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Chapter XVII

because you never know someone from the very beginning

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Two Teeth

I write this blog because I have a terrible memory.  A memory so bad, I forget to write this blog. 

My memory was not always this bad.  It's gotten worse with age, kids, the onset of technology that does everything for us (who needs to remember directions when your phone tells you where to go).  But what  I don't want to forget are those moments with family that mean so much, and that kids will ask about later.  I always get nostalgic this time of year (you know, THE DAD THING) and today is no exception.  Recently, I've started a new project with my mother emailing her random questions about her life (favorite sandwich as a kid; first time she had pizza; why she took flamenco and when she has spare time, she replies.  It's magical.  She gets a kick out of the prompt and inevitably writes about more than I asked.  Nostalgic fun.

However.  She cannot seem to remember much about when my sister and I were kids.  What her daily life was like.  Was it really THAT bad?  Has it been blocked out?  Perhaps.  Not wanting to follow a similar fate, I shall start there.  When my kids ask me "What was your typical day like" I would like to have an answer because frankly, it's been nuts lately.  And when my husband and I are old I would like some proof that we did all we could (so they will take pity on us and move us to a luxurious island).  So here is what the days have been like:

TYPICAL DAY

Midnight – been sleeping for maybe 30 minutes; a child wakes and cries, the other walks into our room to tell us he's crying.  We debate the Cry It Out strategy, tell ourselves we won't do it because of neighbors, cave, snuggle baby and drop him into the crib back to sleep.  Who cares that the doc says he should be sleeping through the night.

4:41AM – damn it, I care that the doctor says he should be sleeping through the night…seriously, awake again?  Fine, I cave again.  He goes back to sleep.

6:30AM – I start hitting snooze.  I am not and fear I never will be a morning person.

7AM – Floppy haired child "Want my milk." (someone else is not a morning person)  "I barely understand you when you don't say Please" "Please can I have my milk?"  Really, who needs an alarm clock with a soothing wake up like that. 

The next hour is a blur.  Showers; hair; makeup; did you go potty; finish packing lunches; where are my shoes; "Can I take my rocking horse to school?" "No." "But I really want to take my rocking horse to school!"  "Still no";  download NYTimes;  grab pumping accessories (men, if this is TMI, too bad.  welcome to what women deal with); is that rollup fruit snack really THAT bad for her breakfast? oh wait, the baby!  he needs socks.  toss him in the bucket.  avery grab your bag.  no I cannot carry it.  lock the house. I forgot my phone.  do we each have a kid?  I'm going to be late for a call!  meet me at the subway.   drop off kid.  two kisses.  ok a super arm hug fly baby kiss with sparkles. 

Ice coffee.  Subway.  Hi again, honey.  We missed the good train.

8:45 – 9:15  AHHHH, work.  You know how this goes… calls/ meetings/ analysis/ pump/ fret/ calls/ emails/ guilty no time for pumping/ call/ meeting and then….my god it's 5:16PM and if we don't get kids by 6PM they charge $2.00 a minute (True.  Not my typical hyperbole).

RUN to subway.  Hit people in the way.  Be "THAT PERSON" moving others along. Down the stairs, through the turnstile, round the corner, up the stairs, across the platform, down the stairs and if I am LUCKY, the train. 

5:50PM Brooklyn!  Grab kids in nick of time.  Yes we can go get a smoothie.  Please do not run too far I have your brother and cannot chase you.  Time for home – THIS way.  Hold my hand please.  Schlep 4 bags 2 kids and a stroller upstairs.  Try not to rip one pair of pants that look good post-pregnancy.  Into the house.  Dinner for older child, bathe younger child, TV for older child (don't judge, you know you do it), feed younger child, younger child to bed, bathe older child (a moment of peace as she now seems to need "alone time" in her bath), books, milk, bed.  and by now it's 8:30PM.

Oh it's so great to sit down…but wait!  Start packing lunches, fold laundry, open mail, check email, finish incomplete work task, respond to work emails that came in starting at 6PM…

Hi honey!

We forgot to eat dinner….10PM or later.

