Thursday, January 31, 2008

The Thursday Three

If you're going to be surrounded by something frozen it should at least taste good.

What are your

Favorite Ice Cream Flavors?

There are a lot of flavors that I like depending on my mood, but these three always (but always) hit the spot.

#1. Mint Chocolate Chip. My very favorite flavor. I try to not buy this because I have such unlimited capacity for it. Baskin Robbins is my favorite, but I'm up for any of it. Perfect on its own, but if you pour some hot fudge on top of it, it transcends description.

#2. Peanut Butter Cup. I think I've been pretty open about my peanut butter addiction. If Skippy ever starts a 12-step program, I'll sign up immediately. Or maybe the next day. This ice cream is so good because you get swirls of peanut butter and caramel (another of my favorite things) in each bite, but then you have frozen Reese's Peanut Butter cups to make it truly decadent.

#3. Heath Bar Crunch. I love toffee. It's just like hard caramel. Only better. This ice cream has swirls of caramel (are you sensing a theme?) and big chunks of Heath Bar toffee all jumbled in. At Dairy Queen my favorite Blizzard is a Heath Bar Blizzard. Mmmm. Toffee.

As much as I love chocolate I don't like chocolate ice cream. The only exception to that is the best ice cream flavor I've ever eaten, which I don't think exists any more. At least not in California where I had it to start with. It was at an ice cream store named Swenson's and the flavor was called Swiss Orange Chip. It was dark chocolate ice cream with orange flavored chocolate chips in it and it was to die for. Before they opened a store in Pasadena, my main reason for wanting to get my driver's license was to drive to West Hollywood and get a Swiss Fix.

Ah, to be seventeen again.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008


Three seemingly unrelated facts:

1. About a week ago my dishwasher decided, all on its own, to drain onto my counter and floor instead of into the pipe the way it's supposed to. I looked, but couldn't tell where the water was coming from. Sasquatch thought he knew. So I loaded it up and ran it, sitting at my kitchen table to see if he was right. He was, but that time it worked perfectly and has ever since. Now, however, even though I think something just got temporarily stuck in the drain and backed up, I'm afraid not to be in the kitchen when the dishwasher is running.

2. About a week ago I was standing in my kitchen worrying about the dishwasher when I heard a strange noise from my washing machine. I went into the laundry room only to find that the washer was draining (at high speed) onto the floor instead of down the drain. I looked, but couldn't tell where the water was coming from. Since it was draining the final rinse, I threw the clothes in the dryer and told the FG about it when he got home. He checked it out and couldn't find anything either. In the week since, we've run the washer several times with no incident. However, I'm afraid not to be in the kitchen when the washing machine is running.

3. Sasquatch comes about his blog name honestly. He's big and shambling, squints constantly (since he won't wear his glasses) and has long, thick, wavy hair halfway down his (six foot one) back. His hair is his pride and joy, even if you can usually tell what he had for lunch by looking at the ends. He speaks in grunts and is usually to be found standing in front of the fridge looking for raw meat. And his feet are huge. Like small paddleboats.

Okay? Good. Now on with the story.

I was in the living room when Sasquatch called me up to the bathroom where he had just gotten out of the shower. I complained loudly all the way up the stairs about people who will insist that I go to them instead of coming to me, but he kept yelling that he couldn't move. Hoping to god the kid was dressed, I knocked and then went into the bathroom. He stood there, wrapped in a towel, and held his hand out to me.

There was a louse crawling on it.

"It was in my hair," he said.

"Son of a bitch," I said.

Round Two.

Of course the first problem was that he didn't want to cut his hair. We went round and round and he begged not to have it cut right away. I agreed to give it a couple of days, but I wasn't happy about it. We combed and lice shampooed and conditioned and combed again. It was midnight at that point and we called it a day.

The next morning after the kids went to school I stripped beds and gathered every piece of laundry I could find. I threw them in the washer and the FG and I stood in the kitchen commiserating. And the next thing to hit our ears was the sound of rushing water hitting the floor at high speed.

Round Two.

After looking at it the only thing we could figure was that some water had been left in the bend of the drain pipe and it had frozen. Short of calling in a plumber to come in and deal with a (possibly temporarily) frozen pipe, there was nothing else to do. Time to hit the laundromat.

Round Two.

After my husband left for work I schlepped load after load of laundry over icy sidewalks and crammed my car with dirty laundry Beverly Hillbilly's style. When I got there, I walked past the group of mangy teenagers playing hooky from the high school across the street and started loading washers.

Forty dollars later it was done.

Fourteen loads of wash. Three had to be redone because the washer died mid-cycle. Untold quarters pumped into dryers on eight minute timers. All accompanied by the ear splitting sound of rap music that was entertaining the teenagers enough to keep them from mugging me. (With my mood, they would have regretted it). And, as the final touch, a grandma who followed me from washer to washer talking non-stop about all the mud tracked into the laundromat and how she wouldn't have put up with it if it were her business.

The FG met me part way through and we folded it all up. Brought it home and dumped it in the dining room. And as I stood there looking from clean clothes to broken washer to the new bottle of lice shampoo, all I could think was

I can't take this right now.

And then I provided some spectacular waterworks of my own.

There's a second poll up for the contest. Remember to vote. Something very funny is happening with the votes that I'll explain when the voting is done. I'm thinking at this point that we'll have a run off of the top five or so entries. You can vote once on each poll. Have fun!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

twisted puppy

The entries are in for the What does RC Mean To You? contest! Take a peek at the sidebar and vote for your favorite by the end of the month. The winner will get a goodie basket from Liberal Collegeville that is guaranteed to be worth your effort. Remember to vote! It is, after all, an Election year. A big thanks to everyone who entered.

And on the subject of election year - our governor ROCKS. When we moved to Kansas a lot of our very liberal California friends were very concerned. This was right about the time of the whole evolution/school board debacle and it didn't look good at all. And now look. As my (very political) mom loves to point out - we have a woman who is a Democrat and they have...the Gubernator.

Speaking of my mom, she sent me a really cute clip that I have to share with all the dog lovers. Even if you're not a dog lover this is incredible.

The dog is amazing with what he does, I the only one slightly disturbed by the imagery of a woman who seems to be trying to seduce her dog? I'm not a prude or anything. I kiss my dogs on the lips all the time and at least one of them is always trying to slip me the tongue. But I don't dress up like Dominatrix Sandy from Grease when I do it.

It kind of reminds me of that Nip/Tuck episode with the jealous man who traveled all the time, the lonely wife, the big guard dog and the jar of peanut butter. It didn't end well for the dog, let me tell you. And the woman was played by Melissa Gilbert who was Laura in the Little House on the Prairie series, for pete's sake. I didn't think it got that lonely out on the prairie.

Kind of gives a new meaning to Those Happy Golden Years, doesn't it?

UPDATE: New deadline is 8pm tonight. If you have an entry send it to me at and I'll set up a second poll. You can pick one entry from each poll and then we'll have a run-off with the winner of each. Easy peasy.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Fun Monday

Fun Monday is being hosted by AOJ and the Lurchers this week. And get this - she wants to know all about our bedside table. What's on it, what's in it, what's special about it.

Okay, I can't show what's on it because my camera is nowhere to be found. And really, there's no reason to. My bedside table is really quite dull.

A lamp - with a white shade covered in dark dog hair.

An alarm clock - with an obnoxious snooze alarm so I don't feel bad about smacking it.

