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Showing posts from 2010

@ and The Magic of Christmas Giving

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It was getting close to Christmas. All of the houses in the neighborhood had bright colorful lights along the rooflines and pretty decorated trees in the front windows. @ and his friends decided it would be really neat to go visit the North Pole. They made sure they had their warmest jackets, gloves, boots, and hats and they all went to the train station. When they got there, they found their friend Engineer Doggie, who told them he knew the secret to finding Santa. Then the boarded the train. Once they were on the train, Engineer Doggie told them all to get in a circle and hold hands. Some of them giggled about holding hands, but Engineer Doggie told them it was an important part of the secret. Engineer Doggie told them to close their eyes and dream of their own special snowman.

Junk Mail Prevention

It's October. Don't ask me how that happened. I've decked the halls of my porch with spiderwebbing and orange squash things. @ was so excited to decorate the porch. Gotta love the dollar store for decorations -- he got to go hog wild and buy all sorts of nutty stuff for under ten bucks. At least I don't go broke

Tornado Maintenance 101

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I have a picture of tornadoes on my refrigerator. Each is a different color and hovers precariously close to the ground, about to touch down. In the midst of all the swirling is a little stick figure with a small umbrella saying "Hey tornadoes, one at a time. Get in line!" Sure, I can yell at a tornado and it will listen! Hmmm... Last week was less than fun. Lots of different dramas emerged from various quadrants of my existence. I had some health stuff to handle;

Moonlighting for Extremities

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I have a titanium screw in my toe. There, I've said it. It's out in the world. Judge me for it if you must. This toe is primary digit of my left foot. Not the film My Left Foot. Mine. My actual left foot. I seem to have picked up a habit of damaging said recalcitrant foot every now and then since the first "incident" almost exactly 11 years ago in August 1999. What happens when you damage your foot?

Balancing on Two Wheels

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Avoiding danger in the long run is no safer than outright exposure.  Life is either a daring adventure or nothing. - Helen Keller I recently decided to do something for myself. Pedicures and massages are great and all that. I guess shopping does it for some girls. OK, lots of them. Maybe even legions of them, given stacks of evidence ranging from

I Got a Boo-Boo

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I got a boo-boo on my knee. A good friend invited me to go hiking yesterday. Yes, absolutely, ok, let's go. I didn't bother asking where, how far, and all of those details. It didn't really concern me. And who am I to turn down an excuse to be outside with trees and dirt and stuff? So off we went to Sunol Regional Wilderness and hopped on the trail along Alameda Creek to Little Yosemite. It looked to be a pretty mellow ambling walk along a well-maintained

The Amoeba that Ate Pennsylvania

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Somehow or other, I've been back at work for nearly a month. Time flies when you're trying to catch your breath and remember how to tie your shoes . Within a quick blink, it was as if I'd never been gone. Except now I have this weird eating schedule and people keep asking me if I'm better now. Well, yes, better than I was before. Cured, no. But that's just how it is. In the scheme of things, I don't consider the health thing

Pot o' Gold & Wishes

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@ had an art project at school for which he created a pot of gold. The pot was titled "I wish everyone in the world had..." and he had labeled each coin with a different thing. His choices a bed peace books a dog a tent to play in a giant excavator Practical, altruistic, while at the same time uniquely @. Sometimes he just makes me laugh out loud.

Daddy Is Getting Married

Chapter 1 About a week ago, @ was crying rather dramatically at bedtime. When I asked what was wrong, he said he was worried about me. I certainly didn't expect him to say that. I thought maybe it was because he knew I'd been sick. It wasn't. "Mommy, you're not married. You're all by yourself. You need someone to marry you." Wha huh? Bam, that was certainly out of the clear blue sky. Or maybe it was cloudy that day. I don't recall. Obviously the weather

Walking for N

This Saturday was one of @'s favorite days of the year, the annual March for Babies walk. He was six months old and still on oxygen the first time I did the walk, but he has been there every year since, making it his sixth walk and my seventh. In @'s world, the first few years were about the balloons and the noise, then it was about being a surviving preemie, and now it's about helping babies and walking for his twin brother. It's a tiring day for me, both physically and emotionally. It's a reminder of

Cat Herding, Doc Wrangling...

