Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Treading Water

I finally enrolled in my classes for the spring semster. I'm taking Honors Speech and Honors Comp II.

Go me.

Those two classes don't make me feel like I'm going anywhere at all. But at least I'm taking some, I guess, and both of those are basic requirements for my undergrad. And they'll salve my ego and my GPA after that stupid class last semester. I shouldn't have any problem getting A's in both of them.

Now to take my test for the certification that the aformentioned class from the fiery bowels of hell supposedly qualifies me for in the first place. And to get a job. For now, though, it's enough that I'm enrolled in a couple of classes for the semester.

I NEED to run tomorrow. Christmas threw me off, and I'm getting into this mad blue funk. Total running withdrawal. The Wii and the knitting and the Scout shop and the pants I need to hem and the laundry and my grey hairs that need to be touched up and everything else are going to have to take a back seat for a little while, because if I don't run a few miles tomorrow I'm probably going to start taking sniper shots from a belltower somewhere. It STILL amazes me that a couch potato like myself has gotten so thoroughly addicted to something as strenuous as running, but boy am I ever!

Any big New Year plans? We're going to a party. Maybe. If I can break out of this Eeyore thing I have going on.


I have had a breakthrough.

Life is entirely too short to drink out of ugly coffee cups.

A few years ago, when J's store was advertising on our local WB channel, he brought home a crapload of rather unattractive WB coffee cups. Generally, I have my coffee out of them in the mornings, just out of habit.

Today, I tossed them all out.

I do have a few coffee cups that I like. The one I got at Disney World, which is aqua (for years I've been claiming this is my favorite color...not sure how it's escaped my notice that given the choice, I'll always pick red), and which has "it was all started by a mouse" along the inner rim. The tall one that says "Internet Girl," and has a picture on it of a girl with a laptop who looks fairly similar to me. She even has her hair in the low ponytail with the side part that I tend to wear when I don't feel like messing with it. There's a chip in the handle, but I don't care. And the Starbucks cup that I got from Mom and Dad last Christmas, which is a nice shape and just the right size (I don't like my cups too big, because the coffee cools down before I can drink the whole thing). There's also one that I snagged from a place I used to work, which is really thick stoneware and looks like something from a 40s diner. It has a retro-looking picture of a perky little man and says "try our coffee, it's delicious!"

So, excellent. I have four coffee cups that I love. And I refuse to drink out of another cup I don't love, ever again. I like my coffee too much to drink it out of cups that suck.

I'm now officially on the prowl for coffee cups that I love. I intend to fill my cabinet with them, eventually.

On another note, we are now the proud owners of a Wii. I will never, ever accomplish another thing again in my life.

Monday, December 29, 2008


Working Subtitle: Why I Wear Heels to Wal-Mart

Ok, I really don't usually wear heels to the soul-sucking, hellish vortex that is Wal-Mart. It's just that once in awhile, I get a bug up my butt to look nice. Today was such a day. I actually felt like putting my hair in hot rollers, but didn't really have time. So I settled for jeans with heels and a nice shirt.

To go where? The yarn store. Yeah, you read that right. I'm knitting again. I'm currently insanely stressed, and most of you know most of the reasons why. Knitting is great for that. I can fidget incessantly and call it "working on a project." Plus it's portable. I've got two things going on, both of which incorporate things I've never done before: one is a sweater, very sheer and, since I'm not a slut, meant to be worn over a tank top. I'm randomly adding seed beads to it as I go - that's new for me, but I got a lot of compliments on it at the yarn store, so I guess it looks good. The other is a pair of socks, which requires knitting in the round. That's four needles I'm working with, people. FOUR. It's unwieldy, but strangely addictive. And the socks are shaping up to be pretty cute. They're bright, and I don't usually wear any color of socks but white, but I might have to work up several particularly obnoxious pairs to wear with my Cub Scout uniform. These can be Obnoxious Cub Scout Socks Number One. I'll try and take some pictures of my knitting and post them tomorrow.

So I had to go to the yarn store, because my spazzfest of a Golden Retriever ate one of my balls of yarn. Mohair. Not cheap. I love my dog, but I really wish she had a hobby other than creating the most expensive and often bizarre poop she possibly can. We already have polyfill laying around the backyard because she has made it her life goal to consume my sofa in its entirety. The yarn poop should be absolutely fascinating.

After that, Wal-Mart. Where I ran into, of all people, a girl I went to high school with. Now I know why I never run into anyone I used to know when I come home for a visit...apparently, they've all moved here. She was a few grades below me, but I was friends with her cousin. She recognized me right away, I honestly can't say the same for her. Nice girl. She had her daughter with her, who is a fabulous little thing and clearly gives her mother a run for her money. Literally. Last glimpse I had of the two of them, my former schoolmate was chasing the little girl down the dairy aisle at a full sprint.

After that, I ran into a girl I used to work with. I can't stand this person, nor could anyone else who worked there other than a few paunchy, drooling middle-aged management types. She's not particularly pretty, but she's an emaciated blonde who presents herself in, umm...a certain way. She doesn't really do anything productive that I've ever noticed...mostly she takes credit for other people's work, orders co-workers around, and throws people under the bus to cover her own mistakes, which she makes thoroughly and often. I never was able to figure out exactly what it is she DOES, other than what I just mentioned. She certainly did spend a lot of time behind closed doors with her direct supervisor, though (one of those drooling middle-aged management types).

I guess "ran into" isn't really the right term. You couldn't have paid me to talk to her, but we made eye contact for long enough that I caught the "wow, she's lost weight!" once-over she gave me. And it wasn't a congratulatory look. Heh!

So it was nice that I had on makeup, my hair was fixed and I was wearing decent clothes.

Right now, it's equally nice that I'm in my Pepto-pink footie pajamas with the monkeys all over them. Off to bed.

Saturday, December 13, 2008


I have NOTHING TO DO. All week long.

Well, I have lots of housework I could be doing. But we all know how that works.

I'm not doing well with this whole nothing-to-do thing. It's not even that I'm bored - I'm all jittery, like I've had too much coffee (which I haven't). I'm totally restless, and in one of those moods where you just want to scream for no reason. I really, really want to get out of the house, but to do that I'd have to get myself all presentable, and if I bother with THAT, I'm far less likely to run. And if I don't run today, I'll have to do it tomorrow, and today is really better. Besides, I NEED to run. Six miles will expend just about the right amount of energy, and get me all noodly and relaxed instead of jittery and tightly wound. It will use up some time, too, and afterward I can take a nice long soak in my tub. I'll feel much better after that...everything will fall into place after a run and a soak in the tub, I know. I'll be way more centered. But I have S for probably about the next 3 hours, until The Ex picks him up.

So I have to wait.

What on earth do I do with myself in the meantime? I cleaned out and reorganized my closet yesterday. Today I've scrubbed the kitchen and done laundry. Maybe my dresser drawers? Bleh.

One thing is for sure...I'm not cut out for the stay-at-home domestic goddess thing. It hasn't even been a week since I've been done with school, and most of my days have been filled up since then. I've lasted LESS THAN A DAY not having anything going on.

How sad is that? I ask you.

Friday, December 12, 2008

In the News

Bettie Page has died. You know, 1950s pinup queen extraordinaire? Black hair? Bangs? I know several of you might not agree with me, but I think she was absolutely fabulous, and I'm truly sorry to hear of her passing. She's proof of the often-used "well-behaved women rarely make history" quote.

It seems that they've also possibly found Caylee Anthony. It also seems that right about the time she WAS being found, J and I were discussing why she hasn't been found. I couldn't figure it out...hiding a body is easy, but hiding a body well is not (no, I don't know this from personal experience, but I am enough of a true crime buff to understand how difficult it is to successfully commit murder). As far as I was concerned, that mother of hers is too much of a twit to be able to hide a body well. Then J pointed out that they do, after all, live in Florida, with swampland and gators and whatnot. Point taken. It would be relatively easy to hide a body well in Florida. You'd pretty much just have to put it somewhere secluded enough to give the local flora and fauna enough time to do what comes naturally.

Seems the mother is an even bigger twit than I thought, though, if it does turn out to be Caylee (which, come on, is there ANYONE who thinks it isn't?). First of all...a plastic bag? Seriously?! Second of all...putting the bag in a place where it was known that she used to hang out with all the other twits she went to high school with?


I hope all of this doesn't sound too cavalier. I haven't lost sight of the fact that this is a little girl - a beautiful, precious little girl who deserved so much better than what she got. Even so, I hope it is her, if for no other reason than to give her grandparents some peace and some answers.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

A La Mode

There is a woman whose son is in our Cub Scout pack who insists on calling me Wendy. As just about all of you know, that is not my name. Also, it's not a name I particularly like. And she's starting to get on my nerves with it.

It's not that she doesn't know my name. She's called me by it before. And it's not really even a joke. I get the distinct impression that it's some sort of dominance thing. It's all very "I will call you whatever I want, and what do you think you're going to do about it?"

The answer? Nothing, really. I don't answer to Wendy, but I'm not going to freak out over it, either. Not worth it.

Last night at a school function, the Wendying was accompanied by a lovely little comment: "Wendy, it's so WEIRD to see you in heels!" Umm...ok.

I do know what she meant by it...that I'm not in my scout uniform or some permutation thereof. But the thing is, she doesn't even really see me in that, very much. She doesn't come to a lot of scout functions, and the ones she does attend are things like camping where I'm not in uniform anyway (although, granted, I'm not wearing heels either). On top of that, our boys are in the same grade and we both come to school events fairly often, so it can't be THAT weird to see me in civvies. Either way, if I had made a comment like that and I wasn't actively trying to insult the person at whom it was directed, I would have made a point of also saying how nice they looked, or something.

Yeah, there was none of that. So I'm pretty sure she was being exceedingly catty. Why? No idea. Ok, SOME idea. But I do know that it's nothing I've ever done to her...while I don't like her very much, I adore her son and have been nothing but decent to her (except when I ignore her if she calls me Wendy, and that's not usually even on purpose since it's NOT MY NAME).

