Sunday, December 31, 2006
  The Hug

I scored a good parking space this morning. Right across the street from Star's apartment , and as it is Sunday I didn't have to feed the meter. Good thing too because I had a stack of flattened boxes in my trunk. I had remembered to grab a couple of other things before I left home. Some trash bags, some tissues, and some old newspaper to wrap the most breakable items in.

Once I got into the apartment it dawned on me that what I should have brought with me was a radio. Or that IPOD that I haven't had time to learn to use yet. Because we had removed all the electronics on a previous foray. It struck me as not a little ironic that there wouldn't be music in a space where it was once so important.

So I packed up the bathroom and the kitchen in silence. Well, not silence exactly. I kept up a running conversation with Star. One- sided I'll grant you, but chatty nonetheless. We had some laughs, and we had some tears. I say "we" because otherwise I would have been talking to myself. Out loud. When I got to her closet I admired her wardrobe, and I told her hat I wish I had seen her dressed up more. Then on the floor of the closet I found a clock radio. Hurray!! So we had a little music too. And even a little dancing when the Beastie Boys "No Sleep til Brooklyn" came over the airwaves.

Her coat was hanging smack dab in the middle of the closet. I knew that coat was going to be trouble. When I took it off the hanger it smelled like her. It's what she was wearing the last time I saw her. I have pictures of that day, and memories, and it's not like any of the rest of us can wear it. So I told Star that I would be putting it in the "to donate" box as it is winter in Philadelphia,and eventually it might even be a cold winter in Philadelphia, and someone could use it to keep warm. But not just yet.

I still had all the books to pack up when I ran out of tape for the boxes. Good excuse for a break. There is a small hardware store a block away. I wasn't sure it was open at all on Sundays, never mind on New Years Eve Day. The sign on the door said they would open at 10. First the great parking space, and now this! Fate was being kind today. As I had 15 minutes to kill, I decided to search out one of the many Starbucks in Center City. On the way I walked through Rittenhouse Square, stopping to kiss the frog statue, as Star liked to do. Yep, in broad daylight in front of strangers in the park I kissed the frog. I am sure people have seen stranger things in Rittenhouse Square.

I got my coffee, got may tape and headed back to the apartment. Center City was starting to wake up and people were out and about, enjoying the warmer than normal December day. I couldn't; help but think that Star should be out among them. Getting her morning coffee and her Sunday croissant. Calling her friends and firming up her plans for NewYears Eve..

When the packing was finished it was all very organized. Things to donate stacked in the kitchen. Things to take home in the living room, and some bags of trash in one corner. Despite the simplicity of this plan I felt the need to label it. I don't know why, but I did and I had found a notebook on a bookshelf so I had paper. But I had not uncovered one single pen or pencil. So I dumped out my purse where there is always a pen and came up empty. Again, not a little ironic. Star was a writer, and much of our bond was tethered to writing, and I couldn't find a pen anywhere.

The coat was still on the table where I had placed it. I had been stalling but there wasn't anything else left to do. I picked it up to smell it one more time. When I did it felt like giving Star a hug. Instead of putting it in a box I put it in my car and brought it home. Sometimes a hug is all it takes.

Saturday, December 30, 2006 - Create custom images

Wishing you all a happy, and a healthy 2007.

Monday, December 25, 2006
  Seriously, I Already Have a Headache

The commercial aired by Mega OTC Drug Company was just on TV. It's the one where the vice president of something or other tells you that she helps write the directions for using the popular pain reliever.( by hand on a yellow legal pad if the commercial is indeed a factual representation) She says that if you aren't going to use it correctly she would rather you didn't use it at all. Sarcasdad said "If that's the case they should make the print a little bigger".

He's got a point there, dontcha think?

Saturday, December 23, 2006
  A Christmas Miracle

The CP likes to play hide and seek. He hides and after much searching and calling his name, we find him and he shrieks with delight.

The other day Sarcas-sis entered her bedroom and inquired of her hubby where the CP might be. "Hiding" her hubby answered pointing to the small closet in their bedroom. "And I don't think we will ever get away with this again.