A basket of face creams, hand lotions and cuticle salve that I should use a lot more than I do. (And have the skin to prove it).

A huge pile of books and magazines in the section of the table that has a door. This makes it look a little tidier than it is.

My current knitting project - a fuzzy green hat for myself, since I've already made hats for the kids.

Dull stuff. I know.

But I'm really a dull person. And I have the bedside table to prove it.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

random memes and gabbies

I've been tagged by Lil Mouse at The Name Was Over The Door for a Seven Random Things Meme and I have to say that something like this is right up my alley at the moment. I'm feeling very random and can't seem to locate my attention span. Perfect!

#1. When I was in High School we had a serial killer (the Hillside Strangler) wreaking havoc way too close to home. One day in our Current Events class several Pasadena police officers came to teach us how to get away if we were attacked. They showed us how to do it and then brought us up, one by one, to the front of the class. They put enough pressure on our neck to really hurt and kept it up until we broke free. One girl panicked and actually passed out. Can you imagine pulling something like this now?

#2. Nothing in the world is inedible if it is covered in Blue Cheese dressing. Put on a little freshly ground pepper and even my gym shoe would be a delicacy.

#3. I'm a big fan of the sitcom. I think a really well done sitcom is an art form all its own. So many of them are badly done that when one is executed well it's a true achievement. Some of my favorites over the years - Mad About You, Scrubs, and possibly the best written sitcom ever - Frasier.

#4. When I had my appendix out when I was fifteen, my hospital roommate was Lenny Bruce's mother. That woman was funny. My stitches hated her.

#5. The veins on my arms are so visible that in anatomy class people used me to diagram on. I look like a road map.

#6. I'm one of those people who simply stop eating when I'm really stressed. Not stress as in a bad day or cranky kids or uncooperative checking account balances, but stress as in crisis. Not unsurprisingly, there's an eating disorder in my past.

#7. I love getting awards, but I totally stink at acknowledging them. I don't know why that is, but there you have it. Actually, I do know why it is, now that I think about it. I have huge problems passing them on, because I want to give them to everyone and hate having to choose. I'm feeling a little reckless at the moment, so this isn't going to be your typical awards show.

I've been really slow in passing these on, so please forgive me. I appreciate them all more than you know, and hopefully they haven't spoiled for the waiting.

To start with, look at what laurie has done. She's passed two awards along this way. Bless her heart. (And question her judgment).

The first is A Roar For Powerful Words!, which kind of speaks for itself. This award originated at this site, and is intended to acknowledge roaring bloggers . I myself feel I'm more deserving of a Whining Blogger Award, but I'll take it.

I'm passing this on to -

aims at Big Blue Barn West. Because she blows me away more with every post.

And then there's this Best Blogging Buddies Award. Is this not the cutest thing you've ever seen? (Okay, it would be cuter with puppies, I'll give you that. But still).

This is tough. I refuse to choose. If you're reading this you qualify. So snag this baby and post it!

From Dumdad at The Other Side of Paris, comes this You Make My Day Award that he created specially for a lucky bunch of us. Succinct and to the point. Can you tell it came from a journalist? I love it! Thanks, Dumdad.

And I didn't mention Clint Eastwood once. Let him start his own blog.

Last, but certainly not least, comes the You Cheer Me Up Award from Eileen at A Life of Triggers.

I'm a huge I Love Lucy fan, and this episode still cracks me up, so this award cheers me up no end. Thanks, Eileen!

You know what? I refuse to choose here, either. It's Open Awards Season - claim it!

Since I don't play by the rules these will probably be the last awards I'll ever get. I'll treasure them always.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Royally Crazy

Even though I think the stripes on this suit make me look hippy, I thought I'd throw in a recent picture of myself, since this is, after all, a celebration.

What celebration, you ask?

Well, today is my 300th post. Can you believe it? Time flies when you're running your mouth and stomping on your soapbox. Pretty soon, it will be one year since this blog was launched on a poor unsuspecting public. Holler when you can't take it any more and I'll hush. (Damn Southern roots pop up at the strangest times).

In honor of this dubious occasion, I was thinking that a contest could be fun. And here's what I was thinking...

When I picked the name Rotten Correspondent it was because I really am a rotten correspondent. As more people started reading and commenting, it got shortened to RC, which is certainly less of a mouthful and infinitely less insulting. I like RC. It has a nice ring to it. So here's the contest -

What does RC mean to you?

Mull this over, come up with something and email it to me at The deadline will be Monday, January 28th at 8pm CST. On Tuesday I'll put up a poll on the blog with every entry and you all can pick the winner.

The winner will receive a prize box just brimming with Liberal Collegeville goodness. I can't divulge all my secrets, but I can promise some pretty cool stuff. And I'll work the winning phrase into the blog title...somehow.

To get you started, here are some ideas...

Relentless Complainer
Real Chicken
'Rithmetic Challenged

See how easy it is? Enter as many times as you want. Knock yourselves out. (Knock the rest of us out, too).

On your mark, get set...GO!

Coming soon: An Awards show and the third installment of RC/RN.

Friday, January 25, 2008

I know I've got troubles

I cannot get warm.

I'm sitting in my living room wrapped in a quilt, next to a heater grate, pretty near to a fireplace...

and I cannot get warm.

I don't think I've been warm all day. I wore my big winter jacket in a staff meeting at work because I had come in on my day off and by the time I got in the building I was frozen. I stood out on the school playground for half an hour while my kids ran around and threw snowballs at each other, and I couldn't feel my fingers the entire time. I had an indoor appointment this morning and I refused to take my fleece muffler off at all. And I blew on my fingers for a solid hour and a half.

I am so frickin' finished with winter I could spit. But I know it would freeze mid-air.

My house never feels as much like an old house as it does in the winter. Even though it has blown in insulation, it has old house windows and doors and it feels like you're standing in a wind tunnel. Until you go upstairs. As you climb the staircase you can feel the temperature changing until you reach the landing - otherwise known as the Bahamas. Every last bit of the heat has risen to the second floor, where it is almost too hot to move. Sleeping at night leads to dreams of sand dunes and scorpions. My house is its own climate zone.

If you believe the weather people, we're supposed to have a warm snap this weekend. I think it's actually supposed to hit 20 degrees. I feel a city wide party coming on.

I wonder which bathing suit would go with my thermal socks.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

The Thursday Three

I'd be lying if I said I was a huge Heath Ledger fan, but the idea of someone so young and full of promise dying bothers me enormously. And since we live in a society that often appears to be driven by Hollywood, this story is simply everywhere. Of course, the fact that it was so unexpected just adds to the emotion. It has made me think about

Celebrity Deaths That Hit Home

I'm sure my shallowness will show here, too, but I don't remember any big political assassinations - they were before my time (or at least my memory). So, while I suppose you could make the argument that my choices are all fluff, I absolutely disagree. I was completely beside myself when all three of these very special people died.

#1. Diana, Princess of Wales. Might as well start out big. Like a good chunk of the world I spent a week in front of my television sobbing. It wasn't just that she was a princess, or beautiful, or the most photographed woman in history. It was the fact that even with all the adulation she was a human being with very human problems. And it was also, for me, a weird kind of alternate parallel.

