Sunday, August 31, 2008

a mathemathical equation

(1 ) still sleeping after an all night gaming tourney brother, who had somehow made his way into his mother's bed


(1 ) wide awake younger brother with a grudge from the previous night and a brand new baritone at point blank range


(2) people jumping out of bed in a panic and no need for any further caffeine.

And a possibly permanent hearing loss to boot.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

sleepover central

All three of my boys are having sleepovers tonight. Sasquatch is somewhere else and the other two (and their friends) are here. I have to confess that I'm really ungodly tired of sleepovers. They're like a twelve hour long fight/bitch session/"I'm telling"/"why is my friend hanging out with him?"/"he knows I hate that game"/blah/ blah/ blah.

Somehow the message has been planted that a weekend without some sort of a sleepover isn't much of a weekend. (Something tells me that if I showed up with my own "sleepover friend", my kids wouldn't think it was necessary in the least. But I digress).

Gumby's friend is one who has been here many times and we all know well. Surfer Dude's friend, on the other hand, isn't. They've been in class together for a year, but haven't really socialized much before now. I couldn't pick the parents out of a line-up, and if they know me I'm not aware of it. And yet they let him come over and spend the night without any kind of parental connection being made. I kept waiting for them to call and give me the third degree - which I most certainly would have done, just as soon as I finished calling all the other parents I knew for references.

But no. When I got home from work they had all just gotten here. When I picked up my phone messages, there was a message from the new kid's mom saying that he had been supposed to call her when he got here and she wasn't even sure she had the right number. I called her back and said he was here, and was she sure she was okay with this and did she want to talk to him? And she just said oh, no, that's fine...and hung up.

Am I hopelessly anal retentive, or is this just not right?

Friday, August 29, 2008

worry blogs follow up

So Gumby had his blood drawn and we'll get the results on Tuesday. Coincidentally, he's felt great all day, with not a single complaint of stomach pain. He was a real trooper at the lab, although it was not without its drama. He and I had gone over the process in detail on the drive in, and he seemed relatively calm. But when we got there, the patient before us was an autistic teenage girl who screamed and howled and wept during her draw. It was awful to listen to, and Gumby leaned toward me with a wry smile to say, "Wow, Mom. This is encouraging." The lab tech and I both told him that that had been a pretty extreme reaction, but what really made his day was when they were done and she said, "You did really well. Your dad has to lie down every time we take his blood." Lord help his father. I think the kid is going to have a lot of fun with that.

My sweet dog also had his blood drawn and we'll get the results tomorrow. What's wrong with this picture? How can a vet get labs back faster than a family practice doc? Coincidentally, he's also felt great all day, even better after he ate the leftover meat loaf that Surfer Dude packed for him to have as a treat after the vet. He pointedly spit out the "cookie" the vet gave him, but he snarfed up the meatloaf with no hesitation.

The bottom line is that he'll be having surgery next Friday. She's just not sure what it is, and we went over the whole needle biopsy vs. just getting the SOB out choice and I went for the surgery. She took xrays and whatever it is is not involving the bone at all and it seems to be encapsulated. (It's on the joint on his front paw that would correspond with our wrist). She thinks it's very encouraging that it's not in the bone, but she still can't say with any certainty what it is (or isn't).'s gotta go. There will be a lot of ramen noodles eaten in my house this month.

And now...we wait....


Thursday, August 28, 2008

worry blogs

Anyone who has been reading this blog for any length of time knows that I'm a worrier. World class, even. My grandmother, who had no room to talk, said that I was so bad that I'd worry even when there was nothing obvious to worry about, in the fleeting chance that I was missing something. I'd like to think that as I've gotten older, I've gotten better, but it's something I fight daily. It's a hell of a way to live, and I try as hard as I can to not let it get me down.

But today it's kind of getting to me. And rather than go to sleep and toss and turn, I thought I'd use this post as a kind of world wide web worry beads. You know, take each piece out, examine it...and hopefully let it rest. At least until there's something concrete to worry about.

Bead One: Gumby has been complaining about his stomach for weeks. As much as I honestly chalk it up to anxiety, I took him into the doctors today for a check-up. He, of course, ordered lab work to be done Thursday, in addition to trying him on a med to see if it helps. For someone who personally draws labs all day long, you'd think I wouldn't be so freaked out about this, but when it's my kids I just can't hang. I'm always amazed at people who stay calm and collected when something is going on with their kids, because, let me tell you...that's not me. Well, to their face I'm calm, but I'm like a big bowl of mush inside.