There you have it.  Sound familiar?  Conclusions:

1. It's "constant" is a phrase you hear over and over with kids

2. HOW do people do it with more than two kids and careers, etc.?

3. Thank goodness for a good husband.  This is my day OR his day.  We share. 

And you know what is really interesting…I love it.  When traveling for work, which is not infrequent, I miss it.  The lunches, the conversation, the singing with Avery while she is in the bath, the new sounds Aiden makes, the reflections we discuss on the day and the two teeth.  With both kids I missed the first teeth.  Someone else pointed them out to me – I think I was gone when they emerged both times.

It's all so worth remembering.  It goes too fast.  So write it down and cherish it, every little morsel.

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Ode To Pregnant Women Everywhere (composed on the subway)**

Our coats no longer zip, our feet won't fit our shoes. We haven't seen our toes for weeks. We've got the pregnant blues.

We waddle to and from our tasks like ducks with 'roids, OH BOO. Our backs are sore, its all a bore! We've got the pregnant blues.

It started with the barfing, night sweats and fatigue…then came a moment in the clear! The second tri, we'd need.

But then the moment passed – we're back! With symptoms yuck galore. All leading to the birth of a child we'll sure adore…

Pubic pains, o' lack of sleep, and headaches two or ten. Reflux, heartburn and congestion…CRIPE, when will it end?!?

No sushi, soft cheese, beer or wine, the righteous do declare. To them we say "bahh humbug you!" And darn it all, screw them!

With lots more weeks to go we shout, "oh say it isn't true!" We may just burst or stay in bed. We've got the pregnant blues.

It is all worth it, yes indeed, a child's a true delight. But all we ask is a FULL NIGHT'S SLEEP!!! And with that say we say, GOOD NIGHT.

 

**it is a blessing and a gift.  the blessing/gift  that keeps on giving 🙂

A Few Things I Know

You know you are old when the hemlines at a conservative store like Ann Taylor Loft strike you as risqué.

You know you have good neighbors when they call you on a Tuesday night and say "We have some leftover ribs we would love to give you."  Ahh, yes please!

You know you are sentimental when you read about the world's oldest dog dying and you get a little misty.

You know your 18 month old is a GENIUS when she waits until you are about to leave the room after putting her down to sleep before she yells "Wuv YOU!" as loud as she can through a veil of tears.

You know your cats are fat when they have trouble hauling themselves in and out of the litter box.

You know you love your job when you are still working on a long range strategic plan for one of your companies and you barely notice that it's approaching midnight.

You know the BEST time of year in NYC is about to arrive when you leave the house and feel a slight need for a sweater.

You know you have good friends when, well, a lot of things.  I have good friends.

You know you have your financial priorities straight when you are not flipped out by daily market fluctuations.

You know you are not as cool as you used to think you were when everyone is talking about Inglourious Basterds and you think "who are these disgraceful men people keep referring to, and for god's sake, WHY can't they spell 'bastards' correctly!?!?"

I know you may be tired of this now, but I am on a roll, so am going to keep going…

You know you are sitting next to a total snob at a dinner party when said SNOB asks you in all seriousness "So, where do you SUMMER?"  Pardon?  Since when is "summer" a verb?  Excuse me, I almost tripped over my tennis whites.

You know you like your in-laws when they are coming home from a month of vacation and you are really excited to greet them at their house upon return and cook them dinner.

You know you have a great husband when he buys you flowers every once in a while for no reason and fixes things around the house and they actually work after he is done. 

You know you are a parent when the last movie you saw in the theater was (The Age of Your First Child in months + 3 Months) ago because movies went from being $30 for 2 to $130 for two.  Darn babysitting costs.

You know you are done with a blog post when, well, you say to yourself "OK, I may even be boring myself now – ENOUGH!."

Dad, seven months later

Status: 8:41PM; baby in bed for about an hour now.  Chicken stock on the stove (just cuz).  Pasta makings also on the stove (waiting for the husband to get home to truly fire that up).  East India Pale Ale.

So what to talk about?  How about Dad.  Seven months later.  Seven months since he died. 

I will admit, I feel weird writing about this because some readers might say "enough already!"  Or something like that.  But this is my blog and I will write what I want to (just had to say that).

So what is it like, to be 37 and be done with having your dad alive in your life?

