Sunday, November 30, 2008

revenge of the money pit

I'm not bothered by the "usual" problems of divorce. I'm not lonely, have a perfectly adequate social life, don't have any more money worries than I did when I was married, and manage the kids single about as well as I did before.

What's going to kill me is the house.

Thanksgiving Day I developed a leak under my kitchen sink. As my mother always says, if you're going to have plumbing problems, it'll be the day you have a bunch of people about to troop in to eat. It's tricky to put a holiday meal on the table when every time you run water in your kitchen sink it drips underneath.

Then yesterday I crawled out of bed at zero dark thirty to go to work, and climbed into the shower half asleep. Yowzah. I wasn't asleep for long. There was about four inches of ice cold water from my shower the day before, just standing there, refusing to drain. I was in such a state of denial that I convinced myself that the drain doo-dad was down, and not allowing any water out. I raised it up carefully after my shower and crossed my fingers. When I got home last night the water hadn't budged. Strike One.

So today I took everything out from underneath the kitchen sink (duct tape in hand), only to find that where the water is coming from is from a corroded out part of the either the faucet or the sink itself - way beyond my puny little fix-it skills. And falling in such a way that I can't even put anything underneath it to catch the drips. Strike Two.

Then I went upstairs with the plumbing snake I got from the FX to see about the tub. I even put on my Superwoman shirt that I got as a nursing school graduation present - just to get my mojo going. While I struggled and cursed and snaked, my phone rang five times and Sasquatch came bolting out of his room to tell me that he thought he saw something scurry across his floor. Since his room looks like the New York City Dump, I wasn't surprised. I'd been telling him that all the mice had suspiciously disappeared from the rest of the house and that if I were a mouse, I'd be moving into his room with my beach umbrella and some elastic waist pants. Then, keeping an eye out for fat rodents, I got back to my snaking. Unsuccessfully. Strike Three.

I refuse to call a plumber on a holiday weekend, so we can't use the kitchen sink or the upstairs tub. The upstairs toilet is fine, but the downstairs toilet is a prima donna. The upstairs sink doesn't work - the handles are jacked up. The downstairs shower is, how do I put this nicely, a piece of shit handheld with the water pressure of a squirt gun...but it'll have to do. I showered in it today after the gym, and except for having to wash just one part of my body at a time, it was workable. Barely, but beggars can't be choosers. I have two toilets, two tubs and two sinks - and between them they equal one working bathroom.

When I think of all the times in my life I made myself crazy wanting to own a house, I have to laugh. What I wouldn't give to be able to call a landlord and have them fork over the cash to get things moving again. And now I get to worry all day tomorrow about exactly how much cash we're talking that's going to come out of my tight little fist.

I have to do laundry tomorrow. I can hardly wait to see what the washer has in store for me.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

I'm just sayin'

Travel Advisory to Liberal Collegeville -

If you happen to be in the vicinity, local officials advise that you don't drink the water. According to ER reports, the amount of narcotics accidentally dropped into the toilet/bathtub/kitchen sink, and needing immediate replacement, has quadrupled in the last 24 hours. Officials are looking into a connection between this phenomena and greasy Thanksgiving turkey fingers.

More bulletins as events warrant.

Friday, November 28, 2008

shades of grey

Sasquatch and I had to have a long discussion today about the concept of "black and white". He's sixteen and he's male, so I completely understand that he sees the world in a very cut and dried way. I'm not sixteen and I'm not male, and I've learned that more often than not, grey is the overriding hue in the world. Things aren't usually cut and dried, they aren't usually all good or all bad, all right or all wrong. Life can be murky, but I think the ability to understand that comes with experience. Today, he got some experience.

It's no secret that he is very angry with his father and has been since March. He barely talks to him, and has spent only a couple of nights at his father's new house. The other boys go and hang out, but not Sasquatch. He stays here or he goes to a friend's house. I've talked and talked - to both of them - and finally realized that there's only so much power I have. At this point it's up to them. I can't do it for them. I know the FX wants to make it right, but doesn't know how. I know Sasquatch thinks he could care less about his father, but I don't believe it for a second. I know the two of them are so similar it hurts, but neither one of them see it. I'd laugh, except that it isn't remotely funny.

Sasquatch did not want the FX to come here for Thanksgiving. He's been saying for weeks that it would ruin his holiday. At first I tried to reason with him, then I tried to appeal to his better instincts, and then, having no success with either of those, I just started ignoring him. It was already a done deal. This was very important to the other two boys. I was beginning to suspect that it was more important to the FX than I might have initially thought. I was okay with it. I'm in this for the long haul, and was looking at it as the first of many such situations that I have to look forward to in my life. It's not negotiable. We will have an amicible relationship for our children. Period.

This isn't to say that we'll spend all of our holidays together. Far from it. But this is the first one (second if you count Halloween, and we did that together too), and I think the younger boys felt really good having it to look forward to. Not Sasquatch. So this afternoon we had another come to jesus talk in the kitchen while I was peeling potatoes. He was not happy, still convinced that his father's presence would ruin his day. Doesn't he have anywhere else to go, he asked? Does he not realize that he gave up family holidays when he decided to leave his family? How could he show up at your house and expect you to be happy to see him after the way he treated you? Don't you see how awkward it's going to be with our other guests? Can't you just call him and tell him not to come?

Black and white. Black and white.

It was hard to even know where to start. Our other guests were my friend Stacey and her family, and we've celebrated lots of holidays and occasions together. She and her husband are grown-ups, and I knew there would be no angst caused by them, even though they have stayed "my" friends. Your father did not divorce the whole family, he divorced me. I'm sure there are plenty of other places he could go, but he'd like to come here. Do you have any idea, I asked, what it must be like to go from living here to living all alone most of the time? Do you not think he knows how angry you are, or how helpless he feels in dealing with it? Do you think you could even remotely consider that at some point in your life you may change your mind and want a relationship with your dad, and that maybe it's a bad idea to slam doors shut too fast?

And then I played my trump card. Listen, I said, it's been a really crazy year. But if you're doing this out of a sense of loyalty to me, you need to stop and consider something. I'm happier than I ever remember being. I feel bad even saying it, but this has been one of the best things that's ever happened to me. If you're angry at him for you, that's totally okay. But don't be angry at him for me. Because I'm not anymore. I'm genuinely, truly okay. Could you just go into it with an open mind?

