Archive for February, 2008

I’ve Been Thanking #4

This is February’s Thanksliving page:

Friday, February 1. Water. Rained like crazy today, very hard for a very long time. Rain has never been depressing to me, the way it is to some. I find it refreshing, renewing. Having visited another website where someone was being thankful (I went to put the link, but the post had disappeared), I am reminded to be thankful for indoor plumbing. And three (my bowl runneth over) working toilets. Some work better than others, but still.

Saturday, February 2. Coffee was ready when I came downstairs today. I don’t drink it every day, but I do like it on weekends. Coffee being ready first thing in the morning for me is a rare occurrence. Usually, I am an early riser and Jif could sleep all Saturday if LG didn’t bug him up. But today, while I showered, he made coffee. That’s nice.

Sunday, February 3. Pineapple, in all forms. Silicone bakeware.

Monday, February 4. Thankful for kind people who work in docs’ offices. It has amazed me, over the past couple of years, how few of them there are. They are often gatekeepers, Cerberuses, guards, rather than welcomers. But wait, I’m being thankful. Mindy, she’s a good one. Gentle voice, willing to be as helpful as she possibly can. Which is way more helpful than her employer ever was. Oops. Trying to stay thankful. Mindy.

Tuesday, February 5. Thankful for choice. Not in its current political connotation, but just generally, thankful for free will. Terrible freedom, it’s been called. The ability to either choose the right thing or the wrong thing; the best thing or the good enough thing. Many, many choices I can make every day, with short- and long-term consequences.

Wednesday, February 6. Thankful that I’m such a tremendously cool mom. Well, this morning I am. My precious only child has left for school wearing flip-flops. (In February. In Baltimore(ish). OMG!!! WHAT WAS I THINKING??!!!) We will all survive. I continue to hone this motherhood thing. I say “no” a lot. Often, when all other parents are saying “yes.” I realize that sometimes, on the minor things, it’s important to say “yes,” when no one will get hurt, and no one’s values will be compromised. Even when it makes no damned sense to me. I did yell out to the sidewalk, “Are your piggies cold?!” I mean, I can’t be totally cool. I must maintain a certain level of embarrassingness.

Thursday, February 7. Met with three of LG’s teachers, and that went very well. They all like her, and they seem to be really good teachers. One remarkable thing came of it. While her science teacher was showing us her grades, he said, “Wait a minute . . . she got a B on her report card, right?” Yes, she did. “Wait a minute …” and he recalculated her grade, just because it didn’t look quite right to him. He turned the calculator around to Jif, and it showed 89.9999999999. He said, “What do you think I should do?” And Jif said, “I think you gotta round UP.” Which gave her an “A” after all. We all had a good laugh about it, with me joking that now that we’d gotten him to change her grade, our work there was done . . . but I did feel the need to repeatedly assure him that wasn’t the purpose of our visit. He said he knew that . . . after all, he was the one who happened to notice that her grades didn’t look like a “B.” Then he told us stories about crazy parents who have accosted him over grades, even in elementary school. We really aren’t like that. We want her to be a good student, but mostly we want her to love learning. I think he believed us. LG was very thrilled, because one more “A” qualifies her for a fancy certificate to put up on the fridge. None of us had any idea that we’d return home with another “A.” Again, sometimes it’s the little unexpected things.

Friday, February 8. Thankful for the internet, and the way in which it offers the means to share things like this video, that made me listen, and this one, that made me laugh. I received both in emails and saw them on blogs, and now I’ve passed them both on in both of those ways.

Saturday, February 9. Jif gave Biscuit a much-needed bath. Biscuit gives thanks, too. (He is so thankful, that Jif was moved to say, “Oh, no! Now he thinks I’m his friend!”)

And The Fever won!

Sunday, February 10. Was thankful that the electricity came back on.

Monday, February 11. The laugh supplied so generously by the (approximately) 7-year-old boy in the Hallmark store, who somehow managed to knock down an entire several-yards-long, six-feet-high Crocs display, amidst banging, clanging, thudding, people ducking for cover, and just general mayhem and madness. When the last Croc had hit the ground, and before his mother could unleash on him, he reassured onlookers, cool as a cucumber, “I meant to do that.”

Tuesday, February 12. An ice storm meant that the agency closed early. I needed that. My intentions were good, trying to work after my doc’s appointment, but really, I was too wiped out. So God iced us. Nice.

Wednesday, February 13. I thought I had an appointment with my therapist, but it wasn’t in my book. So while I was looking up her number, she called me to see if I was still planning to come in, with the ice and all. I was, except that I didn’t know when. In half an hour! So, that all worked out just right.