Unfortunately, I have to deal with her on Friday again. And what's the girly thing to do when you know you're going to be dealing with someone who is a complete and utter cow?

You make sure you look better than she does, of course.

I had to go to the mall anyway today, to exchange that sweater that Grandma accidentally-on-purpose bought. I ended up keeping the sweater, actually, but figured that while I was there, maybe I'd look for a nice blouse. I could use one, since I'm at that odd in-between-sizes phase.

I found NOTHING. Or rather, I did...about 3 gorgeous shirts, all over $70, at Banana Republic and White House/Black Market. A little out of my range at the moment. So I came home with nothing, and for that, I blame muffin tops.

A muffin top is what you get when you're a size 12, and you squeeze into a pair of size 6 jeans, forcing all of your fat to congregate right above the waistband. Got the visual? Girls with muffin tops seem to enjoy proudly showing them off in little t-shirts that are generally also too small, so they ride up and show off the muffin top in all of its pale, jiggly fishbelly glory. The shirts often have witty little slogans like "your boyfriend wants me" or "yes, I know I'm hot" or the like, and the girls wearing them never seem to notice any irony about that. Generally, those sporting a muffin top seem to be in their 20s, I've noticed...no longer nubile little fetuses of teenagers, maybe gained some weight since then, but they're still trying to pretend they wear the same size that they wore when they were in middle school. By the time they're about 30, they seem to figure out that it's a lost cause and buy some jeans that fit them. If you see a woman over 30 (a.k.a. old enough to know better) sporting a muffin top and making no effort to camouflage it with a baggy shirt, there's a pretty good bet that she's also got any combination of the following going on: really long, "airbrush-art" nails in fluorescent and/or glittery colors, peroxide hair, something in an animal print and/or with studs or rhinestones, lots of fake tanning going on and possibly a small dog in a purse. Come to think of it, girls under 30 with severe cases of muffin top fairly often have those things, too.

Now, granted, there have been times when I've been forced to wear jeans that were a bit too tight and gave me a little pork roll. Sometimes you gain weight, can't afford new jeans, and you have to do what you have to do, but I've always, ALWAYS made sure to wear a shirt that hides the muffin top. When I see a girl with a serious case of it, especially with a tight, short shirt that accentuates it (and it happens WAY more than it ever should), I always wonder...does she have a full-length mirror? Does she use it? And does she actually think that looks good? I can't fathom the thought process that allows anyone to leave the house looking like that. Muffin tops are NOT a good look.

So why do I blame muffin tops for the fact that I couldn't find a decent blouse? Because just about every shirt to be had in the mall had this whole balloony-blousy thing going on, all baggy and gathered into a band at the bottom. Cutting armholes in a trash bag and attaching the odd bow and sequin would give just about the same effect as the shirts that are out right now. Apparently there are a lot of females who think this IS a good look, and I agree, if you're going for something oompa-loompa-esque. These shirts flatter no one, not even the fetuses and the boobless stick insects that the fashion industry gears itself toward. So these shirts puzzled me. Whose brilliant idea were they, and why have they gotten so popular?

Then it occured to me: These shapeless wonder-sacks would be PERFECT for hiding a nasty case of muffin top.

So here's what apparently happened. The Fashion Industry Powers That Be saw the muffin tops, and were sore afraid. They decided that the muffin tops must be abolished at any cost, found a couple of old parachutes, put them on a couple of vapid anorexic supermodels, and deemed them to be high-fashion. The muffin tops were thus concealed (not on the supermodels, of course, since they couldn't squeeze out a muffin top if their bony little lives depended on it...just on everyone else), and all was right with their world.

Except it didn't work. Because I STILL see muffin tops. You can lead a muffin top to a shapeless sack shirt, but you can't make it drink. Or wear the shirt. I really don't know who's buying all these sack things, because the t-shirt that's 3 sizes too small is still pretty prevalent.

Also, where does that leave those of us who are not chronic muffin-top offenders, and are actually cognizant of when something does not fit? We who are not responsible for horrors and travesties of fashion wind up being punished, because we can't find a single thing to wear that actually flatters us.

So even though I hated muffin tops before, I hate them even more now for depriving me of decent clothes.

Whatever. I'll end up looking better than Wendy-Bird on Friday anyway, and I won't have spent an extra cent to do it. Perhaps I'll break out the 3-inch hot pink satin stilettos. Wendy-Bird, I'll show YOU high heels!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Opening Night

S had his opening night tonight!

After a bit of struggle to get him to let his fellow castmembers smear cocoa powder on his face (to make him look dirty...yes, I actually have to FORCE that child to get dirt on him), it all went smoothly. In his words, "awesome!" He's tired, though, and still ready for a hiatus from theatre before he tries out for another production, although his timeline has gone from "a couple of months" to "several weeks." I think that's very wise of him. I was never any good at pacing myself like that, and truth be told, I'm still not, so it's a relief to see that tendency in S.

The play is excellent. I can see why performances sell out. It really is a quality show, and well worth the admission price. I'm not that biased, either...S only has a handful of lines, and most of the lines requiring comedic timing and good delivery belong to other kids. They really pull it off, and I'm very impressed.

In a fit of what I can only chalk up to temporary insanity, I signed up for green room duty tonight. This mainly entails keeping 30-odd kids extremely quiet in about a 25-square foot space for the duration of the show.

Oh, yeah...did I mention that it was OPENING NIGHT? Which roughly translates to "seriously wired children." It didn't go so badly, though. Maybe they were too nervous to set anything on fire.

It transpires that the kid playing the dad in the show has a crush on me, which I've actually been aware of for a couple of weeks now. Nice kid. HUGE flirt, and not just with me. It's all very cute, and not a little bit flattering, considering that I'm over twice his age and old enough to be his mother (which I have pointed out to him several times, including the one where he asked me for my phone number). Suffice it to say that until this evening, it had been a VERY long time since I've had a giggly middle-schooler come up to me and say, "my friend thinks you're really hot!"

Actually, I feel rather old just thinking about HOW long that's been.

S has a birthday party to go to tomorrow. I'm really looking forward to it. For one thing, there will be laser tag. For another, all of the adults in attendance will be older than I am. At the moment, this is a very, very good thing...while what I said in my last post about really enjoying the company of kids right now still holds true, I'm feeling the need for some grown-up conversation at the moment.

Right after I kick all of their butts at laser tag.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008


Yup. My sinuses are playing havoc with my...well, everything. I'll be calling in sick to school (yes, we have to CALL IN sick for this particular class), hanging out on VFK and staring at the Christmas tree all day long. I already know that a lava lamp plus sinus medicine equals a VERY interesting time, at least for me. Anything stronger than Tylenol always knocks me flat on my butt and alters my consciousness in new and creative ways. Guess I'll be experimenting with blinky Christmas lights and sinus meds today.

I really can't be sick right now. S has his dress rehearsal tomorrow, and opening night Friday. He has a birthday party to go to on Saturday, which I was looking forward to also, because it's at the laser tag place. Next week is his third grade musical, a pack meeting and two scout leader meetings.

Oh, yeah...and finals.

This isn't good.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The Children's Hour

Well, it's official. I can study my butt off for hours, or I can study hardly at all, and either way I get a B on my exams.

Whatever. I'm very anxious to move on to next semester and salve my GPA and my ego, both of which are slightly bruised at the moment, with more A's. I'm also working on a presentation that I'd like to give at an honors conference coming up in the spring on subject-specific learning disabilities (gee, can't imagine where I got THAT topic, can you?).

S has rehearsals every night this week, because opening night is on Friday. He's tired and nervous, and wants to take a hiatus from theatre for a couple of months before trying out for another production. That's fine with me. For one thing, I could use a break too, and for another, there aren't any auditions coming up in the next while anyway.

I had lunch with him today, along with one of the scouts in his den. I was pretty glad that he picked this particular boy to have lunch with us. M is absolutely freaking adorable, smart, witty, utterly charming, and just all-around squishable. Truth be told, he's probably my favorite in the entire pack besides S, and I'd eat lunch with this kid every week if I could.

Lunch is fun at S's school, especially lately. The kids seem to like me, probably in large part because I'm approximately their height and act roughly their age. And there are always two or three little girls who come up and talk to me about whatever shoes I happen to be wearing. Not sure what it is about the shoes, but it's always different little girls, so there's something going on with that. Today it was a pair of silver mary janes that I got at Payless last week. Last week it was hot pink satin stilettos.

Yeah, ok...I guess I can see the little-girl appeal!

There's another little boy in S's class whom I really like. H is autistic, and very very sweet. The other children are very kind to and protective of him, which gives me warm fuzzies all by itself. He's a random hugger, and comes out with things like "fireworks are funny!" While laughing hysterically. This was last week, while we were walking down the hall to the classroom with no fireworks in sight, but if you think about it, he's right. Fireworks are a pretty strange concept. He's as engaging as M is, although in an entirely different way. H makes me think.

For some reason right now, I'm really enjoying the company of children. I've never been one to want more than small doses of them at a time unless they were my son, sisters or cousins (and that's had its limits, too!), but that seems to be shifting. Not that I'm considering taking up a career teaching or anything, but lately kids sure are fun to talk to! Wonder what that's about.

Monday, December 1, 2008


We had our first snow last night. Just a little sugar dusting on the ground, but S was excited. We'll have hot chocolate when he comes home from school, to celebrate.

There is now a train running around our Christmas tree. I had it up last year too, but it was a little difficult for me, putting it together and starting it up. There was something about the feel of the track snapping together in my hands, and lining up the wheels so that the engine and cars wouldn't jump the track, that just brought back a big flood of Papa. I didn't do very well with it then. But it was already set up this morning, so J must have done it. He mentioned it last night, and I didn't argue with him, because it was just easier not to. Sort of the same way I didn't argue with the nurses' aids who "helped" me pack up Papa's room the day after he went. Why is it that I'm so outspoken about things that don't matter so much, but I clam up on the really important things? Decorating the tree is as much J's and S's right as it is mine, although I was being all obsessive about it yesterday. But the train really IS for me to do. It's cathartic, and it's a quiet way to honor Papa. And I abdicated that. I'm ashamed of myself, and a little bit mad, too, for denying myself that.

