Thursday, August 30, 2012

My Asian Angel

I'll be damned if I'm not an emotional magnet.  I must be somehow puttin' out vibes to the universe which persistently scream out this shit:

"PUH-LEEEEASE STOP ME out in public whilst I'm in the middle of livin' my life and ask me a f*ckton of questions about our girls, get ultra-personal, damn near "cross that line," and for baby Jesus' sake, BRING ME TO TEARS, you ASSHOLE, because for some reason, on SOME MF level, I NEED THAT RIGHT NOW IN MY LIFE."

WTFFFFFFFFFFF?????  (I've always wanted to use "whilst" in a sentence -- BOOM!)

OK, so here's a couple of examples, both of which occurred yesterday morning before 10:00 am...  

[Mind you, I am normally barely out of bed by this time (thank you, pseudo-angelic Lola, for keeping your dear mother up beyond 3:00 am every. single. night.  And stop already with the whoooooo-ing & hanging upside down & seeing all 20/10 in the dead of night, yo.  I got it.  You're NOCTURNAL.  Brat!  But OMFG, I love you soooo...]
Watching me, watching you

Incident #1 -- Yesterday at the health food store, I was stopped by a 60-ish, endearing Asian man while picking out baby food for Lola (who was in her infant carrier in the shopping cart at the time).  With kind eyes and a smile, he asked me if I was trying to optimize my daughter's nutrition, or something to that effect.  I explained that yes, I was trying to find some baby food for Lola that didn't have a bunch of added ingredients.  He then asked me if she had a medical condition. I attempted to explain microcephaly, cerebral palsy, & dwarfism to him (figured 3 of her diagnoses were enough to mention), which proved to be a bit of a struggle due to some language barriers at this point.  He told me that he was sorry and that he felt like this was something that I had to - or must - take care of.  He said this with sadness and pity. 

Immediately, I felt the need to correct him for feeling sorrowful, as if that was my ultimate responsibility to our girls and myself.  I explained, "The girls have blessed us very much in our lives.  They bring us SO much joy.  We are lucky to be their parents."  He said, "You have more than one child?"  I said, "Yes, we have a 13 year old typical son and an older daughter at home with the same condition who is 11.  Lola here is 6."  This gentleman repeatedly blinked his eyes hard, shook his head left to right and said, "SHE IS 6???  This is a big responsibility for you.  You have a very good attitude.  Can your other daughter walk?"  This question ALWAYS sets me off when I hear it.  I remember back to life BC (Before Claire) and seeing individuals who could not walk, and for me, that was the saddest situation EVER.  Since having the girls, I realized how little that matters in the grand scheme of things.  What matters most is TIME spent together, enjoying each present moment we are given, and having so much f*cking fun that you cannot even stand it. 

I reply, "No, she cannot walk."  He looks down at the ground and seems heartbroken.  He thinks for a moment then says, "Maybe she doesn't know she can't walk?"  I reply, "EXACTLY.  She just knows love and happiness.  Her life is filled with it."  He smiles.  He then mentions that having this occur must be similar to adopting a child – you don't know what kind of health that child will have prior to the adoption, yet you take your chance anyway.  I understand where he is coming from and indicate that the situations are quite similar, though I want nothing more than to spew honesty while possibly bursting his bubble by adding that NONE OF US are promised that everything will go "perfectly" with any baby, whether we give birth to that baby or adopt him/her into our family.  There are no guarantees, but yes, we make the choice to simply love it all with everything inside of us because regardless, they are OUR BABIES... but I decide against it mostly because I know saying this will make me cry... and as much as I want to blame the f*ckin' PMS for this sudden emotion, I cannot...