And because of the Labor Day holiday and the fact that this doctor has to send all of his labs out, it will be Tuesday before we get the results. If I was at work I'd have the results on my computer screen fifteen minutes after I drew the blood. I don't like it much when people come in because they're too impatient to wait to see their own primary doctor...but I sure do understand it.

Bead Two: Ninety minutes after I take Gumby for the blood test (across town), I have to be back in almost exactly the same spot to take Isaiah (The most perfect dog in the universe) to the vet to have the lump on his foot looked at. I had my hair cut even more today and when I was there my friend the hairdresser was telling me that her dog was just diagnosed with a seemingly harmless lump on his head, and it turned out to be cancer and there's nothing they can do. Our vet, who is normally scrupulously on top of things, has her own hands full with a pregnancy that went horribly wrong last month. Her twins died shortly after they were born, and she is understandably distracted. I love this woman, but I honestly think she should take a little time for herself, a little time to not have to be "on". So I'm worried both that something is wrong and also that if there is it might be missed. No matter what they tell me tomorrow - I'm going to worry.

Bead Three: I'm finally (for the first time since the separation) starting to worry about money. It's not that I'm short - yet - it's just that I feel like an ATM lately. One kid playing violin. Ka-ching. One kid playing baritone. Ka-ching. One kid taking photography. Ka-ching. Drama classes, soccer, choir, bus passes, lunch cards, fixing broken windows, heartguard for the dogs, a toilet that has water running constantly, the prospect of a cold (and expensive winter), the fear of large vet bills, and so on and so on. I'm being so careful about spending - and so quick to pick up overtime - that I should be okay. The child support payment is always on time - and a nice sum (soon to go up when the divorce is actually final). My ex is always willing to split kid fees, even on top of the child support. But still...

Bead Four: Closely related to Bead One. Sasquatch was about the same age as Gumby when he had a very bad year in terms of anxiety, misdiagnosed Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and just generalized psychological angst. I dragged the kid from one psychiatrist to another for a full year, and it was truly awful. I almost had to drop out of nursing school with eight weeks left to go. It was that bad. At the same age I had the same kind of OCD-like behavior - and it was really bad for about a year. I worry so much about Gumby along this same vein. He's just started Junior High, he is the closest of the three kids to his dad, his hormones are kicking in, he's starting to do little tiny OCD things...and he plays his cards very close to his chest. I don't want him to have to go through this. I know it's out of my hands, but I don't have to like it.

Okay. That feels a little better. I'm glad I got that out. I need to not borrow trouble and just wait and see what tomorrow brings. Maybe it will be good things instead of the awful things running through my head.

Maybe I will sleep tonight after all.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

bachelor #2

The thirty-something heavily tattooed man with a world-class mullet who got third degree burns on his fingers in his own backyard meth lab.

The forty-something man who was brought in completely naked, with a blood alcohol level five times the legal limit -three times in one week. Two of those times he was so intoxicated that he had to be put on a vent because he couldn't seem to breathe on his own.

The fifty-something man who has not (by choice) gotten out of bed in a year, but is content to lie there while his (disabled) sister takes care of his every need. When he snapped his fingers at me to clean up the mess he had just made in the bed, he didn't care much for my response. His sister, he explained, thought it was a privilege just to take care of him.

I've had a string of paramedic students this summer. The poor souls get to follow me around and learn how to do everything the wrong way. One guy has been with me a whole bunch of times, and has sort of followed along vicariously as my summer of upheaval has unfolded. He started out meek and trying to fade into the woodwork, but then, guided by the other reprobates I work with, he started to get a little mouthy. That was fine. I like 'em mouthy.

Until we were dealing with patient number two - the frequently intubated one with the Guinness Book of World Records blood alcohol level. My student looked at me evilly and said,

"Quit your bitchin'. You're better off than most single women. At least you get to meet a lot of eligible men at work. "

Tuesday, August 26, 2008


Plus: Surfer Dude has decided which instrument to play in Sixth Grade Band/Orchestra and he's done it in enough time to take advantage of the District's instrument rental policy, so we don't have to buy it on a moment's notice. Bonus Plus: His dad very nicely took him to take care of all of this when SD called and said "oh by the way, the rentals start in five minutes" and I was at work.

Minus: He switched his instrument from a clarinet to a baritone at the last minute, which means that if he likes it we have to buy a baritone next year at a much higher cost than a clarinet. Not to mention the fact that I get to listen to a baritone all year.

Plus: I had a casserole in the fridge that I pulled out of the freezer for dinner tonight, so when I rolled in the door dinner could be on the table in minutes.

