gavi – looking very much like his grandpa dan
listening to: teitur – don’t want you to wake up
it’s snowing outside. as much as i hate the snow – i can’t help but love when it falls during the day. the sky is white and we’re covered in quiet.
it’s another holiday. another new year - we’ll be welcoming in twenty-ten tonight. as much as i love the new fresh start – i can’t help but feel the quiet ache that i’ve felt every year for the past ten.
i miss him, man.
and it feels heavy today.
ten years ago tonight was the catapult that launched me into what i like to call the great depression of the year two thousand. it changed me. deep. i think it changed all of us. it isn’t spoken of – but i recognize the difference in each of us. the realization that this family of ours is fragile. that the who-stays-and-who-goes part isn’t up to us. and not just in death but in life also. the coming and going of people that we love. the needle at which we gauge how much of ourselves we give away is harder to read.
while doing some christmas shopping last month i was hustling and bustling at the good ‘ol columbia center. no boys. just me and i was happy with bags in hand. on my way out of the macy’s men store the guy standing by the doors slipped me a cologne sample. i shoved it in my pocket and made my way into the main hall of the mall before i could really smell it.
and all of a sudden he was everywhere. the tears were streaming and i couldn’t get to my car fast enough.
my cousins danny + brandon were here for a minute the other day. really – a minute. and we were sitting in my living room just visiting – these boys i hardly know in real life. there was this powerful connection that i felt deep for them and the years that had passed so quickly in the giant scheme of us belonging to eachother. i am grateful for a man that taught us to recognize that we are connected. that this means something important. a quick little reminder that we should take better care of eachother.
tonight there will be tradition. there will be crackers and cheese and puzzles and sparkly apple juice. there will be resolutions made and a countdown said. there will be a new fresh year. a new fresh decade. and i feel like leaving the heavy behind. like there’s going to be an important shift when the clock hits midnight tonight. hoping the ache will feel lighter in twenty-ten. that the grieving will be a different kind.
“that the reason we miss people is because we love so much.” – amy
love, lindsay ann
As 2009 draws to a close today, I find it appropriate to reflect on the year, just like I did last year. In a nutshell, 2009 has been a year of no regrets. Although Lucas was implanted in 2008, all of his progress occurred in 2009. He was activated on January 9, and there has been no turning back.
I have NO REGRETS about deciding to have Lucas implanted. It has been a life altering experience for our family, and all of the hours of therapy this year were well worth it.
I have NO REGRETS about taking a leave of absence from my teaching job for 7 months. I believe that it affected Lucas's outcome immeasurably. I will always cherish those months, when I was able to experience so many fun Lucas hearing and language firsts.
I have NO REGRETS about following my heart and starting a support group for families of hearing impaired children in our area. I look forward to helping expand the group in 2010!
I have NO REGRETS about spending hours upon hours on the Internet researching hearing loss, working on the John Tracy Clinic correspondence course, reading blogs, and finding resources to help Lucas listen and speak.
I have NO REGRETS about meeting up with other CI families last summer in DC and Ohio and networking with other CI families around the globe on Facebook!
I have NO REGRETS about maintaining this blog, and I wish to continue it in 2010. Not only is it therapeutic, fun, and helpful to other families, but it is also a great record of Lucas's accomplishments and activities!
I'm looking forward to what 2010 will bring! I'm certain there will be many new adventures, including 3 weeks at the John Tracy Clinic in July! And who knows, maybe Lucas will get that baby he so badly wants too. (no hints, just starting to think about the possibility!)
Now I'm off to use the "blog to book" function from Blurb to create a book of all of my blog posts from 2009! Check it out! (thanks for pointing that out to me last year, Landry's Mommy!)
The other night in the car, while I was trying to engage him from the driver's seat, I thought I would try the lings. He was able to repeat all 6 successfully, with the noise of the car, and me facing the opposite direction. I was pretty excited!