Thursday, February 14. There’s a client of one of my students, a little girl who has no one. Except this distant relative of the father’s, who has chosen to love this little girl and look out for her when no one else will. Thankful there are people like that, and this child has one of them.

Friday, February 15. Thankful for both Aretha Franklin and Tina Turner, and entirely unable to decide to which Queen I would pledge my allegiance. Also thankful for queens who see the importance and the absurdity of being queen, like The Sweet Potato Queens, who advocate that everyone should claim to be the Queen of Whatever She (or He) Chooses. Now must decide what I am the queen of. I’ll just lounge in my Aretha-sized bed while I ponder . . .

Saturday, February 16, the Fever won again! And LG scored. I wasn’t able to go to the game, but my generous family told me all about it. LG’s team won by one point. They’ve come a long way since the beginning of the season.

Sunday, February 17 through Monday, February 18, SO thankful I was able to persevere through WTF, to co-host LG’s birthday party. I might post a little bit about it in a day or so. The short version is, I planned a party that required me to do no cooking, no decorating, little more than just hanging around, and I hung. I hung around, I hung in, I hung over, I was well hung. You woulda thought I was William Hung. OK, that might be a bit much. But the girls had a great time, and the guest of honor pronounced the party AWESOME.

Tuesday, February 19. This was a day when WTF was relatively quiet. My arms had trouble, but everything else was better than it has been for a long, long time. It was also a day when I came to some decisions about how to proceed, diagnosis and treatment-wise. I’ll soon write more about this in other places, but I came to realize I cannot count on medical professionals. Short version, I discovered some information that had been recorded in my “official” record that was absolutely inaccurate, at best. This from one of the few docs I thought had a clue. From now on, I’m going to increasingly view WTF not as an illness so much as a . . . state of being. And I will do all I can to alter it. Mentally, physically, spiritually, environmentally, relationally. In the meantime, if it IS an “illness,” I will either recover or become worse (perhaps making me more diagnosable/treatable), or I will stay pretty much the same, in which case the focused pursuit of mental/spiritual/physical/environmental/relational health can only do me good. I am thankful to have gotten a little bit of clarity, a little bit of light on the path ahead, even though it came via a very distressing revelation.

Wednesday, February 20. Tonight, LG and I completed her Nefertiti “hat,” to be worn in a Grrl Scawt program in which she will portray the Egyptian queen. Thanks to blogging, we had access to the creative guidance and encouragement of a famous costume designer to the stars. We were pleased with the finished product. And I, for perhaps the first time, was very thankful (and I told her so) that my child is not a perfectionist like her mama. There are some asymmetries and wrinkles and whatnot, which irk me no end, but about which LG said in all sincerity, “That’s no big deal! It’s great! I love it!” If we were both perfectionists, we’d both be miserable. As it was, I was miserable for a millisecond, but how ridiculous would it be for me to remain that way when my kid was perfectly delighted with our finished product? And I try not to be ridiculous — in a bad way.

nefertiti hat

Thursday, February 21. A surprise visit from LG’s godfather, who shares her birthday, tomorrow. He was in town for sad reasons (his mom’s health), but we were delighted to get to take him out for a birthday dinner. He and LG took cell phone pictures of each other and sent them to his daughter’s (Jif’s goddaughter’s) cell phone, then she called us at the restaurant . . . it was all very pleasant, and I hope, a distraction from his family’s current crisis. I know it was a distraction from my various crises.

Friday, February 22. My girl’s birthday. It was a snow day, so we got to hang out at home. She loved all her birthday gifts. Maybe a little too much, but I’ll post about that another time. We watched one of Jif’s and my favorite family-friendly movies, from way back in the day, which we introduced to LG over the summer (having forgotten some of the language in it), and she loves it, too.

Saturday, February 23. Thankful again that we had LG’s party last weekend, and did not schedule a family get-together until next weekend. Turns out she had a fever all day, and ended up sleeping about 15 hours. Our timing was good; cancelling kid parties is such a disappointment.

Sunday, February 24. LG is doing much better. I put on nail polish for the first time in memory (over a year?). That means I felt well enough to bother with it, and my hands worked.

Monday, February 25. Jif is sick today. Flu. I’m very thankful for what an oddity this is. I can count on one hand the times he’s missed work due to illness, in our 25 years of marriage. And I was able to do a lot of what needed doing, things that he does most of the time these days. So, we got through the day. By evening, he was feeling a bit better, with a bit lower fever.

Tuesday, February 26. Found myself feeling very thankful for the new crop of interns that we’ve accepted into the agency for next year. So far, so good.

