Thursday, December 23, 2010

Reflections upon leaving mid-life

I turned 51 last weekend. It wasn't a big deal until I realized that I could no longer legitimately say I was in mid-life. I mean, women to tend to live longer than men and all, but my gene pool simply does not support reaching the age of 102.

I guess that means I am about as grown-up as I'm going to get. That's somewhat sobering, although I am kind of relishing taking on the role of crotchety, eccentric old bat.

This last chunk (third? fourth?) of my life is certainly not starting out as I had envisioned. Wrapping my head around being single for what may be the rest of my life is turning out to be quite a challenge. At this point I've been married for well over half my life and I (naively) assumed the pattern would continue unchanged. Fer chrissakes, the base of my ring finger is still the size it was when I was 19. I wonder if it will ever fill out, or if it's doomed to stay in its stunted state, like the bound feet of an old Chinese woman.

The other thing that happened this week that got me to a-pondering was that Mr. B's older, single sister, (we'll call her Sr. B) passed away from cancer a couple of days ago. I was not one of her favorite people (long, boring story there) but I am the only one resembling family nearby, so I am the one that was called. I sat with her in the hospital as she passed.

Even though she wasn't really conscious, I talked to her. I told her about the lunar eclipse on Monday, what my personal vision of the afterlife was like, and other random crap. I told her everything here would be taken care of so she could go when she was ready. I told her I knew I wasn't the one she would have chosen to be there, but it meant a lot to me to know that she was comfortable and safe in the hospital, rather than dying alone on her cold, hard kitchen floor surrounded by her four cats (which very nearly happened.) The whole scene was eerily familiar, as it was almost three months ago that I had done the exact same thing (well, except for that part about the cats and the kitchen floor) with Mr. B.

(Can you imagine getting that phone call? Even though she had 'banished' me a few weeks before Mr. B died, I would never have been able to forgive myself.)

Regardless of that shakes out going forward, I am grateful that I can put my 'angel of death' costume away before I shut the door on 2010. Two deathbeds in three months is plenty. Looking forward to finding a new hobby for 2011.
 

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Same old, same old

Yeah, I've not been doing too well with the blogging thing lately, have I?

Oh, I think about writing all sorts of things, but when it comes time to actually put black pixels on white background, it just sounds like more of the same old shit. "My husband died! It sucks! I'm depressed! Waaaah-fucking-waaahh!"

You think you're tired of reading it? You can't imagine how sick I am of thinking it.

Luckily, I am making progress with the depression thing -- turned out to be a simple dosage tweak, a really obnoxious full-spectrum light, and a handful of supplements. It's only been a week but I'm feeling better already. Unfortunately, that hasn't stopped the suckage of the last six months from repeatedly beating me about the head and shoulders, but it is nice to be able to leave the couch long enough to get my own fucking TV remote.

Here's something new: Seeing Mr. B's stuff around the house, looking at photos, thinking about him, etc. is actually getting more painful. In the early days, it was very comforting to see his hats on the hat rack, wear his pajama pants, visit his Facebook page, etc.; in fact, I craved it. But recently I find myself going out of my way to avoid all of it.

Isn't that weird?

Not sure what to do about it, other than start getting rid of stuff, but I'm hesitant to do anything I might regret later. Although I will probably shut down the Facebook page soon. The email reminders from FB can be really disturbing: "Mr. B! Let your friends know what you're up to!" It's very tempting to pull out the old Francisco Franco routine from SNL.

Wait for it...


I read somewhere that if you write down all the symptoms, grief really is a form of (usually self-limiting) mental illness. Yep, I'll buy that.
 

Friday, November 26, 2010

Oh shut up

I'm telling ya, I shouldn't allow myself to post when I'm feeling good.

I swear, it's almost like I don't even remember writing that last post. I don't know who the cocky twit is who wrote it but right now I want to bitch slap her.

No lie, it seems like almost as soon as I finished publicly preening over how BEAU-tifully I was doing, I crashed. The whole week since has been one of the hardest yet. In fact, I'm starting to see signs that it's not just yer common, garden variety grieving going on... it may be time to (gulp!) tweak the meds.

I HATE having to admit that, but I am grateful as all hell that I've had enough experience to know when it's beyond my control and it's time to call in the experts.

I realized recently that December 2010 marks TEN YEARS since I first started on anti-depressants. I remember still what a huge relief it was, after twenty years of toughing out the "dark times" curled up in a ball on the couch, rolling my eyes and snapping at the Ex like a hormonal tortoise, hollering at Lovely Daughter to climb a flight of stairs to bring me the TV remote that was ten feet away from me, and asking the doc to test my thyroid "just one more time" only to see the results come back normal again, to have those blue pills make the life-sucking cloud of Dementors* lift and fade for good.

I was so grateful to just feel normal. It was kind of pathetic, really.

*(Sorry for the gratuitous Harry Potter ref, I'm gearing up for Deathly Hallows. Squee!)

Sure, I've stepped in puddles of dark since, but they've been brief and shallow. The last one big enough register was four years ago -- almost exactly, oddly enough -- around the end of my 26-year marriage. I changed meds for a few months, but then I met Mr. B and it no longer seemed to be an issue, IYKWIM. Nothing will get your brain chemicals right faster than a bucketful of burning love. That's some good shit, mon.

Funny thing is, it hadn't occurred to me that I might run into trouble this time. I'm that used to being normal, and although I'm proud of that, WTF was I thinking? This particular Fucking Growth Opportunity is a gobazillionity times harder than the divorce, due to the divorce lacking an actual death. Of course my neurotransmitter tanks would be running completely dry by now. Duh. What a maroon.

If I want to have any chance of keeping the dirty dishes from piling up on the floor and Young Son fed on something other than Blue Box and grilled cheese sandwiches through the winter (Not lyin'. Ask Lovely Daughter about her childhood comfort foods) I figure I have two choices: I can do it "naturally" -- hit the dating sites hard, find someone to stuff in the Mr. B-shaped hole, and hope for the magic to strike twice -- or I can go to a professional and get hooked up. With the right meds, not guys.

I think this time I'll go pro. Bound to be much easier in the long run. This last round of the Dating Game had a pretty brutal finale.
 

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

U'r doing it wrong

Everyone keeps telling me there are no rules for grieving, but I still feel like I'm doing it wrong.

It's only been just shy of two months since Mr. B died, and I am (mostly) back in one piece. The events of the last five months have faded, almost to the point of seeming unreal.

I keep poking myself (mentally, you pervs) searching for signs that I'm kidding myself, and that there's still a big wad of something festering inside that I haven't gotten to yet.

I'm not finding it.

I keep coming to the conclusion that I have reached a pretty good perspective on my relationship with Mr. B, the good and not-so-much. I am at peace (most of the time) with the fact that the rest of my life is not going to go the way I thought. How one phone call in June changed everything.

Oh, I still have bad days, but they don't hurt as bad or last as long. Sometimes I still feel gypped, but it no longer comes with the side order of blinding rage.

I feel disloyal admitting that I'm doing OK. It hasn't even been two months, for fuck's sake! I should be in more pain. Shouldn't I still be in more pain? I keep looking but it's not there.

What's worse, I keep going back to the dating site (not match.com this time). I find myself looking for profiles that show originality and wit (and, I admit, decent grammar). It's quite a challenge, believe me, but that's a post for another day. At first I really was looking for Mr. B, but now I find myself wondering what some of these guys are really like. Still don't have a desire to act on it, but is it really OK to look?

I dunno. It doesn't seem right, somehow. But that doesn't seem to stop me.

It's really hard for me to write this because so many of my twelves of readers know me personally and most of the rest knew Mr. B, but I feel I need to be honest about this process, 'cause otherwise, what's the point?

I still feel like I'm doing it wrong, but I can't figure out how to do it "right" and still be true to myself.
 

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

10 months, 2 weeks, 2 days



I can't even believe that was just one year ago. Yeah, as you might suspect, today kinda sucks. Luckily I had enough foresight to take off work.

I'd originally thought I'd want to spend today looking at wedding photos and memorabilia, but the truth is I can barely stand even thinking about our trip to Vegas. I'd even considered getting a tattoo today but I don't think that's going to happen. As much as I'd like to believe otherwise, I am not exactly the Queen of Acting Out, or even the Duchess of Impulsive Decisions. Oh well. It would have been a grand gesture, though.

Instead, I'll be leaving the house shortly and running errands most of today. Later on I'm meeting Pal P for dinner. Then I'll pick up Young Son, come home, and spend the remnant of the evening staring at something stupid on the Teevee. Way to commemorate the occasion, eh?