The first signs that maybe I had the wrong gastroenterologist were sitting in the waiting room when I arrived for my first appointment. The magazines. High-end car, travel, food, and wine magazines. As far as I'm concerned, one of the primary reasons for the existence of magazines like People , Entertainment Weekly , Us , etc., is to entertain patients who are patiently waiting for their doctors. Especially doctors who set their watches according to

Conflicting Philosophies

Zeek: Damien, I'm sure you're a nice guy, but you left your sock in my house and you took my grand-daughter's innocence. Here's your sock. *** *** *** Damien: Sir, I just want to let you know that I consider myself a student of philosophy. Live and let live. I mean no harm to anyone. Zeek: I am an irrational hardass with rage issues. Don't piss me off. *** *** *** Being a word geek, I appreciate good writing when I actually do sit still and watch TV. A pretty new show called Parenthood has some good writers...

Instinct & the Intersection of Teachable and Moment

How to Explain Instinct to a Six-Year-Old Me: If you saw a doughnut running across the yard, you would try to catch it and eat it, right? @: Doughnuts don't run, mommy. Me: But if doughnuts could run and you saw one in Barbara's yard? @: I'd catch it and eat it! But mommy, you're still goofy. Why to Explain Instinct to a Six-Year-Old This morning, Luke followed his oh-so-doggy instinct and caught a squirrel. It was a baby squirrel. Probably a preteen in the world of squirrel years. Luke had chased the mama squirrel and lost. He turned around to find himself staring at the baby squirrel. The chase was short and fruitful. See squirrel. See squirrel run. Chase squirrel. Catch squirrel. Wait! What? I caught it? I've never caught anything. What do I doooooo? Uh oh, they're coming toward me. They look concerned. She's yelling "house!" Drop the squirrel! OK, I'm going into the house. You don't have to ask me twice! What just happened? I

The Wisdom of Six-Year-Olds

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I heard an amazingly beautiful story today. I'll do my best to retell it here. A grandmother was tucking her six-year-old grandson into bed. The little boy, whose father had committed suicide a year prior, asked her what death felt like. Caught off guard, she first responded, "It probably doesn't feel like anything." Then she explained that if you have a strong spirit,like his daddy did, she believed your spirit continued on and took another form. The little boy thought for a moment. "I think my dad's spirit is an apple tree. He had a really healthy body and he liked apples," he said. "But his mind wasn't healthy." "I hope he's an apple tree and he can see the sky and feel the fresh air on his branches." Gulp. Yeah, it brought tears to my eyes. Still does. @ asked me yesterday what "represent" means. We talked about it and I used my hawk tattoo as an example, saying that for me it represents N, his twin. We

The ER and Wizard of Wonderland

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I went to check out Alice in Wonderland and... ended up a test subject for The Wizard of Oz . After making it about 20 minutes into the movie, I started feeling relatively horrid, went home, and my fantabulous neighbor took me to the hospital. It is a bit amusing to go to the ER on April Fools' Day with your due-to-give-birth-in-two-days friend and identify yourself as the patient. But we have good news! A CAT scan proved I have a brain An EKG proved I have a heart Morphine subbed in for the field of poppies... No answers -- ok, except that I can and I still feel icky, but I'm home chillin' on the couch. Oh, and despite the morphine, there were no flying monkeys.

Human Reply to Auto-Reply FAIL

A guy I work with, but whom I've never met in person, responded to my out-of-the-office auto-reply e-mail with "Are you having a baby?" Wha? Huh? Who in the h**...? My first thought was to respond, "Oh yeah, I forgot to tell you. It's yours." As an absolutely hilarious comedian* I saw last winter would say, "First thought wrong..." I didn't go with the first thought. Nor did I opt for the... 2nd: see above italics 3rd: "Been there, done that. Please donate to the March of Dimes" 4th: "Have we met?" 5th: "Please be available to field calls from HR." 6th: "Please see the attached photo from my endoscopy." 7th... * Mark Lundholm .

Pudding for a 25% Shot at Immortality

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It's tax season. And as they say, in this country anyway, the only sure things are death and taxes. But according to some smart folks in Sweden, maybe not. Pudding might solve one of those little problems. No, no really! I came across an interesting article. The all-too-generic headline, " Calcium Linked to Longer Life " is essentially the "Consumable of Some Sort Linked to Longer/Shorter Life" article du jour. In this case, my attention was suckered by the deck (that stuff under the headline designed to drag you into the rest of the article): People who get the most calcium in their diet reduce their risk of death by 25 percent, according to new research on calcium and health. Wha? Huh? Really? Bring it on! I clicked through to the article. It gets better. The editors provide immediately accessible advice under a nice little "what you can do" heading: "Boost your calcium intake by eating healthy food sources like low-fat dairy, spinach, kale

Polar Bear in Pursuit? Just Use a BSO!

