Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Adoption

9/11 (continued...)

Before I finish my thoughts on the events of 9/11, I need to clarify some points. Several of my online pals will be surprised at the facts revealed in this post. When I was searching online in late 2000 and early 2001 for information on infertility, conception, surrogacy, adoption and other baby related topics; I stumbled upon the AOL Parenting message boards and began lurking and reading in various areas. Our last attempt at IVF had ended in tragedy and we were desperately trying to move on. If things had worked out like we planned, our child would have been born in late 2001 and I was easing my depression by fantasizing about being pregnant (like I often did during our many years of infertility treatment and attempts to conceive). I did some reading in the adoption message boards, but there was a great deal of conflict and negativity in that environment. I found the "Due In X Month..." boards and the excitement, friendliness and joy of those women really appealed to me. I wanted to be one of them SO badly.

During our last round of IVF, we made the decision to pursue adoption at the same time. Things had never progressed so far and all was looking SO promising. Talk about having all your eggs in one basket! I only had/have one ovary and it was stressed to the max. The doctors told me that early menopause was an almost certain eventuality, but I didn't care. I was also realistic. I knew the odds were against us and we always knew adoption would be a great option as well. We had a set number of IVF attempts we agreed upon early on, so we wouldn't be one of those desperate couple statistics we read about so often. They try 5, 6, 7, 10 times with IVF - it's pure insanity, in our opinion. Who can afford the financial burden and the toll on their bodies? My husband's family was completely supportive, how ever we decided to start a family. My parents had much stronger opinions. If surrogacy had worked out for us, I wasn't even going to tell my family. I would just let them believe we adopted the baby. That's how much against it they were. My mother felt if you were willing to allow another woman to carry a child for you, then you might as well adopt. They had very bad feelings, in general, because of all the bad pressfrom the Baby M. case and the like.

Our dreams of conceiving our own child were over. I was devastated. I was barely going through the motions at work and pathetically checking those websites that would show how far along the baby would be. We had all our paperwork in with our local adoption agency and we had consulted with an adoption attorney in Hawaii when we went there on vacation in February of 2001. We sent portfolios to both our agency and the attorney in Hawaii. Then we waited...

At the end of the day on September 11, 2001, I finally went to lie down. I was just drained. My phone rang around 7:30PM just as I was finally nodding off. It was our adoption attorney in Hawaii. The day was about to take an even more unexpected turn. After witnessing a terrorist attack, who would have thought something so amazing could happen after so much tragedy.

"Is this Rebecca Yanagi?" a strange female voice asked.

"Yes?"

"This is Laurie L. calling from Hawaii. I have good news for you. Can you get John on the phone as well?"

My heart was beating so fast and the emotional exhaustion I had felt only moments before was swiftly fleeing. "He's stuck in California! He's there on business and can't come home...you know. Because of all that happened today..." I blurted.

"Oh yes. I heard about that. Horribly tragic! Did you know anyone involved? Is there any way you can contact him?"

"Yes, I knew a couple people - but not directly. The only way I can communicate with John right now is through his pager or instant messaging. But IM only works if he is logged onto his computer."

Laurie drew a deep breath and said, "Well, you may want to page him immediately. Your portfolio has been selected. She is a young Asian girl in southern California. Is there any way the two of you could call her this weekend? She wants to talk to the both of you as soon as possible."

I was breathing so fast I felt like I was going to pass out. I was seeing black spots swimming before my eyes. "Thank you Laurie! THANK YOU VERY MUCH! We'll call you for more details as soon as possible. I'll go page him!" I don't remember hanging up the phone. Next thing I knew I was sitting at my computer and typing "Call me right away! now now now!!" and sending the message to John's pager. I waited for maybe 10 minutes, but it felt like an hour before the phone rang.

He sounded frantic and panic stricken. He thought I had some bad news...probably 9/11 related tragedy. When I told him who had called and why, he was dumbfounded. "Really? Someone picked US? REALLY? You're serious??"

No, I was kidding. "Just call her!" John set up a three-way conference call and we got many more details. This is where the fates decided to make things even easier on us. This mystery birth mother was located in southern California, near Anaheim. Where was my husband staying? Anaheim. Since he was trapped and couldn't fly home anyway, he passed on driving across country and decided to stay and meet this girl and her mother that weekend at a local restaurant. We were so thrilled that this girl agreed to meet with John so quickly.

That Saturday, John drove to a Marie Callendar's restaurant in Lake Forest to meet B. and her mother for lunch. He left early and was waiting a half hour for them to show up. I am sure he was nervous as all get out and fretting the entire time. Wondering if they would show up. They did. After awkward introductions, they all sat at a table and had some lunch.

Seven hours later...yes, SEVEN HOURS LATER...John had a new best friend (B's mother) and had won the confidence of a scared young girl. And we had a birth mother carrying our first child. After listening eagerly to John's account of the seven hours in the restaurant and his impressions of B (good kid, level headed, intelligent, bad situation with over bearing mother) and her mom (controlling, single mother, terrible flirt), I was REALLY happy that he was acting as our first contact. I sometimes don't make a very good first impression because I am shy and quiet, but John always makes an excellent first impression. He is warm, friendly, open and approachable. Things couldn't have worked out better if we tried.

Oh my God! I'm "expecting"!!! I'm going to have a baby! The thrill was back! It was almost enough to wash away the anguish of the previous 5 years. Almost.

I'll talk more about B and our adoption in the next post. I just wanted to complete my thoughts about 9/11 and share this tidbit with everyone. I was not as open with my friends on the message board. When I knew we were "expecting" I went back to the message boards and found the "Due in January" and "Due in December" boards. B hadn't nailed down her due date because she wasn't sure about when the baby was conceived. We wouldn't know until her first ultrasound when her doctor would make an estimate based on the baby's size. Her insurance didn't cover ultrasounds under normal circumstances (she wasn't high risk) so we had to request it and pay for it. I lurked for months reading the message boards and being excited for all these women who were expecting babies around the same time we were. I avoided the drama on the adoption boards. I just wanted to be happy and bask in the glow of expecting a child. I didn't want to argue with people or be involved in any drama. Drama hit the parenting boards in the form of trolls pretending to be pregnant and reading that nonsense made me decide to avoid the boards for a while. Plus I wasn't really sure these girls would accept me into their circle.

