There's Such A Lot of Home to Make

July 25, 2013

While I hope to be teaching soon and do consider myself a teacher by profession, and while I'm working as a writer these days, there's also the way that from all outward appearances, my current job is homemaker.

A weird part of the adjustment has been having to give myself permission to enjoy and take pride in the work. To be clear, I do not enjoy cleaning. But I do like having a clean home. I genuinely enjoy decorating and organizing. And I've found cooking to be a great creative outlet. Am I a bad feminist for not hating this? I decide no. I'm not being kept down by the patriarchy, nor am I doing these things because I don't believe, as a woman, I'm good for anything else. This is what I'm doing right now, so I choose to find the joy in it and take pride in creating a nice home for us.

It has helped that since we just moved, there was (and continues to be) a lot of decorating and organizing to be done. It'll be a lot less compelling when it's just trying to keep the place clean, but for now, quite a bit of The Great Big Deployment To Do List has to do with house stuff. And that doesn't include any cleaning. (The Great Big Deployment To Do List is another prong in my make it feel like the time is passing ever so quickly until Raj's return plan.) 

What had looked like it was goint to be one of the more daunting tasks was unpacking and organizing our home office. When we did the great unpackening during the week between our stuff arriving and our housewarming party, we unpacked and organized every room except the office. In there, we stacked stuff on the desk and pushed the boxes against the walls to leave space for my yoga mat.

The challenge was going to be that we have a lot less storage in this desk than in our previous one. And we have kind of a lot of office supplies. Or at least I thought we had kind of a lot of office supplies. It turns out we have a ridiculous amount of office supplies. We basically never need to buy staples, Post-Its, or index cards again. Or rulers or business size envelopes. Or pens.

This became clear to me thanks to my shoe rack turned office supply organizer:

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Look how easily we can find everything! It's pretty exciting. That's not sarcasm. I've been keeping my office-related stuff in two big decorative storage boxes from IKEA for a few years now, so whenever I needed something, I had to go root through those. Today I needed an envelope and look! There they are right in front of me! And the whole unpacking and organizing project only took me an afternoon.

Note: this does not include the many supplies still packed up in my School Stuff boxes in the closet. Meaning that yes, those crayons are for our personal use.

The sad part is that I was pretty sure the office project was going to justify a trip to Nitori (Japanese IKEA, basically) for organizey stuff. Alas, no. Between the door organizer, the desk, and one of my storage boxes, we're pretty well set. Good news for the budget, bad news for my desire to spend an afternoon poring over aisle upon aisle of stylish, compact, and efficient Japanese organizing solutions. I will say it was easier to come to terms with this after shelling out for grad school books and knowing that my tuition bill will soon arrive via email.

With that cost comes the reality that even if a teaching job doesn't materialize, my occupation still changes next month. Grad student. Which is even more motivation to tackle the to do list now. While there will still be the work of keeping it up once school starts, I'd like before then to finish getting our home made.

My Texas Trip Pro/Con List (So Far)

July 03, 2013

San Antonio Weather

CON: Hot as hell.

PRO: My hair is straight here!

I've adapted to driving in Okinawa

CON: I keep signaling turns with the windshield wipers and today tried to get in the car on the wrong side.

PRO: For perhaps the first time ever, I didn't tense up when a police car came up behind me with its lights on because I knew I wasn't speeding. I have to encourage myself to drive faster here just to get near the speed limit since I'm used to driving so much more slowly. Driving 45mph on Wednesday morning, I realized it was the fastest I'd driven in months. And it didn't bother me that much to be driving well below the speed limit on the freeway due to traffic tonight because 60mph still feels pretty damn fast to me.

Raj doesn't have internet access.

CON: He can't email or Skype.

PRO: He can't see how much I've spent at Target in the past week.

Queso

CON: This week begins a five month long weight loss challenge for the spouses of Raj's squadron, in which I am participating. So I anticipate getting off to a pretty bad start.

PRO: Worth it.

I'll take Potpourri for $1000, Alex.

January 31, 2013

It's getting pretty chaotic up in here, Internet. We move out of our house on Monday. My clearance still hasn't gone through yet, so we still have no plane tickets to Asia. Or idea of when we might be able to leave. Or actual plans for the in-between time since we don't know how long it will be. Or reservations in Burma since we don't know when we'll get there. Or address between Monday and sometime in mid-March. Wheeeeeeeee!

What I do have is fourteen angry red half-dollar sized bug bites on my right leg. The real injustice here is that I was with Raj for almost the entire day on Monday when I got them and he has none. Last night, I put hydrocortizone on them before going to bed at 10. I got up at 11 to take two Benadryl and put liquid soap on the bites since I'd read that drying them out makes them stop itching. At 12:30, I gave in and just scratched. And scratched. And scratched. Which, of course, made the itching exponentially worse, as I knew it would. So I got up and put on long pajama pants to limit my access. I think I fell asleep around 1. Tonight, I may have to have Raj duct tape oven mitts to my hands. Except the oven mitts are packed and the duct tape has gone missing.

What I also have is a new computer. Internet, meet Joaquin.

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He is an 11' Macbook Air. So light and so fast! And he fits in my (admittedly rather large) purse! Paolo is now four and a half and needed replacing, though never in my heart. He will still be making the trip to Asia with us though, since when have I ever had a classroom that couldn't use an extra computer? (Never is the answer.)

What I do not have is my reimbursement for the badge and fingerprinting I had to pay Escambia County Schools $105 for back in July in order to do my job here. After six months, they finally mailed my check. Except they mailed it to the address they had on file from when I previously worked there. Except that I never worked there before and never lived at that address. Whoops. You're welcome/I'm sorry Other Lori Graham for the check you're about to receive, but will hopefully be unable to cash.

On the other hand, I do have an extra three or four pounds. One thing Raj and I accidentally did right before the wedding was to start a running program together. It gave us something to do and talk about in the weeks leading up to the big day that had nothing to do with the wedding. I'd recommend that all couples do something similar. For us, the timing was entirely coincidental. I'd wanted to switch from distance to speed work after the half marathon. It turned out that with a week off after the half, we ended up starting our six week speed program six weeks before the wedding. It's a Stew Smith training plan and is really very intense. The first page says NOT FOR BEGINNERS. While I like to consider myself more of an intermediate runner at this point, I certainly felt underqualified for this program at times. But we showed some rare self-discipline for the first five weeks, never missing a workout until the week of the wedding, when we only managed one (plus our wedding day 5k, but I wasn't exactly running that for time). So I was half marathon training for sixteen weeks, then working out very hard five times a week for five weeks prior to the wedding. Since then, ehhhh, maybe I'll run a couple of miles a couple of times a week. With the result that when I put on my wedding dress to wear it for our family reception in Texas last weekend, we had to safety pin the opening in the front so as not to be completely indecent. And I couldn't really take any deep breaths for fear of busting out of it like the Hulk. Did that stop me from ordering yet another bowl of queso the day after? It did not. But the time has come to get back on the healthy living wagon.

Except that with our house in chaos, we chose to eat out last night. It seemed like trying the local delicacy was the thing to do before leaving the area. Unfortunately, the local delicacy on our tiny peninsula is fried mullet. You guys. It's awful. But at least it came with hushpuppies and new potatoes served in a bowl of melted butter.

Finally, here's something cool for you to take a look at. Our photographer wrote a post on her blog about the magic-except-it's-actually-work-instead behind how she made that one picture of us look so very cool. I love learning about how people who are really good at something go about doing that thing. If you do too, then you should check out the post.

I know, I know, you're the choir! But they don't let me preach anywhere else!

October 24, 2012

When celebrities use the r-word, they are generally alerted by people like me, via Facebook and Twitter, that use of the r-word is offensive and hurtful. Then these celebrities apologize.

Because yes, most people don't understand how harmful it is. That when you use a word that describes a group of people to mean bad or wrong, we teach our children that these people are bad and wrong, that they are less than us, that they are acceptable targets for ridicule and bullying.

Kids can be cruel, people say. No, kids are taught to be cruel.

Most people, when they understand this, stop using the word. Because really, is this word so valuable, so irreplaceable, that continuing to use it is more important than the dignity of people who are already fighting a hard battle just to live their lives?

Ann Coulter has been asked in the past to stop using this word. She did not apologize and she used it again in a tweet last night. I got all apoplectic as I am wont to do in these situations.

Fortunately, someone was able to write a well-reasoned, well-written, and moving response to her. This man is Special Olympics athlete and global messenger John Franklin Stephens. You need to read this for yourself to understand why I've already shared it on Facebook and Twitter and am urging you here to read it. I don't think it's going to change Ann Coulter's mind. But I do think it could do so much good to raise awareness among people who really don't understand the harm.

I hope you'll read it and share it. We can help John spread the word through the extremely powerful ones he's written here.

I assume I got the only one of these.

October 23, 2012

Let's move on now to something really important. My certificate of appreciation FROM A BEAR.