He wasn't happy about it, but he did. And we had a lovely night - all around. Sure there were undercurrents, and sure there are awkward things with the transition into our new life. It's hard to sit across a table from someone in a position you've been in hundreds of times and all of a sudden go Wow, this is totally different. It's weird to entertain someone in a house they use to live in. It's strange to see vulnerability in a person who has created such upheaval in your life. It's bizarre to realize that you really are done, and even wilder to feel more peaceful about it by the day. But in the end, I looked at my smiling kids - all three of them - and did say my silent words of what I was thankful for this year. I'm thankful for two adults who continue to put their children first, no matter what. May it long continue.

When everyone had left, Sasquatch found me in the kitchen again and thanked me. You were right, he said, that was really nice. It all worked out great and Dad and the boys seemed really happy that he was here.

I noticed he didn't add himself into that, but he didn't need to. I may not be big on black and white, but I can read grey pretty well.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

a sigh of relief

Thanksgiving came a day early at chez RC, delivered by the mail lady.

My gas bill - the first since all of my weatherproofing efforts - came. I kid you not, my hands were shaking when I opened it.

Last year, the bill for the first month of heat - a month we were never warm - was right around $400.

This year, the bill for the first month of heat - cold outside, but oh so toasty inside - was...


I have a whole new appreciation for saran wrap.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

giving thanks

Ah, yes. Thanksgiving. It's tomorrow, right?

Like I'd forget. For some reason Thanksgiving is a favorite holiday around here, and not just because we all eat like garbage scows. I'm honestly not sure what the big appeal is, but since it's so hard to get a majority on anything in this house, I'll take it no matter what. It may be my last one until next Thanksgiving.

The food will be what it always is - pretty traditional stuff. Surfer Dude and I will do a bunch of stuff ahead of time today - just like we always do. I did all of my shopping last week to avoid getting caught in horrendous grocery lines, so I've got a second wind for the cooking. We're brining the turkey this year for the first time - cross your fingers. And we've got some friends coming over for dinner - which will make the day especially nice.

The elephant in the room, of course, is that this is our first post-divorce holiday. But in the continuing amiability that is my divorce, we've invited the FX to come and eat with us. This was very important to Gumby and Surfer Dude, so it's what we're doing. I've said all along that if we could get the kids through this relatively unscathed, then it would be very possible to have a happy ending. I'm sure it'll get weird, but what the hell. It can't get much weirder than the rest of the year has been.

One thing I think we'll need to do differently is going around the table and having everyone say one thing they're thankful for. That will probably be better avoided this year, because it could get pretty sticky. I'll say mine mentally, though. Because I know exactly what I'm grateful for this Thanksgiving.

I just don't think it would go over too well.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

cover me

I've been grumbling about work for the last week, so here's where I go all Gemini and say that I can't imagine ever leaving my job. Or more specifically, that I can't imagine ever leaving this job. Never mind that I bitch and moan with the worst of them...I don't see myself ever willingly leaving this job.

This is not to say that my job is perfect, because it isn't. I miss trauma. I really do. That gut wrenching, blood spewing, helicopter landing trauma that feeds my inner adrenaline junkie so thoroughly is a hard thing to give up. I know I'm a sick, twisted individual and I'm dealing with it the best I can. In the meantime, I'm smart enough to realize that I've pretty much fallen into The Dream Job and that it's never a good idea to tempt the gods.

My boss is an enormous part of this. The tone of the department, the morale, the all starts with her. I hate to gush, but I would walk on glass for this woman, and I'm fairly sure I'm not alone. The people I work with are also a huge factor. Everyone - nurses, doctors, PAs, aides, unit secretaries, registration, techs, housekeeping, security, medics, lab, radiology - gets along smoothly enough that it mostly feels effortless. I can honestly say that I like pretty much everyone I work with, although of course there are those you gravitate toward more than others. There are personality clashes to be found, but for the most part people tend to make nice and play well with others. You have to know that your back is covered, and other people have to know that you have theirs, too. Once that trust is established there's no looking back.

We also tend to be more laid back than you might imagine. We have to be. If you fall apart or stress out about every little thing, it makes for a very long shift. Not to mention a very short career. By the same token, there's very little in the way of angry outbursts or random bitchiness. There's some, of course. We can trash talk with the best of them, but tend to save it for special occasions.

This week was one of those occasions.

I'm not going to bore you with the medical specifics, but someone - either the surgeons or anesthesia, we're not sure which - decided that we needed to change something we do routinely. This change, it goes without saying, would make their lives easier and ours a lot harder. Not only would it make us potentially have to do the same task twice, but it would also put us on the spot immediately in terms of our critical thinking and, as we put it, (very tongue in cheek), our ability to forsee the future. Basicallly, they were expecting us to know immediately if a patient was going to end up needing surgery - before labs, before x-rays or CT, before anything. Not bloody likely.

To make it even worse, the first we really knew about it was when one of our nurses got reported without any warning. Not only one of our best nurses, but one of our most universally liked. And the way it was done was by going around our boss, which pissed everyone off. And the next thing you knew, this nice, cohesive, flexible group of people all grew fangs. Loudly and simultaneously. We all said they could write us up until the cows came home, but we weren't going to change a thing we were doing. We started doing what they didn't want us to do even when we ordinarily wouldn't have done it in the first place. Out of pure spite. The non-rabble rousers were fired up, the hell raisers were in flames, and when one of our most devoutly religious nurses stood in the hall and loudly said F#*k 'em, we knew this was going to get bad.

But it was over before it really started, because our boss forced a "meeting" with our adversaries and took them on head first. And two hours later, she staggered out of the room and said, "Never mind. Do it the way you always have. They've finally seen the light." They even apologized to us, for the love of god. Do you know what it takes to make Surgery apologize? A lawyer and a video camera, that's what. Oh, yeah. And my boss. My wonderful, fabulous, 24 carat gold boss. My ass-kicking, take no prisoners boss.

Who needs trauma? I've got everything I need right here.

Monday, November 24, 2008

so much for Barbie

Tweedle-Dee and Tweedle-Dumb sauntered into the triage room and plopped down. They had a little Tweedle-ette with them, a girl in the eight to ten range. She wasn't their daughter, and they never did make it clear exactly how she was related to them, even when they were asked directly. Tweedle-Dumb tried to take control of the whole question and answer process, but the nasty Nurse Ratchet wouldn't let him. He sulked through the entire thing.

Tweedle - Dee's chief complaint? "It hurts when we have intercourse and he's really deep inside me and I'm on top."

Nurse Ratchet - biting back the three things she wants to say immediately-

#1. "Well, then, why don't you stop?"

#2. "And this is an emergency WHY?"

#3. "Honey, from the looks of him, if I were in that position I'd be hurting, too."