We were born almost exactly two weeks apart. We were both the product of early divorces. We were both nail biters. We both bore sons. And other than those similarities not one thing was the same, except that I can immediately place what was going on in my life by simply referencing hers. I watched her wedding from a place in my life that was pure chaos. Her life began to (publicly) unravel right when mine started to stabilize. Her boys were teenagers when she died. I had just given birth to my third child. Her death devastated me. I have trouble even now just watching The Queen. And I still think there are some people (who shall remain nameless) who need to be slapped.

#2. John Lennon. I was in college and a friend called hysterical, saying that John Lennon had been shot. Pre-internet, we all turned on the radio to hear Imagine on half the stations in the free world. (The other half were playing Starting Over). I watched the candlelight vigils and listened to people singing outside the Dakota with tears running down my own face. It was awful.

I'd always been a Beatles fan and I'd always loved John. And George. I was never much of a Paul girl and I'm not even going to get into the Ringo argument. But John was cool. He was witty and opinionated and willing to stick up for his beliefs. I loved the post-Beatles work he had done and, being too young to really get the whole Yoko thing as it was happening, thought they had a wonderfully intense relationship.

I remember my barely reformed hippie Journalism professor coming to class sobbing and telling us all to expect a "rock and roll royalty funeral." But of course there wasn't one. That just wasn't what Lennon was about.

#3. Steve Irwin. Yes, the Crocodile Hunter. You have to remember that I have three boys, and I have spent an enormous part of my life living through their various phases. Some (Barney, Teletubbies and Power Rangers) are best forgotten as soon as possible. But others, like the Crocodile Hunter, I really enjoyed. He was so joyous in what he did that he was infectious. Yeah, he was kind of a hyperactive dork, but in an incredibly skillful way, he was able to take something totally foreign and make it accessible.

And of course, being an animal lover, his message of wildlife preservation was one I agreed with one hundred percent, even if it was easy for me to agree with - not having any crocodiles or pit vipers in my own backyard. The fact that he married an American woman who was just as accomplished and adventurous as he was made me very happy. And I totally credit him with giving me the courage to face up to my reptile fears, a feat that has made my last ten years much easier to deal with. We've had assorted lizards and geckos, although I still draw the line at snakes. Let's not take this tolerance thing too far, okay?

I think the world is a lot less enthusiastic without Steve Irwin.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

the envelope, please

The Oscar nominations came out today, firing the starting shot in a most sacred ritual in chez RC. If you combine a Film Geek and a compulsive list maker, what do you get?

Our annual Oscar routine, in all its misguided glory.

It works like this. The goal is to see as many of the nominated films as possible before the Academy Awards. Now even if you kept this to the "major" categories such as Best Picture, Director, Actor and Actress it would still be an undertaking. But we have a broader view of "major" around here. I'm always intrigued by the Screenplays and the FG takes a keen interest in Cinematography. Foreign Film is always fascinating, as are the more "technical" things like editing. To put it mildly, we have our work cut out for us.

I always hang a list from the newspaper up on the fridge so we can mark off what we've seen. The more check marks on my list, the happier I am. Toward the actual awards, we may or may not pick our winners ahead of time. Sometimes we'll just shout out our choices right as they're getting ready to announce the winner. Sometimes not. For us, it's about seeing the films themselves - not picking the winners. (If you want a competitive winner picker, that would be my sister in law. She's ruthless).

This was a much easier task for me before kids. When I was working at Paramount and the FG was in grad school we saw a ton of movies. I think one year we actually managed to see everything on our "major" list. Post kids I'd go see films that had cute guys (if I was lucky) or animated mermaids (if I wasn't) and that was about it. But in the last few years I've gotten my competitive fire back and feel up to the challenge.

These are big words for a woman who has only seen one of the nominated films. Granted, it was Juno, and it was nominated in several categories, but still. I have a big hill to climb. We do have a little ace in the hole though, which evens my odds slightly. The FG gets Academy screeners at work - the DVDs that the studios distribute to sway the Academy members to vote for their film. These are, to put it bluntly, decadent. Last week I sat in front of a roaring fireplace in my living room, drinking wine and watching The Bucket List. (A film that didn't get a single nomination, now that I think of it. Dang it. And I thought it might get me a jump start. I wasn't crazy about the movie, mind you. I just wanted to be able to check something off my list).

The screeners don't always help because I have certain blind spots. Violence really bothers me (which is why I've only seen half of Pan's Labyrinth) and some genres leave me sticking toothpicks in my eyes to stay awake, but I try.

I'll keep you posted. Cross your fingers. And don't forget the popcorn.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

gimme an I...

It really is all about the stupid idea.

Blogs, that is. Posts in particular. Once I get an idea, my mind starts racing in about twenty directions simultaneously and my verbal diarrhea goes into full swing. I fall into this fugue like state and the next thing I know I have a post that is only slightly shorter than a doctoral dissertation, although hopefully easier to understand.

If I have a little time on my hands I write a shorter post. It's true. Who was it who said "If I had more time I would have written a shorter letter?" It's a famous quote. I should probably google it and see who said it. But I can't. I don't have time. I have to come up with an idea.

Is there a blogger out there who hasn't pounded their head against a computer screen in frustration because the idea fairy has skipped town with the goods? I've had ideas over the course of the day. I'm just not sure what they were. I even (honestly) woke up in the middle of the night last night with a great idea that had something to do with the dogs, but by morning I couldn't remember what it was. Of course I was in the middle of a dream about toxic nerve gas at the time, only to wake up and realize that the intestinally challenged one was snoring on my feet and injecting reality into my slumber state. So that was one idea gone.

I could write about how Sasquatch wants me to lie to his AP European History teacher because he can't find the information he needs to finish his homework and god forbid he lets anyone help him. And how he's mad at me because he can't understand why I won't lie for him. Nah. No one would believe it.

I could write about how I walked out my back door today and stepped onto a solid sheet of ice on my patio, skidding about four feet and screaming at the top of my lungs the whole time. Nah. Too embarrassing.

I could write about the new book series I'm reading that I love. Okay, they aren't new at all. Just new to me. I'm three books into the Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich and am enjoying them hugely. That woman is funny.

I could write about how out of date my reading list on my sidebar is.

Or I could try to come up with something else. But I've got an idea that it isn't going to happen.

Monday, January 21, 2008

None Monday

I had planned on doing Fun Monday (since I've gotten quite addicted) but couldn't find any pictures to use since the computer they're all stored in is temporarily on life support. Fun Monday for me this time around. Hey, maybe this week I can actually read some of the others. What a concept!

This week I'm going to look at Monday as simply the first day of a new week. Yeah, I know that a lot of people consider that the week starts on Sunday. Not me. It's Monday. If I'm starting a diet, an exercise regime or anything else that I'll only stick with for three or four days - Monday is always D-Day. That way, every Sunday is Fat Sunday and I binge myself silly to prepare for the pain to come.

However, this Monday is looking to be relatively pain free. I think it's been pretty common knowledge that my 2008 has sucked so far, but I do believe we're on an upswing. Life is looking clearer, more positive, more...hopeful. I like hopeful. It's so full of...hope.

For all of you who have been so supportive since my recalled Friday post - a big ol' from the bottom of my heart thanks. The comments, the emails, the phone calls from all of those unfortunate enough to have to deal with me in "real life" - it's been overwhelming. Seriously. In the very best kind of way. I was in a very yucky place last week and you all threw me a lifeline. I won't forget it.