Sometime in the next few days I'll probably pack up The Shrine, a bulletin board over the sideboard in the dining room where I've been posting all the cards and letters I've received. I may even pack up the remaining wedding memorabilia (the Yay! flags and origami flowers) that has (have? has?) been sitting on my bedroom dresser for a year. No idea what I'm going to do with my dress -- there's no way I can ever wear is again and looking at it in my closet does not make me happy. And his suit was pretty expensive. I can't imagine getting rid of it but it doesn't make sense to keep it, either.

The worst thing, though, is that sometime last weekend between 10 am Friday and 10 am Saturday I lost Mr. B's wedding band. I'd been wearing it on my thumb since I sent him off with the funeral home guys. I'd thought of putting it away today, since it was a little loose and kept threatening to slip off, but instead it's disappeared. I'm trying to be a good sport about it, telling myself that Mr. B just wanted it back, but it doesn't always work.

We were married for ten months, two weeks, and two days. I keep trying but there's no way I can convince myself I'm OK with that.

To summarize: It sucks. It all sucks.

(I wonder how many times I've used that word since June? Probably a lot.)
 

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Wherein things get a little weird

I tried. I cut myself all sorts of slack, removed all expectations, and I still couldn't do it. I really hate-hate-hate to quit, but I'm bailing on this year's NaNoWriMo.

I'm just not feeling it this year. It's just not happening. Since (for me) NaNo is for entertainment purposes only, I figger there is absolutely no point in me feeling bad about doing badly -- so badly, in fact, that today I can't even bring myself to open the document I've been working on for the past three days. Yes, it's five thousand and fifty-three words of "that bad." Not enough lipstick in the world to make that pig look good, IYKWIM.

My mistake was not following my own advice. To be fair, though, I couldn't have. What with helping Mr. B graduate to the next dimension and all, there just wasn't enough mental energy available to spend on giving a red, ripe rat's ass. I think that's a valid excuse, don't you?

Speaking of next dimension, my latest random coping technique is a sudden and unwavering faith in George Anderson and John Edward, those mediums who can communicate with the spirits of the dead. I've decided that I believe them with all my heart, everything they say is true, and that Mr. B is hanging around me -- and his pals if needed -- kind of like a guardian angel. So far it's working out pretty well. He gave me a great sunrise the other day. I do kind of blame him for letting me down with the whole NaNo thing, but I suppose I can only ask so much.

Oh, wait, here's a good one. Ready for this? The other day I found myself searching on Match.com. WTF is up with that? It took me a day or two to realize that I was actually searching for Mr. B. I knew it was time to back away when I got an email with the subject line: "Mr. B* in Seattle is a match for you!" I almost shit myself before I realized it wasn't actually him. That was the end of Match.com.

I guess that means the lonely is setting in. And it's the inside kind of lonely, not the kind that can be fixed by being with people. No way past it but through it, I suppose.

I'll leave you with something fun: Young Son got this in his trick or treat bag.

"I got a rock."

I think it's brilliant! I know what I'm handing out next year.

* Of course it didn't say Mr. B, but it did have his first name, spelled properly, which is not the common way. And that's a no-shitter.
 

Friday, October 29, 2010

Yep

Just thought I'd check in and say hi. I've been hesitant to write because most of what's going through my head is the same old stuff; missing Mr. B, punctuated by a fair amount of magical thinking, throbbing sinuses, garment-rending, and even a little surreptitious ululating. It's keeping me pretty preoccupied but I'm sure reading about that shit gets old real quick.

So I'll just sum it up this way: Yep, it still sucks. But I'm going to work (almost) every day and I'm taking care of business. I'm even keeping up with the dishes, which is an amazing development. But enough of that.

I do have something fun for you, so this trip won't be a total loss. I just found this pic on my cell phone. I snapped it in the parking lot of the funeral home when my Girl Posse and I went to pick up Mr. B's ashes.


Isn't it awesome? We laughed our asses off. Of course there was a tinge of hysteria in it, but it was great comic relief. We spent way too much time wondering if it was meant to convey "embalm you," or perhaps the nickname of a school of mortuary science, "Embalm U." The jury's still out.

While I'm at it, here's another good one from that day. Here's the bag they gave me to transport the box of his mortal remains.



What in the hell am I supposed to do with it now? It's too nice to just throw out, but I can't quite see myself using it as a gift bag... or maybe I could, in the right circumstance. I do know some folks with Significant Birthdays (meaning divisible by five) coming up. Hmmm...

OK, enough with the gallows humor. Next time I'll tell you whether I decided to start NaNoWriMo 2010 on Monday. It would suck to break a two year winning streak, but that will depend on whether I can stop ululating long enough to think up a story.

Oh, and have a lovely, sugar-filled Halloween. I'm not handing out candy, but that might not be enough to stop a bag of peanut M&Ms from finding its way into my house.
 

Thursday, October 21, 2010

If I hadn't...

If I hadn't decided to stay home today to do some long overdue yard work before taking Young Son to the orthodontist...

If I hadn't decided to take Sweetie for a walk (which I haven't been doing lately...)

If I hadn't decided to go a different way than usual (around the high school instead of around the community college...)

If I hadn't noticed the kid down the street staring up into the sky, shielding his eyes...

I would never have seen two HUGE, gorgeous bald eagles circling the high school. They spent a good five minutes casing the joint before heading off. They were spectacular! We do have them around here but this is the first time I've seen them in the "city". (I suppose technically it's a city but it's really a big town.)

Today is a beautiful fall day, probably the last one we'll have for awhile. Tomorrow we're expecting the first in a series of rainstorms, which are currently lined up across the Pacific Ocean like the cars of a freaking freight train, headed right at us.

But today was perfect, and today I saw two gi-normous, splendid bald eagles.

Thanks, Universe. I needed that.
 

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Switch

It's been really interesting, over the past few weeks, watching myself go back and forth from left-brain to right-brain mode; from thinking to feeling, from rational to emotional, and back again. I can't seem to inhabit both halves of my head at the same time -- it's pretty either-or. I don't quite hear an audible click when the switch occurs, but I haven't really listened for it.

As long as I'm in left-brain, thinking mode, I can make phone calls to close out accounts, fill out paperwork, and talk to people about all sorts of practical, day-to-day matters. I can even go to work and get things done.

Somehow, the universe smiled at me and I ended up in thinking mode for most of Mr. B's memorial service Sunday. It worked out pretty well; I was able to get everything set up at the church, make it through the service without looking like I'd been beat with a baseball bat -- I'm not exactly a delicate weeper -- and meet and greet many, many people Mr. B had told me about but never had a chance to introduce me to. It was good day, full of sharing and laughter and stuff like that.

But when my right brain kicks in, usually when I'm tired or driving in the car (WTF is up with that, BTW?), I am reduced to a huge ball of raw, writhing Feel-eens.

Last night I was pulling the photos of Mr. B off the boards we set up at the service, and it hit me upside the head like a large, wet carp: I still love him like a crazy person. I still have an awful, ridiculous crush on him. I fell in love with his high school picture, the one with the serious bed-head. I fell in love with the picture of him in his late teens, playing with his two young nephews, and again with the picture of him standing on the ice in the Arctic in his 30s. I fell in love with the picture he had taken of himself with his cat, probably for an online dating profile after his divorce in his early 40s. It was brutal, falling in love over and over again with that man I can't ever have. What's even worse, I did have him for just a little bit, then I lost him.

It hurts like all shades of holy hell.

In Feel-een mode, I can't stop my eyes from filling up at random, highly inopportune times. My social filters don't work right. I find myself over-sharing (shocked - I know!) details about the less-than-optimal parts of our relationship. Don't know why I do it, other than maybe I want someone to tell me it's not my fault.

What I want is for him to tell me it's not my fault.

I feel shitty about things I wish I had done differently. I wish I had been more assertive with him about getting a sample in to the doctor when he started coughing up 'stuff' over a year ago. But... our quiet, passive Mr. B was blessed with a huge 'Don't Boss Me' button and I tried really hard to respect that. It was a huge challenge, because I am such a mom. Such a nag. I wanted to do better, be more mature. So I didn't push.

Now I find myself whispering "I love you. I'm so sorry, baby," over and over into the pillow that was under his head when he died. Yeah, I kept the pillow. I sleep with it. I even safety-pinned the pillowcase on so I won't get confused and throw it in the wash.

Shut up. At least I no longer sit around with the box of his ashes on my lap.

If I'm lucky, I'll be back in left-brain mode tomorrow. I'll get things accomplished. Maybe even get some groceries in the house and do Poop Patrol. Got to get as much shit done as I can, before the switch flicks back and I end up back in the exquisite hellhole of unrequited love.
 

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

When words fail

I've heard from a few people in the last few days who confess that they wanted to call/write me earlier, but they just didn't know what to say.

