The edge of 17

Can it truly be possible that my baby girl is turning 17 today?

Hairstyle = tribute to Robert Smith, lead singer of The Cure

It can’t be. The clock is a liar. The calendar is a thief.

And yet, Leah is 17 today. We’re a week and a half away from the 4th of July, but she’s already made her Declaration of Independence. She’s moved beyond parental obedience… the best we can hope for now is “guidance” as she carves out her own space in the universe.

I hope she remains as kind, caring and empathetic as she’s always been. I hope the sassiness that’s sometimes a mild affront to our current parental sensibilities (insert eyeroll here) morphs into resilience and grit and a healthy dose of skepticism.

I can’t wait to wish her a happy birthday… when she arises at the crack of 3 p.m. (Oh, to be a teen again!)

Release the hounds!

I have two cats. They sleep all day, require zero attention and poop tidily.

My wife, however, has somehow hoodwinked me into allowing two dogs into the house. The first one was a Christmas gift, allegedly for one of our kids, but in hindsight that was just a good cover story. The second one was a service-dog-in-training. We “socialized” him for six months, then he went back to the nonprofit for several months of hardcore training. He didn’t pass the rigorous testing required of service dogs, so we (i.e. my wife) adopted him. I have a sneaking suspicion that my wife waved a raw steak in front of him when he was going through the final test, to ensure that he would drop out.

The dogs require daily walks, like to beg in the kitchen, sleep in our beds, nap on our couches and poop all over the yard.

I’ve told my wife that I’m going to build a big doghouse in the backyard, so the pooches can be outside dogs. But if I actually built it, I have no doubt who would be banished to it, and it wouldn’t be Bibo and Hope.

I’ve got a math problem

I can’t figure out how our youngest is 15 years old today.

Quarantine cake… and quarantine haircut courtesy of his older brother and an electric razor’s beard trimmer

Let’s see, 3 older siblings times one baby boy… carry the pumpkin seat… minus all those nights he toddled into our bedroom… divided by a million soccer games… yep, that adds up to 15.

He’s not much of a kid anymore but he’s still a great kid.

Lockdown is boring

My big sis Jeanne lives in Brooklyn with her husband Michael and their youngest child, Chris. They’re safe and sound, thank goodness, but my sister’s work shut down, so she’s had plenty of time to ponder the mysteries of the universe (and perhaps her Netflix queue).

She’s come up with a list of “Things to ponder when you are bored”:

  • You are a bit disoriented when you wake up like that was a terrible nightmare and then you realize that you’re waking up to live the nightmare. 
  • You hear sirens all day long. On weekend nights when your kids were young and out late, you prayed they listened when you said “don’t drink and drive.” Now you pray for other reasons.  
  • Your husband doesn’t know which bandanna to choose (thank goodness you ordered them before “currently unavailable”). He ponders whether to align with the Crips or Bloods and opts for both. 
  • You used to skip lunch at work now it’s a five star production.  
  • Your unwind beverage of choice was a nice glass of Cabernet.  Now it’s straight Gentleman Jack. 
  • You eccentric father who never believed in doctors believed peroxide could fix most ailments: teeth, skin, etc.  Who knew?  
  • How can you not purchase a Dr. Anthony Fauci bobble head?  
  • Amazon Fresh says they update delivery availability throughout the day.  They lie. Fresh Direct doesn’t even offer a future delivery date to choose.  
  • I always wanted to live in Montana.  
  • I forgot my ID on my last walking adventure to NYC.  I was not able to get an Ezra Keats Snowy Day library card. My husband brought his ID and got his. He doesn’t even know who Ezra Keats is. I read, he bought the kids candy.  
  • I have a drawer that must have 10,099 buttons.  
  • J Crew sent me a spend $100 get $50 free coupon.  That’s not happening.  
  • A liquor store is considered an essential business.  Go figure.   

Hang in there, sister. Things will get better someday…

That sinking feeling

My employee communications job has turned into “crisis communications” of late (thanks a lot, Wuhan exotic animal market!) and there have been a lot of workdays that have stretched into worknights. (Which also explains my lack of posts recently.) So the last thing I needed when I got up on Wednesday morning was a clogged bathroom sink. But that’s exactly what I got. Actually, it’s not exactly what I got… I got exactly TWO clogged bathroom sinks. Our master bathroom and hallway bathroom are back to back upstairs, and share the same drainpipe.

