Matt Dudley's Journal
Written 22 hours agoThe sun is streaming in through my window as I lie here in bed after a short afternoon nap. I have had wonderful day. One of those days where you don't get much done but it was simple and enjoyable. I woke up a little late, did some stretching, got the kids up and out the door, breakfast with Rob Church, my dad and Brooke, a sunny ski beside Brooke, a late lunch and then a little nap. Who could ever complain about a day like that. The best part was when I laid down to take a nap was that Brooke had a few minutes before heading off to get the boys. She joined me and I fell asleep beside her as she was reading.
The best part of today was getting to spend time with Brooke. So often our lives are still so hectic even as I have more time and energy that we don't get much time together. As I lay here now thinking about what to write I can't help thinking how much I enjoy her company. Often in these moments I think about our first kiss and how in light of such a debacle I am amazed she stuck around with me. Now, lots of first kisses are memorable, most for the energy, excitement and lust of the moment. Some lead to wonderful relationships others to fabulous fails in the trap of love. I can think of many kisses Brooke has given me in our life together that were memorable for all the right reasons but our first kiss is not such a kiss.
I have written about meeting Brooke for the first time, me over confident, young and a bit too brash, she was mellow, impressionable and very attractive (still is). I spent quite awhile chasing her trying to get her attention and keep her focus away from the other young men trying to win her eye. Eventually though I realized I thought I actually had a chance. I don't know if it was the fact I realized I would have to make a move to show her I really liked her or just knowing that maybe she liked me but I suddenly one week got really nervous about being around her. My confidence sort of waivered and the nerves lead to a cold sore right in the middle of my lip.
Now these cold sores are not pretty and I did all I could to keep that sucker under control but none the less it seemed to be a major barrier in any attempt to lay a kiss on a girl I was completely enamored with. After about 4 days the ugliness on my upper lip started to resolve. A weekend rolled around and in line with most weekends a party ensued on a Saturday night at my house. Lots of skiers, lots of bikes, lots of fun and probably to much alcohol for our age group. I remember though I didn't drink much because I was constantly finding a way to be around Brooke.
Some time late in the night people started wheeling and walking back toward campus or their own homes. The house slowly calmed back down and I felt like I did everything I could to keep Brooke from leaving. Eventually we found ourselves semi alone (I had four roommates so I doubt we were actually alone) in the living room. I was sitting in a recliner (which I often occupied at the end of a party) and Brooke was laying on the couch (although we loved the couch thinking back we often wonder why anyone laid on it).
I got up the nerve to swivel around and kneel down beside her as we talked. I am sure she knew what I was doing. I am not sure I knew and I do know it wasn't very smooth. After a few more moments of talking I figured my time was up and I better try kissing her.
Now many of you know that I have a particularly shaky hand. Usually this is because I am nervous. This shake has caused many issues in my life especially being a physician. However I can usually calm it down. On this particular night though not only were my hands shaky I had developed a significant head tremor which likely could have been mistaken for some sort of petit mal seizure.
I can only imagine (and Brooke has confirmed my fears) her amazement, at my loss of confidence, her hesitation at the sore on my lip, and her trepidation of self injury from my wild bobbing as I came in for the kiss. None the less she must have shut her eyes and envisioned me as someone else and accepted the shaky, viral, slobbery kiss. I don't think we did much more kissing that night, we didn't do much of anything. We talked for a while and fell asleep on the couch. At least she was on the couch.
The next few weeks my lip healed, and my shake improved when I was around her again. Eventually my confidence came back and I felt more brash when sliding in for kisses. I remember many of the kisses in the first few months. Most were far more romantic and lust inspiring. Few though will ever be more memorable or thought provoking. Every time I have a wonderful day with her I think about how awesome and brave she was to have accepted that horror provoking touch. I think of the beauty our life together has entailed and hopefully will continue to be and I realize we should never judge any relationship on a first kiss.
Head Up, Heart Strong.