I pulled the post because my husband had some reasons why he thought I should have run it by him before I put it on the blog. And even though I don't think there was anything in the content to make him look like a big smelly horse's ass, he felt like he came across as one. So, to be nice (because that's just how I am), I pulled it. Because he isn't a big smelly horse's ass, even though he is sometimes a pain in mine. (Yes, I'm letting him read this ahead of time. Things are clearly improving around here). Also, for those of you sweet enough to worry about my safety - don't. Absolutely no need. He's not like that to start with, but I've been pretty upfront from day one that if a hand was ever laid on me he would need a lawyer and a bodyguard and not in that order. I've never even had to think about calling in Guido.

Gee. Maybe it will be a Fun Monday after all.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Sunday Sigh

The fantasy...

The reality...


Saturday, January 19, 2008

tennis, anyone?

So I've spent the entire week thinking that tomorrow was Super Bowl Sunday, and then I went online first thing this morning to find out what time the game starts, since I'm working and wanted to psych myself up. Oops. Unless we've fast-forwarded to February 3rd, I think I'm a little off base.

Can you tell I'm not a football fan?

Friday, January 18, 2008

baby steps

I'm in a rage. A white hot just on the verge of being out of control rage.

I'm caught in a tight spot, between the proverbial rock and a hard place.

And it's a terrible combination.

My husband and I are having serious marital issues. They may or may not be fixable. We had our first counseling session Thursday morning. Those are the bare bones facts.

And now here are the emotions. I had forgotten how therapy works. You go in for an appointment, you open up wound after wound for an hour or so...and then the appointment is over. And then what? The FG asked just that. Now what? Do you hash out everything that just got said or do you go to your own corners and lick your wounds until the next appointment? Will it be made worse by discussing what was said or will it be made better? Can it be made worse?

Can it be made better?

All I know right now is that I am in serious vent mode. I can feel the fury running through my veins and I know it isn't a good thing. But what to do? Ah...enter the rock and the hard place.

The obvious answer is to pick up the phone and call someone. A friend. Someone who will listen and say the right things and comfort me as much as possible in ways that I need to be comforted. Obviously a good friend is called for. And I have good friends. I'm blessed with good friends. What I'm not blessed with is the ability to reach out for help. I am really good at listening to other people's problems and being there for them. But it's excruciating for me to ask someone to be there for me. Especially when I convince myself that there's a good reason for not calling all of the people I trust enough to talk to about this.

There's the friend whose own marriage is hanging by a thread.

There's the friend who is unexpectedly battling a major health issue.

There's the friend whose job is -literally- ruining her life.

There's my mother who would freak.

There's my sister-in-law who is painfully putting her own marriage back together.

There are the friends thousands of miles away who have such long and stable marriages that they'd never understand.

And there's my own impulse, which is to bolt the doors and not let anyone in. I should be rallying the troops, but I don't. I play a lone hand. This is my crisis mode. I shut down. I don't answer the phone. I ignore emails. I don't reach out. I piss off plenty of people in the process. (I didn't pick the name Rotten Correspondent for nothing, you know).

Of course there is the blog. I could certainly vent in the blog. It would seem tailor made for something like this. Isn't the beauty of a blog that you can be honest and yourself because it's (kind of) anonymous? I suppose if I didn't mind driving you all away I could just let loose.

Oh, wait a sec. Are we talking about the blog that my husband reads?

Back to the drawing board.

I'm fully aware that the argument could be made that throwing this out there in this way is a cry for help, so to speak. And I completely understand that if I hit Publish on this baby I'd better have picked up a phone first.

I understand it perfectly. It's doing it that's the problem.

Postscript: Stepped out of comfort zone. Venting in progress. Cry for help answered. Yay.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

The Thursday Three

Time has been a major issue around here lately. As I'm sure most of you know all too well, sometimes it's impossible to catch up, much less get ahead. I had a lot of time to ponder this Wednesday at my regularly scheduled six week hair appointment. As I sat wrapped in foil I thought about


My definition of this is a little on the loose side. I mean things that you really love, but that come with some sort of a cost - either financial or time or health or any number of other things. They're usually worth it, but sometimes you have to think hard to remember why.

#1. Color weaves. My big indulgence. Maybe it's because I've hated my hair most of my life. Maybe it's because I'm grey before my time. Maybe it's because I've finally started to really like my hair. Whatever the reason, I spend a lot on my hair. My hair is medium brown with streaks of copper, butterscotch and cinnamon and I love it.

What I don't love is the time involved. I'm on a six week schedule - one short appointment and the next one long. Some days, like yesterday, it's time I don't have, and there are a million things I really should be doing instead.

And yet there I sit, with my foil covered head...not giving a damn.

(this is not my hair, by the way).

#2. Fresh flowers. I like fresh flowers. My mom always has a house full of them and I'm a little spoiled by it. But year round flowers in Kansas is a different proposition than year round flowers in California. We're talking pricey.

I do buy them, just not all the time and not as many as I'd like. The FG has been known to show up with an armful of them just because (like earlier this week, as a matter of fact). He banks these Brownie points for a rainy day.

And you know what they say about rain and flowers.

#3. Non-local produce. On one level I really love the idea of eating locally as much as possible. And we do. But the thought of giving up certain things makes limiting myself to only local things impossible.

Meyer lemons

I bought a bag full of Meyer lemons last week. They were only slightly less expensive than my haircolor.

But, man, they were out of this world.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008


Basically speaking, I picked the hospital I wanted over the exact job I wanted. I applied for the Surgical ICU position, and then spent three weeks jumping through one hoop after another to try to land it. As badly as I had wanted ER before, I now wanted this with an intensity that kind of scared me. I looked at it as invaluable experience, particularly in trauma, and if at some point down the road I could request a transfer to some other (ahem) unit...this was one hell of a stepping stone.

Three interviews, four references and a hotseat Q&A later ("Take a look at all these lab values. Which three are critical and what exactly should you do about them? And in what order? And why?"), I had pretty much figured the one position available had gone to someone else. On Christmas Eve day I got the phone call proving me wrong. It may have been the best Christmas of my life up to that point. To make it even sweeter they let me pick my start date, so I had the prospect of the whole month of January off. After the hell that was nursing school, I was looking forward to a month of normal life.

Now let me make perfectly clear that I've had moments of nervousness in my life. I've had times where I was almost paralyzed with fright. But I've never (in a non-health related instance) felt the fear I felt walking on to that unit for the first time as a graduate nurse. It was head between your knees, waves of nausea, spots in front of your eyes panic. I made a mental bet with myself that I could get through an entire twelve hour shift without killing someone. There was a part of me that was detached enough to be amused by this, figuring it was all beginner's jitters. Luckily, that amused and detached part didn't realize that this particular fear had just become a permanent fixture on my psyche.

And to add to the fun, I still had to take my State Boards a month down the road. No pressure with those, though. No pass, no job. No prob. Boards deserve their very own post in their arbitrary hellishness, but I'll just hit the highlights. Our nursing program was what they call a bi-level program, which meant that at the end of our first year we took LPN boards. You had to pass those to stay in the nursing program. Then, after you graduated you took your RN boards for your license. I thought the pressure of the LPN year was bad enough but it was nothing compared to this. The way the test is given doesn't help. It's a computer generated interactive test. You have to answer enough questions right to get to a high enough level, then you have to answer enough questions right to stay at that level. If you answer a question wrong it bumps you back down a level and then you have to be right a certain number of times in a row to get back to where you had just been. To say it sucks the big one is to damn it with faint praise.