I'd read some negativity toward some teens who were expecting and I read a couple of nasty comments about abortion and adoption. It left me feeling vulnerable and I didn't want to try and make friends with these women unless I could protect myself in some way. Buffer myself from potential abuse. Months later, after Tyler was born and we were back home from California, John was back at work, my Mother and MIL had long ago gone home and I was alone all day with the baby. I found myself craving adult conversation. I wanted to talk with other women who had kids the same age as Tyler, but I still felt a need to protect myself. I decided to share with the women on the "Babies Born in December" board my story up until my last IVF procedure and then skip over several painful months and talk about Tyler as if he were the product of those efforts. I became somewhat of a curiosity because of the unusual circumstances of his birth, but ifthings had worked out, Tyler WOULD have been that baby. The fact that he came into our lives via a young teen mother only a few months later and was due around the same time...it was like a higher power took our lost baby and put him in a new place to grow. He was always meant to come to us. I am convinced of that. You only have too look at him. The way he is with his grand-parents, his cousins, his personality. He even LOOKS like us.

The more time that passed and the more friendly I got with these women, the harder it was for me to let go of my fantasy. It was much easier for me and my fragile mental state to think of Tyler as being born from our own efforts and not the drunken mistake of unprotected teenage sex. I wanted to protect myself and I wanted to protect Tyler. I'm am happy I made the decision I did. Many of the women on that message board that I thought were my friends ended up attacking me a few months ago. One women led many more to believe that a perfectly innocent posting of mine was somehow an attack on unwed teen mothers. Worse yet...she led them to believe that I resented and hated ALL women who had the ability to carry a child. Me! ME?!? I was dumbfounded. I was hurt and devastated. Of all the people to attack. They had NO IDEA the real story behind Tyler's birth and how much I love and respect his birth mother (a young unwed teen). Without someone else to carry my children for me, I would have no children to love. How could I possibly hate someone who had given me the single most important gift I have ever received in my life?

I made the painful decision to leave that circle. I no longer read or post with those women. A couple of them read this journal and now they will know the truth. Since several of them never bought into the nonsense that those nasty few were spewing at me and stuck by my side, I'm happy they will know. I am also happy that a few others who left the circle long before I did (I should have left with them) and remained my friends; they will also know the truth. Don't be too shocked, girls. It was only a little white lie. A glossing over of the truth. It was important to me, at the time. But I have reached a stage in my healing where I no longer care what others think of the circumstances of Tyler's birth. I don't think of him as a "replacement baby", never have. I don't think of him as a compromise, never have. He is MY SON. He was always meant to be my son. I knew the moment I heard his heartbeat and saw his image on an ultrasound monitor. I knew with even more certainty the moment I held him in my arms at the hospital only hours after his birth. I will talk about the rest of that story later.

Monday, September 27, 2004

Blizzard

Who else here has spent time living in the North East? Anyone remember the blizzard of '78? If you are from New England, you know that the old timers still talk about that storm every time the weather looks like snow. It was THE storm of the century, especially in the mind of 12 year old me.

We were out of school for nearly two weeks during and after that storm. For a kid, it was the best time ever! We didn't really pay much attention to the power outages and the intense frustration of our parents as they tried to dig a tunnel out from the front door or tried to clear the drive way after the snow plow had buried it for the 50th time. All we saw were the 12+ foot high snow drifts and the killer sled course we build in the back yard (nice slope back there).

Those drifts! My imagination was working feverishly. We could have an entire network of tunnels all through the front yard, build rooms, heck - we could LIVE out there under the snow! We decided to start small. A few of the neighborhood kids, me and my little brother decided to build two forts across the driveway from each other. That way the drive became like a river and we could attack each other with furious snowball barrages from either bank. We set to work. My brother was more of an annoyance than a real help at that age. He is five years younger than me. He was trying to help me dig, but was just in my way.

I came up with the brilliant idea of sending him down to the street level to dig an "escape route". The plan was for him to dig a tunnel toward me and I would tunnel toward him, meeting somewhere in the middle of the bank to join the two tunnels. It was going great, until I ran into some big chunks of ice buried in the bank. They were probably frozen hunks of crud the plow had heaved up into the driveway and my dad then hurled into the growing mounds on the sides of the driveway. I went into the garage and got the heavy duty steel spade my Dad used to dig fence post holes and such.

I was chopping away merrily at the blockage and working in pretty close quarters. Our tunnel went down about 5 feet at a steep angle and then across about 6 feet just above the level of the grass. I stopped chopping long enough to hear my brother through the wall of snow. "You're almost through! Dig faster! Dig faster!!"

I was scraping and chopping with renewed vigor and I began to see a glimmer of daylight. I paused and my brother's mittened fingers poked their way through a newly opened gap. I pinched his finger tip and he yelled with excitement! I picked up the spade and gave the hardest chop I could and the spade went right through and into my brother's face. I heard a scream, but I didn't realize, at first, that this was a scream of pain and not excitement. I kept chopping until it registered that someone was yelling "STOP! STOP DIGGING!"

I wiggled backward up the tunnel and out into the light. My friends were clustered around my brother as he held his mittened hands to his face. "What?!" I yelled in confusion. My brother pulled his hands away from his face with a moan and I saw blood pouring down and dripping off his chin.

Turns out that big chop had caught him right between the eyes, across the bridge of his nose. It bled a lot and I thought my parents would rush my brother right to the ER. Nope. My dad pinched the cut closed and held it with paper towels until it stopped bleeding, then he put a bunch of gauze and medical tape on it. I didn't know then that the ER's were over run with storm related casualties and people were being warned to stay away unless it was a SERIOUS emergency. Good thing that shovel wasn't a little more to the right or left. I would probably have put my brother's eye out.