Appreciation
Folks, this is called "knowing one's audience". My certificate of appreciation from a bear was mailed to me by the good folks at the NRDC, which I happen to know is the dream employer of one Marshall Eriksen. They were appreciating me in advance for signing and mailing back their petition. But did this ploy work? Did I, based on blantant manipulation of my bear-loving tendencies, sign and return said petition? 

You're damn right, I did.

You're welcome, bears.

A lark! A spree! It's VERY CLEAR TO SEE...

October 02, 2012

I had the house to myself this morning, Internet. And what did I do with all of my freedom? Something very exciting! I...wait for it...vacuumed the whole downstairs!

Yes, this is a post about my floors.

Well, and my vacuum. Which is AWESOME. We registered for a Dyson DC24 Multi-Floor. One of us wasn't sure we needed it, considering that we own two functioning vacuums. The other one of us is the one who does the vacuuming and was sure she wanted it. Neither of us really thought anybody would buy it for us though because it was quite expensive. But then my parents bought it for us for my shower gift and I could not love it more unless it actually did the vacuuming without me.

A disturbing fact I've discovered about myself is that I feel better about life if the house is clean. I don't enjoy the actual cleaning, but I find the after effects to be very calming. Here at the Octagon, we've got tile downstairs, except for sort of industrial carpeting in the dining room and several rugs. On the stairs that curve to fit the octagon shape and upstairs, we've got shag carpet. All of which is always full of sand and dog hair. Ok, and my hair, but that's mostly noticeable in the bathroom, where there's linoleum.

I was sweeping and then mopping the tile downstairs, which resulted in a semi-permanent blister at the bottom of my right thumb. I'd vacuum upstairs and pretend the actual stairs required no cleaning. But now, Internet, I vacuum everything. Even the stairs, thanks to how small and light my Dyson is. (Also quiet! And made out of the same stuff as riot shields! Which is really neither here nor there, but kind of cool.)

And then I say to June, "Don't the floors feel so nice?" She looks at me for a minute, sighs, and then lays down on the carpet where her bed should be. Because sadly, the Dyson does not put everything back where it goes after you vacuum. Which is just my least favorite part of the whole process. I've finished! Except the chairs are still on top of the table, the ottoman is upside down on the couch, and everybody's shoes are perched on the windowsills.

I asked June to help, but she was all I don't have any thumbs! and When are you going to put my bowls back so I can get a drink of water? She was warm because she'd been outside during the vacuuming because June is afraid of vacuum cleaners. Also brooms, mops, and dustpans. But she will chase the hell out of a heron that's nearly as big as she is, so there's that. We are well protected against the threat of heron invasion around here.

Anyway, I was thinking about making myself one of those daily cleaning schedules. Because I always think I'll clean everything on the weekend. But then on Saturdays, I get up at 4:50 to go run a lot of miles and tell myself that I've earned the right to not clean until Sunday. On Sundays, I usually do the laundry and not much else. Because the idea of cleaning the whole house is so daunting. I don't even know where to start! So I don't. Also, it's just easier to clean when nobody's home. I'm not sure my roommates would appreciate me piling up the couch with small furniture while they're sitting on it, attempting to watch television.

So maybe downstairs floors on Mondays, upstairs floors on Tuesdays, bathroom sinks and toilets Wednesdays, shower and mirrors Thursdays, and dust Fridays. Saturdays off, Sundays laundry. Kitchen surfaces I leave for everyone else.

Do you have a schedule? Do the cleaning all at once? Snap your fingers while singing a song and the cleaning does itself? (I don't know, maybe that works if you can sing like Julie Andrews.) Any great cleaning-related tips for me? And do you need a vacuum cleaner? We've got a couple of spares.

Superhero Name TBD

September 13, 2012

Raj and I got a lot of bug bites while we were camping. A LOT. This is not surprising. We went into the insects' territory and offered ourselves up. Fine.

The surprising and unfortunate part is that these bites still itch over a week later. And are still bright red. And did I mention the continued itching?

These must have been some kind of superbugs. Maybe even radioactive bugs.

I haven't felt any emerging superpowers yet, but it did make me think about what powers such a bug could give us. How amazing would it be, for instance, if we gained the power to make people itchy?

Stay with me here. No matter how irritating I find someone or how much I might dislike him or her, I don't generally wish people bodily harm. But if I had some sort of telekenesis for causing people to itch, I would use the hell out of that.

Cut me off in traffic? Enjoy your mysterious bug bite! For the lawyer who suggested to the judge that maybe I was lying about my teacher certification in a desperate attempt to discredit my expert testimony? That's a weird rash you spontaneously got! You cheated on my friend? CHRONIC JOCK ITCH.

All I'm saying is, until we can rule this out, it's probably best to stay on my good side. Or stock up on Cortizone.

Your tax dollars are much better spent on having all of my shoes packed and transported.

June 30, 2012

Where to even begin, Internet? It's been a long and eventful couple of weeks. For instance, all of our stuff is now in boxes and in the process of being loaded in a truck. And I did nothing! Well, I packed a suitcase of stuff to have with me for the next two weeks, as well as all of my, you know, unmentionables. It's definitely weird, having someone else pack your belongings, but also awesome. Two guys arrived yesterday around 10am and had our entire apartment packed my 4:30. Today, three guys are moving all of our stuff in the 100° weather while we sit out of the way in the air conditioned bedroom. I don't feel guilty enough about it to offer to help or anything, but just bad enough to not want to eat in front of them while they work. So I'm pretty hungry.

Last week, I worked a special program with 600 kids in one hotel. The organization that brought them had a grant, so all of the kids came for free. Most of them, apparently, without having gotten much information on what they were coming to. "Would you like a free trip to Washington?" they were asked. One boy thought he was going to Washington State until after he'd gotten off the plane. True story. So they weren't prepared for, and in many cases deeply not thrilled about, the 16 hour days of academic programming. It may not surprise you to learn that when averaging five hours of sleep per night, I had very little sympathy for the whining and bitching that ensued.

There were good parts though. Some of the kids were really cool. And we got to see Air Force Two and the Air Force Honor Guard Drill Team out at Andrews Air Force Base. The drill team spins eleven pound rifles with bayonets attached. I spun rifles back in college and can tell you with 100% certainty that had my rifle included a bayonet, I would absolutely have maimed myself.

While we were at Andrews, the Air Force Celtic band played for us. So yeah, the Air Force has a Celtic band. Our tax dollars at work. The really fun part of their performance was during an Irish drinking song when they had all of our middle and high school aged students chanting "Harp" and "Guiness". Super appropriate.

And we got to hear Eric Holder speak.

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Sure, I wasn't surprised to discover that none of my 22 high schoolers knew who Eric Holder was. It was a little more disconcerting that none of them had the first clue what an Attorney General is. No matter how many times and different ways I tried to explain it, they kept referring to him as "the general guy" and I'm quite certain expected him to arrive in uniform.

We also got to hear from Arne Duncan. Whether my students thought the Secretary of Education takes notes in meetings about schools, I do not know. I don't have a picture of him because I was sitting far from my bag in order to keep telling a bunch of jerk kids to be quiet.

Then on Wedenesday evening, I was done! And now I'm unemployed! (Technically, I guess I'm under contract with my school through August.) And we can go back to the way things should be, wherein if one of us is leaving so early in the morning that the other one is still sleeping and also returning home after the other has gone to bed, the person working those unreasonable hours is Raj. And the person doing all of the sleeping is me. We tried it the other way around and I didn't care for it.

One day, the movers will have all of our stuff loaded and we can finally eat again. Then we'll spend a few days crashing at Katie's, before heading south to embark on the Florida adventure. In the meantime, one last DC Fourth of July and as much as possible of the other DC stuff that we'll miss or never got around to before.

Raj asked if I'd be sad to leave the apartment since I've lived here for two years. I said it was a little sad, I guessed, since it was our first home together. "First of many," he said. Which was a sentence so full of promise that it's hard to be very sad at all.

A Septoplasty Recovery Post with Actual Information!

April 30, 2012

Per Sitemeter, a lot of people are finding their way here by Googling "septoplasty recovery". Unfortunately, this sends them to a post I wrote within a week of the surgery, which is not overly helpful. So I thought I'd write a new post on the topic that would be.

Are you considering having or about to have a septoplasty? Read on, friend.

1. It is totally and completely worthwhile. My only regret is not having done it sooner. To people who do not share our chronic congestion and sinusitis, it might sound like an exaggeration to say that having the septoplasty is one of the best things I've ever done for myself. But really, it seriously improved my quality of life. You may have your moments in the first week or two after surgery when you doubt whether it was really worth it. It was. It is. You'll see.

2. Check out your ENT. I picked mine from the internet, based on lots of positive reviews. When I really felt good about my choice though was when my doctor was explaining the potential risks of surgery to me and noted, when he mentioned the risk of perforation of the septum, that he's never had one result from a surgery he did, but he's fixed perforations from other doctors' surgeries. So maybe you want to ask your doctor about this before scheduling the surgery.

3. Ask for some Ativan. Or something else to help you sleep. My doctor gave me the Ativan because he said some people get anxious about having the splints in. That wasn't the case for me, but I had a very hard time sleeping for a couple of weeks after the surgery without taking an Ativan.

