For the record, I no longer wonder where Sam gets his looks (and by that, I don't mean his "good looks," as he clearly gets those from his mom).

Best birthday gift


So, today is my birthday.

Right. Not something I usually go around saying in a public place. Hey, everyone, I share the same birthday (day, people, not year) as John the Baptist! Nearly the best day every to maximize present distribution (the best day theoretically being the 25th, or six months from Christmas), but not for maximum presents (since school is out, and birthday parties less well attended).

Today is the my first birthday in ten years that I haven't spent with Kris.

That's the downer.

The upper is that this is the first birthday in 20 years that I've spent with my dad.

And that's the BEST gift a girl could receive.

Echoes of past hammers


I remember as a child having my dad bring me home from school because I was sick. He had a work schedule that seemed to work with being home for us kids, though probably not with as much sleep as he'd like or wanted.

One afternoon of being home sick is particularly vivid, as Dad had brought me home because I couldn't see: I had a migraine, with the auras, and it was a doozy. He actually hadn't been working the night shift that day, and hence sleeping when the school called. Instead, he had been working on the upstairs bedrooms, refinishing the attic to make a couple more bedrooms and a bathroom upstairs.

After picking me up from school, he plunked me in his bed, shut the door, and went back upstairs to continue working on the bathroom.

The bathroom.

The bathroom, which was on the other side of a pillow, through the door, down the hall, up the stairs, around the corner and through another door.

And every hammer hit on a nail was a BOOM through my skull, the sunlight piercing my eyes through clenched lids and, yes, that pillow.

I remember calling for Dad, and asking him to stop hammering. Pleeeeeeeeease?

He did.

Now, fast forward to today, two days after one of the worst migraines I've had in a long time, a mere 36 hours after the ebb of the day long blindness, my vision restored until the next wave. I'm reminded again of the memory of that migraine years ago, listening to Kris' practicing thrum through my head, bouncing between ears before finally leaving.

I let Kris practice. If I concentrate hard enough, maybe I won't notice the constructive interference happening in my head...

Dad's catching on


Dad sent me a debit card for Christmas. He sent all the kids the same gift, mailed from the same place. Chris' didn't arrive: it was stolen somewhere between the mailing origination and the post office near Chris' house. I don't know about B's card. Mine arrived just fine, tucked in a card.

I'm strangely excited about this gift. It feels like the start of a school year: full of promise and new beginnings. There are so many things I can do with this card, so many purchases I can make.

I could buy a technical book at Amazon, read it and become more knowledgable.

I could buy an entertaining book, read it and become more relaxed (unless it's one of THOSE, we know how relaxing I find them).

I could pay for an hour massage, and have enough left over for one for Kris - then I would be really relaxed.

I could buy plants at the nursery and plant them in the yard. Every time I looked at them, I'd think lovingly of my dad.

I could buy a plane ticket back to Indiana to visit him.

I could buy a really, really fancy meal for Kris and me (or, just let Mike buy that one).

I could buy stock with the money, watching it grow over the years.

I could buy two dozen or more domain names and continue on my site-a-month goal (this site being the first one I've done, yay, schedule!).

I could buy a stained glass window to hang in front of one of the livingroom windows

Oh, the possibilities are limitless! The choices are all exciting. I've always thought the best gift is one that someone wants but wouldn't purchase for himself. Pretty sure most of those qualify here, since I've cut down my spending from things I want to just the things I need. I've been impressed with how much less consumerism there is in my life, and Kris' buy extension, by not buying stuff on whims. If it'll be used and its necessary, I'll buy it. Otherwise, I'll imagine owning it, imagine the brief joy of ownership, then move on. One less thing to discard later, one less distraction to deal with.

What I find most interesting about this gift from Dad is that the debit card comes with strings attached: I have six months to spend the money, or fees start coming out of the balance. Hefty fees, too: more than 10% of the card's remaining balance a year.

Perhaps that's Dad's way of making sure I actually spend his Christmas gift. I still have the check he wrote to me for Christmas of 1999. It's on pretty yellow paper. Too pretty to cash.



ad managed to arrange to leave work early today, which meant we were able to spend more time together today before I flew to Arizona to spend most of the week with Mom, Eric, Sam and Jackson (pronounced with enthusiasm as Jak-sooooo-own). I had taken the dog on a walk earlier, and had something I was dying to show him. He eventually agreed, and off we went to walk the dog for the second time that day.

At the end of the street, I pointed to the street sign. Dad looked up, and, after a few moments, started laughing.

Lincoln never spelled his name so well.

Off to the left of the bend in the road (or the right if you're facing the other way, of course), was a dirt drive. I've often looked at this road, and assumed it led to the road close to the elementary school I attended as a child. I leashed up the dog and started walking down the road, forcing my dad to follow me. He was surprised when we crested the hill and saw a vineyard. I was surprised when we crested the hill and saw fields and woods for a much farther distance than I realized. Sure, this was the short cut to school when I was small, but it was still a long, long walk for a 10 year old.

We walked back along the fields talking about not much. Dad commented several times that we were trespassing, and seemed far more nervous about doing so that I expected him to be. The fields are ones that I'd really like to own, as well as those across the street. Have to get a move on if I actually want to have that happen.

While talking on the walk, I mentioned the tournament and how I had met Alex Thorne. I commented that he was 5'6" 115 pounds, and that the 115 pounds was the weight I wanted to drop to. I told Dad I was rethinking that weight, as Alex seemed awfully skinny: more that he hadn't grown into his height than undernourished, a few more years and he'd be bigger. Maybe 115 wasn't such a good idea for me.