Wednesday, February 27. I’m thankful for my acupuncturist, and her ability to tolerate the not-knowingness of my illness/disorder/state of being. Jif was back at work today, with a meeting afterward, so LG and I had dinner alone together. We talked a lot, and I so treasure those times of being able to know her better. She talked about middle school, which I think is a plague upon humanity, for the most part. She told me about who is popular and who is not. She says that she is not popular, but the popular kids like her well enough. She says that she and most of her little group of friends are somewhere between popular and dork. I think that’s a good place to be. I’m thankful for that.

Thursday, February 28. Jif’s flu came back strong. Thankful that my work is very flexible now, and I can decide to leave when my family needs me, without stressing about it.

Friday, February 29. I had a doc’s appointment (non-WTF-related) this afternoon. After I showered, I put on the jeans I wore yesterday. Thankful to have discovered yesterday’s panties when they fell out the leg of the jeans before I walked out the front door, rather than in public. That’s always good.


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Sometimes I worry about the values we’re imparting to LG. Jif and I are not materialistic. You might not know this from the clutter that sometimes overtakes our domicile. But it’s true. Things and stuff are not of much interest to us. In spite of a post or two here to the contrary, brand names do not concern me. At least, names that anyone else sees don’t concern me — like those on my jeans, my purse, my car, kitchen appliances, what have you.

Somehow, my kid does not share this perspective. She can tell from halfway down a middle school hallway, who is wearing Uggs and who is wearing Fuggs. (She wears year-old Uggs from Santa. I own neither, but if I were going to buy one or the other, I would wear the Fuggs, because it’s a funnier word.)

LG was delighted with her recent birthday gifts. One of them (from me, I confess) was this Vera Bradley purse that she had admired, and its matching wallet. About this, she remarked, “It’s my first purse that was designed by someone!” I explained that every purse must be designed by someone. “No, but it’s my first purse with a NAME!”

She received a name-brand docking station for her “real” iPod. She received a camisole from her favorite store in the world, Abercrombie. I find it rather amusing that this is her favorite store in the world. I haven’t set foot in the place, but she has enough extended family who have given her sweats and T-shirts from here, that she feels she can claim it. She goes to school with kids whose parents shop at such places exclusively, and I don’t mean at the clearance sales, which I think is all I would even consider doing. This is a two-edged sword. I wish her peers and their families were not so into the things and stuff. On the other hand, it seems that those parents who can afford such things and stuff also have the clout to demand excellent schools, and we benefit from that particular sense of entitlement.

Anyhow, just to temper LG’s glee at the conspicuous consumption with which she’d been gifted, I said to her, “Would you be as happy with your gifts if they didn’t have such expensive names attached to them? Your gifts mean that people were thinking of you and wanted to acknowledge your special day. What if, for whatever reason, your family no longer had the money to give you gifts ‘with names?’ Would you be OK with that?”

“Mom,” she says, as though she’s talking to a slow-witted person, “of course I’d be OK if we didn’t have any money!”

I smile slightly and nod. Maybe she gets it.

“I don’t need money to be happy,” she adds, picking up a couple of her birthday envelopes and waving them at me. “I got GIFT CARDS!”

Help me, Jesus.

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Sunday Post


“Every problem has a gift for you in its hands.” — Richard Bach

Romans 12:4-8

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I did a really dumb thing. A dumb internet thing, which, in my experience, multiplies the dumbness of a thing exponentially.

I filled out an online dating questionnaire. No, I don’t want to date (anyone but Jif). Goodgod, no. I just know all these people, personally and professionally, who do want a significant other in their lives, and especially after a certain age, it’s really tough for them to find someone. For years, I would have told anyone and everyone, do NOT do online dating. But now I know some people who’ve been matched, very successfully and happily, by the online services. I always wondered how the process works. You know, for a friend.

Anyhow, I kept getting these emails inviting me to sign up. And they would match me for free. So . . . I did it. I KNOW, it was stupid. I was just curious what kinds of things they asked, and how they matched and all that. So, yea. I filled out the online form, with honest answers EXCEPT I didn’t say I was married, because, duh, I think they might have frowned upon that. It was that service that rejects people, and I wondered on what basis they might reject someone. I wondered if I would get the, “We’re sorry, but you are not our type,” letter.

I didn’t get that. I got about eight “matches” the first day. Everything is anonymous (first names), so I thought, hmm, interesting, and I deleted them. I had not paid for anything, so I knew no one could actually attempt to contact me. And I thought those little matchy profiles were the extent of what a cheap-ass non-paying person would receive. But then, I got a “Congratulations! Brett would like to conversate with you!” Well, not exactly that, but, yea.