First off, people are extraordinarily gracious for the first several weeks.  Then, nothing.  They are not rude, but nobody really asks "Hey, how are you doing with having lost your dad?"  I know that people would listen if I brought it up, but sometimes it's nice to be asked.  I am not bitter about this – I am not sure I knew before this that it's nice to have someone ask about it.

You know that flash you get when you remember to call someone?  I get that.  And in an instant, I say "oh right.  can't do that anymore."  it does not hurt in a painful way; rather, in a teary way.  I just miss him.  Plain and simple.  The night of the six month anniversary was bad.  I relived the evening as the time approached when he had died.  I am not excited to get to the one year point, but I am excited to get beyond it.

I have an unusual interest in death and what it's like to die.  Don't get all crazy now, I am not interested in it for bad reasons – just really want to know what happens.  I think he knew.  He said some things that night to my mom and to the nurse that suggest he knew.  He did a few things that suggest he knew.  We will never know I suppose, until, well, you know.

I found I wanted to know everything about him.  I had so many unanswered questions.  those questions remain.  if your parents are alive, get a book titled Legacy and ask lots of those questions.  document your time.  you will be happy you have it later.  We have a few recordings of his voice.  We have 30 years of sermons.  I am not ready to let any of those items go.  We have tons (I do mean TONS) of his handwritten notes.  I treasure those.  I carry something with me at all times that he carried with him. 

I still cry.  It does not last long, so if you are talking to me and I cry don't be alarmed.  It's not that dramatic.  Just a few tears here and there.

For the most part I am increasingly grateful to have what we have – notes, recordings, memories. It's a duller pain and in some ways, more wonderful than I imagined.  It's something I choose to allow – I don't fight it.  I like remembering him.  I love talking about him.  I have lots of laughs about him.  I can still hear his voice in my head.  I have not had one of those experiences people say they have when they "sense" someone.  I have not stepped into a church since he died.  Not sure I can go there yet.  I remember vividly the hymn that played at his funeral and I hum it to myself often.  I was bummed the other day when I heard a wonderful piece of music which I could not identify…it was at a time like that when I would have called him and asked what it was.  Like a game…he would have had the composer, the work, the pianist and maybe after a minute or two, the precise recording for me.  That was my dad.

I am going to write more about him over time.  It helps me remember things that I want to share with my daughter.  And, for me, it's simply nice to remember. 

why i practice Lent.

Well hey there.  What am I thinking about?  God, naturally. 

That is not what you are thinking about?  Liar.  With this market and economy, even athiests are praying their behinds off daily.  Everyone is a sky-looking God seeker these days.  "Dear God, make it stop!"  "God, I swear I will stop buying wasteful Starbucks lattes if you just make my 401K go back to where it was!"  "Dear God, it's me Margaret." 

Awww, hell, I don't know if you are thinking about God, but as uncool as it is to admit these days, I am.  Why?  Because Lent starts one week from tomorrow and every year I give up something interesting for Lent.  In the past I have given up wine, red meat, any and all alcohol, any and all meat/poultry, french fries (just as hard as red meat), television, non-essential shopping and complaining.  Per my father's advice, at times I have also taken something on such as training for a half-marathon, or some other such goodness.  I always enjoy the dedication and sacrifice, the break from routine, and the challenge that Lent presents.  So this year, the first year after my father's death, Lent becomes all the more important.  Participating in the season of Lent is a way for me to honor my dad.  So, I am seeking thoughts and ideas.

To be clear, I actually have no idea if God exists; yet, I consider myself religious.  As a preacher's kid, I am frequently asked "Oh, so are you very religious?"  I am tempted at these moments to start preaching the gospel and trying to convert friends and acquaintances to be SAVED and/or RE-BORN (pick your poison), but thus far have refrained.  People would see through me in a second…let's be honest, I am an Episcopalian – the word "Jesus" gives me the willies.

In my sphere of career colleagues, believing in God is a generally unpopular viewpoint, reserved for half-wit lunatics wielding a political agenda, or for some new-age fruitcake who eats only flax seeds and has unwashed hair.  WE are investors in technology who like evidence, science, facts and figures.  Ain't no facts really around God, last I checked, except for all of us loonies that think it/he/she may exist. 

