Monday, June 29, 2009


After that big emotional unload, I gotta pull back into something smaller, shorter, more digestible. Less emotionally involving. Particularly given the trauma I have endured today, which involved:
  • Finding out somehow in my new employee processing that my health care elections got processed before I'd completed all my selections. Which may prevent my kids and husband from having dental coverage, and other benefits until next enrollment period. What are the chances that I can get HR to fix that tomorrow?
  • Working so late that they closed all entrances but one in my ENORMOUS campus at work, which can only be accessed by driving through a complex labyrinth and answering several riddles posed by a giant Sphinx with an Intel logo on it. Took my 30 minutes to find it.
  • 3o minute delay meant any restaurant I wanted to eat at was already closed. Ate at Wendys. Again.

So rather than bitch and moan (any more than I have) too much more and risk having to sent formal invitations to the pity party, I'll just share some random observations from the last couple days:

  • In line at Costco the other day when a woman in line just jumped head first down some guys throat for line cutting (and she was big . . . I'm guessing it had to hurt). I don't think he cut on purpose - just wasn't paying attention. Would it have hurt her to simply say "excuse me sir, I was in line next?"
  • At the airport, the guy in my row in the middle seat took too long to get himself seated. Then proceeded to play with his iPhone until we were airborne. I don't believe it will crash the plane, but don't tick the flight attendants off on my watch. Please.
  • At the luggage carousel, I got a spot very close to where the luggage comes out. But I stood back about 4 feet, figuring it gave people room to step in and step up if their luggage came off. I did NOT specifically reserve the empty space for the rude woman who came and filled the space up, preventing anyone from jumping in to get their stuff. Oh, I'm sorry ma'am . . . did I accidentally pull my GIANT suitcase off and drop it on your toe? Funny how that happens in close quarters . . .
  • On the other side, I rode the AirTram to the rental car counter and along the way, some nice man from Texas chatted with me. I'm sure he was trying to flirt, but it was nice to have a friendly person to talk with.
  • I love my company some days. Rental car process took no more than 3 minutes. And the car was in the "Preferred" section.
  • Misread my car contract. Thought they assigned me a bright yellow Eclipse. Was puzzled for about 5 seconds.
  • This morning, a man held the door in the breakfast room open for a woman and her daughter, and continued to hold it open for me. I said "Thank you." He said "well at least you said something . . . " The woman ahead of me didn't acknowledge him at all. How hard is it to say "thanks?"
  • Got a compliment from one of my direct reports - having a positive impact in less than a month feels good.
  • Played a little on line poker. What are the odds, when its heads up, and you have a chip lead, but its really late, and the other guy says "wanna go all in all the time to just get it over and go to bed" and you are ahead pre-flop EVERY TIME, that you end up second?
  • Why do they ship a privacy screen for a lap top (say 15 x 10 inches, flat) in a giant cardboard box with 6 cubic feet of air and tons of packing material?
  • I now have a docking station for my lap top in the office. With a BAM. Big-ass monitor. Did I mention "big?"

That's all for now.

But I'm in California, I'm sure I'll have more puzzling observations soon.

Respectfully submitted,

The Wife

Sunday, June 28, 2009

The (Wo)man in the Mirror

There are many days I don't like what I see in the mirror. For various reasons. Sometimes, it's something as simple and as shallow as not liking the extra crease at the corner of my eyes. Sometimes it's not liking to see the harsh set of my mouth after I've just chewed out one of the boys. Sometimes it was the mental exhaustion evident on my face after another long day in my hamster wheel, when I had a difficult time measuring progress toward the next rung on the ladder.

Then someone turns on the lights and holds up the big mirror. Films it in HD, where you can see every bump, every blemish, every defect. Broadcasts on prime time. Fortunately, that someone also loves you enough to drop the curtain quickly, before everyone else sees all the details. Was kind enough to keep the curtains closed while it was at its ugliest.

He's given you a laundry list of things that test a relationship. Have tested our relationship. Part of me is embarrassed. You all weren't supposed to know. That we have flaws. That I have flaws.

Whether through luck, or stupidity, or through the natural iterations of a relationship that had its roots in something good, we're back on a path toward closing the gaps. Starting with small things, like remembering to say "I love you", rather than assuming they know. Or appreciating the fact that your husband hasn't asked for a Ferrari in 3 months. Or feeling special because after getting yourself all prettied up for a black tie affair, your honey refers to you as "F---ing Hawt!" at least eight times before the night is over.

Maybe marriage is like a well-built house. The earth shifts, and the foundation cracks, because it was made by humans. It is naturally imperfect. But when it finally settles, even though the cracks don't go away, the house still stands.

Not that I've fooled myself into thinking the earth can't or won't shift again. Hell, I'm moving us directly over a fault line. But at least tonight I feel like even thought we're 800+ miles apart, we've settled, again.

Thank you, my friends, who have believed in us all the time.

Thank you, my husband, for fixing what you could, and for having patience with me while I figured, am figuring, or have yet to figure out what I need to fix.