The minimum number of questions you could take was 75. The maximum was 225. It gave you as many questions as you needed to prove competency, but if you hadn't proved it by 225 you failed. I took the test with three friends from my class and we all took 75 questions. We were hoping this would happen, so before I hit submit on question 75 I held my breath and prayed to the patron saint of people who should have stayed in television production. The screen went dark and told me to have a nice day. Fat chance. It was five minutes before my knees stopped shaking enough to walk out of the room. And despite all of my predictions of how I had been so inept that they had failed me with the minimum number of questions, I passed. We all did. Life was good.

My experience on SI was going well, also. I did a twelve week orientation and then took on my own patients. That was another scary day, but the support from the other nurses was phenomenal. My preceptor looked me in the eye, told me I could do it and kicked me out of the nest. And, to my amazement, I flew. Zig-zaggy and shell-shocked, but airborne.

To give an idea of our patient population, here's something one of the hospital administrators told us sometime during my second year there. Our unit had the highest acuity patients in the entire hospital. Our hospital had the highest acuity patients in the entire two state area it was in. This helped explain why I had discovered that adrenaline really does have a taste (metallic, like blood) and why the top of my head permanently felt like it was going to pop off.

We took care of patients immediately after coronary bypass surgery. We handled the liver transplants. We had patients from every surgical specialty in the hospital, including the neurological unit overflow. And then, of course, there were the traumas. Motorcyclists who hit concrete pylons at a hundred miles an hour. People who tried to commit suicide by jumping in front of buses. Point blank gunshot wounds to the head. People who had jumped three floors out of a burning building. Any variation on a vehicular accident you can imagine. If you define "life support" as being on a ventilator (and most people do), at least half of our patients at any given time were on life support.

The patients were a story unto themselves. Murderers. Gangbangers. Child molesters. Wife beaters. I learned more about human nature in that job than I want to think about. The Film Geek still remembers how I would watch the 11 pm news after a day at work to find out exactly why my patient was in the hospital. More than once my skin crawled when I found out what had happened immediately before they came to our fine establishment. And to think that I had been in a small enclosed space with them alone. A lot of those people were seriously jacked up.

Take your garden variety gangbanger, for example. Used to be if they wanted to kill someone they'd shoot them in the head. Several times if necessary. Well, it seems that that isn't good enough anymore. Too fast. Relatively painless. The current thinking is to shoot them point blank in the abdomen. Why, you ask? I'm going to tell you. Consider yourselves warned. Because, gentle readers, if you shoot someone in the gut you're going to involve their intestines. It's a given. And what that means is that they will then have fecal matter scattered all through their abdomen. Which means that, in spite of the best medical care possible, and at ungodly expense, they will probably develop a horrendous infection and, after a colostomy and months in the hospital on a vent will die from sepsis. Slowly and horribly rotting from the inside out. As one fine upstanding citizen explained to me, "It's funny, bitch. He's got shit all on his insides and a bag on his stomach. Don't you think that's some funny shit?" and then cackled at his own wordplay. Shit. Get it? Right.

The best illustration of the unit I can give is this ICU monitor. All of our patients were on the monitor 24/7. One of the first things I always did was to familiarize the family with the monitor, since it seems to be second nature to watch it constantly and it makes more sense when you know what you're looking at. I told them what everything meant and what normal limits were. This way when it alarmed (which was often) they wouldn't panic every time.

Let's take a stroll through the monitor.

The first green number (78) is the heart rate. The pattern is the heart rhythm. This comes from the electrodes on the patients chest.

The red line (129/58) is (obviously) the blood pressure. But...the red color indicates it's an arterial blood pressure, not a cuff pressure. Arterial lines are basically like IV's, just in an artery instead of a vein and you don't put anything in these lines. If someone is on a vent you need frequent arterial blood gasses which hurt like a son of a bitch, so they put these lines in for monitoring. Other than the fact that you can bleed to death in about three minutes if one gets dislodged, they're pretty handy.

The yellow number (9) is a Central Venous Pressure, which is an invasive monitoring of the pressure in the right atrium of the heart. Basically, there's a probe physically in the heart.

The light blue ICP line (19) is Intracranial pressure. Basically, there's a probe physically in the brain.

The purple 100 is the percentage of oxygen the patient is getting throughout their body.

And the dark blue 12 is how many times a minute they're breathing.

We always had two patients at a time. We charted vital signs every hour and did a full body assessment every four hours. Most of our patients had at least one triple IV line and quite a few had two. Each patient was receiving a minimum of three kinds of IV meds, not counting fluids. It was not uncommon to have a patient getting fifteen IV meds, with half of them being incompatible with the others and having to be spaced perfectly. If a patient was on a vent there was a whole other set of vitals to chart and the vent itself to monitor. Patients on vents were always restrained to keep them from pulling out their airway and sedated to within an inch of their lives. These both had to be charted and scrupulously monitored. We drew all of our own blood for labs. We did almost all of the surgical dressings. We were given perimeters on a lot of the drugs we gave and we decided the dosage. The worst thing was when you had to "travel", which meant taking your patient (and their vent and their drips and the crash suitcase) to CT or MRI. And, because most of our patients were unconscious, we had to physically reposition them every two hours around the clock. We didn't sit a lot. I wore a pedometer to work one day out of curiosity to see if I reached the 10,000 steps a day that the Heart Association recommends. At the end of the day (which had been uncharacteristically slow) I was at 17,000 steps. I never wore it again.

The medical teams rounded every morning and wrote orders. We spent the day carrying out these orders. By the time we were thinking of being caught up they rounded again and wrote different orders. There was real animosity between the day and night shifts, so if you left even the tiniest thing undone you'd hear about it. The days flew by. It was not unusual to look at the clock in horror at all the things you still had to do in the half hour left of your shift and realize that you had neither eaten nor peed in twelve hours.

But I wouldn't trade the experience for anything. I saw some of the most incredible things imaginable. We were cutting edge and it was electrifying. Our unit had a little bit of an ego issue, frankly. We weren't allowed to call a code, since we were one of the units responding to codes on other floors, and it would look bad. But our little "code" for a code was to call Anesthesia (usually for an emergent intubation). If you heard "Anesthesia Stat SICU" overhead, you knew that all hell was breaking loose. And between us, hell breaking loose was a daily happening.

In an unexpected way I got a lot of ER experience, too. ER would basically plug up as much of the bleeding as they could and race them up to us as fast as possible, leaving a current of blood behind them. Not only did the helicopters land there, but often we ourselves took the people off of them and straight to our unit.

It was the most intense experience of my entire life, but I was burning out big time toward my two year anniversary. I had gotten all the adrenaline inducing adventures I could have ever wanted - and then some. I had literally been up to my ankles in blood and brains. I had seen so many people die that I was almost immune to it. I'd seen one too many grieving parents for my taste. Three twelve hour shifts a week were slowly turning me into someone I didn't know anymore. I had basically come to the conclusion that you could sum up every shift this way: for twelve hours a patient would actively try to die on me and I would do my best to prevent it. The final kicker was that my boss wouldn't let any of us transfer to other units, but by that point I didn't think I wanted to anyway. I had hit trauma overload.

And all it was going to take was one more thing to push me completely over the edge.

To Be Continued...
(and good lord am I sorry this is so long)

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

nancy clue

I'm still a day out on the next thrilling installment of how I came to earn my paycheck, but since I've led people to expect a nursing story I feel I have to deliver. Sit tight, people, this is not your ordinary nursing story.