My parents got crazy angry with me for not being more careful, but at least they didn't think I did it on purpose! My brother actually came to my defense for a change and told them it really was an accident...and could we please go back outside and finish playing in the snow? What a trooper! Oh, and the forts and tunnels we eventually built were incredible! We had a 3 bedroom "house" in the front yard, complete with a kitchen. We dug out shelves and had snacks and stuff stored out there in our "kitchen"...I just grin when ever I think about it!

The only other stupid thing I did during that storm week was build one of our tunnels/rooms into the snowbank that lined the street along the front yard. Why was that stupid? We played in there for hours until it started to get dark. Within minutes of us vacating the space and going indoors for dinner, a snowplow came along and completely destroyed it. If we had still been inside there when the plow came, there would have been two more lives lost to the Blizzard of 78!


Yep, that is a car buried under there.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Dell

I know that look well! The "deer in the headlights" look of horror.

I wish I had this video clip available earlier, to illustrate my Roommates post from a short while back. Ha! OK, So I wasn't a Goth. Close enough! Metal head meets Missy the Cheerleader. I WAS wearing all black, at any rate, even if it was a Metallica t-shirt and black jeans.

Watch the commercial here. Thanks, Dell, for capturing a seminal college experience for me in such a comedic way.

Friday, September 17, 2004

First Dance

What song did you dance your first dance to at your wedding?

We had so much drama leading up to our wedding day that it made the decisions for the day itself seem almost EASY. The music was a real no-brainer. I'd been to see several wedding bands with a friend who was planning her wedding and that experience alone made me realize that all wedding bands SUCK. Unless you are wealthy and can get Green Day or Live or Metallica or someone to play at your reception, a DJ is the only way to go.

Lucky for us, the DJ was a friend of the family so we could be royal pains in the butts when it came to choosing our music. We had to loan him a bunch of our own CDs because our musical tastes were, well, not standard wedding fare. John wanted the B52s, Ramones, Edgar Winter...yadda and I wanted a bunch of metal ballads, some ska, some big band, some punk, some 50s classics...ya know, my standard eclectic variety. I came upon "our song" by accident. I just heard it on MTV one night and the words were just perfect. I played it for John and he agreed. It was a great song and perfect to dance to. There was even a mellow acoustic version. The song? Love of a Lifetime by Firehouse.

I hope this works! Download and listen to it here.

What songs DIDN'T I want the DJ to play? Oh MAN I got specific. I told Pat (our DJ) that under NO circumstances was he to play The Chicken Dance, The Bunny Hop, The Electric Slide, Hava Nagila, or any other crap wedding "standard". Guess what? My guests vetoed me. They pestered and pestered until I finally agreed to let Pat play them. Damn! I am too easy. Oh well...I have to admit that after 2 glasses of champagne and some wine, doing the Bunny Hop, Electric Slide, and the Funky Chicken was kinda fun. I think Pat even played Hava Nagila at our friends' Jeff and Beth's request. Oh well. You only get married once, right? Heh heh!

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Teacher

He came slip sliding into my life with a dramatic Kramer-esque entry into the classroom one fine morning in September of 1978. The childish babble was briefly stilled as we appraised our new English teacher with preteen doubt and scorn. He straightened his tie in a nonchalant, "I meant to do that..." fashion and made his way the the front of the room. He removed his moderately garish sport coat and placed it on the back of his chair with a flourish. The noisy babble had resumed around me, but I only had eyes for this unusual man. He had an unruly shock of warm red hair on his head that he had somewhat tamed into submission. Standing in front of the room, he gingerly planted his butt cheeks on the edge of his desk and let his eyes rove slowly over the crowd. His eyes met mine briefly and he winked at my slack jawed stare.

The expression on his face was inscrutable, at first. The smile hit his eyes with a sparkle, followed by a huge boyish grin. He cleared his throat, pulled at his loud patterned neck tie and suddenly, in a smooth motion, flung the tie over his shoulder purposefully, stood gracefully and said, "Let's get down to business." The sudden silence was so profound, I swore I could hear people blinking.

That scene was played out, day after day, with comforting and amusing regularity (only the patterns on the ties and sport coats changed). Mr. Ben Maxwell was warm, friendly, and genuinely FUNNY! It didn't take long before the majority of the class adored him. Decades later I still grin as I think about Mr. Maxwell's mannerisms and teaching style. He really knew how to work a room and oh BROTHER could he teach.

How many people can say they LOVE Shakespeare. I do! Prior to Mr. Maxwell, I would dread reading the bard worse than a trip to the dentist. Who could make heads or tails of that ancient frou-frou English dialog? I have vivid memories of Mr. Maxwell reading Romeo and Juliet using different voices for the various characters. He read the lines with great drama and epic amounts of over-acting. He would pause and explain some of the more obscure passages and continue with his performance culminating in each of us being assigned a part to read. He would encourage us to read it with as much drama as we could muster. I give him much credit. Mustering much of ANYTHING out of jaded preteens was a real challenge.

Juliet: O Romeo, Romeo!
Wherefore art thou Romeo?
Deny thy father and refuse thy name;
Or, if thou wilt not, be but sworn my love,
And I'll no longer be a Capulet.

See...most folks think Juliet is wondering where Romeo is. I know better! She is wondering WHY is he Romeo...the family he came from was unfortunate, since they were her family's sworn enemies. If he can't give up his family ties, she would be willing to give up hers. Woo, the delicious conflict.


During our study of Romeo and Juliet, Mr. Maxwell announce one day that he had a surprise for us. The surprise turned out to be a film version of the great romantic tragedy for our viewing pleasure. Well...film strips, actually. Turns out it would have been prohibitively expensive for him to obtain an actual print of Franco Zeffirelli's Romeo & Juliet. He did a great job of making the film strips into a really memorable event! Whew, the drama...action...passion! It got my teen hormones in a bit of a dither. I've been secretly in love with Leonard Whiting (Romeo) ever since and the actual film is one of my all time favorites.

Ah, Mr. Maxwell. Leaving your class at the end of the year was an almost tragic event for me. I'm afraid Mr. Bouchard really suffered by comparison when I entered English class the following year. I remember walking past your classroom on one of my frequent bathroom breaks and smiling wistfully at the peals of laughter coming from your new batch of students. I hope they appreciated your keen fashion sense, flare for the dramatic, and that ever so graceful sweep of necktie over your shoulder, as much as I did.