Black eye bar
Written Mar 5, 2014 7:15pmI just got a text message from my mom stating she made it back to Colorado. I would say she mad it home but she is stuck at the Hayden airport waiting for Mark to pick her up. I wouldn't blame Mark though, she got there a bit early. She left this morning before we got up. It was nice to have her here. After spending so much time with her this last year the last few months have been a little different without her around. I think also for her it has been sort of a let down from last year watching over me to be back at home getting her routine there back.
She has had a lot of changes over the last year and I think she finding Steamboat a little lonely as Alaska has dragged Jim away more this year and she is not overworking herself at her old shop. I think she enjoyed a lot hanging out with Luke and Emily in Hawaii and up here with the boys. I know it is hard for her at times to keep up with the boys in our icy conditions but she was quite helpful while here with picking them up and watching them around the house. Quite often she was shackled with not only our sons but other friends. I guess I shouldn't say shackled as she seemed to enjoy it. Despite Finn being a little testy and having some separation anxiety she really seemed to enjoy the time with the kids.
Last night as I cooked dinner and got the kids stuff ready for Junior nordic I enjoyed listening to Gayle and Finn play hide and seek up stairs. Although I don't remember specific times playing such games with her as a kid I am sure we did. When she is around I am often thinking of times we had when I was young and what it must be like for her to see her boys all grown up. I can only imagine there is some significant pride. I bet there is some interesting pains also.
I thought of a rather funny story about her the other day. I was helping Finn get ready for going somewhere and told him "no" about some silly question. He hauled off and head butted me (he has recently had a little dirty fighting stage which we are working on riding him of). He caught me off guard and I was left with a throbbing ear. But it brought up the wonder of how many times I did something of the same nature to Gayle or Jim when I was a kid.
I remember vividly one time when I was only about 6 or 7 a nasty little move I pulled. Somehow I had come across the fact or discovery (for a 7 year old this was pretty cool) that the toilet paper holder/bar when removed had a legitimate spring inside it. This fact, for a young boy, made it a useful weapon in the fight against...well what ever bad guy seemed to be the flavor of the week at the time. I am rather confident that the design of this little two piece bar and spring was not for hunting of any sort. I am also sure that these were not fully tested out by young boys before being sold to the general public because I am sure there are other dangerous activities this set up could be used for. At some point product engineers must have realized these were dangerous as I have noticed now most are made of plastic or do not have a very significant spring in them.
When the smaller bar was held all the way inside the larger rod the smaller bar became a true mini missile. After a number of attempts at use in the bathroom, my 7 year old mind told me it was time to use in the real world. I am pretty sure I tried to hit Mark first but he was a bit to quick. I had probably already that day been scolded for attempting to hurt Luke so I didn't go after him and probably thought it wasn't that challenging as he was only about 2. The obvious next target would be, my mom!
I remember that I heard her out in the kitchen and I think she had a friend at the house at the time. I remember sneaking down the hall and bearing into the kitchen. As Gayle came around the center isle towards our sink I was given a clear view. I quickly pushed in the small bar, jumped around the corner, shouting "I got you" or something similar. I aimed the little TP bar gun and let the bar fly.
We can just say at this point in my life this was a pretty mean and poorly planned attack. Gayle for a long time wore glasses but for a while when we were young did wear contacts and this was one of those days. The bar flew with amazing force, clearly more than expected. Although my intention I believe was to strike the chest area, which wouldn't have been good either, the target suddenly became the face, specifically her eye. I can't remember which one I hit but I think that is of little consequence now.
I remember her look of surprise from the sneak attack. She was probably just playing as I often do with Liam when he believes he snuck up on me. Her surprise quickly turned to real fear when the metal object fired at her struck her in the eye. She reeled back appropriately in self defense and let out one of those deeply felt yelps of pain. I didn't stick around. By the time she had covered herself from further assailants I was sprinting back down the hall to my room. I don't remember hearing any cursing (which I am sure I did even with the little head butt incident) which may show her true strength and resolve or my shear fear of having just blinded my mother.