Hopefully he doesn't get too bored, and decide to tune them out. We'll have to come up with new conditioning games to keep it exciting. His hearing therapist is really great at that! For now, he likes to please and play along. I'm confident now that he's hearing across all frequencies! YAY!
Aaron checking out the climbs at the Red
A native Kentuckian, Aaron wanted to leave Yosemite to visit family and meet up with Hayden, a fresh out of high-school sport wanker and his upcoming partner for a trip to Patagonia. The Red River Gorge, home of the State’s largest concentration of quality sport climbing, sat a mere half hour from Aaron’s home. When he mentioned splitting gas at the job site, I immediately tossed two liters of high octane energy drinks and a batch of homemade brownies into my station wagon. We escaped the vortex of the ditch and the staleness of staying too long in Yosemite, pounding out the 2500 mile drive to Kentucky in a 48 hour continuous push.
Aaron, Matt, and Hayden to break a tree at the Left Flank
Though I’d been in Yosemite for a few months, I arrived at the Red not having climbed for a few weeks. I wasn’t out of shape; I consider round is a shape. I started climbing Monday, checking out every crag, trying as many routes as I could. I was psyched. By the following Monday, I could barely make it up the warm-ups. I was worked. Apparently, seven days of climbing makes one weak. At the top of Tuna Town (12d), one of the uniform jug hauls that the Red is famous for, all the climbing hit me. I got jazz hands and Elvis legs. I pulled up the rope, trying to clip the anchors. My hands slowly opened as I shook like an autumn leaf. I whipped. The ground rushed towards my face. This was insane. The biggest impression I’d leave on the earth would be a two foot crater where I decked. Why couldn’t I find a nice safe desk to sit behind? After seventy feet of screaming, the rope slowed. Hayden launched to the third bolt, and I came level with him.
Local cowboy Cory Herr on Flower Power at the Madness Cave
Hayden climbed with slightly more success. On the left side of the Mother Lode, at the GMC wall, 8 Ball (5.12d) follows an obvious corner system, arching rightwards as it nears the anchor. The fumes off a blunt of “Kentucky Dro” drifted across the Madness Cave as Hayden finished his bowline, and shot up, trying to onsight the technical route. He used his ninja footwork up into the corner and then to the base of its arch. A line of chalked holds followed the arch out right. Instead, Hayden headed straight up a desperate path of unchalked crimps in no man’s land. The vision quest began. He wandered about the face with his elbows pointing skyward and his body shaking. He fought to the anchors and managed to pull it off, despite climbing completely off route.
“I could see how most people get suckered out by those big chalked holds to the right. The crimp sequence above sure was heinous.” For the most part, the climbing at the Red is straight forward. Crimp left hand, crimp right hand, pull up. But even the best get lost. They go on these vision quests, the rights of passage where they struggle, get lost, and realize a bit of who they are.
On the drive back to camp from the Mother Lode, the fall sunset turned the clouds a thousand shades of orange. Hayden choked up. That night, he bought the after adventure beverages from the beer trailer on the county line. Maybe he found a bit of himself because that night he got lost in beer.
Hayden on Take That Katie Brown 13b
After climbing for a few days, Hayden, Aaron and I rested at Aaron’s cousin’s apartment in Richmond. The Slade Weekly ran an article about the local community law enforcement. The chief of police wanted his officers to command more respect so “Officers who grew a mustache received a 66% increase in pay.” The town’s class was made more evident when we ate breakfast at a greasy diner, the Waffle house. The snaggle- toothed waitress said “Ok, sugar” when I ordered pancakes. She said “Uh-huh darling” when I ordered orange juice. I wanted to order bacon but I was afraid she’d call me her boyfriend. While I wanted to get lucky in Kentucky, the idea of trapping myself in a place where most genetic characteristics go to die, scared me. Plus she could have eaten corn on the cob through a chain link fence. Before we left, I stopped to reconsider. Maybe she was the girl for me. After all, she had something the three of us didn’t- a job.
