Thursday, July 12, 2018

Someone else's bad day

A year ago, I walked into my supervisor's office knowing full well that the conversation would not be a good one. The month prior, as my colleagues around me received news about promotions or transitions, my requests for meetings had been met with silence. It was when one of my coworkers texted me about an urgent coffee meeting, alerting me that I no longer had access to an upcoming course's class website that I connected the dots about my contract not being renewed. The meeting with my supervisor confirmed my fears.

Over the next few months, I would learn how badly my situation was being handled, with those higher up in admin confessing that all of this was not only handled poorly but in a manner that made them worried about a potential lawsuit. On my end, I was determined to exit with grace and as many good reviews as possible, much to the shock of many of the professors and administrators I worked with (hence some of the candid confessions). It was hard to be the pariah walking those hallways, fighting to complete my work to a standard I would be proud of when others were actively avoiding me. But given I was the one with the paper trail for cause, there wasn't much that could be done as I prepared for unemployment.

This past week has been a hard one because today is the day that my new place of employment is firing one of our team members. The situation is entirely different as there is SO MUCH documentation about this employee, including action plans for discipline and documentation of clear goals/expectations not being met. Basically an open-and-shut case for HR. Yet it's been damn hard given my own experience and mistreatment, leaving me wanting to curl up into a small ball as even though it is the right decision for this organization; it's just going to suck.

Last night Grey and I had a long conversation about all of this, tying in with some news on his end. While in Boston, he had lunch with one of his former supervisors (who we call rockstar midwest guy) and learned about the drastic changes that happened when he announced he was quitting after they failed to hire him on permanently due to one asshole supervisor. That basically everything on the project of this asshole supervisor continued to fail, with her blaming others and firing people to cover her butt. That when the team finally decided to take Grey's advice and implement the plan from rockstar midwest guy that everything not only worked, but worked better than anyone anticipated. That rockstar midwest guy is also successfully shopping another device Grey created with him and word is getting around. And that finally the other member of this team was permanently hired after Grey's supervisors freaked out and declared they couldn't loss anymore people from a team that was getting things done. That it basically took him leaving for all this amazing change to happen.

Reflecting on all of this last night, I remembered that too often people stay in situations that aren't working. Whether it's a job, a career trek, a relationship or even roads to family expansion, often we stay because the unknown terrifies us and we are determined to find a way to overcome. But sometimes, the best solution is to cut our losses or be kicked out of the nest. The freedom from having the choice in continuing down a toxic path allows us to find new roads and grow in ways that can lead to opportunities and experiences we never imaged.

A year ago, I was miserable. I was teaching a summer course and gearing up to teach another class all in a manner that I deeply believe doesn't work. I didn't see a path forward and was going through the motions under the guise that it was just a matter of getting others to see my viewpoints. The moment I learned my contract wasn't going to be renewed, I started taking chances that I didn't consider before, giving me connections and opportunities that have lead me to this current position that basically was created while I was in the interview for another one.

Looking at my team now, we have so much we need to do before the school year starts. Reagents to prepare, curriculum to update, an event to finish planning not to mention social media to get off the ground. All of which has been stalled by this current person and creating a lot of frustration, meaning it's not a good fit. But all of it is something that I am excited to be a part of as it meets a goal and mission I believe in and have long sought. And it's a team I not only enjoy working with but also believe has a shared mindset.

Today is going to be someone else's bad day. There will be tears, anxiety, anger and even some hatred. But my hope is that this low is the beginning of a new chapter for this person, leading them to things they could not have imagined. Just as it was for me.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

All the things

It's only Wednesday. That's the only thing I could think of while laying in bed this morning, willing myself to get up and prepared for the day. It's only Wednesday and yet the amount of things that have happened make me want to crawl back under the covers.

Like the fact that Grey is currently back in Boston for work, doing a full-week of training for a new product from his company. The emotions surrounding having him literally doors away from former colleagues and walking the pavement where so much crap happened has been a lot for both of us.

There's also the doctor's visit the Beats had yesterday that resulted in mixed news. She-Beat's hearing is excellent and her surgery from May has resulted in her making huge gains in speech, behavior and healing. She graduated from ENT yesterday. All while we learned that He-Beat hasn't healed from the ear tube removal surgery, resulting in him having some hearing loss and the fact that he is struggling more with behavior. Basically the surgery he is having in September for resolving sleep apnea is also needed to put new patches on the holes in his ear drums, making it from needed to urgently needed.

Then there's this new lyric video from Death Cab for Cutie that made me cry. I know the intersection Ben Gibbard is standing in and there are so many memories from walking those streets, including the costume shop where Grey rented his tuxedo for our wedding. All being destroyed for condos. It's hard not to feel lost when something that was so loved is coming to ruin around you, changing into something else. Death Cab says it better than I ever could.

There's also been drama at work, consisting of a 3 hour meeting on Monday where we discussed potentially letting go of someone on the team. I was in a complete panic for the rest of the night, even though it's not me that under this lens, because this decision directly impacts someone's life and I know intimately what that impact can look like.

Finally, there's the fact the Beats are turning 5 years old at the end of the month. Both extremely excited about the prospect of all that comes with this milestone. Flipping through old photos, I've managed to trigger myself a few times from memories of NICU. How insanely fucking hard that experience was, feeling like a failure to both of them and spending so many time since trying to make up for that failure. Yet somehow, they are thriving; a testament to each of them and how amazing they both are. 

In short all the things and all the feels that come with those things.

And it's only Wednesday.

Monday, July 9, 2018

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Beginning of the bike chapter

For the past 3 years, Grey and I have talked about bikes for the Beats. Given how important biking is to Grey (and I enjoy it myself), this activity seemed like given when we started talking about expanding our family. The unforeseen hurdles we faced, though, stopped us dead in our tracks for proceeding with getting these two their own set of wheels. First being the financial expense, with recommended bikes running close to $400 each, combined with an issue of storage not to mention an area to practice. Despite our desire, we were struggling just to get Grey back on his bike making this goal for the Beats seem impossible.

Last month, that started to change. First with moving to the Bay Area, where bike culture borders on cult-like, we easily found quality bike shops that weren’t limited to the upper-middle class. With a lot of pushing and nagging reassurance and promise to make time, Grey finally got his bike out of the moving box it's been in for the past 3 years, got it tuned up and found a trail system he enjoys.