The funny thing is I don't even remember the punishment or what happened after I retreated. I am sure I received some sort of punishment although I guess it was less traumatic than my attack and probably had little less effect than my own guilt. The fact that I still remember it even as a slightly funny story showed that I must have garnered some lesson from the event. I think the truth is that parents can take a pretty serious beating while raising kids. Mentally and physically it is a challenge to avoid their exploration of the world of pain in which they can inflict. I know my parents must have suffered their fair share of trauma with three boys. But it is even more impressive that as parents they keep coming back for more because they never know when it will just be a wonderful little hug instead of a black eye.
I mentioned a number of times this last year how hard it was to return to living with parents after being so independent. It is hard to have those extra couple people in the fray of running a family. Of course they are helpful and of course we can't thank our parents enough this year for all they have done. I have to admit though that I have loved having my parents around after the initial adjustment. Even though I don't talk to Jim and Gayle much about my thoughts of the childhood I have them and I enjoy them. The same goes for my parents...I have them and I enjoy them.
Head Up, Heart Strong. I need a cure.
Written Mar 5, 2014 1:00amToday was an interesting day. I woke up quite early and couldn't get back to sleep. Instead of lazing around I decided to get up and do some stretching. After a quite breakfast I did wake the noisemakers but before the two of them could wake everyone the doorbell rang. Evidently we are like the first stop in the morning for fed ex. This set the boys all wild. Turns out it was a fan part. Yes, the same fan I have been tryingto fix for like a month now. I finally had to call the company and get the part shipped myself. Of course it was only a part of the part I expected but I was able to make it work and I am glad to say I finally fixed the stupid fart fan in our duplex.
The interesting part of the day was that I volunteered to listen to high school students tell short stories. Regan has set up with the help of some of the West Anchorage High school teachers a cool plan to have the kids give short stories about their lives. In Anchorage we have an adult forum called Artic Entries which are short stories told by anyone who would like. It is very entertaining and an amazing way to hear some crazy details about people.
Obviously listening to high school students tell stories about trans formative moments in their lives could end up being fairly disasterous, extremely boring, or...like... well you know not that exciting, but could end up being lol or even yolo? But what else am I going to do without my own kids to entertain me.
The stories were quite good. A bit rough and clearly with some work could all be quite entertaining and informative into these young minds. The truth is, very few of us could have, in our teenage years, looked back and been able to truly reflect some meaning on a moment we had experienced. I was impressed by the idea of getting the youngsters to attempt this feat. I was also surprised by how many of them had great perspective. Their execution was a bit lacking though. I know that as I have grown older and especially over this year as I got sick the ability to reflect on what has happened is so much more important to understanding, coping and living with life. I am not sure I am any better at verbalizing it.
I was asked at one point what story I had told at Arctic Entries. I was a bit caught off guard. This was my first group and I had already eluded slyly to my journey this last year but I had not want to make the session about me so I had eluded only. I realized fully just as Beau Mills had told me earlier in the day though that I already had many stories written down. I had been telling the students that they didn't need to read their stories because they were the story and they owned it.
So I was able to rattle off a high school story with a punchy little ending. The next group I was prepared for and gave a slightly longer version of my journey this year beyond doctor, AML, improving. I included why I write my stories, so Liam an Finn know me if I do die, and to remind everyone to enjoy life. This seemed to give me more credit and I wasn't asked to give any further stories because clearly this is my story now. I sure hope some day I can reflect back and find some other funny moment so I don't have to rely on a tear jerker.
Until then I guess I can depend on the emotion of sadness. At least until tomorrow. I thought of some good stories through the rest of the day. I will hopefully be able to find some time tomorrow to write one. I think it would be fitting to see if I can crest 100,000 CaringBridge visits with a more witty story than just a recap of my day. Even though I have to admit I really enjoyed my day.
Head Up, Heart Strong. I need a cure.