Should you be chased by a polar bear down Mountain View's Castro Street while on foot, simply do a u-turn and a street fair will appear. Apparently, polar bears -- or people dressed in mangy polar bear costumes, yet still frightening when chasing you -- are easily distracted by jewelry at art & wine festivals. But perhaps only the variety of art & wine festival that appears like a pond in the desert when you make an abrupt turnaround midstreet. I'm not sure. I've not experienced another polar bear chase -- costumed or otherwise -- nor encountered an apparition-type art & wine festival . It was clear, however, that the jewelry (ooooh shiny, prett-ty shiny things) is what captured the attention of the bear. The BSO strategy works again. Four more instances where Bright Shiny Objects (BSO) work well in tough situations: Presentations that are not going well -- mention some new, obscure feature or technology and watch the eyes glitter as they quickly forget the

Hiatus for the Cape & Tights

I realized my invisible superwoman cape isn't working. I sent it to the wrong dry cleaners and they used some sort of solvent that neutralized my superpowers. That's what I get for trying to save a buck.  OK, honestly, I was never quite comfortable in the tights either. The stilettos gave me blisters. And the leotard always gave me a wedgie , which made the cape useful until I remembered it was invisible.  Why is it that superheroes always have such ridiculous wardrobes ? If they're superheros, wouldn't they have the special powers to save the world in jeans, a t-shirt, and flip-flops?  My ego has always tried to convince me that I could simultaneously climb Everest, juggle flaming chainsaws , work full time, keep up with @, and figure out how to live without snobbishly good dark chocolate as the fourth food group (the others were fruits & veggies, tofu, and whole grains).  Hmmm... There might be a wee bit of exaggeration there. But it sure sounds like a fairly re

Tuna Glow, Tuna Know

Dead tuna do tell tales. As one friend describes it, "your stomach muscles just up and decided they didn't want to work for a living anymore." He continued on a short rant about the French and labor unions, but after 20+ years of hearing his redneck raving, I'm nearly immune. His pre-rant phrasing pretty much covers it. The medical definition of such activity, or lack of activity, is gastroparesis . (And no, it's not caused by stress!) Thanks to my lovely radioactive tuna sandwich experiment , not to be confused with Ken Kesey's Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test (which was waaaaaay more colorful , man), I discovered that although my brain spins quickly, my gut does not. Whee! Having answers I don't like is better than having no answers at all. After a several months of mystery starting last fall, increasing discomfort, and entertaining tests, it's now onward into the breach of figuring out the next step. OK now, this makes sense.   That makes sens

Rabid Dust Bunnies

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I have a very big broom. I have often used it to sweep things under the rug in the interest of maintaining a relatively calm relationship with my mother. We've pretty much always had challenges getting along. I'm told I'm too independent. And not just from Day 1. Stubborn from Day -2, that's me. Apparently I have been a royal pain in the hindquarters since refusing to be born prior to her 30th birthday. Willful fetus that I was, I grabbed hold of her uterus and refused to come out for an additional two days -- not just one, two. Just to spite her. (The things you learn in a shared therapy session at the age of 18.) There were more crimes in my list. I embarrassed her. People often mistook me for a boy. I was a quiet bookish soccer-addicted tomboy instead of a gregarious perky girl. I was shy to the point of dissolving in tearful terror when expected to order ice cream . Oh yes, and willful. I willed my breasts to grow bigger than hers at an age far earlier than

That Certain Glow

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"Eat the whole thing, but be careful not to touch the filling," he said very seriously as he handed me a grayish tuna sandwich. Huh? OK, don't touch the tuna, just consume it? That's comforting. As was the fact he was wearing bright blue gloves. You don't want the stuff on your hands, just in your gut? Hmm... My breakfast was in fact a standard-issue hospital cafeteria tuna sandwich augmented with a lovely condiment of radioactive isotopes. Mmmmmm? Or Hmmmmm... Next task, remain absolutely still on a table for two full hours while nice people in lab coats use a screen to track the glow as makes its way through my digestive tract. I have an oddly convenient ability to fall asleep during medical tests. I actually slept through most of this one, until the last 30 minutes where I was fairly convinced my upper arms were going to catch fire from the position into which they'd been forced. (Good news, no actual scorching.) Yesterday's little snack-and-glow