But the ultimate push came with seeing both Beats standing on their tip-toes, watching the neighborhood kids through their bedroom windows as they would zip along the green space on their bikes. The scene was like a thousand knives to my heart, with me hitting a tipping point this past weekend.

On Tuesday, following a morning of curriculum evaluation, I ventured across town to an organization called HopeBIKES, an organization that not only refurbishes used bikes but also offers employment and training to those with developmental disabilities. Upon walking in the door, I spotted exactly what I was looking for and within 30 minutes I was heading home with the below and some helmets, total damage being ~$140, complete with a plan for how we would be spending our Fourth of July holiday.

None of this has been perfect. Grey has been insanely busy with work, getting ready for 3 weeks of extensive travel for a new product his company is launching, meaning not only has he not been able to be involved with this process, but he also had zero clue what I was doing Tuesday. In addition, the original plan of removing the pedals, turning these into balance bikes, was thwarted when I learned that the seats couldn't be lowered enough for the Beats to get their feet flat on the ground. This meant installing training wheels for their first day of riding (the ultimate failure for anyone who subscribes to bike culture). And space is still an issue, with it becoming apparent that the 4 moving boxes, including the one containing my bike, in the living room I've been ignoring can't be ignored any longer.

Despite the pain and fighting from training wheel installation, yesterday was spent with two almost 5 year olds pedaling around the park, insisting on more and more laps even though it was getting late. And at the end of the day, when they saw the older kids biking around the green space, they talked excitedly about joining in instead of looking on with longing.

To be determined if any of this is considered a win. But suddenly one dream of getting these two on bike trails doesn't seem so far away.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

The outsiders

On Saturday, in an effort to beat the heat, Grey and I contacted our apartment complex manager and asked for access to the pool. The property has purchased by the current management company a little over a year ago, resulting in everything being renovated from the interiors of each unit to the grounds and the common areas. Due to this the pools haven't been available until recently, and with temperatures reach to the 90s Fahrenheit (30s Celsius) access has been almost a requirement.

For a little over an hour we had the pool to ourselves, with the Beats splashing around, Grey and me getting in a couple of laps and all of us cooling off. But during that time, I noticed that most of the neighbor kids were peeking out at us, looking at this family they both didn't know and didn't trust.

It's been a weird experience to move into a complex that is actively undergoing transition. Those moving in that look like working professionals do well with Grey and me, but winning over those that have resided here prior to new management has been a bit of a struggle. To date I am on friendly terms with at least two families that have resided here for close to 20 years, with them helping me relearn Spanish (English is their second language) and slowing coming to trust Grey and me. But other neighbors still see us as outsiders who are threatening their previous way of life. Between porch piracy (which we've now resolved with getting packages delivered to Grey's work), some minor vandalism (resolved by installing a security camera), some intrusion onto our designated parking spaces (resolved following asking people to move, which has left them dumbfounded) to simply using the green-space in the evenings, it's become clear that some here don't want us.

The hard thing about all of this is I get where they are coming from. Grey and I are part of a wave of change that is happening, marking a change in life for some of these residents. But what isn't talked about openly is that though we may be seen as the problem, the truth is those that are driving forces purposefully have remained removed and invisible. And they don't like it one bit when I draw attention to them.

The bee hive incident is something the neighbors still talk about, giving those that don't want us here pause. Apparently many have never seen such a rapid response from management to a situation that was impacting their homes and I'm starting to have some neighbors approach me with questions about other maintenance issues (like not having running water). In addition, due to my continued conversations with these two families, word is getting around about the work I do. To say there's curiosity is an understatement.

Given all of this, there's currently an element of frustration with home. Grey and I always intended this space to be transitional; a West Coast landing zone. That said, my new-found goal is to win a few more of my neighbors over, hopefully breaking some of the misconceptions about white Americans while opening the lines of communication. It's too important not to try.

Monday, July 2, 2018

Friday, June 29, 2018

Another round

On Wednesday, I picked He-Beat up early from school and took him in to see She-Beat's sleep doctor. Following She-Beat's diagnosis for sleep apnea and immediate improvement post-surgery, the sleep doctor recommended scheduling an appointment for He-Beat to have him assessed. Walking in, I assumed this would be a fast appointment where I was told there was nothing to worry about. Sure, the kid's tonsils had been swollen, he also sweats while he sleeps and there's been some increasing behavior issues, but he doesn't snore and never wakes up at night (though getting him to sleep is a challenge). I really thought none of it would be related.

I was right that it would be a fast appointment. What I wasn't prepared for was the same diagnosis, followed by the doctor looking in my mouth and nose, declaring that it's extremely likely I have the same condition too.

Normally, I would be fighting all of this. Surgery is not trivial and this one has a long recovery time. There's also the fact that medicine has too many cases of doctors diagnosing conditions solely to make money.

But this past week has been extremely eye-opening. Not only watching He-Beat struggle on the soccer field, having harder days as allergies flared, and seeing him struggle with social interactions while doing something he clearly loves (and having the coaches pull me aside to encourage me to bring him back as they love his energy and desire). It was also hearing reports from school about She-Beat and what an angel she has been: following directions, socializing well with others, being generally sweet and compliant. Furthermore was watching her initiate social interactions on the playground and actually defusing a fight in another group by asking a little girl to come join her on the swings, something I never would have dreamed of hearing 2 months ago when she was struggling to communicate her frustrations (still working on it, truthfully) and wasn't really interacting with others.

Color me fully shocked to have other parents complimenting me on her behavior

To date, almost all She-Beats teachers have been convinced about sleep apnea and behavior. (never mind brain function)  So when I mentioned He-Beat was given the same diagnosis, they didn't hesitate to ask when his surgery would be scheduled. Hell, they've become hinting at having other children who struggle to be assessed, fueled by parents who have also been raving about the benefits.

Surgery is scheduled for September 13th. The soonest I could get given that this doctor is fully booked (he's well rated). The only person who has reservations is Grey, who is wanting to make sure we're being prudent.

Honestly, though, I'm done. After watching He-Beat have a good morning, needing extra guidance from coaches modeling how to play (and being very proud of the good outcome) only to hear he was rough with another child at school, I'm ready to get this over with. Two-week recovery and all.

Hell, I'm tempted to have them take my tonsils and adenoids too.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Thoughts from the soccer field

Pulling up to the field 30 minutes early, I unbuckled He-Beat and handed him the pink box that was occupying the front passenger seat. Looking at me a bit sheepishly, he proceeded to walk/run over to the coaches tent, slowing slightly with his approach as 8 curious teenagers eyed him.