Thanks Mr. Maxwell.


I recently searched for my old junior high school on the internet, on a whim. They had a webpage and a faculty listing that included email addresses. I contacted the librarian to see if I could find any information about Ben Maxwell. The only thing she could tell me was that he retired a few years ago to a small town in Maine. I hope he is enjoying his retirement. I still plan to dedicate my first novel to him one day.

Monday, September 13, 2004

Egypt???

Another entry for the dream diary:

OK, this dream from last night is even stranger than the one below! I dreamt I was at work. This is not uncommon. I seem to dream of old coworkers and former offices pretty often. This time I was at my old AT&T office from back when I was working as a software support person...except that the office building was somewhat distorted in my dream (things on the wrong floors, ramps where there never were ramps before, "regular" meetings that never happened).

For some reason I had my son Tyler with me. (He wasn't born back when I worked in this particular job.) A former coworker, Renee, and I were on our way to a daily 8am meeting (we never had daily meetings in reality...and certainly not at 8am!) and I told Tyler to run ahead to the conference room. A ramp appeared out of nowhere and Tyler ran up it and into the conference room. The ramp vanished before Renee and I could take it, so we were forced to look for an elevator. The only problem was, the elevators were not located where they were supposed to be. By the time we found our way to the meeting, it was over and my old boss was playing with Tyler.

I brought Ty back to my office and suddenly decided I needed to pack up a lot of my things into a box and bring it home - I was thinking it would be easier when I decided to quit to not have so much stuff to bring home at once. (I never had thoughts of quitting when I was in this job in reality...) Tyler ran out of the office and into the hall, but I didn't seem concerned. Suddenly a bunch of former coworkers came in with a cake with blue and white frosting. They gave me gifts and asked to feel my belly. I knew I was dreaming at that point, but I wasn't able to change what happened. Everyone kept putting their hands on my belly to try and feel the baby moving (and there was movement!) They were all under the impression I was pregnant and this was a baby shower.

I ate cake and realized I was really hungry. Renee and I decided to find Tyler and head for the cafeteria to eat. Ty was playing in a fountain in the lobby (there did used to be a fountain there, but it didn't look like the one in my dream). We took a ramp down to the cafeteria and Renee volunteered to sit with Tyler while I got us some food. I found a tray and plate and beganchecking out the various hot buffet offerings. The food was all strange. Potatoes wrapped in spinach or cabbage leaves, some kind of herb crusted lamb roast, a hot and cold yogurt dispensing machine (I took some of this for Tyler), a fresh fruit display (but the pears had skin like an orange and the grapes were too small other strange things), I ended up taking some cut fruit that was just a garnish for other items...1/4 of a pear, a couple strawberries, some blueberries. I asked for 2 slices of the lamb, but the woman didn't know how to cut it and gave me very small pieces. My plate was full, but the more I walked around, the smaller my plate and portions got. They shrank every time I looked away (Interpretation of this part: I'll bet this has something to do with dieting.)

It was taking too long to get the food so I thought I better hurry and get the plate to Tyler before the food vanished. I got to the register and my purse was gone (I remembered leaving my office with it over my shoulder). The cashier started doing some elaborate counting routine with the change in her tray and I finally just took the plate and walked away.

Things are getting a little fuzzy, but Tyler was not at the table when I arrived with lunch. Renee told me someone took him. She told me who and where. So I ran out of the building, got into my car (except it wasn't my car) and I drove into the forest. Forest gave way to desert and I parked outside a house that looked like it was made of mud. I let myself in the back door, went through the kitchen and into a bedroom. There was a girl there. I knew her and asked how she was doing. Apparently she was an old friend who had been ill. She seemed uneasy but happy to see me. I told her I was looking for my son and couldn't stay long. I left and went down some stairs to leave the house via the front door. The girl's father came out of the shadows followed by his wife. The wife was crying and asking him to stay inside. I opened the front door and the sunshine pierced the gloom of the entryway to reveal that the dad was horribly disfigured. It looked like his skin was blistered and partly melted. His brow was thick and his teeth had cut through his upper lip, splitting it in two places. I thought I saw fangs.

I said hello to my friends' parents and tried to act like everything was normal. I didn't want them to know I was afraid. I walked out onto the front walkway and the Dad followed me. His wife was screaming for him to come back inside. When the sunshine touched his flesh, his skin began to smoke. I immediately thought vampire to myself and kept walking.

I got back into my car and drove until I encountered a group of men with two people tied up in a cart. One was the disfigured Dad and the other was Bobby Brady (from The Brady Bunch). This was a young version of Bobby...he looked to be around 8 years old. The men took their prisoners out of the cart and they tied the Dad to a stake in the center of a large pile of wood...a pyre. They took Bobby and place him in the center of another pyre but didn't tie him up. One of the men took out a scroll and made some kind of legal pronouncement and condemned the Dad to death for being a vampire. They said something about stemming the tide of the infection before it could spread. They lit the pyre to burn the Dad and turned to Bobby.

They lit Bobby's pyre also, but because he wasn't tied up, he just laughed. His eyes glowed with blue light and he told them the Dad wasn't the origin of the infection, HE was! And he lept from the fire and sank his teeth into the neck of one of the men.

At this point, I remembered I was still looking for Tyler, so I just drove away in my car. The last thing I remember hearing was one of the men screaming that Bobby needed to be captured and brought to Eqypt. I thought to myself, WHY EGYPT?! That's for mummies, not vampires...and I woke up.

Sunday, September 12, 2004

Dream

From the dream diary:

I had the strangest dream last night. I was invited out shopping by my friend Kim. I think we were in Alabama...it was some place down south. Everyone had a southern drawl, except me. We had plans to go to a farmer's market and her favorite clothes store. This all sounds completely mundane, right? Well, here is where it gets weird.