4. The splints don't hurt. I had to have some packing as well, since mine was not a simple septoplasty. I also had my turbinates reduced, a concha bullosa (an air pocket in the turbinate) fixed, and a mucosal cyst removed from one of my sinuses. I only required packing because they had to do some additional cutting to get the cyst out. The only serious pain I had from the surgery was on the third day when I had a massive sinus headache from the packing having expanded as it filled. Fortunately, that was the day it was being removed, which resulted in immediate relief. Contrary to what I'd read online beforehand, getting the packing and splints out didn't hurt at all.

5. You will need some time off. My doctor told me to take a week off work. I'm a teacher, so it's difficult to take that much time and I figured I'm young and healthy, I'll be fine. I had the surgery on Friday afternoon and went back to work the next Wednesday. I think the kids would have been better off with a sub the rest of that week because I was only about 50% awake.

6. You might have tooth pain or numbness for a while. I had a dull ache in my front teeth for a couple of weeks after surgery, but it was nothing Tylenol couldn't handle. My doctor prescribed Vicodin, but I only took it for the first two days.

7. Now to the really disgusting stuff. Seriously, if you are not about to have this surgery, LOOK AWAY. You are going to have scabs. Yes. I know. They are going to come out of your nose and it will be simultaneously super disgusting and a tremendous relief. There will also be a lot of bloody goo at first. You will wear a piece of gauze taped under your nose for a couple of days to catch it. Sexy.

8. Saline is your friend. Get a bottle (or two) of the plain old saline solution that you shoot up your nose. It will say something about moisturizing. If you do this often (my doctor said every hour or two) it will help keep you from getting those scabs I was telling you about. (You will wait to start this until your packing and splints are out. That's probably obvious though.)

9. It took about two weeks for me to feel back to pre-surgery normal. It was a couple of months before I really started noticing an improvement in my breathing (except when I'd go to my follow up appointments and get my sinuses vacuumed out - for a few minutes there I'd practically get high off so much oxygen coming in through my nose) and about six months to get the full benefit. 

10. The full benefits for me have included:

No sinus infections at all! Sure, I still get colds (I do work with children) but since my sinuses can drain, the goo doesn't sit in my head and get infected.

Being able to sleep on either side most of the time. (Sometimes I do still need to sleep on my right if I have a cold or there's a high pollen count.)

As opposed to near-constant nasal drip, maybe I have it for a day here and there if the pollen is bad.

I no longer use Flonase, which I'd used every day for a few years to manage my constant congestion.

I only use a neti pot when I'm sick, as opposed to every single night.

I could SCUBA dive, which never would have been a possibility for me since you have to be able to clear your ears and my left ear was pretty much permanently congested.

Being able to run outside without spending the whole run and entirety of my post-run shower coughing up and spitting out the snot that was running down my throat. I do take Sudafed before long outdoor runs in the spring and fall to keep my sinuses from closing up so I can get the snot out of my head. The big difference there being that it will now come out of my nose instead of dripping down my throat. Hallelujah!

I hope this helps those of you who are considering septoplasty or have already scheduled it.

PLEASE NOTE: I am not a medical professional. At all. I'm happy to answer questions about my experience (please read the FAQ first though because almost everyone asks the same questions), but I cannot give you medical advice. If you have concerns, please call your doctor's office.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:

I'm still congested three days/one week/a month after surgery. Is that normal? Yes. You had surgery. With any surgery, there will be swelling. This means your sinuses will swell shut or close to it. Also, there's goop and scabs up in there. You're going to be congested for QUITE SOME TIME. It will get better.

I can't sleep! Yep, that's normal. This is why I suggest you ask your doctor to prescribe you something to help you sleep. It may also help to sleep sitting up or at least on an additional pillow. And keep some water near you so you can take a sip any time you wake up to keep your throat from getting too dry.

I have [specific symptom] that's freaking me out. What should I do? Call your doctor's office.

Not really ever asked, but should be:

Where can I get information on this from a real medical professional? All the doctors I know recommend getting your online medical information from Mayo Clinic or NIH. (Never, ever, ever WebMD. Ever.) In this case, there's an informative article from the NIH library here.

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March 31, 2012

There won't be a post for over week coming up. Which, yes, I know is disappointing. But think of all of the things I'll have to tell you when we get back from Belize! You know, unless I am eaten by a shark. Yeah, yeah, we're not on the food chain, they don't want to eat me, whatever. BUT THEY COULD. You never know, there could be a rogue man-eating shark, like those two lions Val Kilmer had to hunt down in The Ghost and the Darkness. That was based on a true story, I'll have you know. IT COULD HAPPEN.

In my defense, I thought there would be a post here about my SCUBA class, but it turns out to have been really pretty mundane. I didn't have trouble breathing under water or with any of the many exercises we had to do, except that one time that I accidentally inhaled while I was supposed to be simulating ascending while out of air. Whoops. In any case, I passed without incident. Despite having arrived at the exam on Tuesday, thinking Hey, I guess I could have studied for this. I got a 96, so I still haven't learned my lesson about being a dilligent student.

We're off to the airport now, so I'll see you after Easter. Provided everyone remembers that SCUBA divers are friends, not food.

Jinx

February 05, 2012

1. The laundry is down the hall of my apartment building.

2. Our apartment doors automatically lock.

3. I just mentally congratulated myself on never, in over a year and a half of living here, having locked myself out while doing laundry.

So if anybody needs me this afternoon, I'll be sitting in the hallway outside my locked door, I'm pretty sure.

Apples to Insane Foreign Global Oranges

December 07, 2011

Yes, we went to the White House Holiday Tweetup yesterday. No, I am not writing a post about it right now. Tomorrow, Internet! That post is going to take some time in order to be done right, unlike the space filler you're about to get here.

You may recall I told you one time about how after a game of Apples to Apples last summer, a friend of Raj's said the cards you won are supposed to represent your personality. If you're me, you've had no opportunity to forget that Raj's three cards were Perfect, Smooth, and Comfortable. Thanks to near constant reminders.

We played again on Thanksgiving. Let's see how we did this time:

IMG_5580
That's me. I'm explosive, but not to worry, also lazy. Let's face it, acting on my explosive nature would just require too much energy. Not that my laziness stops me from being both revolutionary and exciting! Also, I'm confused, but it's ok. In fact, it's normal. I have absolutely no idea what to say regarding the notion that I'm haunting.

As for Raj:

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You guys, he is foreign and insane! And I'm planning to get on an airplane with this man? Perhaps his cluelessness will keep us all safe. As for neat and clean...well...I can't really comment on this since we're probably about even on that score. He's not too expensive right at the moment, since we've set a $10 spending limit on Christmas.

He is pretty inspirational though. In fact, the way that he's already asleep is inspiring me to end this post and go to sleep also. Good night, Internet.

On the upside, you get to say "duty" a lot.

September 30, 2011

So. Jury duty. I've never been called before. I think I move around just enough to generally dodge it. But my summons came in the mail, with the instruction to check in after 5pm on Friday, September 16 to find out whether I'd need to report the following Monday. The website said jurors number 1-489 needed to report. I was number 31.

Apparently this was pretty much the most jurors they've ever had and it showed in the inadequacy of space in the jurors' lounge (ok, "lounge" - there was nothing comfortable about this place). I sat on the floor for the orientation and then planned to take out my computer, which I'd brought since the "lounge" had wifi. Except they immediately called jurors 1-60 to go to a courtroom.

They told us it was a medical malpractice case. Score! I live with a doctor! Who is also my boyfriend! There's no way they'll pick me!

And they did ask whether we had family or close friends who were in the medical field. Yeah, that was about three quarters of us. They'd ask who, what speciality, where they practice and then whether we thought this would interfere with our ability to be impartial. And damn it, I couldn't bring myself to say that Raj being a doctor was going to bias me. The guy behind me though had no problem saying that having two uncles who were attorneys was going to keep him from being impartial. No, he didn't know what kind of law they practiced or where. He was also wearing a hammer and sickle t-shirt. May as well have been a Princess Leia costume.

We did this all day. Have you or any family member or close friend sued or been sued for malpractice or personal injury? Have you had an abdominal aortic aneurysm? Diverticulitis or diverticulosis? Neuropathy? Since it all took so long, we had a lunch break. Several of us wound up at a pizza place, where I watched one potential juror have two beers and no food.

He was among the at least 75% of potential jurors who raised their hands when the judge asked if there was a reason we couldn't sit on a jury for eight days. Two beers guy pleaded financial hardship (no wonder he couldn't afford pizza.) There was family vacation, no child care, medical appointment, presentation at work, and pretty much anything else you can think of. The judge was not having most of it. Even the DC cop who was scheduled to testify for a grand jury the next day was asked if there wasn't someone else who could do it for him.

Finally, they began to call juror numbers. We thought they were calling eight jurors. Which they did. And then...juror number 31. Damn it.

