Friday, February 29, 2008

The "What-Might-Have-Been"s

I was reading Niobe 's blog this morning, who almost always gets me in an introspective mood. She was writing today ("February's grace note") about the letting go, the what-ifs, and the might-have-beens, as are, evidently, many other bloggers.

Considering that nearly all of my might-have-beens have been of my own choosing (Requiem for Veronica), or heartbreaks that sliced searing pain through my soul at the time, but that turned out for the best (Unanswered Prayers) or things that were bumpy and painful roadblocks on our journey to find Lana (The Sound of Two Hearts Breaking) - it hardly seems fair of me to even ponder my own what-might-have-beens, considering the gravity of the might-have-beens of others...

If your might-have-beens are haunting you today ~ embrace them, wallow or revel in them. And know that you won't be alone.



Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The Snowgirl

Husband, Lana, and Gabriel had a snow day today. Gabriel went off to play in the snow with his buddies, but, Lana, Husband and A~, another little girl in our neighborhood, decided to build a snowgirl, instead of a snowman. She's lovely, as you can see.



Things Lana has said this week that made me laugh

Lana: I don't talk regular
Husband: It's okay, you're getting better every day
Lana: I knows

Lana: I only like really CRUNCHY salad, mommy, like REALLY REALLY CRUNCHY, like, you bite it and it says CRUNCH-CRUNCH. This salad [she picks up a leaf of spinach from a strawberry spinach salad] is not so CRUNCHY. Not so crunchy, I not eat it, okay?

Lana: We goin' on VAY!CATION! We goin' on VAY! CATION! All four of us go on vay! CATION! All four of us guys [she gestures to our immediate family unit] goin' on vay!cation! on a airplane! Last time, I go on airplane, I go [Lana makes a vomiting noise]. I did that [vomiting noise] last time on the airplane. But, not this time! I don't know how to say that [vomiting noise again] but, I no do it on VAY!CATION! (Let's hope she's right about that one!)

(Photo courtesy of my Girlfriend H~, who takes the best pictures of kids!)


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Monday, February 25, 2008


I'm not sure what it says about my mood*, but, this is the song that's been playing on repeat in my office all beautiful it will make you cry, from folk-singer-songwriter Patty Griffin's 2002 album 1000 Kisses.

I'm not kidding when I tell you her voice - so gorgeous - will break your heart.

Patty Griffin Rain


*Actually, I'm pretty sure that what it says about my mood is obvious, I'm just too busy to dwell on it right now. Everyone just remind me to breathe. In. And out.

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Friday, February 22, 2008

TRIAL, or, Recipe for a Meltdown of Monumental Proportions

Technically speaking, I am a civil litigator. A litigator (not to be confused with "alligator" har-har, silly lawyer joke) is the type of lawyer who takes issues to trial.

But, I'm going to let you in on a little secret: Despite what the folks in TV Land want you to believe, trials don't happen all that often.

I'm not speaking for criminal attorneys or prosecutors, who DO seem to have trials with regularity (although not so often as they do on Law & Order as near as I can tell.) But, when I run into friends or acquaintances who are criminal defense attorneys, they can utter the words, "I have a trial next week" in the same tone of voice that they might say, "I have a doctor's appointment next week and I'm not really looking forward to it."

However, when civil litigators have a trial, well, let's just say that, in my experience, they are running their hands through their hair, talking to themselves and possibly chain-smoking.

I have A LOT of hearings. I have hearings in housing or family court several times a week. A hearing is much less formal than a trial. There is no jury, there are no trial briefs, no witness lists, just usually one person testifies to something (for example: "I own this house and I rented it to this guy and he stopped paying me two months ago" and the other side testifies, "It's true I stopped paying him, but, I lost my job") and then usually we get a decision right on the spot, and that's the basic day-to-day legal work I do.

And in much of the other work that I do, I win on motions for default 85% of the time (this is where the other side doesn't even respond to the Complaint I filed with the court, so, I file a motion saying, essentially, "Hey! I showed up at the basketball court and I brought my ball and I was ready to play, and they STOOD ME UP. So, please rule in my favor so I can take my ball and go home."), and, for the last four years I have won on summary judgment the other 15% of the time. (This is where the other side answers, and then I file a motion in response to their answer that says, "Hello! Judge! There are no real legal issues here! Please rule in my favor!) (Um, obviously, I am over-simplifying this process).


