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It may be the “best game ever played”, but even those who love it clearly harbor secret feelings suggesting otherwise!

One-ish month until hockey starts!

Two-ish months until basketball starts!

Fun thing one: Birthdays!

We’re entering that time of year when the birthdays pile up. Greg was a week ago, Rae and Cara were this past weekend, and upcoming over the next two-three months are Amy, Ella (who will go from my favorite 1-year old to my favorite 2-year old!), Nate, Shelly, John and all sorts of other people.

Makes sense when you think about it–9 months after Thanksgiving, Christmas and Valentine’s Day!!

We had dinner at Greg’s sister’s house for his birthday last Monday night.

Saturday was Rae’s party, with a private catered chef and vodka infusions and everything. Super classy, and tons of fun, though it always reminds me when we hang out with her and Aaron about things like that that John and I are definitely in a lower tax bracket. Still, nice to enjoy it for an evening, and mixed berry vodka infusion is amazingly good!

Cara’s party was Sunday, with sushi followed by seeing a local cover band at a local bar. The two guys in the bad were really good, and really funny. They’ll be playing at James and Cara’s wedding, and I’m really looking forward to seeing them again. Not quite in the same league as Rae’s party, but Cara’s was very familiar and fun.

Now I’m trying to come up with some fun things to send Amy for her birthday this Friday, other than what she’s asked for. It’s always nice to have some surprises, don’t you think? Any ideas on small, light weight stuff that a person living on their own for the first time could use?

Fun thing two: Vacations!

Man, tons of people are taking vacations at this time of year. Elizabeth and Matt went off on their honeymoon (well, yes, more than a vacation, but still), and Sydney and her boy went to New York and Puerto Rico–I didn’t even get to see her in between her trips, but I’m hoping to catch up with her before we leave soon! James and Cara were up in the Pacific Northwest, and Nate and Shelly are about to head off to Greece.

And where are John and I going? Well, two weeks from Thursday, we leave for 2-3 weeks involving sun, sand, and diving. Here’s a hint: We’re not going to Australia, but we’ll have two 24-hour layovers in Brisbane on the way there and back. Any suggestions for places to eat, things to do, sights to see?

From there we’re off to Papua New Guinea–the last frontier in diving, theoretically. Everyone we’ve ever talked to has said it’s the best diving we’ll ever do. We’ll be at a very remote resort for a handful of days, then 11 days on a luxurious live aboard, diving to our heart’s content. At the resort, we’ll have access to the world’s best “muck diving”–diving to see all the little creatures that live in the silt at the bottom–plus skull caves, amazing hikes, and all sorts of cool birds and animals and fish. My goals, above water, to see a bird of paradise and an echidna–my dad has never even met anyone who’s seen a PNG echidna, so I want to try!

It should be an amazing vacation, full of as much relaxation or as much go-go-go diving as we want it to be. I can’t wait, and there’s still more than two weeks to go!!

Oh well, I’ve got some birthdays between now and then to tide me over. πŸ™‚

The diving community lost a member yesterday. He was apparently a very experienced diver, but was doing an extra deep dive, down to 250 feet, where many things could have gone wrong.

I really feel for his family and friends, and I hope nothing like this ever happens to me, John, our friends, or any of our students, past or present.

EDIT: The name didn’t immediately ring a bell, but according to John, I had met this guy several times, and had even dove in a group of people that he was part of. Doubly sad.

We had a scuba class at the ocean this past weekend, helping 9 students become or get closer to becoming certified. It was, as always, a nice chance to work with all our friends on the staff, but this class?

Well, as Greg would say, it was a learning experience.

Four of the 9 were kids, ages 10-12. That changes all sorts of instructor-to-student and staff-to-student ratios. Fun times.

One of the 10-yr-olds was a perfect example of someone mature enough and ready to become a certified diver. Other than that she was physically small, and thus got freakishly cold really fast, she was a great student.

The other 10-yr-old, however, was a great example of someone who is more interested in digging in the sand than paying attention to an instructor, and who is just freaking not ready to get certified. Maturity-wise, ability to pay attention, ability to follow directions, all of it. Not quite a nightmare, but certainly not a lot of fun.

The rest of the students were pretty average–better than we expected from the pool when the class started, but not a rock-star group like we sometimes have. But all made it through just fine.

However, in the course of teaching 4 dives, the staff did, collectively, up to 6 dives. It was a lot. And Monterey was busy, so no hotel room, and so two 4:30am alarm clock wake-up-calls. Ugh.

I think I’m only now recovering. Sleep-wise, it’s going to take awhile, but physically I’m back to where I was. I only carried my gear out of the water on my bum shoulder twice. Shhh, don’t tell John or he’ll be super mad!