Or maybe it just comes down to the fact that after 14 years of marriage, and over 17 years together, no one else could tolerate either of our quirks.

Curtain closed. Nothing more to see here.

Respectfully submitted,

The Wife

Sunday, June 21, 2009

To The Dads

While we cleaned up the kitchen after the candlelight brunch we set up for Dr Chako, Son#1 says "I think your first dad was pretty lame." I don't talk much about my natural father with him, or anyone else for that matter. He was gone before I was born, and I was only 1 1/2 when my mom married my stepfather. He's always been "Dad".

I asked my son why, and he replied "Because he left when grandma was pregnant with you." I told him that I hoped he would never be so irresponsible as to walk out on his pregnant wife one day, but I tried to put it in perspective. "My life would be totally different if he hadn't done that, though . . . and I think my life is pretty good right now, so I wouldn't want to change anything." He pondered that while he finished his dishes, and 10 minutes later, it was probably gone like the soapsuds down the drain.

My kids are fortunate. Somehow, I had the foresight to marry a man with enough of the good qualities of my own "dad" - good work ethic, a belief that he should provide for his family, provide discipline for his children, provide a good example of choices and behaviors, with a little bit of human frailty. I was also smart enough to marry a man who didn't carry some of the faults and foibles of my own dad, who seems like a relic from the past, at times. My husband treats me as a partner, and an equal, and supports my roles in life with as much energy as his own. My husband takes raising his sons as a personal responsibility, and is involved in their education, their health, their recreation, and their emotional crises. This is the example my children will have, and hopefully hold themselves to as grown men. Of course, they'll still probably bug their wives too much about new cars, play too much poker, defer changing diapers to the nearest female, and shy away from general housework as often as they can. I don't know that we'll ever break men of those habits.

So on father's day, I am thankful that my kids have a wonderful dad. And I'm also grateful that for as old-fashioned and behind-the-times as my own father is, that I have always known the love and care of a "dad" - one who was only bound to me by love and choice, not just biology. Because for all of his gruffness, I never doubted, and still never doubt, that in his own, old-fashioned way, regardless of the fact that I don't carry a single strand of his DNA, he loves me.

So this is my thank you to the fathers I know and love:
  • My old-school Wisconsin "grumpy old man" that I call "Dad"
  • My new-school husband, who's the best dad I can imagine for my two beautiful boys
  • My departed father-in-law, who always treated me like his own daughter
  • The sweetest Canadian father I know, who called last night just to tell my I was beautiful - I could just bite him, he's so sweet
  • One of the most intellectually-sexy fathers I know (ok, he's cute too), who just expanded his role as dad
  • One of the most affable fathers I know, even if his choice in football teams leaves a little to be desired
  • One my favorite internet crushes (he's cute, he writes well, he has good taste in faux hair metal bands, and he's got like 5% body fat . . . could a girl ask for more?), who gets a double dose of fatherhood everyday and still manages to have a smile
  • One of my biggest supporters when my hubby was in Iraq, who manages to find time to care about everyone, including his own brood, even when they are far from him
  • One of my new poker-playing favorite fathers . . . thanks to Vegas and blogging
  • One of my favorite curmudgeonly fathers, who's trying to make some improvements in his life

To all of you other fathers out there, in the blogsphere, and elsewhere . . . thank you for loving your children, and loving your families. In the end, its the best we can do.

Happy Father's Day!

Respectfully submitted,

The Wife

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Classic Northwest Images

The Olympics, as a backdrop in Puget Sound

Dr. Chako at the ready, with camera

The whales are apparently on commission - they did not disappoint.
They are truly beautiful - hard to explain.

They have distinctive markings - this is enough to tell which one in "L" pod she is.

Even she seemed to like to use the mountains as a backdrop to her play . . .

The sunset on the mountains, a big freighter . . . couldn't be more northwest than this.

Respectfully submitted,
The Wife

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Poker Party - Casa de Chako

We're doing it. Most of our Seattle bloggers are in.

This Saturday. 7 pm - cards at 8 pm.

Food and drink provided - bring something to share. And bring your significant others.

If any of you not in the immediate (say 40 mile) vicinity want to show, come make a weekend of it in Seattle. All are welcome.

If you weren't on my email distribution and want to join us - let me know how to get a hold of you. Or get a hold of me one of the hundreds of ways.

See you there!

The Chakos

. . . Or Not

Play money tourney. But you know I'm serious about it.

Final table.

7 places pay. 8 people left.

My "M" is pretty low. I am the short stack.

Big stack goes all in.

I look down at pocket 7s. Gotta pick a hand.

I call.

Blinds fold.

Big stack turns over pocket 4s.

I'm feeling good.

You know what's coming.

Ever notice how the guy saying "you got your money in good" is never the guy holding pocket 7s against pocket 4s when the turn card flips and its a 4?

I got my money in good . . .

Respectfully submitted,

The Wife

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Glue . . .

I sit in my hotel room and look at this picture.

