Sunday, September 30, 2007

the gabbies - again

Can we just say it's been an embarrassment of riches in the last few weeks and leave it at that? This is why I love the Internet, because if any of you knew me in real life you'd laugh your butts off at the thought of anyone awarding me anything. Except a speeding ticket or a court summons. Or an involuntary stay at a rest home. Maybe even all of the above.

I feel a little like good old Sally Field clutching her Oscar, without the diarrhea of the mouth that has haunted her ever since. I can come up with my own ridiculous comments to haunt me, thank you very much.

And speaking of thank you very much...

It's time for The Gabbies!

This Bodacious Blog Award comes from Jo Beaufoix who, for reasons
known only to herself, continues to humor me in these areas. Surely she has reasons. Doesn't she? Hmmm....perhaps I owe her money and have forgotten about it. That would be just like me lately. Jo, if that's the case throw me a rescue line and let me know, would you? (I'll probably not pay you back, but at least I won't lay awake nights wondering).

I love this one. It's like Bill and Ted on an un-excellent acid trip. And I think you'll all agree that my middle name could very well be bodacious. (Or is it atrocious? I always get those two mixed up). Anyway, I'm passing this on to

la bellina mammina
Akelamalu at Everything and Nothing
Kimberly at Temporary? Insanity
Crystal Jigsaw

This Rockin' Girl Blogger Award comes from Stacie at Heeeeeere Storkey Storkey! Isn't this fab? Because if there's anything I am it's Rockin'. I can rock a pair of granny undies with the best of them. And my bifocals kick ass. (At least the top half does. The bottom part is still a little blurry). Thanks, Stacie! I'm passing this on to

Iota at Not wrong, just different
Ciara at Ramblings and Whatnot
Diana at Piffle
Amy at Blog to the Bone
Kaycie at lost in the Bible belt

The You Make Me Smile Award is from la bellina mammina, the queen of Singapore blogs. Thanks, bella! This is appropriate coming from her as her blog and photos bring a smile to my face whenever I see them. Her children are way cuter and better behaved than mine, but I don't hold it against her. I just pull out pictures of her kids whenever anyone asks to see what my kids look like. Works like a charm. She has all boys too. See? Perfect.

I'm giving this one to

Willowtree at A Dingo's got my barbie
Eileen at A Life of Triggers
Pixelpi at Motes and all things small
Stacie at Heeeeeere Storkey, Storkey!
The Misadventures of Adulthood
Irene at Sweet Wood Talking

This comes from Akelamalu at Everything and Nothing.
The Breakout Blogger Award originated at bobborama dot com
This is how they describe it:

is award casts a spotlight on bloggers who are just beginning to draw lotsa attention — the equivalent of a song with a bullet on Billboard’s Top 100 chart. Lotsa good posts. Lotsa good buzz. These bloggers are going places in a hurry.
Yowsah! How cool is that?? (Does going to the supermarket count as going places? And if it's to pack a school lunch ten minutes before the kids have to leave is that considered going places in a hurry? And if I get a ticket because I'm driving too fast does that count as drawing lots of attention? Just wondering). In any event -thanks, Akela!

This one is going to

laurie at Three Dog Blog
Jen at A Snowball's Chance...
Flowerpot at Flowerpot Days
Jo Beaufoix
Mya at Missing You Already
Dumdad at The Other Side of Paris

Now you all get to give the award to your own Break Out Bloggers … and then send them to this Awards Page for the instructions and code. (these are their instructions).

And just for kicks and giggles, I stole borrowed this from la bellina mammina, just to break up the Awards show monotony a little bit. I love that I am bursting with caffeinated sweetness. Beats the heck out of what I'm normally bursting with, which is uncut BS. I don't think that's an ice cream flavor with a big following however. I wouldn't ask for a tester spoon, lets just put it that way.

Increase volume on music, cut to commercial, roll's a wrap!

Saturday, September 29, 2007

mama's home

Friday was a burner of a day at work. I ran my butt off from 6:45 am on and as the clock inched ever slowly toward 7 pm, I could finally see the end in sight. Twenty minutes before shift change I had one newly admitted patient being prepped for immediate surgery and one being readied to ship out to another hospital (for immediate surgery). As I ran around like a maniac starting IVs and drawing labs and calling report and taking histories and doing a boatload of charting and helping paramedics load patients into ambulances, I all of a sudden realized that I wouldn't be getting out when I was scheduled to. I would have bitched, but I didn't have time.

The Film Geek picked me up, since we are still in one car mode. (Do not ask). He asked me how my day was and then when I was about three words into my answer he said well let me tell you about mine. And he did. All the way home. At the end of his saga I asked why he even bothered asking me how my day was. Why not just say hey I'm going to rant for five minutes and then I'll give a rat's ass about your day? He didn't really have an answer for that. Huh. If I'd expected one I would've been shocked.

We walked in the back door and in about thirty seconds had two kids and three dogs all clamoring for attention. My attention. Murphy's Law says that whoever is the most tired is automatically the most desirable. Except for some reason when the FG comes home tired he gets a little space to decompress. Huh. Wonder why that is? Not.

This was the soundtrack in my kitchen:

Gumby: Oh mom we took our social studies test today and I did really well except maybe not as well as Hannah, but we all know she cheats so it doesn't count and choir is starting in a week and I think there's something wrong with my thermos because it doesn't keep things warm and do you know what I think would be fun to do tomorrow and are you ready for your violin lesson because you keep saying you want one and you still haven't let me show you how to do power point and I got to a new level on Luigi's Mansion and is there any more pizza?

follow this past statement to the word "Hannah" and then Surfer Dude chimed in, talking in layers over his brother:

SD: Well, you wouldn't even guess what happened at recess today and I won at foursquare and I can't believe I only got a B on my math test and do you want to see me do my multiplication table as a speed round and do you know that Trixie can chase her tail for ten minutes in a row because I timed her and the only time she stopped was when she got so dizzy she puked in your jasmine and my teacher is so unfair because she always blames the boys and not the girls and that stupid old Maya is totally taking advantage of it and we're going to wedgie her on Monday and is there any more pizza?

And then there was the horror element of the evening, when the FG told me that Sasquatch's first quarter report card had come in the mail and then, mysteriously, disappeared. Sadly for Sasquatch his father had gotten a look at it first. I took a deep breath and decided I was too tired to fight tonight. There's always tomorrow.

So I listened to the younger two and asked appropriate questions and refereed math quizzes and violin exhibitions , sitting slumped at my kitchen table the whole time, eyes glazed and brain fricasseed. The FG, seeing which way the wind was blowing, went out for a bottle of wine. Smart from a survival standpoint, but also because he wanted to go out with a bunch of people and see a movie tonight. The old butter up routine in action.

I ate my pizza and checked my blog comments and watched TV with SD and the entire time there was a tape loop repeat of the above going on. They followed me from room to room talking. They trailed after me into the bathroom. Every time I took a bite of pizza they asked me a question and as soon as I had a conversation going with one of them the other one would jump in to stake their claim. They acted as if I had been gone a year instead of thirteen hours. (and they were in school for eight of them). Meanwhile the dogs were whining to go out or be scratched or be given a piece of pizza or something. Sasquatch sat on his Halo 3 Throne through it all.

I was on sensory overload at work all day and I continued it for hours after I got home. And while I much prefer home overload (watch me! watch ME mom!) to work overload ("yeah, I know it's my fourth pregnancy in three years, but I can't afford birth control"), it's all still overload.