This sweet man just kept saying that this must be very hard for us, very difficult to take this on. I kept explaining that there were challenges, but that the girls were like little problems that I had the privilege of solving, but that I enjoyed it and they literally completed our lives.  He just kept telling me over and over what a great attitude that I had.  I wanted to tell him how easy it would be to succumb to the sadness and hate God and hate "THIS LIFE" and cry all the time and constantly hate on all the shitty health struggles we see with Claire & Lola because SO MANY choose that path, but that WE HAVEN'T.  We chose HAPPINESS instead.  But again, I decide against it... mostly for fear of losin' it yet again in a public place. (This is becoming my M.O., dammit.  And WHY again?!)

At the end, he even mentioned reincarnation and said that I must owe the girls BIG for something from a past life, and then he laughed.  I did too.  NO ONE had ever said anything like that to me before!  I immediately wondered if he might be right on some level.  I know it's controversial and may not line up with what everyone believes in, but I am 99.99% sure that this is the EXACT life I am supposed to be living, there are no accidents, and probably we DID choose each other long ago... (Thank you, Sam, for reinforcing that belief!)

I had so much I still needed to do that morning, but it was clear that this darling man needed to talk this out, so I let him continue.  He then mentioned traditional medicine and how that was probably not too beneficial since the girls are basically charting their own courses.  He inquired about alternative medicine, which is right up my alley.  I briefly discussed the modalities we used and how effective they are for the girls.  I thought our conversation was drawing to a close, as it had been probably 10 minutes long at this point when he looked at me with care in his eyes and said, "This is a great responsibility for you, and I am so glad that you have the strength to do it and those in your life to help support you."  Something about this honest moment, these few minutes of analysis about my life and my daughters' existence on this very day was just too much.  I am blaming the sleep deprivation and hormones for this, but once again, I started to well up.  My ability to blink away the tears & push the emotions away failed.  He could see my vulnerability, my fears, the layers of my "strength" stripped away.  

At that moment, he motioned and asked if it was okay for him to give me a hug.  Yep, there I was in the middle of the baby food aisle hugging a total stranger with tears in my eyes and emotions flooding my soul.  "Have a wonderful day," he said, as he walked away down the long aisle with his cart.  I literally put a jar back on the shelf and glanced back to see where he was -- mere seconds later -- and he was gone.  I left the store shortly thereafter myself and I never saw him again in the store nor in the parking lot.

I struggled like hell to analyze this conversation in my mind, remember all that was said, and maybe uncover the meaning behind it.  Throughout the entire discussion, I felt like I was the one educating him about this life we lead and trying to ease his mind about us being "OK" -- even HAPPY -- because as I've said before, we live in complete JOY 99% of the time in The Hooligan Household!  It wasn't until I wrote this blog that I realized maybe it wasn't ME who taught this man, but perhaps THIS MAN who taught me.

No accidents, babyyyy.  Meant.  To.  Be.


Thursday, August 16, 2012

Living inside the hope

I read lots of blogs online, and a common theme I've been seeing lately has to do with writer's block.  No one seems to know what to chalk this up to -- stress, busy summer, lack of motivation, nothing going on, sexual tension, you name it.  It happens.  Though right now, FOR ME, it isn't the reason I've not been writing more often, though I almost wish it was.

Lord knows I have enough content to blog about.  Life is crazy with a side of batshit crazy over here at The Hooligan household 24/7.  I say that lovingly because my life ROCKS, and I seriously would not change a thing.  OK, I might change one... and that one thing has been weighing on me for probably 6-9 months now.  I hate to dwell on it, bring it up, perseverate over it, or even draw ANY attention to it whatsoever for fear that by acknowledging it, it will draw more of the same to us.  (You know I love me somma "The Secret" by Rhonda Byrne)

But I'm almost to the point where I just feel like if I DON'T get some of this out, I may seriously self-implode.  It's just TOO MUCH.

Ok, fine.  I am worried about my girl.  There, I said it.

(This kind of feels freeing to say but also makes me want to bawl, dammit.)