And then one that she couldn't stop herself from saying out loud. "Do you really want this little girl in here listening to all of this?"

"Oh, it's fine," said Tweedle-Dee. "She hears all about this stuff from her dad anyway."

"Duh," said Tweedle-ette, mortally offended. "It's not like I'm a kid or anything."

Saturday, November 22, 2008

the weakest link

When I was younger, and life was simpler, I often gauged how well things were going by the following three criteria: my grades, my weight and money. When I got a real job, I took my grades out of the equation and started worrying about the job, my weight and money. Over the years, as I've picked up a husband, kids, dogs, a mortgage, a second career, a divorce and a house that's trying to kill me, I've often looked back nostalgically at my simple little trio. The fact that I still worry about both my weight and money doesn't escape me, it's just that there's too much else going on to care. As I've gotten older, I've realized that something usually has to give, that it's almost impossible for all the cards to fall your way simultaneously. There's always going to be one area of your life that refuses to play nice. I think it's nature's way of making sure you don't get too full of yourself.

This pattern applies to other areas of my life, too. For example, if I'm looking relatively put together when I leave the house, and am managing to put healthy, home-cooked meals on the table most nights, then it stands to reason that my house will look like a landfill. If the house looks clean and inviting, and I'm still managing to put healthy, home-cooked meals on the table most nights, then I'm guaranteed to look like ass every time I set foot out the door. Look okay, clean house? Frozen pizza for dinner. It never fails. I can keep two balls in the air, but the third one comes straight down and knocks me half unconscious.

Right now, it's my house that's trying to do me in. Partly because of this self-improvement crap I've been doing, I look alright - some of the time, anyway. My weight is okay, I have fingernails and my roots aren't showing. I've just finished week three of my eight week running program, and am amazed at how well it's going - so far. Money is not as bad as it could be. My job is going fine. So obviously, my house is going to be the problem.

The talk with the boys went quite well today. I sat them down and said This Is The Way It Is, and it's really not open for discussion. I did not argue, I did not get angry - I simply said Times are a'changin' and it's time to get with the program. We'll see how it goes, but it was a promising start. With any luck my house will be able to get off of the condemned list sometime soon.

Which kind of worries me. Because then what would be the weak link?

cue the Jaws music

Thanks to all of you who commented on yesterday's post. You might be gratified at how much to heart I'm taking your suggestions and insights. Sometimes in blogging, the result is a primal scream, and, as always, I'm bowled over by your response.

To quote my favorite movie ever - When Harry Met Sally - "You're right, you're right...I know you're right."

And now I get to put it all into play...

Friday, November 21, 2008

strike three

We've just gone another nine rounds, me and Sasquatch. Nine rounds of the same old shit, nine rounds of everything I do that is wrong and everything he does that is just a rational response to his crazy, melodramatic mother. The irony of him being downstairs bellowing "Oh, my god. OH, MY GOD could you be any more melodramatic?" is completely lost on him, as it usually is.

And what has prompted this? The attempts on my part to lay down some firm lines in terms of me not doing virtually everything around here. The two younger ones get it. But not my eldest. Not by a long shot. The palm that is extended for entertainment money is curiously unable to do any work for it. The mouth that inhales every speck of food I cook is curiously unable to say anything to me that is not hateful and cruel. The child who compulsively says he loves me every time he leaves my side is curiously unable to do a damned thing to prove it. Everything that is important to me is mocked, everything I do is taken for granted, everything I say is twisted until I don't even recognize it anymore. By the time we finish one of these arguments, he has me really believing that I'm as awful a person as he says I am. I don't know how much longer I can do this.

The fact that the two younger ones get it doesn't mean they actually do anything about it. It just means that they feel a little guilty that they're not doing anything about it. I've collared each of them individually and told them all to set aside some time on Saturday for a good, old-fashioned family meeting. Things cannot continue the way they are around here.

I think I'm about to go on strike.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Thursday Three

Let's do a down and dirty Thursday Three, shall we? Because I've just worked three (coincidence? I think not) in a row, and if there's anything functioning properly on my person, I can't think of what it is. Not only can I not think straight, but my whole body is revolting as the result of a very ill-thought out trip to the gym after work last night. I looked like an Ibuprofen commercial getting out of bed this morning.
And it's almost as bad tonight. So - I'm looking for easy.

Favorite Condiments.

#1. Salsa. Love it. The spicier the better. Red, green, chunky, smooth. Chipotle, lime, corn, fruit. I'm all over it. Yum. Not only on Mexican food, but also baked potatoes, as salad dressing and on scrambled eggs.

#2. Mustard. Again, I'm fairly Catholic in my tastes. Hot, sweet, spicy, dijon. However you want to use it, I'm a fan. As far as I'm concerned, no sandwich is complete without mustard. (Tuna and PB&J most certainly excepted).

#3. Blue Cheese Dressing. I cannot tell a lie. I could drink Blue Cheese dressing out of the bottle straight. I usually don't, but I could. I think a salad with really good BC dressing is about as good as it gets. But I also love it on sandwiches, as french fry dip and, to totally defeat the healthy purpose, on rice cakes.

And one I can't stand - mayonnaise. Except on tuna or in cole slaw. Or tomato sandwiches, for that matter. Which is even more weird because if you're going to have a tomato sandwich it needs to be on white bread, which I'm also not a fan of, but on a tomato sandwich I'll overlook both of them. Why ask why?

Wanna play no-brainer T3? Go for it.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

ER Throwdown

Work the last few days has seriously resembled a WWF wrestling match. In a nutshell, a certain faction has decided that we need to take something that we do routinely (and damned well, if I do say so myself), and change the entire way we do it for their convenience. My department, in spite of the pressure cooker we work in, is really very laid back and easy going, but this has gone just a little too far. They are stepping on our toes big time, and we're fighting back. Hard.

Keep your stations tuned to CNN for further developments. (Oh, all right. Just check back here instead).

And here's a hint. It involves my very favorite group of people in the world.

P.S. In reading this over, I remembered that last week's write up wasn't my first in this job after all. Ahh. Good times.

P.P.S. This battle is unexpectedly over only a couple of hotly contested rounds in. A TKO was scored by one of the departments involved that rendered the opponent helpless and without recourse. Any guesses?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

coincidentally enough

Hot on the heels of yesterday's post comes this update.

I came home from work tonight to the following:

Half of the planned dinner already cooked and eaten. The other half still in the freezer.

The empty oven still on.

One kid on the computer and two kids glued to the television.

One kid drinking out of a measuring cup and another out of a coffee creamer because no one had bothered to check the dishwasher for clean dishes.

