Wednesday, February 18, 2009

My funny wife - or - that big red mark on my head

My wife is funny. Sometimes, she is funnier than she is nice. I don't have a problem saying things like that because when I tell her she is doing something mean, she acts hurt and responds by saying things like: "But it's funny!"

So when she hacked my facebook account and put a picture up of my forehead hickey, I accepted it.

I will explain. My children received approximately four-hundred dollar-store toys at a Family-Day carnival on the weekend. One of these things was one of those popping half-spherical pieces of rubber. I'm sure you know what I'm talking about. You turn it inside out, put it on the table and, seconds later, it pops up in the air, driven by the force of its return to its original shape.

Lilly and I were playing around with it, and I stuck it to my head. Pulling it off broke some surface blood vessels which resulted in a near-perfect circular hickey on my forehead.

Kim, being easily-amused, decided while I was reading, to take some oh-so-funny pictures of my injury, log in to facebook with my credentials, and post a new profile picture along with a funny status update.

I won't keep you in suspense anymore. Here is the picture:

Kim will probably make some plea to your sensitivities, telling you that she's some poor pregnant woman, and that her horrible, mean, and stick-in-the-mud husband is just being mean to her, never letting her have any fun. Don't let her do that. She is funny. There is no way to deny that. She's just not always nice.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

2008 in Review - Part One

It is tradition for me to take New Year's Eve to reflect on the past year. This year, it didn't happen. That's why you are seeing this at the beginning of February. To that end, in the spirit of getting on with things, here is the first part of my 2008 review.

2008 in Review

2008, on the surface, looks a bit like 2006, only flipped on its head. I moved on from a company to start something new.. 2006 saw me depart from Halliburton three months into the year. 2008 saw me leave Intuit three months before the end of the year. A couple of months before 2006 started, we had a baby. A couple of months after 2008, we will have another baby.

A pretty superficial comparison, I know. We didn't move in 2008 or do a lot of other things either but it seemed like a good place to start. This is, too:


2008 came in much like any other year. It was cold. We've spent as much time in this house as we did in the condo and it has become apparent to me that when we moved, it was a significant trade-off of insulation for square footage. I have never faced more fully the heat of the summer or the winter chill.

Despite a scare with Intuit and our fickle budget the previous July, I was flush with employment. The company went as far as to help my productivity by providing a laptop for me to work at home.


Then they took away any need for me to work overtime by canceling our project. This was the beginning of the end at Intuit.

On the way to Beaver Camp, we were rear-ended. Not hard enough to hurt anyone. Not hard enough, even, to break the eggs in the trunk. Hard enough to bust up the bumper, though. A bust-up that wouldn't be repaired until the end of summer.


Being cast adrift from my project at Intuit was, at first, a little liberating. The prospect of a new project was daunting but who knew? Maybe the project I moved to would be able to catch some of the lightning in a bottle that BCM (the newly-ended project) had. However, I always thing it's best to cover my bases, so I had my first job interview as an employee of Intuit.

April: Time really didn't breeze by as quickly as it seems as I'm writing this. Time actually dragged right out. I jumped around to a couple of project ideas during this time: a webmail thing; an RSS thing; my eventual landing spot, Customer Central; even a small stint on the project that replaced BCM: Quicken Online. None of them really stuck and minds were changed until I found Customer Central. I knew some others who had also landed there, however briefly and it seemed as good a place as any.


Nick returned to soccer and I helped out as the head coach again. This year worked out to be a bit better as I had an assistant coach and, let's face it, more than enough time on my hands. I also started playing soccer again, though I can't remember the specific month when I started, so it makes sense for me to put in in there with Nick's. This is also the month that the rest of the family went to Chicago and I went... to Chicago. I went to study Java and Kim and the kids went to visit with the Andersons who abandoned us to the frozen wastelands went south in search of new opportunities in the wake of Kyle's graduation.

Kim has told me of her experiences in Chicago. Driving, sight-seeing, scrapbooking, laughing, driving...

My experience was nothing like that. Twelve hours per day over six days, I sat in a stuffy classroom and listened to a Philadelphia guy talking about all the pleasant features, details and pitfalls of the Java programming language and all the tricky, nasty, evil things that would be on the test to try and trip me up. Professionally, the trip was a success, despite only seeing Kim for a couple of hours after the test. This, even though we tried to get together for lunch one day.


As far as I've been able to pull out of the hole in my brain, nothing major happened in June. Life had settled into a fairly predictable routing. Soccer for Nick and I, running for Kim, continued insanity for Lilly. Work started to mean less and less as I struggled to find any motivation at all. I should have walked away then and there and I likely would have if it weren't for the bonus in August. Hindsight being what it is, I should have left anyway. Happiness and job satisfaction are worth more than 10% of my annual salary.


I spent a significant amount of July on vacation. The four of us and Kim's family – her parents and her brother's family – went to Salmon Arm, B.C. For a camping vacation. I have learned to fear summer vacations. The year previous, I came back from Vancouver to discover that my job was in jeopardy. This year, when I returned from vacation, DING, you guessed it. My job was in jeopardy. Intuit laid off 575 people in July, including my friend Marius. This was the middle of the end for my time at Intuit.

That's it for now. Next up, August through December. Big changes ABOUND.

Stay tuned,


Sunday, February 01, 2009


While I will not pretend to never have delved into it on this site, it has never been my focus to dwell on my own emotions.  Instead, I've been focused on things that I'm doing, goals I'm working toward.  In the now, even.

Every once in awhile, though, the pot will bubble over and I'll let something slip, giving the reader some small glimpse into my feelings.