But I have to give my husband credit. The wine sure helps.

Friday, September 28, 2007

The Meme Game, take two

I've been memed by Pixelpi and Sweet Irene and given this list of questions to answer. Anyone not interested in totally useless RC trivia is free to take a nap. Whoever is left (all one of you) can follow along.

Also, I'm supposed to tag four bloggers to do this meme but I'm going to be a rule breaker. Partly because every time I try to add in bloggers my computer goes all weird and secondly because I can't think of whom I want to pick on. I want to pick on all of you. I'm an equal opportunity picker.

So...if you want to play, post your answers on your blog. Or put them in comments here. Or pretend you've never heard of the word meme in your life. I'll never tell.

Four Jobs I've Had in My Life

1. cocktail waitress
2. movie studio page
3. flower delivery gal
4. artist's model

Four Movies I Could Watch Over and Over
1. When Harry Met Sally
2. Dirty Dancing
3. Casablanca
4. Little Miss Sunshine

Four TV Shows I Like to Watch
1. 24
2. Top Chef
3. Project Runway
4. Medium (is this still on?)

Four Places I've Been on Vacation

  1. London
  2. Moscow and Leningrad, USSR (at the time)
  3. Playa del Carmen, Mexico
  4. Maui and the Big Island, Hawaii

Four Places I've lived

1. Michigan
2. Pasadena, California
3. Los Angeles, California
4. Kansas

Four Favorite Foods
  1. Pasta
  2. Peanut Butter
  3. Popcorn
  4. Pad Thai

Four Places I Would Rather Be
  1. On the beach. Any beach.
  2. Australia.
  3. Southern California
  4. Did I mention the beach?

Four Blogs I Read Regularly

1. Confessions of a Pioneer Woman
2. Project Rungay
3. Post Secret
4. All my Blog Buddies (you know who you are!)

Thursday, September 27, 2007

The Thursday Three

Maybe it’s the change of seasons, maybe it’s my (grr) teenager or maybe I’m just old. Whatever the reason I’ve had comfort on my mind lately. I’ve been thinking about

Simple Pleasures

We all have things that make us feel happy even if there are wolves howling at the door and teenagers baying at the fridge. Little rituals or routines or even habits that lift the spirit and improve the mood. For this list let’s talk about the simple ones. You don’t have to go to some exotic island to feel good. (Although I wouldn’t shake a stick at it). You just have to know what you like.

#1. Hot beverages. Mostly I’m a coffee drinker, but I consume my share of hot tea as well. I’m not fit for human company until I’ve had at least one cup of coffee in the morning. Throw in a little milk, bypass the sugar – I’m a happy camper. For some reason that I’ve never been able to figure out, in the Fall I like flavored coffees or creamers, although the rest of the year I avoid them like the plague. Go figure.

However, I really only drink coffee in the morning, so from then on it’s tea for me. Sometimes I make cardamom tea because it reminds me of my dad, but mostly I just drink black tea with milk and sugar. Or Earl Grey or Constant Comment, both of which I love. When I was sick when I was little my mom would make me Constant Comment and float orange slices in it. Aaahhh….

#2. Squishy socks. I absolutely, completely adore thick, soft socks. I’m not as crazy about scratchy ones, even when they’re warm, but I’ll still wear them. I can’t even honestly say that my feet are always cold, because they aren’t. I just love socks. Maybe I’m related to Albus Dumbledore and have a familial sock fetish.

On days I work I have my lucky socks. They’re plain old white athletic socks from Costco but they make me wiggle my toes with happiness all day. They are the best athletic socks ever. I always wear my battered black Crocs at work and the combination of squishy socks and comfy crocs rocks.

My world anyway.

#3. A Clean House. At heart I’m really a tidy, organized
person. I just happen to live in a home full of rabid sloths. I love a clean house. I don’t even mind doing the cleaning, to tell the truth. What demoralizes me is how fast all my work gets undone. Between the kids and the dogs, I don’t have a chance.

This starts a vicious cycle. I get disgusted because the house is a sty, so I stop even trying to keep up with it. On one hand this eliminates the problem of having my work trashed, but then eventually I turn into bitch woman because I hate living in a filthy house. Ultimately one day I get so angry that I go on a furious cleaning spree and I feel good. Until it gets destroyed again.

But it sure does feel good while it lasts.

Tag. You’re It.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

this blog was brought to you by a technical glitch

Well, this is going to be a short one today.


Well, first off (and surely I'm not the only one to notice this) Blogger decided to go walkabout last night and I sat here for a solid hour not even being able to log on. At midnight I said Buck It, and I went to bed. This is the first time in forever that I haven't posted before I went to sleep and it made me twitchy. I just love waking up to all those fab comments already there.


I just do, okay? So here I am at zero dark thirty, which is not, take my word for it, my shining hour, trying to say something that isn't gibberish.

How about a Surfer Dude story?

Last week we were in the car and the subject came up of boy-girl couples. Evidently in Gumby's sixth grade class there are already two boyfriend-girlfriend types pairings. I asked if either one of them had an interest in that and (thank you!) got two wrinkled noses and derisive snorts in return.

I was teasing them and I said something about girls liking boyfriends and they said "MOM! You're married, you can't have boyfriends. It's against the rules."

And then Surfer Dude, after mulling it over a second slowly said, "Although, Dad does travel a lot."

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

not a laughing matter

Warning: Salty and inappropriate language and scenarios ahead. Many body parts exposed that should really be left covered. Proceed with caution. I mean it.

I would never laugh at my patients.

It would be rude and unprofessional and demeaning and just plain wrong.

I would never laugh at my patients.

Not even when they said something like this (and, by the way, most of these words rhyme with what this guy actually said, so go to town figuring it out. It won't be hard. I don't want to go from a PG to a XXX in one post) -

"Buck you, you trucking punt spore witch. I haven't bucking had a ducking drink all rod bam day," immediately prior to falling face first into a portable commode which was conveniently (from my point of view anyway) open and "sleeping" until his girlfriend arrived and beat him in the head with her shoe for unknown reasons.

I would never laugh at my patients.

Not even the woman who asked me pointed questions about every single narcotic I gave her, argued with the doctor about dosages of each said narcotic, instructed me on exactly which point of her IV tubing she wanted me to inject the drug for maximal wow factor and then, when I finally lost patience, said, "Well, I always have to ask about these things because I don't know anything at all about drugs."

I would never laugh at my patients.

Not even the man who came in with priapism. Priapism is when the blood flow to the penis gets all out of whack and they develop an erection that won't go away. It has nothing to do with sex and everything to do with pain. Especially the treatment. (Whenever the FG gets on my nerves I describe the treatment to him...slowly, and in great detail). I started out as sweet as I could be, because this really is a bear to treat, and, in spite of what you might think I always give every patient the benefit of the doubt to begin with. I really am respectful and kind. Really. But this man was hungover and mean, and his girlfriend, who had C-L-A-S-S tattooed on the fingers of both hands, had a nail appointment or something, because they opted not to stay and have him treated. He was more than a little irate that we weren't able to get a specialist in on a Sunday within fifteen minutes of his ER arrival. I would've told him to rub a lamp, but it would have been a poor choice of words.

