Tuesday, September 30, 2008

impulse purchase?

Sorry, this is going to be a quickie. I've actually gotten a lot of writing done today, which has been nice, but here it is almost bedtime and no post. Uh oh.

So let's do a Q&A, okay? If you're in line at the supermarket and you buy a magazine on impulse - which one would it be? Hmm?

(My answer - kind of - is above).

Monday, September 29, 2008

ovaries & testes - you be the judge

Perhaps I'm unique... but I don't think so.

If you tell me that something is sharp, hot, fragile, dangerous, about to fall apart, poisonous, mean, sticky, high voltage, deep, unstable, rabid or feral, I tend to pay attention. And once I've weighed the danger, I then avoid it like the plague. I certainly don't feel the need to touch it, pat it, poke it, chase it or feed it to prove the danger theory wrong.

Perhaps I'm strange... but I don't think so.

When I'm going to get a glass of water, I go to the cabinet and get a glass, which I then fill with water and drink. I do not absent-mindedly open and close the cabinet next to the glasses thirty two times while I pick my favorite glass, which I will then juggle another seventeen times during the slide around the kitchen to the water source. If said glass happens to fall to the floor, I would never think of playing four rounds of kitchen soccer to see if I could make a goal between the island and the kitchen table with the glass. (This would be even more unlikely for me if it really was glass, and not a plastic cup of some sort).

Perhaps I always see the worst case scenario... but I don't think so.

If my mother brought to my attention the fact that the lone surviving power source for her laptop was hanging by a thread, I would listen. And if, per chance, I had been directly (or even indirectly) responsible for the death of those previously lost power sources (that have to be ordered, ironically enough, on-line), I would be especially cautious. And if, to continue this train of thought, there was fairly strong circumstantial evidence that I had the blood of the current power source on my very own hot little hands, I would steer way clear. I would certainly not stand on, jump over, play with or tug on the cord. I especially wouldn't, in a fit of forgetfulness, do any or all of those things repeatedly for such a length of time that my mother threatened to list me on eBay as her final act before the computer died.

Perhaps I don't know what I'm talking about...but I don't think so.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

guarded by sasquatch?

So there I was at the supermarket after work. I needed stuff for kid's lunches on Monday, and since I'd picked up hours today at the last minute, I hadn't done my big weekly shop like I normally do. I'm working Sunday, too, so it was now or never. My bags full of granola bars and sliced turkey and applesauce, I was heading for the exit.

And who did I run into? One of my very favorite recent patients.

And I was in my scrubs.

A block from my house.

On a night when the boys are with their dad.

And I was supposed to be home alone.

I was not a happy camper.

Until Sasquatch called and said that his sleepover had fallen through.

And that he was on his way home.

Whew. I may sleep tonight after all.

Not that I'd ever let him know that.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

the sky is falling - not

Is it me or has it been dark around here this week? One downer post after another, day after day. I don't know how you all stand it. I'm taking pity on everyone and officially declaring today a No Gloom and Doom Day. Today I refuse to make anyone cry. Oh, what the hell. Sunday, too. You've all had a rough week.

I've actually been in a fine mood for the most part, so I can't really say where all of this has come from. My final divorce papers should be in the mail any day now. My newfound Facebook addiction continues. I've taken three hour naps every single day the kids have been in school. I've lost two pounds this week. Isaiah got his stitches out. And I love my digital camera, even if I'm having a little trouble moving the shots from my computer to the blog. I'll get there. Eventually. She said hopefully.

See? Hopeful. Told you so.

Friday, September 26, 2008


I've been slowly digging through a box of papers that the FX unearthed moving out, and I've found some interesting things. Journals from my first tumultuous months in college, a box of things given to me by my first boyfriend, which should be considered sentimental, but for some reason don't move me at all, an entire legal file from when I was working at Paramount and actively embroiled in not one, but two women stalking Michael J. Fox...and this. An essay I wrote in English 101 in college, the assignment being "Pick a defining moment in your life. Explain".

I was fifteen when this happened. I was a Detroit Tigers fanatic, and it was the summer of Mark "The Bird" Fidrych, who I was, of course, in love with. As far as I was concerned, sitting in Tiger Stadium and watching his moves, he could make everything all right. The city of Detroit seemed to agree with me. I was in Michigan to spend the summer with my dad and his family - like I always did. It all started out so well.

It was the summer my baby brother died of sudden infant death syndrome. His name was Mark, too. And here is his story.

** I think at some point I've gone back over this and edited it. I'm pretty sure of it, actually. I'm just not sure when I did it.**

Central air conditioning has a way of turning even the warmest, most secure home into a huge walk-in refrigerator, not only protected from humid, decaying air, but also keeping everything within cool, sterile and isolated. In July, when my brother died, this cocoon effect was at its peak. We all went to sleep in our frigid rooms as usual, fully expecting to wake up to just another ordinary day, bandaging scraped knees, fighting over television shows and playing softball in the back lot. Just another suburban summer day.