Am I just tired? Have I gotten lazy?

I know I'm a little tired. It seems like everything is a fight lately. This stupid class, for one thing. It's wearing me down. Then there's The Ex, who doesn't seem to have a clue how to avoid alienating S. It's getting worse...S didn't even really want to go over there for Thanksgiving. I'm sure he had fun once he got there, but he was kind of a wreck during the days leading up to it. And he was SO happy to be home. It rips my heart out, and I know it isn't going to get any better. Barring a miracle of some kind, things are going to deteriorate between them even further, and I know what kind of train wreck is in the works for S if it doesn't get any better, because I've been through it myself. And guess who's ultimately going to get blamed for turning S against his father? As a matter of fact, that's already been brought up.

On the other end is J, who is beginning to blur some parental boundaries, and is accusing me of excluding him from S's life when I push back a little. It's not that I want to leave him out, it's just that the dad thing isn't mine to give him. The spot is occupied. Maybe I'm being overly cautious about it, but I'm finding myself in the middle of all this weird man-posturing, trying to protect S's relationship with someone I don't even like, possibly at the expense of someone I love. There are egos at stake here (one of them absolutely GINORMOUS - not J's!), and I don't do so well with egos. Even worse, it's just about inevitable that S is going to wind up hurt somewhere in all this. And now I'm realizing that nothing ever balances for long. The minute you think you've found equilibrium, something comes along to upset it.

Speaking of egos, at the moment the Golden Retriever is offering her toy to the train running around the tree, trying to get it to play with her. The train is having none of it. I think the dog is feeling insulted.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Christmas Control

I have an exam tomorrow. Clearly, I can't bring myself to care, since I'm posting this instead of studying. Seriously, though? I am done with this class. Absolutely DONE. I am fed up and burnt out and ready to run my number 2 pencil through my eyeball just to avoid having to go.

This is right about where I could commence whining about how the material itself isn't that difficult (which it isn't), it's our five different extremely obtuse and not-particularly-talented-at-teaching faculty that makes it so freaking hard, what with their conflicting information and their downright wrongness (did you know that the liver makes insulin? Neither did I but it's right there in black and white in the course materials they wrote), et cetera ad nauseum. Honestly, though, I don't even have the energy to whine right now.

I ran almost six miles today. I stopped short at about 5.6 miles, because my knee started bothering me. For those just tuning in (and those needing a refresher), I have illiotibial band syndrome in my left knee. This means, among other things, that the knee doesn't track properly and I have to wear a brace when I run. I did have it on, but I've been slacking off on my cross training on the elliptical machine, and it's beginning to show. Extra long session on that sucker tomorrow...I need to be able to get my mileage in!

Currently, my plan is to run the Big-D Texas Marathon that's coming up. I was going to run the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon, but it conflicts with a major Cub Scout event, and seeing as I'm the Cubmaster, they seem to expect me to be at these things. Rather than ask the entire pack to reschedule for me, I'll just do a different marathon.

Our Christmas tree is up, and the mantel is decorated all pretty. If I didn't do it today, it wasn't going to get done. Suddenly, though, the whole family wants in on the action. S always likes to help with the ornaments, but for no readily apparent reason J wanted to help this year, too. I had to fight back the urge to fend them off with cattle prods, yelling, "Back! MY tree!" And I feel like it is. It's for all of us to enjoy, yes, but it's mine to set up. Over the past five years, I've done the whole thing. I've decided how many of what kinds of lights go where. I've handpicked every single ornament and piece of trimming. And I've placed them on the tree itself with great amounts of care and consideration for color balance and spacing. I'm anal like that when it comes to aesthetics, so it's difficult for me to let someone else get their hands in it.

I did, though. I gritted my teeth, smiled and let them help.

No worries. I'll move it all to where I want it tomorrow when no one is looking.

Friday, October 3, 2008

It's Not Personal. It's Business.

I had my first patient death today.

It's bugging me. Not for the reasons I think it bugs most people, though. There's just this general sense of "is that it?!" I feel a little bit gypped for him. Not least because he got me for his grand sendoff.

He was a patient I'd had before...a funny, friendly man who bore a strong resemblance to Rip Torn. He was a new amputee - not particularly life-threatening, but serious enough to make him somewhat of a regular in the hospital. My best guess is that he had a clot of some sort from the amputation, and it traveled to his heart. I had him two weeks ago. Last week he was gone, but apparently he came back this week to finally have that leg taken off.

In the short time I'd cared for him, I'd gotten to know some of his little likes and dislikes. I had no idea he was back, though, and when I heard the code blue called, I hadn't reported to the floor yet. When I got up there, I saw that the room everyone was packed into and gathered around was one that would probably end up being mine. I was still assuming it was someone I didn't know, though.

When you see a code blue being called on a TV medical drama, it looks like utter chaos. Everyone is frantic and yelling. This was nothing like that. There had to be 20 people crammed into his room, but it was so quiet that I could hear the CPR compressions being done from out in the hall. The room was so crowded I couldn't see who the patient was, but time of death was called not long after I arrived on the floor.

Sure enough, the room was one of mine. The aid that I was shadowing saw the charge nurse coming out and posting a sign on the door instructing that people see her before entering the room. The aid asked what had happened. The charge nurse seemed plenty puzzled herself, and mentioned that not an hour ago someone was bringing him a cup of coffee and he didn't seem to be in any sort of distress.

When she mentioned the coffee, I knew EXACTLY who it was, and she confirmed it for me when she talked about his amputation. So I was prepared when I went in with the aid to take care of him before his wife arrived.

I closed his eyes and helped change his gown and sheet. I smoothed his hair back a little. The tv was still on and I couldn't find the remote to turn it off (no doubt it had gotten shunted aside somewhere during the code), so I made do with turning the volume down all the way. And before I left the room, I couldn't resist making the Sign of the Cross over him. I'm pretty sure he wasn't Catholic, but I couldn't leave him without some gesture of dignity and care. Not after I'd just done what I did for him. His wife came in just as we were leaving, and she stayed until the funeral home came to get him. I helped move him onto the stretcher when they did.

For a moment, as he was being wheeled down the hall, I forgot his name. It suddenly became extremely important to me to remember it before they took him away, and fortunately I did, just before he went out of sight. I said a silent goodbye to him then.

It took me a while to understand what about all of this was causing a sense of disquiet. It wasn't the presence of death, or handling someone who was deceased. I'm not a squeamish person, and there was nothing gross or frightening about it at all. I'm not uncomfortable with death.

It wasn't that I had known him, or conversed with him, or laughed with him. There was no personal sadness or loss about what I felt.

I finally realized that this was exactly what the issue was - not that I had personal sadness over the loss of a patient, but partly the fact that I had none. It was just so impersonal.

Death is such an intimate thing. It leaves a person, or what was a person, so very vulnerable. Who was I to be the one to close his eyes for the last time? Who was I to be smoothing his hair and giving him a clean gown? I'm just some random student. I could have been anyone and no one. I had no business doing those things for this man. In doing them, I had a few rare moments of peace, but underneath that was a slight unease and a vague sense of wrongdoing, like I had just ducked under a velvet rope around a valuable artifact at a museum. An honor and a responsibility of that magnitude should not have fallen to me. He should have been cared for in that way by those he loved, not by an aid who didn't know his name and a student who struggled to remember it at the last moment. He deserved better.

We all deserve better. And so few of us get it.

I was expressing all of this to J. J, who makes the Sign of the Cross every time he passes a cemetery or a dead animal lying on the road, understood perfectly what I meant. He suggested that I go discuss what was going on in my head with our priest, and I think he's right about that. Our priest would definitely be of some help here. This won't be the last time I encounter death, certainly. It's not that I want to overcome this feeling, because the minute I do is the minute that I stop caring. It's also when I become someone who has no business in the medical profession at all.

What I need is a private ritual. A hurried, perfunctory little Sign of the Cross isn't enough. It's not adequate at all. I don't mean that I necessarily need to do anything more elaborate than that. There wouldn't likely be time, and it isn't my place to hold a full-blown funeral for each and every patient who dies, anyway. That would be every bit as presumptuous of me as taking care of this particular gentleman felt today. I mean more like something that is only reserved for that particular moment, when it comes along. Something I only do for a death, and at no other time. I just need a special thought, or prayer, or gesture, or combination of those three things that I can do to make it all a little less anonymous and disconnected. A little less like I'm trespassing on something sacred. Even if whatever that is only happens inside my own head.

Sunday, September 28, 2008


Yesterday, S wanted to go out and do something. We asked him what, and he settled on going to Burger King. S is easily amused. The big draw was their ginormous indoor playground, which we of course let him play on for quite awhile.

I had a Whopper Jr. and an Icee. Did that EVER take me back!

I can't remember the last time I had a Whopper Jr. Or an Icee, for that matter. But I do remember what they both represent.

The Burger King, as you guys know, is next door to the church that Mimi used to take me to. We used to go there after church every Sunday. I remember Papa being there ("I just want a burger, Mart! Just get me a burger."),and I can't remember exactly how that used to work, because he didn't go to church with us...maybe we went and got him before going back to Burger King. Or maybe he wasn't actually there as often as I remember. Somehow, though, I have these very vivid images of Papa at Burger King after church with us. I would always get a Whopper Jr. with no onions and frech fries. Mimi, if I remember correctly, got the same. Or maybe she got a regular Whopper. And then sometimes we would go shopping downtown and, later, at the mall. The first time I ever saw a family of Mennonites was at that Burger King. I also have a very strong recollection of a little girl who kept running into the men's bathroom, back out, into the women's, out again, into the men's, and so on. I couldn't imagine for the life of me what would possess her to do such a thing, or why on EARTH she was being allowed to. I was amazed. It seemed like such outlandish, alien behavior, which I guess is why it stuck with me.