Verbally mistaking me for a female dog, he jumped off the exam table, furious that it would take around forty minutes for the urologist to get there. (I thought forty minutes was pretty fast for a specialist on a weekend, but what do I know?) He ripped off his gown (which got tangled in his IV tubing) and spun around to face me wearing nothing but snakeskin cowboy boots, a big gold medallion and his, uh, chief complaint and he said

"How the hell am I supposed to go to Church like this?"

I would never laugh at my patients.

Not even the biker who came in shot by police during a robbery. While we were assessing him we noticed that he had a tattoo on his guy parts that said hey mama. (Please do not ask me how we discovered this). Quite the crowd gathered as word spread of his adornment. All the guys said "ow" and all the women just shook their heads in amazement. He was unconscious and heavily bandaged from chest up and his face was so swollen that you had no idea what he really looked like. Let's just say that he was completely unaware that we were checking his decor out. As soon as we had him settled his mother and sister came in the room to see him. Sister said

"Oh, my god. That doesn't even look like him."

And mom lifted up the sheet, looked south and said

"Nope, that's him alright."

I barely made it to the break room.

Monday, September 24, 2007

restless and twitchy

Some good friends of ours moved away this past weekend. It all happened kind of quickly. A surprise job interview for the husband in mid-July turned into a position that started the beginning of August. Their house went on the market, the husband went to Austin to start his new job and the wife stayed here with their son to sell the house. Depending on the day, their son is either Gumby's best friend or practically his best friend. In almost no time their house sold, they bought a new one in Texas, the wife has worked out her job situation into a telecommuting position and, as of Sunday, after a going away party Saturday night, they were gone. On the road. Driving southwest in a blaze of anticipation.

It's all very strange.

I'm old enough to know that physical proximity to people doesn't really mean much. Friends stay friends, whether they're next door or halfway across country. I worry about how the kids will handle it, but I think they're going to be alright. They'll see each other. I'm sure of that. Plans have already been broached about a kid swap of some sort next summer, and as most of their family is still here, I know they'll be back. It's not that.

What's strange for me is my reaction.

It's a gorgeous sunny fall day. I'm looking out the window of the house we moved heaven and earth to buy, in the town we handpicked after a nationwide search, in a state that surprises me daily with it's amazing (unexpectedly good) quality of life. And all I want to do is pack everything up and move someplace new and different and exciting. I want to go. I want to throw a dart at a map and just move to a town where we know no one and nothing. (For optimal fantasy value, the dart will land someplace coastal on the Eastern seaboard). I'm restless, twitchy, looking for some kind of fabulous adventure for my family. Everyone, not just me. I want to go - with every little bit of my being.

Do I even need to mention that my entire family thinks I've lost my mind? My kids looked at me curiously when I said hey wouldn't it be fun if... and then walked away, shaking their heads and speaking to each other in low voices, glancing over their shoulders at me the entire time. My husband, bless his heart, suggested that I head out to my folk's lake house by myself for a few days while they have a "guys weekend" here. He thinks maybe I just need some down time. It's not a bad idea. But it's not what I want. I want something else. I don't know what I want.

When we moved here it was such an adventure. We really did pull out a map and make lists of all the places we would and wouldn't live. The FG and I each had preferences that, for the most part, the other one respected. I was the guilty one here, since one of the places he really wanted to look into was, coincidentally, Austin and I flat refused. It isn't anything against Austin (or Texas in general, for that matter). I just thought that if we were going to uproot our entire family and move someplace completely unknown, we should move someplace different. I wanted four clearly defined seasons. I wanted snow. I wanted wild, blistering thunderstorms that took your breath away. I wanted a calmer, quieter pace. Austin was too much like LA for me. I wanted a 180 degree change. Luckily for me, the University of Texas at Austin wasn't hiring at that time. It might have gotten ugly if they had been.

I know there were aspects of moving to a completely unfamiliar place that were sheer hell, but I still remember the thrill that I felt when we actually got here. We had a whole town to learn, an entire outlying area to explore. Every week we picked up the newspaper and laughed ourselves silly over the real estate prices. We leisurely looked at houses that we ended up really being able to buy. We were able to immerse ourselves in a brand new experience. During our first year here, every weekend we would pile the kids into our battered Volvo station wagon, pick a direction and explore our new home. It was a time full of anticipation, discovery and adventure.

It was fabulous. And on some screwy level, I'm chomping at the bit to do it again. Oh, maybe not really. We have put together the most wonderful extended family here, an amazing group of friends. The FG and I both love our jobs. He has a thriving freelance business here. I adore the people I work with. The kids have great schools and deep friendships. I love our house, our neighborhood, our town. In every sense of the word we're in a good place.

But as I listened to our friends planning their move I just wanted to pack our whole family in the car with them. I wanted us all to go. Even Austin looked good.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

the gabbies, part something

Can I say first that awards are fabulous and the more the merrier you people are all far too kind and generous with these lovely awards. And that I absolutely don't deserve them. (That's not even a strike out). Thank you from the bottom of my rotten little heart.

The first, Blogging That hits the mark!, is from Ciara at Ramblings and Whatnot. I guess if the mark is something squishy hitting a fan, I'm your gal. Thanks, Ciara!

I'm passing this along to:

Jen at A Snowball's Chance...
Jo Beaufoix
Mya at Missing You Already

An Apple for Teacher Blog Award is from Irene at
Sweet Wood Talking. Here is the description of this one -

"It is for those people who spend so much time and energy teaching us how to do things on blogs, encouraging us, enabling us, instructing us and enthusing us."

Wow. Do I do that? Thanks, Irene!

This one goes to:

Dumdad at The Other Side of Paris
Akelamalu at Everything and Nothing
pixelpi at Motes & other small things
Eileen at A Life of Triggers

Lastly, from Flowerpot at Flowerpot Days, comes the gender neutral Awesome Dude Blogger award. Every time I look in a mirror lately I think there's a Dude looking back at me, so I think this is quite appropriate. Thanks, Flowerpot!

Step up, Dudes and Dudettes:

Ciara at Ramblings and Whatnot
Diana at Piffle
Amy at Blog to the Bone
Irene at Sweet Wood Talking

And, as mentioned earlier this week, from Jo Beaufoix comes the Blogging Star Award. Thanks again, Jo!

And the winners are:

laurie at Three Dog Blog
Kaycie at lost in the Bible Belt
Crystal Jigsaw
Flowerpot at Flowerpot Days

I do apologize for the lackluster Gabby Awards Presentation this time around. The dance numbers were out of step, the presenters forgot their lines and the jokes fell flat. This has been an unexpected burner of a last few days and I'm running a quart low about now. I've also been very lax in my blog reading and commenting the last little bit, but don't give up on me. I'm going to get a good nights sleep and attack the keyboard with a vengeance tomorrow!

Saturday, September 22, 2007

reviews, recommendations, rants and raves

Well...a big ol' thanks to everyone for the fabulous response to the "book club" idea. I have to admit that I was a little worried about how this would go over, but I'm absolutely thrilled at the amount of interest.

One thing I really do want to stress, because the last thing I would ever want to do is make someone feel bad for not spending half of their life with their nose in a book, is that your recommendation can be any book at all. A book you read and liked ten years ago, a book that kind of unexpectedly grabbed you...anything at all. No rules, no guidelines...anything.