The overflowing remains of a baking soda and vinegar volcano.

Three dogs with crossed legs and bursting bladders.

Tomorrow's trash pick up still by the garage, and not at the curb where it belongs.

And the thermostat set at 90 degrees. Which no one will admit to doing.

I've stood in the shower for thirty minutes and I'm still hyperventilating.

I'm going to bed now.

Monday, November 17, 2008

rats in a maze

Clearly I was a little distracted last April when this study came out, because I guarantee you that I would have thrown my two cents in long before now. Now that I've run across it, though, I feel that I have to speak. Evidently, researchers at the University of Michigan have found that on an average, a husband creates seven hours of work around the house for his wife a week. Seven hours a week. Per husband.

Now it's a matter of public record that I no longer have a husband, but in a blind statistical study one man is as good as another, and since I happen to live with three of them I'm adopting this survey for my own purposes. Because lets face it, it's the perfect excuse. I can now rationalize away twenty one hours of each week and blame it on my kids. The most perfect dog in the universe is male. Can I make it twenty eight?

Personally, I think the wife having to pick up after her husband for seven hours a week is getting off easy. She only has to follow one trail of crap around the house. My trails of crap resembles the Los Angeles freeway system. I'm forever picking up clothes and dishes, closing cabinet doors, turning off lights and television sets, putting food back in the fridge or freezer and looking for important papers that were "right here just a minute ago!" When you can tell exactly which kid didn't flush by either the abundance of or lack of toilet paper, you could be the subject of a brand new study.

Seven hours.


Sunday, November 16, 2008

thanks for clearing that up for me

My plan was to post something tonight, but I've been informed by my sixteen year old son that no one can understand anything I say - in any way, at any point or anyhow.

Well. I guess that takes care of that idea.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

a quarter of the way there

Well, I've made it through the first two weeks of this running program I'm trying. It's gone well up to this point, but we're at the stage where it's about to get a lot harder. I've actually enjoyed this so far, but up to now, it's been mostly walking and then bursts of running. But next week it becomes evenly split, and then the week after that it kicks into mostly running. I'm a little concerned that this is the point where I flat out stall.

Usually, when I start something health related, I begin with a diet. When I've lost "enough" weight, I add in exercise. This time I did it completely backward, by starting the running first. I told myself I could eat whatever I wanted as long as I exercised. And oddly enough, I wanted to eat better just because I was already being so virtuous about the running. The better I eat, the better I feel. The better I feel, the more I want to stick with the program. All of a sudden, I'm back in Motivated-ville.

Hmmm. Maybe I'm on to something.

Friday, November 14, 2008

little miss nosy

One of the cool things about the internet is that it often makes the habits we consider so quirky to look pretty darn normal in comparison. I'm not talking about those really creepy or bizarre websites that gross you out for days. I'm primarily talking about blogging and the blogging community. Chat rooms would do the same thing, as would discussion boards. They're all a wonderful opportunity to throw whatever you want to out into cyberspace and then realize that, for the most part, we're all in the same boat.

I was gratified to find that I'm not the only person who peeks into houses on Halloween to check out the paint colors and architectural details. I'm relieved that other people deliberately put something they've already done onto their To Do list so they have something to cross off immediately. I'm happily surprised to know that other people are just as interested in the mundane details of other people's lives as I am. There's normalcy in numbers - or at least I'd like to think so.

Today I was trying to download a master grocery list on-line. You know, one of those lists that you customize with your own grocery needs and take to the store with you, all in the name of being an organizational freak and shaving a few minutes a week off of your chore list? (I'm not being judgmental. Honest. It takes one to know one). And what did I stumble upon but this? It's a website that people send their grocery lists to and they post them. The basic premise is that a huge number of people are just as nosy as I am, and I am here to tell you that these lists are fascinating. They've even turned this site into a book, believe it or not, sort of a gastronomic Post Secret.

Don't worry. I'm not going to post my grocery list. I've got it written and ready to go, though, because I've already had to plan meals for next week, since it's going to be wicked busy. But as I looked at my menus, that old nosiness crept back in. I write a lot about what we eat, partly because I'm a food junkie. But I always wonder about other people and what they put on their table. Obviously I'm not alone, if a grocery list website can spawn a book.

So, lets trade. I'll tell you one meal we're having either this week or next, and then you do the same. I'm really curious about this.

Our sample meal is salmon teriyaki, jasmine rice and steamed broccoli. I don't normally plan desserts - if I do make something, the kids eat it and if I don't, they either go without or have some ice cream or something. (I'd love to say they eat fruit for dessert every night, but I'd be a big time liar).

Okay. Your turn.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Thursday Three

It has definitely been a little wacky around here this week. Blame it on the full moon or something, but I have to confess to some

Very Out of Character Behavior

It would be very nice if anyone else is having the same problem and wants to fess up. I might feel a little less alone. That's a hint, in case you didn't notice, and a pretty desperate one at that.

#1. I bought a new computer. A good one, as a matter of fact. The stars kind of fell in line on this one, and when it happened it happened fast. Like in a matter of hours. Let me speed walk you through how this happened, because I normally don't make big ticket purchases quite this fast.

a. Our computer died.

b. I was about to have to start making payments to the FX for the dead computer. (Long story, but he's not the bad guy here. It's just a comedy of errors and would take a whole post to explain. It's not nearly interesting enough for that).

c. We've had several missed homework assignments because a. Our computer died.

d. When we were at Best Buy last Friday buying the Video Game Release of the Century (gag) for Sasquatch, I started looking at computers. Then I noticed that they were running a special until midnight Saturday for 18 months financing with no interest. I thought about it and then two hours later, still dragging kids, went back and bought one. A good one, as a matter of fact. (I have to keep reminding myself of this). So for not much more than I would have had to pay the FX anyway for a piece of merde computer, we have a brand new computer system that makes every single person in this house very, very happy. Myself certainly included.

At least until the first bill gets here.

#2. I got written up at work.
Not by anyone in my department, but by someone on another unit. I forgot to do something before I transferred a patient to the med/surg floor, and the nurse on that unit reported me. It wasn't anything major, and I had a perfectly good reason, but the bottom line is that my boss had to follow up with me and write an incident report. And as much as she rolled her eyes and told me not to give it a second thought...I do. It's the first time I've had an incident in this job - and only my second one ever. (Coincidentally, the first one was also on a patient I was transferring to another floor, but my old boss wasn't so nice about it. She was even less nice when I was able to prove - several weeks later - that I had done exactly what I was supposed to do according to their own policy manuals. But by then, the write-up was in my permanent record and she refused to take it out. Clearly, from here on out I need to refuse to transfer patients to other floors).

