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Archive for November, 2007

One of my pet peeves about LG’s school is that they require a separate spiral-bound notebook for everything. No “5-subject” notebooks are allowed. And it wouldn’t be so bad if they used them all up, but they don’t. And it’s not just one for every different subject, it’s one for each new quarter, within the same subject. For example, she just half-filled a math notebook last quarter, and now it’s discarded and she’s begun a new one. And this really is at the teachers’ requests; I’ve seen the memos.

Over the weekend, we did some long-overdue de-cluttering. And came upon this prime “takes-the-cake” example of my pet peeve. LG had a class called “Intelligent Behavior,” which was to teach study habits and such. We have the bright blue, 100-page spiral notebook that was required. We even have a large, teacher-made “INTELLIGENT BEHAVIOR” sticker affixed to the front of the special notebook in which she was to document all that she could possibly want to know about intelligent behavior. Then on the inside we have . . . two pages that are used. Two. End of notebook. End of class. End of need for a separate notebook for this class. Reeeeeal intelligent. It did give us an opportunity to discuss the concept of irony.

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Sunday Post

THallfalldown

“Joy is the simplest form of gratitude.” — Karl Barth

Psalm 86:3-5

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that some generous, good-humored soul has sent around the world on my behalf, telling most everyone with whom I interact to say something absolutely absurd, just so I’ll have something to laugh and blog about. Take for instance, my efforts to comply with my SIL’s suggestion that I bring steamed shrimp for appetizers tomorrow:

Him: King o’ the Ocean. Can I help you?

Me: Hi, I’d like to order three pounds of steamed shrimp, to pick up tonight.

Him: OK, what size?

Me: Um, large, I guess . . . depending on price . . . how much will that be?

Him: Ummm. . . I really couldn’t say, I’ll have to weigh them . . .

Me: Uh . . . I’m thinking they’ll weigh ’bout THREE POUNDS?

Him: OK, then, that’ll be $10.95 a pound.

Alrighty, then. Last Thanksgiving, I said that you all were the flowers in my bouquet. This year, I had not enough hand energy (or something like that) to do the graphics, but . . . well, it all started when I wasn’t able to go and buy Thanksgiving cards. I just couldn’t stand long enough to pick out cards.

::tangent::For some reason, WTF is more willing to allow me to walk than to just stand still.::end tangent::

So, anyhow, I felt especially bad about not sending my MIL a card, since she’s been through so much lately, BUT I did have the ingredients to (sit down and) mix up and bake her a little pumpkin spice cake. So that’s what I did. Her card was a cake.

And because all things in life relate somehow to blogging (what?), it occurred to me that even though I couldn’t make you a card like last year, I could share the cake. Sorta.

pumpkin cake

So, if my blog is a cake (work with me, here), you all are the nuts on top. (It sounded really nice in my head.)

U.S. Americans, enjoy your Thanksgiving! The rest of y’all, enjoy your tomorrow.

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This post always gets a lot of searches this time of year. And truly, I can’t top it for a Thanksgiving offering, so I hereby make it a WWIT tradition, presented for the third year:

turkey farm

Across the hall from my office is what I believed to be a daycare center. Turns out, it is some sort of work-release program for 3- and 4-year-olds, from which they operate a turkey farm. As you can imagine, it’s been a busy place this week. I’ve dealt with a turkey or two in my day, so I thought I’d take a moment to offer some last-minute turkey selection guidance, with a little help from my turkey-raising friends across the hall.

Do look for:

good bird

A plump, confident bird that will look you right in the eye. All parts should be . . . “in the ballpark,” so to speak.

AVOID:

visually challenged turkey

A bird that appears intoxicated, or just effin’ goofy. You don’t want that.

inverted bird

The upside-down turkey, with crossed legs and shifty eyes. May also exhibit a paranoid demeanor. This bird will NOT digest easily.

ingrown turkey

Watch for the inbred turkey. Its feathers and legs tend to grow inward. Also be leery of turkeys with excessive glue or other miscellaneous white liquids dripping from their beaks. You just don’t know where a turkey like this has been.

afflicted turkey

This is the “WTF” turkey. Any bird that elicits, as your first response, a startled “WTF?!” is to be avoided. Just say no.

**********
Little did I know, back in the day, just how much WTF (turkey, illness, whatever) was to be avoided.

I thank you for coming around here. You cheer me, you encourage me, you inspire me, you frighten challenge me. I am thankful for this blogging thing, and the ways in which its powers can be used for good.

I added a new page, recently, in the spirit of Thanksgiving. It may take some other form some day, but for now, it’s just a page that gets longer and longer. I hope your list of blessings gets longer and longer, too.

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Sunday Post

chipped rainbow chime2

“One day [my] teacher, Frederick Wilkerson, asked me to read to him. I was twenty-four, very erudite, very worldly. He asked that I read from Lessons in Truth, a section which ended with these words: ‘God loves me.’ I read the piece and closed the book, and the teacher said, ‘Read it again.’ I pointedly opened the book, and sarcastically read, ‘God loves me.’ He said, ‘Again.’