I don't know if the pot's bubbled over or if the soup is done but buckle in, kiddies, because it's sharing time.

In the months that led up to the completion of my university career, my mom was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis.  My first memory of things turning down that road was when her eyesight started not being so great.  I remember one eye test she had that left her pupils frighteningly large and unfocused enough so I had to drive her there and back.  Meghan reminded me the other day of another episode, quite a bit before mom was diagnosed, when she had a Bell's Palsy attack. 

Funny story.  Not really, but - yeah, really.

I'm in my room, playing NHL hockey.  Mom comes in and says something about supper or something like that.  I notice she's kinda talking funny.

"Hey mom, what's with your face?  You're talking a bit weird."

"Oh, that.  I think I had a stroke."

Jesus fucking Christ.

"What?!  What did the doctor say?"

"I didn't go see the doctor," (well, duh, the sarcastic part of me thought at this point, just a stroke).  "It was just a small one."

I've always thought of these things as being binary conditions.  Either you had a stroke or you didn't.  If you did, you go see a doctor.  How there's a decision there, based on the size of the stroke, I don't even know. 

Still, mom got in to the doctor and they told her it was Bell's Palsy.  Meghan, most likely correctly, figures that it was the first-ish sign of MS.

Mom kept working through a good portion of her MS, until it became ...  I don't know, too much?  Too bad?  Too dangerous?  How does a woman who shuns the doctor over a stroke decide it's time to hang it up?  Anyway, she stopped working.

Fast forward a couple of years.  Mom's been at home for awhile.  I spend my time trying not to think about it.  (She's retired, I tell myself.  She's earned it.)  I've got a young family, Meghan has a young child, dad's in business for himself and Sean is finally out of truck driving, working as an electrician. 

A couple more years, and mom can't walk anymore.  (It's probably for the best, I tell myself.  She's not on the pain medication she was on before.)

Then she gets this bed sore and winds up in the hospital.  I don't think any of us knew just how serious the bed sore was but it got infected.  The infection tried sneaking around a corner and succeeded to a certain extent but she got into the hospital and got it under control. 

In the hospital, my mom suffered some pretty bad depression, fighting the boredom, the hopelessness and the displacement.  She wanted to go home and would alternate between anger and sadness; between trying to make sure we felt okay when we went there and needing us to know that she wanted to go home.

She went home.  And nearly died.  Quick action on Meghan's part saved mom's life but she was different.  It almost seemed like part of her was gone and the one night we went out to visit, when it was time to say goodnight, nothing the kids or I said would elicit a response. 

Then mom got another bedsore.  The mattress that dad got her was not good enough.  They caught this sore in time, though, and she went back into the hospital.  Thank goodness for this, since they found pneumonia in her lungs.  They caught this early enough, too, that they were able to take it down with antibiotics.  I spent the night with Meghan and mom at the hospital, then went back with Meghan to her house.  We talked for awhile and then it became apparent that I was going to have to drive home eventually and I didn't want to fall asleep on the way home. 

So mom's been in the hospital since then but they say that her lungs are clear, her sore is cleared up and dad ponied up for the good bed and when it arrives and is set up she can go home.


See what I did there?  I did what I always do with mom's situation.  I managed to go through the entire thing in 14 or so paragraphs and I managed to skirt the issue of how I felt at any point, other than incredulity. 

How did I feel?  How the fuck should I feel?  I dealt with it.  I got from one day to the next, not thinking about it.  It pisses me off that I wasted so much time trying to avoid how I felt instead of actually fucking feeling it.  I've seen my mom in such extremes of pain and despair and what fucking good is it doing me to pretend it hasn't happened - that I haven't seen or felt the things that have happened?  What honour does it do to my mom, the woman who made me the man that I am today, to push her hurts, her sadness to the side because it makes me fucking sad?  How fucking full of shit am I to preach to my kids about compassion for each other when I spend every day denying my mother my compassion because I'm not emotionally equipped to deal with it?  How fucking hypocritical is it of me to cry at a movie or a piece on the news when I shove the emotions down about something that is really happening and has bearing on my life?  Even now, I am hiding a big part of it from myself.  Why?  What the fuck am I waiting for?  It's pushing me around right now, this feeling, whatever the fuck it is.  It's exacting its revenge for six-plus years of denial.  I don't sleep.  I eat until I'm full and then I keep going because I need something to fill me up.  I vacillate between playing NHL hockey real late and staring at the computer screen, refreshing Facebook and Twitter in some savant-like compulsion, praying for something to distract me from whatever moment I'm in.  Things pass me by.  I find the biggest joys in life - Nick and Lilly - to be my biggest annoyances.  I apologize to them right here and now for the way I've acted.  I've been impatient, unforgiving and downright insulting to the people to whom I should be the exact opposite.  I want to say that things are going to change.  I want to say that I'm going to work my way out of this.  I'm a guy who solves problems.  I want to say that I can just come up with a plan, put tab A into slot B and everything's going to be better but there's no guarantee of that. 

I ask again, what am I waiting for?  Kim has told me I'm good at falling apart after whatever crisis it is has passed.  Is that what this is?  Can I not glory in the life gave me mine now?  Can I not mourn what is lost, what is being lost before it is gone?  Is it pride?  Is that what it is?  Am I so worried about how people will feel about me that I can't let go of whatever it is I'm holding on to?  I don't fucking know.  But I need to let go.  I need to allow myself my grief.  I need to let my kids see that it's all right to be sad and not hold everything in.  If not, I do myself, my kids and my mom a disservice.