Monday, March 24, 2003

on the john 2.4: Avoiding awkward and uncomfortable confrontations...

Generally, I don't write 'on the johns' this often, however the news below necessitates a message. I must warn you, what you are about read is not for the faint of heart.

First a quick example/analogy. As many of you know, over the past year I have come to love soccer*. I of course am not the average spry quick footed soccer player you'd expect, I play goal keeper. I represent 7% of the worlds soccer players. I find that as the Goalie, there is a lot of pressure. Whenever the ball comes my way, I'm usually the last line of defense. I do my best, and confidently, I think I do pretty darn good. Alas I can't stop every shot (yet), and it really sucks when I don't.

I am very aware of every shot that becomes a goal that I needed to stop. What I hate, more than letting the shot go in even, is the fan that says "It's okay John, better luck next time." or "oooh, that one was close you'll get the next one." Don't get me wrong, I know they mean well, and aren't gloating or mocking me. It's just uncomfortable for them to bring it up, I know I missed... every one else knows I missed. No reason to broadcast it. It's a sad situation, is it poignant to acknowledge it? I would just rather my failure dwindle in to a forgotten maybe even unnoticed realm. Just gotta move on, there's a game to finish. Even worse, is after the fact, the games over, and people come up and try and console me for missed shots. I don't want to talk about it, it's awkward and weird. Forget about the missed shots, tell me I did awesome, congratulate me on that diving save I made in the 63rd minute where I fully laid out and stopped the ball with one hand and how you were so touched by it that your going to go home and write the event in your journal. Now this example might seem a little extreme, it is. It's the only thing I could think of to help you relate to the upcoming information and request.

On Wednesday the 19th of this month Lara and I went to the doctors office for our first visit. This is after I figured out the difference between an OBGYN and a general practitioner. We got to the Doctors office, a little nervous, kind of excited. We get in to see someone after a slew of paperwork is filled out. She weighs Lara, does some checks here and there, this is fine, that is fine, oh, your so and so many weeks along, everything is wonderful, bla bla bla.

Then she excitedly says, "Do you want to hear the heartbeat???" We of course were excited and said yes. She gets out this little contraption and puts it up to Lara's tummy. I can here this sound, and its kind of the way it sounds when you underwater. I couldn't make anything out though, and every slightly irregular sound I heard, I thought was a heartbeat. I started to get a little concerned as this Nurse continued to search and not say anything. After at least five minutes (what seemed like forever) she said "I can't seem to find a heartbeat." then she disclaimed "That doesn't mean there isn't one, you may not be as far along as we think. (which is very feasible because Lara's periods are irregular) So I'm going to set up an ultra sound appointment for you at the hospital today. Lara asks "Do you think I might not even be pregnant?" she replied "No, I'm certain you are pregnant."

So Lara and I proceed to the hospital. Both saying we weren't too worried, that everything was going to be okay. Our minds were clouded by war and such, since today was the end of President Bush's ultimatum. We were admitted rather quickly, and got hooked up to the ultra sound machine**. Again I, unsuspecting that anything was truly amiss, was very excited. The nurse (or whatever she's called) comes in and using the ultra sound wand, starts to look around fervently for something, this screen portrayed black and white fuzziness. An extreme element of concern welled up inside of me as an entire three minutes went by and she said nothing. I couldn't really make sense of what I was seeing, and I noticed my wife starting to tear up.

Being overly optimistic I still had a belief that in moments the nurse would say "There, see that flickering, that’s a heart, your baby is perfectly healthy." Then I see a black shape... It looks just like those pictures of a uterus I saw in 8th grade 'sex ed'. Inside of this black hour-glass looking thing I see a little gray ball. I don't know too much about these ultra-soun thingys, but I figure the resemblance to my sex-ed text book pictures is uncanny and that I'm looking at our baby. The nurse proceeds to zoom in and measure this gray ball and do all sorts of stuff with this computer. The whole while not saying a word. After about fifteen minutes, the nurse says, let me grab the radiologist.