I heard the screams even before I woke up, cutting sharply through the chill air, around corners and under doors. Not at my best that early in the morning, I jumped out of bed, more asleep than awake, and started moving blindly toward the sounds. I was half-way to my bedroom door when it opened. My father walked in, carrying my half-brother Mark in his arms. Normally he's a very closed in man, always seeming deathly afraid of ever letting a single emotion break loose. He stood there looking like a child himself, with his rumpled hair and faded underwear, fighting that usually winning battle with himself to stay under control. This time he was losing.

"He's dead," he said, unnecessarily, holding him out as if he might break. I stood there shivering in my four sizes too big T-shirt, rubbing my hands on my arms for warmth, transfixed by what was in my dad's arms. I tore my eyes away and looked up slowly, finally meeting my father's eyes. Almost imperceptibly he held my brother out for me to take. As I stood there desperately trying to think of something- anything - to say, my legs involuntarily moved rather than my mouth and I shrank backwards. I stepped on an air vent, throwing frigid air up my already chilled body. It was morning.

The rest of that day went by in a blur, a fast moving montage of people pounding urgently on that tiny limp body, of useless sirens, numerous phone calls, the indescribable looks on the faces of my dad and step-mother when they returned from the hospital - alone. Then there were the other kids, two boys and a girl, the oldest just barely five. With the adults gone in the ambulance, I was left to provide explanations. From the wisdom of my fifteen years I was supposed to supply all the answers. I'd always heard about the reactions of little children to death, the inevitable "but where did he go?" and "when is he coming back?" and even "well, why couldn't we go too?" But as incapable as I was of handling even those bits of curiosity, I was still less able to understand some of the things they said to each other as we sat there waiting for confirmation of our fears. "Eddie," said my almost four year old sister to my just turned five year old brother, "I bet he died because we yelled at him all the time to stop crying." A sharp exchange followed, almost drowning out Bugs Bunny on the set, and ending with three pair of vulnerable, terrified eyes on me. "Can you die from that?"

Two hours later the living room was filled with well meaning but completely hysterical relatives. I sat on the edge of the fireplace, slightly away from everyone, the kids on either side of me, trying to block out the rising voices and pale faces. As my grandmother went into another round of wailing, I turned my head quickly, to avoid having to watch as well as hear. Simultaneously, all three kids huddled closer. I looked at them carefully, seeing the fear on their faces. I suggested a walk, ostensibly to get them away from the situation, but also, on a much less honorable note,to get me out of the room as well. They jumped at the idea and we slipped unnoticed out of the room.

As we left the cocoon of the house an incredibly humid mid-western wave of heat hit us, bringing us sharply back to the realities outside of our own little world. Some painful realities, such as stepping on flaming hot asphalt with no shoes and feeling the blisters immediately erupt on the soles of my feet. At least they'll go away, I told myself numbly, not able to resist comparing the temporary pain of the heat to the permanent casualty of that cool, closed house.

Thinking back on that day three years later I can still feel those blisters, still see the confused faces all around me, still hear those wrenching shrieks. I'll never forget the funeral, seen through a haze, trying unsuccessfully to fight back both the hysterical laughter and the hot tears. More than anything else I see my father's face, the first and only time I've ever seen him cry. But I can also be grateful that I didn't know at the time just how it would affect me in the future, didn't know that just eighteen months later the same thing would happen - another baby, another sudden death.

We went to bed that night shaken, wondering, following the same routine as before. We all lay in our chilly, still rooms, quilts pulled up to our noses in a futile attempt to get warm, and thought of Mark, lying perfectly still in his best pajamas in his very own cold, still room.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

is it too late to change careers?

Today was one of the most confusing, frustrating, infuriating and heartbreaking days I've ever spent in the ER. Surely, it didn't help that I'm still a little wobbly on my feet, but in the end that didn't make any real difference. This day would have been a cluster no matter what. There's simply no explaining it, no easy way to express the depths of my emotions as the day wore on.

When I was doing my nursing school clinicals at the Big Bad Psych Hospital, there was a woman there who absolutely broke my heart. She was a paranoid schizophrenic who was off her meds because her husband thought pysch meds would make them look bad to their friends and family, and she was having both auditory and visual hallucinations. Her major focal point was her kids - she was terrified for their safety. She was completely convinced that if they left the house, they would be killed by the demons that lived in her yard. I don't remember their exact ages, but her kids were small, and it had been an ongoing struggle to keep them in the house. One day, her toddler snuck out the back door and made a dash for the great outdoors. Panic stricken, thinking only of her beloved child's safety, she raced after him and "killed the demon that was on top of him". You can figure out the rest. When she realized what she had done, there was no more reaching her. She was gone.

The fact that I've gone back years in my memory to pull out that specific story speaks volumes about my day.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

a girl's best friend

My ah-hah moments during this whole divorce process have come at odd times. I never got feelings of independence from the "usual" places. I've always pretty much run the house and dealt with most of the kid stuff. I know which plumber to call when the basement backs up and the due dates of all the monthly bills. None of these things are real stretches in terms of preparing me for the single life. They're already part of my schtick.