So here's the way this is set up. You'll notice the list on the sidebar labeled The RC Book Club. This has all the recommendations I've received so far, in alphabetical order. The post you're reading now is going to be linked directly underneath, under the title of reviews, recommendations, rants and raves. This link is the other part of the interactive book club. It's the place to post new recommendations, reviews of books you've read off the list , raves (if something really blew your socks off), rants (if they didn't) and so on. All you'll have to do is click on the link to bring up the comments page. Periodically, I'll update the suggestions and put them back in the list on the front page of the blog. I'm crossing my fingers that this page will take on a life all it's own.

Once upon a time, not so long ago, my entire computer repertoire consisted of checking my email and spending way too much money on eBay. One of the (too many to count) wonderful things blogging has done for me is give me some fun, productive computer skills. (This is all a really nice way of saying that there may be some bugs in this at first, so be patient with me).

Are we ready? Let's go!

Friday, September 21, 2007

books and blog(ger)s

I was at the library to feed my addiction stock up on things to read and I had an idea. Hopefully even a good idea. I'm overdue for it - haven't hit my self-decreed quota of one reasonably passable idea a week. And it's Friday...

While you all try to wrap your minds around me having ideas, I'll give you the back story. I was looking for a book that pixelpi had recommended highly (which, unfortunately is checked out). Meanwhile, I'm waiting for a book from jen as a prize for being the fastest (though not necessarily the biggest) jen geek in Blogville. I had just finished reading laurie's account of her straight from hell kitchen renovation that had originally been printed in the newspaper she writes for. (I think still). Merry Daze has a blurb up about a book she's reading that our very own laurie wrote. Flowerpot got an encouraging piece of news in the mail this week about the manuscript that she's written. All of these things were flitting in and out of my mind. Meanwhile, I was wandering around the library with no real idea of what I wanted to read this week, since the book I had my heart set on wasn't available. Books and blogs, all wrapped up in my brain. Blogs and books. So I started thinking...

What about us doing some kind of book list here? Then I carried it a little further, because I just finished a book that was set in my neck of the woods. I'm always fascinated by the different places we all live, and the huge range in our environments, so I thought what if we were to recommend things to read that would give other bloggers an insight into us in some way? An insight into where we live, or what we do, or where we've come from? A book that's influenced your life? Or even just a new release that wowed you. Wouldn't that be really interesting? Obviously, you wouldn't have to be a blogger to participate. Just as obviously, you wouldn't have to play at all. But I think it could really be fun. Really all it is is sharing opinions. It's not like there will be quizzes or anything.

If you'd like to give it a shot, put your book title in the comments section. Then I'll make a list and put it on the sidebar. If this is a go, then I'll figure out how to update it as people have other books to recommend. If no one gives a rat's tail, we'll move on and I'll keep trying for that elusive weekly quota. But I know that I at least need some new ideas.

And since I've brought this up, I'll start. The book I'm recommending is called The Center of Everything, by Laura Moriarty. It's set in Kansas, very near my own area, and it's a really lovely coming of age story, beautifully written. I enjoyed it a lot. And it's not a long book.

I have to go on record as saying that the town depicted in this book is nothing (thank god) like my own beloved liberal collegeville. But the tone is dead on small town midwest.

And now I wait for the verdict.

Tick tock. Tick tock. Tick tock.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

The Thursday Three

I realize the walk may be longer for some than for others, but let's take a trip down memory lane and talk about...

Things I Wish I Had Known When I Was Fifteen

I've been spending way too much time lately with fifteen year olds who know everything. Or think they know everything, which, all things considered, is actually worse. My life recently has reminded me of the catch phrase that was so popular a while ago -

Teenagers: If you're tired of being hassled by unreasonable parents, now is the time to take action. Leave home and pay your own way while you still know everything.

I fight the urge daily to tell my teenager that if he'd just be more like his mother he'd get along fine. Especially with me. He might fight with his father more, but that would be their problem. I watch, from varying distances, as he carries on with his life and I swing between amusement (at how unintentionally funny he can be, especially when he's on his high horse) and terror (because one day he really is going to have to fend for himself and I'm not at all sure he's capable). I am proud of his behavior and how he manages at times, but not enough. I truly am worried that he's going to starve to death wearing filthy clothes in an apartment with no heat, clutching an energy drink in one hand and a game controller in the other. What do you do with someone who can discuss US foreign policy far more intelligently than his maternal unit, yet still doesn't get the concept of flushing the toilet? Or loading a dishwasher? Or filling a water dish for the dogs?

The other day, after a particularly grueling "discussion", I was having a wonderful little fantasy in my head, imagining him conducting his life now the way that I carried on with mine at the same age. It was a pretty short fantasy, as I recall, because once I started really thinking about what I had done at fifteen I had to get up and breathe into a paper bag. (And the only reason I'm even posting this whole thing is because my mother is out of the country and has no internet access, so I'm relatively safe. All I need is her two cents on this).

After going over one memory after another that made me squirm, blush or bow my head in shame, I decided that if we were meant to know all there is at fifteen, we wouldn't have a life expectancy of 75+. And while I realize that life is all about the process, it sure would have been nice to have had a handle on some things earlier on.

I'm pretty sure someone tried to explain this whole concept to me when I was a teenager. And I'm pretty sure I thought I knew better. I wish I really had.

#1. Sometimes it just takes one fight.
You really can lose someone you care about in one stupid, angry argument. Forever. Sometimes it's not even really a "fight" so much as a real divergence of outlooks. Sometimes "I'm sorry" doesn't change anything.

This can work both ways. It's possible to be so mad yourself that you don't want to give someone another chance. At fifteen you think that window of opportunity will always be open. As an adult you realize that it won't.

#2. Money matters. This may be as close to universal as it gets. As adults, money is the key to so many things. Our options, our experiences, our very lives all have quite a lot to do with finances. It's a rare fifteen year old who grasps this.

As a kid my dad used to practically throw hundred dollar bills at me. (Yes, you read that right and yes, there's a great blog story in there, I know). I would return from my summers in Michigan with more money than my California flower child mother had in her bank account.
And I'd love to say that I saved it or gave her part of it or did something more concrete with it than seeing every musical act that came through LA.

But I didn't.

#3. People in "Authority" are not always right.
If someone tells you something and you don't think it's true, you owe it to yourself to look into it. And if you're right, you owe it to yourself to follow through on what you planned in the first place.

In a ten minute interview in eleventh grade, my High School guidance counselor closed the book on my medical school plans with one sentence, "Your math grades aren't good enough." We never discussed my Science grades (excellent), my GPA (ditto) or anything else related. For her, it was all about the math. I can do everyday math just fine. It's algebra and geometry that confuse me.

I've made a point of watching doctors pulling out their calculators and talking with them about this and it's a pretty clear cut opinion that it isn't all about the math. There's so much more involved in medicine. But she scared me and I caved. Without an argument. I wish I had fought back. But I didn't.

The funny thing is that even though this story makes me angry (still), I don't regret the way it turned out. Up until I had Sasquatch the medical school thing was still a possibility, and I decided not to go for it. I think I'm in a great place where I am. I get my fill of adrenaline junkie medicine with a lot less pressure, fewer hours and way lower malpractice premiums than the doctors. It's all good.

But I still think that counselor needs a slap in the head.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

wanna be a Blog Star?

The always fabulous (if slightly confused) Jo Beaufoix has passed on a lovely award, the Blogging Star, that I will now be sure to lovingly spit polish and trot out to show company. I'm pretty sure she entered my name by mistake, which is why I'm posting this immediately, so she can't claim user error and revoke my star. No takebacks, Jo!