Unrelated post-script. In case you thought I was exaggerating the amazingness of this butternut squash risotto, here's the empty risotto container next to the milk to give you an idea of scale. This container was full after dinner on Monday. Empty by 12:30 today. And we didn't share with anyone else.

Mail
I miss it already.

It's my birthday and I'll call a bunch of random photos a post if I want to.

September 16, 2011

Today is Raj's favorite holiday: the kickoff to six months and five days of relentlessly mocking me for being older than him. Also known as my birthday. I've decided to celebrate by putting up a bunch of pictures that were on my phone. I know - it's my birthday, but I'm giving you the presents! You're welcome!

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That is a hole in our bathroom ceiling. The second hole in our bathroom ceiling, to be precise. Remember when I told you about the demo of the bathroom above us? Well. That new bathroom leaked through our ceiling. So we got a whole new bathroom ceiling. The second leak was stealthier. It came through the wall and soaked into the floor under our carpet enough to make the floor buckle. So we got another new bathroom ceiling and this note:

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Not to worry, the installment of the parkay flooring was coming soon. Seems like parkay might be slippery as a flooring surface. I can't believe it's not hardwood!

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This is the pin that was stuck in our wall after the work was done. I'm pretty sure it's a bug. So we've had to move all of our subversive activities out of the apartment. I hope whoever's listening enjoys HGTV and people complaining about STILL having that damn lonely goatherd song stuck in their heads DAYS after the Sound of Music Singalongohdalayheehee.

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I stopped filling out this form to take a picture so I could tell you about how I still have a hard time signing my name as the athlete. Naturally, I discovered when I went to turn it in at the expo that I never did go ahead and sign it.

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Look! They put a picture of Raj on this shirt!

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Here's our entire tomato harvest. It's small, but it's fancy. (Credit goes to Raj for presentation. And growing the tomato. Ok, all I did was eat.)

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Here's the view from our hotel balcony in Virginia Beach. Amy's boyfriend texted at seven Saturday morning and woke us up, which would have been more of a problem if it hadn't gotten us this view. Also if we hadn't been asleep by ten thirty. PARTAY!

Speaking of which, I need to get back to my ca-razy birthday festivities! They're about to announce the winner of this week's Project Runway and then I can finally go to bed.

BACK, IRENE, BACK.

August 30, 2011

With the hurricane approaching, my dad called on Friday to check in with me. His primary concern was that Raj would have to work all weekend and I'd be forced to ride out the storm all by myself. When I told him that Raj would indeed be home, he was very relieved. As was my mother.

Which is how we got started down the road of What precisely do they imagine you're going to be able to do? that has ended with Raj believing I should write and post an epic poem of his heroic feats in defeating the hurricane. He held it back with nothing but his own two hands and sheer determination. I didn't actually see him do anything in particular, but there must have been something about the way that he sat on the couch by me, watching Inception, that the hurricane found particularly intimidating. Sure, it huffed and it puffed, but it didn't dare cross Raj far enough to even knock out our power for longer than it took to get the clocks to flashing.

That's all the more impressive, hurricane-wrangling-wise, when you know that a year ago, if anybody in the DC metro area even sneezed particularly empatically, the power in my building would go out. For a few days. Not in the surrounding buildings, mind you, just mine. The better to hear the other buildings' AC units running when I had my windows open.

I'm not trying to steal Raj's thunder here, but I do like to think that I helped a little bit to keep the power on by charging my phone and computer all day Saturday and not buying milk in order to avoid tempting fate to spoil it. And I filled some containers with water (though not the tub, as it turns out that our stopper doesn't actually fit our drain, thanks a lot apartment complex). Because I don't understand buying emergency storm preparation water when you have running water available and things to put it in. It's not like we were going to need to drink it. We've got like twelve bottles of wine here, plus gin AND tonic. Hell, we made mojitos last night just to use up some of the mint that's threatening to take over our whole apartment, all kudzu-like. That emergency water was going to be toilet-flushing water. Or possibly hangover medication water. Either way, it didn't need to come from a mountain spring.

What was I talking about?

Right, so let us sing his praises far and near, he who turns back the gale-force winds by the power of his icy glare, thus saving all the fair maidens of the household from the threat of non-working electricity-dependent coffee makers. Protector of the smartphone charger. Defender of the hot shower. Mighty Raj, your deeds shall long be remembered.

At least until next week's natural disaster. Let's hope Raj's powers are equally effective against volcanoes or locusts or whatever. Though even with Raj around to protect me, if it's boils, I'm out of here.

EARTHQUAKEPOCALYPSEMAGEDDON

August 26, 2011

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NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!

Ok, fine. The preceding photograph has been intentionally misleading. My filing, you know, system was not brought down by the earthquake. No, it was a victim of overloading and rampant humidity. My classroom is air conditioned by a window unit. I am responsible and turn it off at night. When I return each morning, my classroom is that loveliest of combinations: hot and damp. I'd open a window when I leave, except I don't have a screen and I'd rather return to a swamp than a classroom potentially infested with varmints. Rodents might be distracting to the children. And/or bitey.

But yes, rest of the nation, we did experience an earthquake right here in the DC metro area. One of my students asked, "What's that vibrating?" and I was just about to answer that it was the AC unit (it is loud and rumbly) when I noticed that oh, hey, my desk is shaking. I have to say, it went on longer than I had thought these things typically lasted. I did not care for it.

No harm done though, so we carried on with school as usual for the remainder of the day. Only later to discover that pretty much every other school in the area had let out early and also the government. Apparently, we were far too nonchalant about the whole thing. All of us except my former student who I saw sitting in my neighbor teacher's doorway, apparently refusing to go into the room. She's a little bit, how you say, drama-prone.

I guess there must have been damange to some area schools because DC and Prince George's County, both of which feed into my school, were closed yesterday, meaning that lots of our kids didn't show up. Fortunately, we were open for business so none of our built in snow days had to be reallocated as an earthquake day (or, hopefully, a hurricane day I'M LOOKING AT YOU, IRENE.)  I'm guessing that our kooky old building survived unscathed because the chewing gum holding it together had some pliancy left.

And yes, there was some damage to the National Cathedral and a couple of other places. But overall, the experience can be pretty well summed up by this graphic:

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You can send your earthquake relief donations directly to me. I'll, um, distribute them.

Not that they would have approved of the outfit anyway.

July 29, 2011

As I was getting ready today to go back to the doctor regarding the still very active bronchitis cough, I put on some shorts and had the baggy t-shirt in my hands when my inner Stacy and Clinton tsk-tsked and I instead put on a cute and not at all baggy tank top. (Inner Carmindy told me I shouldn't leave the house without make up, but I told her she shouldn't leave the house without a last name and we left it at that.)

Naturally, the doctor told me I should have a chest x-ray. And the med tech guy told me I should remove my bra, walk down the hall and around the corner to the x-ray room. Where he and I could share fifteen minutes or so of x-rays and small talk while I awkwardly tried to keep my arms crossed as much as possible.

So thanks a lot, Stacy and Clinton. It was cold in there.

The road to septoplasty recovery is paved with naps and stuff you don't want to even know exists.

April 08, 2011

UPDATE: If you've come here via Google for information about septoplasty recovery, you can go ahead and read this post, but there's a more informative one here written a year after my surgery.

That last post there took me three entire days to write. I started it on Saturday. It's just, then I needed a nap. For the next three days.

On Saturday, Raj hung out with me until it was time to attend his friends' one year-old's birthday party. You may not be surprised that, less than 24 hours post-op, I declined to accompany him. Fortunately, I already had plans of my own!

See, Katie had penciled me in for that Friday night ages ago for queso and margaritas to celebrate the end of my third quarter of school and the paperwork avalanche nightmare that accompanied it. Woo, girls' night in! Then I scheduled surgery for that Friday, so we moved it to Saturday. Woo!

Raj not only drove me there, but parked illegally so as to walk me all the way to the door in order to pass me off to Katie. She and I talked for a little while before I went ahead and fell asleep on her couch. People of the internet: I do not nap. Not even in my own bed. I try! But it almost never works and instead I lie there for a while and then give up and drink some coffee. Except on Saturday when, between the hours of two and seven, I took not one, but two naps on Katie's couch before asking her to take me home so I could go to bed. But not before she packed up a bunch of queso for me. It would have been rude not to accept it! RudER, I mean, than announcing twice that I'd be going to sleep for a while.

Then I spent Sunday in bed. All day. I mean, I left bed a few times to get food, but otherwise: bed. It was just so convenient! Because when I needed to sleep for half an hour every, oh, half an hour or so, I was already in bed! Which is how roughly one sentence of a blog post got written all day, which is better than the amount of school-related work that got done all day, which was zero. Ditto Monday.

Monday, Internet. I tell you what: SONOFABITCH is what. I had an appointment to see my ENT to get my packing and splints removed. I woke up with quite possibly the worst headache of my life and I am including here the one I had in Berlin the morning after a pub crawl wherein I drank all the grape-flavored vodka in Germany, plus a lot of beer and stuff. Vicodin was having no impact on this headache.