No, my feelings of euphoria have come from more offbeat places.

Take the lawn. This may be really hard to believe, but until recently I'd never mowed a lawn in my life. In LA we rented and had landlord provided gardeners. When we moved here and bought our first house, the FX took over the job. There was plenty of griping about the mowing even before we got this house, which is on half an acre. It got really ugly then. From my perception, it was a job that took the better part of a day and always ended up with a bad mood. It was not something I felt like taking over.

But eventually the day came last Summer where I had to pull out the mower and go for it. Sasquatch had to show me how to turn it on and how it worked. He offered to do it for me, but I told him that, this time at least, I had to do it myself. I had to know that I could. And I did. And it wasn't hard at all. I put on my iPod, minded my toes and zoned out.

One down.

The second thing was an upstairs toilet that had been running forever. All it took was a trip to Home Depot and $2.99 plus tax.

That's two.

The feeling of empowerment I got from those two really tiny things was huge. It wasn't about the job itself, it was about the knowledge that I could do something I needed to do all by myself. I'm not talking re-wiring the house or cleaning the chimney. Just nice, basic things that I'd never had to deal with before. It felt really good.

The last thing happened just this past Saturday. A lot of people have noticed that I never post any pictures that I've actually taken. And here's why. We've never had a real digital camera that was "mine" to use. Oh, there were work cameras and old garage sale cameras and so on. If I ever did take a picture, someone had to show me how to get it onto the computer or where the memory card was kept or the USB cable or something equally frustrating. This all became moot in June when all the digital cameras (such as they were) moved out. I have three growing kids. I wanted a camera.

So I went out and bought one. It's an idiot point and shoot, but it has all the parts. I took it out and set it up. I shot some pictures and videos of the kids. And I transferred it onto the computer. All by myself. I realize that this is a skill that 99% of the population has had for years, but I don't care.

For some reason, I feel very self-sufficient.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

a lost day

I feel like crap. I went to bed last night feeling great and woke up at 3 am going "uh oh". Lets just call it stomach issues and leave it at that. And a fever. And chills. My angel and my devil duked it out in the wee hours, but at 5 am I finally gave in to the inevitable and called in sick. That makes me feel even more like crap, because we've been short-handed lately and I know I just gave my co-workers an even harder day than usual.

But it was a good thing I did. I slept until almost 2 pm, woke up briefly and went back to sleep. And that's been the pattern for the rest of the day. I have a permanent pillow crease on my left cheek. My mental sharpness is about equal to putting ice cubes in a glass, so thinking fast on my feet at work would have presented some problems.

The kids have been great. Surfer Dude even set a can of soup and a can opener next to a pan on the stove for me before he headed out to school. Gumby came right home after school and sat on my bed, all while telling me how I didn't look quite as dreadful as I had in the morning. And Sasquatch took the trash out like he had promised - the first time I mentioned it.

Wow. I think I'm going to go back to sleep and ponder that. And hope that tomorrow starts off a lot better than today did.

Monday, September 22, 2008

clean up on aisle two

What in the world is going on with the cost of food?

I get the whole economy going to hell bit. Real estate, gasoline, airplane fares, the dollar abroad - all in the toilet. I understand that I'm living in a house I probably can't afford because I can't sell it. I drive as little as possible, and since I can't afford to travel further than downtown, the last two are (sadly) moot. But food? Food hits me right where I live.

Have you ever fed three growing boys? It takes a stinking lot of food, let me tell you. In the course of the last few months, I've watched my food bills skyrocket, no matter how careful I am. And I am careful. I really am.

I cook virtually everything from scratch.

Two of us don't eat meat.

We eat a lot of beans, grains and pasta.

I'm finally at the point where I can honestly say we don't buy any soda, which I feel I deserve some sort of award for. I'll take the Fifth on how much Diet Pepsi I drink for free at work.

And I shop the sales. I'll go to three different stores to buy what they have on special. The chest freezer I "splurged" on this spring is my ace in the hole. Man, do I love that freezer. I kiss it regularly as I walk through my garage. I buy big when things are on sale, and then go shopping in my own freezer.

But, in spite of all of this, my food bill is up by 25%. We aren't doing anything different. I still plan menus for the week based on the sales. I still make sure I eat before I go to the store, because me in a supermarket hungry is a recipe for disaster. I still turn my back on most junky or processed foods, although since my kids all take their lunches to school, there are some sugar filled snack cakes in my cart. I think I buy what most people buy. That's what scares me.

I went to two stores today. One, (a store that I flat out can't afford), had a fabulous sale on something I use a lot, and is frozen to boot. And a bunch of coupons for stuff I can always use, like ketchup and baby carrots. The other is my regular haunt, the place I buy the majority of my weekly groceries. But in spite of being really careful and almost no impulse buying (alright, two impulse purchases. One - some artichokes on sale. My kids love artichokes. And two - red bell peppers. One of my top five foods ever. I eat them like apples), I still spent almost $200 on food. For one week. For four people. And with virtually all of the meat coming out of my already stocked freezer. (In my defense, I did buy the ingredients to make a bunch of our favorite casserole for the freezer, but still...)

