Sunday, September 23, 2012

Nothing Else To Say

Two of the four who were killed in Syria last week were from Navy SEALs (in Syria with a private security company) who rushed to the Consulate to assist. A goodbye letter, written by one of the SEALs' best friends, was published in its entirety here:

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Chicago Again!

Just returned from a very-short-trip to Chicago to visit my sister, her husband, and their two boys (ages 4 and just-2), as well as with my mom and niece. I often babysit the boys when my sister and her husband have to be gone on business trips. This trip, however, was to spend a long weekend at a family gathering of sorts.

It started a couple weeks earlier, when the phone rang about 8 p.m. It was my 22-year-old niece. She's just graduated from college with a writing degree (emphasis in journalism), and is on her way to Paris in a few weeks for a nine-month post-graduate fellowship project. I know, I know - it's a tough assignment. But hey, someone's got to do it. (She'll be reporting on the squatters in Paris.)

In any case, she called to let me know she'd be in Chicago in a couple weeks, for a long weekend, to see my sister et al, on her way back to the East Coast from Oklahoma, where she was taking a trip... and was there any way I could go to Chicago for that weekend? If I was planning a trip there in the fall anyway...

It worked out. We all gathered. Amazing.

An extra bonus is that my mom has just retired and moved to Chicago as well - about a mile from my sister (in the suburbs, more than the city - I don't know why I always say "Chicago"). So not only did we all have a blast, but I got to see my mom's new apartment (she's downsized!) - and hang up pictures and memorabilia for her...

Friends kept asking me why my niece was going to be in Oklahoma. I wasn't really sure. Turns out, it was a part of her summer research/writing project. There was an interview to be conducted there. She had some great stories from her trip - and brought everyone cool gifts. The boys each got a kitch cowboy hat. Grandma (my mom) got ceramic Christmas tree ornament chickens - two of them - whose wings moved and who each had their own basket of eggs. (Actually, they looked more like roosters to me, creating quite a puzzle about where those eggs had come from...). She got me a ceramic plate labeled "Washington" and showing Washington tourist sites. It was funny, since she found the plate in Oklahoma...

Highlights from the weekend:

-I arrived Friday to a block party at my sister's neighborhood. There was a bouncy house for the kids, and various and sundry neighbors to meet. At one point - and in spite of five adults available to keep an eye on him - my youngest nephew disappeared. Yikes. We looked everywhere for him. Turned out, he was across the street at a neighbor's house, talking to the little dog on the other side of the front door. He so loves dogs. "Goggy," he calls them. So sweet.

-When I gave the little one a bath the next morning, I asked him if he wanted me to tell him a story about a dog. He nodded somberly. (How could I think he would not want such a story?) So I told him the story of Barney Beagle, who waited at the pet store for his boy to come and find him and buy him from the pet store owner and take him home with him, where he belonged. (I loved this book from childhood. I can't find a copy of it now, to buy for the boys. But I can almost say the story word for word - so who needs the book?) He listened so closely. I thought later, oops - I may have put some ideas in his head about whether he needed to go find his dog some day...

-At one point on Saturday, the older nephew decided to do a magic show. He got in front of his "audience" (that would be my mother, my niece, and me) - and said, in Circus barker style, "Ladies and gentlemen! Welcome to the Magic Show!" His biggest and best - and only - trick was to show us a dollar (that he got from his daddy's money clip lying on the counter), then put the dollar behind his back, switched it to the other hand, and then showed us his now-empty hand - (cheers from us) - then he crumpled up the money and showed us the wadded-up result - (cheers from us again) - and then he asked, "Who wants some money?" We all raised our hands, and then he gave the dollar bill to one of us. See? He figured out how to make money really disappear!! We did that a couple times. I did receive one of the dollars. His dad came downstairs a little later to see - surprise! - fewer dollar bills in his money clip.

-I did participate with my own addition to the magic show - it's one I used to "perform" for my nieces when they were little, and is pretty silly - it's just right for the four-year-old audience, however, and so we performed it later in the day when our audience expanded (to include my sister and brother-in-law!) - We then told the little one that he could perform his trick too. He looked a little oddly at us and - as the report goes - raised one eyebrow as his response.

-My niece was just, and simply, lovely. She was excited about her trip to Paris, wonderfully present with the family, loved spending time with the boys, chased them around the house playing her version of "Monster" - I kind of burst with pride at seeing her be so good and kind - not that I'm responsible for her or anything - indeed, she is the reason that she is who she is. She is as she always has been - a smart, beautiful, kind, funny person. (I need to go to Paris to visit!!! this year.)

-We Skyped with my other niece - her younger sister, who lives in Connecticut - who also is just so grown up and lovely. So wonderful! She has much grace - poise - perhaps because of all those years that she took dance class, I don't know... We had fun, even as the screen froze up repeatedly....

-We also Skyped with my dad where he was in San Diego - the boys got bored early on and took off for toys - but the screen didn't freeze up, so the chat went well -

-My mom's new living quarters had a Grandparents' Day celebration on Sunday. And who was there but a magician!! My nephews were mesmerized, especially the older one (having done his own magic show the day before). The magician asked for magic words - kids offered up "Abracadabra," and the like. Five or six words in, the magician called on my nephew. Personally, I was out of magic words. I wondered whether he would have one... "Alakazam," he said. Well, look at that. Good for him.

-At one point, in the car, Maroon 5's "Moves Like Jagger" came on. My four-year-old nephew started singing it. (He knows a lot of songs.) My niece laughed, and got her phone out to take video, but he stopped singing and we could not coax him to start up again. Had she not laughed first...

Well, and - I did not post in April, when I went to babysit the last time. But back then, it was my birthday while I was babysitting, so I had the boys bake a cake from a simple cake mix. And this was their result - happy birthday, one and all:

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Every Year

Every year on this date, at least one news station replays what happened on this date in NYC on 2001. And every year on this date, I flash back - remembering my personal reaction, the confusion and then the heart break, of that morning. I remember trying to locate my sister, who flew to D.C. that day from Connecticut. (I found her - she was safe.) This morning, like every morning on this date since 2001, I think of how my moments of panic were overshadowed by the days and weeks and months (and years) of grief of those who lost their loved ones - of the fire fighters and emergency personnel who did all they could, and suffered because of it.... This morning, like every morning on this date since 2001, I watch the replay of the news from that day, and remember how we just didn't know - just couldn't fathom - the reality that was before our eyes.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Convention Lull

It's been the weekend between conventions - RNC and DNC. I watched what I could of the RNC (sound of television off intermittently, live blogs on in the meantime). Likely I'll watch the DNC in a similar fashion (with a little more sound from the television). I'm not a (paid) commentator, so I'll keep the bulk of my thoughts to myself. There are plenty of others out there who opine continuously for the rest of us. I will say two things, though. First, I was mightily impressed to see, in a 12-or-so-hour turnaround, a two-minute web ad from the Obama campaign that clearly pointed out the inaccuracies ("lies, if you will") in Paul Ryan's acceptance speech from Wednesday night. Second - I did "like" the Facebook page of "Invisible Obama." That's just funny.