She picked me up at my hotel and she had her husband with her. We went to this one store and this sales woman starting yelling at me "It's about time you got here. You are the only person who will buy this crap!" And she threw this sorta lingerie set at me...it was a little short kimono type top with a purple, black and hot pink asian pattern on it with matching black thong. I remember thinking "thong?!?!" but she insisted I try it on. I went looking for the dressing room, but they were all full. This one girl pulled me into her dressing room and told me I could share, so I shrugged and tried on the set. It looked great! This is the first dream I've had in a long time where I didn't look in the mirror and see a fat woman. I saw myself as I used to look 20 years ago.

The girl I was sharing with told me I should buy it (I'd forgotten she was in the room with me). No one would take my credit card at the register, so I just walked out of the store with the set in my hand. We went to the next store and it was surrounded by this weird half-wall made out of river stone. The building looked like this ancient cottage, like a cross between a swiss chalet and Hansel and Gretal's house. There was a crumbling stone wishing well in the center of the hard-packed dirt parking lot.

I was eyeing the building in a dubious way, but Kim assured me it was a great place. Inside, all the women working in the shop knew Kim and greeted her warmly...but they eyed me with suspicion. Except for these sort of built-in-closet looking displays of clothes around the room, the place looked like someone's house. Kim dragged me down a hallway and told me to pick a room. I opened the door and inside looked like a bedroom with a small bed that looked slept in, a sink with a mirror and a light blue towel hanging on a ring on the wall. Also, a wall mounted full-length mirror.

I was just standing in the doorway scratching my head. Kim explained that we each got our own room to try on our outfit choices. When we were done, we could take a nap. Huh? Ok. One of the sales ladies came up to Kim and apologized that they no longer offered clean linen service after each customer. The bedding was now only changed once a day. Kim nodded and went into one of the rooms. Andy mumbled that he was going to nap and selected a second room. I went into the one I was standing in front of and tried to think of what I could leave in there to show it was occupied. I only had my purse with me. I rummaged around in my purse and finally took out a chinese take-out menu and left it on the bed.

Kim met me in the hall where I mentioned that it was 12:30 and I was getting hungry. She said "Don't worry...they serve lunch here too. It's really good!" Um...ok. A boutique with bedrooms for dressing rooms AND they serve lunch. We started looking through the clothes and most of the items reminded me of English riding apparel. Stretchy brown pants with suede on the inner thighs, pouffy white blouses...I think I was so baffled that I woke myself up.

So...anyone out there good at dream interpretation? I have a book, but I am not sure where to start with this one. LOL

Saturday, September 11, 2004

9/11

The morning of September 11, 2001 I was in a rush to get to my office. I was late for work, as usual. During my drive, I tuned into the Howard Stern morning show on 92.3 FM (WXRK) in New York City. I listened to Howard every day. 2 hours and 58 minutes into his regular morning broadcast, the unthinkable occurred. In the midst of a jovial discussion about an encounter Howard had with Pamela Anderson at a local strip club, Howard interrupted his broadcast with breaking news. It took a while for the seriousness of the situation to sink in. The audio files I've included below are of Howard's broadcast during the 9 o'clock hour of 9/11 during the first moments of the disaster. It may be difficult for some to hear, but this is my memory of the events of 9/11 and how I first heard the news. (Each segment is 1 minute long.)

Part 1 - Breaking News
Part 2 - Prophetic Statement by producer Gary "Hope this wasn't one of those terrorist kamikaze attacks..."
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
Part 7
Part 8
Part 9
Part 10

Once I arrived at my office's underground parking deck, I sat listening in horror and disbelief. In shock, I made my way upstairs to my office. I had a meeting that I was late for. In the meeting, one of the women kept getting cell phone calls from her husband who worked in one of the buildings next to the Trade Center. He could see everything from his office window. We listened in horror as she gasped and put her hand over her mouth. Apparently, her husband had seen someone jump or fall from one of the towers. She left the room in tears and the meeting couldn't continue. I made my way back to my office but saw a crowd of people outside the executive conference room. They had the satellite TV on, tuned into CNN. I stood for a while watching the news as several coworkers broke down and cried. No one got any work done that morning.

My husband John was in California for a conference (he'd only just left Sunday evening) and I longed to call and tell him what was happening back home. I knew he was still sleeping so I decided to wait.

By 2PM, the building was evacuated and we were all sent home. I was unable to reach John on the phone or his cell (networks were jammed) but we did finally get in touch via instant message on his palm device. When I got home, I was so relieved to see his screen name on my buddy list. His conference had been cancelled for the rest of the day and there was talk of canceling it, period. The FAA had grounded all flights, so he was uncertain how he was going to get home. I wanted him home, but if terrorists were hijacking cross-country flights...I just wanted him to be safe. Some of his colleagues were already looking into renting a van to make a one-way trip home. Everyone wanted to be with their families.

I finally went to lie down at the end of the day. I was just drained. My phone rang around 7:30PM just as I was finally nodding off. It was our adoption attorney in Hawaii. The day was about to take an even more unexpected turn. After witnessing a terrorist attack, who would have thought something so amazing could happen after so much tragedy.

To be continued...

Friday, September 10, 2004

Stud

Flirting Part 3: Somewhere in this house I have reams and reams of tractor-feed paper printouts of conversations I had with the various participants of the Flirts notes file. How's that for a run-on sentence! Anyway, I thought it would be amusing to scan in a couple examples and post them with my story. Still looking. You will just have to trust me when I say it was all very harmless. PG-13 with maybe an occasional R-rated innuendo. If you wanted to get racier than that, you took your conversation to email. Or if you wanted to get more personal, email was also the way to go. I started emailing with a few of the flirters on a regular basis. One fellow in particular seemed to take a strong liking to me. "The Stud" was sweet, funny and quickly became my favorite guy to flirt with. We took a lot of ribbing from the other flirters as our posts on the board got a tad too prolific and they insisted we switch to email full time. No problem! Oh wait...problem. Every time I changed temp assignments, I lost my email ID/system access and I had to wait for my new group to deem it necessary for me to have intranet access.