Surely I'm not the only one frustrated by this?

Sunday, September 21, 2008

say what?

Sometimes it's the really small things that crack you up.

Two cases in point:

A piece of spam in my gmail inbox addressed to "rotten coroner".


Our lunch menu in the cafeteria at work, which is posted on the intranet for us to check out. Every day there's a regular special, a healthy offering and a vegetarian dish. On Friday the vegetarian special was an open faced roast beef sandwich.

Maybe I'm just easily amused.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

middle aged teenagers

It's not easy being female. At any age.

When I was a teenager, I combed lemon juice through my hair, slathered coconut oil all over myself and sunbathed to within an inch of my life. The more tan I was, the less my acne showed, which was always a plus. And any lemon juice prompted blonde highlights in my Roseanne Rosannadanna hair at least attempted to hide the frizz. At five feet ten inches tall, I weighed 120 pounds and was constantly trying to "get" skinny.

I don't try so hard anymore, but I still make kind of an effort. Just last week, I spent an hour or so trying. My hair was piled on my head with a deep conditioner slathered on, I had a biore pore patch on my nose to rip out blackheads, a jar of moisturizer next to me to put on my dry skin after my acne treatment was over...and I was plucking dark hairs out of my chin. Am I in adolescence or menopause? And is there a significant difference?

This is just so unfair. No one should have to buy both wrinkle lotion and zit cream. Long, luxurious tresses should be on your head, not on your legs. You can't even go out and get a tan to cover your wrinkles, since now they tell us that this is how we got the wrinkles to start with. This is not the way it's supposed to be. I try to not fall into the pop culture trap of "needing" to be a size two, or that "blondes have more fun", or that no one over thirty can be as interesting as a twenty year old. I'm comfortable with myself, flaws and all, but even I have limits.

On the other hand, at least my mustache covers up my acne.

Friday, September 19, 2008

swirling in the vortex

Do you know what this picture is?

It's a Black Hole.

Do you know what I did today?

I got sucked into Facebook.

Do you know why?

I don't either.

I don't even know how it happened. Oh, maybe I do. I have a friend at work who is a) younger and b) way more computer savvy and c) younger, and she has steered me toward some cool sites. Like Pandora, which is a lot of fun if you're looking for new music that you are (almost) guaranteed to like. There have been a couple of others, too, and I've come to believe her when she says "Oh, you're going to love this!"

And then we come to Facebook. It was a little slow today at work and a lot of the (younger) people there were checking their FB pages. All it took was one smart ass comment from me that I honest to god don't even remember, and the next thing I know I'm sitting in front of a computer with someone else entering all of my information. I kept on and on about how I didn't know a thing about FB and how did it work? and what's the point and so on. I was especially curious because I had gotten an invite to be a friend from the woman who had been my maid of honor when the FX and I got married, and who I've kept in very sporadic touch with the last whole bunch of years. (Repeat after me...rotten correspondent, rotten correspondent, rotten correspondent). I was kind of ready to take the leap.

That was when we found out that I already had a FB account. WTF? I did? At first I thought one of my kids was messing with me, but then I remembered that laurie invited me to become a friend last May, so I joined up so I could. And then forgot all about it. Clearly, the FB charm had been lost on me.

Until today. As my friend put in info that pulled a bunch of people I knew from work up, I started to get intrigued. And when laurie threw in her two cents worth of FB education, I thought hmmm....this could be interesting. (I know there are twitter and plurk fans out there, too. Imagine how ignorant I am about how they work).

Anyway, I get the feeling that this could be a great new way to waste spend time on the computer. Gee. Like I needed one more reason to not get cracking on my book.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Autumn in a cup

Even though our weather has been really wet and chilly off and on recently, I still haven't felt that little intangible bit of crispness in the air that makes me realize it's officially autumn. All the signs are there, of course. The kids are a month into school, soccer is in full swing and there are pots of mums sitting out in front of my local grocery store.

There are piles of pumpkins, too, leading me to my annual question of who buys pumpkins the middle of September? What must they look like by Halloween? We all love pumpkin, and I cook with it a lot, especially this time of year, but decorative pumpkins six weeks ahead of the fact always puzzles me.

But in our house there's one thing that is always a sure indicator that Fall is right around the corner. It's when I make up a huge bag of hot cocoa mix and stock up on mini-marshmallows. And that's exactly what I did today. (All three of the kids requested it within about twelve hours of each other. Interestingly, I already had the ingredients on my shopping list. Clearly, we're related).

Here's the basic mix that's been around for a zillion years:

25 5/8 ounces nonfat dry milk powder
6 ounces powdered non-dairy creamer
2 cups powdered sugar
16 ounce container instant chocolate drink mix

Everything gets mixed up in a (really big) plastic bag. (I use the same three gallon ziplocs that I keep knitting projects in. This recipe makes a lot). Once it's all ready, throw a couple of tablespoons of the mix into a cup of hot water and you have cocoa in less than a minute. Even better, the kids have been able to do it themselves for years, which makes me pretty happy, too.