I collect old Nancy Drew mysteries. It's a guilty obsession that I've had most of my life and I have a fabulous collection to prove it. I also love Cherry Ames, the World War ll era nurse who only took care of patients who provided mysteries for her to solve as well. I guess in the 1940's and 50's they figured every little girl wanted to grow up to be a detective.

Last week a friend of mine gave me a Nancy Drew she had found in a thrift store. She didn't look at it closely, but, being a sweetheart of the first degree, always keeps an eye out for what her friends collect. We were at Bunco and the wine was flowing freely when she handed it to me. I looked carefully. I blinked. I looked again. This is what I saw -

The Case of the Not-So-Nice Nurse
A Gay Adventure!

When nurse Cherry Aimless lands in San Francisco in search of Nancy Clue and a flock of missing nuns, the earnestly whitegirl 50s meet the oh-so-queer 90s in a delightful parody of both girl detective novels and lesbian romantic fiction.

Or, as they put it, For everyone who knew all along that Nancy and her girlfriends had secrets all their own.

Here's the back cover -

The night air cut right through her silk dress. She pulled her wrap closer. "Don't do that," her companion whispered. "I like looking at you." The girl surveyed Cherry, looking her up and down. She whistled, a long, low appreciative whistle. Cherry dropped her coat. "It's a full moon," the girl said. "You never know what will happen." A shiver went down Cherry's back, for she was having that very same thought. Cherry began to wish she had worn panties. She had decided against them to preserve the line of her dress, but they would be a big help right now.

Okay, it's me again. The hilarious thing is that this book is designed exactly the same as a Nancy Drew. Same colors, same format, same line drawings - everything. You oughta see the drawing opposite the title page. Yowzah.

And the kicker? (Not that there aren't twenty kickers already). My buddy bought this at a church auxiliary store. Imagine how that book got there...

I see a doting aunt who buys a gift for the young girl in her life, thinking it's a beloved detective icon. Can you imagine the phone call from the kid's mom the next day?

Would you love to be a fly on that wall?

Surfer Dude got a speaking part! Yay!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Fun Monday #11

Ann at For the Long Run is hosting Fun Monday this week and she wants to hear about a website that's changed our life. A website we can't live without. A website whose inventor we'd like to see win a McArthur Genius Grant. I've got one (kind of) word for you.

If you're a thrifty, yard sale loving, odd thing collecting fool like I am, this is about as good as it gets. As a matter of fact there are days I'm convinced I started blogging to keep me off eBay. After all, I can't really obsess on two sites at once, can I?

If you want it, it's there. If you need it, it's there. And because it's there...I'm there.

Cinnamon incense. Check.

Enough garden seeds to plant an arboretum. Check.

Brand new hardback books that you're too cheap to buy at Borders, but someone will put up to recoup a small part of their outlay. Check.

Stila lip glaze that may be my favorite piece of make-up - period, but that I would have to drive forty five minutes to buy. Check.

Slipcovers. Check.

My favorite book from elementary school that I could never find anywhere else. Check. (and under a dollar, by the way).

You get the thrill of the hunt, the adrenaline of the auction and the convenience of at home delivery. It's like a yard sale on steroids.

I have to go now. I have an auction closing.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

the acting bug

A couple of weeks ago Surfer Dude's class put on a play about the Jamestown settlement as part of a history lesson. Somehow he and one of his best friends ended up with two of the larger parts, and we were on pins and needles leading up to the performance. We ran through lines until he had them down cold. He emoted from one room of the house to the next. Then in front of a school day audience of parents and lower grade children, their class brought Jamestown to life. Beautifully.

And he's had the acting bug ever since. Like there isn't enough drama in this house already.

His friend may have even been bitten harder, although that's difficult to imagine. The friend's dad (who is a good friend) and I tried to steer them into the same drama class that Gumby is going to be taking this spring, but they were too young. But...there is a play being staged in March that was holding open auditions - and they wanted to go. They were casting adults and children, and from the sounds there were not a lot of parts available, but the kids were determined. They would also be casting some extras and understudies. If you survived the first cut call backs would be Sunday. I privately said to the Film Geek that for $40 a kid to be in the play the producers would find as many parts as kids who showed up. I'm cynical that way. I can't help it. (I also made a point of taking Surfer Dude to this thing myself, since the FG and this director have worked together many times and I didn't think that should be a factor in his decision. On the subject of cynical).

So Saturday afternoon we showed up for the auditions. Self esteem not being one of his issues, he was convinced that he had a lead part in the bag. I tried to insert a little reality into his fantasy, as I knew they were expecting a full house of applicants and that he had no real experience besides school stuff. I pointed out that he had several friends trying out and they all wanted the same parts. I told him it was all about the experience and if he didn't get a part it wouldn't be the end of the world. I said to get out there and do the best job he could and not worry about the rest of it. Most of all, I said, have fun.

The theater was full of parents and kids. There were a bunch of people I knew, including a lot of the kids trying out. It was social hour for the adults as their kids went up on the stage. The director ran them through their paces and then broke them into groups. For three hours he had them run through lines in various formations. I was so nervous I had to take the stitches out of the hat I was knitting two times. I should have given myself a pep talk while I was at it.

When it was over the friend's dad and I privately agreed that, though they had done well, they probably didn't have a realistic chance at a part. There were a lot of kids there with experience. And, most importantly, the big audition scene our guys did was with adults who chewed the scenery and spit it out. Our kids could barely get a word in edgewise. But they had had fun and gained some experience, and that was a good enough thing.

Two hours after we got home we got the call back notification for today. So did the friend. As we were dancing around the kitchen singing at the top of our lungs (and dodging butt biting dogs who get all weird when we dance) I didn't really feel cynical about the reasons. The joy on this kid's face was priceless. I'd love to think it was because he knocked their socks off.

But if every single person who showed up gets a part, I can totally handle that.

Saturday, January 12, 2008


There have been some questions lately about my nursing career and I thought now would be just as good a time as any to answer them. How did I start? How long have I been in the ER? And, maybe most provocatively, what is it that I like about nursing and that keeps me in it? I'm going to try to explain the whole tangled mess. Bear with me. This is going to take a while.

The whole time I was in nursing school I knew two things - I wanted to work in the ER and I wanted to be where the helicopters landed.

This is the story of how I got both, just not at the same time.

When you grow up in an urban area you take it for granted that there are hospitals everywhere. World class hospitals. If you get hurt or sick you go to one of them. Simple. In the Midwest it's not that simple. So much of the area is rural and the hospitals, while not exactly hard to come by, are not usually going to be where you find a neurosurgeon or a burn unit. If you get hurt or sick in most of these places they fly you out to where those specialists are.

And that's a Level One Trauma Center. Simply put, this means that there is 24 hour medical coverage from a wide variety of specialists, including a comprehensive trauma team. Not coincidentally, these also tend to be teaching hospitals, almost always associated with major universities. There are various trauma designations. Level One is the gold standard. It's the end of the road, so to speak. It's where nothing is too critical, too catastrophic, too unusual to be treated. It's where the helicopters land.

I knew exactly the hospital I wanted to be at. It was the hospital I had fantasized about since the day I had gotten up the nerve to apply to nursing school. The problem was getting the in the door.

