Big Pimpin' Pirate Baxter

So, Baxter wanted to be a pirate. I think he sorta looked like a pimp.

But a cute one.



You see what I'm talking about, here?

In this next pic... no, he's not saying "EFF YOU," rather he's practicing his pirate, "Arrrrrr," - and with gusto, I might add.

All around great day. costume parade at HLC, Halloween party, and then we went home and really "trick or treated" for the first time. We went to about 10 houses.

The only less than stellar moment was when we ran into a family we didn't know who thought bax's costume was fantastic... and then, pointing further down the street to an adult man also dressed as a pirate, this dad said, "Is that your dad down there dressed as a pirate, too?"

I hate when Baxter gets comments like that. Cause for a brief moment, he's like ".....what??? WHERE?" You can see it in his face. But I quickly said, "Oh No. Remember Bax? Down there we passed that cool Captain Hook guy. He looked pretty cool, didn't he?"

''Yeah. He looked cool!"



ok ok...

so, i considered deleting last night's post. Just for the sure "pathetic" factor of the whole thing. But I have never deleted a post. And I sort of feel like that would be weirdly cheating.

But you all know that I mostly write when I'm "in it." When I'm not writing, Chances are I'm quite functional: writing a paper, teaching, doing laundry, getting baxter a juicy cup, hanging at the playground, chatting with friends.

But last night wasn't one of those "functional moments."

PS: (one hour later) I JUST realized what probably sent me into a tailspin last night. I had just watched episode 9 of HBO's Tell Me You Love Me (spoiler alert!!!). The very last scene of the hour-long show:

After a year of trying to get pregnant and then giving up, Palek had revealed to his wife, Carolyn, that he didn't think he wanted to have kids after all. But... of course... within days Carolyn learned she was finally pregnant. At about the 10 week point in her pregnancy, Carolyn quit her loathsome law firm job on a whim. Palek, under the now increased stress of an unwanted pregnancy AND realizing he was the sole breadwinner for this growing family, had a panic attack.
Carolyn and Palek went to see their therapist. Palek revealed that he so couldn't handle the situation that he thought he and Carolyn should... split up. She did not see this extreme reaction coming at all (nor did I, to be honest). And her speechless reaction was painful to watch. Pregnant. No job. Husband wants out. The life she thought she was going to have has all... within weeks.... totally fallen apart. Instead of having a nuclear family, she's going to be (at least at this point in the show, we think) a single mother.

I think I sort of got what Carolyn's revelation felt like... a little too much.


Can someone please...

...explain to me that sobbing into my pillow at 10:30 pm is not a helpful or useful tactic. my pillow is now soaked. I can't breathe through my nose. My eyes are burning. And it's all just the same old shit. This is not helpful, danna. NOT helpful.

For no reason, all of a sudden, after I turned off my light and rolled over to sleep, it came over me like a giant giant wave.

I'm alone. I'm all alone.

My bed is a California King. It wasn't supposed to be for me alone.

I want to be with Mike.

Or someone else who is wonderful.

I want baxter to have two parents.

I want to feel like I am part of a team.

It is crazy that this is my life. Sometimes I just can't believe it. I think back to 2 or 3 years ago and I can't cannot fucking believe that this is my life. This big house. This empty bed. My dead husband in a cardboard box on my bureau. My engagement ring in a box next to him.

My son who is so smart and so savvy that when he is having a tantrum he says through tear streaked cheeks, "I miss my DADDY!" And everyone around gasps for a moment. I always look down at him and want to say in reply, "Kid, you have no fucking idea. You have NO idea."

In the car on the way home today he saw the moon and said, "Daddy! Are you having fun up there? We miss you." Once at home, he looked up at the moon and asked me, "Mama, if Daddy came home from the moon, would he still be sick?"

I don't know, bax.

And yet, I know that now that I've written this and it's out there, I'll feel a little bit lighter. I know I'll fall asleep and get up in the morning. I'll feed bax breakfast. I'll get ready for work. I'll drop bax at school and drive to UD. I'll prep for class, I'll teach. I'll get soup from from the cafe downstairs. I'll drive back up 295, pick up Baxter, cook him dinner, give him a bath, read him books a go to bed again. And once again will be lying here in this bed. Hopefully I will feel better than I do at this moment.