#3. I made fried chicken for dinner tonight.
And while this might be common place for some, it most certainly is not for me. In the first place, I don't fry anything, except about twice a year when I cave in to kid pressure and make a huge tray of tempura. This isn't about health issues, either. It's about having a southern grandmother who could fry your shoe and make you weep with delight, a grandmother who fried everything - in lard no less - until the day she died. My mother got a wild hair and decided years ago that she was going to make fried chicken at least as good as her mother did, and after years of experimenting she nailed it. So now I have two of them to live up to. Call me a quitter, but I refuse to even try.

And just to prove that I'm not even in the game, I made oven fried chicken.(And oven fried fake chicken to drag my karma down even further). And oven fried okra. (The rumbling you hear is my grandmother spinning in her grave. Oven fried. What a joke. They'll run you out of town for crap like that in the south). The big bowl of cole slaw might have passed muster, but I doubt it. It had almonds in it.

It's the full moon, right?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

you're only young once

When I was a kid, back in the good old days, when you wanted to drive your parents crazy you blasted your stereo or your radio full blast. If they hated the music you were playing, so much the better. I have fond memories still of my perfectionist musician step-father clenching his teeth as I played the off-key Bay City Rollers at top volume. Oh, my god, did he hate the Bay City Rollers. (I couldn't fess up that I liked a lot of the same music he did. I had my pride). I'll admit that as teenage rebellion goes it was pretty stinkin' tame, but even so I knew it was a sure fire way to get his ire up. My teenage years were not what one might call "typical", and most avenues of traditional rebellion were of no use to me. I think it's safe to say that I've given my poor step-father a life- long tartan phobia and an irrational fear of S-A-T-U-R-D-A-Y nights. My work here is done.

I thought of this the other day when I asked Sasquatch if I could look at his iPod to see if he had anything on it that I wanted to download onto my new one. You'd have thought I asked the kid to take off his underwear and hand them over. My wanting to check out his music was an intrusion to his privacy. His privacy. Does he not see that he has this totally backward? He's supposed to impose his questionable musical tastes on me just like I did to my parents at his age. It's a rite of passage, damn it. I'm supposed to be able to yell about high volumes and dodgy lyrics, and even say things like, " You call that music? It sounds like he has his hand caught in a carburetor."

Instead, I watched him slip in his earbuds and bob away to a beat heard only by him. Now where's the fun in that?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

the triage rant

WARNING: Disjointed, choppy vent session ahead. Someone needs a good nights sleep.

The system doesn't work. I don't care who you want to blame - the politicians, their policies, the tax cuts, the downsizing of social services, the lack of affordable health care - whatever. Blame it on whatever. Pick your target. I'm just making a blanket statement. The. System. Doesn't. Work.

"Normal" people will do anything in the world to avoid being in the ER. But there are "others" who consider it their destination of choice. And I'm at the point tonight where it is really getting to me. Because here are some of the things we see on a daily basis...

The Family Date Night. If one member of a family comes in to the ER to be seen, someone else decides to come in with them and have their (back pain, stomach ache, trick knee, ingrown toenail) looked at. Hey, if you're going to be sitting around a hospital while your loved one gets checked out, might as well get your money's worth out of it. Most prevalent on weekends, holidays, or any time we're getting slammed with ambulances.

The Enforcer. The people who haul their kids in because they're misbehaving. There's nothing wrong with the kids medically - they're just driving their parents nuts. So the parents will say something about anger issues or depression and the next thing you know we have to get a screener in to do a full-blown mental health workup. If either parent or child has played the system before, all they have to do is drop a couple of magic words (suicidal, violent) and the next thing you know we're down a nurse because now we have a 1:1 observation patient. Bonus points for the parents who check themselves in at the same time trying to get some Ativan for their "fried nerves". (I'm not talking about legitimate mental health needs. I'm talking about parents who want us to discipline their kids).

The Lonely Hearts Club Band
. Not to sound unsympathetic, but these are the people who have no life. In their world, three hours in the ER for "weakness" is far better than sitting at home alone and watching the news. Never mind that this social visit probably includes needles and expensive tests, they keep coming back for more. We really are better than ER on television.

The Frequent Fliers. My personal favorite. These are the people you see so often that you know their home med list by heart. And all their family members (who, oddly enough, are usually frequent fliers as well). This is the group who has figured out how to avoid those pesky waits in the waiting room or triage. They simply call an ambulance and utter those two (other) magic words. Chest pain. And in they sail, triumphantly cruising by all those legitimately sick schmucks in the waiting room who, because they're too busy leading productive lives to learn how to abuse the system, actually have the idea that you only come to the ER when you think you're dying. Silly rabbits.

The Penny Pinchers.
This is the group that says things like "Oh, yeah, I know that my doctor could have taken this splinter out of my finger, but he wants a $20 copay every time I go in. It's just easier to come here. Besides, I can get a hot meal while I wait."

The Quick Trigger Syndrome. The patient who wakes up from a nap with some nausea and immediately heads to the ER. A stomach ache for an hour? A dime sized bruise from last week that isn't going away? A zit that won't pop? A paper cut? That's what we're here for, right?

The Legitimately Clueless. The mother who calls an ambulance for her teenaged daughter with a toothache. The people who tell you that all of their symptoms started last week when they started a new med - yet they're still taking it. The twenty year old who is all freaked out because every twenty eight days or so she bleeds "down there". The chainsmoking mother who never opens a window and can't understand why her toddler's asthma is so bad this year.

I could go on and on. Don't get the feeling that people can only fit in one category, either. I can think of enough patients to fill the fingers of one hand who fit at least five of the above seven slots simultaneously. The number of those who match at least three are enormous. And we have one lucky family that proudly represents every single one of the previous groups. Every single one.

To a nurse (or anyone working in emergency medicine), the only thing more frustrating than HIPAA (our lovely privacy act) is EMTALA. (Who the hell comes up with these acronyms?) I don't even remember what EMTALA stands for, and I don't give a crap, either. It's an even bigger pain in the ass than HIPAA, because it states that we cannot turn anyone away for any reason. Period. Our hands are tied. We have to treat them no matter what.

So much is made of the fact that so many people don't have health insurance. There is no hiding your insurance status in the ER, but honest to god, none of us care. We're there because we want to help people - we really are. And we all totally understand that there are people out there who are doing all they can to survive, but still can't afford health care. This is not directed at those people. It's directed at those who have no intention of paying any of their bills - not for the meal they ate, or the ambulance they called or the EKGs or the blood work for nonexistant issues - nothing. This is why we're more attractive than a private doctor, because they can (and do) refuse to see patients who don't pay. We can't. And we don't.