Yet still, I think I believe.  I say, "I think" because in the last few years I have started to question my belief in God (for the record, I just moved to the other side of the couch out of fear that my father would strike me down with lightning from the heavens…note the irony).  I like evidence, facts, figures and analysis.  I think the whole idea of a person rising from the dead is insane.  Walking on water?  After enough glasses of wine, anyone might think they can see someone walk on water.  Water into wine?  I have served some pretty plunky stuff to drunken guests in my years (college, 1992, keg party, ran out of beer, told everyone we made "special" Kool-Aid, and well, people start to drink the Kool-Aid).  The Ark?  I cannot even begin to defend that.  I also don't believe in ideas like "God will provide" etc.  Last I checked, my husband and I wrote our last mortgage check and I bet we will have to repeat that process this month.  I believe in The Self.

And yet.

We don't have a cure for the common cold (though apparently one is on the horizon – any minute now).
Nobody has figured out a formula for why two people might be attracted to one another.
What defines and generates and maintains love?

And science?  Well, science seems to evolve too, so who says it contains absolute truths?

And the final thing is, I am way too humble to think that humans are the highest form of intelligence that exist.  If that is the case, we are all doomed.  Just look at what we do to one another, to our world, to children, to plants and animals.  Are we really the best out there?  If there is something more intelligent, would we humans really be able to outwit it and figure that out?

I have no idea. 

So, I try to believe because I like the idea that we are not just here as a science experiment that, ultimately, means nothing.

This is why I practice Lent.  It's personal, practical, a challenge, relies on the Self and for me, may just bring out a little of the Divine in every day.

Ideas welcomed for creative Lenten give-ups.

From Facebook, but it’s blogworthy…25 random things about MOI

1. I am a preacher's kid and though my upbringing was not really like
what's her name's in Footloose, there are aspects of that movie that I
can relate to.

2. I knew from age five that I would live in Manhattan. I NEVER thought
I would move off of the island. Now, I live in Brooklyn and fantasize
about getting even further out of the city.

3. I thought my dad "owned" our church and all of the related property.

4. Building on #3, I once charged admission to the church playground. I
made money. As an eight year old. Charging neighborhood kids to use the
church playground. If there is a god, I need to do some repenting.

5. I secretly wish I were a pop star, not because I can sing (I cannot
– but that does not seem like a prerequisite for the job) but because I
love to dance. This becomes not such a secret when the music starts
playing and I put on my fancy dance moves.

6. Though I cannot sing, I once played Sister Margaretta in the Sound
Of Music. I had a solo. I made sure that I performed my solo while the
audience was still clapping for the soloist who sang before me.
Clearly, I showed strategic thinking and survival skills at a young
age.

7. I was – yes – the captain of the Pom Pom squad in high school. It
gets better, I was the treasurer when I was a junior. I loved being on
poms and credit all of my rhythm to those days.

8. I was not a good captain. I hated making up routines and am not a good choreographer.

9. That said, I got to perform at Disney World once (as did the rest of
the squad) and was invited to perform in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day
Parade. My parents said "No" to the latter as it meant I would miss two
days of school. In the spirit of you only live once, to this day I
think that was a mistake.

10. In 1999, I quit working at Goldman Sachs to go work for Russell Simmons. Great career move.

11. In 2000, I decided to work for Primedia rather than Def Jam Records. Not such a great career move.

12. I hate listening to people talk about their dreams. Not dreams like
life dreams, rather, dreams like "Last night I had the craziest dream"
dreams. It's a pet peeve. I cannot explain it. I prefer to live in
reality and focus my energy there, I suppose.

13. I think my sister is about the funniest person I know.

14. I am a pretty darn good cook. I keep goose fat in my refrigerator.
I always have fresh chicken stock. Right now I am researching Italian
festival foods as that will be my next area of focus.

15. More on #14, one day I would like to own a food store, a food cart,
a food truck or all of the above, perhaps serving Italian festival
foods.

16. I am really really good at MSFT Excel. I used to be great at it. I
would have put my excel modeling skills up against any other Wall
Street analyst with no fear that I could build company projections
faster, more accurately and more elegantly than anyone else out there.