But it was a lovely weekend, fairly good diving, and fun times for the most part.

Some highlights:

a little shrimp burying itself in the sand

coming across the sand dollar fields

some sea nettles that were blowing in on the tide/wind (only really a highlight so long as you didn’t touch them)

lots of decorator crabs

an octopus!! during the day!! how cool is that?!?!?

and a job well done to staff and students alike

Ever see some jackass driver, weaving in and out of traffic? Or going straight from a left-turn lane? Or turning left out of a go-straight lane next to a left-turn lane? Or anything?

And think to yoursef, now where’s a cop when I need one!?!?!

(By the way, those are all things that make me which I had weapons mounted on my car while I drive to and from work.)

But today!

Today!

A car was turning left from a no left-turn lane. Not just the wrong lane, but at an intersection that doesn’t allow left turns! And there’s a cop car coming towards them from the other direction.

The cop goes through the intersection, and the car goes ahead and turns left.

I think to myself, WTF? But at this point, I’ve turned right and am driving away.

Until I glance in my rearview mirror and what do I see?

Another cop car, coming from the same direction that the first one came from, turn right after the car that illegally turned left and pull them over.

I hope the cop gave that sucker a big fat ticket. πŸ™‚

Bad news comes in threes, right?

Friday, we found out that John’s aunt has breast cancer. In both breasts.

Saturday, we found out that my great uncle had a rare form of lymphoma–and that it had already traveled to his lungs and kidneys.

Sunday, after leaving here and arriving in the town in which my great uncle and aunt live, my mom ate dinner at a restaurant starting with “mc” and ending with “onalds” and possibly connected with a “d”–and promptly got food poisoning.

So that was our three.

Now here are three requests:

John’s aunt has surgery Thursday–a double mastectomy–please keep her in your thoughts.

My great uncle died yesterday, and I found out this afternoon–please keep him and his family in your thoughts.

And my mom recovered. Thank god. But any of you who want to keep her in your thoughts anyway, in the hope that her cancer never comes back, are more than welcome to do so.

It’s been a tough day. Kind thoughts are much appreciated.

You know what breaks my heart faster than anything ever?

It’s that hiccuping, gasping sob as Amy tries to hold back her tears long enough to say hello to me on the phone before she breaks down.

When she’s feeling down and lost, she calls me. And usually only gets out “Hi, how are you?” before she loses her composure.

And even after my moment of panic–what’s wrong? is she okay? are my parents okay?–passes, my heart just aches as I listen to her cry over the phone line, from hundreds of miles away, and all I can do is say “It’s okay!” without really knowing what’s wrong or if it really is okay.

Today, it was mostly low self-esteem/confidence leading her to feel that she wasn’t good at her job, that she was just fooling the people that she works with into thinking she’s competent, and that she’ll never make friends in the tiny town she’s just moved to.

This, from a girl with more friends than you can shake a stick at. From the girl that moved 1800 miles away to go to college, and ever after calling me nearly every night crying her freshman year, stuck it out and ended up loving her life in California. From the girl that then moved 3000 to the opposite coast and started over, making new friends and new contacts, with a new job and a new school and a new life plan and a new boy who is, I hope, going to be the love of her life.

She is strong and competent and smart and funny and friendly and organized. She’s good at her job. I know this without even knowing much about her job–simply because the things her job requires are things she excels at. She always makes friends, even if it takes time and effort–she will in this new place, too. And at the end of the year, if she’s still not happy, she can find a new job back out east, near the boy who she has fallen in love with.

I told her all this, and encouraged her to think positively and to choose to feel good about herself and to go see the boy and to come visit me and to call anytime she needs or wants to and to ask people to do things with her in an effort to make friends and to see that she is good at her job. And. And. And.

I don’t know how much of it broke through to her crying on the other end, but eventually the sobs stopped and she even laughed at a joke or two. It will help, until the next time her self-confidence takes a nose dive.

(As a side note, why are girls cursed with such low self-confidence? If there was one thing I could wish for anyone I knew, any daughter of mine, it would be self-esteem and self-confidence. Alas.)

In any case, I think it helped tonight, and it will help for a little while. And her weekend visit to the boy will help even more, I’m sure.

But sooner or later, my phone will ring again, and she’ll start to cry all over again, and my heart will break all over again. Because when that happens, I want nothing more than to maker her life all okay, to hug her and tell her it will get better, and instead, all I can do is hold the phone and talk to her for however long it takes for her to not cry.

That’s what sisters are for, I suppose. And I’ll be there, on the end of the line, however long she needs me.

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