Seven Zinger Years

Dear Zinger,

The pandemic took over the world last year.

COVID-19 shut your school down the Friday right after your kindergarten IEP, and you didn’t attend school in person again until a year later, just a few weeks ago.

During that isolation period you turned six years old. You were already growing so big. Sorry for skipping your letter last year. Circumstances were a little hectic.

You lost your first tooth just before shutdown, on March 8.

You’ve lost four teeth since then: 10 April, 6 November 2020. 5 February and 13 March 2021. Another one is getting ready to come out. So exciting!

Your hair has grown so long. We last cut your hair just before kindergarten, and over a year-and-a-half later it desperately needs a trim.

You’ve navigated a full school year of online classes: last term of kindergarten and 2 trimesters of first grade. Your teachers accommodated us and took great care to keep everyone safe. At your IEP last month they all said they were impressed with your progress with online school. They were so proud of you.

I am so proud of you.

Seven years. Never have I felt more blessed, so lucky.

Sometimes I wish time would slow down. That I could spend as much time with you as possible. It’s all passing too quickly. We want the world you’re growing up in to be safe, and we want you to be healthy. We’re doing everything we can to prepare you for this world as your eyes widen and your exploring tendencies expand. We desire so much for you to realize your potential. Hopefully the pandemic will get under better control so you can roam more freely.

I’m so grateful you’re in our lives, a part of our family. We love you so much.

Happy birthday, big girl.

Love, Mom

COVID-19 Vaccine, Dose 1

In Utah teachers were prioritized for the vaccine, so that means Reilly was able to get both doses earlier than a lot of us. But as of March 24, anyone over the age of 16 could get vaccinated.

The vaccine isn’t readily available to everyone yet, so scheduling an appointment was a little challenging, but not impossible. I got lucky with finding a place that wasn’t too far away.

The sign at the entrance said not to go inside until 15 minutes before my appointment. The email instructions said not to go in until 5 minutes before. I split the difference and went in 10 minutes prior to the scheduled time. They verified my ID and told me to stand in line.

It was less than a minute of waiting until I was in a chair. The nurse pushed up my left sleeve and rubbed an alcohol swab over my shoulder. She broke out the syringe, pierced my skin with the needle, injected the stuff, and covered the wound with a bandage, all in less than 10 seconds. Super duper quick.

Then I found an empty chair and sat for 15 minutes and massaged the injection site while nurses passed by, making sure no one was having adverse effects to the virus.

I drove home, ate dinner, took an ibuprofen for an approaching headache. Took a bath, tucked in my beautiful child who seems to be feeling much better from this morning. Hung out with Reilly and Frank.

Just some soreness in my arm.

Hoping to sleep well.

Halfway there.

Practicing Stravinsky Piece 1 in A

Clarinets have become somewhat of an obsession of mine during the pandemic. Last week I found a nice intermediate model of an A clarinet. According to wikipedia:

In modern times, the most common clarinet is the B♭ clarinet. However, the clarinet in A, pitched a semitone lower, is regularly used in orchestral, chamber and solo music. An orchestral clarinetist must own both a clarinet in A and B♭ since the repertoire is divided fairly evenly between the two.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clarinet

I’ve noodled around a bit on the A, breaking it in slowly. The tone is really nice. In this photo, the A clarinet is on the left and the B♭ is on the right. You’ll see the A is a little bit bigger–longer body, wider bell. Because the brand is different, the pinky keys are situated a little differently, but the response is just as quick as the B♭.

Practicing Piece 1 of Stravinsky’s Three Pieces has been way fun. Since I’ve been practicing on the B♭ up to now, I’ve gotten used to hearing this work pitched in a particular way. As I’ve been practicing on the A, hearing the music a half-tone lower was a bit weird at first, but i’m getting used to it. I’ll post two different practice sessions here: First the B♭, and then the A. And as I mentioned on Instagram regarding these sessions: Similar tempos. Some different approaches/attacks of notes. Different areas needing smoother transitions between notes. And more dynamics. Still quite a bit of work to do.

Practice is good.