Some groups were REALLY anal about it. They saw email and the notes files as a HUGE time waster and did everything in their power to block their people from getting access. Jerks! Lucky for me I was getting quite computer savvy and I could work my way around their attempts to lock me out, IF I had a logon ID and password. I would sometimes steal...er...BORROW my supervisor's ID or any other I could get my hands on. What a little hacker I was. "The Stud" was growing quite attached to me and didn't like my frequent disappearances from the net. He got me an account on the main server in his office. (My friend Harry had a pirate MicroVAX set up in an attic at the Mill where I had a second account. It wasn't as reliable, as Harry had to bring his server down frequently to avoid detection.) Now, as long as I had a terminal, I could sign on and keep in touch. Didn't I tell you he was sweet!? I was so addicted to noting and emailing at this point, I would ask for new assignments if they stuck me some place without a terminal and net access. I finally lucked out and got an assignment in a Hudson, MA building where I actually LIKED the work I was doing, was GOOD at it, and loved thepeople I was working with. Welcome to Fleet Administration!

The "fleet" in the name of the group was the large fleet of company owned vehicles. Various jobs would earn you a free company car of a certain make/model. In fleet, I was parked at my own desk with the BIGGEST telephone I had ever seen in my life. I think I had the ability to put 30 people on hold simultaneously, if I wanted to (and let me tell ya, that was a hard skill to learn; how to cut people off and say "Fleet Administration, please hold...Fleet Administration, please hold..." over and over). That phone RANG all freakin' day long! That was the least fun part of the job. I spent the better part of the day fielding phone calls from field technicians and sales people who had company cars, had accidents, were due for a new car...yadda. I would also send out packets that explained the program, order new cars, fill out accident reports...you name it.

What made the job really fun were my co-workers. Patti and Cindy were a hoot and a half! Anyone remember the lead singer of 'Til Tuesday's original hairdo? The white blond hair with the long spiky poof on top, shaved sides and long braided "tails"? That was Patti's hair. I'd never seen anyone in a professional environment with hair like that before. Cindy's hair was more tame, but she did have pink streaks in it. Patti idolized Lita Ford (she was a hard rock singer/guitarist who had a couple hits in the 80s...good stuff). Cindy's taste ran more to Duran Duran, but they were the best of friends. The best part? These girls were WAY into posting on the notes files and I'd even posted with them before (I recognized their screen names). I had my own terminal, I was among friends, I did a good job for a change...it was perfect! This was my second summer as a temp at Digital and I'd finally found my niche.

"The Stud" and I were emailing each other all day long, I had some new friends to hang out with after work, and it was all so perfect. I was devastated when the time came to say goodbye to everyone and return to college. Patti and the crew promised me they would request me again as soon as I was off for the holiday break. I'd decided to buy a car over that summer and struck a deal with my Dad to commute to school instead of live there. BIG mistake. I was miserable! I missed my friends in the dorm, my old roommate and I were growing apart because I wasn't seeing her as much as I used to, and I was back under the iron-fisted control of my parents (their house, their rules...blah blah blah). My grades slipped, I started skipping classes and drove over to my old office to visit with my friends, drove back to my old high school so I could pick up my pal Kathleen after school and give her a ride home, drove all over the state just killing time and being unhappy.

At the end of the semester, I went back to work in Fleet. I'd signed up for classes for the winter term, but I only went a few times before I just stopped going and went back to work. Things between "The Stud" and I had grown rather intense. I knew his whole life history and he knew mine. We spoken on the phone a few times, but I was really enjoying our deep email correspondence. We exchanged dreams, future plans, erotic short stories...I was madly in love! I couldn't wait to meet this guy, but at the same time, I was terrified. We had only exchanged basic descriptions of each other..."what Hollywood star do you most resemble" and the like (He said Julian Lennon). I had never seen a photo of him, and he had never seen a photo of me. This was back before you could "scan" or send graphics over the net. What if he didn't like me? What if he wasn't attracted to me?? Horrors!

As the winter wore on, I was getting quite adept at pretending to still be in school. I was so dumb! If I had known better, I would have dropped all my classes in that first month and my Dad could have gotten a partial refund on the tuition costs, but I was too chicken to tell my parents that I didn't want to be in school anymore. I just wanted to work and earn enough to move out on my own. That was my goal. Save enough money for first/last/security deposit and MOVE as soon a possible. I felt smothered at home. "The Stud" kept trying to encourage me to come clean with my parents, but he didn't know them. I didn't wantto scarehim away with stories of what they were REALLY like...so I kept that part of my life kind of quiet at first. Then came the really big news.

One of the noters decided to organize a huge party at this big Chinese restaurant/night club in Leominster. MA called Chopsticks. She made the arrangements for April so there would be plenty of time for people to make travel plans and whatnot. It was a really big deal! There were noters coming in from as far away as New Mexico and even a couple of fellows from England! Guess who was driving up from NJ for the party? Yup! "The Stud" was making the drive up so he could meet me and the dozens of other people he was friendly with in the Noter community...but mostly me. I was in a veritable FRENZY of anticipation. I'd packed on a few pounds since starting school and none of my cool clothes fit anymore. I had work clothes and sweats. Not acceptable! I dragged my girlfriend out shopping with me a couple days before the party. My nerves were shot and I felt nauseous pretty much all the time. I still remember vividly the outfit I bought. We went to T.J. Max first and I found this top. It was off-white, off the shoulder with these batwing sleeves (remember those?) rib knit cuffs and rib knit bottom that cinched the top in tight to my waist. There was a huge tiger/panther figure with a jewel eye on the front of the shirt, across the chest. The tiger image was made up of a variety of patches of different animal print fabrics...hard to describe but VERY cool and sexy.

But what to wear on the bottom?? We went from store to store and nothing was matching, fitting or working. I finally found the perfect pair of jeans - a sort of cross between a khaki and an olive color - at the Gap. They fit me like a second skin. Add these cool 4 inch spike heel black leather boots and WOO, I was smokin'! The night of the party, I did my famous Farrah feathered hair-do with some gold glitter streaks, my tri-color eye shadow with black kohl eyeliner, and black honey lip gloss. I never looked better in my life! Well...maybe at my Senior Prom...but I was HOT! More important, I was ready to meet my long time pen-pal and knock him dead.