Mom used to get me Icees when we'd go to K-Mart (do they even have K-Mart at all anymore?). I think it was kind of a reward for making me schlep around behind her for what felt like hours on end in that boring, boring store. Some of the more prominent flashes I have of being small are of trailing after Mom in K-mart while she picks through the clothes racks, or tosses a new package of those flowers people used to stick on the bottom of the tub to keep from slipping into the cart along with a few dish towels. Every so often, the Blue Light Special notice would come over the loudspeaker. I don't remember her ever going to check out the Blue Light Special. Not a bargain hunter, my mother.

Icees and Whopper Jrs. Interesting what can bring things back to us.

Thursday, September 25, 2008


A week or so ago, I had mentioned in passing to S that he might enjoy acting in community theatre productions. He asked me a few questions about it, but in the end didn't seem overly enthused, and I didn't push the issue.

This morning, he brought me a magazine that publishes a calendar of upcoming local events. He showed me a line about an upcoming audition for "Jack and the Beanstalk," and asked me if I would take him to try out for it. I told him that of course I would, and we even noticed a few other upcoming auditions for plays and musicals that might be casting little boys.

So in a few weeks, we'll be heading to his first audition. Not for "Jack and the Beanstalk," but for "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever."

Here we go!

On one hand, I'm so excited for him! He does love being onstage,and seems to have no issue with stage fright. He looks forward to the summer camp talent show all year long. He's always putting together his own plays and movies in his room, casting his toys in whatever roles he sees fit. This is right up his alley, and I know that community theatre would be such an amazing experience for him. I also know that he's the kind of kid that theatre companies want to work with. He's polite, precocious and well-behaved. He'll have no problem cooperating with the director or memorizing his lines. He has a nice singing voice, too. I think he could do extremely well.

On the other hand, I hate the idea of him not being cast in a production that he auditions for, which will inevitably happen. It makes me feel like my insides are shriveling up to even think about my baby getting rejected. Somehow, I think he'll take it far more philosophically, at least outwardly. But there's this whole inward moral struggle, too...I take such issue with stage moms. This is him, not me...it's something he's asking for and seeking out. I know that. But even so, is it ok to put him up in front of strangers who will deem him either worthy or unworthy? Who may criticize him, and not necessarily gently? Life is pretty much like that in general, granted, but how much of it is ok at this point in his life?

Then again, I don't want to shelter him. I don't want to keep him from getting involved in something that truly interests him, and that could be beneficial in so many ways. There's no question of whether or not I'll support him if this is something he wants to do.

Yes, I know, I'm angsting way too much over this. It's midwestern community children's theatre, for crying out loud. It's not cutthroat Hollywood, or possibly even MORE bloodthirsty New York. Feel free to smack me and tell me to chill.

He'll be fine. He'll be fabulous, even. But I'll be right there with my eyes wide open the entire way.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


My golden retriever WILL NOT SHUT UP. And she needs to. We have blood drawing competencies tomorrow, and I need to study. But she can't stand the fact that J and S are outside kicking a ball around, and she isn't (the outside part, not the ball-kicking part), so she spazzes, and she wants the entire world to hear about it.

It finally just got to the point where I put her in the laundry room, which I really hate to do, but I also hate to yell at her continuously to shut her piehole so that I can think for two seconds. The laundry room is better. She can be let out when S and J come back inside.

I am in a nasty mood, partly because I've been sick for about a week now. It's making me cranky. The other reason is that I got a B on my first exam. A B! Me!! Actually, most of the class is having a hissy over that exam for one reason and another. Several swear they were graded wrong on it, and at least one of them I'm sure is probably right. I hope she pursues it further and gets her grade raised. The thing is, the instructors have this idea in their heads about why people get certain questions wrong. They think it's because we're required to "think critically," or some such. Actually, it's because they've given us 30 different places from which to study the material without telling us where they actually draw most of the test questions from, the 30 different places are completely without rhyme or reason and impossible to look stuff up in, and even if it did have any sort of organization to it there's really no way we can thoroughly cover all of it during the course of our studying. We don't get reviewed, either, before an exam. We get a piece of paper that says "2 questions will be on phlebotomy, 2 will be on TED hose, etc.," and we're just somehow supposed to divine which of the ginormous masses of information we have been given on each of them might possibly contain the two or three obscure references that might show up on the test. And that's if they're presented anywhere at all. A lot of the time, we're just supposed to have made enough sense of all the chaos that we can make some sort of judgment call on which of 4 correct answers is the "best" one, even if it hasn't actually been specifically covered anywhere.

Yeah. Totally reasonable.

On a brighter note, I was invited to join Phi Theta Kappa a couple of weeks ago! This is a pretty big deal, and I've been waiting for it ever since I joined the Honors Society at school. Needless to say, I'm completely thrilled!

Let's just hope this class doesn't ruin my GPA and lose my membership for me...

Friday, September 19, 2008

Crisis of the Soul

I had my first actual clinicals today. The hospital I'm at is a teaching hospital, and is one of approximately two facilities in our state that will take the homeless, the indigents and the uninsured.

I had two AIDS patients, two with an infection whose name escapes me at the moment but which basically amounts to antibiotic-resistant dysentery,one with a newly amputated leg, one with a leg that was about to be amputated and a toe on the opposite foot that was about to fall off from gangrene, and God only knows what the rest were doing there.

The thing is, none of that bothered me. Absolutely none of it. I took their vitals. I gave them baths. I witnessed the irrigation of an ostomy bag (look it up if you dare). And I was fine.

What bothered me was that I kept trying to place one of the doctors. Where did I know her from? Church? Did she have a child at S's school?

I finally figured it out. About 3 years ago, she used to do my nails. MY NAILS, people. And now she is a DOCTOR. How does that work? Yes, I know...obviously, she was going to school while she did nails. Clearly. But dude! She used to do my nails! And now she's a doctor! I am seriously tweaking over this.

What on earth have I been doing with my life? How is it that there are all these pimply, pre-adolescent fetuses running around in white coats while I schlep about in the bright blue scrubs that warn all and sundry of my lowly student status as I change sheets and try to figure out where the blood pressure cuffs are? At least now, though, I know why they have separate doctors' lounges at this hospital. It's because these kids all have their mothers waiting in there to breastfeed them between patients.

Ugh. I feel OLD. I feel like I've been wasting my life. And it's never easier to doubt my ability to get into medical school than when I'm wearing my student tech scrubs and looking at real, live, breathing-deeply doctors. Who are wee and small and tiny and young and have not wasted their lives. Who knew what they wanted at the time when we're SUPPOSED to know what it is we want, rather than waiting until their mid-thirties to figure out what they want to be when they grow up. Who look right through me like I don't exist and definitely don't matter.

And who used to do my nails.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Still Here!

Yes, I know. I have been remiss. You may all spank me later.

I'm actually in class right now, and we're hearing a lecture on EKGs. I am wilfully and deliberately ignoring my instructor, because all she's really doing is confusing the living crap out of me. I'll just read the book chapter. It's bound to be more coherent than what we're being subjected to right now.

I'm about ready to start taking my scooter to school sometimes! I'll be riding down a bit of Route 66 every time I do. Jealous? Yes? I know. Don't turn too green, though. While there is a historical spot or two, it's not terribly picturesque for the most part. Nonetheless, pictures shall be forthcoming when I have time to spare either coming or going someday.

My brain is a little full at the moment. I'm dealing with some things right now that I'd rather not have to. Sorry this is short, but I wanted to let you all know that I am still blogging.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Scootie Patootie

Pooh-Bear is officially gone, it looks like. We received our badges for our clinicals, which start next week. There wasn't even one made up for her.

The day before yesterday, Miss Piggy and I went to Wal-Mart. I have to say that, soul-sucking evil entity that Wal-Mart is, that was FUN. While I was trying to find a parking spot, I got a huge grin and a big thumbs up from - of all people - a little old Mennonite lady in an SUV. I think she may actually be the first Mennonite I've ever seen here at all. But she sure liked my scooter!

After I picked up a few groceries (note to self: pizzas do not fit either in the topcase or under the seat), I came back out to find that the guy who owned the Harley parked next to me was checking out my scooter with great interest. We had a short conversation...he was very nice, and suitably envious of my miles per gallon.

Yesterday I had a few places I needed to go too. First I went to Target to get a couple of things that The Hell That Is Wal-Mart didn't have. As I was getting my helmet on to leave, a small boy passed by with his mother.

Kid: Mommy, what's that?
Mom: That's a dirtbike, sweetie.

Ahh, the miseducation of our youth. Is there anything that the pink and curvaceous Miss Piggy looks LESS like than a dirtbike?!

I wanted to buy my own blood pressure cuff, and the uniform store that sells them wasn't far from J's store, so I stopped in there just in time to run out and get lunch for everyone, including myself. Then off for my blood pressure cuff, and when I was done with that, I didn't feel like getting off my scooter. It was such a gorgeous day. So I rode around several residential areas.

Right about that time, the kids at the nearby junior high had just gotten out of school. There were three girls walking home, and one of them (who looked a lot like Shelby, actually, except not nearly as gorgeous) started pointing and hopping up and down yelling, "ohmigawd! OHMIGAWD!!"

Guess she liked my scooter. Heh!

When it was time to go pick up S, I packed it in and went and got the car. I felt like I was driving an entire house. Why have I never noticed how BIG and lumbering that thing is?!

All told, I've put about 85 miles on it so far, and probably more tonight and/or tomorrow. There's an outdoor cafe on the river that I'd love to ride over to with J and have a salad or something. S will be with his father, because it's his birthday (the father's, not S's).

For today: I'm taking S for a haircut, new shoes and a winter coat.

S starts the gifted program on Tuesday. I know he's going to love it, and from what I understand of our gifted specialist, he's also going to be stretched to his limits. Thank heaven for that...if there's anything I want for him, it's that he learn early on that there ARE going to be things he's not going to become an expert at within the first five minutes. Some things do require effort. Piano has been good for him in that regard, but he could use a little enforcement of that lesson, I think. I'm excited to hear how it goes.