Minus: Surfer Dude forgot to put it in to cook. Or, to describe it accurately, when I walked in he was curled up on the sofa watching tv and said "do you forgive me?" and I said "for what?" and then he fessed up. We ate dinner at 9:15.

Plus: We ate dinner at 9:15.

Minus: I'll be having bean and chipotle dreams tonight.

Plus: The boys promised me this morning that they'd unload and reload the dishwasher.

Minus: That promise went the way of the casserole.

Plus: I've finally made the move to the early shift at work that I wanted.

Minus: Today I have two parent conferences at two different schools and a soccer practice...all at the exact same time I'm getting off work.

Plus: I think the mice are finally out of the laundry room.

Minus: I think they're in the kitchen.

Plus: We have very understanding Unit Secretaries at work.

Minus: It's a good thing. I got sixteen phone calls today.

Plus: My sweet dog is curled up at my feet snoring away.

Minus: He has a big lump on his foot that we just noticed and I'm scared to death it's something serious.

Plus: I'm going to sleep in my fabulous new room.

Minus: I have to do it all again tomorrow.

Monday, August 25, 2008

girly girl?

I'm sitting on my bed and looking very happily around my brand new bedroom. And it only took me all weekend to get it this way.

My walls - sit down if you're a color conservative. Put your head between your knees just in case - are mostly bubblegum pink and one is Granny Smith green. All of the trim, baseboards and crown molding are glossy white. I've rearranged all of my furniture and went "shopping" in other parts of the house. My bed is in a totally different place, I've brought a great old wooden trunk upstairs, added some plants and changed out my bedside tables. When I say it's girly in here, I mean it with all my heart. It feels like a completely new room. And that's a good thing.

All it's going to take is a Shabby Chic type white/pink/green quilt and some curtains over the mini-blinds. I'm thinking sheers, maybe a combo of green and white. I also want to get a little entertainment center to put all of the electronic stuff in. Speaking of Shabby Chic, I have a whole bunch of wonderful vintage decoupage paper that I'm trying to figure out how to use in here. It's all feminine with a capital F. Then, of course, I have to put things on the walls. But that 's the fun part.

This room wouldn't be everyone's cup of tea, but it suits me perfectly right now. It turned out exactly the way I wanted it to. (And out of character? You betcha). It's my bedroom. Mine, mine, mine.

And I absolutely love it.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

this worked out well...

Thanks to everyone for the responses to the last post. I even got up early before work to read them and see which way the comment wind was blowing. As I headed out the door I was leaning toward working one day and taking one day for me. I wasn't, however, happy about it. The logical day to work would be Saturday, but the kids will be home Sunday afternoon - so painting would not happen. And in all actuality, I'd spend Sunday morning going grocery shopping and doing other necessary, but not too exciting, chores. I was leaning toward working one day, but I was still on the fence.

As the work day wore on, though, the most amazing and wonderful thing happened. Other people stepped up to the plate and started picking up shifts. I had told myself if anything was still open when I left I'd consider it. And nothing was. I did stay late tonight to help out, which both eases my conscience and puts a little extra cash in my pocket. End result? Clear conscience and two gorgeous days off.

Let the weekend begin.

Friday, August 22, 2008

heads or tails?

This weekend is potentially going to be a landmark of sorts. It will be the first time the boys (the two younger ones anyway) will be spending the weekend at their dad's - and I will have two days off of work. Always before, I've arranged my work schedule so that when they were gone I'd be at work. It just seemed easier all around. Sasquatch will be in and out all weekend, and I'm sure I'll have sleeping over teenagers, but for some reason that's different. He's so self-sufficient (when he chooses to be) and even with a house full of his friends I can still do whatever it is that I want to do.

And there's the million dollar question. What will I do this weekend? The forty eight hours or so in front of me are frighteningly quiet, but dizzily alluring at the same time. What will I do this weekend?

I had thought about painting my bedroom some super girly color. My buddy Laurie and I had planned a painting day, complete with that most crucial of ingredients - a cold bottle of wine. I had also thought about trying to spend the weekend writing, which has a lot of appeal. Or I could sleep until noon and get take-out sushi for dinner. Or eat mint chip ice cream for breakfast. Or never get off of my sofa and watch Chick Flicks all weekend. (At least until the teenagers arrive in front of the XBox and I have to retreat to my bedroom). I could go to the gym and sit in the sauna, which I adore. The possibilities are endless. What will I do this weekend?

Then a while ago I opened a group work email and there was a very polite and understated plea for people to volunteer to pick up shifts this weekend, since we're very understaffed at the moment. Of course there are several day shifts open on Saturday and Sunday, so I've been wrestling with my conscience for the last hour or so. Should I go to work one day this weekend and pick up about twelve hours of overtime pay? Or two days and shoot for twenty four hours of premium pay? Or stick to my guns and have a weekend for me?