I knew I would arrive at the party before he did (he had a meeting in NYC that afternoon and he was going to make the 5 hour trek north after the meeting was over). I had time to mingle, meet some of the guys and gals I had been flirting with, get hit on multiple times, have a couple drinks (for courage) and mentally prep myself for my first face-to-face meeting with "The Stud". Oh, I had long since discovered that this fellow was no "stud". He was sweet, sensitive, self-conscious, and very shy. It's funny what courage an online persona can give you. Oh sure, I had a tad more confidence and a pinch more experience, but I was really as shy as he was. I kept rehearsing in my head what I would say to him when he walked through the door. I didn't want to seem too eager and scare him off. I wanted to make a memorable first impression. I wanted to seem cool, mysterious, sexy, slightly unattainable, but yet approachable and highly desirable.

I sat at a large round table chatting with a group of noters I had become particularly friendly with. My back was to the front door of the main dining room (we had dinner first, drinks and dancing were planned for later in the night club). I knew the moment he entered the room because everyone at the table was suddenly silent and looking toward the door. They all knew this was going to be something special to watch. It was no secret how intense our online courtship had gotten. I turned in my chair and saw him. He was speaking to some people he knew near the door and obviously asking them to point me out. I saw a woman lift her arm and point right at me. Our eyes met and time stopped. It felt like hours that we stared at each other across the room. I remained frozen as he suddenly broke out of his trance. His face lit up like a child's on Christmas morning. He was grinning from ear to ear as he rushed across the room toward me. I felt a lump rising in my throat as my inner voice mumbled "don't blow it...don't blow it...don't blow it...don't be over eager...play it cool...be COOL..."

"Hi Becky! I'm John!!" He seemed giddy with happiness! I could hear the excitement in his voice! His face was filled with luminous joy and obvious attraction. My response?

"I know." I replied in a cool monotone with a touch of aloofness. Wait...too much monotone! Too much aloofness! Oh God! What did I just say?!??

His face fell. He looked like I had just kicked an adorable puppy right there in front of him. Oozing rejection from every pore, he replied, "Oh, um, ok. Maybe we'll talk more later." He practically ran away from the table.

CRAP! HOLY FREAKIN CRAP! I whipped around to face the table again and my friend Cindy said, "What just happened??" I just shrugged as I tried to get my emotions under control. I blew it! I just crushed him like a bug!! O H M Y G O D ! ! !

I downed another 7&7 while I tried to formulate a plan to undo the damage I had just done. We all finished dinner and many of us then moved to the night club, while others went home to their families. In the night club there was a bar just as you walked through the door with barstool seating, a large dance floor surrounded by cozy booth seating (those continuous "U" shaped booth seats), and a stage at the far end where a small band was setting up. I spotted John, my stud, in a booth with a small group of people I knew. There was no room in the booth for me, so I sat at the bar and chatted with a guy. When a couple people left the target booth, my friend Kristy waved me over. I sat in the booth at one end and John was across from me. There were several people occupying space between us on the bench seat and I soon joined in on the lively conversation. All the while, John and I kept stealing glances at each other. I knew the other people in the booth were both talking and watching us. Kristy, who was the moderator of our Flirts notesfile, was particularly keen on seeing John and I together. She wanted to take the credit for making a real love match.

Kristy would drop hints and, one by one, people left the booth until finally it was just John and I. We laughed nervously and chatted about this and that, at first. Eventually we just seemed to run out of things to say. We got up and danced for a while, pressed as close together as we could get, and just staring into each other's eyes. We would return to our booth and continue to just stare transfixed at each other. The physical distance between our faces got less and less until we were almost too close to focus on each other's eyes. I kept yelling in my head, "kiss me. KISS ME. KISS MEEEE!!!!" but he seemed content to just continue sitting there memorizing my face.

We'd been in this limbo all evening and I knew the club would be closing at 2 AM. I decided to take matters into my own hands...or LIPS, as it were. I kissed HIM. I got bold and just leaned in and pressed my lips to his for about 3 seconds and backed away to check his reaction. Apparently it was finally the right move to make. He ran his fingers through my hair and gently pulled my head back toward him and kissed me passionately. Oh man, it was electric! I felt myself melting into a puddle as I let my body fall into his. If we were in a car, we would have seriously steamed up the windows! We continued kissing until we heard "LAST CALL!" from the bar. Reluctantly, we made our way outside and sat on the restaurant steps. We kissed there for a while as they locked the restaurant doors behind us. Finally John broke contact and said he REALLY didn't want to go, but he was staying at a friend's house that night and it wasn't fair to keep her up all night waiting.

I thought about suggesting he get a hotel room for the night instead, but realized it was WAY too soon for that. I really did want to take things slow and not screw this up. We kissed some more by my car, then I got in and rolled down my window. We kissed some more through my open car window then very reluctantly said good-bye. I watched to be sure his car started ok, then we both slowly drove out of the lot together. He headed north to a friend's sofa, and I headed south to face my parent's wrath for coming home so late on a "school night".

;-)

Dating

Some of you may have guessed by now that "The Stud" I've been writing about is my husband, John. I had a few years of growing up to do before he would consider settling down with me...but I had a feeling right from the beginning that he was the one. Here are a few photos from the dating years:




The ones from New York City...funny story there. I knew my parents would NEVER let me run off to NJ to visit a guy for the weekend that I had only seen in person 3 times. They never did understand the whole "online" portion of our courtship. Plus I stayed at John's mother's house in their guest room (perfectly innocent). So, I lied and told them I was visiting my former roommate Jennifer for the weekend. Only problem was, I forgot to call Jennifer and tell her that she was my cover story. My cover was blown something like this:

[sound of payphone ringing in hallway of Dormatilla]

"Hello?"

"Can I speak with Rebecca Rogers please."

"She doesn't live here anymore."

"I am aware of that. She is staying with her friend Jennifer Kelly."

"JENNNNNN! PHOOOOOOOONE!!"

"Hello? This is Jenn..."