I just want to go on the record as saying I totally get it. I, too, am a member of that club. I am unilaterally lousy at expressing my condolences to folks, to the point of sometimes (gulp) not even sending a card because I was so blocked on what to say. Anything I could come up with seemed completely inadequate and trite.

What's worse, even now I am having trouble playing my part in this... whatever it is. As I've been calling around to cancel accounts and such, the well-trained service rep invariably says something suitable like "I'm so sorry for your loss." All I can come up with is "Thanks. Yeah, it really sucks." There's usually a few seconds of silence after that.

I don't think that's quite what they're expecting from me, but it's all I got.

So, fellow members of the "Ummm...." Club, now that I'm on the receiving end, I can state with authority that it really doesn't matter what you say. Even a bald "I'm sorry, I don't know what to say" works just fine. Who knew it could be so simple?

Another thing I've learned is that sometimes, in lieu of flowers, people send delicious FOOD GIFT BASKETS! How cool, right? I had no idea. I've received a few now and they've been such wonderful treats that I'm stealing the idea.

So there's just a few of the valuable life lessons I've learned so far. All I can say is that by the time I get through this particular Personal Growth Opportunity I'd better fucking glow with wisdom. Just sayin'.
 

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Stomp

What if I don't want to get over it? What if I don't ever want to get to the point where it's OK that he's gone? It's not OK, and it'll never be OK. 'Cause it isn't. It's just fucking wrong, on all levels.

That's what my Inner Brat* is saying today.

She pops up from time to time, crossing her arms over her chest, pouting and stomping her feet. She whines a lot. She balks at things that any normal adult would handle without a second thought. (Key word there is "adult".) She's the reason I couldn't change a toilet paper roll for the first fifteen (twenty?) years of my first marriage.

I am not making that up. Yeah, she's got issues.

We've been working on them, especially over the past four years since my first marriage ended. We've made progress. It was hard, trying to sort through old shit while jumping into a new relationship almost before the ink on the divorce decree was dry, but we continued to hack away at the stack and even made some small progress.

However, she's not handling this latest crisis very well. I realized the other day that legally I am no longer married. Talk about a bitch slap! I think that's what got her all riled up.

One thing my Dear Counselor told me recently is that I need to listen to her. She's a valid (albeit slightly dysfunctional) part of me, and she needs to have her voice heard. She needs to be reassured. However, I have to admit, this time I think she may be on to something. I'm not sure this hurt can be soothed with a few pats on the back and pints of Ben & Jerry's. Although that never hurts.

Rest assured that Grownup Me knows that all the comforting things my dear friends IRL and in Cyberspace are saying are absolutely correct: Time will pass and pain will fade. Things will get sorted out and I'll find my way to the New Normal, rev. 4.0.

But it still won't be OK that he's gone. It will never be OK. And right now I can't imagine ever being OK with it.

* See the photo, top left sidebar? Yeah, that's her.
 

Monday, October 4, 2010

What it's like

So it's been a week already. I've discovered that losing Mr. B has been a lot like getting dumped -- and dumped hard -- except I can't be mad at him or key his car or anything. All I can do is FEEL, and feel the feelings about my feelings. It's freaking exhausting.

Evil Twin coined the term "Emotional Whack-a-Mole" and that pretty much sums it up. I'll be at the store or sitting at the hairstylists and all of a sudden, POW!! An emotional mole pops out of the Mr. B-shaped hole and knocks me on my ass.

Pretty soon I'll have to go back to work and such, but right now all I want to do is sit here and stare into space and drink Diet Coke and occasionally eat toast. As long as I'm in my little Cone of Silence, removed from Real Life, the emo-moles stay pretty quiet.

I have made some small progress, though: I no longer feel compelled to hold the box of his ashes on my lap all day. Seriously, I did that the first few days after I picked it up and it seemed like the most natural thing in the world. I do still talk to it sometimes, but don't tell anyone, OK?
 

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

After the bomb

(I just went back and checked -- Mr. B died just 20 minutes after I posted my previous post.)

Mr. B and I both are (were?) avid fans of science fiction/fantasy books. He tended more toward space opera things with lots on interesting world-building and aliens and ships and adventures where lots of stuff happened. I liked those if they were cleverly written (I'm looking at you, Lois McMaster Bujold) but my favorites are typically stories set in our world, or not-quite our world, with richly-drawn characters and relationships. But my most favorites are post-apocalyptic "after the bomb" books, as we used to call them way back in Cold War times. Stephen Kings' The Stand, for example, or even the Left Behind books which are fascinating when read from a sci-fi perspective.

Anyhooze, that's where I am right now: A post-apocalyptic, bombed out world where the survivors have to scrabble and scramble to survive. Something catastrophic happened and the whole world changed in an instant. It was just a week ago we returned from our three-day cancer retreat (now that sounds like a fun time, doesn't it?) and met with hospice.

Yesterday was a flurry of activity which made it super-easy to stay in left-brain mode. The Ex went with me to the funeral home which was easy-peasy, really, since Mr. B and I tend toward the minimalist in that regard. Sister flew in to stay with me, and Evil Twin was finalizing preps to come, too. The 'durable medical supply' place came to take back the, ahem, 'day bed', etc. There were phone calls and emails and Facebook communications to take care of. I was running on four hours of sleep, and I was grateful for the buzz of exhaustion.

But last night after Sister went to bed and I was shutting down the house for the night, I looked over my shoulder into the now-empty dining room where Mr. B had lain a scant twenty-four hours ago, where Pal Peg and I helped him finish up the hard work of dying and letting go.

The hard candy shell of uber-competent and strong caregiver/problem solver I had constructed around my gooey soft inner core cracked wide open and everything started to leak out. I sat in the middle of the empty floor and wept. That's the first time I felt the Mr. B-shaped hole in me.

It was the first time since his diagnosis a scant three months ago (THREE FUCKING MONTHS!!) that I simply sat and cried to the point where I couldn't stop myself.

I know full well that as the hubbub fades and I have to reconstruct a daily life from the rubble, that Mr. B-shaped hole is only going to get larger and larger.

The world is now Mr. B-less, and that's just so wrong, on every level. Wow. It looks like my tag "Strange New World" has just taken on a whole new meaning, hasn't it?

Fuck.
 

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Quick update

Things have gone so fast... he's unconscious now and has been most of today. It looks like he may be gone tonight, maybe tomorrow. My Pal Peg is with me and we're standing watch, or vigil, or whatever.

Thanks for all your kind wishes. It's surreal but peaceful, and that's all I was hoping for.
 

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Time flies...

Did you know a lot can happen in a week?

A week ago, Mr. B was walking (albeit unsteadily) and conversing, and hugging, and eating (albeit not a lot). I was working full-time and he was able to stay home alone.

Today, he is doing none of the above.

He can still stagger from the 'day bed' in our former dining room around the corner to the bathroom, or over to the recliner, but that's about it. He's no longer interested in even a few sips of smoothie or milkshake -- his only sustenance for the past week -- but he has had a few sips of chai tea with soy this morning. I have gone in to work for a few hours here and there this past week but as it stands now I won't be going in much, if at all.

I had kind of envisioned that this final phase of life would be full of heartwarming, intimate moments of connection, saying things to each other that would stay with us always, and stuff like that.

That's not quite the way things seem to be working out.

He's gone almost completely internal at this point, and any stimulation that comes from outside (including me) seems to be a distraction from whatever he is doing inside to get ready. As he retreats further inward, the slight-yet-always-present undercurrent of stubbornness I've always felt running through him is coming closer to the surface.

This morning he wanted to move from the day bed to the recliner. I cleared a path through the living room and pulled out the walker hospice sent over. When it was time, he insisted on going through the kitchen around to the recliner, through the one doorway in the house too narrow for the walker to fit.

Guess he told me, huh?

I ask him what he wants or needs, or try to tell him about what's going on with the day, and he gets restless and whispers he feels he's being "talked at". But when I say "I love you," he always replies "Love you, too." I'll take that.

Everyone tells me I'm doing a good job and that does help, but I still feel like I'm not giving him what he needs. Then again, maybe whatever he needs, it's not mine to give.

There's a booklet hospice gave us called "Journey's End: A Guide to Understanding the Final Stages of the Dying Process." I finally managed to make myself read it the other night, and I'm glad I did. It left me with a much more, well, sacred image of what he is working through right now. I actually feel I've been entrusted with the task of getting him through this as peacefully as I can.

Have I mentioned that this is The Hardest Thing I've ever had to do in my whole life?

Saturday, September 18, 2010

So here's the thing...

Things have not been going well around here. I suppose it's time to stop vagueblogging and catch you all up.