So I spent the morning with a bag of frozen peas pressed against various parts of my face and head. Then a woman from my doctor's office called to say the doctor wasn't in that day. Fortunately, she went on, before I completely came unglued, to say that I could see a different doctor in their office at the same time. Because I was a little bit out of my mind, I went on to ask this woman whether the other doctor would be able to remove the packing and splints. She was kind enough not to mock me over the abject stupidity of this question, but instead assured me that he could do everything my regular doctor could do.

In looking for the answer to some question I now can't remember, I wound up reading a forum where people discussed their experience with septoplasty. Of course, you should never, ever, ever read anything on the internet about anything related to medical matters. While knowing that didn't stop me from reading this forum, it did keep me from taking seriously the woman who said getting her packing removed had been far more painful than childbirth.

Considering that my experience was not only one hundred percent pain-free but a gigantic relief, I have to think that childbirth would be a teeny bit more uncomfortable. My headache was instantly gone. Ahhh, relief! I could breathe! I could smell things, even!

And I still can. On and off. When everything isn't too swollen or clogged full of the aforementioned things you don't even want to know about.

I'll stop there with that, except to say this: I am not allowed to blow my nose for two weeks. Right. Who are these people who are capable of complying with that? They are inhuman. They also didn't scratch their chicken pox or even cast a sidelong glance at their Christmas presents under the tree much less touch or shake them. The tag is still on their mattress and their Department of Homeland Security recommended preparedness kit is under the bed.

I, as you are perfectly aware, am not that person. I expect I'll pop a stitch between now and my follow up appointment on Wednesday and be harshly reprimanded by the doctor who spent a couple of hours of his valuable time doing the delicate work of repairing my sinuses. I'll feel bad and all, but there are times when [REDACTED FOR YOUR COMFORT AND PROTECTION] and there's no way around it.

I'm a risk-taker is what I'm telling you, Internet. And I'm going back to sleep now.

It's not all chocolates and roses - he also flaunts his freedom to blow his nose at will RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME.

April 05, 2011

My surgery was scheduled for 2:00. They told me to be there at 1:00. I asked Raj (who fortunately for me, but less so for him had an exam that morning and thus, the afternoon off) to pick me up at 12:15. Raj is aware that, while I am almost always late, there are certain occasions whereupon I become somewhat...what's the word...insane regarding punctuality. So Raj was early, motivated by a fear that if he were late, I'd physically harm him and then not share my post-op Vicodin.

So the lady at the surgery center desk wondered when we arrived at 12:45 whether we'd been asked to come extra early. Nope. Just superpunctual. For no apparent reason either, since we sat in the waiting room all the way up until 2:00.

Raj got to come back with me when I was finally called and was thus able to take this picture for you.

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Raj wanted to ask for some extra hat thingies for me to wear around. That way I'd stop shedding all over him and his stuff. I was excited that they'd given me socks to put on, but then things got even better when the nurse took that blanket away and came back with it heated up for me. Now that's what I call service.

Though I'd have appreciated it if every single person hadn't asked me for my weight right in front of my boyfriend. They also all asked me what I was there for. I came up with the word "septoplasty" exactly zero times, meaning I spent a lot of time mumbling about deviated septum and turbinates and concho bullosa and a cyst or something.

When the doctor arrived, he gave some prescriptions to Raj to fill for me. Raj asked me how that worked and it took me a minute to realize that he was asking because he'd never before filled a civilian prescription. He takes his Navy ID to the pharmacy and they give him what he needs. For free. Friday was his lucky day - he got to fill not one, but three! Antibiotics, Vicodin and Ativan. Because yes, a doctor prescribed me something to help calm me down. You know how I get all riled up, Internet. Apparently some people are so bothered by having a splint in their nose that they need anti-anxiety meds. I can't say that was me, but I did enjoy it for sleeping. I can also highly recommend Ativan for any "staring into space" needs that you may have.

By the way, the generic name of these calm-you-down meds is Lorazepam. Per Urban Dictionary, they are known on the street as "Loris". Quelle coincidence.

Raj and I parted ways as they wheeled me back into a freezing cold operating room where I recall being told that they were putting something into my IV to help me relax, feeling like my hand was about to explode, and then nothing else. What seemed like the next thing to me was actually a couple of hours later. I was being wheeled back to where I started and I felt terribly sleepy and a little woozy, such that when the nurse told me they were going to sit me up, I thought that sounded like a terrible idea.

The doctor talked to me a little bit about things I don't remember and then Raj came back and helped me get dressed and into a wheelchair for a dizzying ride down to the car. I'm sorry to tell you, Internet, that I don't seem to have been entertaining at all when coming out of anesthesia. I just wanted to go back to sleep, please.

Raj got me home and into bed and made me the tea I asked for, for my recently-intubated sore throat. I initially turned down food out of concern that it would make me sick, but it turns out my stomach tolerates anesthesia just fine. So later I had some of the soup Raj bought me. And the drugs he got me. It wasn't until later I saw that he'd also picked up these:

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Yes, Internet, his boyfriend skills are strong. But you don't even know the better part.

It's when you look like this 

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and your boyfriend still tells you that you look beautiful, that you know you picked a really good one.

Then you take another Ativan and go back to sleep for a while.

Free band name idea: Septal Correction

March 28, 2011

Let me be clear on this: I did not schedule sinus surgery in order to get a couple of days away from the children.

I scheduled it for this Friday in order to get a couple of days away from the children.

You may have noticed that snot has been something of a theme on this website. Anybody who works with kids is going to have more than their share of snot-related illnesses, but it goes beyond that for me. There's also the way that all of my sinuses often just close right the hell up. Everything swells shut, meaning I can't breathe, gauge my volume, or expel any of the aforementioned snot. Meaning that it either sits there and becomes an infection or drips down my throat.

It tends to choose option two when I'm running, so I spend a lot of time hacking up and then spitting out goo. Which is gross enough outside, but causes people in the gym to stare a lot. (I spit into my towel, not, like, on the floor or something.) The bigger problem is that you can't hack up goo and inhale air at the same time. Inhaling air is a pretty crucial part of the running process.

I've been using Flonase daily for a few years now, which is not at all recommended, plus Zyrtec, saline spray and a neti pot. And I have to sleep on two pillows, pretty much exclusively on my left side if I want to have any chance of breathing through my nose. All of this had gotten somewhat tiresome, so I finally made an ENT appointment.

It turns out that my septum tilts left, which in combination with my oversized turbinates (spongy bony things on either side of your nose) that swell every so all the time, explains the way that the entire left side of my head is frequently shut off. Also there's something I can't remember the name of that has an air pocket where it shouldn't where goo can collect and cause infections. And there's a big old cyst in my right sinus. All in all, as sinus systems go, mine's pretty much a lemon.

The thing is, after sinus surgery, you can't exercise for at least ten days. It's been a long process of getting to the point of making the decision to go ahead with surgery, which finally happened on Wednesday. I told the ENT that because of the half-marathon, I was either going to have to have the surgery ASAP or not until June. So ASAP it is! I'm a little concerned about having to take ten days off from training, but my concerns are outweighed by excitement over the prospect of being able to concurrently run and breathe in after those ten days are up.

My other major concern is this "no food or water after midnight" business. My surgery isn't until 2:00! I will have to teach and not physically harm students (who, may I remind you, have gone insane) on an empty stomach for half a day! Fortunately, they didn't mention coffee, so that's probably fine, right?

Raj is the lucky winner of being my required "responsible adult" without whom the surgery center will not let me leave. Though I suppose it's uncool of me to make him bring work home with him like that. He takes care of the sick and injured all day. At least, if my father is any indication, I may be amusing while coming out of anesthesia. And since I'm sure he won't let me live down anything particularly embarrassing that I might do or say, he'll also function as a note-taker for me so that I may share my humiliation with you, Internet.

If you made it this far into a post about my sinuses, I'd say you more than deserve it.

Written in the Stars (spelled out in Oreos)

March 09, 2011

Tonight's yoga instructor told us, "Remember in every moment that wherever you are is exactly where you were meant to be and whatever you're doing is exactly what you were meant to be doing."

So no, I'm not sitting on the couch inhaling a pint of Cookies & Cream gelato.

I'm fulfilling my destiny.

Look at what we can do.

January 21, 2011

I was talking to a friend of my roommate's about our mutual obsession with love of Aaron Sorkin last week and it turned out that he hadn't seen SportsNight. Which is kind of like calling yourself a fan of Paul Simon, but you haven't heard any of the music he did with that Garfunkel guy.

There are so many great episodes of SportsNight, great characters and great lines ("Shoe money tonight!") but one episode stands out for me, due in large part to the circumstances under which I watched it. That's what came to me while I was talking about it.

The first regular non-September-11-related thing I watched on TV after it happened was a rerun of SportsNight on Comedy Central. I don't know whether they picked it out special or if it was just the one they were supposed to run next, but it was an episode called The Quality of Mercury.

