I left bed to write and instead spent a hour worrying over finances and catching up on the horror in Japan. Now the quiet of early morning has been replaced by the sound of crunching newspaper, breaking kindling and other noises associated with the fire Bobby has decided needs to be built right now. It is pouring rain; certainly to complain about my husband’s desire to provide warmth and dryness shows my selfishness. I just love the peace before everyone else gets up. Can’t ever get enough of it. Finding the solitude needed to maintain sanity – ah, but what’s the point? The world feels like such a mess. All the tiny ways in which I try to do good? You know that parable about the boy throwing the starfish back into the sea? How trying to save them all might be meaningless, but a big difference is nonetheless made to the ones he does save? Sometimes optimism buoys me into believing all the corny notions about small efforts mattering – “making a difference in the life of a child” being more important than my bank account – and sometimes the very idea that anything I might do is of any importance at all, well, I am not that pessimistic – nihilistic? – but the battles are forever uphill and I do get tired of fighting.

But we are springing forward, setting aside that extra hour now so we can take it back in the fall. I don’t mind it this year – some Daylight Savings have arrived on the heels of too late a night, triggering resentment. I needed that hour, damn it. But after the weirdness of tsunami evacuation followed by social events, our Saturday night involved nothing more than movies and an early bedtime. And this day has nothing special about it – I’ll be glad to be back at work tomorrow, so go on, Sunday, just keep moving.

Chelsea moved out, in with someone she’s known since high school, taking her animals with her. I’m sad that we couldn’t find a way to make her return home work for everyone, but she’s more likely to blossom into full adulthood unhindered by the constraints of parent-child relationships. I hope.

Kaylee turns 17 in a week. Why does that sound so much older than 16? Why is age such a slippery and relative thing? She’s much younger than I was at that age, but so much smarter and more responsible, too. Good grades and an aversion to careless spending. She may even be driving by May, an idea that both pleases and terrifies me – too many years working at a newspaper, seeing every CHP report of highway collisions conditioned me to think of cars as not much more than inevitable death machines.

Nick continues on with independent study and an oddly sensible approach – “We should talk things out” – to family dysfunction. Especially amazing when one factors in the inherent spaciness of being a teenage boy. A recent visit to UCSF resulted in some changes to his insulin levels and awareness of some occasional carelessness when counting carbs. His A1C did not decrease as I’d hoped, but neither did it rise. Overall, his health is good. While in the City, he took his dad to a hip-hop show at Cafe du Nord. Bobby survived and even enjoyed himself, likely due more to the red-velveted, chandeliered vintage digs than the relentless beats.

When I traveled to Portland last month for work, my coworker, her husband and I attended an all-ages show at the Hawthorne. Quintessential lo-fi, dreamy, bouncy, darling indie bands. Samantha and I migrated from the 21-and-over cordoned-off bar area into the front half of the floor to get a better look. Suddenly everyone was 20 years younger than me – even Sam was weirded out by how old we suddenly became. We made a hasty retreat back into the side of the club where the median age was closer to 30 than 15.

Sandy has aged much in the past year. Her perennially wagging tail distracts from her clouding eyes, and she’s as enthused about walks on the beach as ever, but her face has gone white and her legs shake if the walks last too long. She sleeps through cars arriving in the driveway. Her ribs show despite the increase in food – she’s bony like an old horse, poor sweet thing. I fear she’s failing at too quick a rate to last out the year. We must take her to the beach, give her love while we can.

I have another surf session to write up, only one. With this current storm bringing a double-digit swell, I’ll likely stay dry for another several days. Wondering how to fit a new wetsuit into my budget – Bobby’s shifting focus from rent to art, so my paycheck obligations are doubling. Another opportunity to do everything perfectly instead of im–, I suppose. If I eliminate all eating out (and the accompanying drinks) and cut the grocery bill in half, I might be able to swing it. What a slice of good fortune to have the job I love so much potentially be enough to completely support my family – if I can cling to my pennies instead of flinging my funds about as if life has no other purpose than to be used up having fun. Maybe I should go back and read my own advice in all those Savage Moneys.

Finished Dickens’ Bleak House. What a wonderful piece of comic work – and then I found myself tearing up in places near the end, unaware until the very moment it happened how fond I’d grown of the characters. Now to either go for Twain’s autobiography or something altogether different in the form of Aimee Bender’s The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake.

Burgeoning writers’ group – two of us, a third when she returns from traveling in Southeast Asia – resulted in the first fiction I’ve done in months. Years? Prompted by a writing exercise, there it was: characters spontaneously bursting into being, the suggestion of a storyline emerging, a scene with scalding water, baby-soft hair and mac’n’cheese.

I can still swim.