"We come with a peace offering" I announced as he handed his coach from the day before the box. A quick conversation happened where I thanked them all for their hard work before grabbing He-Beat so we could leave this group in peace with this well-deserved snack.

Almost 90 mins later the head coach for the program would find me to chat some more about our email exchange. We talked about what he had been seeing and the fact that He-Beat is actually falling within the normal range for behaviors expected from beginning soccer players. He would then ask what I did for a living given how our email exchange had gone down combined with the pink-box incident in the morning. Our conversations would weave and dip through education, parent involvement and how difficult it is to be a teacher of any sort in the modern era. Of how though most do this work because they are answering a higher calling, it can often feel thankless or unappreciated.

Watching He-Beat today, seeing him do better but knowing there's still much to learn, I though more about how often we don't focus on allowing our kids to fail. Team sports and activities seen as extra curricular are often seen as secondary to what is traditionally tested on standard exams. And yet, those that excel don't make them secondary. The things that feed their souls are incorporated into their daily routines, becoming a part of their work by incorporating the skills they learn. But in order to master that, they have to be allowed to fail. Something that can be incredibly painful to watch.

Practiced ended with another very tired He-Beat who was once again begging not to go to school. He also waved good-bye to another little boy, which I consider a big step in the right direction, with a promise to see him tomorrow. So today I'm counting as a mini-win, accepting that there will be more hard days in the future but that it's none-the-less important to continue down this road. If for no other reason than to see that delighted smile on his face again.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

The normalizing

One of the things Grey and I promised each other back in January when we learned we were relocating to the Bay Area was we would start doing things normal people do. An odd statement given that "normal" can mean so many things, but after spending 4 years in crippling debt and somewhat stressful living situations, our normal had become defined as engaging in hobbies and extra-curricular activities.

To date, we've been somewhat successful. She-Beat is currently enrolled in a beginning ballet course, which she is both loving and doing very well at (the instructor has moved her up to the next level). After a month of massive bargaining and lots of reassurance, Grey finally got his bike out of the moving box from 3 years ago, had it reassembled & repaired and has started doing weekend rides along the local trails.

Two wins.

Which is why this week has been especially hard as after a lot of research and me shifting my work schedule, I enrolled He-Beat into a week-long morning soccer camp. And though day 1 seemed to go well, day 2 ended with him in tears and me pulling him from the rest of the morning session for the day.

I've been beating myself up all day since I dropped He-Beat back at school after the emotional morning. There's been so much focus on She-Beat over the past few months, all of which has been paying off as she's been making huge gains that have impressed even her teachers. But I know that with the focus on She-Beat, less focus has been on He-Beat. And the whole point of soccer camp was to give him something special that other kids his age tend to be involved in a way that is almost a given.

Hence I feel like not only have I failed at not properly preparing him, but we're actually souring him. Which sucks all the more as swimming lessons are also on the agenda this summer.

I'm hoping the coaches will respond to my email before tomorrow, because I honestly need advice on how to proceed tomorrow. How can I help this kid understand the importance of sharing the ball with others, waiting his turn and that the goal of practice play is to work with his team? Or am I asking too much from a not-yet 5 year old?

Monday, June 25, 2018

#MicroblogMondays: One before the four

Not sure what #MicroblogMondays is? Read the inaugural post which explains the idea and how you can participate too.

Note: I'm overdue for a proper post, but this will have to do for today. More soon on life, I promise.

Fourteen years ago today, Grey, Lucas and I started our day by chasing Jaxson. In the midst of final preparations for the wedding later that day, we had neglected to lock Jaxson away in our bedroom while loading materials into the awaiting cars. As this 1 year old tuxedo cat sprinted from the apartment, he decided to turn left instead of the usual right, climbing the exterior stairs and settling in to watch three crazed 20-somethings taking the usual right turn and tearing down the walkways in hopes of catching him. All witnessed with much delight by my soon to be FIL.

This morning, as I dropped the Beats off at school, I told them about why today was special to our family. Contemplating this information, He-Beat looked at me and said "Fourteen. That's a one before the four." A seemingly simple observation that I feel has a deeper meaning. Because before the one before the four there is almost a quarter of a lifetime's worth of memories, crazy stories that bring about belly laughs and moments that still bring tears to my eyes. There's been journeys most never would have imagined taking, failures that broke us both and closed chapters that have far from happen endings. But there's also been joy and happiness that I never could have imagined finding, moments that have defined us both as individuals as well as a family.

Fourteen years later, Jaxson hasn't tired to escape. He's got a good deal with the guys next door that he doesn't want to miss out on. But the memory of that moment, though stressful at the time, has become a cherished one. Because fourteen years ago today, Grey and I formalized our family for all the world to witness. Including one devilish cat who still finds joy in messing with the humans.


Monday, June 18, 2018

#MicroblogMondays: The Ohlone Creation Myth

Not sure what #MicroblogMondays is? Read the inaugural post which explains the idea and how you can participate too.

"All water has a perfect memory and is forever trying to get back to where it was. Writers are like that: remembering where we were, that valley we ran through, what the banks were like, the light that was there and the route back to our original place. It is emotional memory - what the nerves and the skin remember as well as how it appeared. And a rush of imagination is our "flooding"

~Toni Morrison. Full quote here

Monday, June 11, 2018

#MicroblogMondays: Busy

Not sure what #MicroblogMondays is? Read the inaugural post which explains the idea and how you can participate too.

I have a love-hate relationship with being busy. On the one hand, there's the thrill that comes with having something to do that not only gets me out of bed in the morning, but also makes the hours of the day fly by. This aspect of being productive and working towards a goal is one I absolutely love.

The hate part comes with pushing self-care to the back burner and finding myself pulling away from things that brought me solace. This blog being the first thing to take a hit each and every single time.

So I'm promising to try and be mindful about this space more. Because even though things are coming together, with Grey's travel looming on top of summer camps and activities for the Beats on the horizon as well as finalization for Kindergarten placement (we're fairly confident they will be attending their homeschool, meaning they will already be signed up for aftercare) and me getting into the swing of things with work, there's also a need for balance and finding a way to write here. 

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

The new crossroads

The morning session started in an informal way, with people chatting and still grabbing caffeine as the Keynote speaker began. Finishing my introductions to people who are curious and confused as to who I was, I turned to listed to the keynote talk about the history of science education in the US, what initiatives had previously been done to bring us where we were today and the hopes for the future.