"Jennifer? This is Rebecca's Mother. Can I speak with her please?"

"Huh? She's not here..."

Mother, sounding alarmed, "What?! She told me she was staying withyou this weekend!"

"Huh? OH! Becky!! Sure...uh...she's...uh...in the shower. Can I have her call you back?"

"Jennifer. She's not really there, is she."

"Huh? Oh...uh...she might be! I just haven't...uh...seen her. Maybe she is staying in the dorm with someone else cause she...uh...couldn't find me?"

Thanks for trying, Jenn. I was SO freaking BUSTED. But it was SO very worth it. I'm glad I got to see the World Trade Center Towers from the observation deck at least once in my life.

Friday, September 03, 2004

Cuties

I have tons of photos that I really love...but this one was John and Tyler's first Father's Day. It was also the first time I dressed them alike (other than all of us having matching PJs for Christmas). I have the two best looking guys on the planet! (In my own humble opinion, of course.)

Thursday, September 02, 2004

Foxy

Ah, the joys of temping. If I hated an assignment, I would ask for another one. If the group didn't like me, I was sent elsewhere and replaced with another warm body. I could turn down an assignment if I felt like staying home for a week. Back then it didn't matter that I didn't have any benefits. Plus my new found work friends were just as lazy and unmotivated as I was. It was great! We all hung out at this dive called the 117 House after work each night, drank beer, and listened to my very drunk friend Kerry belt out his rendition of "My Sharona" along with the jukebox. Sometimes we would crash this biker bar called The Sit n' Bull...for a change of pace. They had the best greasy burgers around. (I hear they have since morphed into a rather hip rock/blues club. Times really do change!)

What a motley crew we were. Sue G. was hard as nails, but really popular with her male co-workers for some reason (use your imaginations). Harry R. was cute like a teddy bear with cherubic cheeks you just wanted to pinch, but he was NO angel. Kerry Nigel F., esq. was originally from England with the body of an elf and the brains of a little devil. He won over more women with his accent and claims of intense expertise in the area of carnal knowledge...even if he only came up to my waist in height. *wink* Sarah had a mouth like a truck driver (sorry Sammie!) but secretly she came from big money. Steven T. was tall, quiet, with a full beard, long dark hair and a knowing smile. He was one of the brilliant engineers in DEC's stable...he'd been there since the 70's. He was an aging hippy, but a super nice guy with a warm personality. What he was doing hanging out with this dubious group of sinners was beyond me.

What was *I* doing with this strange assortment of human oddities? I met them all through Sue. I had been assigned to her group to help her with some projects. We hit it off and she invited me to hang at the 117 House with her and her friends after work one night. The rest is history, as they say. I never had any trouble getting served in the bars we hung out in (remember, I was only 18 and fresh out of high school). I think because the people I was hanging out with were so much older than me, the bartender assumed I just looked young for my age. I did look young for my age. I looked like I was 14!

Oh well. I guess 14 year old hotties appealed to these dirty old men I befriended. I really WAS hot back then! I look back on it now and shake my head. I never knew how cute I was. I think that made me even more appealing to men. I really didn't know how to handle all the attention. Steve often ran interference when men got too aggressive toward me in the bars. When my parents found out where I was hanging every night after work, my Dad went so far as to show up one night, caused a HUGE scene as he dragged me forcefully out into the parking lot trying to make me go home. I thought all my male pals were going to come to blows with Dad. They WOULD have if I'd let them.

Dad and Mom assumed the worst. They really didn't need to worry. I rarely had more than one beer and I felt totally safe hanging out with my new friends.

At work, Sue took me under her wing and showed me the finer points of goofing off and having fun on the job. Harry took me around the Mill and showed me little known and infrequently seen areas of interest. He was a network tech and ran wiring through sometimes barely accessible areas. His job gave him unprecedented access to all areas of the Mill complex (even the office of the company President). "The Mill" was just that. A former woolens mill at the turn of the century - Ken Olsen had purchased the long closed facility and made it into the shining jewel of the computer world. DEC's headquarters was a century old labyrinth of brick buildings, elevated passageways, tunnels and other nooks and crannies. Until I met Harry, I was getting lost on a regular basis. He showed me the shortest routes to anywhere and everywhere. I saw the sub-basement, cut-down rooms, access tunnels soaked with decades of machine oil from long gone mill equipment...even the inside of the famous clock tower. It was a shame the tower room wasn't open to the public (or heck, even just the regular employees). It contained a very nice museum dedicated to the early history of the Mill. The company president used it only on special occasions to entertain visiting dignitaries or other high ranking folk.

I've got many stories about Harry. Yes I did break up his unhappy marriage...but I'll save that tale for my boyfriends post. (Wow...look at all the eyebrows go up!)

Back to Sue...she showed me the coolest thing on the corporate intranet. They had this tool called VAXNotes (anyone familiar with Lotus Notes? No? How about the AOL Message Boards? Yes! Same idea.) There was a notes file (board) for any and every topic. I quickly found the topics of interest - music, prose, womannotes, soapbox, singles, friends, and flirts. I used singles to try and find a boyfriend for my friend Kathleen. I met one of my boyfriends in music notes (he offered me drum lessons *wink wink*). I found out about the best parties through ALL of the notes files. These folks used any excuse to throw a party and get all the noters together.

Then there was "flirts". Just like the name said, folks were there to polish their flirting skills. It wasn't really supposed to be a hookup spot like singles...but some of the flirters did hook up. How flirts worked - you put in a base note (an introduction) and members would stop by your note and post flirtatious comments or questions. If you were interesting and entertaining enough, the number of replies to your base note would skyrocket! I'll tell you what...I learned MAD flirting skills in that notes file. I became quite popular. One of the best things about this medium, it was totally anonymous (if you wanted it to be). Everyone had these cute handles (nicknames). I was...get this...Foxy Roxy. Aaaahhhhh! I can't believe I am actually typing that. Let's see if I can remember some of the folks I used to flirt with. There was HuggyBear, FuzzyBear, The Woobie, ... ah yes, and "The Stud".

I should have known this story would take at least 3 entries. ;-)