Long story way short, Mr. B has been losing serious ground for the past month, and since he only sees the oncologist (way over in The Big City) every three weeks, we haven't known if the chronic problems (nausea, fatigue, cognitive changes, etc.) were side effects from chemo/radiation or... whatever.

Yesterday was his follow-up appointment, three weeks post-chemo. I headed in there determined to get my questions answered. I should have realized I was setting myself up for a classic case of "Be careful what you ask for."

The doc asked Mr. B some questions and poked and prodded. Took some notes. She did not offer a prognosis. She did not mention any further treatment. As she was making moves to wrap up the visit, I asked for the prognosis, and she told us.

One month, maybe two.

She said "It's* a bad disease, and you've got a bad case of it."

So it's time to call hospice. No advantage at this point to trekking all the way over to The Big City, so it's time to find an oncologist close to home to babysit us. And we absolutely have to get those freaking papers finished up, the POAs and Advance Directives and all that.

(Safety Tip: PLEASE get all that living will shit done now. Having to have those discussions once someone is really ill is THE WORST. Much easier to do when it's all theoretical.)

I asked the doc how the disease typically progresses at this point, and she gave us a few scenarios. I asked what we are to do in any of those cases, because my instinct would be to call 911, and she indicated that not dialing 911 is the right thing to do.

Yikes.

But that's the beauty of getting hooked up with hospice: We call them instead and they can help us through.

Through my superior people-reading skills (snort!), over the past few months I had gathered that, despite what she was saying, she wasn't being real aggressive about offering treatment. I am irritated that she wasn't more forthcoming at our last visit. Or the one before that. However, from what she said yesterday, most people don't want to know so she doesn't volunteer that information.

Really? How could someone not want to know? I don't get that at all.

Anyway, there it is. I suppose our goal at this point is to celebrate our first anniversary in November.

In the meantime, we get to figure out how this is all going to work.

* Stage 4 melanoma, in case I've been too vague about it. Yes, he went from getting the all clear in June 2008 and July 2009 to Stage 4 this past June without passing go or collecting $200. WTF is up with that?
 

Monday, September 13, 2010

Bad influence

True confession: I am teaching Sweetie some habits I will probably regret.
  • I find it hilarious to get her to howl when we hear a siren. All I have to do is throw my head back and go "OOoooooOOooo...", and after a couple of seconds she joins right in. It's awesome, mainly because she looks so guilty doing it.

  • I encourage her to chase squirrels on our evening walks around the neighborhood. I have her on a leash so she can only go so far, but she is a greyhound so I figure it's probably the high point of her day.

  • Sometimes, when I go through a drive-thru to get my vat of Diet Coke, I buy her a plain burger. I don't do it every time, but she's already starting to get the clue. The look on her face as I toss the burger over my shoulder is priceless!
What can I say? I'm a Bad Mom.
:)

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Uppercut

Golly, has this ever been a tough week! I thought the last couple were rough, but this one is turning out to be a real ball-buster. Thankfully, nothing significant has happened IRL but I still keep finding myself on my knees, and not in a good way, either.

I can't even think of a flip way to sum it up. The only word that comes to mind is 'heartbroken'. I am walking around heartbroken, every day, all day. No matter how I try to frame it or work it out, I just can't seem to get past it.

My heart is broken.

I found myself in the grocery store at lunch today, fuming because they had yet again hidden the garlic, and I was almost overcome by the urge to throw myself on the ground kicking and screaming like a four-year-old. Don't these people realize that my heart is fucking broken? How can I possibly be expected to play their passive-aggressive little game of "Find the garlic" when I'm walking around with a bruised, dripping mass of hurt in my chest?

I've had some sucky times in my life, but this is the hardest time I have ever had to live through, by far. The suckiest part is that there is absolutely no guarantee that it will pass any time soon.

Suck it up, Buttercup.
 

Friday, September 3, 2010

The Universe 'n' Me

I think I've just found the name of my sitcom! You know, for when someone in The Biz decides they want to create a sitcom out of my life...

Never mind.

I have an interesting relationship with the universe.

It's taken me a good 30 years to figure it out, and I feel pretty confident that my (sometimes inconsistent) model of The Way Things Are works for me.

The upside of my particular belief system is that when bad things happen, I don't feel I'm being punished. Shit happens, you know? We all have to learn to deal, strive to do the best we can with what we got, and let go of the rest. The downside is that there's no one "up there" (or "down there") to blame things on.

But sometimes (and don't tell anyone, OK?) I do like to imagine my Mema is sitting on top of a cloud watching over me, and sometimes I do like to tell myself the universe is rewarding me specifically. Take, for example, the past few weeks.

Life has been rough. Many FGOs (Fucking Growth Opportunities) have come my way. Some of them I have handled gracefully; others, not so much. It's been very hard. I often wonder if I'm doing the right thing. I'm drag-assing, whining every step of the way, but I'm persevering.

So then these random acts of squee! start happening.

First, after a particularly crappy day, I scored some major great deals on plants I had wanted for the back yard but couldn't afford to spend big bucks on.

Thanks, Universe!

I'd been dreaming of a fancy-pants blender. I've been making a lot of smoothies using my trusty stick blender but I figured it would be nice to have the right tool for the job, since I was caring for sick people and all. However, the top-rated brands cost a LOT of money! So every few weeks I'd pick up the notion, look at the reviews and the price, and set it back down. Stalemate.

One recent Sunday I was wandering around Costco with my ten pound box of oats when I saw it... a blender demo in the center aisle, one of the two brands I'd been eyeing. I was drawn to it like a magnet and stood through the entire demo transfixed. My $6 Costco trip blossomed into a $400 Costco trip, but I didn't even care. The universe had made the decision for me. And, BTW, the blender ROCKS!

Thanks, Universe!

Last week I picked up the mail from my post office box and found a mysterious check, seemingly legit. Turns out it's from the settlement of a class action lawsuit by employees of, ahem, a large discount store chain against said large discount store chain. Five years ago I worked there for nine months. The check was for a thousand bucks.

Thanks, Universe!

Lovely Daughter came home bearing her defunct Macbook. It had had a teeny splash of liquid spilled on the keyboard and was behaving inconsistently. She had been told that because it was liquid damage, it would cost almost as much to repair as it would to buy a new laptop.

I decided to take it in to the local Apple Store just to see. Well, as it turns out, there were some chips in the plastic around the keyboard that qualified it for a FREE keyboard replacement. All better! For FREE!

Thanks, Universe!

And that, my friends, is the beauty of subscribing to the Burger King(r, tm, whatevs) model of spirituality. Sure, it's inconsistent as hell, but I can have it my way!
 

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

WTF just happened here?!?

O Hai, kids! Sorry I've been absent, but things got a little wacky around here last week. Good news is that I have a new game to play:
How much can I vent without violating Someone's privacy and/or hurting Someone's feelings?
This should be fun!

So... last week I ended up having to play adult and it sucked. I had to nut up and decide how to take care of Someone (who does not live with me) who was VERY VERY ill. Got the shit scared out of me in the process when I realized I had NO IDEA what the hell I was doing but other people assumed I did.

Man, talk about humbling.

It took a lot of fumbling and bumbling (with several hours of laying awake in the dark staring at the ceiling) but I think we finally got things set up where I won't have to do that again any time soon. And I must've done something right, 'cause Someone has recovered to the point where Someone is pissed at me for being too bossy. According to Mr. B's English-to-B-Family dictionary, that most likely translates to a hearty "Thanks, and good job!"

In other news, Young Son is just about to turn 11 this week. He's maturing fast (and breaking his mother's heart in the process) and has been toying with the notion of jobs he could have as a teenager. He's decided he could work at the day care he's gone to for the past six years, or at a restaurant, but he insists it would have to be a family-owned restaurant, not a chain. Apparently that's important.

The other day I got a txt msg from The Ex:
Quote of the day from YS while watching the septic guy clean the tank: "That's not such a bad job. I think I'll do it when I grow up. For two years."
Sure, it's not exactly a mother's dream, but at least he'd have a steady paycheck. And after watching my follow-her-dreams actor-child's painful struggle toward her goals, I'd take a steady paycheck even if it did come with a certain... je ne sais quoi.
 

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Wish I had a camera...

 
Recreation of the best bumper sticker of the week:


 

Thursday, August 5, 2010

It's all relative

The highlight of this week is that Sis finally did get her final diagnosis, and it's Not Great, but at least it's not Very Bad as we had feared. The five year survival rate for her condition is 50%.

Here's a perfect example of how fucked up my life is right now: That that counts as Very Good News. As Mr. B so succinctly put it, "I'd take a 50% survival rate right now."

That, of course, made me think of this...



"Oh, we used to dream of living in a corridor..."
 

