering at times.
Then Max. His gestation should have been the easiest. I was very careful to get ready for him. I ate right for months ahead of time, and I wanted another baby with a wild-eyed determination.
Oh my, was that a rough pregnancy. Not only physically, but mentally and emotionally. I just was swept under. I remember looking out, through the fog of wherever I was, at the people around me. I knew I wasn’t participating fully in conversations, I knew I was hardly there. There was not a thing I could do to keep up with life.
And Max is a complex, deep little soul. I just never know what he’s going to say. I don’t think he knows half the time.
Raphael’s pregnancy should have been difficult. I wasn’t prepared physically or emotionally. But it was fairly easy. Comparatively. I mean, we are talking about building a living human being here. It’s never easy, exactly. But I felt better than I ever had when pregnant. I only threw up once in the whole pregnancy (unless you count labor…I don’t count labor). That was amazing to me. And although I was tired and overwhelmed at times – I mean, it was my third kid – for the most part I felt pretty stable. Sturdy, even.
And here’s my bulldozer Raphael. He’s not what I’d describe as an easy child, but he’s straightforward.
So if it’s true, and there is some exchange of emotions during pregnancy, here’s what I wonder; did I form them with my moods into the babies they were born as, or did the babies they already were form my moods while they grew?
What about you? Were your pregnancies indicative of who your children were? I’m assuming that if you’ve read this far it’s because you’re a mom. Once you’ve been an incubator for a human the subject is inordinately fascinating, isn’t it? Let me know what you think. I’d love to hear your experiences.