Yesterday was Day 2 for me at my new position. Figuring out the commute has caused a lot more stress than anticipated (as it always does) and there's already been a lot thrown at me that I'm rapidly working on figuring out. But sitting in that room, surrounded by others who share my passion for promoting science education, I found myself feeling more at home than I have in a long time.

Almost a year ago, my world would implode when I learned my contract wasn't going to be renewed. But the truth is I was extremely unhappy in the position, helping others promote a way of teaching I don't believe in while suffering in an environment that felt limiting. Losing my contract ripped out a safety net I thought I needed, forcing me to think outside the box and take risks I wouldn't have considered. A new crossroads that I didn't think I was prepared for and yet I didn't have a choice to not face. And those risks have been insanely rewarding, pushing me to truly think about how I wanted to teach and who I wanted my audience to be as well as who I actual want to be working with. Introducing me to people and mentors I wouldn't have considered if not forced outside my comfort zone.

Yesterday was an informal marking of the completion of that transition. It's been over a year of scrambling, putting myself out there and meeting more rejections and "no"s than I ever felt possible. There are so many moments where I felt I had hit bottom and wanted to quit. And yet, being in that room, I knew that the journey was worth it. The work ahead so exciting and the potential keeping me awake when thinking of the possibilities.

The future is still uncertain. I'm currently on contract, working part-time and acutely aware that I'm in a trial period. There's also a situation I wasn't prepared for that I'm now navigating. But looking back to where I was a year ago and seeing the road ahead, I'm grateful for the wake-up call. Even though it was unfair, terribly handled and extremely scary at the time.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Slowing down

Last Monday, following a week of battling a sore throat and fatigue, I decided to chance a trip into Urgent Care. Sitting in the waiting room, multitasking on things that needed to be completed, I found myself second-guessing my decision to waste 2 hours waiting in line. After all, I couldn't be that sick.

2 hours later, sitting in an exam room, the attending physician walked in holding the results from my fast strep test, sat across from me and asked me what I was doing to take better care of myself. A bit shocked, I muttered something about She-Beat's surgery and He-Beat being out of sorts (kid would later be diagnosed with tonsillitis, but cleared from strep). Shaking her head, she announced that those weren't good answers, at which point I asked her "it's positive, isn't it?"

"Fastest result we've gotten all weekend," she answered.

With that, I was sent home with a prescription for antibiotics and a doctor's note instructing all involved to make me take it easy. Grey's been loving having this new-found power.

I've been struggling with slowing down. Despite having a new position that starts next week and a few other irons in the fire, there's an ongoing fear that if I relax and become too comfortable that I'll find myself once again unprepared for a job transition. A big part of this was finding myself blind-sided with my contract not being renewed (despite it actually being a good thing as I was fairly miserable in that position). The other part is all the work it's taken to get to the point I'm at now with connections and potential opportunities. The idea of letting up isn't something I'm close to comfortable with.

The problem is, though, that I'm rapidly hitting burn-out from the never ending marathon. When most learn that we've arrive to the area about 2 months ago, they express shock that Grey and I are seemingly functioning at the level we are. Part of it has been lucking out with certain aspects (the new preschool being a major one), but there's also been a lot of pushing on Grey and my end. And our bodies and health are showing it, with us both losing track of how often we've been sick, fighting a cold or a fever, pushing through moments where curling up on the couch is what we want most. And though it is possible to do this pushing for awhile, it's also not uncommon to hit the wall if moments to rest are ignored.

So this week, I'm forcing myself to slow down for at least part of the day. Which is actually insanely hard to do given the guilt I have for ignoring items on my to do list. This morning I'm already failing given that I'm at a coffee shop, obsessing about this assignment I need to finish (340 words, 160 words to go). But I also feel it in my brain, knowing that some time away will allow for healing and repair. Slowing down even when it doesn't feel like the right thing to do.

Monday, May 28, 2018

#MicroblogMondays: Play

Not sure what #MicroblogMondays is? Read the inaugural post which explains the idea and how you can participate too.

It's 9:30 pm and the last thing I want to do is finish this assignment. This Friday I have an interview for a directorship position and learned last Friday that I made the short-list for another directorship-type position, resulting in the assignment I'm currently staring at. All on the heels of me filling out hiring forms for my new position next week.

I know that career-wise, it would be insane to not take any of this seriously. To blow it off given that the future is so uncertain.

Yet, following a week of illness where your's truly was diagnosed with Strep Throat, which thankfully Grey and the Beats managed to evade, but lead to an interesting experience at urgent care landing me my first doctor's notes, and finishing my saga with the DMV, all I want to do is play.

Play as in pretending to be a tourist and visiting one of the missions.

Play as in going for a hike at one of the local nature preserves.

Play as in becoming engrossed in a language-learning app that is allowing me to relearn entry-level Spanish so that I can better communicate with my new neighbors (who have been awesome at pushing me to keep practicing and not allowing me to cheat with using English). 

Play as in not doing the hard-stuff that requires me to reactive my brain. Of avoiding more rejection from those who were never serious to begin with. 

Maybe, for this weekend, that's okay. Just to play and rest, preparing for what is ahead.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

#MicroblogMondays: Santa Cruz

Not sure what #MicroblogMondays is? Read the inaugural post which explains the idea and how you can participate too.

Saturday morning, Grey and I decided we were overdue for a trip to the beach. Between moving, settling, surgery and illness, we had had zero down time over the past few months (years in reality) and needed a chance to recharge. Packing the Beats up with promises of adventure, we set off for Santa Cruz.

It's been 14 years since I was last in Santa Cruz. Grey and I stop there as part of our honeymoon trip, spending two days exploring the town and doing some surfing. Much has changed since we were last there, with the boardwalk being a lot cleaner and safer than I remembered, and yet so much was still familiar. The attitude and calm being one of them. The smell of the ocean and the glistening of the sand. 

Despite the water being ice cold, the Beats spent over an hour dancing in the waves and racing up and down the shore. Following a quick lunch and a change of clothes, we then took them onto the boardwalk to explore some of the carnival rides. Hours later, they would pass out on the ride home with smiles on their faces and evidence of their adventure litter all over their bodies. 

While they were making those first memories, Grey and I were reflecting on our own previous adventure and where we were today. All that had happened and changed. All that was still the same. Finding a chance to relax and heal in this special town by the Pacific that now holds memories old and new. 