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Mythbusters Moment

One thing I love about Mythbusters is the notion of Mythbusters Moments. The Mythbusters team will be setting up some usually complicated test to prove or disprove some really oddball piece of common 'wisdom', like whether droplets from a sneeze will really travel thirty feet, and the absurdity of the moment will strike someone, who then looks into the camera and says "What in the hell are we doing??"

We've had several of those around here in the last six weeks or so, but the best so far was when Mr. B started taking his chemo, Mr. Yuk-colored capsules with Extremely Dire Warning Stickers plastered all over the bottle.

The instructions warn NOT to TOUCH the capsules with ones fingers; rather, shake the capsules into a small cup, then dump them into ones mouth and swallow. NO CHEWING ALLOWED!

Mmmmkaay....

So, whatever you do, DON'T TOUCH THEM, but please do feel free to put them in your mouth and SWALLOW them.

Riiiight.
 

Friday, July 23, 2010

Normal, new & improved!

I thought Mr. B's diagnosis was rough enough, but his sister, who moved to town last year, also just got a Very Bad Diagnosis. So, as Mr. B and I deal with his stuff, we are also trying to help Sis as much as we possibly can.

Stress, much? Let's just say it's a full life.

I'm alternating between Control Freak Mode (working myself into a lather trying to anticipate and solve every single possible upcoming problem) and Withdrawal Mode (curling up in a ball in the corner, paralyzed by the conviction that nothing good will ever happen again). I'm hoping there's a happy medium in there somewhere. Happy, hell; I'd even settle for a tolerable medium. I don't think there's enough diet soda in the county to help me reach a happy medium.

But, as with any major crisis, the initial wave of shock and awe passes. The survivors scrape up whatever's left and start piecing things back together into some semblance of normal, trying to figure out what 'normal' now looks like. We have kind of settled into what passes for normal these days. Even though we know more THINGS are going to happen at some point, we can't do dick about it right now. Except wait.

So wait, we will.

In the meantime, we're scraping together what we can, going to work, and trying to get stuff done. What else can we do?
 

Monday, July 19, 2010

You may have already won!

All three entries for the hat contest were wonderful, although I am having a tough time sourcing entry #2. Mr. B couldn't choose a winner, and if I'd'a had three coupons I would have sent you each one, so I turned to Random.org.

Belle is the lucky winner of the woefully inadequate yet pathetically cheap prize of the two fast food coupons peeled from my diet soda cups.

Belle, if you want 'em, just email me a snail mail address at hiitsjustmee -at- yahoo -dot- com and I'll send them your way.

Thanks for playing!
 

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

It's time for a random contest!


Lookee -- the monkey on my back has a silver lining!

As I feed my addiction for 'diet dark', I keep getting these coupons for free food (from a national fast food chain whose name rhymes with Lurger Fling) but so far, none of the things I've won are things I eat.

That's where you come in, Dear Reader. We're going to have a contest!

See, Mr. B needs more fun ball caps because Sweetie keeps chewing his up, but he's having a hard time finding cool ones. We need your help.

In a comment below, post a link to a funny yet tasteful ball cap (see guidelines below). He will pick his favorite and I will mail the winner the two coupons I have so far (for a Croissanwich and Apple Pie) plus any others I win in the meantime.

As for guidelines, the cap color should be tan, brown, olive, or black; be of a regular ball cap shape (no antlers, etc.); and should have some extremely clever and hilarious image or saying on it. Overall, it needs to be something he would actually wear in public.

Mr. B will choose a winner Sunday night, July 18th, before we go to bed (usually 9 pm* Pacific Time.)

Are you up for it? I knew you would be! Remember, Mr. B's scalp is counting on you. But no pressure.
:)

*Yeah, shut up. We're old. Haven't I mentioned that before?
 

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Ladies, look at your man...

Time for some fun and games, people! So Isiah Mustafa, the Old Spice Man, is blitzing the interwebs today in a viral marketing campaign for my least favorite man-scent ever. But you know what? I bet on him it doesn't small half bad.

Heh heh.

If you don't know who the Old Spice Man is, you must watch this:



Here's my favorite clip from today:



"Monocle smile." Priceless.

You can see the rest of the clippy goodness compiled on Urlesque. And trust me, you will want to see it.

My question for Old Spice Man is: How does he manage the pressure and demands of being the role model for the entire male population? I know from experience that being the center of the universe can be quite a burden, but to be the sole example of manly perfection... whoa. That's heavy.
 

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Mama's little helper

OK, so you've probably gotten the sense that The News was pretty bad. Yeah, it's freaking scary, and we are getting a sense of the full scope of the problem but we don't yet have all the puzzle pieces fit together to figure out WTF it all means. We are now smack dab in the middle of one of those weird times where nothing seems real and it is almost impossible to remember that everyone else is just chugging along with their daily lives while we thrash around helplessly in the muck, our toes scrabbling desperately for a hint of something solid.

I have already learned some interesting things, though. Did you know that when someone in your household gets a really bad diagnosis, one that has the very real likelihood of being life-threatening, you still have to go to work and talk to customers on the phone and care about their problems? And, you still have to go grocery shopping and feed people and take out the trash. And those flower beds don't weed themselves, you know. And if you don't keep up with the housework (read: you don't have the cleaning lady come often enough) your son will break out in hives from his low-level dog allergy, which makes you a Very Bad Mom on top of everything else.

Who knew? I can't say I think it's fair. I always kind of assumed that when something happens that FREAKS you the hell OUT like that, you get a "Get Out Of Shit Free" card. Well, mine hasn't shown up in the mail yet.

I have to confess that I have discovered how weak I really am. I have found myself self-medicating on a regular basis. It started out fairly innocently, just once or twice that first week when things were super fucked up, and I swore that I'd stop as soon as we found ourselves on solid ground, but I'm afraid it's turned into an almost daily thing. I rely on it now, even after I swore earlier this year I was done for good and I'd never take it up again.

Yes, I'm drinking diet soda again. And not the stuff in the cans, either -- it's gotta be the stuff from the fast food places on ice. Sometimes I even get a large, which doesn't even fit in the cupholder of my car and takes two hands to maneuver.

Of course I'm ashamed of myself, but it's not enough to make me stop. I know my body will pay for the chemical abuse I'm heaping on it, but I don't care.

I need it and it helps, if even for a few minutes.

Then again, if that's the worst habit I pick up during this, I think I'm doing OK.
 

Thursday, July 1, 2010

To Do list

One item of unfinished business haunting me lately is having The Talk with Young Son. He'll be eleven soon and I know it's been coming for some time, but for some reason I just have not been able to nut up and get through it. I'm guessing it's because I'm not ready for him to (gulp) enter puberty, and maybe my inner magical thinker believes delaying The Talk will delay the process.

I wish.

I was thinking back to what I thought about sex as a child and concluded I didn't think much about it at all. Other than a few attempts at playing Doctor, which wasn't even connected with the word "sex", the first time I remember it coming up was when I was maybe eight or nine. A group of us -- probably Elaine, Ann, Michelle, Mary Helen, and Holly were playing Barbies on Holly's patio on a hot Indiana summer afternoon.

BTW, when was the last time you used the word "patio"?

Mary Helen, second eldest in the only Catholic family in the neighborhood, decided it was time to show us how babies were made. She stripped Barbie and Ken and stood them face to face, with full body contact.

The group fell silent.

"But where do they do it?" someone asked.

"At the hospital," Mary Helen stated with authority. "They go to a special room and take off all their clothes and stand right up against each other like this. Then they get dressed and go home. When it's time for the baby to come out, they go back to the hospital and the doctor cuts it out."

The cutting out the baby part didn't bother us too much, but we were fascinated and repelled imagining our parents doing that first thing. Especially Mary Helen's parents whom, by my eight-year-old criteria, were not particularly attractive people.

Ew.

No one had any better explanation, so it had to be the truth. Besides, Mary Helen had six kids in her family so she should know. What can I say? This was back in the late Sixties.

All together now: It was a much simpler time.

Thanks to the tsunami that is today's media and entertainment industry, I'm pretty sure that Young Son, almost 40 years my junior, has probably seen and heard more sexual innuendo than I had when I graduated high school. He's seen enough animals mating on TV and recently learned that humans also mate, so it probably will be no big deal to connect the dots for him. Piece o'cake!

Ummm yeah... I'm sure I'll get to it eventually.
 

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Stop that, stop that...

Well hell. I was all geared up for high drama on Friday but we didn't get it. I can only conclude that the folks at the clinic work VERY HARD to deflect any hint of high drama*, damn bless their consummately professional hides.

Current word is that there is very little doubt about what IT** is, but there is lots of head-scratching about how IT got so far out of control, since we got the official All Clear twice. So there are tests to be done and results to be studied before we find out what's going to happen and when.