I won't bore you with the details about WHY or what's going on specifically, because as I type this, she's on my lap & I think my heart-who-is-not-capable-of-walking-but-who-still-is-"walking"-around-outside-my-body may just have actually FELT the release that came with me actually ADMITTING these fears, because she immediately tried to barf down my cleavage.  My girl's got good aim, yo.  Cleavage & crotch, babyyyyy!  Narrow miss there.

This life... it's just so emotional.  These extremes are hard to even quantify... as mentioned before, the highest of highs and lowest of lows.  I stay firmly locked & loaded in the "highest of highs" as often as I can, because honestly, I love it there.  Life is happy & joyous & full & I thrive when I am there.  Damn these "lowest of lows" which try to creep in, sabotaging & attempting to steal my joy!  They blow.

Shouldering these feelings, the worries, the fears, the what-ifs, the probablies, the prognoses, the expectations, the disappointments, the whys, the backslides... ALL this bullshit... it can be too much.  And lately, for the past several months, I've felt that more so than maybe ever before.

We have this innate desire to FIX THINGS as parents.  And I feel it even more with our girls, especially Lola.  And feeling the need to fix -- for me -- indicates that there is something WRONG, which I do NOT want to admit or buy into, because I totally believe she is here doin' her thang, livin' her own little dream, and not wishing for things to BE different.  I have to remind myself of this -- that it's all unfolding just as it should.  No mistakes.  No accidents.  No fuck-ups.  And as my friend, Chris, told me the other day, "If we didn't have struggles, we wouldn't appreciate the serene times."  Just what I needed to hear.

We're gonna figure this out.  We're going to optimize the shit out of her incredible, little life.  And we're going to be better because of it, having learned from the struggles & submersing ourselves firmly in these struggles so we can grow.  We got this...

Ya' sure, beyotch?!
Never been more sure of anything in my life.

"The very least you can do in your life is to figure out what you hope for.  And the most you can do is live inside that hope." ~Barbara Kingsolver


Tuesday, August 07, 2012

My Olympic moment

I am preparing myself FULLY for the fact that I am gonna have a flat ass (that'll be a first!) & probably gain 10 pounds these few weeks the Olympics are on, because I am GOING to park it on the couch & watch these Games.  Start to finish, babyyyy.  I have been anticipating these for a good year, always talking about 2012 & when the Olympics finally rolled back around.  There is just something about them... they captivate me.  They draw me in & make me feel patriotic & cry & live through the athletes' experiences and performances & yell at the TV & get into things like trampolining (hey, speaking of, how 'bout my boy Double Dong winnin' the men's gold?!  Dude's the shit!!!) and handball (Scott's been playing for years!) and swimming (Michael Phelps and his ultra low-rise suit those killer abs may or may not come to me in dreams...) and gymnastics (YEAH, GABBY & TEAM USA!!!) and synchronized diving (gonna be honing my skillz on this one) and table tennis (Wang blew it!) and badminton and synchronized swimming (on tap yesterday was "Broken Doll" vs. "Angry Dragon" -- Cal was MORTIFIED!) and OH MY GOD (!), I could go on & on.  I love it all.  (OK, maybe not ALL... yesterday's 3 straight hours of water polo made me borderline suicidal.  Just kidding... but I did actually leave the couch during that stretch.  Ha!)

Mmmmkay, so I have been hesitant to write about my own personal experience and/or ties to the Olympics because I felt like a big, fat braggart (first use of this word EVER -- 2 points for me!) telling my story.  But then I realized that it was like 16 years ago & I am so HONORED to have had this opportunity & it was really f'ing cool, so WHY NOT document it here?  Most people don't even know I did this, even many who are close to me.  It seems like light years ago, yet yesterday all at the same time.
OK, so I carried the torch for the Atlanta 1996 Olympics.  And I can honestly say... it.  was.  AWESOME!!!! 