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Not as expected

The past two weeks have been one of ends and beginnings. At the beginning of the month my students submitted their final assignment for the project I've been guiding them through. The document is currently being uploaded today to be sent to collaborators with the subject heading of "Future Directions?" All the professors have commented again and again how impressed they are with what these students produced (and I'm also insanely proud of them for all they've done). With this final assignments comes my official end to my time at this institution. Materials from my postdoc are still being handed off and I'm taking with me things that I've helped create.

In addition, I was formally offered a position as a program manager for a local science education initiative. It's part-time to start with reassessment happening in the fall seeing as the commute is on the extreme end. But all involved are excited as it gives us a chance to lay some groundwork that originally wasn't anticipated.

All while I'm exploring other opportunities and keeping doors open.

I was thinking about all of this this morning when She-Beat surprised Grey and me by waking up on her own at 6:15 am. For the past 2 years, getting her out of bed in the morning has been a huge struggle, usually with her being too groggy to even eat breakfast. Calling to Daisy to follow her, she beat He-Beat downstairs to feed the cats and then sat at the table and finished her breakfast. No complaints or negotiations required. Staring at her, Grey marveled that already we are seeing results from the surgery: she's no longer snoring at night and seems to be sleeping a lot more peacefully. The idea that all of the struggles we had were sleep related is once again on our minds, even though two months ago the physicians back East were assuring us that couldn't be the case.

In other words, none of this is playing out as planned or expected. Not She-Beat's recovery nor how my last teaching assignment went (let alone what was produced) or even this current position that I will be starting in less than 2 weeks. None of it was anything that I ever would have considered.

Yet now, looking at what is laid out ahead, it all makes sense. The path forward is becoming more clear and it's more promising than I ever could have planned or dreamed of.

None of this is due to lucky. Quite the opposite actually as it's taken a lot of pain and failure, trying option after option and pushing forward when it seemed pointless to. Even now, with an offer letter in hand, I'm still waiting to hear on two other interviews that I worked my butt off to secure and am fully expecting not to hear a single thing about the outcome. In short, a lot of frustration from dead-ends.

But what is true is that sometimes when we focus too much on the one path forward, we fail to see the alternatives. That it takes failing and beating ourselves up a bit to become open to those alternatives we initially would not have considered. And that it's only when we find those open windows and figure out how to crawl through them that the possibilities start becoming clear, working out better than we could have ever imagined.

She-Beat has her post-operation appointment on Thursday. We've been warned she'll likely only be 60% healed by then (at best) and likely won't see the real benefits of the surgery for another 3 months. But all of this has energized me to push for meeting with her IEP team as soon as possible so we can lay out a plan of action for the summer into the fall. And this new position has made me start to explore whether I can integrate in this new curriculum into the outreach I will be helping develop, allowing for all the work my students did to be put into action (and to start collecting data for a publication).

Not as expected when all of this began. But oh so promising.

Monday, May 14, 2018

#MicroblogMondays: Just for me

Not sure what #MicroblogMondays is? Read the inaugural post which explains the idea and how you can participate too.

On Sunday, while rocking a fever of 102 degrees F, I hung a hummingbird feeder. Despite protests from Grey that the location and method I picked were generally not good (in a spot I cannot observe them, too high to reach without a ladder, no where near the rest of the flowers we have on the back patio and right where there's lots of human traffic), I dug out the cordless electric drill we have and made a hole in install a ceiling hanger.

Grey's points were all good ones. Sound ones. Ones that any sane and reasonable person would quickly agree with. But the thing is, despite all the cons of my choice, I really wanted to attract hummingbirds. Over the past 3 years in Boston, I didn't see a single one and I didn't realize how much I missed these creatures until I saw them in the front lawn a couple of weeks ago. In addition, this mating pair has been hunting the front yard looking for flowers, so I knew that a feeder would be a welcome attraction if for no other reason than to just get them use to the idea.

Plus there's the selfish reason that the act of hanging a hummingbird feeder makes me happy.

This morning, this mating pair has been scouting the situation; flying so insanely close to me as I've been in the door way that you can see the small details on their bodies. I have no idea if they've actually used the feeder, but in my eyes it's a start. And just knowing that makes me happy. Even if it all ends up being just for me.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Surviving another "M" Day

On Friday, after surviving Kindergarten enrollment (still easier than the DMV!), I decided I had earned a long-desired reward and made my way to a local hardware store to purchase of hummingbird feeder. I first spotted a mating pair a couple of weeks ago and have been insanely excited as I haven't seen hummers since we left Seattle. In my excitement to finally have a feeder with visitors, I spaced on the advertising that would be greeting me at the store. The familiar feeling of panic and sadness that would arise when seeing posters declaring "celebrate Mom!" plastered at every turn and space that was eye-level.

Over the last 7 years I've been blogging, many having written about Mother's Day and what a landmine of a holiday it is. Society is getting better at acknowledging that this holiday isn't a happy one for everyone, but the reality is very few still know the story about Anna Jarvis and how the founding of Mother's Day was meant to recognize a bereaved mother who was also a social activist and community organizer. The idea that Mother's Day's current focus of brunches and obligated gift-giving to only those that have given birth and are parenting living children wasn't the intention and given that we live in a world with ever evolving definitions of "family," that we continue to adhere to such a limited view of who is entitled to be recognized shows how far we have to go. Especially when there are so many that deserve this recognition too.

In years past, I've posted my version of a survival guide as well as links to other resources for getting through this day, but this year in addition to this I want people to take it a step further. In those moments where the grief, the sadness and the pain seem overwhelming, write it out. Or draw it out. Or find some way to create (or destroy) in a manner that gives you an outlet. The warning being that I know doing so will not only likely be painful and you likely may not initially feel better for doing so. But the reason I encourage you to find that outlet, even if the end product never sees the light of day, is that the act of doing so not only ushers in healing. And if it does, even though it may seem trivial, these works are changing the conversation. 

As I was in the check-out line with my new hummingbird feeder, one of the cashiers asked a man in front of me if all the flower and garden supplies he was buying were Mother's Day gifts. Pausing for a moment, he told her yes and no. He then shared with all of us that the flowers were for a memorial garden that he and his wife started years ago in honor of the baby they lost too soon. Standing in stunned silence and choking back tears, all I could do was reach out and touch this man's arm. A silent nod between us said more than I could possibly put to words. Though that moment was a hard one, the impact for all listening to this man's story was immediately clear.