Dad then commented that yeah, he always thought I was too skinny growing up, that he was happy I finally gained some weight. He agreed that 115 would probably be too thin for my height.

The opinion surprised me. I never knew my dad thought that. I can't say I ever thought that about myself except in passing maybe once. It's interesting what you can learn when you just start talking to someone and his guard is down because he's worried he's trespassing in his neighbor's yard.



I went to dinner with Dad and Linda tonight. It's funny to watch the two of them are together. Dad is completely ornery and I can say that, Dad, because that's a Hodsden trait as much as being late or being distracted are.

We also drove to 1406, which Linda walks by on some morning walks. The house is looking way run down, which is a shame, really, because it's a lovely house: the original farm house for the area way, way, way back when.

More importantly, the first house i lived in, so it has to be important.

At one point, Linda casually mentioned that a neighbor of hers reads this site, and sometimes updates Linda on my whereabouts and events.

I think the dumb look on my face must have registered to the people I'll be visiting in Ohio tomorrow. I know my jaw took a few moments gathering dust from the restaurant floor.

The only thing I could thing of to say was something along the order of, "Uh....."

So, uh, hi, neighbor who lives next to the house where the Larsons used to live (the Larsons whose son died when I was in junior high school and Chris inherited his motorcycle, not that I can remember the Larson boy's name. Oh, and the trees have grown up a LOT in front of their old house - you can't really see the house for the trees any longer).

Linda asked if that was okay, that her neighbor reads this. I said, sure! because it is. (Did I mention? Hi, Neighbor!) I'll just pretend it's just me here. I hope you don't mind.

Hi, Megan! Hi, Mom! Hi, Roshan! Hi, Cads! Hi, Chookie! Hi, Kris! Hi, Liz!

Oh, and there's a tornado watch on right now for Northwest Indiana. Note to self: when you run downstairs after noticing the sudden drop in air pressure, run to the side with the furnace. That's the southwest side of the house, and the most likely safest spot if the house comes tumblin' down, crumblin' tumblin' dowwwwwwn.

And now, Dad is here, too!


I spent waaaay too much time sitting on my butt, plowing through email this weekend. One of my ongoing, hits-every-tenth-card tasks is "clean out my inbox." So, I went back 140 emails in my inbox of 1642 emails, and started dealing with each one. If I needed to do a task, I did it. If I needed to respond to someone, I hit reply and wrote to the person. If I needed to archive the email, I copied the information where it needed to be, and deleted the email. If all I needed to do was read the email, I read it. One at a time, I started dealing with the emails.

After about eight hours of email processing, I came across an email from Dad, so I hit respond and answered his email. Dad and I have been talking more often than we have in years. I think we're up to four hours of phone conversation in the last two months, which is more than the previous two years total.

Needless to say, these conversations make me really, really happy.

I meant to call him today, to continue our trend, but (always the Hodsden "but"), I wanted to continue cranking through my email, I wasn't sure what his schedule was like, and at that point, I don't know why, I wasn't up for talking. Emailing, sure, talking, not really.

It's a funny "but." I want both to know what's going on in Dad's life, and for him to know what's going on in mine, but, the timing was off.

So, I told him about this site.

He replied back before I was done processing the full 140 emails, and his response:

I was reading some of your blogs. I don't see where you get the time to sit
down and do what is literally a diary of life's events, but I like it.

So, Dad, here's where I find the time: the ten minutes waiting for the train, I type notes on my phone (my phone has a full, though not full-sized thankfully, QWERTY keyboard); sometime before bed when I'm relaxing on the couch, I'll post events of the day; if I have a few minutes, I'll write something at work. When it's an important event, I'll stop what I'm doing and just start writing - because sometimes you just need to get it out, lest the thoughts consume you.

In the end, though, I write here because I want to remember what happened today. Each day, I want to remember what happened today and yesterday and the day before, how I felt, what I did about problems I've been facing, how I responded to good fortune, what made me laugh, what made me cry. Not everything is here, sure, some of it I can't write about because it's too painful, or generally socially "unacceptable" to talk about. so I write somewhere else, or post it so that you have to login to read it, or talk about it with friends, friends who know because they listened, they saved my life. For the most part, though, the important things are here. They're here because I've spent far too many years trying to forget, and I'm done trying to forget.

So, Dad, mostly, I find the time to write because remembering is important to me. I write here for me.

But if I can share it with you, too, it's worth it.

Way worth it.

QotD: You've got to blog!


If you could get someone in your life to start a blog, who would it be and why?

I've seen pictures of my mom as a child, playing under the big tree in the backyard of the house my grandfather built. Decades later, I would run through that backyard as a child myself on my way from our house to my best friends house, cutting through back yards to cut the walking time from 10 minutes to two. My mother's childhood home was long since sold, but she loved the house we moved into, the house on the hill from her childhood dreams.

What other dreams did my mother have? What hopes, and problems, and joys, and failures and victories did my mom experience? How close does my life parallel her life, and how far away from hers is mine?

I don't know.

I know her better than she knew her mother, but ultimately I don't know much of my mother's life before me. I know the highlights. I can imagine the minutae. But, I really don't know.

The saving grace to this vacuum of knowledge is that she writes. She has journals; she writes short stories, many of them based on her life experiences fictionalized. If she started a blog, a personal one of highlights of each day, her life would open up, and I'd know how much we are alike. And how much we are different, though, I know I am my mother's daughter in so many ways.

Come to think of it, I know even less about my dad. Oh, the stories he tells when he's in the mood. If he started a blog, it would have to be an audio blog to get the full side splitting life of his words. Now that would be a blog worth listening to.