What should I do?

Thursday, August 21, 2008


I plopped down on my bed, picked up my laptop, and got ready to pull a post out of my, uh, behind. This whole work twelve hours and then try to be creative thing has got to go. It just doesn't work so well, as much as I might want to think it does. My blogger dashboard had barely flickered on the screen when Gumby crawled in next to me and said,

"Can we snuggle?"

Well duh. Of course we can. My precious middlest kid, the boy who has had his finger on my heart since the day he was born, the one spot of calm in my existence...snuggle away. Name your time...I'll be there.

He laid down and I curled up around him. My mind was racing, as usual. What to post? Should I take those extra hours at work tomorrow? Did the dogs need to go outside? Is the bathroom floor sinking even more than usual? Have I gotten all the mice? Why am I not getting to the gym? Can you let out underwear? And so on and so on and so on....

It's never ending.

But then I thought about something I'm trying to work on. Mindfulness. Making sure that you appreciate and savor every moment of your life. Being in the "now" instead of the past or the later. Appreciating what you have and making the effort to wring every drop of joy out of the smallest things.

And so I did. I curled up against his back and held him for all I was worth. I spooned my own kid. He rested his head on my shoulder and I brushed his hair off of his face. I focused totally on the moment. The rise and fall of his chest. The fine dew of sweat on his lip. The sweet feeling of his face on my arm. The way his body, drunk with sleep, grew heavier and heavier against me, reminiscent of when he was a baby and would nurse until he would fall back in glutted delight. I held my boy, the one who has such a difficult position in the family - the middle - and thought once again of how much I absolutely adore this particular child. My middlest, my peacemaker. I remember clearly when he was born, and I held him and I said

You may not always have the biggest house on the block, or the biggest car, but we're going to give you the best life ever. It's all going to be okay. You're going to have a good life. Because we love you silly.

I spend a lot of time running in mental circles. My brain never seems to shut down, even when it clearly should. But as I lay there - in the moment - kissing my sleeping child, I was really grateful for...

the now.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

postus interruptus

Man, the first week of school is tough. I had the day "off", so to speak, but it sure didn't feel like it. I played all kinds of catch-up, went to my second parent's meeting at school, and just now, at midnight, have rolled in the door from Bunco. (And without a speck of the traditional Bunco buzz, I might add).

So this is my post for tonight. Sorry it sucks, but that alarm clock is going to ring really early tomorrow morning.

I don't really have to get up in five hours, do I?

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


I went to my first really big gathering post-split last night, and man, was it weird. Not the gathering itself. That was not weird in the slightest, in fact it was perfectly lovely. It was everything else that was weird.

I've never been one for big parties anyway. This may be very hard to believe, but I'm really, really shy. I feel totally awkward surrounded by a bunch of people I don't know, no matter how nice and friendly they are. And the fact that there were also a ton of people I knew didn't help much. If anything it almost made it harder, because I'm not entirely sure of my place anymore. I'm not married, although not technically divorced. (Soon. Very soon). I'm not even remotely in the market for a guy, but am suddenly ill at ease talking to men - something that has always come very easily for me. I'm aware that I can come across as a little flirty, which has always been a perfectly safe thing in the past. But not anymore. Have to keep an eye on that. Someone might take it the wrong way and think I actually mean something by it. God forbid.

Even the way I look makes it worse. Yeah, I've amped up the hair. Yeah, I've bought some really cute new clothes. Yeah, I'm actually putting on make-up most days when I go out of the house. (Believe me when I tell you that Vogue will not be calling anytime soon in spite of all of the above). But I'm doing it for me - kind of a little pick me up. I don't actually want anyone to notice. That would mess with my preference for flying under the radar. Well, people did notice. And they were pretty sweet about it. But that made me worry more. Am I trying too hard? Do I look...desperate...or something? Like I'm trying to prove that I'm not damaged goods? I feel awfully comfortable in my own skin most of the time, but it's been tricky lately. When I'm in big crowds of people it's even worse, and I just feel like a wallflower.

But if I wanted to totally fly under the radar, the whole wallflower thing would be perfect. I could fade into the background. I'd walk around schlumpy like I've always done and life would be good. Kind of. But by making an effort to not look like ass most of the time, it's kind of putting me out there in a way I'm not used to. It's very un-wallflower like. So? Which one is it?

Or in short...what the hell am I doing here, people?

Monday, August 18, 2008

the pain of discipline...