But but but, I am involved in a stupid case on the other side of the state, and I have LOST on summary judgment and my client did something to shoot itself in the foot (my client being an entity and not a person), and it looks like it is going to TRIAL (like, TRIAL, an actual trial, with all the trappings entailed in that) in TWENTY DAYS, and as I realized the implications of that yesterday, I had to shut my office door and put my head between my knees for several minutes and then I went into the Ladies' Room and contemplated vomiting for a good long while after that.

And then I went into the office of one of our partners and shut HIS door and had a minor (er, major) panic attack (which would have been a poor career move on my part except that this particular partner also happens to be my uncle, so, it was okay) , and he had some ideas which he is floating to the client right now, which may help avoid TRIAL! and I've got to say that I hope he makes this work, because, HOLY CANOLI I do not want to have to have a TRIAL. ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE STATE.

Just arranging daycare for me to be on the other side of the state for even two days is a logistical nightmare. And this just isn't something I do. EVER.

I wasn't able to sleep last night and I am all anxiety-riddled.

Here is another dirty little secret: I hate conflict.

You are laughing hysterically and mumbling, man, she is in the WRONG business. A lawyer who hates conflict? That's insane!

And you may be right. I may be crazy. (But, I just may be the lunatic you're looking for). (Sorry, musical interlude to lighten the mood.)

I hate conflict, and I am pretty good at avoiding it, and when I have to face it head on (usually in divorce court) - I face it head on and then I go back and close my office door and hyperventilate. (It's not a great coping system, but, there you go...)

Hoping the more experienced attorney can work some magic and make this trial go POOF! But, not holding my breath...



Thursday, February 21, 2008

Is it really EIGHT years?

The calendar tells me that it really is February 21, 2008, and I'm having one of those "where has the time gone" cliche moments of motherhood.

It was eight years ago this morning that we first met our little man Gabriel, who came to us scrunch-faced at exactly 10:00 AM, weighing in at 7 lbs, 7 oz.

I had a moment of angst the other day, when, having purchased him some new long sleeve shirts (size 10! Good grief his arms are getting long), Husband came into our room and said, "his new shirts don't fit on his hangers."

This seems like such a little thing, but, it means THAT HE NEEDS GROWN UP SIZE HANGERS. No more baby hangers. BIG REGULAR SIZE HANGERS for my baby's clothes.

Is it pathetic that this bothers me?

Last night I was telling Gabe the story of his birth (the highly sanitized version which is minus the blood and the screaming and the swearing like a sailor at the unknown doctor who was grabbed out of the hallway to come in and deliver him), and I had gotten to a key point in the story, the point at which my then-five-year-old-niece laid her head against my ginormous belly and started whispering, her mouth flush against my sweater. And when I asked her what she was saying, she looked up at me and said, "Aunt G~, I am telling that baby it is time to come out now!"

(After which, she also looked from me to her own mother, my sister, who was pregnant as well and said, "is my mom's belly going to get as huge as yours?" (No, I am not making that up, not even a little.) And considering the fact that my sister is an adorably petite 5-ft-tall tiny person, and I am a 5'7" Viking-lady, I assured her that it was impossibly unlikely that her mother's belly would get as huge as mine. And it didn't. Not once. Even though she's had FIVE babies.)

Anyway, I had gotten to the part where I went into labor only 4 hours after my niece J~ had whispered into my stomach that it was time to come out, when Lana piped up,

"What about me, mommy? What about ME!!??!!"

Oh, the crushing and irrational guilt that consumed me! I have no story to tell her about the night she was born. I cannot even tell her if it was night or day or raining or windy or gloomy or sun-shiny. Nothing. Nada. I got zip. Zero. Zilch. No information.

I have told the story of Gabe so many times that it is like second nature to me - and the little details are important (Husband had a fever of 103, I went to the grocery in a snow storm, the bit about my niece, and how we were watching an episode of The X-Files when we left for the hospital and how it's the only episode of the X-Files we have never seen all the way through*), but, even though I have been telling all of YOU the story of Lana for the last two years, I have not been telling it to HER.

And, well, let's face it, the past year has been a lot about getting to know each other, and her learning English, we haven't exactly had a ton of time to build our shared history, the story of 'us'.