Sarcas-sis opened the closet door and "found" the CP much to his great amusement. She "found" him sitting atop a pile of his Christmas presents still in bags from the mall. Being two years old he was only concerned with fooling Mommy, and totally oblivious to the fact hat he was so close to the truth about Santa Claus.

Santa's helpers had better rethink that hiding place for nest year.

Merry Christmas.

  Happy Holidays

I had blogging penciled in on my daily planner. I swear. I haven't regaled you yet with stories of the CP's birthday. Or posted my cute holiday greeting card .This arrangement of having only 24 hours in a day is just not working for me.

Tonight the CP is staying over at our house. It's his first time sleeping away from home, the first night in 2 years and 5 days he and his Mom will be apart, and the first time in a long time we may be awaked by a little one crawling into bed with us. That, plus the impending arrival of the man in red and eight tiny(?) reindeer, and the fact that I work in retail have convinced me to take the time in these early morning hours , to wish you all a Merry Christmas. So I do.

Merry Christmas. Have a wonderful holiday with family and friends.

Monday, December 18, 2006

I am not looking forward to today, my first day back to work since Star died. No one, except me, is making me go. I know that I could milk this right through the holiday season and no one would give me any argument. Really, I just want to stay here at home, and read and re-read all the wonderful things people have posted about her. And usually I am not one to wallow in my own misfortune. But wallowing I have been. Yesterday it was my plan to get up early this morning and hit the gym before work , as has been my habit for years. But for some reason Sarcasdad and I woke up around 1 am and couldn't get back to sleep til you know when,just before the alarm went off. I figure today will be exhausting enough, and my fuse may be short enough that the extra hours sleep was more necessary. But I really have to get back to the gym. Trust me when I tell you that Santa's belly isn't he only one shaking like a bowl full of jelly.

Now that I have sufficiently brought down your mood, let me tell you how some people chose to remember Star. With tattoos. Yep that's right they got permanently inked in her honor. Their were 8 in the group I think including Sarcas-sis and Star's boyfriend. For some it was their first time. I was invited to go along, but it really isn't me. I exercised plenty of parental veto power when the girls were teens, forbidding tattoos on their bodies. Star had gotten 2 over the years. One a very small black inkwell and quill on her right shoulder to represent her writing. And just recently, the kanji (japanese) symbol for Star on her left.
You can see the results of the group outing here.(credit to Babyraven)

A memorial fund has been established in Star's name at the high school she attended. That is where her writing really became her focus. We plan to give a sum of money at each year at graduation to an aspiring female writer.

According to the weather report I just heard, today will be followed by tomorrow, so i had better get on with it.

Friday, December 15, 2006
  Are You Being Served ?

Every so often the retailer that gives me a weekly paycheck comes up with a new customer service schtick. The last one they rolled out involved us asking customers if they "found everything you were looking for". Whoever sold it to us must have had quite a sales pitch because before long I was hearing it everywhere.

So one day I was out Christmas shopping I went to the nearby location of the nationally known big box purveyor of electronics. It was early in the shopping season so the seasonal help was largely, well, unseasoned. I was barely in the door when a very anxious young man in a blue shirt and khaki pants approached. He stopped a foot in front of me. He made eye contact. He smiled, took a deep breath, and then he said it.

"You look confused"

I think a few more orientation hours were called for.

  Addition and Subtraction

Yesterday morning my cell phone rang a few times as we were getting ready for her funeral.. As my mind was on auto pilot, the second time it announced a call I expected, just for a moment, it would be Star .Sarcas-sis had already phoned and Sarcasmo Jr. was standing right next to me. That's how it usually happened. though they ere separate by distance, sometimes by oceans and continents, The three girls would often call me in quick succession of each other. Of course, it wasn't her.

So what is the death etiquette for cell pone use? Do I leave her name and numbers in my contact list ? I'll see it every time I scroll for a number.(Good thing!) and, I'll see every time I scroll for a number.(hard thing). I suppose I should take her off the emergency contact list. Even though alphabetically she is the last one it wouldn't be of much help to call her.