Each night, I call home. DrChako is good enough to put the boys on speaker. Its a chorus of "I love yous" and "thrown" hugs, and "thrown" kisses, punctuated by the occasional "nom", as the boys think its funny when we threaten to "nom" each other when we get back.

They still sound happy. We are about to disrupt their young lives once again. And yet, they still smile.

I realize each day that one of the big reasons for their attitude . . . well, is his attitude. He's been a rock for the last few months. When I lost my job, his first and only response was a big hug. When I got my new job offer, I never heard a single protest about moving, even though it meant more uncertainty for him. When I accepted, he was almost as proud as if he'd gotten the offer himself. When I talk to HIS friends and colleagues, they congratulate ME on my new position. This week, he flys down to interview for a job. Which might actually reduce his personal income.

But right now, he's home. Keeping the house neat enough for prospective buyers. Completing my "honey do" lists. Holding down the home front. And keeping my boys happy.

Sometimes change puts stress on a relationship. For whatever reason, this one seems to be moving our family closer together.

Maybe its because my hubby is the glue. The superglue, really.

Thanks, honey.

Respectfully submitted,

The Wife

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Post 400 - Home Sweet Home

Yeah, I know it seems like I stole that from Peaker. He just happened to be coincidentally writing about a topic that happens to be relevant in my life too.

See, this has been a pretty exciting 9 days. Trip to California. Start new job. Meet new people. Learn my way around. But my biggest coup? House hunting.

What was going to start as the ultimate search for the ultimate dream home quickly ground to a halt. I talked with the lenders first, and to be able to use one of my company's preferred lenders, the sissies aren't budging from conforming loans on standard terms. Which means when a crackerbox in the Bay Area costs at least a $1 million, and the Chako family is not used to living in crackerboxes any more, conforming loan amounts barely get me a driveway.

So we switched gears and decided to rent a house, giving us a little freedom to learn the area. Learn the schools. Look at all the options. Watch what real estate prices do. See if the banks loosen the muscles around their lending sphincters. Basically, to keep us from either making ourselves crazy, or settling. At some point, I figure, the banks are either going to say the Chako's are a good financial risk. Or we're going to find some sucker so upside down on his mortgage that we are his knight in shining armor. I have no problem taking advantage of the weak in this situation.

I started a plan. Websites. Craigslist. Various other information. Selected properties. Sent e-mails. Made calls. Scheduled property showings. Dragged the ever-helpful, ever-adorable Betty along with me on a few visits and drivebys (Did I mention how happy I am to be living in her backyard, practically?). I was mentally and physically exhausted by Sunday evening. But by today, I had success.

I believe in a higher being. I believe this higher being has influence on many things in life. I also believe this higher being probably does not monitor the daily minutiae of my life, or anyone else's. Like helping me find shoes, or a girl find prom dresses, or some guy losing 2 more pounds.

A good 80+ % of the success I had was definitely attributable to my methodical searching, calling and emailing. Of that I am certain. Its the other 20% where it gets fuzzy. See, I had a lot of houses on the list, and for certain ones, I got immediate responses from the agents/landlords about showing, favorable responses about applying, and follow up emails about my interest level. Interestingly enough, all of the ones who responded as such were properties I really had an interest in.

Then there were other properties. Either non-responses, or bad responses after a showing. Interestingly enough, after all was said and done, each of these properties was, coincidentally, not right for our family, for one reason or another. I give you the evidence:

House A: Small. Dark. Low ceilings. Not pretty. The "nanny's room" was an 8x7 room with no closet which had been converted our of some old garage space. Two hours after I left that viewing, I received an email - "Property has been rented." Whew.

House B: Inside looked great in pictures. Bright. Open. Couldn't see the outside. Agent wouldn't call me back. Finally responded, with a picture of the outside. Did I want to see it? After seeing the dismal outside, which didn't match the remodeled inside, I decided not.

House C: Good neighborhood, but a remodeled 1950s. How bad could it be? Owner didn't really want pets, because it was newly remodeled. Then I saw it. It smelled old. Yes, it was remodeled, but didn't look new. The landlord had grown up in the house and was very fond of it. Keep your memories lady. And your no pet policy. I'm gonna find something that doesn't smell like old people.

House D: Cute outside. Remodeled, beautiful inside, from the pictures. Owner was a little skittish about pets. I tried to negotiate with additional pet deposits, etc. She finally agreed to show me, but then we couldn't get a time to match. And then she didn't return calls or emails. I decided to do a driveby. I started counting block until her house. 3000 block, 3100 block, 3200 block. Then I saw it. This nasty, run-down, abandoned shack of a house. Barren yard. Peeling paint. Broken boards. Needed a good accidental fire to spruce it up. And the house I was looking for? RIGHT NEXT DOOR to the eyesore. Again, dodged a bullet there.

Could be coincidence. Or maybe someone is looking out for us.

Either way, I return to Seattle satisfied, with a good first few days under my belt, and a really nice place that, at least for the next 12 months, we can call "Home, Sweet Home."

I give you, the new Casa de Chako . . . California Style.

We'll let you know when the first home game is.

Respectfully submitted,

The Wife