I have yet to tell Lana the story of how, on the day we learned she was our daughter, we were swimming in the backyard when the phone rang, and a woman named Abbie, on the other side of the country, told us "Congratulations!" I have not told her of how I took the tracings of her feet with me to Frankenmuth, Michigan at Thanksgiving in order to buy her the perfect pair of shoes, and how I got excited to buy lace trimmed anklet socks to go with them. I have not told her of how her grandmother and I packed and repacked her suitcase 3 times on the night before Husband and I left for Vietnam, or how the lady at the Northwest counter in Detroit wished us "good luck with your daughter" when we checked in for our flight. I have not told her that I was nervous to meet her, or what I was thinking when I first saw her.

I have a good story, a compelling story, (really, it is a good story) to tell Lana. I need to work out the details, to get them right, to perfect the story of 'us'.

It may not ultimately be the story she is craving, it may not be the story that she wants. The time may come when she decides she needs to know the rest of her story, and I worry that she may never be able to find it. I worry about this, that no matter how compelling and interesting and humourously told, the story I have to tell her...may not be the story that she NEEDS. But, I will do my best, to craft a story for her, as carefully as I have woven the story of her brother, and I will weave those stories together, and I will hope for the best...


*It was episode 7.12, an episode entitled "X-Cops", and Mulder and Scully were followed around by the film crew of a "Cops" style show - I honestly think that episode only aired that one time, because I have NEVER seen it advertised, anywhere, as a re-run.

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Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Thank You Snarky Bitch!

And I mean that in the best possible way. :-P

I have found the source of my latest musical obsession. And it is, in fact, "Into the Night" from Santana featuring Chad Kroeger (lead singer and guitarist for Nickelback) (And which explains why I couldn't find the song by googling Nickelback).

Santana has posted the video on Youtube HERE - so, I was not having a hallucination after all...



Was I Having an Auditory Hallucination?

Please help me, oh wise Internets...

The other day, I was flipping through the radio stations, and I heard what sounded like a new Nickelback song on a station that only plays Top 40-stuff.

I really LIKE Nickelback and so I left the radio at that station (even though it was not a station I usually like because the DJs are awful), and then I started to think that I really liked the song, and I thought it was odd I had never heard it before since I have four Nickelback albums on my Zune. (I have their albums: All the Right Reasons, The Long Road, Silver Side Up, and the State - am I missing one???).

I've been searching on line to see if Nickelback has a new song on the charts at, I cannot find it...I'm obsessing over this (I get that way.)

Does anyone know if Nickelback has a new song, or, has anyone heard a really good song lately that made you THINK it was Nickelback, only to find it was someone else? And, if so, who was it??



Monday, February 18, 2008

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang*

I like a good hitman story. I do. Seriously.

What? No one is with me on this?

I guess it's just a weird personal kink.

(Someone please remind me to check my blog stats tomorrow, as I feel certain I will get any number of hits on the phrase "weird personal kink". Perhaps it will beat my current most popular search term of mommy got boobs - which brings me about 40 hits a day. Evidently, there are a lot of folks out there with their own personal kinks involving mommies and boobs.)

Anyhoo, as I was saying, I like a good a hitman story. (Incidentally, I also enjoy a good art heist or jewel thief story, too. Nothing like a little art heist, carried out with a bit of panache and style, to make me root for the bad guy.) (I have a black, black little heart, sometimes.)

My favorite hitman stories are from the black, black heart of hard-boiled noir mystery writer, Lawrence Block. You can read about Hit Man, Hit List and Hit Parade here at Lawrence Block's site. He is writing some of the best hard-boiled mystery fiction on the market, and he's been doing it a long time, so, he's the kind of author who can keep a bibliophile busy for months at a time, he is that prolific.

I particularly love it when I can find some black comedy to go with my hit man story, which is why my favorite movie, pretty much, in life, is John Cusack's Grosse Pointe Blank. But, good comedy mixed with murder-for-hire is hard to come by, which is why you can imagine my delight, when, at the library this morning, I stumbled upon a book called, Agnes and the Hit Man. It's co-written by Jennifer Crusie and Bob Mayer, and I'm pretty excited about. I haven't even cracked the cover, but, it promises murder, mayhem and hilarity in one pretty package.