Tsk. Even my children know that. Well, at least one of them does.

My dress with the industrial strength girdle is at the cleaners, so we'll do The Gabby Awards as soon as it's safely back. Sweet Irene has also very nicely (did you think I was going to say sweetly? tsk again.) passed an award my way and that will be presented at the same time. Thanks ladies, you're the best!

Hang on a sec. I've just had a thought. (Typically, this is where my troubles begin). Now, this may be a U.S. thing at the moment, but I can't seem to go more than three blocks in my car without hearing "Rockstar" by Nickelback on the radio. Even more annoyingly, it's settled into my brain as an aggravating little earworm that I can't get rid of. Consequently, I've had this dumbbutt song running unasked through my head for weeks, which may explain a lot but doesn't offer me much comfort.

If you've been lucky enough to avoid it, by all means don't watch this video clip.


[via FoxyTunes / Nickelback]

So, in honor of the Blogging Star award, I present...


'Cause we all just wanna be big Blog stars
And live in hilltop houses driving fifteen cars
The links come easy and the ads come cheap
We'll all be happy 'cause we're big Blog geeks

And we'll hang out in a social whirl
Counting up our page visits and referrals
Every brand new reader
With time to spare
Is gonna stop to comment
And show they care

And we'll hide out in our private rooms
With the latest dictionary
and today's who's who
And they'll mention us along with Ree
And if we're really lucky Willowtree

Everybody's got a Site Meter
On speed dial

Hey hey I wanna be a Blog Star
Hey hey I wanna be a Blog Star

Whaddya think? Should I start losing weight for the Grammy's now? Or should I hold off?

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

death of a superwoman

This one is for anybody who has ever commented about what a Superwoman I appear to be... I hope you're all happy now.

Liberal Collegeville, The Midwest (AP) - In a surprise ending to a fairy tale story, the Rotten Correspondent is in stable condition at a local hospital after several of the balls she was keeping in the air came down unexpectedly and struck her repeatedly in the head. Emergency Room physicians predicted a guarded recovery but insist on being on record as saying that her juggling reputation may be damaged beyond repair. One disgruntled hospital coworker, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said that the accident had simply been a matter of time. "All you had to do was look at her to see that she couldn't walk and chew gum at the same time. Who started this whole superwoman thing, anyway?"

Who indeed?

I asked myself that Sunday night at 11:58 when I suddenly stopped slamming my head into the keyboard trying to come up with a blog post for that night and remembered that I had until 12:01 to pay the car insurance or they'd cancel us. I raced down the stairs carrying my slice of pumpkin cake in one hand and the fork in the other, because I knew if I left it sitting there I'd come back to an empty plate and a dog with nutmeg breath. As I ran through the dark dining room I tripped over a fat (black) dog and hurtled into space, cake flying one way and my arm with the fork jerking backwards and ending up close enough to my ear that I almost re pierced myself. Stepping on the cake on the way into the kitchen, I collected the bill, the phone and my credit card and made the payment. Or thought I did. After a couple of minutes of plugging in numbers and following prompts from a voice straight out of The Stepford Wives, I thought I was home free. Until...the computer declined the payment because it was now 12:06 and you can only make phone payments if your policy is current. By that point, of course, we weren't. I believe the legal term is uninsured.

I asked myself that at 7 am Monday morning, standing in the disheveled remains of the room that looked slightly like my kitchen. The counters were covered with dirty dishes and half eaten food, and there were wet dish towels all over the floor. Someone had spilled a big puddle of chili on the stove top sometime Sunday night and had never cleaned it up, so there it sat, hard and crusty. Surfer Dude had accidentally exploded a concoction of vanilla pudding, chocolate chips and...what was that third ingredient? Oh yes...A METAL SPOON the microwave Sunday while I was at work and the microwave was full of tacky brown pudding and glass shards. The kids had no clean clothes for school and I couldn't find any water bottles for lunch boxes. The entire microwave had to be cleaned so I could warm up spaghetti for lunches. Everyone needed a shower but all the towels were dirty. Gumby sat at the dining room table frantically doing math homework he had denied having all weekend, blissfully unaware that, in an hour and a half when he left for school, he would forget to put the completed sheet in his backpack and it would sit on the table until his loser of a mother noticed it four hours later.

I asked myself that
an hour later when my butt was plopped in front of the computer goofing off and trying to figure out how long I could sit here before I started cleaning up my various messes. My only consolation was that the Film Geek, who is officially home to stay as of today, was going straight to his office and hopefully wouldn't see the whites of my eyes until I had dealt with everything. Cue the sound of the back screen door slamming and the sounds of "Honey, I'm home" wafting through the house. I got up, forcing myself to look productive, and climbed over the piles of debris in the kitchen to welcome him home and prove, once and for all, that I manage just fine when he's gone for weeks on end.

I asked myself that
when, after one errand followed by another all afternoon, I picked Sasquatch up at school and allowed myself to get so sucked into teenage boy melodrama that I forgot to go to the grocery store to buy anything for dinner.

I asked myself that around dinner time when the desperation chili I had put on to reheat burned like a charcoal briquet while I was picking up Gumby from French class. I could smell it before I even walked in the back door. I threw a whole bunch of sour cream and shredded cheese on it and served it anyway. Surfer Dude wrinkled his nose and started to say something, but then saw me mouthing the word "microwave" and made like a smart boy and hushed. Note I didn't say he ate it, but he hushed and scrounged something else for his grub.

I asked myself that when I finally went upstairs to lay down with a book and couldn't find my pajamas, which for me is yoga type pants and a tank top thingy. After tearing my room apart, I found them. I was wearing them. And had been...all day. The whole time I was doing errands, the entire time I was sweet talking the insurance agent and while I was in the bank making the deposit. Pajamas. Thank god I don't sleep in a negligee. Or worse yet nude.

So... I think it's finally time to let the whole Superwoman myth go. The whole ball juggling, kid wrangling, bill paying, cookie baking, narcotic pushing, honey voiced combination of Martha Stewart, Rachel Ray, Pamela Anderson and Heloise fantasy is kaput. Gone. See ya.

If you remember correctly, I told you right from the beginning not to believe a word of it.

Monday, September 17, 2007

the real deal

I've been at work this weekend and am slightly deficient in anything witty to say. You could even say I'm fried like an egg. Toasted like a bride. Shot like a photo. Which reminds me...

I thought you all might like to see a picture of RC at work, so here you are. It's not really an accurate depiction though. My hair is a little darker and we don't use real glasses anymore and you'll never see flowers in the ER, but other than that I'd have to say it's the real deal. Don't let the small details throw you off.

Kind of a cross between Florence Nightingale, June Cleaver and (my RC alter image) Cherry Ames all rolled into one. With a little Mother Theresa thrown in for good measure. Because she worked with lepers, too. And drunks and drug seekers and gang bangers and people who seriously are too stupid to live. And way too stupid to procreate. And yet they do both. With gusto. And no small amount of spite.

I'm going to crawl in a hole and go to my happy place now. I'll have to wait to press my uniform and starch my cap until the morning.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

stir fry sunday

A Nice Matters Award has been bestowed on me by Akelamalu, who is still in awe that the Film Geek remains alive after the toothbrush caper. As well she should be. If that ever happens again I'll be needing an entirely different kind of award. One with a metal file in it to aid in my jailbreak.