17. I realize that 15 years into my career, #16 is not something to be proud of anymore.

18. I achieved Executive Platinum status on American Airlines (flying
100,000 miles in one year) the year I was pregnant. That equates to
about 20 or so trips back and forth to CA in one year.

19. I met my husband in a bar in 2000. We shacked up in 2003.  He bought me two cats in 2004, at which point I said to myself "Hmmm, he likes cats, cats live a long time, he must want to be with me for a long time."  In 2005 we got engaged, and in 2006 we got married.  We still have the cats.  We really want a dog.

20. I absolutely love to go fishing. My husband taught me to fish. I am
now learning to drive the boats. I am also pretty good at tying the
knots that go along with boat management.

21. I almost got straight A's as a sophomore in high school, did get
straight A's as a junior, then as a senior, got really bored, accepted
admission to Georgetown, stopped doing homework or even trying, and
ended the year with two C's in addition to more B's than A's. I wrote
about this as a mistake when I applied to Harvard Business School. They
seemed to buy my story.

22. I once ran the NYC Marathon and still count it as one of my
proudest days. Years later, right before I got pregnant, I completed a
half-marathon. I have barely run three miles since then but ANY day now
I will start again!

23. I won a pancake eating contest in first grade on Shrove Tuesday.
Apparently I ate 22 pancakes and washed it all down with an orangcicle.
I have no way to confirm that this is true, but I remember eating,
winning and the number 22…and the look of astonishment on the faces
around me. What can I say. I was a growing girl.

24. Despite all social media evidence to the contrary (twittering, a
blog, facebook participation), I am more of an introvert than an
extrovert.

25. #24 is clearly debatable by yet another fact – I proudly have a bra
on the bar at Hogs and Heifers. Said bra landed on the bar after I
danced on the bar and they offered free whisky shots to those of us
that tossed our bras onto the bar. What? I was young and living in NYC
was expensive! Drinks cost a fortune. You would have done the same
thing.

What it’s Like to Lose a Parent

For about 20 years, I had wondered "what will it be like."  Specifically, what will it be like when my father dies.  I never even considered that my mother might go first.  Thankfully, she did not.  She is alive and thriving.  But Dad, well, he was like a cat as he tricked death several times starting when I was about 15 years old.

So I wondered, what will it be like to get The Call.  There were moments when I thought he was dying and he did not.  In one such moment I was there right with him.  I was panicked and calm and not thinking of anything more than being right there.  And then, grateful.  Eternally grateful when he came back to consciousness.  That was last April when I took our new daughter down to see him and he had what he liked to call "An incident" with his heart.  There was another time in I think 2004…maybe 2005.  I had to get on a plane when he was unconscious.   That was pretty terrible.  In that instance, I was pretty useless and paralyzed.  My then boyfriend, now husband, had to pack for me.  I was visibly upset and unable to manage tears the whole flight.  I landed and learned that the minute my flight took off, he had stabilized.  Those 45 minutes in the air, in limbo, were some of the worst moments of my life thus far.

And then of course there was the actual event, just over two months ago.  He had been home from the hospital for about a week.  We had all been there the weekend before to spend time with him.  Hospice had taken over in our house, and that was a god send.  I talked to him around noon that day.  He and my mother were on their way to one of his favorite places, The Olive Garden.  He wasn't eating much those days but on that day, he had a hankering for some soup and breadsticks.  When I spoke to him that was the last thing we talked about, how he and my mother were going to go out and he was going to get some soup.  He said "Let's talk later."

My mother called me later that day just to mention that she had spoken to the funeral home to get things in order.  I asked if she thought the need was imminent.  Always the planner, she said she did not know but wanted to be prepared.  Interesting timing.  I think she knew.

Later that evening, my father, mother and the hospice nurse sat down to dinner.  He offered up a toast to them, thanking them for all of their help.  This was odd.  I am not sure I remember him initiating a lot of toasts, but on this night he did.  He had some hamburger, one of his favorite meals.  Only a few bites.  Then my mother made him an old favorite, a chocolate milkshake.  He drank the whole thing. 