So . . . that was dumb. Here I read about Brett, who seems nice as can be. He’s a photographer. That’s cool. He enjoys spending Saturdays on his boat. I’m not so into boating, so for that reason, OH, AND THE FACT THAT I DON’T DATE BECAUSE I’M MARRIED, I decided he’s not a match. And then I realized

::tangent:: I damned near always think about how my actions will affect other people. In this case, though, I missed the boat on that. I absolutely did not stop to think that those people out there wookin’ pa nub were actual, sincere, perhaps lonely human beings who weren’t doing an experiment, but who might actually get their hopes up about finding a potential compatible . . . companion::end tangent::

that Brett the boater had extended himself and would be waiting to hear whether or not the person he had invited to communicate would actually do so. I could even see why he thought we’d be a good match. So I’m here thinking, “oh shit.” Then I thought, if I don’t reply at all, that’s probably rude. And if I check the “not interested” box, that might hurt his feelings. (Yea, I wouldn’t be cut out for online matching, even if I were matchable.) Then I thought I could send him a short note explaining that he sounds GREAT! but I’m not really available, I was just curious and pissing away time on the internet because I had insomnia, and isn’t that a hoot . . . yea, no, I’m thinking he wouldn’t think that’s a hoot. Because IT’S NOT. It’s stupid and bordering on mean. And to say anything at all to the man, I’d have to join the freakin’ service, and how much sense would that make?

Crap. I think there’s a box for checking “I’m getting out of the pool,” or something like that.

Don’t try this at home, unavailable people. But, hey, if you like photography and boating, I know (of) this guy, Brett . . . 5’10” . . . likes chocolate sundaes and Photoshop . . .

(Oh, and uh . . . the most important qualities he’s looking for in a match are . . . um . . . honesty and sincerity.)

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This is an amplified Thanksliving post. If you’ve been around a while, you know that in another life, I’d like to be a kids’ party planner. LG’s parties, while not huge, are known for being the funnest. We’ve done the Mall Scavenger Hunt, The Mystery, and the wild sleepover. Before I started blogging, my favorite was the Pink Pony Pretend Pajama Party. I like everything about kids’ parties — the planning, the shopping, the decorating, the execution (that almost happened for real at the sleepover), even the, well, not so much the clean-up. But everything else.

This year, with WTF, I was very concerned that LG’s partying days as we knew them were over. In middle school, parties do seem to be getting smaller, so that gave me a break. But I couldn’t imagine how I’d do even a small get-together. Google to the rescue! I searched “12-year-old birthday party,” and found that someone had taken her daughter and friends to a hotel with an indoor pool. Instant party! I found a hotel with a pool and hot tub, just 15 minutes away. It so happened that said hotel was directly across from Medieval Times. And that is how I got my ducks in a row

ducks in a row

and Jif and I accompanied LG and three friends to Medieval Times for what passed for dinner and a show, then to the hotel, where swimming, tubbing, gaming and a movie-on-demand were the prerequisites to the real party, which involved Truth or Dare and giggling until 3 a.m. Next morning, continental breakfast (including make- your-own waffles) was provided. The party was pronounced AWESOME. And all I had to do was make a couple of phone calls and hang out. And take a few pictures.

the traditional cake shot

Oh, and in case you’re considering trying this at home (I mean, at a hotel near your home), I have two words for you: ADJOINING ROOMS. This is what made it possible, for me. I’m extraordinarily safety-conscious and arguably overprotective. I wouldn’t have had 11- and 12-year-olds in a room that we couldn’t get to immediately if needed. Their room connected with mine and Jif’s, so there was privacy for both groups, yet we could wander back and forth, too.

Indeed, Jif and I figured prominently in Truth or Dare, because the dares often consisted of doing something “in front of LG’s parents!” While we watched TV, tween girls would parade into our room on a dare, singing “I’m a Little Teapot,” or dancing to Soulja Boy. Speaking of which, I dare you to go learn the dance, video yourself and post it. You would if you loved me.

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Sunday Post


“I do not think there is any other quality so essential to success of any kind as the quality of perseverance. It overcomes almost everything, even nature.” — John D. Rockefeller

Proverbs 24:16
Micah 7:8

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In Keeping with Tradition

Valentine's Day Legolas

It’s late in the day, but I felt I needed to dress up Legolas in his Valentine’s gay apparel, because . . . that’s just how we roll up in here.

Hope your Valentine’s Day night is shaping up nicely.