To everyone in this community, whether resolved or deep in the treatment trenches, newly diagnosed or a seasoned veteran, holding children in your arms or in your hearts, existing in the happy/sad, no matter what end of that range, I'm sending you all light and love today and hoping for peaceful moments.

Mother's Day Survival Guide:
Let it out. I'm going to start here, since most survival guides list this one dead last. Look, infertility/loss is hard. Very hard. So instead of suppressing the anger, sadness, frustration, worry, etc., do the one thing that so many well-meaning people will tell you not to do: just let it out. Give yourself a good 30-40 minutes to get the pain caused by this disease out of your system. Shed those tears, voice your worries, curse the universe. Write, exercise, scream. You get the idea. Because once you get it out, you'll feel better. You'll no longer have to worry about being sad the rest of the day because you've given yourself some time.

Acknowledge what you have accomplished. Living with infertility and loss is not for the weak. Anyone who's been on this path for any length of time has changed and will continue to be changed. Most of the time, this has only been for the better. You may have learned how to stand up for yourself, advocating your needs. Your marriage/relationship with your spouse, significant other, family and friends may have strengthened and deepened in ways you didn't know possible. You may have overcome your fear of needles. Whatever it may be, celebrate it. Take a moment or two to give yourself the acknowledgement you and your loved ones deserved for battling this disease. You've earned it.

Get out of the house. This one I can't stress enough. As tempting as it will be to spend the day in your pajamas watching bad TV, plan instead to spend the day doing some sort of activity. If seeing families is a trigger, plan a non-family friendly event. If being with family is a comfort, plan on spending some time. What ever it may be, get out of the house!

Celebrate the "mother" in your life. For those of you who have been reading this blog long enough, you'll know that my biological mother and I are not on friendly terms. That said, I do believe that Mother's Day is a time to celebrate those who have been "mothers" to you in some way. I also believe that one does not earn the title of "mother" simply by being able to birth a human being. There have been many amazing women in my life who have helped me become the person I am today. And I'm sure I'm not alone on this. So spend the day thanking your "mothers", be it spending time with them, shooting off a short email, or simply doing something that they taught you.

Distractions, distractions, distractions. I once read that an emotion lasts for about 10 minutes. The reason why people experience any emotion for longer periods is because they are "refiring" that emotion, be it with mental images or play inner dialogue. So like getting out of the house, find some way to distract yourself. Again, it's okay to be sad, frustrated, etc. But give yourself a break from all the madness too.

Treat yourself.  When all is said and done, Mother's Day is like any other holiday: sometimes just getting through is an accomplishment. So, at the end of the day, do something special. Take a bath, schedule a little "me" time, hog the covers. You get the picture. Reward yourself for making it through this day.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

The good witch

On Tuesday, my apartment complexes property manager knocked on my door to ask where the bee hive I had reported was located. This was discovered after a rather large tree limb fell off said tree due to improper pruning, exposing both improper care (thankfully not falling on anyone in the process) and also the hive it have been sheltering.

Beekeeper in tow, the assumption was that this would be a fast removal, with the promise that the bees would be heading off to local orchards to do good through pollination.

That was before the beekeeper talked with an established resident and learned that the hive had been in the building for over 2 years. Looking up, he declared in broken English "that's going to be a lot of honey."

I had no idea that by "honey" he meant honeycombs.

To date, it's estimated that this hive is around 6 cu ft large. All located near the roof of this one building. For those unable to imagine the scale, what that translates to is a wall of honeycombs sitting over the heads of a 3 bedroom, 1200 sq ft apartment. Basically the residents of this unit are sleeping under a wall of honey with approximately 30,000 bees. The beekeeper was only able to remove 3 ft of combs when he was out, leaving with a promise to return if management would give him approval to access the rest of the hive through the ceiling of this unit (side note: it would be highly beneficial for management to approve this as the remaining bees will likely fill the vacated space in a couple of weeks, leaving them with the same problem).

It's a bit overwhelming to think about. But the good news is that all these bees are highly sought after due to colony collapse disorder, meaning that instead of exterminating this hive, management plans on renting them out for a decent fee.

In addition to this spectacle, I found myself roped into renting a cat trap. This property currently has 2 strays, one of which has a rather painful looking growth under his eye that needs attention. After contacting animal control, I was told to rent a cat trap to catch him and bring him into the shelter so they could treat him. Further investigation resulted in finding a local humane society that has a woman who specializes in feral cats on staff, who happens to rent out cat traps. I'm very much in over my head with this, but this kitty needs medical attention so I'm planning to move forward (all while assuring Grey that we're not about to add anyone else to the household).

But the neighbors have gotten wind of this endeavor too.

Combined with my growing patio garden.

And I have a slightly scary disposition that has been making life difficult for the the local drug dealer and property management (it's amazing how the threat of police and legal action tends to motivate both parties).

Today, one of the local kids came up to me and asked me if I was a witch. Taken aback for a second, I asked her why she would think such a thing.

"Well, you have cats, care about bees, are trying to catch the sick kitty, make tree limbs break, grow a weird garden and have crazy hair that needs to be styled."

Trying to suppress a grin, I got down to this child's level and ask what they thought the answer was.

Thinking hard for a minute, eyeing me the whole time, she declared I was a witch, likely a good one. Good because she could see Jaxson and Daisy looking back at her in the window.

"But you scare me" she said, before running back to her friends. Checking behind her to make sure I wasn't following.

Cat trapping is being scheduled. Let's see if I can live up to the rumors.

Monday, May 7, 2018

#MicroblogMondays: From the outside

Not sure what #MicroblogMondays is? Read the inaugural post which explains the idea and how you can participate too.

Holding hands, she balanced herself as she walked along the buttress roots of a large bay fig tree. Never having seen one myself, I walked beside her, enjoying the bending and weaving of this beautiful tree and laughing at the game she was creating.

From the outside looking in, we looked like the typical mother-daughter pair enjoying a visit to the Arboretum. Stopping to admire the fountain, explore the sundial, letting her smell all the flowers and spending a good 20 mins in the rose garden where she declared they were her favorite part.

But what the observer would miss is the ache in this mother's heart. That though she is so grateful to have this quiet moment with her child, there would also be a wave of sadness for those that weren't there.