He's joining his school's running team again this year. The run that they're training for includes a 2-mile fun run, a 5k and a 15k. I think he wants to run the 5k. Depending on whether or not I have him that weekend, I'll either run that with him or attempt the 15k. We'll see!

Thursday, September 4, 2008


JJ seems to be wondering about the particular certification I'm working on and its specifics. It looks like some explanation is called for. Also, I am SO using "bumfuddled and besmoofed" from now on. And bejinkers. Definitely bejinkers.

This particular certification is a hybrid. It falls somewhere between CNA and LPN. We will be able to do some "advanced" stuff like drawing blood, caring for tracheotomies, inserting catheters and reading EKGs, but we will not be able to put in IVs or administer medication, and we will always work under the supervision of a licensed nurse. Our wider range of skills puts us in higher demand than CNAs, and also in a higher pay bracket. The kicker is that the program was pioneered in this state, and is pretty much only valid here at this point. It is recognized and certified by our state nursing board, but if I were to move somewhere else, I would probably only be hired as a CNA.

We actually will practice drawing blood on each other. Tracheotomies and catheters, not so much. That we do have mannequins for.

No Pooh-Bear again today. We don't know for absolute certain, but indications are strong that she did drop the class. Turns out that Friday was the last day we could drop a class and get a full refund. And thus, harmony is restored to our world.

The Expert and Token Male, being slightly more human than I am, are somewhat sympathetic. Both of them said something similar: they hate to see a person fail at something they really want to do. And I get that. But really, my sympathies are more with her potential patients if she had made it through the program. I wouldn't have wanted her anywhere near Papa. Or all of you guys. Or my child or boyfriend or sisters. It's possible that she would have gotten her act together and learned through trial and error, but it's the error part that would worry me. Not everyone is cut out for everything, and she just doesn't have any business in the medical field at all. I'm not the least bit sad to see her go.

Well, ok, I'm a tiny bit regretful, for the same reason that Danny gave. She made for some top-quality blog fodder. What will I write about now?!

I fully intend to get a decent design up here soon, complete with my blogroll and the like. But for today, I shall leave you with...cute dogs!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Rock You Like a Hurricane

Ugh. Rain.

Yes, I know there are many, many people who have it far worse than I do at the moment, what with the hurricanes that are causing said rain. My biggest gripe is that I can't ride my scooter with the weather doing what it is, and being able to ride would have made going to Wal-Mart this evening much more enjoyable. Why drive a car as mere mortals do when you can ride a pink scooter? Grateful as I am that this IS my biggest gripe, and much as I'm keeping those in harm's way in my thoughts, I'm a whiny brat nonetheless.

You may have noticed that my new blog design has bitten the big one. Back to square one on that...I'll have something going on here with some actual personality shortly. But for the moment, I'm lazy. And whiny.

It's soup weather today...the first chilly day we've had. Except for the rain, I like it! Good timing, too, since our air conditioner apparently pooped out last night.

Today started out pretty crappy. I forgot to take my coffee with me to class, which is never, ever a good thing. Then there was a great deal of folderol and shenanigans surrounding this morning's quiz. Between the rain and the quiz and the lack of coffee, I was in a decidedly murderous mood.

Then I noticed that Pooh-Bear was absent. Suddenly, the sun was shining, birds were singing, rainbows were glistening, and small forest creatures were doing a happy little dance around my feet. I'm pretty sure a disco ball descended from the ceiling and The Fifth Dimension was singing "Age of Aquarius" somewhere in there, too.

Rumor is that she failed her competencies on Friday...I don't doubt it. Frankly, I'd have been shocked into speechlessness if she'd passed (and we ALL know how often I'm rendered speechless). There's speculation that she's not coming back. It seems to me that if she did plan on continuing, missing the next lab session directly after she failed her competencies may not be the best course of action. We'll know by tomorrow or Friday, I guess.

If she does decide to press on, I truly do not think she's going to make it to the end. We are allowed to fail and retake 3 competencies before we are dropped from the class. I don't think she'll be able to do it. If she can't give a bath or make a bed after FIVE AND A HALF HOURS of total practice time (The Expert tallied it up - the rest of us each got 45 minutes tops), how on earth is she going to manage taking vitals or drawing blood? How is she going to read an EKG? I'm pretty sure it's not happening, especially since she will absolutely not be getting that much time for practice from here on out.

Speaking of drawing blood, I will say this...in the highly unlikely event that she makes it that far, she gets ONE shot at poking me. If she blows a vein or moves the needle around, that's it. No more. They can preach all they want about support and teamwork, but I'm the one who has to go around looking like a heroin addict and feeling like my arms got run over by a monster truck if she screws up.

Anyway, we had a lovely lab session today. There was a brief exchange:

Token Male: Where's Pooh-Bear?
Expert: Not here. That's about all we know.
Token Male (to me): Do you need a bucket to cry into?
Me: Does it have champagne in it?

The adjunct that we spoke to about Pooh-Bear last week kept coming over and asking how things were today. Um, fine...notice the entire source of our problem isn't here? No? I didn't think you caught that. Well, she's elsewhere, so we're great! Thanks!

Maybe I'll go for a run tomorrow morning. Should be gorgeous weather for it.

Friday, August 29, 2008


A lot of people like to put their playlists on random, then post the first 10 (or however many) songs that come up. I'm going to do that now, but I'll take it one step further. Music that I like almost always has some kind of significance, so I thought I'd throw in some of that for good measure, too. Here goes:

David, by Nellie McKay. That's easy. It's a song about a woman who's sitting around waiting for a guy named David to call. For those of you who just tuned in, I did exactly that for the vast majority of my high school years. But it's kind of a cute, tongue-in-cheek song, too. She's not impressed with anyone, least of all herself.

You Are My Joy, by The Reindeer Section. This song makes me think of Papa.

Stay (I Missed You), by Lisa Loeb. Complicated relationships. We've all had them. I also just really like the tune and the rhythm of this song.

The Luckiest, by Ben Folds. How I feel about J.

Cruisin', by Smokey Robinson. Pure childhood. You used to like that song, Mom.

The Puppy Song, by Harry Nilsson. Such a happy, buoyant, optimistic song. I think I vaguely remember it from when I was very small.

Strange Magic, by Electric Light Orchestra. Another one from when I was little.

Let's Hear It for the Boy, by Deniece Williams. I liked this song when I was about 9 years old. Now, it makes me think of S, and how proud of him I am.

Vienna, by Billy Joel. I get in such a hurry sometimes. I'm one of the most impatient people that I know. I want everything NOW, and this is a good reminder that there's really no particular reason to be in such a hurry all the time. It's ok to sit back and take a breather.

Crazy, by Meredith Brooks. This could be my theme song. I've always been slightly strange, doing my own thing. I'll always do things and think in ways that most people don't. I'm ok with that.

So there's my random lineup.

Summer is just about over, so I thought it was time for a new blog template. Blogger is not the most user-friendly thing on the surface of the planet, so I tore my hair out, lost my entire blogroll, and have generally been no fun at all to live with for about the past 18 hours. It's still not perfect, but it'll do. Until I get a bug up my butt to change it for Thanksgiving or Christmas, anyway.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Vacation! Almost.

The Expert and I passed our competency! We are now officially deemed capable of giving a bath and making a bed. Go us.

Am I going to hell for secretly hoping Pooh-Bear leaves the bedrail down? That would result in an automatic fail. Better yet, perhaps they found something on the drug screening we all had to take yesterday. Girlfriend's got to be on SOMETHING.

I would be starting my Labor Day weekend right now, except that I have an honors film class at noon. Mostly I'm taking it because I have to take one honors class every semester to stay in good standing with the Honors Society and keep my tuition waiver. The film class was the best fit with the rest of my schedule. I think it fulfills a Liberal Arts requirement, too, but no worries if not.

It's proving to be rather interesting. Every week, we will watch a new film. Right now it's Westerns, of which I am not a fan. Stagecoach was last week, today it will be Shane. Viewed as part of a genre, which is what we're doing, they aren't bad. But I can't say I cared for Stagecoach on its own merit. It was (and here I am about to offend John Wayne fans the wide world over) hokey. However, I did really enjoy Thomas Mitchell's performance. Even if you don't recognize the name, you know who he is, right? Gerald O'Hara? Uncle Billy? Fantastic character actor. I think I like him so much because he reminds me of Papa.

After that...footloose and fancy free! Except for the knitting and the cake-ing, which I will enjoy, and the laundry and the packing and the pre-trip housecleaning, which...not so much. Clearly, though, I am now far more qualified to do the housecleaning part than I was at this time yesterday.

I think I'll sign up for competencies as early as possible from now on. It's nice to have it out of the way.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Please? Pretty Please??

Apparently Pooh-Bear requested to transfer to another group. It seems that we are rude, catty and not serious enough about the class. We actually got a lecture from the adjunct about being "supportive" of our fellow team members. She just started watching our group today, and has no idea of what's really going on.

Well, let's see. We've already allowed Pooh-Bear more practice time than the rest of us have had, COMBINED. In return, every one of us has been insulted by her at least once, with no provocation. We've repeatedly had the blame for her ineptitude placed on us. I'm sorry...who's being unsupportive again?

I'm all about working as a team. I'm all about being supportive. But I draw the line at being a doormat, and catering to manipulative control freaks is utterly out of the question.

Sadly, her request to change groups was denied. Maybe we should all be more supportive and back her up on what she's asking for. The thing is, she's quickly going from being a source of irritation to being an actual problem. If things don't do a complete 180 very soon, we're going to have to take it up with the instructors. Hopefully they have enough experience with interpersonal relations to not be taken in by her surface sweetsy-sweetsiness and realize what's truly going on. And really, that's all we want at this point - for those currently in authority over us to be aware.