At this point Lara and I look at each other, the concern on our faces is all the communication we can muster and we wait. Every shred of hope I had was gone and I wanted to leave. I really wasn't looking forward to someone else coming in and looking for something and not saying anything and driving me nuts. Unfortunately that’s what happened. The radiologist comes in, and does just that. I was just waiting for him to say what I already knew. Then the nurse, now watching over the radiologists shoulder, walks over to a box of kleenex and hands a couple to Lara. She keeps one for herself though, and I notice shes teared up also.

Then the radiologist nervously says "I can't find a heartbeat." He is putting the machine away, and with one final shred of hope Lara asks "Could we not be as far along as we thought?" (I can tell this guy has no idea how to word what he has to say) He stutters through "Um, no. There is usually a flickering motion and with a body this size there should be one and there isn't. There isn't a heartbeat." Even though we both knew the truth for the last 15 minutes, it was still a huge shock. We didn't know how to take the news. It was after hours, and our doctor had gone home long before the ultra sound. They told us to wait and they would get an on call doctor to explain what to do. We sat in that little room and just held each other crying. The nurse came back and said we don't have a Doctor for you to talk to, you'll be fine, just go home and call your doctor in the morning. We left. We cried. We spent the evening with each other trying to cheer up dispel the blame we kept trying to put on ourselves for every little thing we thought we could or couldn't have done to change the outcome.

The next morning the Doctor told us that it was a basic run of the mill thing. She told us that any woman who has any number of children will experience a miscarriage like ours in there life time. In the past three days talking to others I have come to find this really is the case. She comforted us and told us nothing could be done, that the life process had started, but that Lara's body knew it wouldn't finish and ended it at the best possible time.

Lara will be able to have children again, and looks forward to it. In our prayers we constantly told the Lord that we leave our baby in his hands, and we strongly believe that this was meant to be and onward we'll move. It's sad it really is, but we're happy. We don't know a whole lot about when the spirit of a person actually enters the body, but we figure if it was there, he/she will be in our eternal family hereafter, and if not, we'll get him/her next time. As Lara pointed out to me, The Lord in his infinite wisdom has a plan, and we often times miss the point simply because we can't look at the big picture, we just see the part we're in at the moment.

Having said all that. If you’re confused about the soccer analogy. We know you care, and we know you're sorry. We have a game to finish though and just want to move on. The longer I am married the more naive I discover I am. I now understand why people wait until the 2nd trimester to announce they have a baby coming. I never did quite get that. I was just so excited... Originally we decided that this is the kind of information not appropriate for an 'on the john' however, thanks to my big mouth, the constant experiences that go like this--

INNOCENT INDIVIDUAL: How’s your wife did you find out when the baby was due yet?
JOHN: "Oh um, actually we had our first ultrasound, and the baby didn't have a heartbeat..."
INNOCENT: ... Oh, I'm so sorry. Are you okay, how’s Lara.
JOHN: It's okay, no were fine.

--have prompted us to inform people on a more formal note. Hoping to avoid these awkward uncomfortable confrontations for both parties.

Thanks for reading. We love you and appreciate your concern. Really though, as many of you know from experience, and many of you know others who have experienced this. It happens a lot, there are plenty of others who need your concern much more that we do. We look forward to next time and will of course inform you accordingly, just maybe a little later.


*For those who don't know. The Authors soccer team, "Shouty Audi" has moved from indoor to outdoor soccer. The season starts this Saturday. For those of you fans who desire to know when games are as to attend and not point out any of the goals the Keeper lets pass, simply reply to this email with the word 'FAN' in the subject line, and you'll be added to the Shouty Audi fan email list you'll only receive game information and possible team outings. Your email address will not be sold to other companies or individuals.