Of course, when I get a new cell phone, it would be silly to put her number in it. Soon it won't be her phone number anyway.

I guess that's how it's going to go. As time goes on even if I don't erase a single thing about her, there will be nothing new to add.

Sort of death by attrition.

Thursday, December 14, 2006
  So, Everybody Really Didn't Know

I know you all didn't know Star, or even read her blog. Apparently that puts you in the minority. Condolences and tributes are coming from around the world. Sarcas-sis found that when she called people with the news of Star' death, many of them already knew. Such is the power of the internet and the blogging community.

Yesterday Sarcasmo Jr. and I went to Star's apartment to gather some things. I got polite nods from a few people who passed by her door. One particular gentleman passed me on his way out, and came back as we were locking up.

Now obviously we had keys, and unless you are severely sight impaired you would have no doubt that Star and I are related. Still, I was removing things from the premises, and being a good and concerned neighbor he asked. "Are you moving Star out" . "Yes" I replied hoping it would end there. But it didn't.

"Is Star okay ?"

Good question. No. Yes. I don't know. I wish I did. Her best friend Vis Major has asked Star to send her a sign. Vis, if you get one, please share, and I'll do the same.

And what do I say to this poor man who s really not expecting the answer he's going to get?
She's dead; she died,;she's deceased,;she passed on,;she left us.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006
  The Truth and Nothing But

Thank you, thank you, thank you all for the supportive comments and emails. They are a source of comfort. Some of you prefaced your words with "you don't know me,but...", . Actually, yes you do. If you come around even just now and then you probably know me better than some people I see everyday. There's no pulling punches on the internet. Well, that's not entirely true. Sometimes I might guild a lilly or two, to avoid hurting someone's feelings. Wait, that's not it exactly. It's more to avoid the consequences of my words, which once read cannot be denied. I'm not good at the soul bearing thing. People may judge me harshly and I used to care. I don't think I do anymore though.

The last few days have vividly illustrated all the cliches about the uncertainty of life. It is too short. You never do know. Don't put off til tomorrow what you an do today. Live everyday like it was your last.

What is the point of this blog if all I do is say what I think people expect me to? I have enough of that in the day to day mechanics of polite society. I used to tell Star that I could never get the post in my head to come out entirely right on my blog. It was like the words changed magically while I typed. Maybe it was because I was tweaking the truth just a bit. Little omissions or outright revision of facts so as not to offend anyone.

Don't misunderstand me. I'm not turning into Sarcasmom With a Cause or anything. I'm just saying that you have to make every minute count, and every word you write, one that you would be willing to let stand as your last . Just in case it is.

  The Pirate Story

I have been telling and re-telling this story the last few days. I don't know why this one exactly. I would like to think I could tell it at the service we will be having for Star tomorrow, but I doubt it. So I thought I would tell it here.

Star's favorite holiday was Halloween. She took a vacation from work that week every year, just to celebrate it. She participated in so many ways, that there were always a few events she just couldn't fit in. And trust me, she crammed in a lot.

Star, myself, her Dad and Sarcas-sis had signed up for a Scavenger Hunt that took place in historic Olde city Philadelphia on the Saturday before Halloween. Star had spent her morning as a volunteer on the tall ship, The Gazella, that docks on the Philly waterfront. Every Halloween they have a haunted ship tour. After the Scavenger Hunt she and Sarcas-sis were to attend a costume party that had become a much anticipated and annual event for Star. So, Star reasoned, it was a matter of convenience that she show up to the Hunt in her pirate costume and then just wear it to the party as well. Yeah right. Her friends are chuckling right now. ANY excuse to wear a costume, and ANY excuse to swashbuckle were right up her alley.

She arrived at the public meeting place in full pirate regalia and wearing a cape , that she swirled and swooshed with great aplomb. It being Center City Philadelphia on a saturday night, before Halloween, and gathered with a group of fellow scavengers, she didn't attract as much attention as you might think, although someone did refer to her as the "Woman in the Cape". There were some tourists doing the hunt and I wondered what they were thinking.