How orderly and anti-climactic is that? I appreciate their professionalism, but as anyone who has had to wait for a definitive diagnosis can attest, WAITING SUCKS BALLS.

Ahem.

While we're waiting for something to happen, I thought you might enjoy a peek at my first few thoughts after I heard The News almost two weeks ago. At the time I didn't even notice they were, uh, a little out of character, which makes it even better:
  • I really needed a cigarette. (I haven't smoked in 30 years.)

  • I got really annoyed with my hair and decided to cut it all off. (I just spent a year growing it out.)

  • I felt the urge to get a tattoo. (WTF??)

  • I wondered if I know anyone who sells weed. (Decided I probably don't.)
So when my psyche gets shoved against the wall, I turn into a sixteen-year-old. Fascinating.

I managed to get a grip and channel my urge to act out into a somewhat positive direction -- I bought Mr. B an iPad last weekend. Let me tell you, that is one cool toy. If that doesn't make him behave in the doctor's office, nothing will.

I estimate we have another week or so of floating in null space before the shit hits the fan. That should give you plenty of time to get your riot gear ready.

*<Insert Tale of Sir Launcelot joke>

**<Insert Knights Who Say Ni joke>

(Can you tell we recently watched Holy Grail?)
 

Friday, June 25, 2010

Peeking over the edge

Have you ever had one of those moments when you realize that whatever is about to happen in the next few minutes or hours could change your life forever?

Sure, with the luxury of hindsight, we can look back and recognize all sorts of decisions that changed the course of our lives -- like the moment I decided to send Mr. B that first email -- but at the time we didn't have a clue that anything out of the ordinary was going on.

But those stomach-wrenching moments when you are well aware you are walking up to the edge of a cliff with no idea what will happen when you take that step over the edge... those are a whole 'nother thing. Like, say, the morning of your wedding. Or when you feel the first pang of labor. Or even when you pick up the stick you peed on ten minutes earlier and slowly turn it over.

Anxious, much?

In half an hour, I am going to leave work to catch a ferry to catch a cab to the Highly Regarded Cancer Treatment Center where Mr. B and I will be told what in the hell is going on.

After that, who knows?
 

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

At least I'm enjoying the ride

Wow - what a WEEK I'm having! It's been rough, but yesterday the sun finally came out and the temps approached 70 degrees. That made me happy. I also realized that it was about a year ago that Mr. B and I set our wedding date. That made me happy too.

Despite that happy occasion, Mr. B said the other day that June is shaping up to be his least favorite month. I pondered that, trying to place his surgeries, etc. in order, but my memory is crap. I had to go through the blog archives to remind myself what happened when. I then created this handy info-graphic to put it all in perspective. Sure enough, June has been in the bottom of the curve for the three years running.
 

LEGEND:
A: We're dating! Yay!

B: The dermatologist found what?!? OMG! But it's OK, just got to cut it off. Oops, missed a spot -- there. All better.

C: We're moving in together! wOOt!

D: What's that thing on your head? Shit, here we go again. It's still OK, though - just gotta make another scalp donation. All better.

E: We're married! Yay!

F: Ruh-roh...

Seeing it all laid out like that really drove home what a freakin' roller coaster ride the last three years have been, and I'm not even going to count my own little health hassles.

Here's some food for thought: A few months ago Blogger stopped FTP support for self-hosted blogs so I moved my family blog back to Blogger. I had started it since way back in 2004, right before the 25th anniversary of my first marriage. Lots of ancient history there.

I figured since I was now newly-remarried and all, it was a good time to do some housecleaning. I changed the blog name and the tagline, and even chose a new template. I wrote the tagline without even thinking, just as a placeholder, really. But looking at it now I think The Universe was trying to tell me something:

"It's all fun and games until it isn't. And even then, it tends to be fairly interesting."

Heh. Interesting. Yeah, that fits.

Interesting or not, I keep staring at that graph, hoping the pattern continues and we see the red line swing sharply upward in a few months.

Fingers crossed, 'k?
 

Monday, June 21, 2010

Top Five Reasons Today Sucks

5. Fifteen hours, fifty-nine minutes, and thirty-five seconds of chilly, damp, gray daylight. The temp just broke 60 degrees, barely. Thanks, solstice.

4. The soles of my feet hurt for no reason. WTF??

3. Left the house extra early this morning to do a pain-in-the-ass errand on the way to work, only to find that approximately 40 people with the same idea had queued up ahead of me. Had to bail out and head to work early. I hate showing up at work early because I don't get extra points for that. Plus, now I have to leave work early to see if I can get 'er done before the place closes.

2. Walked in to the office to find one of the servers had died, at the ripe old age of twelve years. Managed to shunt most functions to another server, only to have the mail server crap out. Took me three hours to find out that the antivirus software had blocked port 25 all of a sudden for no good reason. This was all complicated by the fact that I have no idea what I'm doing.

1. Oh, and we found out Thursday, about an hour after my last blog post, that it's baa-ack. And it's not going to be a relatively easy cut-and-run kind of deal this time either.

FML.

On the plus side, if you like hearing me whine, there's bound be be quite a bit of it in the near future. Cheers!
 

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Great Moments in History #91

Scene: Lunchroom at work, circa 1985 or so. Four co-workers are sharing a table and enjoying typical co-worker banter. Two of them -- Joe and Mr. B -- begin a discussion about some random yet apparently important topic.

Joe (frustrated, pushes back from the table): Dammit, you always do that! I can never be right! No matter what I say, you always correct me!

Mr. B (pauses, considers Joe's statement): Actually, Joe, that's not strictly true....

The group falls silent for approximately two beats, whereupon Evil Twin and Liz burst into laughter.

Best part is, I'm not even making that up. And that's why we liked hanging out with Mr. B.
:)
 

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Tidal wave

Wanna hear something really sick and twisted? Yeah? Thought you might, you rascals! OK, here it goes. Ready? Three, two, one...

I miss my period.

Believe me, I'm as shocked as you are. I never ever in a million years thought I would ever confess to such a ridiculous thing. After all, there are tons of media sources out there telling us we don't need our periods. We can stay on birth control for years without a break with no consequences. We have options. We can be FREE!

Sounds good in theory, doesn't it?

Here's the deal: A few months back I had to take the Ol' Lady Bidness into the shop for some detailing, and the doc suggested that while I had 'er up on the lift, she could throw in this quick little treatment that would leave my goods intact but pretty much bring an end to the Red Tide, at least for a few years, by which time I would have completed the transition to cronehood and be done with it for good.

Cool, right? How could that be a bad thing? The Tide had never been much of an issue until recently, but it had started become increasingly erratic and, um, insistent, The chance to knock it down a few pegs appealed to me. And think of the positive effect on the environment, what with my decreased usage of paper products and all. Think of the trees! Win-win, right?

In the beginning, it seemed too good to be true. The additional treatment didn't make recovery any more (gulp) gross than it would have been anyway. I kept my eyes on the prize, and a scant six weeks later I was clean as a whistle. I was thrilled! New white panties for everyone!

Until...

Until the first day I felt compelled to punch a hole through someone's larynx for no good reason. I looked at my trusty Tide chart, as I always do, to see if I could pin this solar flare on my ovaries, or if I was finally losing my mind for realz.

Uh-oh. I flipped back and forth through the months, counted forward from the last recorded flood over and over, but the Tide had been toying with me over the last year and I couldn't find any consistent pattern.

The awful truth broke over me like someone breaking a fake egg over my head on the playground. Sure, my period had virtually stopped, but my ovaries continued merrily squirting globs of hormones into my bloodstream as if nothing ever happened and I now had no way to rationalize predict my "Fuck All Y'all" days. No longer could I claim it was PMS. Now I was just an unpredictable bitch.

And that's why I miss the Tide. At least then I would have an alibi when I find myself fighting the urge to grab my toothbrush and credit card, set fire to the house, and flee for the wild.

Metaphorically speaking, of course.
 

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Taking Turns

Dear Fellow Motorist,

I know, I know. You believe beyond any doubt that you're doing the right thing when you give up your right-of-way by stopping in the middle of the street to let some Swaggerwagon out of a parking lot, or wave the other guy ahead at a 4-way stop, or whatever. You think you're being generous and considerate and loving your fellow human.

But do you know what you're really doing? Hmmm? Do you? I will tell you what you are really doing: You really are boning those of us stuck behind your stupid ass.

Surprised? I thought so. It may be a stretch for you, but just imagine that sometimes we may actually have to consider the results of our actions on things that aren't right in front of our faces.