There are as many variations on this recipe as there are cooks, and I'm guilty of customizing my mix, too. The original isn't chocolately enough for us, so I mess with it. Here's how I tweak it:

I use a nice, high quality dark chocolate instant chocolate drink mix.

I add a fair amount of plain old cocoa powder to the mix.

Sometimes I use a french vanilla flavored dry creamer.

And I add a bunch of cinnamon and freshly grated nutmeg.

I've even made it with Splenda instead of sugar, and it works perfectly.

When we're actually adding the mix to the water, sometimes we put in a drop of mint, orange or vanilla extract, or some mini chocolate chips (mint chips are good). Mini-marshmallows are mandatory, and if there happens to be a little cool whip in the house, no one says no. Sprinkle some cinnamon sugar on top if the mood strikes.

And drink to Fall. My very favorite season.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


So what about this class I took last week that I keep referring to in kind of roundabout ways? What exactly has all the griping been about?


I'm now, of all things, a forensic nurse. As in collecting and documenting evidence from victims, and then going to court as a (snort) expert witness. What kind of forensic nurse, you ask? Here's a clue. The acronym is SANE, and it stands for Sexual Abuse Nurse Examiner. The three of us who went through the training are now going to join a small handful (approximately ten) of nurses in our community who will take 24/7 call to do exams on rape victims. We will collect evidence off of (and out of) the victim's bodies, document all injuries (both in writing and with two different kinds of photography), and generally try to put together the most comprehensive written, trace and photographic evidence that we can. In the past week we've learned how to preserve almost any kind of evidence, how to take crime shots like a pro, how to follow a legal chain of custody that won't get your case thrown out of court and what it's like to be on the business end of a speculum for once. (Oddly disquieting, I have to admit. And terrifying. Did I mention that?)

What they can't teach you in class, of course, is how to deal with all of this emotionally. One of the good things about these programs is that as soon as a SANE nurse is activated, so is a social worker/advocate, who is there to deal with the patient's emotional state while we (supposedly) focus unhindered on the physical aspect. I've triaged rape victims before, and always been really relieved to turn them over to someone who knew what they were doing, someone who had a warm touch and the right words, someone with the ability to comfort those who were hysterical or to break through a deep wall of shock and denial. I've handed over paperwork and women in the upright version of the fetal position, and gone back to triage, grateful that my part was over, hoping that some nice, juicy trauma was about to come through the door instead. I'm comfortable with trauma, unfazed by blood and gore. But this, I'd always told myself, was just flat out of my realm, nowhere near my area of expertise.

Not anymore. (Snort again). When they come in now, there's a fairly good chance that they'll be mine, while some adrenaline junkie triage nurse practically dances back to their computer. I will walk them through the process step by step, look at and touch the wounds inflicted on them, and listen as they describe the assault to both the police and me. I will properly package bloody clothing and swab for DNA. I will measure bite marks and strangulation patterns. I will try to stay as focused and objective as I possibly can, try to do the best possible job for her (or him) that I can, try to not let my own emotions overwhem me.

I'd really love to know, though, how you can even begin to keep your emotions out of it. Because I don't see that happening for me. I think I've just shot my own personal comfort zone straight out of the water. What the hell was I thinking?

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

by the numbers

100: Approximate number of gruesome crime scene photos I've had to look at in the past week.

2: Number of those photos that are still creeping me out.

872: Times I've rechecked to make sure my doors are locked, or looked over my shoulder out in public or woken up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat.

100: Percent of men I'm convinced are serial rapists underneath a pleasant and civilized veneer.

2: Feet I jumped out of my chair at work today when one of the docs thought it would be cute to sneak up behind me and stick his finger in my ear.

3: Number of times I asked him what the hell he was thinking.

0: Number of times he had a reason that made any sense.

98: Percent chance that the tumor on Izzy's leg will return if we don't do anything.

10-15: Percent chance it will return after radiation treatment.

4: Years it typically takes for any kind of regrowth with radiation.

18: Number of radiation treatments the doggy oncologist recommends.

231: Dollars per treatment.

2,000,000,000,000,000,000: Total cost of treatment.

3: Number of children who have volunteered to eat ramen noodles for a year.

7: That's how old he just turned. Happy birthday, Star Butt. You are one loved mutt.

500: Posts on this little ol' blog - as of today.


Monday, September 15, 2008

department of redundancy department

There's a lot of stuff on my mind from the last few days, but for now I have to toss an offering into the Gratitude Basket. I know most of you have already read this, but...

It's that time of year again.

The beginning


The end

Saturday, September 13, 2008

what stinkin' climate change?

When I left my house this morning, it was pouring down rain.

Every time I had a break in my class and I walked to the front door for some air, it was pouring down rain.

When we left the city and started driving home, it was pouring down rain.

