IMR: Entries: 2003: February: 01 — Saturday, February 01, 2003


Pardon the rambling. I'm a bit out of practice. In fact, I'd almost forgotten how to log into this thing.

Come to think of it, that would have been pretty funny. After switching to an automated web publishing system to make it easier to write more often, not only do I still write in fits and starts, but I could've gotten myself locked out of my journal entirely.

Yes, it's been over three months since I've shoveled self-absorbed stories into the now five-year obsession (still) titled "In Medias Res." And, as many an unintentionally hiatused escribitionist knows, the longer you wait, the harder it is to get started again. Like a frustrated hack, you obsess more and more about how you'll open your next update, make it seem worthwhile, or at least offer a credible explanation. "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times," you type, then lose a few more days berating yourself for the cliché.

For a while, even Jen was writing more often than I was. But inevitably we got to the "you first/no, you first" stage, and things got quiet again. I only managed to keep the photo gallery updated... which — depending on your point of view — may have done a better job of sharing the last few months of our lives anyway.

Before I knew it, it was February. And now, not only had I actually collected some stuff worth sharing, but I'd also started hearing from people who previously expressed disgust at this journal... and they were nagging me to get on with it.

So here goes.

[ Zac today. ]Zac is just awesome. Now nearly eight months old, he's full of personality, strong and determined as an ox, and cute as hell.

As far as I can tell, and as everyone promised, the boy hasn't skipped a beat. He's crawling, pulling up, and — thanks to legs with the diameter and strength of oak logs — fixing to walk. Until then, he's keeping fit by jumping and stomping and sometimes making it impossible to keep a good grip on him.

He weighs about twenty pounds, putting him in the upper percentiles (especially for a hapa kid) and basically giving him growth trends that are the opposite of his older sister. I suspect he'll be carrying her around in a few years. And a few years after that, he'll be able to easily kick my ass.

He laughs (sometimes at jokes only he and Katie understand), goes "ba ba ba" and "ma ma ma," and when upset, he hits decibel levels and upper registers never before recorded in this household. Who would have thought a boy would take top prize for squealing and shrieking?

His hair has grown back nicely, covering all but a tiny section of his surgery scar. It actually makes him looks especially handsome, I think, since by this age most kids are starting to look a bit shaggy and getting random trims with the kitchen shears. Even so, his hair was long enough a couple of weeks ago to leave him with a stubborn morning cowlick. Now that was adorable.

I'm not sure why, or if it's healthy or weird, but I still go back pretty often and look at pictures from his time in the hospital. I wince as I see him then, so incredibly small, weak, vulnerable... hurting. And then I turn to watch him holding his own in a tug-of-war with Katie over a toy, or kicking his way across the floor to get to Jen, and all I can say is, "Amazing."

It's like... nature, or God, just packs these little creatures with so much explosive potential, that in a way they're almost unstoppable. A freight train of life too naive about loss and failure to be derailed.

He was in surgery for over six hours. He had substantial portions of his skull removed or reshaped. And he probably went through more blood via transfusions than he had in his little body in the first place. And yet, already I can see in his eye a twinkle of mischief. Forget cute, he's nearly ready to be precocious.

On the other hand... We won't know until later this month if he's in the clear.

Despite several visits to the neurosurgeon and pediatrician, to date it's just been too early to know if the single, extended procedure eliminated the need for the second of the originally planned two surgeries. How is his head growing? How are the soft spots developing? How might things look in another year? In five? And if things aren't entirely perfect, what, if any, are the options? At this point, are the issues purely cosmetic? Can he otherwise grow up normally and break hearts, build empires, and go bald?

Jen often says that she's glad she was completely unprepared for Zac's surgery. She says if she knew in advance what it was going to be like, she would never have been able to go through with it. Knowing, after all, may make the decision more difficult.

But that's for later. For now, he's perfect, and we're happy. And as I wrote on Oct. 16, when we brought him home, that's all that matters.

[ Katie, age five. ]Katie, meanwhile, turned five last week. Not a week goes by when she does something, or says something, that just blows me away. She's so much more creative, inquisitive, and articulate than I expect her to be... as I still expect her to be about three years old, and riding a tricycle.

Instead, she's reading books to her brother, helping with chores, saving up spare change to buy things, flying around the block on her new bike, and playing with her GameBoy (puzzle games only!). She lost her first tooth a few weeks ago, and another one is already wobbly.