We have one guy who has been in nine times in eleven days, seven of those by ambulance. There's nothing wrong with him that twenty years of psychotherapy wouldn't cure. He's an impossible IV stick, so we need IV therapy every time. Thousands of dollars of labs and scans and, to add insult to injury, once he managed to talk his way into an overnight admit because you can't prove that someone isn't having pain. A normal EKG, normal vital signs, rating your pain at a 10/10 even though you were sound asleep when we came in the room...all pale against someone pleading chest pain in the litigous world we live in. And he's not homeless, either. It's not like he's looking for a place to sleep.

People have forgotten what the word Emergency means. Or they don't care.

Or both.

Monday, November 10, 2008

lullaby and good night

We got our butts handed to us at work today. I mean it was brutal. For the first time since we moved to our big, beautiful new unit last spring, we had beds in the hall, ambulances stacked up in the drive and the waiting room spilling out into the parking lot. My feet hurt, my head is pounding, my nerves are shot...and I have to do it all again tomorrow.

When I got home I did pretty much what I always do. I put on my pajamas. I loaded the dishwasher. I fed the dogs, hounded the boys to take showers (and then griped at Sasquatch to get out after he had been in for forty-five minutes. Ka-ching!), made myself a big cup of tea (Constant Comment tonight), ate an apple, crawled into bed and plugged in my laptop. And that's where I've stalled. The think tank is empty.

So because I'm scraping the bottom of the barrel here, I'd like to hear your after-work routines. What is it that makes you feel like your work day is over and it's finally time to kick back? For me it's three pronged. First the pajamas. Then I have to wash my face. Don't ask why, because I don't know. Then I need a drink. Sometimes a beer, sometimes a glass of wine, but more and more lately it's a cup of tea. I switch between Earl Grey, Constant Comment and decaf Chai. The combo of those three things switches me into sleep mode. And right about now, that feels pretty darned good.

How about you?

Sunday, November 9, 2008

needle in a haystack

Walking into my back yard today in the process of dragging in my usual $200 worth of food for the week , I happened to look down. There, in an enormous pile of leaves, was Surfer Dude's phone. On the brick walkway that we have all traversed many, many times since he lost it a week and a half ago. In the same back yard that was practically afloat a couple of days ago after a monumental rainstorm. Very near the spot where one of the dogs loves to do their business. I sighed mightily and took it in the house, knowing it was well beyond repair.

But I was wrong. I don't have a clue in the world how, but it works perfectly. It isn't even wet. How can this be? Is it like some cell phone survivor story? Where do I sell the movie rights?

Could it be that my technology luck is changing?

Saturday, November 8, 2008

more boring psycho babble

I write about my mom a lot.

I write about my kids a lot.

I'd like to write about work more, but am always worried about it.

I write about my friends, my dogs, my life, my hopes, my dreams, food, the beach, things that irritate me and my views on the Midwest as a transplanted tree hugging, granola headed Left Coaster.

I've even been known to write a time or two about my ex.

I very rarely write about my dad. And that's really too bad, because god knows there's plenty of material there. Some good, some bad, some definitely open to interpretation...but lots of it. Obviously, I'm far from alone in having complicated relationships of the parental kind, so I'm not complaining exactly. I fully realize that I'm ahead of the game in that my mom and I get along so well. I just have a lot of unresolved issues with my dad that have been popping up in unexpected ways lately.

My mom left an interesting comment recently about it being a hard time around here due to some recent "death dates" and my dad's birthday passing by. That kind of got me thinking. His birthday was September 29, and that is such a loaded date for me that I was absolutely positive my divorce papers would come in the mail that day. Or be dated that day. Or in some way have something to do with that day. The symbolism would have been pitch perfect. I could give a lot of reasons for that - most of which wouldn't make much sense. But here's a brief stab at it:

I've had three long-term complicated relationships with men in my life. My dad, my ex and Sasquatch. (I don't know why Gumby and Surfer Dude don't feel complicated to me, but they don't. This isn't a slap at SQ, honest. I just think it's more a temperament thing). In the win-loss category, it's a toss-up. I think I lost with my dad (but to be fair, so did he), at first I chalked the FX up as a loss, but have since changed my mind, and I really think I'm winning with Sasquatch, inch by inch. And why do I continue to lump them together in this odd and disjointed way? Well, because old habits and patterns die hard. Because my eldest son is the spitting image of my dad in so many ways. Because I have a chance to change some things for the better. Because I married a man just like dear old dad, and what's worse I knew it at the time and what's even worse, I made jokes about it. For years.

Because I have to get past this. Bit by bit. And I'm going to drag you all along with me.

Friday, November 7, 2008

the longest journey...

Well, this has got disaster written all over it.

Do you know the feeling when you realize you are completely driven to do something that's going to be a little bit of a, uh, stretch - and you have absolutely no idea where the whole notion came from? Maybe you get a wild urge to repair your own plumbing (and you've never done it before), or perhaps you audition for a local theater performance on a whim, decide to learn a foreign language, or even climb a mountain. All of a sudden this thing pops into your head and you just can't get it out. What then?

Some people - the smart ones - take a nap until the urge passes. Others jump in whole-heartedly and either a) fall off the mountain or b) land the lead role. Then there's the third group, the one that inches their way sideways to what they want to do, until voila! There they are. (They may not have a clue of what to do once they're there, but there they are anyway). If they're really lucky, at some point in this journey they figure out why the devil they want to do whatever it is in the first place. That's me. I'm the third group. And I have a wild notion.

I want to start running. Distances. And I would be very hard pressed to say why.

Actually, that isn't true - the first part, anyway. I have started running. Yesterday. It was an inauspicious beginning, to be sure, but you know what they say about the journey starting with a single step. I found this training program on-line that says it will have you running thirty minutes straight in eight weeks, and I'm giving it a try. It's a walk-run program, where you gradually decrease the amount of time you walk and increase the amount of time you run. I'm even playing by the rules, which I typically don't with anything exercise related. I always want to go from zero to a hundred in about five minutes, which ends up with me getting either burned out or hurt. I'm not in the market for either of those, so I'm being good.

This is what I did: Walk six minutes and run one minute. Four times. For a total of twenty four minutes walking and four whopping minutes running. (Otherwise known as twenty eight minutes at work).

How simple can it get?