We were half-way home when the tornado sirens went off. One tornado - on the ground - to the south of us. One tornado - about to touch down - heading in our general vicinity. Yet another tearing up the ground in still another direction. On the radio, warnings to abandon your vehicles and find a ditch to lay down in. Now.

The FX was at my house with the kids and everyone was calm. The Silence of the Lambs basement went untouched. I got home safely, pizza was ordered and devoured, and we went on with our night. It's still pouring down rain.

It could be worse. We could be in Texas.

(which reminds me, texans...we're all thinking of you. be safe.)

Friday, September 12, 2008

out cold

This is why I don't commute anymore.

If I've learned anything in the last two days (and, god help me, I have), it's that I have really gotten used to being clocked in on my unit seven minutes after I pull out of my driveway. No more being on the highway for an hour while it's still dark outside. No more trudging fifteen minutes uphill from the parking lot. I like not knowing exactly how much gas I have in my tank, since two gallons can keep me going for days. As agonizing as it was at the time to leave the Big City Trauma Hospital and move close to home, it was worth it a thousand times over. Maybe even a million.

And I've realized all of this in a big way the last couple of days. The class I'm taking is meeting in two different places, and they both require at least an hour each way on the highway. (In pouring rain, by the way). I'm carpooling with two other gals, and we all meet in the dark, coffee mugs clutched in our hands. We drive an hour to sit for nine hours so we can drive an hour to get home so I can fall into bed like a rag before nine. How is it more tiring to sit for eleven hours than it is to run my butt off at work for twelve? Seriously. How can that be? Two of us fell asleep today in class during a film on (god help me again) strangulation. Do you know how long it's been since I fell asleep in a class??

No, I don't miss commuting at all. This is a hard thing for an LA girl to admit, since freeway exhaust is like mother's milk to a Californian. When we first moved here, I howled when people griped about the traffic. I wanted to tell them in graphic terms exactly what traffic really was and why they seriously needed to hush about their three minute cross town commute. (As a point of reference, my hour commute here has me driving about fifty miles. Do you know how long that would take in LA??) I even convinced myself at my old job that the drive home was a good thing. I would blast the radio and decompress and by the time I got home, I would (in theory) be ready to be part of my family. It never worked that way, now that I think about it. I would come home and sit in a chair, drooling and speaking in grunts until I could crawl into bed.

I've been doing that this week, much to my kid's amusement. I suppose I'd take offense, but I'm unconscious at the time. They can pretty much say what they want and laugh to their heart's content.

No, I don't miss commuting at all. And if this is totally unintelligible, it's because I'm writing unconscious.

Is it obvious?

Thursday, September 11, 2008

does she see what I see?

I've got nothing. Truly. The brain is set on fry mode.

I've just spent the entire day listening to speakers talk about really uplifting topics. Sexual assault. Domestic violence. Child abuse. Date rape drugs. Safety plans. Looked at picture after picture documenting injuries, and heard personal testimonials from survivors. Listened to the abusers comments about why they do what they do - which is guaranteed to keep me awake tonight. Starting learning about collecting evidence and how to testify in court so the defense attorneys don't chew you up and spit you out. (This is going to be a riot. My own attorney scares the shit out of me...and she's on my side.) And only four more days to go...

I have just two things to say.

What the hell was I thinking?

and goodnight.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Bunco recap

Bunco at my house tonight went well. As further proof that I've really lightened up with my half-assed Martha Stewart complex, pretty much all of the food was thanks to Target and a pair of scissors. Open some gourmet chip bags, pour some Hershey's kisses into a bowl, pop the lid on some pre-made hummus...there you go. I did make one thing - a hot dip that tastes exactly like a jalapeno popper, and that everyone normally seems to like. Probably would have been better if I hadn't absent mindedly put in three times the amount of jalapeno the recipe called for. It was a good thing I bought a lot of beer.

And now I'm off to a five day certification class that I'm more than a little apprehensive about. Stand by to hear all about it once I see what it's actually like.

Still waiting for a final opinion from the oncologist, but my guy certainly worked the estrogen crowd tonight. You could barely find a vacant spot on him to pat, and I don't even want to know how many little hand-fed tidbits found his way down his gullet. I got through the evening without crying once, which, considering my last 24 hours, has to be worth something. I think I've shed more tears in the last day than I have in the last year.

Surely I must have gotten some jalapeno juice in my eyes.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

reality bites

It's cancer.

A type that tends to recur in the same area and has a low risk for metastasizing.

Final pathology tomorrow and a consult with an oncologist.







Monday, September 8, 2008

oh, to be eleven again?

Surfer Dude went to auditions today for the upcoming play at our local Art Center. Gumby had planned on going too, but changed his mind at the last minute. He's getting into Junior High in a big way - joining clubs, acting in a school production, even going out for (and winning) student council, and he just decided he didn't want to take on one more thing. (To say this experience is different from when Sasquatch was in Junior High doesn't even begin to do it justice. Trust me on this.)