I played a bit of “plunger ping-pong”: plunge the master bath sink and the standing water would go to the hallway sink…. plunge the hallway sink and it’d go back to the master side. I did manage to yank a field mouse sized lump of hair out of one drains (ah, the glamorous life!) but it was clear that the clog was farther down in the pipes.

I’m far from handy (and far from handsome… sorry Red Green), but I was 72% confident that I could pull out the pop-up plug and/or disassemble the PVC pipes below one of the sinks and clear the clog. But I also was 99.9% sure that I’d screw up the reassembly (which is in tight quarters in a vanity), and we’d then have a leaky drain on our hands. And I was 110% sure that I didn’t have time for this nonsense, with my company’s head of HR and COO already pinging me about the latest corona-crisis.

I got caught up in work and forgot about the clog until that afternoon, when I suddenly remembered that one of my co-workers has a husband who is a master plumber. And they live nearby. And she said he gives a “friends and family” discount to her co-workers.

So I pinged her via our company’s instant message system to get his phone number. I also couldn’t remember his name. Here’s what happened next:

It was a bit crazy. Freaky. Eerie. I mean, what are the chances that she’d use the bogus name of “Herbert” in a chat with a real Herbert’s son, on the very day that he passed away a decade ago?

I’ll spare you the rest of the chat, but we wound up having a nice little conversation about my father. The day started with a lot of frustration, but it wrapped up with some warm fuzzy feelings. Guess things — including clogged sinks — happen for a reason.

Oh, and the ghost of Herbert must’ve heard us summoning him from the Great Beyond, because after I texted Erin’s husband and we arranged for him to stop by the next morning, I went upstairs and the drains were working fine. Thanks, Pops… for everything!

Ballers just want to have fun.

If you were a basketball player and you were on a team that won 25 games and made the Sweet 16 your freshman year, and a team that went 6-14 in conference your sophomore year, which would be more fun? The answer is the latter team, at least if your my wife’s cousin’s daughter. (OK, “first cousin once removed” if you must insist on the proper terminology. Who are you anyway… Emily Post?)

Meggie Burgess transferred from Christopher Newport, a school in Virginia that is a perennial D3 powerhouse. Her old squad is ranked #22 in the country, won their conference tourney last night and is headed back to the NCAA tournament with an impressive 23-4 record. But those victories aren’t very fulfilling if you rarely see playing time, and Meggie had the fewest minutes played of anyone on last year’s 25-win team.

“I was sitting on the bench last year saying, ‘I hate this. I don’t know if I want to do this. I don’t know if I want to play anymore.’”

from this Carroll County Times article

She transferred to McDaniel, a D3 school closer to her Maryland home. The team was in rebuild mode, with a brand new coach, but Meggie finally got a chance to contribute, playing in 21 games and averaging 2.5 points and 2 rebounds a game, including a 13-point/3-rebound/2-assist effort in their final game. The WNBA probably won’t come calling anytime soon, but that’s not the point. It’s feeling like you’re contributing to the overall squad.

“Just coming here and being on this team and playing well during practice, and actually getting to participate during practice, was more energizing and more motivating in itself.”

Same article as above.
Photo: David Sinclair

Transferring isn’t always the best option… sometimes you have to work through adversity. That’s not just how sports work, that’s how life works. But in Meggie’s case, she was able to go from a virtual non-entity to a valued member of a team. And that sense of purpose is really rewarding… in sports as well as in life.

“Meggie has grown, I think, more than anybody else in the last couple months… Coming from a situation at Christopher Newport where she wasn’t really in the playing rotation, and then coming here and being able to get minutes and be a contributing factor is huge.”

McDaniel women’s basketball coach Christin Gowan, in the same article.

Besides, Meggie’s new team is called the Green Terror… that’s way cooler than being on a team called the Captains.

The full article from the Carroll County Times is here.

Photo: David Sinclair
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