In it, Dana (Felicity Huffman), the producer of the fictional show SportsNight, is extremely unexcited to be taking her niece to see The Lion King. She hates musical theater. She's never gone, mind you, she just knows that she hates it.

Also, a water main has burst outside the studio, so Dan and Casey (the co-anchors of SportsNight) can't get any food delivered. And they're waiting on some guys to make it to the top of Mount Everest so they can report on it. And Dan can't choose a charity to give to because he feels too guilty about not being able to give to all of them.

Here we have Dana's reaction to The Lion King:

And Dan finds someone he can help. (If you don't have four minutes for this clip, you can just watch the last twenty seconds.)

Dana tells Casey about the powerful effect that the music at the beginning of The Lion King had on her and says, "I didn't know we could do that. Did you know we could do that?" And Casey says, "When I forget, something usually reminds me."

Dan finds a way to help someone by sharing a sandwich with a homeless man who has sought shelter in his office. As they watch the team summit Everest together, Dan says, "Look at what we can do."

You can't get the power of it from a couple of clips and certainly not from my writing a little bit of it out for you. And I know the way that it affected me then had a lot to do with needing very much to be reminded that while we humans are capable of terrible things, we can do great things too.

But probably it's good to be reminded of that at other times too. Like in January when everything seems blah and you've been stuck inside too long with people who are getting on your nerves and politicians are doing [thing that infuriates you]. Maybe just after Martin Luther King Day and the 50th anniversary of "ask what you can do for your country".

If you look around, you'll see it. It's what Aaron Sorkin did for me that day with six words. "Look at what we can do."

Your (pretend) questions, answered!

January 19, 2011

I can only imagine the number of times you have said to yourselves, "I wonder how Lori's sinuses are these days."

Take heart, Internet. Those days of wondering are at an end.

Yesterday, I went to an otolaryngologist or ENT (which, while simpler, is far less fun to say). He seemed pretty skeptical at first about my need to see him. Sure, I've been sick since November, but there's lots of stuff going around. And Maryland is bad for allergies, so if I haven't been tested here, then maybe I should see an allergist instead.

Then he started looking at my sinuses. My septum, which he first proclaimed to be straight, turns out to be pretty seriously tilted further back. And my turbinates (which are not, in fact, car parts as I'd have guessed, but bones inside the nose) are too big. How do I ever breathe with no room in there? Precisely.

My ears, he said, are perfect. Please make a note of that.

He gave me three prescriptions. (He wondered whether, as a reading teacher, I could make out his handwriting. I didn't want to insult his doctorly bad handwriting pride by telling him that his wasn't even in the worst 3% of handwriting that I can read.) The first one says STOP FLONASE (which I'd been using daily for a few years, which is not recommended, but my old doctor was fine with giving it to me and I liked the being able to breathe thing) followed by Sudafed 60mg x 5 days.

That's double the recommended dose. At least when the feds come to pick me up for my suspiciously excessive Sudafed purchases, I'll be very, very alert.

Except that's not even necessarily true. Before I got this order, I'd been taking the regular dose of Sudafed, plus Adderall and coffee and was still sleepy. I haven't taken my Adderall with the double dose since I'm a little bit concerned that my heart might explode. Probably the doctor could have weighed in on that, had I not neglected to list Adderall among the meds I take. I forgot about it because...wait for it...I hadn't taken my Adderall.

The second prescription was for in case the Sudafed doesn't cure me. It's for five days of Prednisone, but he warned that it could cause a pound or two of water weight gain (pssh, I can knock that out on day one of PMS) and could cause me to be jittery. You know, unlike a double-dose of Sudafed.

The third was for a CT scan of my sinuses. There was a radiology place in the same complex and I could stop by and see if they could get me in that day, as long as I was off. I did and they could, so I returned a short while later with a great big film of my sinuses from every angle. It seemed to confirm what my doctor had already thought. Namely, that we can try meds, but if I want to be able to breathe through my nose long-term, I'm probably going to need surgery for the septum and turbinates. There's also a big old cyst taking up most of one of my sinuses, but he was unconcerned about that. They can maybe take it out while they're in there, but unless it's bothering me, there's no need to go in special for that. Ok, then.

So I'm supposed to go back to the doctor in about three weeks if I'm not miraculously cured by decongestants and irrigation (i.e. neti pot). And then we'll talk about if and when I'll be sedated so that my sinuses can be, you know, renovated. As much as I'm not excited about someone rooting around in there, the prospect of unobstructed breathing is pretty exciting. And I should get sick less and have less post-nasal drip, meaning that maybe I could even run without constantly coughing and spitting. My UQ (unsexiness quotient) would go way down!

And the doctor said I could keep the film from my CT scan, which is...suitable for framing? I'm not really sure what I'll do with it. Maybe Raj would like to look at it. He'd finally get to see what's going on inside my head, though I don't think it would answer any of the questions he may have in that regard.

Now you know, Internet. The state of my sinuses is: puffy with a chance of outpatient surgery. That must be a real load off your mind. You may now return to wondering about where you left your phone or why What Not to Wear ever let Nick Arrojo go.

I'll surrender my parking pass on the way out.

January 05, 2011

I mentioned (in that post about how I beat Raj at Christmas - remember how I won and he lost?) that Raj bought me a polar bear for Christmas. And here it is.

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I was trying to think of a name for him this morning. It occurred to me that he kind of looks like an Otis. But then I thought maybe I should try to be a little bit clever. He's a polar bear, so what if I named him after someone with the last name White? Like Barry White!

But then I thought that was a little cheesy because it kind of sounds like Very White, which he is.

Totally missing, you may have noticed, the part where it also sounds entirely like BEARY White. Or worse, Bear E. White. I was, I swear, exactly as horrified by this realization as you'd want me to be.

All the same, I'll be turning in my Writer Card now. I am clearly not qualified to operate the English language.

Maybe I'll take up knitting instead. Or falconry.

P.S. I do think I'm going with Otis.

Some pictures. For you!

December 14, 2010

Because the Mucous Cold of Doom 2010 has eaten my brain. Attempts to write things are proving unsuccessful. (Case in point: repeated misspellings of both "unsuccessful" and "attempts" in that sentence.) Ok then.

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Bottom Line 21
French Embassy 05
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That's my tree, Irving. Say goodnight, Irving.

Effective Advertising

November 05, 2010

Oh, if only.

I would buy that car in a minute if it would get me a polar bear hug. Because I love bears. It's one of life's real cruelties, the way that bears look so completely huggable. I want to hug a bear! But you can't.

Unless you buy this car? Maybe?

A Whole Lot of Leaving Left to Do

June 11, 2010

Oh hey, Internet! I remember you. It's been...a while. I guess. Sorry.

I've been a little busy getting ready to move. With the packing, yes, but also the various goodbye events. They started with school, which was hard. I loved my job here, in large part because I loved the people I worked with and for. You know how most places you go to work they're always saying how it's a family and it never feels true? It did at my school. I can't speak for the other departments, but the special ed team is a hard bunch of people to leave. The friend farewells are ongoing and the family one is Saturday night and it's going to, for lack of a prettier way of phrasing it, suck. Aunt Lori is leaving and though the small people are too little to understand, it's going to be rough on me.

But then on Sunday, Holly and I will hit the road. We'll drive to New Orleans and hang out there for a bit before continuing on to DC. Everybody keeps asking me if I'm excited and since I'm a live in the now kind of gal, I have to admit that I'm not yet because I'm still wrapped up in the details of getting packed up and leaving. But once we pull out of the driveway, I will be.

Another reason this post has been so long coming is that there's just not a lot left for me to write here about moving, given the number of times I already have. So instead of going on any further about this, I propose a sudden change of topic.

Thing I Like: When good things happen to people I love. There seems to be a lot of this happening just now and it makes me no end of happy. Two of my good friends are getting married in the next month to very good guys. Both of my roommates are dating very good guys. Three friends have gotten new jobs, one for a new and exciting challenge, one with a much shorter commute to allow more time at home with the kids, one affording her some time away from home and baby a couple of days a week to make some money and have some grown up time. Good stuff all around.

Thing I Dislike: Diet Cherry Limeade from Sonic. You guys. It's bad.

Thing I Hate: Cancer. Specifically, right this minute, that my friend Denise has it. She's recovering from surgery now and she reads this blog (Hi Denise!) so here's what we're going to do: you'll all leave a comment for Denise. It can be good wishes or a joke or a link to something that might make a person smile. Ok? Ok.

In which I find an apartment and do not engage in germ warfare

May 18, 2010

I'm not going to lie to you, Internet. Last week was, on the whole, a Very Bad Week. A Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Week, even. I'm still sick and thus, still not sleeping well. And by the end of Wednesday, I felt like I'd spent seven hours being a punching bag for middle schoolers. 

They were much better on Thursday though, with the exception of my eighth period class, who spent about half of their class period writing me letters about how they had been choosing to behave, why they had been choosing to behave that way, and how they intended to change their behavior. They were properly contrite. As far as any actual change in behavior is concerned, I'm not holding my breath. I'm just reminding myself over and over that we have twelve days left together and will spend the last two of those watching a movie.