Yesterday was International Bereaved Mother's Day. And though the waves of grief no longer are drowning me, there are still moments where the sadness returns. Thinking of the six we lost, thinking of the babies those in this community have said good-bye too all too soon and thinking about Moon's friends who are thick in their grief

So we found ourselves at this garden when the sadness hit me. Allowing it to meld with the beauty surrounding us, creating a memory that I will forever treasure. Because though from the outside we look like a normal mother-daughter pair, our story is more than that.

(Click the hyperlinks for more information about CarlyMarie Project Heal and The Mother Hearts Project)

Friday, May 4, 2018

The curious misunderstanding about grief

Last Sunday, Grey and I took the Beats to go visit their cousins for an impromptu lunch date. So far, we've been fortunate that the kids are curious enough about one another to get along, making these visits mostly pleasant. While setting up for lunch, Grey's brother Lucas and I made small talk, chatting about work and upcoming projects. As the conversation started to die, I asked Lucas where Moon was, knowing she was out of town but unclear to the details why.

Prior to this conversation, I had heard snippets of the story Lucas would elaborate on. That one of Moon's friends and classmates had just suffered a horrific family trauma where her family was mowed down by a driver who failed to yield as they were in a cross walk. How the father was severely injured, leaving him in chronic pain. How her 5 year old son had died and the father didn't remember saying good-bye due to the pain killers. And how now they are all struggling given this friend is going one direction with her grieving process (one that others around her vocally support) while the husband/father is very angry and clearly going in another.

As Lucas told me that Moon was on the East Coast for the funeral, he talked about how much this family was struggling. Then he said something that made it painfully clear that neither he or Moon understood what this family was experiencing: This father need to buck up and get with the program of forgiving and moving on.

In 2012, while deep in the trenches of treatment, I found myself feeling very alone in the world. Grey and I were fighting a lot due to ongoing losses and failed treatment cycles, finding no support from family during that period. Instead we encountered a mindset of "it wasn't meant to be" or "why don't you just relax," with anger from others when they were told their advice and platitudes weren't helping.

Even after finding myself pregnant and the arrival of the Beats, I had a lot of anger over how those that were suppose to love and support us effectively abandoned us. If I'm entirely honest, until this week that anger remained and I was struggling with dissecting why. Why could I not let all that happened go?

Stumbled upon an article about sorority hazing rituals gave me the answer I was looking for.
The “banality of evil” was a term coined by Hannah Arendt in her work on the Holocaust to describe how the great atrocities in history are generally not committed by sociopaths or crazy people. Instead, it is the ordinary people who accept the premise of their state and therefore participate in evil while perceiving it as normal.... We all knew each other, and in some cases had developed intimate bonds of sisterhood. They, like the women before them, only did to me what was done to them. It is strange how a cycle of violence is perpetuated through intimacy. 
With that one paragraph a floodgate of realization was opened, identifying the root of my anger which I hadn't been able to voice. Because prior to infertility and loss, I had trusted Grey's family; my own too. I had a deeply held belief that when trauma hit, they would support us. And when they didn't, my world shattered further.

But the worst part is that they were unable to see the wrong they were committing. How deeply entrenched they all were and continue to be on what grief and loss should look like.

And with this realization, I finally found the answer to the "why" I've been asking for the past 7 years, with the anger and hurt dissipating to reveal nothing but sadness for a group who were unknowingly hurting others they claimed to love.

Honestly, I don't know exactly why I reacted to Lucas's flippant observation the way I did. Frankly, I blame this community for the reaction I did have given that I know the Cristy from even a year ago would have been outraged and actively attacking. But somehow, calmness found me and I decided to  take the road of asking questions and being curious.

Calmly, carefully, I responded to Lucas by stating that I intended to play Devil's advocate and pointed out that this father was actively grieving in a way that was actually not only common, but healthy. That not only was the life he knew forever gone, but also that he now lived with an ever waking reminder due to chronic pain. Working with Grey, the conversation slowly turned, not to one of judgement but of empathy, talking about the fact that though we understood they as friends and loved ones wanted to see this family move on, grief is actually a far more complex and life-long process and that it should be the father, not those around him, who decides what that journey should look like. Even if that includes anger, rage and sitting in the courtroom during the trial of the driver who took his life away.

To his credit, Lucas listened and expressed that he was open to accepting and passing on resources of support for this family. I sent him links for Still Standing, The Miss Foundation and CarlyMarie Project Heal, including special links for Bereaved Mother's Day, Bereaved Father's Day and The Sea Shore of Remembrance (NOTE: If anyone has any additional recommendations, please let me know!!!) and I ended by advocating again that what this family needs, wife, husband and child, is not outside judgement for their grieving process but simply unconditional love and support. All of it received without any backlash.

Oddly enough, being able to finally share this aspect has brought about healing for me too. I wish that this wasn't the case, but with this situation a window for understanding has been presented. A way of educating them about what grief like this actually looks like. And tools so that this time, they actually can support.

Here's hoping that's what happens.

Thursday, May 3, 2018


For over the last year and a half, She-Beat has woken up almost every night crying out in fear. The format for comforting usually involves us waking her up fully, comforting her and soothing her back to sleep. Originally we thought these were just bad dreams, but starting around March Grey started to notice a pattern with her having difficulty breathing, making us suspect not only sleep apnea, but also suspect that these wake-ups were actually due to her having stopped breathing.

Since She-Beat's diagnosis last month, I've been doing a far amount of reading about sleep apnea: how insanely common it is, how often it is missed with a diagnosis instead of ADHD or developmental delay, how disrupted sleep leads to a host of problems, from delayed growth to dementia and most specifically about the surgical procedures  done in children to correct the problem that actually have an impact.

Today, She-Beat went in for her 5th surgery. This child isn't even 5 years old and she's already been in an OR more times than most humans ever will be. And yet, as the surgeon walked me through the procedure, explaining why we were not only removing her tonsils and adenoids, but also reducing the inferior turbinate, the medical staff found themselves with two parents who didn't need convincing that something needed to me done. To date, ear tube placement has resolved not only chronic ear infections and reduced hearing in both Beats, but resolved She-Beat's inability to walk. It was due to attentive physicians that we found and removed her cholesteotoma, resulting in a 30 minute procedure that simply involved removing the tiny mass instead of the typical 3-4 hour procedure (including MRI while under anesthesia) that most suffer. And for the past 4 weeks, we seen all the signs of how sleep apnea is hurting this little girl: being overly hot, frequent nightmares, extremely tired most mornings and struggling in school. Not doing this procedure, no matter how difficult the recovery, wasn't an option.