I'm especially thrilled with her language skills. I like to think she's picked up my talkativeness and Jen's speech mannerisms. I hear Jen in her speech especially when talking with her on the phone, from the "actually" to the "anyway" to the "hold on" and "so, see you soon!" Once in a while, when I'm in the kitchen and the girls are talking in the bedroom, I can't tell who's saying what.

We had her birthday party right down the street at Makiki District Park, setting up canopy tents, chairs, a pinata, and even a big inflatable jumper. Friends, coworkers, and both sides of my family were there, as was Jen's brother Mike, who (in another noteworthy development) is now stationed in Hawaii at Pearl Harbor. Of course, Katie's boyfriend from preschool was there, too, and the two of them were inseperable.

It was quite an event, and the kids had a blast, but I was exhausted for days afterward... even though Jen, mom and dad probably worked even harder than I did. I think the next time we attempt anything that elaborate, it'll be Zac's fifth birthday.

Katie's five candles and stack of presents also bring with them the looming prospect of school. We're in the district for Lincoln Elementary, which will do, to be sure. (I was secretly hoping for Noelani, or at least Kaahumanu.) Although it's a long shot (something like 130 applicants for 15 spots in our district), though, we're mostly hoping to get her into Kamehameha Schools.

Yes, despite a late start in the midst of post-surgery insanity, I somehow managed to get the application in, and Katie interviewed with the admissions office in November. For a time, Jen would check the mail every single day in the hopes of finding a thick envelope from them. But since they explained they wouldn't make their decision until all the interviews are finished, I figured that it would be February at the earliest. Hopefully it'll be February at the latest, now.

What's up with Jen? Why don't you start nagging her now and find out?

As for me, there's pretty much only one piece of news to report: as of Valentine's Day, I will no longer be an employee of the Pacific Basin Economic Council.

I got a new job.

And no, not the internal promotion reported only a few weeks ago in Midweek. Obviously, as the job search was in its final stages by that point, I wasn't exactly encouraging the publication of that particular news item. Despite getting a nicer title and a little raise from my new boss, who had only come aboard the same week Zac was in the hospital, I decided to leave last week for even greener pastures.

It wasn't an easy decision to make... nor was it easy to start job hunting in earnest last year (a large part of the reason why I wasn't really able to write these past few weeks). I was acutely aware of the local job market — and the absurdity of leaving a perfectly good job in the midst of it — but more importantly, it was hard to imagine professional life anywhere but where I was.

PBEC was my first job. I worked there for nearly as long as I've been a father, and for the vast majority of my nine-year trek through college. I came aboard as an unpaid intern, and I'll be leaving over four years later as a manager. And truly, I've become close friends with many of my coworkers. Against all advice, it had gotten to the point where my loyalty to the office outweighed every other practical concern, from salary to security to stress level.

But the career stars aligned in October, as they did in many other ways at around that time, and I knew it was time for a change.

Zac's hospital stay made it painfully clear how precarious our financial situation was, not only living paycheck to paycheck (less than a paycheck from the streets), but depending on considerable support from my mother. With everything that was going on, the delicate balancing act started to wobble, with a couple of bounced checks and late bills and a lot of money-related stress. When I saw the first bill for Zac's surgery, unhelpfully mailed before insurance adjustments, I just about fainted over the $81,000 total. The fact of the matter was, given my office's other considerable troubles, it never could or would be able to pay anyone working there what they were worth. Working for love, as they say, doesn't put food on the table.

The same week I nearly lost my mind shuffling debt between credit cards to cover what was left of the medical bills, I sent out six resumes.

My new boss was also a factor. And that's not to say there was anything wrong with him at all. But he was a new face, with a bold new agenda representing a substantial shift in the direction of our office, and it was hard to get a handle on everything. New positions were created, others eliminated, duties shifted in every direction, and new faces streamed in the door. I was the second-most senior staffer, but it didn't help anyone much after my "institutional knowledge" became synonymous with "the old ways."

And honestly, part of what kept me there for so long in the first place was an irrational dedication to my first boss, who if anything else had charisma that could inspire you to fight in even the most bleak of circumstances. I said to myself at the time, given the quirks of the larger organization, that I wasn't working for it, but for him. And ever since he left at the beginning of last year, I felt like I was living on borrowed time anyway.