This award thing gets tricky sometimes, because I think all of my blog buddies are nice. If they weren't nice they wouldn't be my blog buddies. Ya know what I'm sayin'?

But, as I looked down my blogroll I noticed that these three ladies are very deserving and don't have this particular award on their shelf yet. They do now! For support, wonderful comments and just generally having the kinds of places I like to hang out, I'm passing this on to...

kaycie at lost in the Bible belt

Amy at blog to the bone

Irene at Sweet Wood Talking

Now, go forth and spread Niceness by passing this on to fellow bloggers that make your day.

************************************************************************************* *************************************************************************************
Also, I've been tagged for the middle name meme by both Jo Beaufoix and Flowerpot, which is problematic in that I hate my middle name and have spent the entire week trying to come up with better ones to foist off on my readers. But, even though I have no H in my name, I'm Honest, so... I guess I'll tell the truth. But I don't have to like it, do I? (Don't answer that).

My middle name is Sivana, which is a female take-off on my dad's family name, Sivani. (You see what I mean?? And you thought I was Exaggerating. Did you see an E in my name? I didn't think so).

For kicks and giggles, let's do it from my children's perspective, shall we?

S - Sarcastic. Yes, me. Hard to believe, I know, but true.

I - Intrusive. Why do I need to know how much homework they have every night? Hmm?

V - Vaguely embarrassing on a fairly regularly basis. There's no need for them to know it's deliberate.

A - Annoying. (Thank you. I try).

N - NO!! My favorite word, according to them.

A - Anti- violence Nazi, especially when it comes to video games and movies. So shoot me.

This just in : laurie jo tagged me for the same meme. Bam! Stick a fork in me baby - I'm done!

And on the Play It Forward front, I need addresses from Stacie, un peu loufoque and Kaycie. My email address is

I feel the creative juices flowing. Okay, maybe not. But I'm working on it.

On a fairly ironic note, Sasquatch and I had a major blowout the night my first Anniversary post appeared. I was venting - at seven thirty the next morning - to my friend Laurie, mother of the Red Headed Step-Child, and (ahem) very infrequent commenter as pursegirl (no pressure though). Clearly she feels she humors me enough as it is. She had read the post, and of course had heard the story before, but after hearing all the gory blowout details, she summed it up pretty succinctly.

"Wow. Kind of makes you miss those comatose times, doesn't it?"

Bloody friends. Who needs 'em?


Saturday, September 15, 2007

the anniversary, part two

The only room available for us was in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit. The doctor stressed that Sasquatch wasn't in this area because he needed it, but because it was the only private room they had open. Until they did the spinal tap they couldn't absolutely know it wasn't bacterial meningitis, so they had to keep him isolated. Things began to happen very fast.

My family was swinging into gear as well. Sasquatch's beloved Auntie Leigh arrived at the hospital to stay with me. My mom and mother in law worked out child care for the other kids so my mom could come to the hospital too. Other than that, no one knew. I didn't call anyone to let them know. I had other things to do. I did call my husband. I think I called the school, or asked someone else to do it for me, but I'm not absolutely sure I even did that. An unexcused absence wasn't really high on my worry list at that point.

As soon as we got to our room in PICU they prepared him for the tap. He didn't even flinch when the IV was started. I understand the whole resident system a lot better now, but it was still unnerving to hear the resident who was doing the tap being walked through the procedure by the Infectious Diseases attending. I kept thinking "you're putting a needle in my kid's spine and you've never done it before??". What's wrong with this picture? They didn't want to give him a sedative, saying that since he was so out of it anyway it would just slow them down. I put on my best Shirley McClaine in Terms of Endearment voice and said GIVE HIM THE DRUGS, I don't want him to remember any of this. They did. (And he doesn't). They asked me to wait outside while they did the procedure. I refused to leave the room. They shook their heads and said if I felt faint I should sit down. If they'd had any idea of how faint I already felt I'm sure they would've forced me to leave long before the needles even came out. Leigh stayed in with us, which was good, because Sasquatch did wake up during the procedure and I needed all the moral support I could get. She told him jokes to distract him while I held his hand and cried silently into my own shoulder.

The test results came back pretty quickly. Viral meningitis. The only treatment really is IV fluids, rest and time. We settled in for the wait. There was a child dying in the room next to us and you could hear family members coming and going over the course of the evening. I came face to face with one of them on my way back from the bathroom and can still see their face. I have no idea of what I looked like at that point, but I don't think I looked like that. I get a sick feeling in my stomach just remembering it.

My mom and Leigh swapped out places. I stayed put. The fluids slowly dripped in. The Film Geek called for updates and tried to figure out the fastest way home. A room on a regular peds unit opened up and they moved us out of PICU. The child next to us died as they were transporting us out. My mom went home to take the other kids to her house for the night. I sat in the most uncomfortable easy chair I've ever had the misfortune to know and watched over my sleeping child. At about three in the morning the attending came in to check on him. His fever was down, he was slightly more alert, and the doctor said that it looked like he was responding well to the treatment. He told me to try to get some sleep, agreed that some sadist had designed the chairs and went wearily about his rounds.

I did manage to doze off and on, until about seven when the day nurse came in to get his beginning of the shift vital signs. It was the first moment of levity in the whole experience. I hadn't noticed that on the outside of our door was a sign warning that you had to have a mask and protective gear on to come in the room, because they were still treating it like it was bacterial. Now that I thought about it everyone except the doctor who had come in the room since we'd been in there looked like they were suited up for the plague. Well, this nurse was evidently too many shifts into a long work streak because she ripped the sign off the door and said "Does anybody in this god forsaken place know what they're doing? Can they not read V-I-R-A-L??" Terribly unprofessional, yes. But I think at that point I realized that if my kid was going down the tubes she probably wouldn't be talking like that, and I finally started to unclench. Just a little. (For all I know she talked to everyone like that. Who knows? Not my first choice in a pediatric nurse, but to each his own. In a strange way she comforted me, and I'll take it).

I've experienced the amazing effects of IV fluids many times in the last few years, but never more profoundly than that night. Around eight in the morning he told me he was thirsty. At ten he felt a little hungry. He ate some crackers and they even stayed down. By eleven his neck wasn't hurting every time he moved it. By mid-afternoon they were talking about sending him home. And by late-afternoon, in a dry run to see how well he could get around, they had me take him to the little playroom on the unit. He sat in a chair while all around him the longer term residents did an art class. The clown came up and started talking to him and one of the assistants asked if he wanted a picture with the clown. Sasquatch allowed as to how that would be fine by him, but was adamant that his arm be positioned so you couldn't see the IV. My high maintenance kid was back. Thank god.

The next year at our local elementary school a child died from viral meningitis. And several others were hospitalized. That same year a good friend lost her two year old daughter to the flu. Someone please tell me again. Why is it that we want children? Does the fear ever go away?

I've had some interesting experiences with my kids. There was the time a brand new resident, who seriously should have known better, told me that she was pretty sure that Gumby had leukemia, based on nothing but a rash. (He didn't). Can you say unglued? The kid in The Exorcist had nothing on me. There was the time Surfer Dude got away from me and ran across a busy street at full speed. Untouched. There was the drinking of paint thinner, the positive TB exposure test (back to the same infectious diseases guy), the time after his tonsillectomy that Sasquatch pulled out his IV in front of newly pregnant me and shot blood all over the place, the enlarged lymph node in Surfer Dude's neck that just wouldn't go away, the time Sasquatch patted a diamondback rattlesnake and so on and so on and so on.