We knew we were in trouble immediately when we got the rehearsal schedule before they even read for the director. Every single rehearsal is at exactly the same time as his soccer practices. And the performances? Two shows on the same day as the end of season soccer tournament. Sounds like a no brainer, doesn't it? Obviously, you can't be in two places at the same time. But we were there, and he was psyched up, so he went ahead and auditioned. One of his best friends, who has been bitten bad by the acting bug, was there, too. Did I mention that they're also on the same soccer team?

The friend's mom and I sat together and commiserated. (Oh, all right. We cussed, okay? A lot.) This was a real dilemma. And like all dilemmas, there were many sides to it. There was only one given. No matter what happened, the parents would lose.

Her son, let's call him George (since that's his name), has gotten a couple of big parts recently, and has gotten addicted quick. I think he's really got a knack for it. Surfer Dude, who started acting at the same time, has gotten smaller (much, much smaller) parts in the same plays, but has had a blast doing it. He could potentially have a knack for it, but it's not blindingly obvious now. On the other hand, SD has shown recent signs of being a soccer force to be reckoned with. At the game this weekend, I couldn't understand the little acronym the coach was shouting to the players. I was later told that "G.I.T.S." meant "Give It To SD" to shoot. (And no, his initial isn't really an S. But I couldn't resist the thought of the coach yelling about GITS and referring specifically to my kid.)

We came home and had a long discussion. And besides what I think about eleven years olds having to make choices like this about "recreational" activities, I was really proud of how he dealt with it. In spite of the director offering to change rehearsals around if need be, he chose soccer- which he was already committed to - but will take an acting class that won't interfere at all with his practices. He completely got it when I said that sometimes if you overextend yourself and do two things you love that conflict horribly time-wise, you end up being so stressed that you don't enjoy either one. The verdict is still not in on his friend (or the soccer carpool that we do together), but I have fingers crossed.

I don't remember things being like this when I was eleven. And I'm really kind of glad for that.

Sunday, September 7, 2008


He's home.

Doesn't even have a lampshade collar, either, and he's leaving his bandaged leg completely alone. He's been supplied with a chew toy so large he's afraid of it, and a pound of steak all cubed up just for him. Add in the pain pills, and he's a pretty happy hound dog.

I'm not bad, either. I have a fire going in the fireplace, it's been raining off and on all day, and Surfer Dude's team won their first soccer game of the season today. (The rain started as soon as we stood up at the end of the game.) I'm sitting on my sofa wrapped up in my favorite quilt, with a well-medicated dog laying next to me, I've just fired up my second Hugh Grant DVD of the night, I'm starting to knit a new hat for myself...and I'm off for the next three days.

Can I tell you how badly I needed this night?

Saturday, September 6, 2008

back to the worry beads

The surgery went well. It took a while to get all of the lump out, but they're pretty sure they did. However, they have no idea what it is. They know it isn't a fatty tumor, which is what I had been hoping really hard for. The pathology report will be back Monday and then we'll know where we stand. In the meantime, I'm going to be sleeping without my four legged cuddle buddy tonight. On the bright side, I get to pick him up in just nine hours. Maybe then my house won't feel so weird.

Please think good thoughts. And thanks for all the great ideas. There's a frozen Kong ball in his immediate future, for him to chew on with his newly cleaned choppers.

And now we wait. Yet again.

Friday, September 5, 2008

this is your dog...this is your dog on drugs...any questions?

If anyone feels like throwing some advice my way, I'd appreciate it. Today is the day Isaiah has his doggy surgery, and I've all of a sudden realized I've never done this where I was the adult in charge. When I was growing up we had dogs that had procedures done, but my only responsibility was to love on them when they came home. I certainly didn't have to worry about things like chewing out stitches or keeping the funky lampshade collar on them or even pain control. No, I got the fun jobs. Scratch their bellies and keep those bonies coming.

Any words of wisdom, oh great canine gurus?

Thursday, September 4, 2008

the deep end

The summer right after I turned thirteen, my two year old half-sister fell into our neighbor's pool in Michigan. We never knew exactly how long she was in the water, but it at least the length of time it took for my three year old half-brother to make his way across two one acre lots and into the house to let us know what had happened. By the time my step-mother and I raced to the pool, she was floating face down in the deep end.

Shrieking to raise the dead, my step-mother bolted back to our house to wake my dad up to help. And, as I stood by the fence surrounding the pool, I realized with a horrible lurch of my stomach that if anyone was going to pull my sister out it would have to be me. I looked back in the direction of our house and saw my step-mother on the ground screaming while my baffled dad stood over her in his underwear. I wanted someone - anyone - to come and take over, but knew that it wasn't going to happen. My step-mother was too far gone. My dad never even knew what she was screaming about until he saw me walking toward them holding my limp, wet sister.

I got her out of the water and gave her mouth to mouth until she vomited up a huge amount of pool water and started breathing on her own. Knees shaking, I handed her over to my dad and ran full-speed next door to get the nurse who lived there. As soon as she arrived, I walked straight to the bathroom and locked the door. And for the next hour, as my dad and step-mother were already moving past it, I curled up in a dry bathtub and sobbed. They even said, "We don't know why you're so upset. Everything worked out fine." Funny. I didn't feel fine at all.