**This author’s limited knowledge of technology makes him unsure if this is actually a machine. Since a machine is a device consisting of moving parts that modifies technical energy and transmits it in a more useful form. Rumor has it these days that a computer has few if any moving parts especially bits that contribute to its actual useful purpose. Then again he could be way off.

PS: Still on the look out for a fridge, I have a couple in the works, and if you didn't hear... I need a used refrigerator and I'm willing to pay for it. I'll also provide labor for removing it, and I'll even move in your replacement for you.

Friday, March 14, 2003

on the john 2.3: I fought the law, and our special little guy...

I fought the Law, and our special little guy...

It's no secret that I have what might be considered a less than perfect driving record. With 19 lifetime speeding tickets, four reckless driving citations, three suspensions, and a revocation under my belt (none of which were alcohol related) I might be one of the foremost authorities on the subject. When your record is this terrible, it's strange how things constantly happen to your driving privileges without you really being aware. The tale which is about to unfold is a representation of that fact.

Back in November, I had kind of forgotten to get my car registered. So my friendly neighborhood Highway Patrol Officer graciously pulled me over on sight. He went through the usual routine, license, registration, bla bla bla. Asked for my excuse, which I didn't have. Then he went back to his car for about 3 minutes and came back and said, “Are you aware your license has been suspended.” “No?” I replied honestly. The officer gave me the citation, gave me a warning for not having my car registered, and sent me strait home to think about what I'd done. I come to find out the reason my license was suspended was because of this little thing called an SR-22. It's a little piece of paper that lets law enforcement know that the bearer of this document was caught driving without insurance some time in the past 5 years. The problem was, even though I had a copy in my car, that my insurance company hadn't sent a copy to the DMV. So the DMV suspended my license. Anyway the penalty for driving on a suspended license is $500.00. I didn't want to pay it, nor did I think I should since my insurance company assured me they had sent in the SR-22.

So I decided to fight the law! The other day I went to court for an arraignment. What an arraignment is; it's when all these supposed badie's go before a judge and just say either 'guilty' or 'not guilty'. If you say 'guilty' the judge sentences you right there, if you say 'not guilty', you come back at a later date. So, I show up and there are probably thirty people sitting in this room that looks like a Perry Mason TV stage. All kinds of people. I thought it would just be hardened criminals like me but all sorts turned out. Anyway they play this video twice, once in English, then in Spanish that explains your rights. Then the judge comes out and starts the long process. It starts with anyone who doesn't speak English. They have an interpreter come up... that part is very boring (if like me you don't speak spanish).

Then it's kind of fun to watch. People are in for all sorts of stuff. Almost everybody plead 'not guilty', then the judge just said “okay here's your next court date, be on your way.” What I found fascinating is the judge would talk those few who wanted to plead 'guilty' into pleading 'not guilty'. One guy got up there and it went like this:
SUSPECT: Your honor this is stupid, this is about two potatoes.
JUDGE: What's your plea?
SUSPECT: I don't know, I defiantly don' wanna come back for no other court date.
JUDGE: You understand for this crime the maximum penalty could be a $2500 dollar fine and up to 90 days in jail?
SUSPECT: Yeah, yeah, but aw I- this is about two potatoes, I paid for them and then they put me in-
JUDGE: Sir I don't want to hear your story, unless you plead guilty, and then the penalty could be up to $2500 and 90 days in jail. Now what's your plea?
SUSPECT: Well, I don't know your honor. I just got this job I don't think I can get time off.
JUDGE: I sure wouldn't plead guilty if I hadn't done anything. Prosecutor what's the case against MR. So and so?
PROSECUTOR: Apparently he opened a bag of potatoes, and put two more inside the bag then sealed it up and left the premises of the store.
JUDGE: Well sir, unless you think you can convince me otherwise right now, then plead 'not guilty', and take your case to a jury of your peers.

Eventually this goof plead not guilty. Constantly the Judge would say, "you understand the maximum penalty is..." and "Do you understand the maximum penalty?"