Star was so totally in her element, telling us about her stint on the ship where she played her role as tortured soul to an audience of children and parents while another "pirate" kept her sustained with chocolate in between screams. Pirates and chocolate. What bliss!

And "Guess What" she said. Someone had called her because they needed a zombie on short notice and they wanted to know if she was available. Was she? "Sadly no" she said as she would sometimes do with her head slightly tilted to the left. "But they needed a zombie and they thought of me! This is the best day of my life!"

It was a good day indeed.

Monday, December 11, 2006
  From my Heart

She went first a lot of the time. As the eldest child she went off to kindergarten first and away to college first. She was the first to leave the nest and go out on her own. And one day she told me she had started an online web log, or "blog" as she called it, and I could read it if I wanted to. Yesterday, she went first again, leaving us all behind in shock and in pain.

She, if anyone ,would understand my need to post this. We used to talk about how it was easier sometimes to keep stuff to yourself, rather than get into long involved discussions and explanations with people who couldn't do much but listen anyway.We used to joke that if there was a support group for this malady it would go something like this:
" How is everyone today?"
"Okay then, same time next week?"
So I know she will understand that while I have heard her father and her sister break the shattering news to people, I have not yet said the words. In fact I may never. But I think I need to somehow express it, so here goes. My daughter died yesterday. My beautiful daughter, my first born, who threw her head back when she laughed, lived life at faster than the speed of sound and who could put written words on paper and make them live.

She wasn't meant to go first this time. She was 33. It was totally unexpected, and we are devastated. Everyone grieves in their own way. Some reach out, I retreat in. I feel bad for people who want to comfort me because you can't. There's not a hug ,or a phrase in the whole wide world that will make this better. For those who are looking to me to give them solace, well, you might not get it. At the moment the thread of my existence is stretched to the limit, and I am trying not to let it snap.

Star was at a good place in her life. She was happy. She was writing , she was dancing and living life to the fullest. It was somewhat of a family joke that before we made plans we had to check with Star to see if she could fit us in her busy schedule. As we were thinking about who to call yesterday we were struck by all the different groups of friends she had. They overlap here and there, but Star brought them all together. And to her friends, who have rallied together, and all around us, I need to say thank you. If he measure of one's worth is one's friends, then Star was truly wealthy indeed. There are many lovely tributes on the internet and I will post some links to them at the end.

I love her. I miss her.


Shiny Shiny

The Phillyist

Thursday, December 07, 2006
  Public Service Announcement

I'd like to share with you the results of an informal, impromptu, non-scientific study. While out Christmas shopping today I saw irrefutable proof that questionable parenting tactics are not gender specific.

While at my local Target I happened along a little family group. Two children, one walking and one in the baby seat of the shopping cart, and two women whom I took to be Mom and Grandmom. They were gathered in front of bins that contained $1 items. Grandmom was entertaining the little boy in the baby seat, who looked about 3 years old, with one of those toys that you push the bottom of the stand in and the little figure on top of the stands moves around. She was doing so quite successfully, eliciting squeals of delight from the little boy. When he reached out towards it she tossed it back in the bin and said"you can't have it". So of course there were tears. I hope the $1 she saved was worth it.

Later, at Sears I saw a father and son having great fun with a bin full of cartoon themed pillows. There were squeals of laughter which quickly turned into broken hearted wailing, and I do mean wailing, when Dad threw all the pillows back in the bin and said it was time to go get Mom. We heard that kid crying all the way down the escalator and out the door.

Still and all, I found both instances less disturbing than the one I witnessed at Old Navy. A young mother told her daughter to "stop it before I have to punch you in the mouth". The child continued along as thought she hadn't heard so I am ferverently hoping that it was an idle threat.

Monday, December 04, 2006
  Banjos Ring, Are You Listening?

In all the Christmas carols that I know, bells will be ringing, or they jingle, and hark the herald, angles sing. But I can't think of a one where banjos twang, or plink, or whatever it is they do. Yet on Saturday we were accompanied by not one, but two, strolling banjo players as we road along, on the Santa Express. Sarcasmo, Sarcassis and myself are not shy about singing in public and we participated with great enthusiasm. The CP didn't join in, even though he does know the words to Jingle Bells. We covered all the favorites, and a couple I didn't know including "All I want for Christmas is a Hippopotamus" and a song about a donkey that Sarcasmo said was a cleaned up version of a piano bar staple.