Tomorrow and Friday are our first competencies. The Expert and I are signed up for the first time slot, which is 9am tomorrow, and Token Male and Pooh-Bear have theirs at 11:30 on Friday. Which means this is likely the last I'll see of Pooh-Bear until next week. I could use the break, and those of you who have patiently and diligently read my gripes probably could too.

I can't wait for this weekend!! And I will NOT be dieting. I wish S could come with us (as does S), but his father is unwilling to trade weekends. I'm not sure why...from what I can gather, he has no earth-shattering plans.

My helmet hasn't arrived yet. According to tracking, it's somewhere in Ohio, and will be here on Friday. I guess it's a good thing I can't practice on Miss Piggy, though, because I have things to do:

I have to sew my student patch onto my scrubs.
I have to do laundry, and pack sometime between now and Saturday morning.
I have to finish Tiny's sweater (it's almost done!).
I have to make a lemon bundt cake!
I have to restrain myself from eating said lemon bundt cake!

Off to knit and sew and gather recipe ingredients. I'm sounding positively domestic. Don't get used to it.

Monday, August 25, 2008

What I Learned Today

1. The Expert would be beautiful if she lost about 70 lbs.
2. I pronounce the letter "S" in a very irritating fashion
3. Token Male is so inept at his competency practice that Pooh-Bear is going to have to find another group to watch.

Yes, all of the above are courtesy of the fabulous Pooh-Bear. I think I speak for all three of us (that would be Token, Expert and myself) when I say "don't let the privacy curtain bang you on the butt on your way to find another group upon which to unleash your obnoxiousness." I have come to the conclusion that between the toddler talk and the obvious sociopathic tendencies, she is clearly some unholy hybrid of Grandma Jean and Grandma Mary, sent by Satan to vex and torment.

I am in serious need of chocolate right about now.

Apparently, not only do I have a speech impediment, I am also older than I think I am. I received an AARP membership card in the mail today. Yes, THAT AARP...the special-interest group catering mostly to seniors.

Umm...AARP powers that be? I'm not even old enough to be President yet. Give me a minute or two before you hand me that Poly-Grip, ok? I know I'm getting gray and all, but I'm pretty sure that somewhere there's a law on the books stating that you can't have your navel pierced and also carry an AARP card. If there's not, then frankly, I'd like to know what Congress is doing with their time.

I wish my scooter helmet was here. I should get it tomorrow, but it would be lovely to take Miss Piggy in all of her glorious pinkness out for a spin around the neighborhood before S comes home from school.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Getting to Know You

I have now had Miss Piggy for a little over 24 hours. Since I don't have a helmet yet, I've mostly been sitting on her to get a feel for how to balance (a 300-odd pound machine is just a wee bit different than a bike in that regard), and I'm starting to get more comfortable. She is a little tall. We're going to look at lowering her an inch or so, and eventually I may think about shaving the seat down to bring her even lower, but in the meantime I don't think I'll have much trouble.

I'm getting to know the controls...where the blinker is, how to start it up, where to check the oil. But tonight, J had me "riding" it along the sidewalk.

Now, mind you, it wasn't really riding. I was going about 5mph, with my feet walking it along for most of it. The idea was to get a feel for the throttle and the brake. The sidewalk was, of course, deserted...idea being that if I fell either way, it would be onto grass.

And now let us have a moment of silence while all of you imagine me walk-riding a pink scooter down the sidewalk with J coaxing me along..."I've got you! You're fine, I've got you!"

The girl a few doors down thought it was utterly hysterical. I'm really in no position at all to argue with her.

I sent a picture to a friend of mine. She's a "biker chick," with a big powerful crotch-rocket of a bike and a lot of "biker chick" friends, most of whom also have big crotch-rockets (or crotch-rocketeer boyfriends) and a massive sense of their own immortality, which my friend does not...she takes the whole thing very seriously. She duly pronounced the pink scooter to be utterly adorable, and forwarded the picture on to several of those friends, who all think they're quite amazing on their 5-bazillion cc bikes, but who ALL now want a scooter just like my little 150cc that tops out at about 60mph on a good day with a tailwind. A couple have gone so far as to call around to check into the current availability of them. Basically, they have the same chance of getting a pink scooter anytime soon as a sugar cube has in a rainstorm. The dealer we got mine from doesn't even think he can get his hands on any more. When we went to pick it up the other night, he didn't want to let it go. He kept saying things like, "well, you have a deposit on it, so if you want to wait a day or two to pick it up, that's fine with us!" It turned out that he's had it sitting in a visible spot, and lots of people have stopped in to ask about it.

This is going to be LOTS of fun!

Isn't She Lovely

Allow me to introduce you to...Miss Piggy!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

True Colors

The good news: I think Pooh-Bear (sorry, I still feel compelled to call her that) is going to do just fine.

The bad news: Either she really and truly is developmentally arrested in more ways than one, or the cutesy-cutesy is all an act.

The other bad news: I am really NOT going to like working with her.

The other good news: The Expert has her number, too.

What I learned in class yesterday and today: It is ALL ABOUT POOH-BEAR. And I do mean ALL. Now playing: The Pooh-Bear Show. Starring Pooh-Bear.

We have a certain number of "lab" hours during the week, during which time we are supposed to practice for our competencies. Competencies are about twice a month, and they're a sort of practical exam. They're used to show that we are able to perform the tasks that we are being taught.

This week is bed baths and changing the linens for a bedbound patient. Not the easiest thing in the world, but other than a couple of minor points that are sort of counterintuitive, it's a pretty logical process.

Our lab time is limited, because we have a large class. We still get the number of hours required by the state for our certifications, but we can't really go over our scheduled time if we need extra practice. Yesterday and today, we had an hour and a half. Pooh-Bear used the ENTIRE hour and a half yesterday to practice, which meant the rest of us were either patients or observers. Now, the entire bed bath and linen change is supposed to take half an hour, but at that point, it was ok. We're all still learning and trying to figure out what to do next.

When lab time came up again today, Pooh-Bear immediately said that she wanted to do the bath and bed change. Now mind you, none of the rest of us had gotten a turn yet, but I thought...ok. I don't think I'm going to have much problem with this, maybe let it slide this time. So Token Male got into the hospital bed to be the patient, and Pooh-Bear started practicing.

Well, it wasn't long before it became clear that she really, REALLY doesn't have a good grasp on the whole process. I had the checklist, but thought it would be most helpful to let her try to figure out what came next, and prompt her if she got stuck, rather than walking her through the whole thing step by step. She's going to have to know it without prompting for competencies. Naturally, among those of us who were just standing around while she monopolized the practice time, conversations were taking place. They were not loud or disruptive. Most of them were actually relevant - maybe questions to the staff who was supervising our group, situations we'd seen before that it might be good to keep in mind, that sort of thing. The occasional smart-aleck comment to keep things light.

Well, Pooh-Bear didn't like this. Apparently we were to be giving her our full and reverent attention, because it was "too noisy" and we were being "disruptive" by talking (never mind that the other groups were making enough noise that it wouldn't have mattered a bit if we'd all been mutes) and she was "really trying to concentrate" because she "felt it was important for her to be very competent at this," although apparently it's not important that the rest of us get ANY practice in whatsoever and become competent ourselves. Of course, there were plenty of remarks from her about how much HARDER it was going to be for her because she's SOOOO TIIII-NEEEEEE. I refrained from commenting that the difficulty she was having was more due to her overall cluelessness than her stature or the "noise" we were making. Finally, the supervisor pointed out to her that the noise was there to stay, it was going to be noisy in the hospital too, and she really had better just learn to deal with it. Her response? "Well, people in the hospital aren't being rude." By then, I'd had about enough. I looked her right in the eye and said, "I don't think we're being rude at all." I'm quite sure she also caught the unspoken "and I DARE you to argue with me, because honey? I'm fully prepared to launch into you about who's being rude to whom here." Well, no response to that, but she sure wasn't happy. During all this time that she was "concentrating" and "needing quiet," She kept on making comments about how she was going to do this or that "special" thing for her patients, like rub their back with warm lotion after their bath, whatever. First of all, good luck with finding the time for that when you have 8 patients who all need baths and bed changes before lunch. Second of all, shut up about how great you're going to be at this and all the "extras" you're going to provide if you can't even handle the basic requirements. And finally? Most grown men and women don't want to hear about how you're going to soak their "little feeties" for them or cover them with a "nice warm blankie" or push back their cuticles so they look "nice and sweet and pretty." Yes, this is how she was talking to our "patient."

A few minutes later, she decided that I really, really needed to focus my attention on her, her, her. I should be reading the checklist to her as we went. When I pointed out that it may be more beneficial for her to see if she could decide on her own what came next, she said, "ok...well, I guess we'll do it YOUR way." And why not? The last two days had been devoted to doing it her way. Maybe throw one of us a bone?

Finally, after taking an hour of our second lab day, she was done and let someone else have a turn. But for all of her posturing about how badly she wanted to learn and become competent, did she stay over by our hospital bed to observe or assist? Nope. She went and sat down in the lecture area and talked to someone. Which was fine with the rest of us, because by then, we'd all had about enough of her.

Actually, I take that back. She did come back to the group long enough to tell us that we should really be TALKING to our patient. "We want them to feel like they're a person to us." I felt like asking "do we want them to feel like they're a toddler to us? Because honey, you've got that down COLD." This was especially annoying because the supervisor had already JUST gone over ways we could be making conversation with our patient as we're doing all this, and we had been doing just that. Lucky for Pooh-Bear, she went back to her seat in the lecture area after she was done chastising us, because if she had stayed much longer, I may have had to throw a bedpan at her. As it was, I contented myself with very pointedly asking Token Male if he'd rather I read every step to him or let him try to figure them out. He played right along..."let me figure it out. Otherwise how are we really supposed to learn this stuff? That's the only way to do it." Hee!

It's going to be a long semester.

Token Male is still feeling too uncomfortable with being one of the only men in the class to really stand up to her yet, I think, but it will come. In the meantime, The Expert and I have decided that we'll be making sure Pooh-Bear gets NO more of the practice time for this particular competency. None. And just let her try to hog the practice for the next one.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

A Come to Jesus Meeting

Today, on my way to my car after class, I was accosted by two young men. They wanted to know if I knewJesusChristasmypersonalLordandSavior.