Then on Friday morning, I flew to BWI, where I got the bus to the Metro to go and visit my new school. My visit was officially for the purpose of meeting my new department chair and signing my contract. Unofficially, I wanted to confirm that the school really does exist and the whole getting a job on the first try thing was not an elaborate prank being perpetrated against me. Not only was it there, but I got a tour and saw the entire student body, gathered in the gym for competitions between the grades. I was invited to participate in middle school vs. high school dodgeball, an invitation that I promptly declined.

I had spent quite a bit of last week emailing people about seeing their apartments/houses this weekend. Only one person wanted me to come on Saturday, so after seeing that place (verdict: meh) I went to Virginia with Katie to drink wine at Caroline and Francine's annual Team Heather Wine Tasting Fundraiser. Drinking wine for a good cause? Count me in. I hadn't been able to go before, living so far away, so I was happy to be in town for it this year. And, Internet, it was everything I thought it could be.

But then on Sunday, it was down to business. I saw six places, assisted greatly by the GPS in Raj's car, without which I might still be driving in circles around the DC metro area. I'd have strongly considered a few of these, except that one was the obvious choice.

There was a complex that I really wanted to get into almost from the beginning of looking at places. It's walking distance to my school, as well as a grocery store and lots of stores and restaurants. It has a pool and fitness center and pretty reasonable rent. And, unlike a lot of nearby buildings, doesn't have a bunch of online reviews about rodent and roach problems.

The openings I'd seen had been for a place with two 25ish guys and a place with a 23 year-old guy. I don't need to be den mother at home, thanks. But then there was one with a late twenties girl, who turned out to be the kind of person I think I'd like to hang out with and we sat and chatted for a while after she showed me the place. I called her after seeing the other places to tell her I wanted to move in. The conversation went something like this:

Her: Oh good. I'm done.

Me: Me too.

Because both of us are pretty happy to have our lives back after spending too much time on Craig's List and emailing people, her to find a roommate, me to find a place. My Craig's List addiction had become a little bit debilitating. I was accomplishing nothing in the evenings because I needed to check the listings just one more time. What will I do with all of my newfound free time? Pack, I suppose.

Which is pretty much the end of this story, except I feel the need to apologize to everyone in airports, airplanes, buses, trains, and coffee shops who has been subjected to my near-constant nose blowing. I apologize for grossing you out. 

Except you, man at Panera who loudly complained to your wife about how disgusting it was, as if I were choosing to be a fountain of mucous. You can just be thankful that I didn't pelt you with snotty tissues. You shouldn't piss off a woman in possession of biohazardous Puffs.

We're registered at the grocery store.

April 12, 2010

This marriage is going to require a lot of milk.

You'd think I'd have this packing thing down to a science.

March 26, 2010

And I do. It's just, the only science I really studied was political science. 

If you've got a case study on packing that you need somebody to read and summarize, I am well-qualified. Need a Supreme Court case on the subject of packing briefed? I'm your girl. Want somebody to formulate an opinion on either or both sides of a packing-related topic and write a lengthy paper on it? Pick me!

On the other hand, empirical data was never my thing. Things like volume of a rectangular prism, for instance.

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If Lori packs her suitcase to capacity and intends to return with everything in it, except a box containing a watch* for somebody's birthday, can she buy jeans** and two pair of pants at the Gap Outlet while on vacation? What if those pants are on clearance for half off?

Answer: YES. Except she might have to sit on her suitcase a little to get it zipped. Mostly because she couldn't figure out a way to run a deficit on packing space that could be passed down to the next generation of Americans.

*The watch in question, which did come in kind of an enormous box. For a watch. Not for, say, three pair of pants.

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**I went outlet shopping with Emily while in the DC area last week. She talked me into trying on the Gap's Long and Lean cut of jeans, despite my protestations that I am neither. She said they're supposed to make you look long and lean. Sadly, they are not, in fact, magic jeans, but they do fit alright.

Anybody know the number for West Egg Realty?

March 12, 2010

I've come into some money, Internet. Don't worry though. I won't let it change me. I mean, I'll be quitting my job immediately, but I won't do anything crazy like, say, stop shopping almost exclusively at Target.

The source of my windfall? Well, here's a look at the check itself.

Check
 Note: Not my actual address

As you can see, I am a five-millionaire. This check was written to me by a student of mine, in payment for all of my hard work. She signed it under those Post-It Flags I put on there to conceal her identity. Can't have the entire internet hitting the poor girl up for cash. I haven't taken it to the bank yet, but I'm sure they'll be excited to see it. It's not every day that somebody walks in with a multi-million dollar purple star decorated personal check. Probably they'll want to take my picture or something. Then I'll go shoe shopping.

Have a good weekend, everybody! And to all of my teacher friends, enjoy your spring break! Before going back to work! Suckers!

Classy

March 08, 2010

You can get an Oscar recap anywhere and the ladies of Go Fug Yourself will do a better job than I could of mocking the stars' fashion choices. Also, I need to get dressed for work.

So all you'll be getting from me is the text of Michael Giacchino's speech upon winning the award for Best Score for the music from Up. I thought it was the best minute or so of the night.

"Thank you, guys. When I was... I was nine and I asked my dad, 'Can I have your movie camera? That old, wind-up 8 millimeter camera that was in your drawer?' And he goes, 'Sure, take it.' And I took it and I started making movies with it and I started being as creative as I could, and never once in my life did my parents ever say, 'What you're doing is a waste of time.' Never.

"And I grew up, I had teachers, I had colleagues, I had people that I worked with all through my life who always told me, 'What you're doing is not a waste of time.' So that was normal to me that it was OK to do that.

"I know there are kids out there that don't have that support system so if you're out there and you're listening, listen to me: If you want to be creative, get out there and do it. It's not a waste of time. Do it. OK? Thank you. Thank you."

The Vocabulary of Me

February 22, 2010

My mind works in pictures and analogies. I guess that's why I sometimes come up with ways of phrasing things that momentarily throw people. But they usually make sense, given a minute. I've assembled some examples below, the ones I remember:

Sympathy blush - This seems to me the most perfectly obvious here and not really very creative at all. If someone else is embarrassed, I will blush with and/or for that person. I said that to someone and he thought it was an odd way of explaining the phenomenon. It just makes sense to me. But I wish I didn't do it because I bet sometimes it makes people think that I have done the blushworthy thing, instead of just being a sympathetic onlooker.

Barbie foot - I hurt my heel the one time and said something about walking around with the one Barbie foot. See, because Barbie has the permanent high heel feet and I was keeping the one heel up off the floor. Barbie foot.

Mental picture schedule - For those of you who don't work with autistic children, let me explain. Autistic kids are very visual and concrete. They like their routine, like to know what's coming, and need advance warning of any changes. So many parents and teachers make picture schedules for the kids so they can see what's coming. Those of us who work with special kids often identify the ways in which we're like them. I am a little bit autistic in that I keep a mental picture schedule and have a hard time adjusting to changes in it. This can confuse the people in my life who aren't privy to the mental picture schedule. How can I be thrown by changes to the plan when there was no plan? Except there was. In my head. This can even apply to things I like to do. Like when my coworkers invite me to happy hour, except I'd pictured myself going home and doing nothing, so while I do want to go and drink margaritas, I have a split-second panic response because it doesn't match the picture schedule. A few seconds later, I've usually adjusted the picture schedule and I'm fine again. Yes, I am weird.

Pocket Veto - Do you remember this from social studies? When a bill is passed by Congress, it goes to the president to either be signed into law or vetoed. If the president does nothing for ten days, the bill becomes law without his signature. But if Congress goes out of session before those ten days are up and the president does nothing, the bill does not become law. So it's veto by doing nothing. I've applied this to relationships. When one person lets the other person know that the relationship is over by doing nothing, no longer returning calls, texts, emails, etc. that person has perpetrated a pocket veto. I've been on both sides of this and the pocket veto certainly has its place. That place being at the very beginning of dating, within the first few dates. However, beyond those first few dates, it's the wuss's way out, disrespectful and completely indefensible.

Laundry/Grocery Chicken - It's like playing chicken, except with regard to doing the laundry or going to the grocery store. At some point, it becomes a game of how long can I possibly wait to buy food while still managing to find something to eat, no matter how odd a meal might result? Or how long can I continue to dress at least marginally appropriately for what I need to do before I have to break down and wash clothes? Neither kind of chicken is something I regularly do, but both occasionally do happen.

Twisty - I remember from back in my Grey's Anatomy viewing days that Meredith was described as dark and twisty. Well, this is a different use of the word. See, when I'm very nervous, I become very fidgety. This usually involves some tangling of fingers and twisting of hands. Hence, twisty.

I have adopted a couple that I got from Twitter, namely Dishwasher Tetris, the art of shifting dishes to make them fit tightly as possible, and hanger nipples, those little bumps on the shoulders of sweaters that have been hanging. I think both are delightfully descriptive verbal shortcuts. Also auto-repeat with volume escalation to describe the way that, if you don't answer a kid, he or she keeps saying MOM or MISS continuously and more loudly until you do. What a perfect description of an aggravating phenomenon.