Why oh why do you think people you can see are more deserving of your goodwill than those behind you? In what universe are you allowed to bend the rules of the road completely without consequence simply because you think your motives are pure? I don't even pretend to understand what kind of stunted thought processes it takes to make those decisions seem valid, but I do know that YOU ARE PISSING ME THE HELL OFF.

Listen, the only way we can safely drive down a ridiculously narrow ribbon of pavement in opposite directions at high rates of speed separated by only a thin stripe of yellow paint without slaughtering each other is because we cling to the belief that everyone will FOLLOW the fucking RULES and behave in a predictable manner. So when you nobly offer up your turn to someone you decide is more deserving, not only are you telling me, the person behind you missing the next stoplight because of your generosity-cum-assholery, that I am less worthy than the numbnuts trying to make an ill-advised left turn out of Burger King during rush hour, but you immediately become something much worse than a garden variety Asshole; you are now an Unpredictable Driver. And my made-up statistics show that Unpredictable Drivers are the ones who always fuck everything up, every single time.

So I beg you, pleaseoplease just follow the fucking rules, take your lawfully given right-of-way, and no one will get hurt.

Not threatening, just saying is all.

Oh, and be sure to have a nice day, Asshat.

 

Friday, June 4, 2010

Haircut chicken

I've surrendered. I played haircut chicken and my hair won.

I usually get a haircut every four or five weeks. Recently I got cocky (I know, you're shocked) and decided to see how long I could go before I ran screaming from the mirror. See, I've been growing my hair out for the last year or so, and it's slowly getting there, but I was hoping to push through the final stages and FINALLY get the little goofy bits that swoop out from the side of my head at a ninety degree angle grown out past my ears before I went in for my next fifty-buck trim.

I was this close.

I thought it was traumatic enough when, last fall, I was confronted by the hard truth that I was going to have to re-lean how to use a blow-dryer after probably a decade-long hiatus, but I did it. I even learned how to wield a straightening-flatttener-iron-thingy with a reasonable amount of skill. I weathered the Expensive and Irritating Over-Foiling Event of January 2010 with only minimal psychic scarring, and didn't hardly freak out this spring when I realized my hair looked exactly like it did my freshman year on high school. In 1973.

But I persevered. I thought I had seen the worst my hair could throw at me. Until this week.

This week something happened -- some extra millimeter of hair growth tipped the system into chaos and all hell broke loose. During this morning's primping I realized my hair now looks like it did on my driver's license photo over a decade ago, the one that made me swear I Would Never Ever Grow My Hair Out Again.

Well played, hair. I will take you in this weekend to the fancy-pants stylist and pay the big bucks to weed-whack you back into submission, even if it does take another six months to get the stupid swirly bits to grow out. I have learned my lesson and will never fool with The Schedule ever again.

The Hair hath Spoken, and It was So.
 

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Take your grey to work day

Usually I can bring Sweetie to work with me a couple of days a week. Usually. Unfortunately, the last few weeks have been pretty busy and she's had to spend a lot of time at home alone.

But today, o frabjous day, the moon and stars aligned and Sweetie got to come to WORK! And she was SO EXCITED!! However, her office etiquette is a little rusty, so this is what I have spent most of the day looking at.

(pant pantpant...) "Whatcha doin'? Huh? Is it time to go OUT?"

After a few head pats followed by some hard-core ignoring, I can usually get her to go lie down on her bed which is a whole four feet from my chair. If I keep ignoring her, sometimes she'll give up and fall asleep.


Or so I think... until I start to feel a prickly, burning sensation running from my right ear down my neck.


"What?!? I am lying down!"

There's nothing quite like the greyhound laser-gaze to make you feel a little self-conscious.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

What if...

Mr. B will soon be enjoying an online revision class, with the goal of whipping his 2009 NaNoWriMo novel into a more pleasing form. I'm a little jealous, but the thought of working on my NaNos has always made me slightly queasy. I guess I'm more of the love-em-and-leave-em type when it comes to my stories.

But his preps for the class got me at least thinking about my abandoned masterpieces, and I finally nutted up enough to read through my 2008 effort. I'm kind of embarrassed to admit it was the first time I had opened the doc since I finished cleaning it up almost a year and a half ago. Got through it, and you know what? It wasn't as bad as I remembered. I might like to work on it again... someday. Someday far, far in the future.

What about my 2009 effort? Well, let's say by the time I hit 50K on that one I was extremely discouraged and had no intention of ever looking at it again. But what they say about idle hands, too much free time at work, and all that really is true -- the other day I succumbed and spent most of the afternoon flinching my way through it. The storyline was just as weak and contrived as I remembered, but there were some nice scenes, especially toward the end. Not sure if it's worth salvaging, but at least I'm not afraid of it any more.

So what about 2010? Will I go for three in a row? It is getting to be time to start thinking about such things, I suppose. The notion appeals to me, but I have had absolutely NO luck in coming up with anything resembling a storyline.

Until today. (grin)

I was scanning my spam folder on Yahoo and found one of those classic spam emails from some poor fool, promising to share some percentage of a ridiculous sum of money with me if I would only please, please help him. The wording was so odd it made me laugh. Which got me thinking, what if it was actually sent by aliens? The off-world kind, not the "stay the hell away from Arizona" kind.

Folks, I think the dusty old light bulb over my head is developing a faint glow!

All I have to come up with is a main character, and a reason for him/her/it to respond to the email, and then I just have to wait for November to see what happens next. Easy, right?

You know, it's kind of like childbirth. It's been just long enough since the last one that I've forgotten how painful the process really is. Just as nature intended.
 

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Yesterday's big news!

From The Daily Minutiae*


* Fooled you! Not a real newspaper. Create your own clipping here.
 

Friday, May 21, 2010

Just call me Sunshine

I got an award! Bev has honored me, Ms. Crabby Pants Sour Puss McBoringly Boringster, with a Sunshine Award.

Have to admit, even thinking of me and sunshine in the same sentence made me snort my coffee. Can't say as I've been especially sunshine-y lately. (read: since I can remember.)

Why did she choose me? Ummm....I must give good comment. I am, nonetheless, flattered.

I always enjoy reading about Bev's antics and she makes me smile. I think if I was blogging 15 years ago, my blog would be a lot like hers (read: entertaining.) If we lived within driving distance I would like to go out for an adult beverage with Bev, although there's no way I could keep up as she apparently still has a functioning liver.

It's customary to pass on these awards to fellow bloggy pals, but I don't really have any (except Bev).

I really need to get out more.
 

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Money where my mouth is

You're wondering how that whole acupuncture thing has been going, haven't you? Well, it's been a real interesting week.

The second poking was fine, my mood continues to be better than it has been in, oh, a l-o-n-g time, and my sinuses and lower back actually feel better. Apparently that indicates acupuncture will work for me, which they tell me isn't always the case. There is some percentage of folks that just don't respond. Mighty big of them to admit it up front, I thought.

Last night, at the third sticking/consult, I learned the details of The Plan: what they say they need to do to make me better, how long it will take, and (gulp!) how much it will cost.

I knew it was going to be a chunk, but golly! Even with my insurance benefits figured in, it was enough to shock me. But again, they knew exactly what they were doing: They saved the sticker shock (ha!) for after the sticking while the flood of endorphins was rushing around my body. OK, I admit, I was high, and that amused Mr. B to no end. I had brought him with me just in case they tried to sell me some ranch land in Arizona while I was transfixed by the pleasing symmetry of the pattern of acoustic tiles on the ceiling. I will not lie, it felt pretty good. And it's legal! Who knew?

Anyway, The Plan says it will take thirty-six treatments over five months, plus Chinese herbs (not covered by insurance). Sure, I have doubts. It's a hell of a lot of money, which I chose to pay up front to get the maximum discount. But based on the little I know, the two things going on in my body right now that scare me the most seem pretty likely to be healed by this treatment. That kicks Western medicine's scrawny white ass. Western medicine doesn't even pretend to have anything to help solve those problems.

Plus, if I decide to stop treatment, they will refund the unused portion of my money. Can't lie, that promise lubricated the decision-making process quite a bit.

What can I expect for my money? Theoretically, the bone in my jaw will heal and the swelling in my ankles and legs will resolve. But best of all, my mood and energy level will climb back into the functional range. That alone is almost worth it. I should even lose some weight, which has gotten to be quite an embarrassing problem in the last year or so. I'm not looking to fit into my 25-year-old skinny jeans again, but the last time I weighed this much, I was pregnant. That shit has GOT to cease.

So tonight I have my herbal consult. They will provide me with my first bottle of custom-blended Chinese herbal medicine, affectionately known as dirt. And then the games begin!

Hell, if this works as advertised, I might even begin posting funny stuff again. Wouldn't that be a treat?
 