As all of you are aware, I do. In fact, I've most likely forgotten more about the Bible and its many intricacies and nuances than they'll ever know. Which, granted, isn't what it's all about, but whatever two random dudes could possibly tell me about God, I don't particularly want to hear from two random dudes. Who wouldn't stop following me and asking me questions about my personal relationship with God even after I'd very shortly answered the first couple of things they asked that were, frankly, none of their business. Even while I walked faster and faster to get away from them. Even while my tone and body language were screaming "LEAVE ME ALONE." They have no idea how close they were to getting clobbered with my book bag by the time they finally did exactly that. My vast experience and long history of clobbering troublesome males with book bags and purses would not have bode well for them, methinks. The only reason I waited as long as I did to commence said clobbering was because my new laptop was in that bag, and I really didn't want to have to break it on anyone's face if it wasn't strictly necessary. I like my laptop.

Here's the thing: I am a young (well, youngish) woman. As a rule, being followed down the street by two young men insistent on engaging us in conversation is not something that sits well with us gals. Especially when our arms aren't free because we're carrying a load of books, and we're in a downtown area. Guess what? We're feeling a little vulnerable right about then, and provided that we have an iota of common sense and self-preservation, two men approaching us to talk about ANYTHING is going to get our hackles up. Not only that, but there's a reason why it's called a "personal relationship with God." It's PERSONAL. As in, mine. Not yours. As in, not something you have any right to be asking me questions about, Random Dudes Who Won't Leave Me Alone. There are things important enough to me that I only discuss them with those I trust and have a rapport with. My spirituality is among those things.

Even if I WERE receptive to being accosted by two random men on a downtown street, for any reason whatsoever (and I can't think of a single good one), their second question to me being "do you know for sure when you die that you'll go to Heaven to be with Jesus?" Would probably put the kibbosh on all of said receptivity. Reason being that again, I am a young woman walking alone down a city sidewalk. Two men come up to a girl and ask them this question, and out of that entire sentence, she's going to hear three words: "when you die." Yeah. Leeeetle bit offputting, perhaps. You can bet that those words being uttered to me by two guys who are following me is going to put me in panic mode. It's fight or flight at that point.

I do understand that they most likely had good intentions, but the whole incident really bothered me. I STILL feel like double-checking to see if all my doors and windows are locked, but that's not the only reason I'm skeeved. Those two are going about spreading the gospel in completely the wrong way, and if I was that uncomfortable, I'm sure others they approached were too, since we all know what a shrinking violet *I* am. Certainly, they're more likely to put people off of God and Christianity than to bring them in. That part of it bothers me as well.

Meanwhile, I think I may request a security escort to my car from now on. Even though they seemed to mean no harm, that may not necessarily be true of others.

PS - don't worry, Mom! I'm ok!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Tuesday Morning

Tuesday is going to be my favorite day for awhile.

Why? Because I don't have to do ANYTHING!

Two weeks ago at this time, I was scrambling to get out the door to work. Now, granted, I wasn't exerting myself all that much...I had long reached the conclusion that if my coworker could come in an hour or so late any time she pleased because she was hung over, there was no reason I should kill myself to clock in before 8:10.

Currently, I am...sitting here blogging. On my new laptop. About to see S off on the school bus and make myself some coffee. Later, I may go pick up my new scooter, which came in a couple of days ago. I also have some studying to do. Other than that?

I'll do whatever I want.

Monday, August 18, 2008


I'm sitting at my dining table, typing this on my BRAND NEW LAPTOP. I feel compelled to mention that this is the first new computer I have ever owned.

I like it! By the way...it does have a web cam. If any of you guys are interested, I'll sign up for Skype and we can do video chat. :)

The reason I'm at the dining table is because I can see the bird feeders from here. We've amassed quite the entourage. Yesterday we had a gorgeous little goldfinch, and there's almost always a hummingbird or two. The sparrows are practically a scourge, and there were several turtledoves a few minutes ago. Other than the bird poop on the patio, it's a nice view.

Today was my first day of school, and also my first day of lab. We did NOT get to choose our lab partners, much to my dismay. MUCH. All in all, though, it could have been worse. We have four in our group. I would like to say that each person seems to be reasonably lucid, nice and willing to put forth the effort needed to get through the class. Also, no smokers, which is a plus considering how often I am going to be in close proximity to them, and vice versa.

And now, the cast of characters:

The Expert. This is a girl who works in a local ER. In what capacity, I do not know. This is good, because we can all draw from her experience. She seems very capable.

The Token Male. Every nursing class has one, I suppose. We got him. He seems nice enough.

The Developmentally Arrested Middle Ager. This woman is sweet, but has me worried. She's either not going to be able to hack it, or she's going to end up getting bludgeoned. Most likely by me. For the entire duration of lab, we kept hearing her squeaking about how tiiii-neeeee she is (and she is...probably 4'8" and 85 lbs. soaking wet). But guess what? If you think you're too small to be able to do the job, maybe you should - I don't know - NOT SIGN UP FOR THE CLASS. Also, when I say she is sweet, what I mean is that she is sweeeeeeeeeeeet. She didn't like the idea of putting a gait belt on a patient (it's to keep them from falling as they try to move around), because it was "mean." And when we were learning bedpans and the logistics of peeing while lying down, she asked - and I quote - "but what if they make a pooh-bear?"

A POOH-BEAR, people. This is a grown woman. I ask you! Of course, we all cracked up laughing at the sheer silliness of calling it a "pooh-bear," to which she responded in her squeaky little voice, "oh, but I think it's sweet! So they don't get embarrassed!"

Ok, lady. First of all, there is nothing sweet about a bowel movement, no matter what puerile name you assign it. Second of all, patients are going to be far more embarrassed by the fact that their caregiver is treating them like a toddler being potty trained than by the fact that they just pooped.

Henceforth, I shall call her Pooh-Bear.

The role of class clown was unoccupied within our group, so I jumped on it. Hey...when half your class time involves lifting 200 lbs. of dead weight and discussions on the best way to keep raw sewage from spilling all over a bed, someone has to provide merriment. We'll see if I'm up to the task.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

L'enfer, c'est les autres.

The title is a quote by Jean-Paul Sartre. It pretty much translates to "Hell is others."

I could hang with Jean-Paul Sartre.

It's official now - I'm actually not a secretary. Yesterday was my last day at my ridiculous office. Which is no longer my office, but is doubtless still ridiculous, and is likely to continue being ridiculous for a long time to come. I was immature enough to walk out at lunch time leaving quite a sizeable slew of tickets, and I don't have the least bit of a guilty conscience (I did send the rush tickets through, but only because I didn't want to make life any harder for my friend who manages the department that they go to). If my suck-up coworker - sorry, FORMER coworker - wants to showboat, she has plenty of material to do it with now.

I'm sitting alone in my house with snoozing dogs, no radio and no tv. It's absolute bliss. Pretty soon I'll get up and organize my closet, then clean the bathrooms. No hurry, though...I have time.

I got my criminal background check sent back to me yesterday. It's required for the program I'm entering at school. Apparently, I am neither a sex offender nor a felon. Such a relief to know.

Aaron! Glad you made it to the party! :)

According to the only birth certificate I have a copy of, today is my birthday. Where's my cake?!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

You Can't Make This Stuff Up

I'm bored, but I find myself laughing to the point of tears at this (click on the word "this" - sorry, the link isn't showing up too well!).

Fair warning: Some of it is crude. But all of it is absolutely hysterical.

As God is my witness, I will never, ever wear anything again that I'm not absolutely positive of what it says.

Monday, August 4, 2008


Before I get into my Rant du Jour, I just want to say...


The place where I still work for approximately the next 52 hours has a habit of more or less randomly deciding to distribute t-shirts to its employees. Over the years, I've accumulated a fairly depressing number of these. I've never, EVER worn them in public. I'd tell people that it was because I really didn't think everyone in the world needed to know where they could find me 9 hours out of every day, but the truth was that I just found it demoralizing to be a walking billboard for a company that, at best, I was mildly content to work for as long as nothing better fell in my lap. Plus, most of the t-shirts are really just ugly and stupid.

So now I'm left with a dilemma: What to do with these t-shirts? The come in handy as nightshirts, but I find myself with no desire to ever have one anywhere near my bee-bews again. On the other hand, it would be rather amusing to alter the more inane ones and finally wear them out in public. For instance, the one that proudly bears the slogan: "We help people communicate." Wonder who the advertising genius is who came up with THAT. Probably the same guy who thought it was a good idea to inscribe a large rock with the company logo, dub it the "top rock," install it in the lobby on a pedestal surrounded with velvet rope, and mandate that part of the poor receptionist's job be to dress it up on holidays. Yes, the ROCK. On Mother's Day, it had a bouquet and several little rocklings. You really can't make this stuff up.

Should I use a Sharpie to add "Our employees? Not so much" to the "We help people communicate" shirt? Should I burn them all in a solemn ceremony? Or maybe a not-so-solemn one that incorporates the chicken dance, a conga line and a pinata? Should I just save myself the trouble of all of it and throw them out?

My mood right now is strikingly similar to the feeling I had when I separated from my ex. It feels vitally important to distance myself. I want NOTHING left in my house that bears the name of that company. Of course, J will draw the line at disposing of my pay stubs, and that's fine, as long as they're someplace where I can pretend they don't exist.

I brought home most of my stuff today. Only the essentials are still there - my fridge, my coffee cup, my reading glasses, my space heater.


SONG OF THE DAY: Billy Joel, Movin' Out (Anthony's Song)

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Suck it Up

J recently bought a new vacuum cleaner. It was on clearance, it's quiet, and it sucks up like nobody's business. He is madly in love with it.

I, on the other hand, am somewhat less enamored.