I'll let you know if it lives up to all the high high hopes I have carved out of my black little heart for it.


*Title stolen from the 2005 movie (brilliant film) of the same name, which is, incidentally, NOT about a hitman, but you would sure think so, from the title alone, wouldn't you?

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Friday, February 15, 2008

What have I done to upset the universe?

I think I have angered the universe in some way and I'm not really sure what, but, I'd like to shake the last few weeks of bad luck.

I managed to go 35 years without being involved in a single car accident. Not one. Not one accident in 35 years of riding in or driving cars. And that includes riding in cars in Japan and Vietnam, where at times I was sure we would crash.

And yet, I have been in TWO car accidents in the past THREE WEEKS. Two in three weeks. Those are lousy odds. (Although better than my friend R~, who confessed to me that she had once been in two accidents in ONE DAY.)

Anyway, Tuesday morning was icy and snowy and awful, and as I was rounding the curve in the road that leads out of my subdivision, I hit a patch of ice and went careening into my neighbor Kathy, who was coming into the sub.

It was incredibly lousy timing. Our subdivision is not busy. 99% of the time, if I had hit that patch of ice, I would have just slid across the road and I would have been a little freaked out but, no harm done. But, as (bad) luck would have it, my neighbor was driving into the neighborhood at that exact moment and I slammed my little Pontiac into the back of her SUV, and there was a sickening crash-crunch, and it was a mess.

Nobody was hurt, but, my car had to be towed away. (And we had to wait 3 hours for a tow truck since it was so snowy and icy and there were so many accidents that any accident that wasn't on the highway was getting "secondary" attention. And we waited an hour for the Township Police to arrive to make a report. And it was 12 degrees out. It sucked.)

And then there were no rental cars available, and I thought I was going to strangle someone at the rental car place because they called THREE times to say that we were getting a car, and then called back to say that we would have to wait until the next day because they didn't have any cars. We did finally get an enormous Dodge something-or-other.

My back hurts and my hip hurts and I have to think that two accidents in three weeks time has got to be bad news for my skeletal system!

But, I must take myself off to court now, and hope that I manage to not be involved in any mishaps along the way. I'm walking, to be on the safe side.



Monday, February 11, 2008

A Cautionary Tale, aka Do Not Put All Your Eggs In One Basket

I have done a rather stupid thing.

And that stupid thing is this: I put almost every document relating to Lana's identity in ONE burgundy plastic expandable file folder.

The exception to this is her US passport, which, just by happenstance, is in an envelope with our plane tickets for our spring break trip. (And until the tickets came, her passport was in there, too.)

The burgundy plastic file folder is THE ONLY PLACE I had her social security number. (The file folder also contains 3 copies of her social security card, but, fat lot of good having a copy does if it is sitting with the original.)

This morning, for about 4 hours, I thought the burgundy file folder had been stolen from my car, and let me tell you, I honestly about lost my mind.

I KNOW better than this. I DO.

I give people LEGAL ADVICE for a LIVING, you can guarantee that I would never advise any client to keep all important documents in one place with no copies anywhere else.


So, for a few minutes I sat and thought about how I would reconstruct Lana's life - how I would put the pieces back together so that she would have an adoption decree, a birth certificate, a social security card, a certificate of citizenship.

I called the clerk at Probate court who handles all the adoptions, and she told me that they would be able to produce a certified copy of the final adoption decree (from my state, of course, but not from Vietnam), and my adoption agency said they could get me a copy (though not certified) of her Vietnamese adoption documents.

To reconstruct her life's documents would take time and money, and I am kind of desperate to get my taxes done. And to do that, I need her social security card.

When I called social security to see if they would tell me what the number is, they said, "we cannot give a parent the social security number for their child until they give it to us first."

Huh?? (She has got to be kidding me, right?)

So I said, "if I had the number, I wouldn't need YOU to give ME the number."

"Yes, I know, but, that's our policy ma'am."

I said, "What do I have to do to get the number?"

"Fill out form F-5 requesting a new card." she says.

"Form F-5 requires that I KNOW the number. I don't know the number."

We went round and round for 5 minutes. She tells me I should have written the number down in more than one place. (Thank you very f**king much. I needed that advice. Or rather assvice.)

She keeps saying that she cannot give me the number until I give her the number first. I want to strangle her.