Me climbing some 12a at the Left Flank
Business Weekly discussed the current high rate of unemployment coining the term the “Lost Generation”- the young and unemployed, who have been disproportionately affected by the economic down turn represent an enormous demographic. Unable to even grab the first rung of the corporate ladder and faced with a depressed income due to being stuck in a career below their educated abilities, this group of high-school drop outs and college graduates are lost in America. Some of them, like me, found their way to the Red River Gorge, and more accurately, the camping behind Miguel’s Pizza Shop. They wander about causing trouble, roaming listlessly, and contributing to society only through their basic consumption.
Late night fireworks on the road by Twinkie
A 30 rack of Miller Lite in camouflage cans sat next to a gravity bong at the camp site. A high school student in Richmond kept us in heavy supply of ounces of brown stems and seeds that were bricked together and called “Kentucky Dro”. Our basic consumption, the cheap beer and brick weed usually kept our insanity at bay, but more often it ignited Aaron. After a blunt and a six pack, he’d shout, “I do what I marijuana!” He shot bottle rockets and M-80s at anything that moved then started enormous wax fires causing mushroom cloud explosions that lit up the field around the camp fires. Aaron let loose; he had escaped a long summer of humping haulbags, sanding and painting houses, and stacking wood. He scrounged his dollars and bought his ticket to Patagonia, trading his manual labor for a career in big wall climbing.
Aaron's wax bombs
After more pyrotechnics for Aaron, more huge whips for me, and more desperate onsights for Hayden, we spent another night in Richmond. At midnight, Hayden rustled on an air mattress when the door suddenly opened.
“This is my house and I need to use the phone.” A tweaked out woman barged in screaming, “I won’t kill you.” Hayden evaluated the woman from his sleeping bag on the living room floor.
“Uhh…,”Hayden said. He attempted to listen to her rapid fire gibberish and provide some advice but she only stared and babbled on.
In a moment of complete maturity; Aaron offered the woman some direction. He propped up on one elbow and yelled from the couch, “You’re lost. Now, get the fuck out of here. “
The tweaker pivoted on her heel and bolted from the house, slamming the door behind her.
Hayden pounded up the stairs, running into the guest room, and waking me. “Dude, did you hear that? She was tweaking and randomly came into the house. Weird.” Hayden watched her run across the back yard towards another Kentucky townhouse. “Dood, on a scale of 0 to 1; I think she was a 1.”
Hayden on Table of Colors 13b at the Left Flank
The Kentucky weather soured when we got back to the Red. Hayden and Aaron left for Colorado to train for their upcoming Patagonia trip and prepare for their Gasherbaum 5 adventures. I drove west to the next crag. The radio played a song about a cowboy casanova who broke hearts all across the Midwest. I tuned it all out, watching the odometer click off two thousand miles. The endless flats of Oklahoma forced me to reflect, something the whirlwind of Kentucky hadn’t let me do.
Hayden and I fighting at the Overtow wall
Climbing offers an easy escape, a justifiable excuse to ditch out on sanding and painting, an opportunity to forget about the despondent economy, and the possibility of a life behind a desk or worse, a mop. It’s easier to climb than to grow up. But was I just treading water rock climbing? Was there any sense in it all or was my life just a series of scrambled adventures: tweakers busting into the house, huge whippers, pyrotechnics, and the search for a “1”. I stopped the seriousness of my thought. What would Hayden and Aaron do? They’d say “fuck it”, turn the radio dial, and search for gangster rap in middle America.
Lucas is attached to his ear... both literally and figuratively! It has really become obvious in the past few weeks how much his CI has become a part of him. When he wakes up in the morning, he asks for it by making the sign. If the whole processor comes off, he brings it to me to put back on. If the coil comes off, he will even try to put it back on himself. It's an understatement to say that I'm ecstatic that he has embraced it and not rejected it.