And so the pattern was set.

I'm really good in a crisis. I hold it together, react with pure gut impulse, have inborn triage instincts. But when it's over, when it's "safe"...I fall apart. Not at work, where, in spite of my soft heart, I'm still a (semi) detached observer. I can count on my fingers the number of times I've "fallen apart" at work. (And there weren't many witnesses, believe me). But in my personal life it's been a pattern as long as I can remember. One of my biggest fears this past year has been that I would come unglued when it was all "over". I don't want to fall apart. I've done such a good job getting through the last eight months. I don't want to blow it now.

But as I feel myself retreating, avoiding the phone, the email, and my support group, I have the feeling of standing on the edge of a fall. Only days away from a final divorce decree, I'm struggling not to go off the deep end.

Because when you come right down to it, I'd love to lay this particular pattern to rest.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

the results show: part one

Gumby's lab tests came back and they're all fine. The doctor wasn't in to "interpret" them for me, but I kind of leaned on the on-call nurse to give me the numbers anyway. I can interpret them pretty well on my own. He only had one test that was out of the "normal" range and it was just barely over the line. I asked one of our docs what that could mean and he said it could mean that I should forget about it, because it didn't mean anything. You've gotta love ER docs. They've got the whole bedside manner thing down. So tomorrow I'll chat with Gumby's doctor and take it from there. The stomach aches? Gone. The fear from my little guy regarding the stomach aches? Quite present, thank you. Is there a lab test for anxiety?

I had thought that switching my schedule was a done deal, but there was a snag and I'm off today after all. Of course, this means I have to work Friday and so will have to leave my dog at the vets overnight. I almost have myself convinced - since there's nothing I can do about it - that he'll be better off anyway. If he's in pain they can give him something for it. The FX (my new name for the Film Geek, please note the movie reference) volunteered to pick him up, but he'd still be at home alone for several hours. On the subject of the FX, I do have to say that when he heard about the surgery the first thing he did was get on the floor and hug the dog. And the second thing he did was say that he was paying for half of the surgery. Something about doggie support. I certainly didn't expect him to do that, but I sure will take him up on it.

There's not really much more news. Things are still kind of blah, although Gumby's test results lightened my mood enormously. There's a big storm moving in and I have all of my bedroom windows open and a big fuzzy chenille blanket to wrap up in while it pours. Surely we're too far north to be feeling any trace of Gustav, but our temperature is supposed to go from mid-80's today to low 60's Thursday, with lots of rain in the forecast. And boy, is the wind blowing. Something tells me I'm going to sleep well tonight. And I'm going to start right now.

As always...

Thanks for listening to me. And for sending all the good wishes our way. You all deserve medals.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

in the dumps

Some days, no matter what you do...

you're still blue.

And rather than just chalk it up to the fact that everyone is blue from time to time, you have to analyze to death why you feel so rotten. Does this help? Hell, no it doesn't. It simply allows you to wallow in your blueness rather than letting it takes its course and eventually go away on its own.

Then, to make it even better, you make mental lists. Lists of why you could be blue. Does this help? Hell, no it doesn't. See above. But it does at least serve the purpose of luring you into not attempting anything productive to snap you out of your blueness, which ensures that your mood will just hang on and on.

RC - ridiculously convoluted. Or revolting complainer. How about really childish? Feel free to chime in.

There are several good reasons why I could be feeling blue. Yet another argument with Sasquatch. The worry about getting Gumby's lab results tomorrow. His ebbing and flowing anxiety issues. The fear of dog surgery - and what they'll find. The prospect of three straight days of work, since I changed my schedule around so I'd be able to schlep said dog to and from the vets Friday. Not to mention holding his paw when his canine sisters get a load of his lampshade collar and laugh themselves silly. The fact that due to construction at work, the Diet Coke fountain dispenser will be out of commission for a week. The realization that Bunco is at my house next week for my yearly turn...and my house looks grim and unloved. The further realization that the day after Bunco I start an intensive five day certification class for work, a certification that I thought I really wanted to get, but is starting to scare the crap out of me. I'm afraid it may be more pressure than I can handle right now, but it's too late to back out.

Then again, it could be that feeling blue from time to time is what normal human beings do. It's not like there's anything really wrong with it. Some days you're up, some days you're down, and the next day you wake up and it's all better. If not the next day, then maybe the day after that. The blues are temporary, right?


Monday, September 1, 2008


I've been sitting here trying to think of something interesting to say for a while now. We've had a very nice, although busy, weekend so far - and one day still to go. It's been a bit since I've had the same three day weekend as the kids, and it's been really lovely. I've always liked Labor Day. Fall is my favorite season, always the promise of new beginnings and fresh starts. Labor Day to me is like New Years to most people.

For the most part everything is calm (or as calm as things get around here, anyway), but I keep compulsively clicking away from Blogger to the news sites as Hurricane Gustav gets closer and closer to the Gulf states. And all I can think is