It was insane, for a while there, trying to track a handful of job prospects and fulfill my existing responsibilities at the same time. In the end, there were only three final interviews, and only two callbacks — incredibly, on the same day. One company said, "We wish we could, but we couldn't wait," and the other said, "Welcome aboard."

I accepted immediately. Much to the disappointment of many, I didn't even haggle over the salary. It was enough of an improvement over my current pay, frankly, that I was expecting to be offered less.

Life will be pretty hectic in the next two weeks, as I try to wrap up what I can and hand off what I can't. With a nebulous job description that finds me writing speeches and letters, configuring workstations, designing magazine ads, setting up interviews, and updating websites (plus intern stuff I never outgrew like stocking the breakroom and sorting mail), finding the most appropriate home for each task is only the first challenge.

Dealing with leaving will have to come later. Although I'm already finding myself getting misty-eyed now and then. You never forget your first.

On Feb. 24 — after a week off, representing the only vacation I'll have for the next year — the new adventure begins.

Oh yeah. And before I forget entirely, there's the small matter of the Baby Pool. Sure, that was last May, but, better late than never. (Or as Nate would say, "Better Nate than lever.") It's just been that long since I booted up this laptop, and that's where I'd saved and sorted out everyone's guesses.

So, who came the closest to guessing when Zac would arrive — 9:23 a.m. on June 3 — without going over? Why, it's Jade! In fact, she got "extra super mega bonus points," because she also correctly guessed what we would name him.

On the date, Jade was actually thinking June 2, but the next guess went over by about an hour. (That's okay, Ali, let's say you got honorable mention.) On the name, Iain was the clear favorite, with 11 guesses, but Zac was a decent second with five (also picked by Wendy, Jolene, Carol and Denise).

Mind-bogglingly belated congratulations, Jade. Of course, I never got around to determining what the prize will be, so give me some time to figure out what to send you. It shouldn't be another seven months.


Yippee! Glad to hear from you again. So happy that life is going smoothly for all of you these days. You deserve it. The children are beautiful.
Carol (February 2, 2003 5:26 AM)

Despite the fact that it made me cough horrendously (I hate being sick) I squealed (as much as one can with throat sickness) and burst into tears over the picture of Zac. He is SO beautiful. Welcome back, Ry!
Jolene (February 2, 2003 7:02 AM)

welcome back ryan. so glad to be reading your journal again. the kids are as lovely as ever. :)
Winnie (February 2, 2003 8:11 AM)

Welcome back! Glad everything's ok.
Samantha Ling (February 2, 2003 8:45 AM)

Glad everything is going well! I thought for sure Tess would walk soon after her 8-month b-day -- she pulled herself to standing before sitting up -- but here she is, 11 months old and still crawling (but cruising nicely). Not that we're in any rush for her to walk...!
Denise (February 3, 2003 7:24 AM)

Good to hear that Zac is doing so well. And you have no idea how much I understand what you're going through with the hospital bills. I have tales of my own to tell about that matter. Ours came out to a little over $100,000 with HMSA and Kapiolani still at odds as to what the final bills should be. Meanwhile, we keep telling ourselves that all that matter is that Gillian is healthy and fine (now at 3 mo. and 11 lbs, well on her way to giving Zac a bit of competition). Just remember, as a wise poet once told me, "our wealth is in our children."
Pete (February 3, 2003 11:14 AM)

Heh heh heh ... not going to do another elaborate birthday party until"it'll be Zac's fifth birthday"? Didn't you mean, "Zac's _first_ birthday? Welcome to the wonderful world of parenting the multi-child home.... --Susan
Susan (February 4, 2003 9:36 AM)

So I guess at this rate, we should expect the next IMR update in, oh, June?? :P
NemesisVex (February 7, 2003 6:25 PM)

Congratulations on the new job and on Zac doing well! Nice come back :-)
Julie (February 19, 2003 7:19 PM)

Ryan! Welcome back and congratulations on the new job. I'm so glad both your children are doing so well. What a blessing!
Athena (March 3, 2003 2:19 PM)

E kala mai! Comments have been disabled due to overwhelming abuse by spammers. Please click through to any of the video hosting services linked above to leave a public response, or feel free to send an e-mail. Mahalo!

© 1997-2008 Ryan Kawailani Ozawa · E-Mail: [ PGP ] · Created: 13 November 1997 · Last Modified: 14 January 2008