Tuesday, April 19, 2005

The beeder is on!

Oh boy... it is not too often that I am crying at the dinner table, but tonight I practially needed tissues. Raelin was entertaining us in rare form; my belly still hurts from laughing.

Dinner is a bit of musical chairs for Raelin...she deftly and confidently leaps from her HelloChair (aka High Chair) which is one of those wooden, restaurant style ones, into my lap, plunges her fingers into my food and then wriggles down to go torment the dogs. This week we have dogs plural, as we're dog sitting my mom and Charles' yellow lab, Sandy. Tonight after variations on this routine and eating a carrot here, a carrot there, she pushed her Hello Chair up to our telephone table. Raelin loves the telephone. She frequently can be seen making various phone calls to far away places that require at last 25 digits to dial. The other day she called the YMCA to see if the pool was open. Holding the phone to her ear and cocking her head thoughtfully to the side, she said into the receiver, "Calling the pool open.... calling the pool open..." it took about 10 minutes and no definitive answer was reached.

Anyway, so tonight she makes a few calls and then discovers the button on the cradle of the phone that helps you find the lost receivers. You know, you push it and the cordless phone beeps and you go find it. I use this reguarly and unearth receivers from under the couch cushions and whatnot. Raelin pushes the button. It beeps. She looks at us a bit incredulously. We nod, perhaps too encouragingly.

"Yes, you pushed the beeper."
"The beeder!" she exclaims. Another push and the beeper is off.
"Great, raelin, you turned it off!" We praise, approvingly. She smiles and nods and pushes again.

"Beeder! Beeder is on!" She pushes it off. "Beeder turning off... " push. "beeder on!"

For the next 10 minutes, she pushes the beeder on, listens appreciatively and announces emphatically, "beeder is on!" Sometime the beeder stays on for a good 30 seconds or so before she either "finds" the phone, or pushes the beeder button off. After about 3 minutes of this, I am laughing hysterically at what this scene looks like from the outside: a normal family, a normal dinner, a normal toddler, and the beeder. On, and off. On and off. On... and she sings a round of "The Grand Old Duke of York" above the incessant beeping, seemingly oblivious to Kevin and I hunched over our risotto, shaking with laughter. Finally she pushes it off and Kevin takes the opportunity to suggest a tubby. Luckily, the tubby is highly anticipated and she goes willingly, leaving the beeder behind.

Getting her hair washed was not done so willingly, and unfortunately does not make a funny story.

A book I orderd, _The Emotional Life of the Toddler_ arrived today. Yes, the emotional life of a toddler is a complex one that requires some reading and studying up. I have a feeling that "beeder" will not be in the index however.

Monday, April 04, 2005

April 4th

This morning I found myself wide awake at 4:00 am. Not unusual, as this is when Raelin hits the wall and ceases falling asleep to Kevin's voice and needs her deedees (aka nursing). Her room was still silent though, and i was unable to get back to sleep. My mind wandering, I started thinking about my friend Jake. Various memories flitted through my brain and I wondered why they were visiting my now. It's amazing how organized our subconscious is. Today is April 4th, and the 9 year anniversary of his death.

April 4th 1996 was just a few days after spring break. I had moved into a new apartment on campus, conveniently located one floor above Jake's apartment. I awoke startled to pounding on the door just before 8 am. I knew Jake had an 8 am class, and being a straight-out goof ball, it was not out of the realm of possibility that he would come haul me out of bed for coffee before class. A goofy smile on my face, but a little apprehensive cause pounding was a bit out of character, I ran to the door hoping my new room mates wouldn't be woken up. I wasn't prepared to see Kate, Jake's roommate, standing on the other side of the door. I wasn't prepared for her to avoid my eyes and ask for Kristen, my room mate and building RA. I wasn't prepared for the shakiness in her voice and her refusal to answer my question, "What's going on? Where's Jake? Is this about Jake?" Kristen stumbled to the door and Kate grabbed her hand and led her downstairs. I followed, my heart pounding, an odd lump rising in my throat.

The apartment door was open, paramedics were walking in and out of Jake's room. Matt, Jake's room mate sat on the couch, his head cradled in his hand. I sank into a chair, still a bit dumbfounded and frankly, in denial. The memories are like slides- the flash of the camera bouncing off the hallway walls. My brain frantically wondering what they might be photographing- drugs? did he have some weird reaction and they found his pot stash? kate huddled beside me on the chair, Kristen on the other side. Someone was whimpering. One of the paramedics came out of the bedroom and walked over to us. "I'm sorry...." he said. Next slide- the conscious cracking open of my heart as i leaned against Kristen, a woman I hardly knew, and cried.