Trains are one of the CP's favorite things. They are right up there with buses and the Wiggles. In fact, if the Wiggles ever toured on a train I think that would be CP nirvana. Of course the Wiggles weren't on this locomotive, but when the banjo players broke into "Here Comes Santa Claus" who should come through the connecting door but Old Saint Nick himself! He stopped at every seat, talking to the children, posing for photos and handing out candy canes. The wide -eyed CP accepted his treat from the jolly old elf but wouldn't speak to him. And he wanted no part of sitting on his lap at the mid trip stop at a quaint little train station. I understood perfectly. After all he's not quite 2 and Santa was larger than life, and a stranger who although he gave the CP candy, was not in the child's safety zone. Good to know he's not THAT trusting and isn't swayed by sweets. He did give Santa a high five when asked to on the return train ride home.

The CP who is generally quite chatty was quiet most of the ride. I'm not sure if he was overwhelmed or underwhelmed by the whole experience. When the train returned to the station we bid Santa and the strolling banjo players adieu and went to have lunch.

Afterwards, as we headed home , warm and fed, a little voice came from the back seat. The CP spoke. " I like the banjos"

Saturday, December 02, 2006
  I Am The Luckiest

Last night, the eve of our wedding anniversary, Sarcasdad and I were sitting on the floor at his mother's house, having great fun playing with our grandson. Sarcasdad asked me if I had envisioned this 34 years ago.

Honestly, I didn't know what to expect, but I always knew it would be good.

Happy Anniversary Sarcasdad.

Friday, December 01, 2006

This past week as gone by at twice the usual speed of life because I was on vacation. Why is that? I had such a long list of things to accomplish with all of this free time. I didn't get to everything, but looking back I had a very productive week.

Sarcasmo & I went to Longwood Gardens as part of our "See Those Places You've Been Meaning to Get to Your Whole Life" tour. Once the summer estate of the Du Pont family, it is now a wonderland of flora and fauna. Even for the horticulturally challenged, such as Sarcasmo and myself it was a day well spent. She blogged about it quite eloquently, and supplies pictures as well. My pictures are still in my camera. Like I said, the list was longer than the week.

With Sarcasdad I saw the new Bond film, decorated the house, put a dent in the holiday shopping, put some finishing touches on a room we were re-doing and caught up on TIVO.So I put an X through all of those iems on the list.

Today Sarcasdad and I paid a visit to the National Constitution Center to see the 911 exhibit. Photographer Jonathan Hyman has put together a collection of images, mostly from New York, showing how people expressed their feelings after the tragedy. As it was a weekday morning, it was pretty much us, and three classrooms of high schoolers. The kids didn't seem to have much reaction to the photos. Different strokes for different generations I guess. Part of the exhibit was a piece of chain link fence with hand decorated tiles hung on it, a replication of a fence in New York City. Plain white tiles were available to decorate and hang,and the kids seemed into that.Even though we have been several times we went through the rest of the museum. There is a short presentation at the onset, where we were once again joined by the high schoolers. Before the show started an employee gave us a list of prohibited actions: No talking. no eating or drinking, no cell phones and no text messaging during the show. No texting is a new one on us. Different generation again. As we were leaving the museum we walked by a teacher trying to round up her charges."Chandler !Chandler" she was calling."Let's go Chandler" We know what generation his parents were from.

Speaking of Friends, today reminded me of the episode where Monica goes to the islands and her hair frizzes up, turning her into a Chia Head. It was warm and humid and there was no hope for the naturally curly. Very unseasonable for the weekend of the Army Navy game which Sarcasdad is attending tomorrow. We are both an Army and a Navy family, but as his ticket connection was his brother, well, GO NAVY!

While he is rooting for the midshipmen, the CP and I will be chugging along on the Santa Express. His Mom and his Aunt Sarcasmo are coming along too. ALL ABOARD !

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