Sometimes when he doesn't want to go to bed, he insists on keeping it on. So much so, that I'm afraid he's going to poke a hole in his head while signing "CI". Most of the time though, he hands it right over, as it's an integral part of his bedtime routine. When I ask for his "ear" before nap time, bath time or swim time, he happily hands it over. But, when we were at his cousin's house a few weeks ago, he was not too keen on the idea of giving it to me before going down a slide. I can't blame him, but he will have to learn in time.
He leaves it pretty well alone in the car these days, unless the coil gets knocked off, then he just pulls the whole thing off and gently puts it into the cup holder in his car seat until we reach our destination. Once in a while, he pulls it off if he's really mad. I've been told that that will only get worse...
It's such a part of him now. It's as routine as putting on his shoes, only so much more magical. I really hope it stays that way. Here he is, asking for his processor. Right after that, he got giddy with excitement as I put it on. PRICELESS.
This Christmas has been filled with lots of JOY. Christmastime has become a very emotional time for me, as it's associated with lots of memories from the past couple of years. Lucas made his unexpected worldly debut in 2007 and spent time in the NICU. I was discharged without him on Christmas Day that year. That was REALLY TOUGH, to say the least. During that week between Christmas and New Year's, we learned of his probable hearing loss (failed newborn hearing screen) and heart defect. That Christmas was JOYFUL and sorrowful at the same time.
Last Christmas was great, but stressful, with CI surgery scheduled for the day after Christmas! We were at CHOP by 6 AM on 12.26! We certainly enjoyed Christmas, but with an elevated level of anxiety. We didn't take Lucas to Christmas Eve service last year, one of the reasons being that he couldn't hear it anyway. But what JOY we had, knowing that he might soon hear. We never knew that he would hear so well though.
This year we've been able to sit back, relax and enjoy Christmas. Lucas is a great age, and he can HEAR this year. I couldn't help but be teary through Christmas Eve service, as he pointed to his ear as he heard the hand bells, the organ, and the hymns being sung. I might add that he was excited by the camel costume during the children's sermon too. I felt such JOY as I watched him light up with excitement as he took in the sights and the SOUNDS.
Every time I hear him say HO, HO, HO, or listen to him name the ornaments on the Christmas tree, I am reminded that he is my CHRISTMAS MIRACLE in so many ways.
JOY to the world!
* You weigh about 24 pounds.
* You've just started to wear size 4 diapers.
* You wear size 12 month pants, although you're almost ready to wear 18 month ones.
* You wear size 18-24 months shirts.
* You love your blanket, although most of the time, if it's out of site, it's out of mind.
* You love Elmo!
* You can run now! (Mommy waited a long time for that...).
* You love the water, both during bath time and aquatic therapy.
* Your favorite toys are your play kitchen and your doll-, I mean play-house.
* You like to eat fun foods like sushi, egg rolls, enchiladas and anything with rice or pasta.
* Your favorite drink is milk, followed closely by yoohoo and caffeine free diet orange tea.
* You like to go bye-bye, pretty much anywhere, as long as we go bye-bye.
* Going home to "see the cats" gets you to leave almost anywhere.
* You have about 100 spoken words, but you can't make the /k/ sound yet (that's okay!).
* You refuse to say the word "cracker", and instead choose to sign it, in Lucas fashion, which looks like you're asking for drugs.
* You've started to play games, like hiding your spoon behind your back and saying "I don't know" until we find it.
* You're learning your colors, and can identify blue and yellow pretty consistently.
* You're willing to repeat almost anything we ask you to - my favorite is cocka-doodle-doo.
* You like to turn things on and off, especially the lights on the Christmas tree. But, everything is "off", and never "on" to you!
* You like to dump things and transfer items from one container to another.
* You think the word "ouch" is hilarious, including the action that causes the word "ouch". You like to repeat the action to hear the word "ouch" again.
* You still love to read books, but you don't insist on the same ones all the time, which is great!
* You continue to amaze me every.single.day with your determination and joyful personality. You will achieve great things one day!
I really look forward to watching you grow this next year! I hope that it is as memorable as this year.