For one thing, it's a vacuum cleaner and - let's face it - I've never been one to go into paroxysms of joy over domestic acoutrements of any kind. For another thing, it resembles a very short Storm Trooper, and I don't particularly trust anything that looks like its entrance should be accompanied by the Imperial Death March. It also weighs roughly as much as I would guess a Storm Trooper might.

While its sucking power compares pretty closely to that of a pool drain, its capacity...not so much. Think "toddler after drinking 2 liters of Hawaiian Punch." That's about how fast it needs to be emptied. Remember vacuum bags? Vacuum bags were great. They would expand to the size of your basic parachute, and would hold weeks' worth of carpet crud.

Yeah. We don't have those anymore. And considering that I have one dog who sheds about 3 entire chihuahuas and the odd pomeranian on a semimonthly basis, and one who is just plain large and long-haired, it would be nice to have a vacuum that can hold more than your average sandwich baggie. I literally have to empty it at least once in every room of the house.

My kingdom for Mimi's fabulous old Rainbow (which I wanted to buy instead of a regular vacuum, but J has an aversion to Rainbow vacuums for reasons known only to God, himself and the Rainbow Company).

Then again...guess who usually does the vacuuming?

Saturday, August 2, 2008


Fall is coming! School starts in about a week and a half for S, two weeks for me. I'll have to find a more autumnal design for the blog, although I do love my gorgeous, beachy sandals.

August has never been my favorite month. When I was a kid, it meant summer at Grandma's was almost over. Now, it means ridiculous, insane, unreasonable heat. This year it means the end of the old and the beginning of the new, but for about 1/3 of the month I'll still be stuck in this job situation that I loathe. I am NOT a patient person.

August will also be the month that S comes back home for the school year. And the month that I get my scooter. August is J's and my anniversary.

Still, I'm anticipating October...September isn't really fall to me. I'm ready for the leaves to change, and for sweaters, and for candles that smell like baked goods. I'm ready to make Thanksgiving plans and buy firewood. I'm ready for hot chocolate and cider. I'm ready for cool air during my runs. There's just something so homey about fall.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Pea Green

Well, The Illustrious Coworker and I had it out via IM today. It was quite educational. Her main complaint seems to be that I'm "not a team player." Not sure how that works, seeing as I've been doing both my job and hers for a good two months or so, and her main premise for my not being a "team player" is that I didn't let her take over one of my tickets a few days ago. From what I can tell, her definition of "team player" seems to be "you don't do what I want you to do." Which, if that's the case, I hope to heaven I'm not a team player.

Her final sentence was something along the lines of "I wish you the best in your future endeavors." Which was just a wee bit telling, since I'd been slightly curious about whether or not she knew yet that I was leaving. I felt like replying with "thanks, but I'm doing pretty spectacularly at my 'future endeavors' with or without your well wishes." No point, though...she sits right on the other side of my cubicle, and I'm not exactly a quiet person, so unless she's completely catatonic on the few days she's actually in the office, she knows all about my free tuition and my 4.0 grade average. Obviously, I'm not struggling too hard to keep up.

The only things I can figure are that a) she's upset because her little party is over since I won't be there to cover for her, or b) she's jealous. And now I'm about to get a little bit smug, and I apologize for that, but why wouldn't she be? It really got me thinking about how lucky I am.

I have this amazing, fabulous child who's about as perfect as real actual children can possibly be. I have a wonderful, intelligent, funny, sensitive longtime boyfriend (5 years next week!) whom I adore and call daily to flirt with in the afternoons, and who wanted nothing more than to come home to me today. She is solitary, obviously lonely, and frankly will most likely stay that way. At almost 40, she probably knows that.

I've got a nice house in a nice neighborhood. She lives in a small, dark apartment.

I'm freaking SMART, there's no point denying that. She's maybe average, although admittedly cunning in a way that I am not. Which is fine, because I don't really think I want to be.

I have friends...people actually come by my cubicle to chat, as opposed to the ones who come to hers only when they want something.

I'm reasonably attractive. We'll leave that there, because although I need to write this down to get it out of my system, I'm truly not trying to be catty.

I'm on to bigger and better things. Everyone in that office knows it. Not because I've broadcasted it (which I may have just because of my intrinsic loudness, not because I meant to), but because I just AM. She's stuck in that ridiculous office, making a ridiculous salary, sucking up to ridiculous middle management, the vast majority of whom I lost respect for years ago. She'll probably never be anything more. She may change jobs, but it will be more of the same.

What does she have? Weekday hangovers and skipping out on evening shifts to go bowling. Showboating and brown-nosing. Her primary source of validation being a job that the average code monkey could literally write a program to do better than we do.

Again, I know all of this sounds really smug. And maybe it is. But it got me thinking about how lucky I am. J drives me up a wall at times, but he is so amazing. He's supportive and warm. He's sensitive and can carry on an intelligent conversation about most subjects. He truly does love, honor and cherish me, even if the actual vows have never been uttered, and that's more than most couples can say. S is polite, well-behaved and practically a savant in most subjects. He's observant and astute. He's a mother's dream.

Not only that, but I get to BE a girlfriend. I get to BE a mother. I get to BE a daughter, and a granddaughter, and a niece, and a cousin. I get to be attractive and intelligent. I get to laugh and smile. I get to be warm and full. I get to be cared for.

I get to run in the mornings with my dog, who is wonderful even if she eats EVERYTHING. I get to pursue my dreams with the full support of everyone that matters to me. I get to eat all I need to, every day of my life. I get to knit. I get to overachieve without unreasonable effort. I get to hug and kiss my child and my boyfriend almost any time I want to. I get to be part of this incredible family, whom I actually like and want to spend time with. I get to come home every day to a lovely house. I get to sleep in the most comfortable bed in the world. I get to light a fire in my fireplace in the winter. I get to feed hummingbirds. I get to be believed in, fully and completely, by those who love me.

I have an incredible life. If she's jealous of it, I really can't say I blame her.

SONG OF THE DAY: Jann Arden, Good Mother

The Week in Review

1. My child is amazing!
2. My coworker is 12.
3. Peace and quiet!
4. Stand back! Preparing to shock!
5. You ate WHAT, Carly?!
6. Back to mile one, and it feels fantastic.
7. Who knew I had so many candles?
8. Birdseed. Lots and lots of birdseed.
9. We have a hummingbird!
10. I don't have tuberculosis.
11. "But I don't WANT to clean my room!"
12. "But I don't WANT to wear that shirt!"
13. They're testing wing magic, and it's gorgeous!
14. It's really, really, really hot.
15. Hey, I can eat oatmeal!
16. Is there even such a thing as cereal with no sugar?
17. If I become a pathologist, I'll have to deal with far fewer of the living.
18. I wanna be a cowboy, baybee.
19. Hey, my buddy's back!
20. Buh-BYE.

P.S. Don't kid yourself, Jo. You laugh like ONE OF US!!

P.P.S. My last day is on the 8th, and I start classes on the 18th!

P.P.P.S. Don't cry, Shell.be. Take a sad song and make it ber-rer!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

What Defines Us

While I was there a couple of weekends ago, Jamie and Nathan and I were talking about our large-ish family and how fabulous it is to have. I love that 3/4 of the children who were called forward for VBS prizes were ours. I love that we have this vast network of open arms and ears and hearts, and that in general, we all get along a fairly astounding amount of the time. I love our strong, beautiful women, who laugh and cry and spout off opinions and get ticked off, all in equal measures of passion, enthusiasm and loudness. I especially love that we all have EXACTLY the same laugh. I have never been prouder of anything in my life than I am to count myself among the ranks of our family's amazing women. Unless it's of the time that I dressed as a jailbird at my divorce deposition. That, I'm pretty full of myself over. But I digress, and besides, I did that as an F woman if I did it as anything or anyone.

I love our strong, solid men, who mostly just sit back, shake their heads and leave us women to it, loving us all the while. I love our giant swarm of children, who don't seem to realize or care which child belongs to whom, because we're all one big mishmash of genetic material anyway, and who cares? They're adored by all, they know it, and they really don't look much further than that. Exactly as it should be. I love our gatherings, where no one feels the need to be anything other than themselves. We wear what we want, we say what we want, and we know we're going to be loved and liked every bit as much when the day is over as we were when it began. And I absolutely ADORE that this whole vibrant mix somehow sprung forth from our shy, sweet little MeMe and her ornery charmer of a husband. We have an a-freaking-mazing family. Seriously.

Jamie and Nathan and I were discussing said a-freaking-mazing family, with the rather ambitious motivation of defining it. Jamie called us the giant Midwestern mafia family, which amused both Nathan and I greatly. I liked that image - this big tight-knit, loyal network of people who all had each other's backs, only without the massacres, money laundering and really gaudy jewelry. It worked for me. Then Nathan called it "our big fat Greek wedding." Probably even more on the mark than Jamie's description, and even more amusing. Both images will probably stick with me forever as images of our family.

I told J about this conversation soon after I got home. J has a decorous little family consisting of the prerequisite 2 or 3 aunts, 6 or 7 cousins, a niece and a nephew. The poor man had no idea what he was getting into with his first experience with our family, which involved "Hi, My Name Is" stickers and a ginormous sprawling family tree chart spanning about 2 eight-foot foldout tables. Granted, that was our VERY extended family, most of whom we didn't even know, but still. That HAD to be intimidating.

I couldn't help being curious about how he saw us, which was my main reason for broaching the subject with him. It's all normal to me. Casually bumping into cousins I never knew I had was a not infrequent experience for me in my adolescence and early adulthood, and although it made for good conversation, it didn't seem the least bit strange. It was just the nature of things. Everyone has 5 billion long-lost cousins scattered across the tri-state area. Right? Right??

J thought about it for a moment, then he said something to this effect:

"You guys are the Great American Family."

He spoke of ease, and laughter, and affection, and innocence. Backyard barbecues and birthday parties and Thanksgiving celebrations so huge that none of our homes could hold all of the people we wanted to spend such a special day with.

J sees us. And he gets us. And he's right about all of it.

Did I mention that I can't wait until Labor Day?