Toward the end of my last semester of school I "shadowed" for a day in the ER at this hospital. Shadowing is a really good idea. You get to follow a nurse around and really see what the unit is like, without the pressure of providing any medical care. You are only there to observe, nothing else. I had a great experience, other than the fact that I felt like Naive Nelly barely ten minutes in. I lost count of how many times I thought (or said) "Oh, my god. Is this for real?" over the course of the six hours I was there. And like a good adrenaline junkie rising to the lure of a caffeinated piece of bait - I was hooked.

This hospital had a program designed to train new grads in different areas of critical care nursing - ER, and Burn, Peds ("peeds"), Neonatal, Medical, Surgical, Neuro and Cardiac Intensive Care Units. The idea was that you would go to the unit that you were the most interested in and commit to a two year contract. In return the hospital would pay a (very) generous sign-on bonus and, for the next twenty four months, train you to within an inch of your life. You would receive every certification you could possibly want or need - all on the hospital's dime. Competition for spots in this program was tight, and they absolutely used that to their advantage .

But here was the problem. My nursing program had a December graduation. And someone had slipped up and all of the ER new grad spots for the year had been filled with the May graduating class. Every other area was, of course, still open. I met with a very nice HR woman who asked me a bunch of questions about what interested me and then suggested I apply for a spot in the Surgical ICU. She explained that this was not only a trauma ICU, but also took care of patients from every surgical specialty, so was quite varied in the patient population. I said I wanted ER. She said I should think about SI (as they called it). She even persuaded me to tour the unit with her, and even though I thought it looked fascinating, I left the interview disgruntled and completely unconvinced.

My best friend in Nursing School, who was a major reason I survived a program designed to stomp the life right out of you, had always wanted to be an ICU nurse. I, of course, wanted to be an ER nurse. We spent hours, in the blissful ignorance that is so prevalent in students, debating the pros and cons of each. We tried in vain, wanting badly to work together when we graduated, to sway the other to our point of view. It never worked. I had badgered her relentlessly to get her to apply at "my" hospital, as I thought of it, but it would have been an unmanageable commute for her. Against my will I was in this alone. And to make it worse they were trying to talk me into trying out for an ICU job - a compulsive, no excitement, anal, chart keeping, med passing, boring ICU job.

I felt a little sick to my stomach walking to the parking lot, the feeling you get when you have built something up so big and realize that it simply isn't going to happen. My brain was bouncing around like a tennis ball - whup whup whup - as I mentally fumbled with a Plan B. As I reached my car I realized that my tennis ball whup whup whup was getting louder, and I looked up to see a helicopter lazily landing on the roof of the building I had just walked out of.

And as the engine cut out and the blades slowed down, I realized exactly what my Plan B was going to be.

To Be Continued...

Friday, January 11, 2008

The Friday Four(got)

I worry myself sometimes, I really do. For example, as long as I've lived Thursday has come after Wednesday and before Friday. No real rocket science there, and yet it just slid on by.

But to prove that it is indeed possible to learn something from your kids, I offer up four reasons why it's not my fault. If a kid with scissors in one hand and my brand new (shredded) kitchen towel in the other can look me in the eye and say they didn't do it... well, so can I. And with as much conviction.

#1. It's been a little stressful around here. The report card came and was just as bad as anticipated. Some dear, dear friends of ours are having serious marital issues that threaten to completely upset our little world. One of my closest friends was (out of nowhere) diagnosed with a potentially life-threatening condition. The Film Geek has just leapt into a nice little mid-life crisis. The week has been filled with intense discussions in all the roles of mother, wife, friend and nurse.And I'm sick again. (Still?)

#2. The weather is nasty. Too warm to snow, too cold to get comfortable. Grey, gloomy, sleet spitting, lip chapping, dark around lunch time weather. Ugh.

#3. Some weeks were just made to make you feel overwhelmed and this is one of them.
It was a Bunco week (which means a night out) and I've picked up extra hours at work. I'm volunteering in Surfer Dude's classroom for a project. It's been a struggle to stay up to date on my blog reading, and for that I apologize. I'm about caught up, but it's taken a while. For all of you out there who have left me such wonderful comments and not heard back from me - I'm getting there. Honest. I'm nothing if not compulsive.

#4. Isn't three enough?

Thursday, January 10, 2008

the library card

For a lot of reasons, this has been a very off balance week around here. Solid ground shifts, tectonic plates stabilize...and life goes on. It's so easy to get so caught up in your own drama that you can become oblivious to the world around you. Until...

I was standing at the counter of the mega-library in the next city over, filling out an application for a library card. Liberal Collegeville is a great place, but our library leaves a lot to be desired. The Big City-ville library is amazing - huge, well-stocked and gorgeous. For years I'd not listened to people who told me this was the library I needed to use. The tide was about to turn.

As the counter clerk was putting my info into the computer, a grey haired man stepped up to the clerk at the next window. She looked up at him, smiled in a personable way, and asked how she could help him.

The man paused, opened his mouth and quickly closed it again. The clerk's smile didn't falter. She allowed him to take his time. He tried again. As if on the edge of a precipice he teetered, took a deep breath...and jumped.

"I was wondering what you do with library cards that won't be used anymore," he said.

She looked at him quizzically, but didn't have time to answer.

"My wife just died," he said in a rush. "And I want to know if you need her library card back."

The clerk was at a loss. She asked the woman who was helping me, and was told that they wouldn't need to get the card back from him.

"So I can keep it?" he asked carefully.

They told him he could and he picked it up gingerly off the counter. He turned the card over in his hands and placed it in his breast pocket. For the briefest moment his fingers lingered on his chest. He smiled, thanked them and was gone.

I was still watching him walk away when the clerk handed me my new card to sign. As he closed the door behind him, I scrawled my name.

Life goes on.

Aargh!! I just realized it's Thursday. Aargh!! No Thursday Three. Aargh!!
I may have to improvise something tomorrow. Aargh!!

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Snooze 'R' Us

I'm not a morning person. I don't loathe them the way I used to, but if I had my druthers I'd not face the light of day until at least 8 am. 9 would be better. Going along with loathing them less is also the ability to function better. Used to be I would sit in a fuming pile, coffee clutched in hand and eyes unfocused until I felt able to start coping with the day. Now, lacking options, I just get up and get on with it. Growing up sucks.

I've thought about this recently because I've been picking up extra shifts at work and they've been of the crack of dawn variety. These require me to be pulling out of my driveway at 6:30 on the nose. And even this is better than my old nursing job, where I had to be on the road by 6 for a 45 minute drive. I was always relieved that I was awake by the time I got there, but I hate to think of my level of consciousness during the trip.

As a combination of these two factors - disliking mornings and years of early shifts - I've worked out a routine that is, if I do say so myself, a brilliant combination of procrastination and type A compulsiveness. The patent is pending, but I'm going to let you all have a look. I even have two versions - the washed and the unwashed. Ready?

Countdown to 6:30 driveway peel out:

5:45 am - Alarm goes off. Hit snooze and roll back over.

5:54 am - repeat.

6:03 am
- repeat the hit snooze part. But...if shower is needed, begin to wrap brain around the fact that when it goes off again it's time to get up. If no shower is on the agenda, roll back over and go to sleep.

(This snooze alarm part is very important to the schedule. It's vital to the plan that you've had the satisfaction of thumping the snooze button at least twice before your feet hit the ground. If you're really organized you could even put this on your daily To Do List. Hit snooze alarm twice. Done. See how efficient you are?)