Eventually my turn came up after about two hours of sheer entertainment. I get up to the podium, the judge goes over my personal information, goes over my charges, and says “What do you plead?” I say, “Well actually your honor I understand quite well what my maximum penalty might be, but what is the minimum penalty I could incur?” He said, “Well, Zero, I have complete discretion.” I said, “oh then I want to take my chances with you, I plead 'guilty'.” Laughter could be heard from the audience behind me. He asked the Prosecutor what the case was, she explained, and then he asked me what I had to say. I told the aforementioned tale and explained why I thought I should, if not be let free, at least have the $500 fine lowered. (This all happened in about 2 1/2 minutes) Then before the judges reply the prosecutor says “Your honor the state has a deal to offer.” The judge says, “continue.” Prosecutor says, “We'll drop the fine to $150 and put him on six month good behavior probation.” The Judge looks at me and says. “Well?” I say, “Can I get a $50 dollar fine and have a one year probation?” The judge looks at the prosecutor, she says, “The state will accept that.” I say, “I'll take it.” Bustling conversation and quiet laughter fill the room behind me.

The judge smiles and says “Great. I love to see justice work so quickly like that.” As I walk out of the room down the isle with all those others looking at me. I smile and people are looking at me smiling, shaking their heads, I even got a thumbs up. Not many feelings rival how I felt in that moment it's one of those moments like when you bless the sacrament and can feel the breeze of 300 people saying amen in your direction, or like being the goalie who just won the tied game between two rival teams by not letting any shots in on the shoot out, or like sitting in a balcony listening to a crowd laugh at a movie you created. It was pretty great.

Just for those of you wondering, the special little guy in the title is not referring to the gender of our baby. You can't tell that till like 4 months you fools. What I was talking about is our new baby boy dog! His name is Vodka, and he is adorable. To Answer your first two questions I will use these next two paragraphs.

What kind of dog is Vodka you ask? He is a Dogo Argentino. It is the only pure bred dog from South America. His history is actually quite fascinating. Back oh a couple hundred years ago. In Argentina the people had a big problem with cougars and puma's coming out of the woods and eating people, kids mostly. Luckily they had a couple dog breeders who took on the task of creating a dog who could not only be courageous enough to defend their villages, be fast enough and smart enough to hunt the large cats and also wild boars (boars grow up to 400 lbs, are very ferocious, and at the time were their biggest source of food) but also be a good family dog, one that's great with kids, loyal, and in the home docile. 25 years and 10 dogs later and they had the Dogo Argentino. They are fairly rare in the United States, but adorable, and perfect for Lara and me.

Why on Earth did you name your dog Vodka? Well, back on my mission in the city of Leeds England whilst serving as a full time missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I was working with a man Named Brian Birmum who we helped stop drinking in order to be baptized and join the church. He was a serious alcoholic, and it was a very difficult undergoing. However, upon succeeding Brian thought my assistance was significant enough to merit a trophy of sorts. He gave me a shirt. It was an Everclear (Not the Band, the Brand of Vodka) T-shirt, which was a favorite alcohol of his.

I have always had the shirt as well as a sentimental attachment to it. Now, I am married, and alas after having the shirt for 6 years... I was convinced to retire the shirt forever. It was hashed, the collar was separating from itself, it had holes, stains and other such discrepancies. The decision to get rid of the shirt was made when we purchased the Dog. When searching for a name, we decided to attach the sentimental hold I had on the shirt to the dog, and thus Vodka is his name. Vodka is great, he is only 8 weeks old, and for about 5 hours a day a little ball of energy. He has already displayed a very specific personality which is really cool. He loves Lara more than he loves me, (I think that’s the case with most everybody) and we're amazed at how smart he already is. Well, that’s about that. Lara is doing well, the sickness seems to have subsided for a time. We should have a due date for the baby very soon. Thanks for reading.