One highlight of my day today was that it was a dear friend's 30th birthday. He's a private person, so I won't use his name. But he was my first big love. My high school boyfriend of a year and a half who became a dear dear friend as the years went by. He lives in Philly now. Big time doctor man. And while I struggle to keep my head on straight about his platonic role in my life, I have come to so enjoy the time that we have together and with Baxter. He is one of the few people in my life that feels comfortable instructing or reprimanding Baxter (e.g.; "Don't talk to your mother like that."). It's an amazing thing to have backup when I'm so used to going without.

So, today I sent him a big birthday balloon bouquet to the hospital where he's a resident. And given that he doesn't love being the center of attention, this was pretty much his nightmare... and he had to bike home with them. And even though he was publicly humiliated, I know he felt loved. And that makes me feel good.

Another highlight of my day was dinner with Carrie. She and I (and Bax) hung up a purple-light-string-spiderweb in the front window that "looks so spooky" (quoted from Baxter). She, too, chimes in as a parental figure - giving me a couple more peaceful bites of dinner when she says, "Baxter. Dude. Bum IN the seat."

Thank god for them. And for Michelle. And Susan. And Heide. And the other many friends who are returning characters in my crazy life.

It's funny. now that I have written all this, I've stopped crying and my bed doesn't feel quite so intimidatingly large and lonely.

Thank you.


Race For Hope NOVEMBER 4th - SUNDAY

I realize I haven't written lately. Life is hectic all around. Trying to make a deadline for a potentially fantastic journal publication, gave the first big exam of the semester to my students, and Bax was diagnosed with ear infection on Tuesday (after a week of acting like an utter criminal). But I'm surviving.

REMINDER: Next Sunday is the Brain Tumor Society's Race (or, if you're Danna, "Walk") for Hope.
Susan and I have registered ourselves on the Jefferson Hospital Team and we'll be walking with a lot of the many nurses who cared for Mike.

Please either consider walking with us, or donating to the cause. You can do so by credit card by clicking on my personal Race for Hope page HERE.

Click here to view the team page for Jefferson Team

If the text above does not appear as a clickable link, you can visit the web address:


Mike's birthday... and I get the present...

I'm about to pick up bax from daycare, feeling my daylong headache from random bouts of sadness and grief... and... look what I get in the mail.

My doctoral diploma.

There it is.

Done and Done.

He would be so EFFing psyched right now.

Holy crap.

Let's go drink cocktails, shall we?

Happy 40th Birthday Mike.

I so wish i could make fun of you for being so so old. I'm doing it anyway... you're just not here to hear it.

Bax and I just sang happy birthday to you. Bax insisted on going to the window so that you could actually hear it. I bet you did.

Tonight, we're going out for your big day. Kevin, Beth, Susan, Tracie, and I are going to see Jen Childs' new show, "Searching for signs of intelligent life in the universe." It's gotten great reviews and it was directed by Mary Carpenter. You love both those ladies and you'd be very proud of their work. I can only imagine how you would embrace them in the lobby after the show... your jacket draped over your arm, arms folded, head tilted to one side when they come out into the lobby.

After the show, we're going to all get a drink together and toast your birthday. You OLD OLD OLD man.

I love you,


Race for Hope and other tidbits

I would like to gauge interest in participation in Philly's Race for Hope (walk/run) for the Brain Tumor Society. Sunday November 4th in the am, meeting at the Philly Art Museum.

Depending on the interest, I will either be participating on the Jefferson team with Susan (and bax in a stroller) OR, if lots of people would like to join in, I will create the Mike Young team and we can get a whole gaggle of people together to raise money... and then we can have a post-race pizza party or some such fun at my house. Just drop a line in the comments section and once I figure out the response I'll post an update about the race and the logistics.