Today was none the less hard. Having her fight with 3 nurses, Grey and me as she came out of anesthesia, wanting to rip out her IVs and all the wires leading to the various monitors due to being in pain. Later bringing her home and watching her struggle as pain meds would wear off, all the while knowing we were 10-15 mins away from the next dosing period. We've been warned that recovery could likely take 2 weeks and that it's a difficult one.

Yet, she sounds more clear and her breathing isn't as labored. And there are the stories we've heard since sharing the news of She-Beat's surgery, with parents telling us how their own children went through this procedure and how the drastic positive changes (calmer child, more attentive, resolved developmental delay and growth spurts) make them wish they had done this sooner.

So I'm holding onto that. All while sharing this aspect of She-Beat's story. Because if this makes the difference I'm anticipating it will, I too will be wishing we had found these doctors all that much sooner.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

#MicroblogMondays: The one where we get a cactus

Not sure what #MicroblogMondays is? Read the inaugural post which explains the idea and how you can participate too.

It's amazing to me how much drama I can fit into my day. Car registration is incomplete and officially on hold until an appointment May 17th, a website crash means I have a delayed dated for enrolling He-Beat in Kindergarten, She-Beat's upcoming surgery has thrown a huge monkey wrench into the IEP process and I need to look at bumping up well-child visits.

All while navigate interviews and job hunting. Throw in some recent family drama and . . . .

But in the midst of all of this, we've been meeting our new neighbors. A slow process given a language barrier (my Spanish is terrible). It started with He-Beat spotting a cactus in on of the neighbor's patios. He got insanely excited about it, wanting to see it. What started as a curiosity turned into a great way to initiate a conversation. And an unexpected gift of a cutting from that cactus.

I cannot begin to tell you how excited He-Beat has been to get his own cactus. I'm actually pretty excited too given this is a first for me. It's also such a wonderful gift during a crazy period of transition; a sign that we are on the right road forward.

Friday, April 27, 2018

Tales from the DMV

On Thursday, Grey and I decided to brave the DMV. I've been dreading this visit since we learned we were moving, given that the last experience I had involved one of the field agents chastising me for daring to hyphenate my last name following sending me home twice before to get signatures on paperwork that previously were not specified. Determined to not have a repeat, I spent a week researching all we would need ahead of time, including making sure that we went to the correct office (only 3 offices in California process driver's license applications without an appointment; it currently take 5 weeks to get an appointment; by law, we are suppose to get driver's licenses 10 days after establishing residency) all while hoping that we wouldn't have any more horror stories to add to our collection.

It was wishful thinking.

I knew we were in trouble when Grey woke up with stomach troubles. Despite the plan to drop the Beats early at school, we got a later start, putting us in line at the DMV around 8:30 am. On most planets, this wouldn't be a huge issue, but the end result of having submitted an application at 9:15 am instead closer to 8 am meant we would then spend the next 5 1/2 hours sitting in folding chairs, watching 2-3 DMV employees slowly service over 200 people.

In the course of those hours, I watched people of all shapes and sizes unleash their frustration in familiar and novel ways. The most memorable where the older woman who seemingly hexed the DMV manager after 6 hours of waiting and learning that most the staff was out on lunch break, the elderly guy who was angry that the staff called the police after he left a small dog trapped in his car for over 2 hours (it got up to 70 degrees yesterday) and overly entitled couple who decided waiting in lines wasn't their thing.

In the end, I left Grey at the DMV and made my way back to our town to grab the Beats. I would learn 30 mins later that not only was my name finally called 10 mins after I left the building (of course), but they had botched my name, asking instead for "Krishna."

Thankfully Grey passed his driving test and was through the process. But it meant I had to go back.

If you're ever bored or having a rough day, I highly recommend searching "DMV horror stories." Why an "Office" or "Parks and Recreation" version TV show hasn't been aired on the comings and goings of this setting baffles me as the amount of fodder is mind-blowing. From long hours of waiting to bizarre driving exam questions to the forms, there's enough there for any inspiring author. And that's the normal stuff. Where it gets fun is when there are disagreements or someone decides to get pushy. Usually fueled by the system crashing or problems with DMV machines.

In the past, I've failed driver's tests due to the online test freezing, had 3 different agents tell me 3 different ways to fill out title forms (sign here followed by "why did you sign here?" followed by "this is the wrong form" only to stop mid-sentence, look confused and mutter "never mind."). All of it gives me the shakes seeing as it's extremely easy to find yourself forever trapped in the confines of these offices.

Over the years the horror stories have only gotten worse, directly linked with cuts in government funding. Grey was quick to point out yesterday that when you underpay and understaff these agencies, it's hard not to expect dismal conditions. Still, after 7 hours of sitting, he declared this the worse experience he's had so far.

And he only had to get a new driver's license (Cristy is in charge of doing the car title transfer; which is at an entirely different office).

This morning, I was back in line at the same DMV. Determined to not wait 6 hours again for nothing, I made sure to arrive at 7:30 am. I won't tell you what time I was up this morning to make lunches and pack the Beats off to school, but my hunch paid off when the employees emerged shortly after I got in line and gave out instructions for how the day would proceed.

I got my new application in at 8:07 am and found myself in the coveted line for processing by 9:15 am. Unlike everyone around me, I had all my materials (Passport, Social Security Care, old driver's license and proof of residence) in order, meaning that the agent was easily able to finalize everything.

And then I failed the written test. Missing questions that were clearly misspelled or had two answers that were insanely close in meaning.

All making me want to cry.

Instead I found myself at window 5, wiping away tears while the agent behind the counter took pity on me and gave me a form to do the test again.

60 mins later I was back in front of a computer, slowly reading each question twice, drinking over a liter of water to calm my nerves. And only missing 2 questions. One of which asked the following:
You're on a one-way street and the driver in front of you is going slowly, making frequent stops. You:
A) pass on the shoulder
B) flash your lights at them
C) reduce the distance between your vehicles
I wanted to scream when the computer flashed "Congratulations" at me. That and the fact that I needed to pee so badly.

I'm still not in the clear as we still have to register our car (aka Lenny) and we are running out of time to do so (20 days following establishing residency). But given that Lenny has already passed his Smog check (with flying colors!!!) and we have the title, in theory it should be a fairly straight-forward process.

In theory....
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