This Week

Posted from other social media:

Baby Z is returning to school today, after a year of not attending in person. We have been spending so much time together. And now: taking these photos and walking her to class, my heart doesn’t know what to do. She’s probably fine. I don’t know if I am.

Here’s what she earned her first day back. She does like Crazy Bread:

She seems to be getting the hang of school. Tomorrow is Friday, and we’re all ready for the weekend.

***

The Asian hate crimes committed in the past year and finally being brought to light by the mass shooting in Atlanta has really made me sick to my stomach. I’ve been trying to process all of this in the last few months, and thoughts swirl and feelings jumble, and I don’t know what to make of it.

But friends and family have been supportive. They’ve reached out and checked in, and I’m so grateful.

I came across this Instagram post by Chanel Miller. So eloquent. Concise. Expresses much of what has been on my mind.

I hope everyone out there is safe and feels loved. The hate is unbearable.

From the Instagram Archive: November 12, 2018

I’m exhausted, so I’m recycling content from another social media platform. And maybe because I’m so épuisée, I’m especially emotional. Which is okay to be. But I’m seriously about to fall asleep. Good night.

This is a newer article than the original post. It seems a pretty good general overview of stuff I read for work. This image links to the PDF of the article, if you’re interested in reading.

Helpless.

I read about cancer every day.
It’s my job, curating data for a database for an app that pathologists use to help diagnose cancer.
I hate cancer. I hate what it does to families, friends. I hate how it crushes them. I hate how helpless I feel, when I see friends whose parents have passed on because of it; when Reilly’s mom feels so nauseated and has to stay in bed after a round of chemo. That it has become a new normal over the past two years. But she gets up and lives the best she can. She takes a deep breath and finds the strength to smile despite everything. Nausea. Weakness. Mouth sores. She makes Sunday dinner and we eat together and laugh. And before we head home we ask about the upcoming week’s treatments or tests—another new normal. We make sure to pray for her.

While my job has no direct impact on her situation, I make sure to do my best at it. It’ll help someone.

So, not completely helpless.

Some Sunday Thoughts

The Little lost another tooth.

After a year of only bottom teeth–the four front ones–Z finally lost a top tooth.

Losing teeth always feels like a milestone. Part of the child goes away and a little bit of adult takes her place. Like sorting through outgrown clothes, this aspect of development saddens me a little.

I love that girl so much.

We watched part of the Grammys tonight in Payson. Talked about a few bands that Carla liked. A few songs that are hard to listen to. I walked into the living room to check on Z and my eyes landed on the photo used for Carla’s obituary. One of the tunes we’d discussed just moments before earwormed, and tears welled in my eyes.

“Golden Embers,” by Mandolin Orange.

I’ve always watched the music video of the band performing, and not the story form video. I’ll post the story here, still not having watched it. Not sure I can handle crying right now.

Lyrics here.

Mandolin Orange’s Tides of a Teardrop is a tribute to Andrew’s mother. It’s beautiful, poignant; very relatable.

It’s still hard. That’s really all I can feel right now.

PARIS Arrives

Snow this morning. A gentle drift.

I keep peeking through the front curtains.

Early still. Just a quick glance.

Not yet.

Spend time with the Little in the basement. Watch some television. She loves Mickey’s Christmas Carol in the morning. I fidget and read some news.

An hour passes. One more trip upstairs. One more glance out the window.

It’s there.

There.

I rush to get it out of the snow.

Then. I slow down.

Open it. Catalogue it. Selfies with it.

Now, I listen.

Just Keep Swimming

I posted this on social media two days ago: Monday, 6/24.

Just keep swimming.

This past Saturday was three weeks since Nana’s passing; two weeks since her funeral. June 22 is Nana and Papa’s wedding anniversary. Z woke up, and she led me through her morning routine. I asked what she wanted for breakfast.

She looked at me and said, “Nemo.”

I very deliberately paused. “You want to watch Nemo? Ok, let’s go turn it on.”