On the side of the road, I called my twin brother and told him I was returning to his couch in California. I needed to kill the bohemian inside of me. For eight years I had lived the dream, traveling and climbing. But after nearly a decade of hopping between crags, living in a tent, and scraping by on peanut- butter-and-jelly sandwiches, I wanted to be more than a dirtbag. I wanted some security, a steady income, a sense of home, and some companionship. I wanted to be a regular member of society.
Moving to Berkeley, back to California, meant that while I searched for a career I would have to stay in the city and away from the walls. Adjusting from the dirtbag lifestyle to a normal one involved trading real rock for the unknown of plastic. Still, I approached the climbing gym with confidence. I was a seasoned veteran with ascents of El Cap in a day, onsight free solos of 5.11, sends of scary trad climbs and pumpy sport routes. How hard could gym climbing really be?
John Schmid nudged me toward the front desk of a Bay Area climbing gym. Apparently, my longtime climbing partner knew how to smuggle me past the entrance fees, a hurdle that had always kept me out of the gym. John waved his membership card, mumbled something about a guest pass, and then loudly announced my name: “He's kind of a big deal." And they let me in for free. This was going even better than I thought.
At the lead cave, I groped the plastic on a tower and stared down at the rainbow of tape dotting the footholds. I grabbed an orange hold with black tape and white spots then realized that I needed to crimp the black hold with the white tape and orange spots.
Searching the kaleidoscope of holds, my forearms bulged and I froze. In a last-ditch effort, I threw for a jug above my head. I hit it, stuck it, but then the wall spit me off. The hold spun. It kept circling as I slumped onto the rope. I had tried hard on Midnight Lightning but had never managed to spin anything on it. I lowered to the ground, dejected.
John said cheerfully, "Why don't we boulder? Maybe then you can become a real gym rat."
John was a Jedi knight. A former dirtbag climber, he had transitioned to the city well, and now had a successful nursing career, a beautiful girlfriend and an unbelievable ability to crush indoors. He was my role model—a real rock climber and a plastic prince. I followed his lead to the bouldering cave, and launched upward. A tiny series of polished holds had spit me off nine times before I finished it.
"Yes!" I screamed. I hung from the top with intense satisfaction. This almost compared to an ascent of Astroman. I was well on my way to being a badass gym climber. I smugly dropped to the ground, and searched the start holds for the grade. "Vfun," it read. My jaw dropped. This boulder problem was easier than V0? My ego plummeted, and I crumpled into a ball. A desk jockey saw me huddled below the problem, and walked over. "Yeah, dude, like half the tape fell off. Didn't you hear the beta from the Thursday Night Bouldering session?"
Lying on the ground, groaning and letting my pumped forearms recover, I noticed the circus around me. Little kids jumped around, couples fought over topropes, and a dating scene flourished. A dude sauntered toward a group of women, struck a pose, then pedaled his feet up the wall. Outside, the gym climbers had brought tales to the crags of the slinky yoga goddesses and other beauties who tore across the lead caves. They insisted that gyms were total meat markets.
"Haven't you read the articles in the magazines? That's exactly what it is like," they said, punching me in the arm.
Looking around, I noticed that, unlike at the Northwest Face of Half Dome, the Moonlight Buttress, and the offwidths of Indian Creek, there were girls at the bases of most of these routes. Maybe the plastic princes had a point.
I wondered if I could ever make it in the city. I was overwhelmed with the difficulty of the gym climbing, and by its busy culture.
John tried to reassure me. "Maybe you aren't the best gym climber. At least it's a place to meet girls."
I started thinking about who to approach. Surely the women would like me. I am, overall, a decent guy. I just needed to be genuine. Then I remembered the plastic princes, how they strut around with bare-chested bravado. At the crags they had boasted, assuring me that their tactics worked. Maybe that was how you got the girls? I puffed my chest, and sashayed forward.
"Are you running toward me or away from me?" I asked a girl on the treadmill.
Mascara smudged with sweat below her eyes as she hit a button on the dashboard and increased the speed of the treadmill.