Finally, I say, "would you PLEASE tell me what I have to do, if I have NO DOCUMENTS relating to my daughter's identity, how do I get her social security number?" (This was a stretch of the truth since I did have her passport.)

She hems and haws and says that I have to go in person to the social security office and take any documents that I can find, including any school records and medical records, and if I have "enough proof" they will help me out, in person.

I was thinking that I was going to have to leave work tomorrow afternoon and take her passport and the replacement adoption decree and beg the people at social security office to tell me what her social security number is. (Which, frankly, as her parent, I think I should be entitled to be told if I can show that she is my child, but, I don't really have high hopes about what might have happened.)

The good news is that, when Husband got home, he found the burgundy file folder in our computer room. Evidently, I must have brought it in from my car myself. (Smacks self in head).

So, I'm off to do my taxes. And put copies of all the important documents in about 3 separate places.


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Thursday, February 07, 2008


Happy Lunar New Year! Welcome to the Year of the Brown Rat (or Earth Rat).

Husband and I were both born in a Rat Year - the year of the Water Rat. I'm not sure if a Rat year is supposed to be lucky for people born in a Rat year or not. Rat is the first symbol on the Chinese Zodiac, so, my understanding is that a Rat Year is supposed to bring new beginnings.

The closest Tet celebration we could find is 2.5 hours away, so, we are attending a Chinese New Year dinner tomorrow night at the Chinese School. And we celebrated Lunar New Year with our Families With Children From China (and other parts of Asia) group on Sunday. Lana wore her Ao Dai and looked beautiful. I will try to post a picture later today.

Gabe was up and down all night last night with bad dreams - it was one of his worst nights in years. I'm not sure what was going on. He couldn't fall asleep, he said he kept thinking a tornado was coming to blow our house away. (I should do a better job at keeping him from hearing the news.) He also said he had a dream he was being eaten by a cobra and he was totally hysterical after that. He is taking amoxicyllin (sp?) for an ear-infection and I am wondering if that is having an effect on his sleep cycle, which is NOT stellar to begin with...

Here's hoping for a better night tonight and a year of Happy New Beginnings.


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Wednesday, February 06, 2008


(I have to admit that I was reminded of this conversation while I was reading Snarky Bitch this morning. Give credit where credit is due and all that.)

Last week, there was a shortage of O+ blood in our area, and so the Red Cross called Husband and asked him to come in and give. (He gives pretty regularly, but, in this case they called him on exactly the next day he would be eligible to donate - I believe it's 57 days or something like that.)

So, Husband made an appointment for the next day, and he said to Gabe, "after school tomorrow you're going to have to come with me while I give blood, and then we'll pick up Lana."

Gabe: Oh yeah! I love it! (Gabe does a small happy dance around the kitchen)

Lana: What? What give blood? What that mean?

Gabe: Daddy gives the nurse his blood and the nurse gives us OREOS! And NUTTER BUTTERS! As many as I want! I'll get a pack for you, too, Lana.

So, there you go, my son loves it when Husband gives blood for the COOKIES.

Evidently, in Gabe's head, we happily exchange bodily fluids for baked goods.


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Huh? WHAT? Come again? (Spoilers for Alias Season 4 Ep.15 - Nightengale)

Okay...I realize I came to the Alias party a-year-and-a-half after it went off the air, and that I am in a state of shock about an episode that aired almost 3 years ago, but, I have to say:



Vaughn, sweet, hot, vaguely resembling Husband with straight hair and no beard (don't mock me real-life-girlfriends, you know it's true (or at least leave my harmless delusion alone)) VAUGHN punches SYDNEY in the FACE? After he says, "I love you"???

Again, I say, what the frap??

And yes, I realize that it was all part of their plan to steal the face-melting-coil for father-finding-purposes, but, OUCH.

And, yes, I know, Sydney gets punched in the face in probably 1/2 of the episodes, but, not by VAUGHN!

I totally think that Victor Garber's character would beat the the frap out of Vaughn for punching his daughter. I mean, the guy just crawled into the core of a nuclear reactor to save her life, and her boyfriend PUNCHES HER?


That's all. I'm done now.


In other TV news...I have given up on Big Love, but, I'm loving Buffy.

*Frap is a registered trademark of Mrs. Broccoli Guy's four-year-old son Zeeb. :-)

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