I'm making a little collage and I need some help. Anyone interested?

Let me back up a bit and explain what I'm doing. I promised myself I'd do a lot of things when school started back up and the Great RC Dust Storm of 2008 began settling. I would go to the gym. (Yeah, right). I would start in on home projects. (See previous editorial comment - then double it). I had high hopes that something productive could actually happen in those areas. But I'm willing to put those things on the back burner for the moment, because the project I really want to happen more than anything else is for me to try writing this book that I feel I have burning at me. I've spent the summer pondering the universe and filling countless pages with notes and ideas. Now it's time to put my money where my mouth is.

And for the most part I think I'm ready. I wasn't ready earlier. I found that it was really hard to write about something as I was living it. I needed a little distance and a little clarity. I'm on that road now, and have been for a while. It's time. However, I need a little kick in the pants. And that's where the collage comes in. I want to make a kind of motivational visual that I can put where I normally write, just to help keep me on track. And keep me going when I want to stop or I feel overwhelmed. And to remind me of how very much I want this.

I have a few things in mind already. I've saved a tattered LA Times clipping of Brandi Chastain from the 1999 Women's World Cup for years. (This picture also reminds me that we could have gone to this game and didn't, but that's a whole other story). I also have a clipping of Kim Basinger when she won her Oscar, and she's looking at Alec Baldwin backstage with this absolutely indescribable expression on her face that almost moves me to tears. And I don't even like Alec Baldwin. (Neither does she, come to think of it). And, of course, I have some quotes.

The pain of discipline is far less than the pain of regret.

The best way to predict the future is to invent it.

And, of course, my mantra at the moment from Nora Ephron's Heartburn:

Vera said: "Why do you feel you have to turn everything into a story?"

So I told her why:

Because if I tell the story, I control the version.

Because if I tell the story, I can make you laugh, and I would rather have you laugh at me than feel sorry for me.

Because if I tell the story, it doesn't hurt as much.

Because if I tell the story, I can get on with it.

I'm ready to get on with it. And if you have an idea for my motivational board I'd really like to hear it.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Saturday night for singles

I had high hopes of actually sitting down and writing something interesting tonight, but I don't see it happening. My brand new Netflix account is finally straightened out and I have a pile of movies to watch. My mom sent me home from LA with a bunch of great yarn and there's a big container of Mint Chip ice cream in the freezer. And I'm off work tomorrow, so I can even sleep in if I stay up too late.

I think my evening is spoken for.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

why animals eat their young

Dear sixteen year old son,

In some ways I feel like I need to apologize to you, since in the game of genetics roulette you got the short end of the stick in terms of nasty personality traits. You have my temper, your father's inability to ever hear a sentence in the way it was actually spoken, and my father's supreme conviction that you're always right and everyone else is always wrong. Your maternal grandfather, as you've heard me say, was the only human being ever to die without once having been wrong about anything. At least that's the impression I always got. Your listening skills leave so much to be desired that I don't even know where to start, and the fact that you come by them honestly is wearing very thin as an excuse. And the fact that, when called on any of this, you automatically deflect all responsibility and then lash out with my galling. Not even Campbells could market this genetic soup.

To be fair and accurate, you also got some of our best traits, too. You're funny, you're a great conversationalist, you're passionate about the things you love, you're loyal, you speak and write well, you're smart, compassionate and a sometimes all around good guy. Except to me. (And your dad, but that's a whole other story). I don't see a lot of the good things lately. I mostly see Paragraph One Sasquatch. And it's getting really old.

I understand that you're sixteen and you're supposed to prickly. I understand that you've had some significant life changes this year. I understand that you're conflicted about the level of your dependence on me. I get it. I really do. But the fact that I get it doesn't mean that I'm willing to put up with the way you speak to me, doesn't mean I'm going to let you treat me the way you have been. I've had more than enough.

Last night you messed up the computer. You came home from school and sat on the computer for hours before I got home from work. I came home, put dinner on the table, caught up on everyone's day, patted the dogs, washed my face...and got on my laptop. Five minutes later the wireless went out. I could hear you in the next room muttering under your breath and then you got up and stomped upstairs saying the computer was overheated and that we should all stay off of it. I asked about the wireless and you said IT'S OKAY MOM. IT JUST NEEDS TO COOL OFF. DON'T WORRY ABOUT IT...OKAY???? in a really crappy tone of voice. And then your bedroom door slammed.