It felt pretty good, and I made myself only run the one minute at a time, even though I wanted to do more. (Not a lot more, you understand. Just a little more). It was a gorgeous day to be outside, which made it even better. My brand new iPod (fully loaded for me by Sasquatch in a thinly veiled ploy to get me to lend him the money for a new video game that comes out Friday) performed beautifully, unlike my old one with the glitchy battery. It may have been a tiny step, but it was an enjoyable one, and I'm looking forward to the next time.

I'm sure the fact that I'm surrounded by runners has something to do with this. A lot of people at work run, and maybe I'm projecting, but they seem just a shade calmer than the rest of us. We pretty much run the gamut. One of the nurses just started a running program and is now running three miles straight. And she had never run before. A bunch of people run 3-5 miles a day regularly. Someone else just finished their first marathon. We all supported a co-worker who ran the New York Marathon last week. One of our docs even does the extreme running thing, where you run races up to 100 miles. Makes my feet hurt just thinking about it.

I've always been off and on athletic. I played tennis for hours every day growing up. When I was on the tennis team we'd practice for a couple of hours and run a couple of miles. Five days a week. In college, to appease an overly controlling boyfriend, I ran six miles a day for quite a while. I'm a world class walker - I love to walk. I like the gym, too, always have. I'm not getting any younger and I'm attempting to halt my butt's descent to my knees. And I keep hearing about what a peaceful, Zen-like experience it is. What other reasons do I need?

So why do I have the feeling of impending doom? I can do this, right?


Thursday, November 6, 2008

The Thursday Three

This time it's back for good. I promise. (If you hate T3 I promise to make it up to you the other six days of the week. Well, I promise to try. I hate making promises I can't keep). But I've missed doing this, so...back to the drawing board. If anyone has ideas for future topics, give me a shout. I'm always looking for ideas.

Hmmm. What should we talk about? How about

Three Things I Should Have Done This Week (but didn't)

The problem here is going to be narrowing it down to three. There's so many to choose from.

#1. Get the cast off of Surfer Dude's arm.
I told him the appointment was today, but then I looked at my calendar and realized it was next week. He was really disappointed because he's seriously ready to get rid of this thing. (So am I. He's still coming in to my bed at night sometimes, and you haven't lived until you've had a hard plaster cast flung across your face in the middle of the night).

Imagine my dismay when we got a call today from the Ortho office wanting to know where we were. The appointment was today after all. Oops.

#2. Make an appointment to discuss taking out Gumby's tonsils.
He actually came up to me and asked me if we could do this, and I know it's a good idea. He has never had tonsillitis, but he's a mouth breather and he snores. He also smacks his food when he eats, which I suspect is because he can't breathe unless he does. The other two had theirs out when they were much younger, because they needed to. Their adenoids were huge. Well, he doesn't need to, but he really should while he's still young. But oh, how I hate the thought of actually doing it. Ugh.

#3. Buy long sleeved t-shirts for work.
I've been freezing at work lately and for some reason I only have one long sleeved t-shirt to wear under my scrubs. I went to Target the other day and picked up a couple in basic black, white and blue, but then I guess I put them down to look at something and walked out of the store without ever buying them. If I had half a clue, I'd be dangerous. At least I'm not hard to spot at work. I'm the nurse walking around with the warmed blanket around my shoulders. Aaahhh.

What did you forget this week?

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


Yes...we can.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

work, work, politics

My plan all along has been to write something special for Election Day. I'm well aware that I never followed up on my threat to wade into the political fray, and figured that this would certainly be the day for it.

But I've also just come off a twelve hour shift that has kicked my ass from here to Washington, D.C. and am feeling an overwhelming need to write about that, too.

And, in coming home and reading comments from today's post, I guess I didn't really make myself clear, so there's that topic that should be covered as well.

Man. I'm tired and I haven't even started.

Let's work backwards.

My shame from today's post is, I guess, hard to describe. It was the fact that I was bored and looking at a code as a kind of faux entertainment. It was the glee in the student's eyes at getting to be in on it and knowing that every single one of us in that room - doctors, nurses, respiratory therapists - all feel that initial kick start of adrenaline as "oh, my god, I would rather be here than anywhere else in the world". Because, really, isn't that just the tiniest bit sick? It was my impatience with the doctor who I thought should have called it long before he did. It was so many things all rolled into one. Most people who work take pride in what they do. But sometimes I feel that it's a little twisted to take pride in what I do. Because what I do can be awful. How can you be proud of that?

Today I was the trauma room nurse. And I had an attempted suicide come in -a woman who had overdosed because her husband had told her he didn't love her anymore and didn't want to be married to her. She fought and kicked and screamed as we put the tube into her stomach to pour the charcoal into, until suddenly she just stopped and laid limp. My eyes shot to the monitor, fearful that something really bad was going on. She looked at me for a long time, and then sadly said, "It's easy for you. You don't know what it's like to hear someone say those things to you."

And I, who holds it together at work no matter what, walked out to the desk and cried in front of both the day and night charge nurse. (It was shift change, thank god, which meant I was ten minutes away from leaving). Now we all know how I feel about this whole female suicide thing, but it wasn't just that. It was the idea that someone could actually think that suicide is a solution. That someone with children could actually contemplate this as a viable option. Because unless I've been with the wrong men all my life, I just don't see it. At all.

This brings us neatly to election day, this concept of wrong men. Okay, here's my political agenda in a nutshell. I have very strong ideas, and, like most people, I vote the issues that matter to me the most. I'm not particularly bright in a political sense, a trait that I fear drives my very astute mother to distraction. My mom, my eldest, my ex...all very up to date and aware. Me...not so much. It's not that I don't care. I do. I just don't follow it passionately. I find that you have to ration passion, and there are other things in my life lately that suck up a lot of my energy.

I also have a lot of trouble with the whole process. I'm not really big on shoving my ideas down other people's throats, even when I'm sure I'm right. I certainly don't like being the shoveee, when people want to foist their ideas off on me. Then there's that whole Gemini thing, which can really foul things up. Because on virtually any point I can see where the opposing side is coming from . I may not agree, but I can see their logic. Usually. Not always. But on the big things I can. All the loaded "hot topics"? I have very firm opinions, but I understand the other side's perspective, and this can be really tricky.

Then there's the conflict issue. I don't like it. Some people love to argue and debate - I'm not one of them. There are people I genuinely like - and even love - who have political views that are diametrically opposed to mine, but I like - and even love - them anyway. I don't even think of them as being "wrong". I just look at it as "different". A lot of people I deal with on a daily basis are voting against my guy, and seem to be in genuine pain at the thought that their guy might not win. I'm sorry for their pain, I'm certainly not going to get into it with them...but I still think my guy is the better choice.