So, Thursday Lonia let me know that she got a few days off from her nannying job in Cleveland and would like to make an impromptu trip to visit us. So, we got a nice long weekend with Grandma! Bax was loving it! As was I. The joy of having someone to watch TV with, chat with over dinner and breakfast and someone who loads and empties the dishwasher without being asked! dreamy, i tell you. She just left for her 9 hour car drive home at 8 am.

It's always a little bittersweet with Lonia, as would be expected. She looks like Mike. She has the same low-key pleasant way about her as Mike. And once in a while, I look at this woman and really process the fact that my husband, who I miss so f*cking much, came from her belly. He grew in there. He was her baby. Like Baxter is my baby. That brings a whole other dimension of sadness to the situation, as I experience not only my grief, but the entirely different kind of loss that she has had.

And yet, I watch her play with Baxter... I watch as we go for a walk together and the two of them run up ahead (yes... run. She is a fit and energetic woman, just like Mike). I watch as their matching red-heads bob up and down and they both stop abruptly at the intersection and giggle together. And I think how lucky I am to have these two pieces of Mike in my life. On the one hand, the mother who birthed and raised him, and on the other the baby who he made... who is now growing into a young boy.

The whole thing is all kinds of effed up. Because the reason they are both in my life is because of him. And he is. not. here.

But that hasn't stopped me from reaching across the giant looming king sized bed the last couple of nights to hold his hand. Not like I really have thought he would be there, but I have tried to recapture that "used to be familiar" feeling of reaching across the bed, feeling for his hand, knowing that no matter how asleep he was, if I squeezed his hand, he would squeeze me back. Three squeezes, denoting, "I LOVE you," with a strong squeeze on what would be the word "love." and then he would squeeze back, "I love you, TOO," with a hard squeeze on the "too." Yet no words would be exchanged... just squeezes. This worked for 7 years... and continued to work until about 4 or 5 days before he died. Once I told him he could go... he didn't do it again.

Am I really writing this shit right now? Am I really sitting here... now... 15 months since his death... writing this? with tears streaming down my face?


My mom and dad's gazillionth wedding anniversary is tomorrow. I think it's like 42 or 43... or something. I haven't gotten them a card. Mom and dad, i know you're reading this. I haven't gotten you a card. I spaced til just now.

And now... instead of buying you a card, I'm thinking that I wish I could have borrowed ... just a couple of those years from you... cause all I got were 3. three married years.

One of them was bliss. One of them was pregnant. and One of them was the hell of life with a newborn baby, followed by a stressful move, and a life-changing diagnosis.

Which brings me to a dream I had Saturday night. I was me now... dropping in on Mike and me from early 2005. We had baxter. He was about 4 months old... in his little red and blue summer outfit that we loved so much. We were walking together down the street. Mike was holding bax in his arms. My eyes were red and my cheeks were tear-stained. Mike looked tired.

In those early days I had post-partum. I didn't sleep at all. I cried from the second the sun would begin to get low in the sky until about 9 at night. I worried that I had made a big mistake. I felt trapped. By the time the 3-5 month mark hit, I was pulling myself out of that hole. I was connecting with baxter, sleeping more, getting some of my own work done. But it was hard. We did well as a team... we tried to see things as funny rather than daunting. But we got tired sometimes. and as I looked in on the old us, I felt so sad and angry. Angry that I was there with Michael and I was stressing about the next feeding, the next nap. I broke the barrier that separated me now from us then and told them to stop.

"You don't know how little time you have," I said, "It's hard, yes. But you're together. You love each other. Be together." And I watched as Danna and Mike looked at each other, and, with a fussy baxter in Mike's arms... they hugged. They hugged really hard and smooshed and cried a little.

I try so hard not to think about the "wasted" time. But... this dream made me think about it.

I know that living with the knowledge that he would soon die... would not have made for a functional partnership. I know that we loved each other hard and well and that we always knew how fortunate we were. But...

but what? But nothing.

Now I return to my class preparation for my "consumption and romance" class. Preparing for a conversation about the liminality of romance... how we conceptualize love and lust bringing us to an other-worldly place (in time and space).

I think I must be a fucking masochist.