Hours later, when the computer was still out, I knocked on that same door to ask if you had any ideas of what we could do. I wanted to post on my blog. I needed to pay the mortgage. It was a simple question. And you went off on me. Screaming and yelling, dodging and deflecting, accusing me of anything and everything you could think of that would wound and sting. I can't describe the way you do this to anyone who hasn't had the bad luck to witness it. You turn everything around. You twist facts around until they are unrecognizable. Last night you told me that I'm incapable of communicating with anyone. Your favorite thing to say is that I always attack you. Nothing is ever your fault. And very often you contradict yourself so many times that if I weren't so infuriated I would be tempted to laugh...but I don't. There isn't so much about these episodes that strikes me as funny.

As always, you're amazed after the fact that I might still be upset. Shocked that I could be angry. Blithe in the way you chalk it up to my "ridiculous attitude" or my "insane need to always be right". Happy to go along with your day as long as you feel that I'll "get over it" and give you another chance. Because I always have. And I always do. And you're very used to that and use it to your advantage every chance you get.

But it may surprise you, my self-absorbed son, that other people in this house have had a rough year, too. And other people in this house are tired of being taken so much for granted. And that you don't abuse those you purport to love. And that good will doesn't grow on trees. And that you need my support and good will far more than you realize.

And it may surprise you to know that you're about to find out just how much you need that good will from me. Because - as of now - it's gone.

Did I communicate that clearly enough for you?

Thursday, August 14, 2008

walk of life

We had a paramedic call the other day that really got everyone's blood pressure up. It was a Code Blue - someone down in the field, bystanders frantically doing CPR until the ambulance got there. And that was all we knew. We didn't know where they were or how old or what gender or anything. We didn't know if it was cardiac or an accident or a fall or what. We all did a mental inventory of kids and relatives and friends that were scattered all around town and paced around the radio nervously until more details came in. I feel physically sick at times like this. I instinctively pick up the phone to check on my nearest and dearest, and hope to hell they pick up. We all do it. Until the patient actually arrives and you see a worry.

This is something that I never had to deal with at the Big City Trauma Center, since no one I knew was ever likely to be brought in by the medics there. Of course, if they'd had to have been flown in, I would have had much bigger problems, but that forty mile distance was a nice buffer for my nerves. There is no buffer where I am now. This is not a small town, but at times it feels an awful lot like one. There are days that seem like a non-stop six degrees of separation situation, and that can be really hard.

The coding patient came in in full arrest and died after a balls to the wall effort on everyone's part. The family members huddled together in shock in another room as we all chipped in, helping the primary nurse make him presentable so they could see him. I clicked an ID bracelet onto a lifeless arm, and headed back to my patients. There was nothing left to do.

A little while later I was walking a little old lady around the unit to assess her status before we discharged her. She'd been there for several hours and there had been a constant stream of visitors into her room. She and I made small talk and then she said,

"I think my neighbor was in here today. My husband said our whole street was full of ambulances and fire trucks."

She mentioned his name. He was our Code Blue.

"Is he still here?" she asked. "Do you know why he came in?"

Cursing my good buddy HIPAA yet again, I was trying to think of what to say. And as we turned the corner and walked by the curtained room where his body laid, she looked at me anxiously and said,

"Oh, I hope to god he's gone home."

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

the phone call

Round One:

The phone rang at 10:45 this morning and one of the kids grabbed it downstairs. A minute later Surfer Dude came up to tell me that someone from work had called and I needed to call them back. So I did. And this is what I heard:

Co-worker: "Wow. It must be nice to sleep until almost 11 in the morning."

RC: "I wasn't asleep. What makes you think I was asleep?"

CW: "Well, that's what your son said. He said you couldn't come to the phone because you were still sleeping."

RC: "I was not sleeping. I was upstairs and they were downstairs and they were too lazy to come up and hand me the phone. I was wide awake."

CW: " Sure you were."

Round Two:

A few hours later, I had just gotten out of the shower and was standing in my bedroom drying off when the phone rang. Gumby came running upstairs and thrust the phone in my wet, Neutragena body oil covered hand.

Gumby (immediately before handing over the phone): "Here she is, Stacey."

RC (hair dripping and greased up phone sliding): "Hi, Stace."

Round Three:

Me, standing in the kitchen and talking to Stacey again later in the day. Enter Sasquatch who says (completely out of left field):

"Oh, by the way My Two Cents (aka Susan, my dear friend in California) called and wanted you to call her back."

RC: "She did? Today?"

SQ: "No. It was a couple of days ago. I just remembered."

And as the sound of Stacey's laughter streamed out of the phone, all I could think was:

"Oh, my god. These are the kids I'm sending out into the world?"

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

school of shock

As I've run from one store to the other today, I've had a lot of time to think about one indisputable fact.