“After about the seventh repetition I began to sense that there might be truth in the statement, that there was a possibility that God really did love me. Me, Maya Angelou. I suddenly began to cry at the grandness of it all. I knew that if God loved me, then I could do wonderful things, I could try great things, learn anything, achieve anything. For what could stand against me with God, since one person, any person with God, constitutes the majority?” –Maya Angelou

Romans 8:35-39

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Lonely

One of the toughest things about WTF Disease is the isolation of it — the doing it all by myself. If I said to someone, back in the day, “I have a kidney stone,” I would invariably get, “Oh, you poor thing, I had one of those back in ’82 . . . ” or at the very least, “I know someone who had that and . . . ”

But now, if I say, “I have an undiagnosed illness that causes me to feel like I’m choking all the time, sometimes aspirate liquids, and causes bizarre muscle contortions and buzzing sensations in my throat, tongue, lips, and sometimes it’s very hard to speak clearly, and I’m hoarse most of the time, and sometimes my legs are very weak and I can’t walk, and sometimes my arms are very weak and I can’t lift them, and sometimes my thumbs, they aren’t opposable, I mean, they have no strength, so I can’t use them (I guess that means they’re oppositional rather than opposable?), and my muscles, from my face to my feet, they jump and twitch, many times a day, and my bones, they hurt. Especially the longer ones. You ever have anything like that?”

SILENCE. Yea, no, not so much.

Many times during WTF, people have said to me, “Oh, I know someone who had exactly what you have . . . ” The end of that story varies — they died, they just got better, they got diagnosed and treated, they spontaneously combusted — but ultimately, upon investigation, turns out they didn’t have exactly what I have at all.

Last week my Mom called me. She told me about someone (the daughter of the friend of a cousin) who had exactly what I have, and they never did find out what it was, and she got so she couldn’t walk at all, and her husband had to carry her around for five years

::tangent::Jif, better get your ass to the gym::end tangent::

and she couldn’t talk, and one day she just got better. No diagnosis, no treatment, just got better. Now she’s fine. Don’t you want to call her?!

Sure. “Howdy, stranger! I understand you were seriously fucked up for five years, and now you’re not! ‘Sup wit dat?!”

No, Mom. I don’t want to call her. If she had a diagnosis; if she knew a doc to see or a pill to take . . . or anything that I could DO, I’d be all over her like smug on a doc’s face. But she just kinda . . . survived until she got better. I can do that. Thank you for telling me, I mean, others have told me this, too, that sometimes weird things happen and we never know what they were, and they go away. That would be wonderful. I still believe that could happen. But I don’t want to call her.

There are some people I could talk to, who have had these symptoms. Well, that is, I could talk to the ones who can still talk. But I don’t want to. Because even though I (nor 20+ docs) have not been able to figure out what other illness could produce all these conditions, I still choose to believe I don’t have that one. (There’s no test for it; it’s a “wait and see” diagnosis, they tell me.) Most (like, 99%) of people who have that illness become much more seriously incapacitated than I, over the period of time that I’ve had WTF Disease. For most, it progresses very quickly. So I keep hoping for some other definitive diagnosis, or to be one of those people who “just got better.” Living with the cloud of that other possibility, though . . . it weighs heavily.

Going to the center for that illness at JHU is on the short list of next steps that my primary doc and I recently discussed. For now, I’m not making the appointment. That could change at any time. And if I do have it, I’m very thankful for this relatively healthy time (compared to most other folks who have that), and I’ll keep trying to get better and better at using this time. That’s a thing I want to do regardless of what WTF is. Time is precious. Speech is precious. I try (and fail, but keep trying), to only say that which will be helpful, productive, creative for someone. And not to bother with all the rest — the petty, the critical, etc.

My Christian beliefs get me through every day with WTF. Because in my personal theology, there is another who knows exactly what it feels like to be in this body. There is nothing we experience that Jesus did not experience (Isaiah 53:3-5; Matthew 8:17). And the One who made all the cells understands how they’re going wrong and how to make them do right. So I do have someone to talk to. And I also think that in some ways, living with WTF is not unlike living with any other frightening illness. No matter how many people are in your support group, at the end of the day, you live in your body alone. Unless you believe, as I do, that the Spirit of God is in there with you. That helps, when nothing else does.

Work helps. Laughter helps. Touch helps. Blogging helps. Listeners help. Hope helps. There, now I did it. I wrote “help” so many times that it doesn’t even look like a word any more.

But what I really want to know from you, is, what is your favorite line from a movie?

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Sunday Post

berries and sky

“To speak gratitude is courteous and pleasant, to enact gratitude is generous and noble, but to live gratitude is to touch Heaven.” ~ Johannes A. Gaertner

Psalm 105:1-4

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