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

More to the point

Yeah, as you can probably tell, I've been struggling. I've been trying to figure out what to do about a particularly unfriendly diagnosis by the TMJ doc. Long story short, I now know more about my left mandibular condyle than any sane person should. It's not life-threatening, but it kinda freaked me the hell out. Just a little.

OK, a lot.

So the TMJ doc gave me the option of spending $3000 or $6000 for a course of treatment that a few searches of the interwebs told me may or may not resolve my primary issue. Yes, they require payment up front. No, they don't bill insurance.

Hmmm. The doc has a good reputation and all, but, um, no. At least, not without checking out other options first. So what to do? From the sound of it, I really ought not to leave this untreated, even if there's very little pain.

Yet.

Once I stopped freaking out about it, I realized it seems to be a healing issue. I'd heard acupuncture is good for that so I called the acupuncture people down the street.

It helps that my insurance actually has an acupuncture benefit.

First, the free consult. I filled out a form listing my top four complaints (only four?!?). The guy read my pulse and asked me some questions, then said he was confident they could help me.

Oh, they have quite a system at the acupuncture clinic, which they say is the largest in the US. The girl at the front desk grabbed me by the scruff of the neck and dropped me right into the New Patient pipeline: Five visits, which must be scheduled in a two-week period.

Tuesday was Day One, an exhaustive review of my medical history, which only left me even more depressed. It blows to be reminded that the last five or six years have been pretty sucky, health-wise. I've always been proud of my resilience (thanks, Protestant Ancestors!) but somewhere along the way it fell off or I used it all up or something. I realized I've lost that innate sense that if I rub enough dirt into it and walk it off, it'll get better. That made me sad.

Yesterday -- Day Two -- was a one-hour group lesson on TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine), where we learned that (apparently) the language that Westerners use to describe it were mistranslated from the original texts. Forget 'energy' and 'meridians'; it's all about increasing blood flow throughout the body so the body can heal itself. And not just my jaw, mind you, but ALL my complaints will disappear once the appropriate blood flow is restored and the body has a chance to do what it does. Oh yes, and there will probably be nasty-tasting Chinese herbs (not covered by insurance). I'm as big a sucker for magical thinking as the next middle-aged white female, and there was just enough reality scattered in there for me to feel like this actually just might work.

After the pep talk, we were taken to separate rooms and stuck for the first time. The goal was to see how well I react to the treatments, so I was told to 'pick a pain'. The practitioner would treat that pain to see if it would resolve. Somewhere along the way I had popped a nasty headache that had sucked up all my attention. It seemed as good a pain as any.

Most of the needles went in without a problem, with only a slight stinging or 'sensation', but she stuck one at the base of my right thumb that WAS NOT HAPPY. After a very long tooth-sucking minute to see if it calmed down, that one came out. I don't know what the hell she hit, but I felt that fucker for the rest of the evening. But I digress.

Once I was porcupined and relieved of my glasses and watch, I was left to stew in my own juices for an hour or so. I relaxed as best I could, and I'm pretty good, but the headache just wouldn't recede. It ebbed and flowed, as if the Forces of Light were trying to beat off (heh) the Forces of Dimness but just couldn't quite get their shit together. But I got to lay down for an hour with no one asking me anything and that alone was pretty nice.

After what was probably close to an hour, just long enough for me to get anxious about being forgotten, she returned and pulled out the needles. I hated to report no joy, but it didn't seem to phase her. She just told me to keep an eye on my symptoms and note what changed and when. I was a little disappointed, but not enough to abandon hope.

I headed home, and was surprised to note I was in a better mood than I was before. And you know what? By the time I got home, I was feeling... better, somehow, even though the headache was still there. Hard to describe, but for the first time in weeks (months?) my outlook was just a tad lighter. Things didn't seem quite as hopeless. I almost felt resilient!

The headache, however, wasn't playing that. I finally had to surrender and throw some ibuprofen at it so I could sleep.

When I got up this morning I almost felt perky. The headache is still lurking back there (could be the jaw thing, could be hormones, could be sinuses - who knows?) but on a very basic level I FEEL better.

You know, there just may be some value to poking your body into releasing a shot of endorphins. I mean, look! I'm writing a blog post! Now if they can just get my jawbone to grow back....

Day Three, aka the second sticking, is this evening, with two more stickings next week. Then they will tell me how long it will take to make me all better and what it will cost.

And that, I'm guessing, is when I'll decide how much feeling better is really worth.
 

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Is it just me?

Anyone else out there feeling a little overwhelmed? I mean, what with the volcanoes, flooding, oil spills, and the regular household "It's Always Something" crap that tends to pile up... yeah, I'm feeling it. And it's freaking distracting.

I know, I still owe you an IOM post. But when I get overwhelmed, there's not much writing that gets done, so I'll leave it to the professionals and give you the link to our fifteen minutes of fame. Yes, we had a REPORTER there!


Cool, huh? It's good to know my grocery store cake decorating skills haven't gone to waste. Oh, it was quite the Big Hairy Deal. Such a big deal, in fact, that I came home six pounds heavier. Most of it went away, but not all.

(Oh yeah, you can add that to the FML list.)

I do kinda wish the article had included a link to my blog, but then I would just feel more guilty for not writing.

Speaking of which, one excuse reason I haven't written is that every time I try, I end up whining. Somehow, despite my best intentions, I have found myself AGAIN in the position of having a complicated (but not serious) medical problem that will, one way or another, require multiple visits and twelves of dollars to manage.

So... should I indulge myself? Have you had enough of my whining about shoulders and scalps (although that wasn't mine) and proCEEdures? Should I just STFU and wait until the dust clears? Or should I just let 'er rip?
 

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Compliance

Got this in the mail at work recently. Now the government is involved? Lovely.


(Don't get it? Click here.)

Friday, April 23, 2010

Whoa!

After a whirlwind IoM, I got back to work on Tuesday only to be hit immediately with a mail server problem I was completely unequipped to handle. I tell you, nothing build one's confidence quite like mucking about randomly in the company's mail server in hopes of accidentally hitting the switch that will make everything all better. As usual, after flailing around for a day or two my elbow hit something and the problem ceased. Better lucky than smart, every time.

It didn't help that I had a Class I travel hangover. Have I mentioned that I am a real pussy when it comes to air travel? On any given descent, I have about a 50% change of being able to clear my ears, my ankles swell (thanks, Mema!) and jet lag kicks my ass every time. Yeah, I'm a real treat as a traveling companion. But the swelling has finally subsided (hello, anklebones!) along with most of the whining. Now that I'm starting to think clearly again, I can start thinking about filing a proper trip report next week. Trust me, it will be worth the wait.

In the meantime, rest assured that we had a wonderful visit Back East with Evil Twin and Co. and we rocked the IoM of the Century in style. Wait until you see the pix!
 

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Beware the Ides!

It's a month late, but we're leaving TOMORROW to go Back East to celebrate the 25th Anniversary (more or less) of the Ides of Meatloaf with Evil Twin and Co. It's the first time in probably 20 years we've celebrated it together so it will be extra-special.

You can read the back story through the link above, but in short, it's our paen to Mid-century convenience foods, a celebration of Mid-century, Middle American cuisine in all its dehydrated, canned, and gelled glory. We remember fondly the era when plastic was king, Tang was a healthy beverage, and green Jello with pears counted as a vegetable. The centerpiece of the celebration -- the glorious Meatcake -- is a tribute to the meatloaves of our youth.

Here are the wrap-ups from 2008 and 2009. This year, ET has contacted the food editor from her local newspaper, so who knows what might happen? It might even become news!

What are we bringing this year, for this most momentous celebration? Mr. B insists on a classic family recipe from his youth, the iceberg wedge with Thousand Island dressing, complete with hard-boiled egg. It was Dwight Eisenhower's favorite, you know. I was drawing a blank until I remembered my MIL's recipe for Spamburgers, a delicacy made of Spam, Velveeta, and hard-boiled eggs run through a meat grinder then bound with mayo. Or Miracle Whip, if you want to be authentic. The concoction is spread on the bottom of a (white, soft) hamburger bun and broiled. I think it will be the perfect appetizer. We could even cut them into little shapes!

I suspect that I will have a full (burp!) report next week, complete with photos. Costumes aren't a part of the original tradition, but the East Coast Chapter instituted an apron contest a few years back and I think it's a grand idea. Wait until you see the apron I bought off etsy - it's gorgeous! And Mr. B will be rocking his brand new 100% acrylic argyle vest. With a short-sleeved white shirt, of course.

So if you have a notion this weekend, whip up a meatloaf and a Jello mold, or some other prized quick-n-dirty comfort food from your youth, and raise a glass to the Ides of Meatloaf. And tell me what you made, ok?