But for sheer in-your-face helpless terror, this one takes the cake. I don't ever want to be in a position like that again. It's strange though. I now have the perspective of helping with procedures on kids from the "objectivity" of a medical "professional" standpoint. And here's what I've found. I'm not objective, I'll never be objective and I frickin' HATE peds. I can feel the panic emanating from the parents, I see my own children's faces on every kid in pain. I hear their cries. And I hate every minute of it.

It's too close to home.

So I keep the picture as a talisman, a reminder that things can turn out okay, after all. A little nudge to always be grateful for what I have, to always appreciate the amazing things I've been given in my life. A reminder to cherish my children on a daily basis.

Because underneath it all...I'm still always scared.

Friday, September 14, 2007

the anniversary

The photo is just an ordinary Instamatic type snapshot, taken by a total stranger. The content is nothing unusual, either. It shows a young boy and a painted up clown both smiling straight into the camera in a generic room. Ordinarily, this photo lives in my file drawer, in a folder marked personal. Sometimes I take it out just to look at it and run my finger across it. Occasionally, after a rotten day I'll find it to remind myself of what is and isn't really important. Always on September 15th, the "anniversary", I hold it close to me and say a silent word of thanks.

But even tucked away, I always know it's there, always a reminder, always tangible evidence of the time I honestly thought one of my children was going to die. A time when events spiraled out of control at warp speed. And there was nothing I could do about it...

Sasquatch was six years old and it was the year the Film Geek was in Michigan teaching. He had been gone one month, with nine yet to go. Gumby and Surfer Dude, at almost three and one respectively, were home with me all day, being too young even for preschool, and Sasquatch was a couple of weeks into first grade. When I picked him up at school one day, he said he didn't feel well and before I could even answer him he was sick all over the car. I took him home and put him in bed, figuring that our luck with the stomach flu that was going around school had just run out. For a day and a half he ran a fever and was unable to keep anything down. I called our pediatrician who said to keep him as hydrated as possible, give him Tylenol for the fever and just let it ride its course. Not really anything else you can do, she said, these damn viruses are everywhere right now.

It had been a Monday when he first got sick. I kept him in my bed to keep an eye on him and noticed during the night Tuesday that he was burning up. I woke him up around five Wednesday morning to give him some Tylenol, which promptly came right up, just before he slipped back into sleep. At seven thirty he called me in and said the words that still make my stomach clench, nine years later.

"Mom, my neck really hurts."

I wasn't a nurse then, and I ran to get the kid's medical book I always had handy. Looked up the meningitis symptoms, and realized, running down the list, that the only two he didn't have were seizures and death. Took his temp. 105. Called my mother. Get here now. Ran to our neighbors and asked them to stay with the younger two until my mom got there. Put Sasquatch (who was pretty much unresponsive at this point) into the car and drove hell-bent for the Emergency Room.

And got stuck in bumper to bumper rush hour downtown Los Angeles freeway traffic. Every now and then Sasquatch would briefly rouse long enough to retch into a plastic grocery bag that I found on the floor, before lapsing into a semi-conscious state. Every time he moved his neck he would cry. I called a friend from the car because her husband was a big computer geek and they had a great program to give very specific directions and I said this is where I am and this is where I need to go and can you get me there on side streets NOW? She couldn't make the program work and map quest then wasn't what it is now, so I sat on the freeway, fully expecting that any second my kid was going to go into the next thing on the checklist - seizures. I tried not to think of the lone symptom left. All around me people in their cars were singing along to the radio, eating their breakfast, putting on their makeup and doing all the other things people do when they know they're going to be in stop and go traffic forever. I was about an inch away from totally losing it.

Why didn't I just call the paramedics? Well, for a couple of reasons. First, and foremost, is that we were with an HMO that insisted you come to their hospitals for all your care. Of course the closest hospital was in Hollywood and we were in South Pasadena, eleven (LA) miles away. The paramedics would have refused to take him to our HMO. Never mind that I had a Level One trauma center a mile away. Or that I had to drive past a Children's Hospital on the way to "our" hospital. In hindsight I should absolutely have taken him to the one nearest me. At the time it never even occurred to me. This particular HMO - Kaiser Permanente - is such a major force in California that they can pretty much do things any way they want to. And they like to exert their power at every chance. When we moved to Kansas, in a perfect illustration of the Stockholm Syndrome, I was beside myself that we actually had to get a different health care plan because Kaiser wasn't available here. That, my friends, is brainwashing.

Things sped up considerably once we got to the hospital and before I knew it we were being seen by an infectious diseases specialist. He examined my son, who at that point was lying face down on the bed, not moving at all, and said

"We'll have to do a spinal tap to make sure, but I'm virtually positive he has meningitis."

Never before had I really understood what people meant when they said that the room spun. I kind of fell backwards into a chair. The doctor continued

"However, I'm also pretty sure he has viral meningitis, not bacterial, and that's a lot less dangerous."

I asked how he could tell. And he said

"The bacterial kids look a lot worse than this."

I looked at my unconscious, yet still retching kid, able to feel the heat off his body as I stood next to him, and asked how they could possibly look worse than this. He paused a minute and then said

"You don't really want to know."

to be continued...

Thursday, September 13, 2007

The Thursday Three

The topic today is

Books that have scared the
everlovin' bejeezus out of me.

I like scary books well enough. I guess I liked them more when I was younger, before life got scary enough on its own. These three, for different reasons, continue to haunt me to this day, even though I read all of them for the first time years ago. Just because they're classics, I may reread #1 and #3 one of these days. #2 will never see the whites of my eyes. Ever again.

#1. The Exorcist, by William Peter Blatty.
Scared the daylights out of me when I read it. Of course I was pretty young and wasn't supposed to be reading it in the first place, but I did. Then my mom said she'd take me to the movie since I kept begging. The movie didn't scare me. The book was a different story.

Just yesterday I was in a Halloween store and Tubular Bells was on the sound system. Gave me the heebies simply listening to it.
It reminded me of the hysteria when the film came out, with people passing out in the theaters and claiming to be possessed. I thought the movie was on the cheesy side, but the book was really well done. Very tense and dramatic, lots of personal drama and a mood that got darker by the minute.

I still have a copy on the bookshelf. In my opinion it's a classic that totally deserves the acclaim it's received.

#2. Red Dragon, by Thomas Harris.
This book scared me so badly that I can't even tell you the exact details of the plot, because I haven't picked it up in over twenty years. And I won't either. It's about a serial killer in the South who targets entire families, and is the "pre-quel" to Silence of the Lambs, which was a great book and disturbing but didn't scare me a bit.

I read this in college and was so terrified that I barricaded my door with a dresser. The Film Geek and I have played a little game with this book for years. I keep throwing it away and he keeps taking it out of the trash and putting it back on the shelf.

He thinks he's had the last word, but that's because he's an absent minded professor. He never noticed that the book somehow didn't make the move to the Midwest with us and ended up in a trash bin in California.

I wonder how that happened.

#3. The Stand, by Stephen King. For me this is the scariest by far of King's books, because on some level it's actually possible. It's about a pandemic that kills pretty much everyone on the planet, leaving just enough survivors to make it interesting.