Back in the day, I used to be a distance runner.  I loved it.  It was my LIFE.  I lived/ate/breathed/slept/idolized distance running.  I ended up getting a division I scholarship to run, and while I was there, my performances slipped, and I was eventually diagnosed with a non-life threatening heart defect.  My running career ended when I was 21, at the very time I thought it would be taking off.  Since I was a little girl, I'd always dreamt of competing in the Olympics.  I busted my ass year-round with the sport I loved, so when my career ended, this was literally a life-changing blow.  Who WAS I besides a runner?  What were my goals for my life NOW?  What would I do if I wasn't travelling & training & studying & researching running???  I literally had to overhaul my ENTIRE LIFE. 

Looking back now, I am pretty sure I was meant to stop running... to find who I was BESIDES just a runner.  To focus on other things... family, my future, work, etc.  It was terrifying, but also, the more time that passed, it was freeing.  

I won't lie to you and tell you that it didn't hurt... that it wasn't one of the most difficult things I ever had to do up to that point in my life -- to give up something I LOVED.  That probably did define me.  That had brought me success & joy & some of the most rewarding moments of my life.  Because it SO did.  SUCKED the big one.  I cried a lot & basically was a real bitch to be around.  It was such a loss of a dream... a HUGE, important dream I'd dreamt since I was 9.  

I had moved on the best I could, figured out what I wanted to do with the rest of my life, gotten engaged, and found new happiness when I was told that I'd been nominated to carry the Olympic torch for the Atlanta 1996 Games.  I was elated and overjoyed and nervous and so freakin' excited... just no words adequate enough to describe how this made me feel.

The below pictures document my experience.  They are clearly NOT DIGITAL, they've been hacked up to fit in a picture album (thanks, Mom!  HA!  LOVE YOU!), and finally scanned in & of course Photoshopped to make my boobs bigger & thighs smaller.  KIDDING!!!  Hope you enjoy these... reliving this has been so beautiful.  Glad I can share this with all of you.

This picture of Yours Truly ran in our local paper, describing the upcoming torch run.

Me & my Dad at the press conference announcing the torch bearers from our area

My friend, Sue Watson, who also carried the torch that day

Getting all checked in, meeting everyone, getting the lowdown of what was to come

(And YES, I DID cornrow my hair.  It took HOURS, but I was sure it would make a statement, be cool (as it was hot as f*ck outside that summer!), and look badass.  Seemed like a once-in-a-lifetime event, so figured I should have once-in-a-lifetime hair?!?!?  Not sure I succeeded in all that shit, but I rocked it hard!  Or at least I'm pretending I did.)

Receiving our torches

Learning how to turn that bad boy on!  You had to push up & clockwise on the bottom of the torch so it would release the gas to ignite the flame!  (NO PRESSURE!)


Getting off the bus at the location where I would receive the flame  ~  I was so stoked to see many of my friends and family there to watch!  

What a tool.  OMG.

The lead car... meant the flame was almost there!

Lighting my torch...

The look on our faces says it all... SO.  F*CKING.  EXCITED!

Every torch bearer had someone who ran by them so that in the event that anything happened to us, the "assistant" could step in and safely deliver the flame to the next person.   

Making the pass-off, after about a 1/2 mile run

Overcome with emotion... I grabbed his hand, teared up, and made the exchange.  SO BLESSED.

What a complete puss... whining about my arm hurting.  That beyotch was HEAVY!!!

(PS -- Nice bowl-cut, Scott!)

It was such a privilege for me to see the excitement in the kids' eyes, too.

My fam
So you can imagine my delight in seeing how the torch was passed on at the Opening Ceremonies itself, days later... I literally was bawling as Janet Evans passed the flame to none other than Muhammad freakin' Ali.  

I will forever be grateful for this experience, the situation which allowed this to be a possibility, and for my own little personal connection to The Games.  I will never forget how special that day was and how all of it shaped my life, prepared me for what lay ahead, and made me remember what is really important in my life.


Pierre de Coubertin (founder of modern Olympic Games)
"The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not winning but taking part; the essential thing in life is not conquering but fighting well."

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