Several hours later he was experiencing restlessness.  This is a sign.  It's even somewhat official, from what I understand, Terminal Restlessness.  My mother and I were keeping in close touch that night on the phone.  Things continued for the worse.  I won't go into the details.  Near the end – we did not yet know it was the end – my daughter who is a pretty sound sleeper all of a sudden started dramatically crying in her room.  This was around 11:45PM.  She had been asleep since 7PM.  I went to calm her.  A bit later, the phone rang again.  My husband answered the call.  I was in with Avery but I heard him on the phone.  I knew this was The Call.  I took the phone and my mother said she thought this was it.  She put the phone up to his ear so I could speak to him.  I said a few things – things you might imagine one says at that moment.  I did not hear him but apparently he was alive, yet approaching death.  Hearing they say is the last thing to go.  After only a few seconds of this my mother got back on the phone and said she thought he was gone.  It was 12:05AM.  I told her I would call my sister.

Deep breath.  That is what I did.  I stood in my living room and took a very deep breath.  That was quite a moment.  My husband came out with my daughter – and then took her back to her room.  She calmed down right away, right around the very moments after he died.  I called my sister.

And then I felt an incredible sense of calm.  Calm like I had not felt in years.  All anxiety about pain and suffering was gone.  He had finally found peace.  And for me, his daughter, that was joyful.  I know it sounds odd to say – surely, I was not happy.  But I was calm.  I thought I would be non-functional.  Not at all.  I had traded anxiety, fear for him, hurt for him and concern for him (and much for my mother too, by the way, who was a saint through the entire 20 year health management process – that is another story) for loss.  Big, deep, fundamental loss.  But not entirely.  I did not and do not feel emptiness.  I thought I would.

I miss him a million times every single day.  I cry.  I have so many unanswered questions.  But I don't fear for him anymore, and I must say, there is a lot to be said for that.  He lived an amazing life, and I had an amazing time with him.  I can still see him and hear him.  I have no regrets about my relationship with him and I don't think he would either (though I am sure he would still say I should go to church more often).  We spent never enough time, but it was excellent time.  I have a lot to hold onto.  And for that, I am eternally grateful.

Today

  • Very worried about the economy and friends at Lehman.

  • But, excited about roasted kale!

  • Working with my companies to manage capital conservatively.

  • My daughter is almost crawling!

  • Though the world is crumbling financially, still seeing lots of entrepreneurs trying to disrupt industries.

  • Excited for the two people who run James, the restaurant in my neighborhood featured in the NYTimes today!  A Bruni review, good stuff.

  • Where have all the cowboys gone?

  • Have been criticized for my vocal opposition to McCain/Palin…by people who are themselves, vocal about their opposition to Obama/Biden.  Umm, if you can't take it, don't dish it out…

  • Loving September weather in NYC.

  • But traveling for 5 days in September to CA. Oh well.  At least it's nice in CA.

  • Sifting through new deals to see what are nice new features versus what could be great, huge new companies.

  • Excited I met a VC today who refuses to own a blackberry.

  • Sad that I own a blackberry…but only at times.  I actually, generally like it.  Even on vacation.  But don't always expect me to answer.

  • Heading home now to put my daughter to bed.

  • Will be plugged back in around 7:30PM.  When the kale is roasting.

A Few of My Favorite Things…

Every so often I like to feel a little good about myself (don't lie, you do too).  I do lots of things to accomplish that goal…so after I finish rolling in caps and gowns from years past, staring at photos of my daughter, admiring my hot husband, reading brilliant essays on ladybugs composed when I was six (ok, seven) and being glad that I have yet to succumb to Botox (putting off the inevitable), I put on my wedding dress and..oops, anyway…I re-read this blog to see what the hell I am all about and what's been on my mind. 

There are several things on this blog that I re-read and say "WHAT the ?" to myself, and others that I read and say "Oh yeah, ok, yeah…" or "Damn, that was pretty good."  It's easy to forget what you've been thinking about over a few months…or at least, easy for me, so that is why I write.  As I re-read, these are the posts that stood out, for a variety of reasons.  

Aging
Selecting a VC
Sexism
Interviewing Skills
The Hamptons
Generosity
Hopes and Dreams for my daughter
Gorillas on the subway, of course
Maternity Leave
More Reasons I love to cook
Perhaps the funniest email I have ever read
Dear God, what the! !?@?!!

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