6:12 am - Shower time? Get up. Try not to fall over solid black dog sleeping at top of stairs. Stand under hot stream and cuss blindly for at least a full minute to get bile out of system. Wash hair while cussing. Remember to cuss close-mouthed, because it takes an extra 30 seconds to rinse shampoo out of opened mouth. Every second is going to count here.

6:19 am
- Alarm will go off again. Shower is finished, or, if still in bed (thanks to pre-bedtime shower the night before), must now get up. Blindly grab clothes set out the night before and head downstairs.

6:20 am - Grab (set up the night before) coffee. From now until butt hits car seat, slam as much coffee as humanly possible. Let the dogs into the yard and head into the bathroom. Sit to do your business (ahem) and put on all clothes from the waist up at this time. Remember, busy is as busy does. Stand up and put on everything else except socks. (Don't cheat. This is important).

6:22 am
- Throw bagel or english muffin in toaster. Brush teeth, then put on moisturizer while walking to door to let dogs in. Apply foundation on the way back to bathroom.

6:23 am - Slap on some mascara and put on watch (always left in exactly the same place).

6:24 am - Collect already packed lunch box from the fridge, already packed backpack from the kitchen table and keys from the hook on the fridge where they always hang. Put everything on the kitchen table.Grab shoes from usual spot in the laundry room. Throw them under the kitchen table. Slop some peanut butter on carb of choice and wrap in foil. Throw in lunch box.

6:26 am - Go upstairs to make OCD-like kissing rounds of sleeping husband and children. Work from the back of the second floor toward the stairs. Pat dogs simultaneously.

6:28 am - Plop down at kitchen table and mainline as much coffee as possible while putting on socks and shoes. Savor 90 seconds of caffeinated solitude.

6:29:30 - Leave house and head to car.

6:30 - Peel out on schedule.

I feel it only fair to tell you that this is the extended version of my patented plan. It can actually be done in six minutes, although certain niceties may be eliminated. I eat my breakfast either in the car or at work, and, thanks to all the coffee, I actually remember the drive. It's a miracle.

I call it the You've Gotta Be Efficient To Be Lazy plan. Franchises are available.


Tuesday, January 8, 2008

they're breeding...

Just another weekend in the ER...

Female patient giving her chief complaint to the triage nurse - "I was in here yesterday because I wanted you to fix my hangover but the wait was too long and I got bored. So I went out into the parking lot and slept with some guy I met in the waiting room and the rat bastard stole my Vicodin right after. Can you give me a refill?"

Trashy looking mother of a toddler with bronchitis to RN - "Well, no I didn't get her antibiotic prescription filled. I didn't have the money. Yeah, I know it's on the $4 plan at Wal-Mart. But I was out of cigarettes. I get mean when I don't have my smokes. She deserves a mother who isn't mean, don't you think?"

Woman with metal barbells about two inches long and maybe a quarter of an inch around stuck through each of her nipple piercings to her RN (as the RN removed a piece of tape from her arm) - "Oh, my god, stop. You're killing me, bitch. I've never felt pain like that in my life." (Delivered in a loud enough scream that both an aide and a doc stuck their head in the door to see who was murdering who. They both later volunteered to help me).

And here's a final thought - If, on your way out the door post-discharge, you happen to turn around and notice your doctor and your nurse high-fiving each other and clinking coke cups together joyously...yes, it is because you're leaving.

Honest. I'm a nurse. I'd never lie to you.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Fun Monday # 10

Lisa at Lisa's Chaos is hosting Fun Monday this week and she wants to meet our pets. To do this I'm going to recycle and combine two posts from when I first started my blog last Spring. I'd like you to meet my four legged children. They all came already named from the animal shelter. The nicknames, unfortunately, are all ours.

First is Trixie, also known as Trixie Belle, Bella, Trix, girly girl, golden eyed girl, Bella Boo, Your Majesty and Whiny (rhymes with stich). Mostly, we call her The Diva, because she is. We brought Trixie home in August 2000 and she’s pretty much ruled things since. Even though she’s the smallest of the three dogs, she’s definitely the alpha dog. She and the Film Geek have each other wrapped around the others fingers. Paws? I’d be jealous if she didn’t have to pee in the yard. My family always had dogs when I was growing up, but my husband thought he was allergic as a kid. He says it still amazes him how much he loves having dogs and it’s all because of her.

Trixie’s specialty is whining to go out. For some reason she thinks if I’m not the one to let her out it doesn’t count. She will walk past three people sitting right by the back door to come find me; through the dining room, through the living room, up the stairs, through the library and into my bedroom, where I’m happily dreaming of Hugh Grant. She’ll get right in my face and whine pitifully. I’ll climb out of bed and retrace her path backwards, saying bad words all the way. When I come to the people sitting right by the door I’ll say really bad words. It’s a game she never tires of, and my bad word vocabulary continues to grow. Forgive me, Hugh.

Next is Isaiah, full name Isaiah Elvis Beans, AKA Izzy, Beans, the Sparkplug, StarButt and The Most Perfect Dog in the World. Guess who he has wrapped around his paw? That would indeed be me. This is the sweetest, gentlest dog you will ever meet, although he can be pretty fierce and protective when he needs to be. He was abandoned and abused as a puppy, and he just oozes gratitude for the life he’s fallen into.

We adopted him in February 2002, because we saw a Humane Society ad with his picture and he looked just like Trixie. I secretly went to the pound out of curiosity and this little butterball of a dog climbed straight into my lap. That was all, folks. I had the paperwork in process before I even went home. If you think I didn’t have a lot of explaining to do to my husband, think again. He had no idea we were in the market for a second dog. In real life he doesn’t look a thing like Trixie. It must be fate.

My precious boy’s only drawback is that he is severely intestinally challenged. He has been known to clear an entire room in one fell swoop. If you ever see any of my kids jump up and run out of a room for apparently no reason, take my advice and follow them, for your own sake. One time when we had people over he ate an entire serving bowl of seven layer bean dip and we had to move the party outside. Even the other dogs were disgusted. Do you know how hard it is to disgust a lab?

Last is DeeDee, also known as Dumb Dog, Needy DeeDee, Destructive Dog, the Escape Artist, psycho (rhymes with stich) and the Walrus. She is our newest addition, adopted in March 2005. She is obviously the Film Geek’s payback for Isaiah.

Listen to what happened. We went to the shelter to drop off our recycling and the kids wanted to go in and look. We said why not? Mistake number one. Then we see this skinny black lab, with, in my husband’s immortal words “the flattest ears I’ve ever seen." The what? He said we should read her information card on her kennel. I said why not? Mistake number two. Well, the dog and her brother had been brought in together by a family that was unable to keep them anymore. On her info card, under Special Skills, it said she was trained to a cow bell. A what? It was a toss up by that point who was looking at me more imploringly, the dog or the husband.

Fast forward…we brought her home. I kind of owed him one. Mistake number three? Well, the kids adore her and she’s fabulous with them. She's the most territorial and protective dog we have. And she really doesn't have a cranky bone in her body - she's very sweet. Having fed her for two years, however, I have a better understanding of why her first family couldn’t keep her. She has some serious abandonment issues, as in she never stops eating. She’s enormous. I’ll bet she weighs twice what she did when we brought her home. And her ears aren't even remotely flat anymore. Hmm.

All doggy positions in our household are now filled. No further applications are being accepted.