I read this book for the first time in a doctor's office waiting for an appointment. It was high flu season and all around me was the sound of the sick and the miserable. People were hacking and spitting and coughing up lungs as characters in the book were dying of this disgusting Ebola type illness. It made quite an impression on wide eyed little old me, let me tell you.

King has done plenty of other scary writing, and I'm well aware that most people consider The Shining to be his masterpiece. It's just that I don't feel it's really likely that my family is going to willingly go off to some deserted hotel for the winter while dad becomes more and more tacos short of a combo. But every time there's a flu season, I think of The Stand. Shudder. Hack Wheeze.

Your turn.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The Hollywood Years

**In which the Rotten Correspondent comes down off her moral pedestal and decides to dish on the Hollywood years. This decision was made for several reasons. 1) Virtually all of this stuff has been written about elsewhere, 2) I checked. The confidentiality agreements I signed applied to very specific parameters that became moot years ago and 3) I really do have some good stories. In a sick and twisted kind of way. Stay tuned for more...**

I was standing in line at the grocery store recently and couldn't help but notice how many tabloid magazines there are these days. Clearly, the market for this sort of stuff is booming lately. It's an odd chicken and egg dilemma. Did the tabloids get so hot because of the celebs they cover or did the celebs get so hot because of the tabloids? Does it really matter one way or the other? We seem to live in a celebrity obsessed culture, like it or not. And while I think we're in a state of massive overkill right now in this regard, the fascination has certainly always been there. There have always been people affected by it in ways that you wouldn't necessarily imagine. It always hits me with a thud when I remember that I was one of those people.

Let's just start with the tabloids, since I already have. The first thing to keep in mind is that very often their story is correct. Or kind of correct. As in the basic kernel of the story may be true (Celeb A is pregnant), but then they have to embellish (Celeb A is pregnant by Celeb B's husband) , and exaggerate still more (Celeb A is pregnant by Celeb B's husband who was once abducted by Guatemalan aliens) until they've gone totally over the edge. But it's pretty likely, once the dung is cleared, that Celeb A really is pregnant, no matter how much her "people" deny it. Not always, but usually.

And why is this? Simple. Because a staggering percentage of people working in Hollywood sell information to the tabloids. And why is this? Simple. They pay a fortune. What isn't so simple about this? It can be about more than the money. Have you ever noticed that a lot of the bad press tabloid wise is about people who have burned quite a lot of bridges? They've pissed people off, basically. And their $7 an hour pool boy, who may have put up with unmentionable treatment at their hands, wants a little revenge. And a lot of cash. Call it payback, if you will.

One of the people that started out in my office at Paramount became a Production Assistant on a very hot talk show on the lot - The Arsenio Hall Show. PA's make crap, work very long hours, do degrading scut work and are pretty much a whipping post for anyone who is "above them." Which is everyone. It's all in the guise of "paying your dues." This show became an out of control hit almost immediately and I still have the scars to prove it. As with most "hit" shows, the talent involved stops being quite so grateful for their initial success and starts feeling a little full of themselves once the show really takes off. Egos begin to run amok. This is what is known as prime tabloid territory.

Well, the guy I knew was tired of running his butt off for minimum wage and started selling stories. He sold a big house in the hills with a view amount of stories. He sold a brand new BMW convertible worth of stories. And, because he was basically a lying, cheating sack of crap, he covered all of this up with more lies. He told everyone that the fabulous house he lived in belonged to a relative. He drove an old beater to work to cover his tracks. None of us had a clue what he was doing. All we knew was that someone in the know was singing hard on the Arsenio set, because for a good two years you couldn't sneeze on that stage without the tabloids covering it. And virtually every story they printed was the truth. But the truth was so far out in left field by that point that no one believed it anyway. Repeat after me. Egos. Run. Amok.

The actors, usually just called "talent", ran the gamut. Generally speaking, the smarter the talent the more they were on top of the whole tabloid situation. I had this illustrated for me in a bizarre way. One day about three months into my tenure at Paramount, I was at a Friday night after shoot party on the Family Ties set. I had spent enough time on the set to know people and was only slightly surprised when Michael J. Fox walked up and started talking. What surprised me was what he was talking about. A load of guns, combat ammo even, had arrived at his house in a package, and he had no idea why. Isn't that odd? I took another swig of my Corona and said yep, it sure is. More small talk about earthquakes and hockey and then he was off talking to someone else. He was huge at this point, the cover boy of the moment, and I honestly chalked it up to paranoia. It seemed, at that time, like everyone was gunning for him.

I mentioned this a couple of weeks later to someone who worked on the show. It was just such a weird encounter. The person I was talking to laughed. "Oh, that's Mike," they said "always trying to stay a step ahead of the tabloids." Come to find out he dropped these little bombs on purpose, so he would know who was talking to the tabs. If a gun story had been printed after he talked to me, I would have been in a serious hot seat. Each person got a different story and he was astute enough to keep track. If your particular story showed up in print you were up the creek. Permanently. Once he knew you were okay, he let down his guard some. But never totally. He had too many weirdos gunning for him to ever totally relax. All this meant is that none of the weirdos was actually standing next to him. He was being seriously stalked by two different women at this point and this would involve me later in ways that still make me cringe.

But all I could think, a few weeks later, when I saw some outlandish headline involving him on the front page of the National Enquirer was ...good for you, Mike. YOU NAILED 'EM.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

I hear you talking...


Not the Film Geek...

RC: What do you want for dinner?
FG: What do we have?
RC: I have a pound of hamburger and it needs to be used. You can have burgers or tacos or meatloaf or spaghetti and meatballs. Your choice, I just have to use the hamburger.
FG: Chicken would be good.

Not Sasquatch...

SQ: Can I stay home from school the day Halo 3 comes out?
RC: No.
SQ: Please? A bunch of my friends might be.
RC: No.
SQ: I don't see why I can't. This is stupid. What's the problem with missing one day of school?
RC: No.
Irate phone call from my friend Stacey, mother of one of SQ's friends: Jules, what's this I hear about you letting Sasquatch stay home from school the day Halo 3 comes out?

Not Gumby...

RC: WHY is there a half eaten plate of food on your bookshelf?
Gumby: Uh....
RC: Have we not talked about that you aren't allowed to eat upstairs?
Gumby: Uh...
RC: How many times do I have to say it? No. Eating. Food. Upstairs.
Gumby: Well, it wasn't really food for us. We weren't eating it.We were just trying to see how many bugs we could catch.

Not Surfer Dude...

RC (watching him practice his "knife skills" on a basket of strawberries): Please don't use that entire basket of strawberries.
SD: Okay.
RC: And please don't load the whole bowl of strawberries up with the powdered sugar.
SD: Okay.
RC (on being presented with the whole basket of cut strawberries completely covered in sugar): Did I tell you not to do this?
SD (holding up a lone mushy uncut strawberry): I didn't use the whole basket, and besides that's brown sugar, not powdered.

Not the dogs...

RC (ready to go to sleep, walks in to find three dogs sprawled on bed)

RC: You all need to move.
Dogs: snore
RC: You all need to move now.
Dogs: snore louder. feign deafness.
Dogs (wounded, disbelieving, lazy): get up and move about three inches each before flopping back down again, exhausted from the effort.
RC (slides into six inch space between a dog butt and the edge of the bed, but still can't get the covers away from them): Damn.

And people wonder why I blog.