And happy V-Day, too.

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Official Diagnosis

It’s WTF Disease. That is to say, I saw an expert in ALS who said that while it is understandable that ALS would be a concern, given my symptoms, the fact that I have good days with remission of some symptoms tells her that I do not have ALS. (Reminder — there’s no test; it’s based on the symptoms and the doctor’s clinical judgment.) That is reassuring. What would be more reassuring is if she could tell me what I do have. She can’t.

In some ways, this is the same news I’ve gotten before: we don’t think you have IT, because while you have the symptoms, you don’t have the progressive debilitation that normally goes with the disease. The caveat, sometimes spoken, sometimes implied, has been that one couldn’t know for certain it isn’t ALS until the symptoms can be clearly attributed to some other illness, or until enough time passes that I either get well or die from something else. The difference this time is that this woman has seen a lot of ALS. I’m hoping she’s right. And I was also hoping that she’d seen a lot of illnesses that look like it, but aren’t, so she could tell me what’s going on. Sigh. Not this time. She’s going to summon some more of my records and see if any of the other zillion docs have overlooked anything. In the meantime, I’ll be over here twitching and choking. Unless it’s a good day, on which I’ll just do one or the other, but not both.

This really should be celebratory news. But I’m not celebrating. Partly because I’m not convinced. I don’t mean to be negative; it’s just that telling me I don’t show a typical progression of some illness isn’t saying much. Long before I became ill, I think I put in one of my “10 Things About Me” lists, that I’m medically weird. I’ve never done any illness in the way most do it. So the fact that the “progression is atypical” doesn’t reassure me as much as it might someone else. The other thing that doesn’t make me feel like celebrating is that whether it’s named or not, I’m still sick as shit. The latest is a marked increase in arm trouble. Sunday I sat in my comfy chair and cried because I wanted to read an effin’ book, and I couldn’t hold it up and turn the pages without my muscles burning like I’d been lifting weights for hours. Add that to the crazy symptoms previously described here, and maybe you can see why I’m not ready to drop the confetti and release the balloons.

SOMEWHERE, SOMEONE has to know what this is, and what to do about it. I just have to keep rallying my resources, internal and external, and trying to find a way to get well.

Thanks for listening, and praying. My WTF updates are probably getting more tiresome than the presidential debates, but please keep praying.

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Mad Gab is a board game — well, there’s no board, but it’s a boxed game with cards, a timer, etc. — usually played in teams, in which you try to solve a word “puzzle.” From the instructions: “The puzzles consist of unrelated words that, when read aloud, sound like familiar phrases, names, places, etc. For example, ‘Europe Lace Sore Mind’ sounds like ‘Your Place Or Mine’ once you say it out loud.”

So, from yesterday:
The one in the photograph, “Jaw Nan Bah Beak Hen Eighty” is “John and Bobby Kennedy”

The Odor Rows of Felt = Theodore Roosevelt
Ran Dumb Max Suck Highness = Random Acts of Kindness
Cusp Helm Ooze Sick = Gospel Music
Eight Wean Gull Any Size = A Twinkle in His Eyes

Got it? Here are a few more, if you want to try again:

Foyer Ice Sown Lee
Gnome Ore Mist Earn Ice Sky
Poe Stitched Ooh
Mirror Called Rug
Ace Tray Taste Who Dent

Knock yourselves out!

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mad gab biscuit

Biscuit always knows when we are playing something, and always believes that we should stop whatever we are playing and play with him. It used to always be that he’d drop his ring on us when we were trying to play a game, but he got some new balls for Christmas (go ahead, make lewd comments, I’ll wait . . . ) and now it’s usually a little blue ball that he imposes upon our play time. Last night we were playing Mad Gab at the kitchen table, and he kept pushing his ball into the middle of everything. Very bad dog.

Have you played Mad Gab? We discovered some things about ourselves while playing. Jif and I both like to think we’re pretty bright, always did well in school, etc. And God knows, he has aptitudes for things that I can’t begin to tackle. Lots of things that come easily to him, frustrate the heck out of me. But in whatever portion of the brain governs one’s success at Mad Gab . . . well, he’s the idiot and I’m the savant. It’s weird. He takes forever at the obvious (to me) ones, and I — I don’t even need to read it the way it’s written. My brain instantly translates to the correct answer. Every time. Very curious.

Do you have a Mad Gab brain? Can you figure out what the card in the photo is trying to say? Here are a few more from last night’s game:

The Odor Rows of Felt
Ran Dumb Max Suck Highness
Cusp Helm Ooze Sick
Eight Wean Gull Any Size

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