We watched about 30 minutes of the movie when Reilly got home from the gym. After pausing the movie, we went upstairs and started eating the donuts he brought. Then Z headed back downstairs to finish watching. I followed her.

While the movie was playing I had my laptop open, writing and reviewing some personal thoughts. Then I heard Dory sing, “Keep swimming, just keep swimming.”

I stopped typing. This was the motto Nana had applied to her own struggles and afflictions the past couple of years. No matter the procedure, the pain, the fatigue, nausea, heartache: she pushed on. With a smile, even.

As Dory sang, I cried. As Marlin guided her through the swarm of Portuguese Man-o’-Wars stinging her, and Dory fought to stay conscious, she sang: Keep swimming.

After Finding Nemo, Z asked to watch Finding Dory. Young Dory sang “Keep swimming” when a current swept her away from her parents. She sang it throughout her search for her parents. That was how she survived. And succeeded.

I cried again.

It had been a while since Z watched either of these movies, and Reilly suggested she was feeling nostalgic. I agreed, but not just for the movies, but for Nana. I know she misses her.

Z knew what the day was. It wasn’t a coincidence she wanted to watch those movies.

Then while we were in Payson yesterday for dinner, Cousin Jessica made and brought these dogtags for all of us. A reminder of Carla; a talisman for how to live our own lives.

Screen Shot 2019-06-26 at 10.29.50 PM
We’re gonna just keep swimming, Nana. We love you.

It Was A Beautiful Day

June 8, 2019

IMG_1172

This was two weeks ago. I don’t know how that happened, where the time went. Not that it passed particularly quickly or slowly, but that it . . . moved.

IMG_1173

The service at the church was beautiful. Poignant music. Heartfelt words. A lot of tears. Some laughs. Many hugs. There are a million stories that could come from that hour and a half at the church. And a million more that could come from the hour-long viewing beforehand.

Graveside. Sunny, mid-60s.

IMG_1174

Z could not have been been better behaved. She understood the day.

IMG_1230

Carla would have loved these flowers. A coworker relayed that Carla actually chose her spray. Her colleagues were more than eager and happy to oblige her. For this day. This one wish. Something in the way her coworkers regard her is particularly touching to me. They were also her friends, but there was something about their relationship that somehow resounds with me.

IMG_1231

Two weeks sometimes feels like a million years ago. Sometimes it feels like yesterday. These perceived lapses occupy the same space. Or maybe they’re layered on top of each other. Or interwoven. I don’t understand it. Maybe a part of me wants to believe that understanding it will help me feel better. But what I should understand is that I’ll feel better with time. Whether that time is in slow-motion or warp speed.

And “feeling better” isn’t a singular event. I’ve felt pretty darn ok in certain moments. Laughed, even. I’ll take what I can get.

I’ll give what I can, too.

Today is Blake and Carla’s 41st wedding anniversary.

This isn’t an easy month right now.

We’re all going to watch Reilly’s brother play in the Utah Symphony as they accompany a screening of Harry Potter and Goblet of Fire.

Should be fun.

May 19, 2019

Disclaimer: I’m grieving and have more feelings than I know what to do with. Writing is one way to sort through them. Not sure if they’ll make sense, but here they are.

We all went out to dinner to celebrate Mother’s Day at Ruby River Steakhouse in Provo. We were supposed to have gone to Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse up in Park City on May 12 for the official Mother’s Day, but snow was (not) strangely in the forecast. Geez, Utah.

The whole lot of us. Eleven of us. We talked and ate. I sat at the opposite end of the table from Nana Carla. I looked over at her every once in a while, and I would see her sometimes lost in thought. Or nibbling at her food. Or talking to another family member. Or taking photos with her phone. More often than not I saw her smiling.

A deep, underlying sadness lay just below the surface of … me? My soul? The dinner? Did everyone know or sense this would be our last Mother’s Day celebration with Nana Carla’s actual, physical presence? I know we smiled for her, too.

On the morning of Monday, May 20, Carla sent five photos from the last night’s dinner to my phone. (Three not pictured here.) I replied.

Screenshot_20190614-003939

Ours, too, Nana.

We miss you so much.