Back to school shopping is not what it used to be.

I remember going shopping as a kid and buying a few clothes, some notebooks and a new lunch box. Anal even then, I would spend the next few days arranging my binder just so, and trying on outfit after outfit to decide what to wear the first day. (I even remember my very favorite back to school piece of clothing ever. It was a pair of blue and white checked ultra wide leg hip hugging bell bottoms. With my Roseanne Rosannadanna hair and braces with rubber bands, I was no Marcia Brady. I wasn't even Jan. In truth, I looked more like Mr. Brady after he got that really bad perm).

What did we buy today? Well, we did buy notebooks and paper and pencils and pens. We bought clothes. We also bought flash drives and cell phones and rewritable discs and some other piece of computer thingie that Sasquatch convinced me he needed and then realized as soon as we got home that he had bought the wrong (size? speed? format? Who knows? Who cares?)

The cell phones are a story all on their own. Gumby and Surfer Dude will need cell phones this year since they will be a little more independent. I've learned my lesson with Verizon and just went to Target to buy the Virgin Mobile pay as you go phones. Simple enough to buy. Can't say the same for setting them up. It took me five minutes just to get the packaging off. Their phones are more for me than them, honestly. If I'm at work and they're out and about I want to know the who, what, when, where and why of it.

After we bought theirs, we went to Verizon to activate Sasquatch's third phone in recent months. The last one (thank you again, Amy, and I'm so sorry) is buried somewhere in the sand at Zuma, never to be found again. (How did he explain this to his father? "We lost it". We who??) I have to hand it to Verizon. That's quite a racket they've got going there. If you don't buy the replacement insurance within fifteen days of your new contract (stupid, stupid, stupid me), you have to buy a new phone if you lose or destroy yours. They hold you to your contract whether you have a physical phone or not. So you can have nice fellow bloggers send you old ones out of the goodness of their hearts, or - this time - your mother can take pity on the kid (hers, not mine) and upgrade her own plan even though she doesn't need to. Total cost to her - $50. Total cost to me to switch his plan over to her phone - $20. Total cost to Sasquatch? Too horrible to even blog about.

After my credit card had been extinguished and all the electronics had been safely put into backpacks (still good from last year, thank god), I felt an overwhelming need to return Back to School shopping to the way it used to be.

You should see my new hobo bag purse. It would look right at home on Marsha Brady.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Caution: Cuss Zone Ahead

I had been taking care of my patient for six hours before I finally snapped.

The patient - an inebriated, heavily tattooed skinhead with an inordinate fondness for the F word and tattoos signifying people he had murdered while in prison - had called me a bitch one time too many. My crime? Splinting his broken bone, helping with sutures, giving him pain meds, making sure he didn't bolt out with a possibly broken know - the usual. I've been called a bitch for less, but I was out of the mood and I told him so pretty bluntly. I may have even shouted. I don't remember. I was pissed.

His behavior changed immediately and he apologized for his previous actions. Over and over again he told me how sorry he was that he had treated me the way he had. Then he started calling me Baby Girl every time he talked to me. Baby Girl. WTF?

I mentioned my change in status to the doctor who was taking care of him with me.

"He's calling you Baby Girl?" he asked.

"Sure is," I said.

"Damn," he drawled, "Kinda makes you miss being called Bitch, doesn't it?"

Saturday, August 9, 2008

last time I don't blog for two weeks

Hello? Hello?

Is there anybody out there?

Or is my (well-deserved) reputation as the phantom commenter coming back to haunt me?

Uh oh.

Friday, August 8, 2008

delusions of control

All through the craziness that has been this past Spring, all through the fly by the seat of our pants months of June and July, I have kept repeating one thing to myself.

If we can make it through the summer and get to the beginning of the school year, we can create a workable routine that everyone can live with. And life will be good. Repeat after me. Life. Will. Be. Good.

This summer has been one non-stop juggling act. Meshing the work and travel schedules of two people who no longer live in the same house but still share three children has been intricate, to say the least. And as long as I live, no matter what else I remember about this period of time, I will always think of this as The Summer I Gave Up Control. Kicking and screaming the whole way, to be sure, but I still did it. I've spent very little time in my comfort zone the last two months, and even though I'm quite aware that my comfort zone is a little on the overprotective side, it still has not been a walk in the park.