Reaching Out -- For the First Time

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I've spent the first two months of 2010 growling at myself for picking the high-deductible medical plan, given how much time I've spent with the medical community thus far. I like rice and oatmeal as much as the next girl, but there's been precious little variety beyond that since November. Two weeks ago my esophagus and I had a photo shoot (think internal vogue-ing on enough valium to make a horse levitate). I expected to awake to answers, not "We'll have biopsy results in ten days." The concept of biopsy threw me; it somehow wasn't a word I was expecting. But it was less the potential of what it might mean than the nebulousness of not knowing the next step. Boy howdy the Serenity Prayer does come in handy when you're scratching for control you're just not going to get. God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the differenc e. I knew I couldn't change th

Bark Park -- @'s Eye View (Video)

I gave my camera to @ at the dog park today. He took 142 pictures. We who were raised with film, have a hard time just clicking that button so freely. He has no fear of "wasting film" and takes some really cool pix. Today he was a man on a mission -- he took a picture of every tennis ball in the big dog area. Sometimes there are only a few around, today they'd multiplied like so many mushrooms after a rainstorm. (Hmm... Kind of makes me wonder, given the recent rain, where tennis balls really come from...) Herewith, a bit less than three minutes for your amusement. @ is especially fond of the way I did the end... Canned music from Microsoft...

Chuck E Cheese vs. the BMW

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Admit it, the first image that comes to mind when you read " Chuck E Cheese vs. the BMW " has something to do with oversized rodent carnage and tire tracks. If you're over the age of eight, the BMW automatically wins in this scenario. Hands down. As visually oriented as I am and as satisfying that image happens to be, this is a different story. I recently described myself as a duck with one foot nailed to the floor, wearing a circular groove in the floor. I've often used the un-nailed foot to kick my own ass for making mistakes, saying the wrong thing, failing to meet my own expectations, not having the answers, losing my temper, blah blah blah. For the last few months, I've been actively taking steps to loosen that nail. It turns out, I've had the tool in my hands all along -- a hammer. I was just accustomed to using it to ensure that darn nail would keep my flappy foot firmly fastened. I looked more closely at that hammer, turned it around in my hands

Watching @ Be @

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@ and I took Lucas to the "bark park" today. I know of few better places to take a six-year-old kidlet and an 80-pound dog who have been surrounded by various sets of four walls during a week of downpour. We spent nearly two hours among the other sun-seeking dogs and their drivers. When we first started going to the dog park, both @ and Luke would stay close to me, with Luke eventually giving in to curiosity and dogness to venture forth and join the ranks of random pooches enjoying the park. Today, Luke never stopped moving. He wandered, sniffed, wrassled, chased, mounted, marked, marked, marked, sniffed, lather, rinse, repeat. He gently stopped by when another dog approached @, just to be nearby. He's fun to watch with his big slobbery dog grin as he jogs to and fro. But watching @ today was even better. He followed Luke here and there, saw dogs he wanted to meet and talked to their people, and introduced Luke to potential pals. His favorite dogs of the day were tw

Smashing Marshmallows

Sometimes I can do no more than quote the wee boy: Smashing marshmallows together to make sandwiches feels like trying to make a snake barf. -- @, 1/23/2010 'Nuf said.

Mean Ol' Bully

Growing up, I was the smallest kid in class. Not cute, perky small. Just awkward -- definitely not one to fit in. My mom used to take me and my brother to Elmer's Barber Shop so we could get haircuts at the same time. Striped barber pole out front and a guy with a waxed mustache. People always assumed I was a boy until the onset of puberty provided distinctions to the contrary. And at which time my hair went into a freakish Rosanne Rosannadanna phase that is truly best forgotten. All of that ensured I got picked on a fair amount, but it wasn't life shattering. You're small, homely, and painfully shy. You get used to it. You also get used to fighting back or standing up to it. You do the cornered squirrel thing and show your teeth. After the pediatrician announced that I wouldn't break five feet, three days of angry crying sparked some sort of growth spurt. My uncle helped find someone to cut my hair in a way that actually looked good. And my confidence on the socc