It is actually easier to sift through the memories of that morning than the ones that proceed it- the hours spent in coffee shops, jogging, swimming laps at the pool, watching movies at the library, navigating our messy relationship that included one girl in love (me), one guy in denial (him), and his girlfriend, 3000 miles away (ironically in my homestate of Maine). We had sorted it out (or rather, sorted her out) just 10 days before his death. The finding of a soulmate is a rare thing, except perhaps the finding of 2, and I feel incredibly blessed that the one who couldn't stay, Jake, kindly made the introduction to me of one who could, Kevin. And then sent me a sweet, abandoned dog, jake (we'll use a little j) to make the transition that much easier. Though there is very little that is easy about accepting the unexpected still mysterious death of a 23 year old.

One of my best friends, Carmen, is Jake's sister. We didn't meet until a few days after Jake's death, though I had heard about her for months. Jake talked about her a lot, about how he wished we could meet, he wanted her to have a friend like me, he thought we would get along. He had some foresight about relationships, that one. In ways big and small, he has stayed present in my life, and for that I am deeply grateful.

Nine years is a long time. I've gotten married, started a family, moved across the country. At times my friendship with Carmen has felt like the primary relationship, but of course we are uniquely bonded through her brother. To wake up this morning to these memories is startling in some way, and I resisted crawling out of bed to write in real time the memories and thoughts that poured through. It's been a long time since I've reflected in writing, about Jake. And in many ways, it comforting to have such strong feelings after so long. One of the most painful things about grieving a loved one is when it gets easier... it seems contradictory, but I think most people who have lived through something similar would agree. Pain seems to bring them closer, it is palpable for something that is no longer able to be touched. So for today, I will take the flooding of emotions and memories that are often packed away. It's good to have my friend back, for awhile.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Last night Kevin and I saw Richard Shindell in concert. If you haven't heard of Mr. Shindell and are a fan of truly eloquent song writing, excellent musicianship (is that a word?), and just all around great listening music, I suggest you check him out. We've listened to him for a couple of years... Kevin first heard one of his songs, "Cold Missouri Waters" - probably on KPIG when we were in Santa Cruz- and learned to play it. The song is really chilling (no pun intended, honestly) and i was always torn between wanting to hear it or defecting to a more uplifting tune in his repetoir. But then we got our hands on a disc he did with Dar Williams and Lucy Kaplansky called "Cry, Cry, Cry" and we were hooked. His 2002 live release, "Courier" was our cross-country soundtrack, especially fitting as many of the songs are ballands and stories about truckers on the long, long road.

Anyway, browsing the paper a couple of weeks ago, i noticed that he was lined up to play at the Waldo Theater in Waldoboro, Maine. Well... Waldoboro is a tiny town. Not the smallest of Maine towns, but it's the kind of place where you call up to reserve your tickets by just giving your name. No credit card to reserve. No picking them up in advance. Just "yup, the Callahans are coming." They pencil you in to the next available seats on the chart and you pay when you show up. Pretty cool. This was the first time we'd been there and we were pleased to discover that we were in the fourth row, but looking around at the, oh, maybe 15 rows total in the "orchestra" seating and the balcony just above our heads, it's obvious there really isn't a bad seat anywhere.

I wasn't sure what to expect... I like his music but his voice took a bit getting used to in repeated listening. It's really unique and doesn't really give away any of what the person might be like- but a live performance has made all the difference. After sitting through a tolerable opening act as opening acts go (a well meaning local guy who was just a bit trite and melodramatic for our tastes and had an unfortunate over production of sweat), Shindell came right out. And, well, he's great. Sweet and funny, confident on stage and intimate with the audience- it was a perfect venue to accentuate what a steller performer and artist he is. The stark contrast between his opening act who spelled it all out for you and Shindell's evocative, but subtle lyrics was amazing. So is the difference between a marginal and a high end guitar.

It's been so long since I've been to live music, I've forgotten what a treat it is, and how much I enjoy it; how important and powerful good, thought provoking and awe-inspiring artists and performers are to life and culture. What i like about Richard Shindell's music is that he lifts the stories and daily events that might otherwise get passed by and weaves them into beautiful, moving, and entertaining songs. It's so nice to walk away from a performance and feel so satisfied, savoring moments and songs and stories. Plus, it was a date with my sweetie, so it's tough to go wrong there ;)

Next weekend we're up to see the Battlefield Band, courtesy of my mom. I'll don my reviewers cap next Sunday and tell you how it goes. In the meantime, check out Richard Shindell if you like the folk thing... or, even if you don't.