And as we go into the final day of Election 2008, as my fear and paranoia reach a fever pitch, all we can do now is wait. And vote. I care more about this election than I have any election in my life. I have a sixteen year old son whom I don't want to send to war. A war I don't believe we should be involved in to start with. There is finally a candidate who I can feel fired up and optimistic about. For the last several weeks I've been afraid to even say it out loud, and I still am. I'm so terribly scared that it could all fall through in the blink of an eye, no matter what the damned polls say. It is still very much anyone's game.

But damn. Doesn't President Obama have a great ring to it?

And if not...I'll rename the blog. Confessions of a Rotten Correspondent:Abroad.

Monday, November 3, 2008

not my finest moment

I had a real moment of shame at work the other day. Not just your everyday shame, either, but a searing flash that made me feel a little sick and disgusted with myself. It hasn't lessened in hindsight either, which really sucks. I try awfully hard to be a good person, and have to figure out a way to never let this happen again. The problem is - I don't know how.

It had been an uncharacteristically slow day. I mean slow. So slow that I voluntarily spent most of my day in Triage, which will eat you alive if it's busy, but on this particular day meant that I sat in a quiet room alone and played word games on-line. This is a double-edged sword, however, because when it's not busy the time seems to crawl. Most days I barely look up and my twelve hour shift is over. Not this one. The minutes dragged.

We all work twelve hour shifts, but we start around the clock. I had been there for hours when one of the older nurses came on duty. And before you knew it, before she had finished drinking her first cup of coffee, she got our first high-acuity patient of the day, who came in talking and nervously attempting to make jokes, and then proceeded to code on her within ten minutes. She coded once. They got her back. Twice. Back again. Three times. This was not good.

Her family was there, and growing in number by the minute. We called in the chaplain, who took them to the family room down the hall - the room you never want to be in - and tried to keep them up to date on what was going on. Her husband sat numbly in a chair, staring at the wall.

In the trauma room things were hopping. There were a ton of people in there - respiratory therapists, pharmacy, my boss, the nursing supervisor, two doctors, a physicians assistant, untold numbers of nurses and several students who were on the unit that day. The ER rotations almost always come at the end of a nursing program, right before the student is going to graduate. It's an anticipated rotation for all but a few. And this was exactly the kind of action they wanted to be in on.

I wasn't needed in the room, but I kept going in to see what was going on. And when I ran into the primary nurse who had that patient, I made some sort of comment about how all the rest of us had been sitting on our asses all day and then they came in and got the action, while we were all half-asleep. I went back in the room - because I was bored - and finally got something constructive to do to help. One of our nurses had dragged all the students to an out of the way corner and was walking them through the code. One of the doctors stood in the middle of the room and walked us through his thought process step by step, inviting questions and feedback. One by one, we let the students do the chest compressions, so they could learn how on a real person and not a rubber demonstration dummy.

A real person.

This was not a teaching moment. This was not something to keep me awake for the last two hours of my shift. This was not television. This was a woman who was going to die, no matter what we did or how well we did it. The family at the end of the hall who kept glancing fearfully at the closed curtains were not amused in the slightest, nor should they have been. The look on their faces as the doctor came out of the room and walked down that long hall toward them was a look I've come to know and dread. It was raw terror. As the doctor reached them and put a hand on her husband's shoulder...he knew. He knew before he said a word. And he slowly collapsed weeping into his son's arms as the rest of the family stood in varying degrees of stunned shock and vocal grief.

You have to walk a line. There has to be objectivity there or none of us could do our jobs effectively. You have to teach people how to handle situations like this. In nursing school, it's a badge of honor. "I was in on a code during my ER rotation" is right up there with actually seeing a baby being born during your time in OB. (Which I hated, by the way, just to add one more black mark to my name. OB, not babies).

And god knows if we didn't have some way of distancing ourselves, we'd never get through the day. And god knows that it takes a cold human being to not feel a family's agony. And god knows that I may never make it to that point. But even though I was not alone that day in my attitude, I still feel like a schmuck. From a medical and professional standpoint we were beyond reproach.

But as humans?

Sunday, November 2, 2008

trick or treat

We live in the artsy-fartsty section of town and I wouldn't have it any other way. I love our neighborhood, with all its quirks and eccentricities, and have always looked forward to Halloween for the effort that people put into their houses. This is one of the areas that attracts people from other parts of town, partly because we get into it so much, but also just because of the feel. It's a pretty cozy place to be, and the fact that there's chocolate involved only makes it better.

There were a few things that stood out. The house down the street where the kids all got Reeses Peanut Butter cups and the adults all got big cups of hot apple cider (and a generous slug of rum). The fact that Surder Dude's teacher was trick or treating in our neighborhood with her kids - and wearing a strictly forbidden during work hours political t-shirt. I think she passed 90% of her students, and they all said "oooh...are you allowed to wear that?" The fact that the two other adults I was with fessed up that their favorite part of Halloween was being able to look in people's houses after dark and check out their paint colors and architecture. (Whew. I thought it was just me).

But the "highlight" of the evening was the house toward the very end of our route. It was getting late, and as we approached the (well-lit and decorated) porch, the kids noticed a sign that said (in big letters) TAKE ONE. So they raced onto the porch, expecting to TAKE ONE piece of candy, and this is what they found:

A bottle of shampoo

A roll of toilet paper

A flashlight

A pack of gum

A pile of business cards from a local private investigator

A can of pork and beans

Discount coupons for a restaurant that doesn't exist anymore

A bunch of books of matches

A pack of baby wipes

and my personal favorite

A big can of saurkraut

It must have been a trick. Because it was certainly no treat.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

we interrupt this list

I love making lists. This little compulsion has been mentioned before, and I went into greater detail in the very first Thursday Three, which, by the way, is coming back next week, hopefully for good. Something about lists soothes my soul, in addition to making me feel productive and organized. The graphic above is cute, but would never work for me. I need something way bigger than a post-it. I do those kinds of lists.

But sometimes I think I'm in the real minority in the way I feel about lists, and that most people don't care for them at all. So I have a question to ask. I've gotten kind of an interesting idea in this godforsaken book I'm stupidly attempting, and it's all kind of convoluted and still falling into place, but in the meantime I'd really like to know.

What are your thoughts on lists? Grocery, To Do, 50 things I want to do before I die, 10 favorite baby names - any kind of list.

Love 'em, hate 'em, couldn't care less?