I've had to loosen the reins and give the kids more freedom than I ever have. Hanging out with their friends downtown, going to movies without adults, staying home on their own while I've worked - the list goes on. Gumby's best friend came to town from Austin, Texas, where his family moved last Fall, and Gumby was invited to spend six days with his friend and his family. The plan was for the boys to spend as much time together as possible and get taken virtually everywhere fabulous in the area by doting family members. There was no way in the world I could (or would) say no, but the idea of him being gone for six days made my stomach kind of clench up. I told myself to suck it up and let the kids have some fun. And they did. And I survived. But it was a first - and a testament to my level of trust in the friend's family that I didn't end up institutionalized somewhere. (In a related note, while unpacking from our trip I found the thank you cards we had written to send for this lovely six days. Apparently, I'd taken them all the way to LA and still forgotten to mail them. Maybe they'll be amused? Anyone?)

Anyway, my point is control. And getting through the summer unscathed so we can get our lives back into a routine. It's going to be a different routine, but I'm betting we can still make it a familiar and comfortable one. There is no routine to our summers. And I'm really tired of it. The thrill has worn off.

So with less than a week before school starts, how is my optimistic plan looking?

Surfer Dude has an infection in both ears that I'm pretty sure he got body surfing at Zuma Beach.

Sasquatch is busily trying to eke the last drops of sloth and fun from his summer - and is plenty surly in the process.

Gumby, who I fear is the hardest hit from the divorce in addition to starting Junior High next week, has developed what I'm pretty sure are anxiety related eating issues. I think the kid is simply stressed, but my anorexic past is going to force us to take more serious action than just sitting him down and discussing it.

And me? How about if I repeat a sound bite from my last two days at work? One of my coworkers, shaking his head sadly at my continuing streak of being a feces magnet, said "Whenever I work with you it's like someone's shaking the branches of the Crazy Tree".

Thanks a lot. It's not like I can control it or anything.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

packing in rewind

For some odd reason, I unpacked pretty soon after we got home Tuesday night. Maybe it was the thought that I was working four out of the next five days. Or that we're in final countdown mode to school starting. Or that I didn't want Dee Dee the wonder dog to rummage through our bags looking for food. Possibly it was the fear that the sight of a suitcase might make me weepy. Whatever my reason - and I'm sure it was an equitable combination of the above - when I woke up yesterday morning things were in their proper place. Or whatever it is that passes for proper around here.

There was a lot of unpacking to do, too. We had a really busy two weeks.

There was the program from the last day of the U.S. Diving Finals - the competition that helped determine the Olympic team. The kids loved it, even though Sasquatch (king of the video game) pronounced it "repetitious". Repetition was not the word on my lips watching the female divers going (headfirst, for the love of god) off of a thirty meter platform. I think that word would be nauseous. The only way you'd catch me jumping off one of those things is if someone accidentally opened a box of King Cobras between me and the ladder. They don't even have ladders, come to think of it. They have circular staircases. With lots of stairs. I get queasy going off the plain old high dive at the public pool, and only do it so my kids can't say I chickened out and hold it over my head until the next summer. But can I tell you that I really don't enjoy it?

There was the bag of Meyer lemons that I personally picked off of the tree in my folk's front yard the day before we left. When I die I want to come back as a Meyer lemon. I love them that much. I just don't like paying for them in Kansas, which is hardly the Citrus Capital of the world. I could have bought a business class ticket to Florida for what I paid for those stupid lemons last year. But now I have a grocery bag full of them to juice and freeze. And you should smell my kitchen in the meantime.

On the subject of Kansas, there was the playbill for Wicked at the Pantages Theater in Hollywood. My mom had wanted so badly to take the kids to a real show in a fabulous theater while we were there, especially now that two of them are so into the whole dramatic process. She pulled it off in a big way and the show was everything we'd hoped for and more. Much, much more. I left the Pantages with a burning desire for a Defy Gravity t-shirt, which was only equaled by my questioning the wisdom of a woman in her forties walking around with that edict scrawled across her cleavage. Or is it just wishful thinking disguised as motivational jargon?

There was the flyer for the Ringling Brother's Circus (home of the $10 snowcone), the trinkets from the Aquarium we've been taking the kids to since they were practically tadpoles themselves, commemorative pairs of chopsticks from our favorite Japanese restaurant in the galaxy, t-shirts from the Griffith Park Observatory where the kids all posed in front of the Hollywood sign like tourists (and simultaneously dodged bees), and that was just the start.

There was still a whole lot of unpacking to do.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

back in oz

So I guess I can go two weeks without blogging. Amazing. I didn't think I had it in me.

Anyway, we're home, as of about three hours ago. We've had a wonderful vacation and are all more than a little depressed that it's over. I've got lots of fun stories to tell, but they're going to have to wait another day. Blogging is a two handed pastime and I seem to have a conflict.

Which dog belly do I scratch first?