"Well," she responded, "Now I am running away from you." So much for the cheesy pick-up lines. The plastic princes had been only partially right. The gym, I decided, was one-quarter meat market and three-quarters butcher shop.
This was too hard. The spinning holds, my damaged ego, the girls, the gym rats ... The reality of climbing at an artificial wall was overwhelming. This was the hardest crag I had ever been to. Why bother with any of this? There was no way I could attach myself to the city lifestyle if I could not even deal with the climbing.
I left Berkeley and headed for Bishop. Three hours into the seven-hour trip, I ran into a snowstorm, and headed back to a gas station to buy some chains. At the store, I stared at the price—$60. Instead, I bought a pack of M&Ms, sat in my car, and tried to decide what to do with my life. I ate a green M&M and thought I should go. I could keep climbing, ignore the loneliness and lack of fulfillment. I could be a man on the rock and let my passion for climbing be enough. I ate a red M&M and thought about stopping. I should become responsible, find a job, start a career, and commit to being something more.
Then I ate a handful of yellow M&Ms and made one clear decision. I needed to end my indecisiveness. The marginal existence of a dirtbag was romantic bullshit and completely overrated. Experience taught me that much. The city was something different. It would give me a chance to climb, work, and provide my life with some balance. I smacked the steering wheel and gave up on the frivolous lifestyle of a dirtbag climber. I headed back to Berkeley to try again. I drove three hours and then made the 15-minute walk to the gym. I really wanted to send the pink route anyway.
Published in Rock & Ice
Let is snow! Let it snow! Let it snow!
i had plans in the works for months. we were finally getting our family pictures taken. all of us. no more of that long-arm-self-portrait angle that i hate. not only did i want some fantastic shots of my handsome boys but i also wanted a chance to be on the other side of the camera. the right photographer was found, the date was set and outfits were perfectly unmatched.
the day finally came and we met my dear friend tiffany and her talented husband on the corner of 10th avenue and clodfelter road. i had left our location up to them – as i wanted ryan to photograph us the way he wanted to. three of the prettiest film camera’s hung from his neck and he was soooo excited to snap some shots of us in front of these rad rustic looking apple crates he’d found.
lucas would not look up.
eyes straight to the ground.
complete with the perfect frown.
then the wind. oh! the wind! it was so cold!
ryan snapped away anyways. we’d hear him say, “awesome! this is amazing!” he was in his creative element.
we drove to another location.
to a big open field up the road.
the wind was worse.
it was freezing.
my boys’ noses began to run.
the frowns turned to crying.
we decided to head home.
ryan and his camera’s followed us home, too.
safe at home, lucas dared to look up and snap! ryan captured his amazing little boy blue eyes. luc kicked off his shoes and climbed on his bed and snap! ryan captured his wonder among his very own things. andrey and i headed out to the backyard and click, click, snap! ryan caught me in true love. we let gavin loose in the grass and click! click! click! ryan caught a ray of sun shinin’ right on my boy. and that gavin – he’s got a sideways smile just like me and i’d never noticed it before. but ryan captured it in a flash and now i see - that boy that is so much of andrey – has a tiny twinkle of me, too.
and now we have evidence. evidence on rolls of film. that we are here. that our sweet family is. that our boys have sparkly eyes. that even in chaos we still love. his cameras caught what i really see everyday. it’s amazing. want to see more?
wander over here…
Un poco de "detrás de la escena" de la historieta de Blackzan que sigo cuando tengo tiempo y venzo la pereza.
Son todas cosas que quedan afuera.
Sepan disculpar el boludeo de pegarlo sobre "hojas viejas" :-)
white cake plates
izze’s in a bottle
cupcakes from scratch
hemp twine + kraft paper
the cozy brick house
noticing the little things
really good music
mother’s animal cookies
bobbi brown mascara
damsel in a dress polish
the breakfast club
my inspiration source
a “just saying hello” phone call
my dear friend.
happy birthday, danyelle!
i wish so many happy things for you today.