A coworker recently told me that a friend of hers will say that she has a limited number of extrovert dollars to spend and once they're gone, she's done with other people for the day. That makes a whole lot of sense to me.

What about you, Internet? Do you have any shorthand for possible addition to the vocabulary of me?

I do not like green eggs and SPAM, as far as I know.

January 11, 2010

Don't worry, Internet. I won't let the vast fortune change me.

I just wanted to say that up front, because it will be clear to you that what I'm about to unveil will change my life forever. I'm going to be quite wealthy and I don't want you to become concerned that I'll forget all about you.

What I'm talking about is a business venture that is such a sure thing, I can't believe nobody has thought of it before. It seems obvious to me, but maybe that's because I'm a Big Idea Person. 

It all came to me while I was in Hawaii. I heard that SPAM is a big thing there. Hawaiians are crazy for SPAM. So much so that many restaurants, including McDonald's, serve SPAM and eggs for breakfast. In fact, a popular snack food there is SPAM Musubi. You can get it reasonably priced at 7-Eleven.

P1010066 

In case you can't tell from the picture, SPAM Musubi consists of rice, teriaki sauce, and SPAM wrapped in seaweed. It's like a sushi roll, except instead of fish, SPAM. And it's rectangular.

Raj told me that I was going to have to try it. I was unexcited. At best. But I'll try most things once, so I agreed to give it a whirl. We stopped by a 7-Eleven, inquired about the SPAM Musubi, and were told that it was in the microwave. Mmmm...freshly reheated canned ham product. Two please.

We went to a park, because a person likes a little ambiance with her dubious food item. I unwrapped it. I took a bite.

Internet, it was good.

I liked it, this...SPAM sushi. Spushi, if you will.

I'm not going to lie to you, I made a lot of Spushi jokes once the name occurred to me. A LOT. Raj, to his credit, at least pretended to find each and every one of them funny. It's a fun word to say. Try it. SPOO-shee. Spushi!

I bet a lot of people would like to say it. And eat it. Why, this could be the next big thing! I'll bring Spushi!™ to the mainland!

We've even got a slogan, courtesy of one of Raj's med school classmates. Her reaction upon trying it for the first time (under significant duress) was, "It's not as disgusting as I thought it would be."

Spushi!™: It's not as disgusting as you think it will be!

Obviously there is some coordinating to be done with the SPAM and 7-Eleven people before we can make Spushi!™ a reality. But before you can say "Spiced ham rice teriyaki seaweed snack food treat" I'll be running my very own empire. And I'll be happy to share my Spushi!™ fortune with those who supported me before I was a millionairess. You can visit me at the Spushi!estate. Or the penthouse at Spushi!towers. I'll send the Spushi!jet to pick you up. Need a grant funded? Just apply with the Spushi!fund.

Most importantly, please enjoy Spushi!™ responsibly. And often.

Very Superstitious

November 12, 2009

I don't consider myself a superstitious person. I don't have a lucky anything (number, pen, shirt, etc.). I don't think black cats affect my luck any differently from cats of any other color. I can't think of any rituals I go through for luck or anything of that nature.

Well, there was the one time when my friend Carl and I realized that every time we watched a Packers game together, they lost. But if we watched it separately or if we were together and with one or more other friends, they won. Now, why would we go and willfully jinx our Packers when there was such overwhelming evidence?

And there is the straw wrapper thing. Maybe you did this in middle school. After removing the straw, you flatten the wrapper and tie it in a large, loose knot. You must then think of somebody and pull on both ends of the straw. If the wrapper breaks with the knot intact, the person isn't thinking of you. But if the knot comes out, then the person is thinking of you. Holly and I pretend to believe that this is accurate. I got it from Amy, who when the knot stayed in, would announce that the person was probably peeing.

The one thing I will sheepishly admit to lending any entirely misguided credence to is knocking on wood. I blame the very same job that I waxed nostalgic about two posts ago. I had worked my way up there to being the person in charge of an entire hotel full of high schoolers, often around 200. My first few weeks of that job were pretty rough. Anything that could go wrong did, particularly with me having to bust and send home kids for drinking in their hotel rooms. I had to call my boss on each of these occasions, often quite late at night. One week, he hadn't heard from me by the time he saw me in the office. The conversation went something like this:

Me: I hate to even say it, but...

Him: DON'T!

We both knocked on wood and maybe spit on our elbows and threw salt over our shoulders or something. I honestly think I picked it up there out of total paranoia about what could possibly go wrong next. If I ever had a good week, I couldn't enjoy it for fear of when the other shoe would drop. I was accepting any and all insurance policies against everything going to crap, even if it involved knocking on tables and armoires like a crazy person. 

I sometimes still do this. On a somewhat regular basis. I'm not proud of that.

Alright now, you know how this works. I showed you mine, now you show me yours.

A material, a material, a material world

September 28, 2009

Please note that the Her in question was, at the time of this conversation, very, very angry with her husband.

Her: Don't ever get married. There's no good reason to get married.

Me: I'd do it for the gifts. I've bought high thread count sheets and nice kitchen stuff that I can't afford to buy for myself for about half of the people I know. I want payback.

Her: Oh. Well, yeah, that's a good reason. And you'd only really have to stay married about six months.

So I guess that's settled. Anybody want to marry me for roughly six months? We could split the stuff at the end. I call dibs on the sheets.

Here's Your Sign

July 31, 2009

You're familiar with the Bill Engvall routine about stupid people needing a sign? I am quite certain that would apply to whomever necessitated the making of this label for a hotel thermostat:

P1000402

For the record, I did not set the thermostat to 66, although I did think upon seeing it in the morning that it made a lot of sense then about how I could be fine sleeping with the big down comforter over me.

(Pretend there's a transition here.)

A totally wonderful thing happened when I went to my first appointment with my psychiatrist for my ADD eval. Aside from the ADD diagnosis, I mean. A very old lady sitting next to me in the waiting room started talking to me because I was reading a James Patterson novel. He had been one of her favorite authors, but she can't read anymore because her eyes are too bad. None of her daughters read, she told me, right in front of two of said daughters. She had this giftcard to Half Price Books that she couldn't use and she'd like to give it to me. I protested that surely one of her daughters would like it. Eventually, one of said daughters assured me that if she wanted to give it to me, that was fine.

This giftcard turned out to be worth $50. FIFTY DOLLARS. Of FREE BOOKS. Is there anything better than free books? Because if there is anything better than free books, I DON'T KNOW WHAT IT WOULD BE. So I went there today and got myself a book for the plane.

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If you've read it, don't tell me how it ends! Also, please don't inform my nephew, should I at any point give it to him as a gift, that I really bought it for myself.

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Ok, fine. I bought it because when you ask him what a dinosaur says, he says, "AAAAAAGHHHH!" and I cannot get enough of it.

Anyway, I'll be in the Pacific Northwest next week. Photos and trip updates, you know, when I get to it. Have a good week, Internet!

Guilty Pleasures

July 27, 2009

I'm not going to lie to you, Internet. I came up with the idea for this post while standing over a pot of cold Kraft Macaroni & Cheese, stabbing up giant forkfuls and trying to talk myself into stopping.

I'm not sure I feel actual guilt over it, but I wouldn't especially want anyone to see me engaged in such behavior. It's just...damn, that stuff is good cold. Seriously. I should always make it an hour before I want to eat it so I can put it in the fridge first.

Other guilty(ish) pleasures:

Little Debbie Zebra Cakes

Novels with no redeeming literary value

Craig Ferguson - It's just an odd crush to admit to having, isn't it? I don't know what it is about him, but there's something sexy there. Ditto Doug Wilson.

Secrettweet

Spaghetti-Os. I buy a can every couple of years and then maybe lick the bowl when they're gone.

Uptown Girls. This is a silly movie that I have watched, at least in part, multiple times on basic cable.

A Blizzard run to Dairy Queen. These happened fairly often when Vicki and I lived in an apartment walkable to a DQ. Once, we even decided mere minutes before the start of a new episode of the West Wing that we needed Blizzards and, since this was pre-DVR days, were forced to race the clock. These days, a car trip is required, but my current roommates are equally amenable. Particularly this month, when there has been the Girl Scout Tagalong Blizzard.

Boom Boom Pow on my car radio

Ok, this one I do feel a little shame in sharing with you, but I HAVE COMMITTED TO THE CONCEPT HERE. Around Christmas last year, I bought some Peppermint Schnapps for us to put in our hot chocolate. Then one night I was out of cocoa or didn't want a hot drink or something. I don't know. Anyway, I poured a capful of Schnapps into a mug of milk and by golly if it wasn't a satisfying beverage. I may have repeated the experience.

That's all I can think of at the moment, although there are certainly more. I'd feel a little better about this if you guys would admit to having some of these too.

House (Pretend) Rules

July 16, 2009

A while back, our good friend Jenny asked about the possibility of renting our available bedroom. (There are four in the house, but one is tiny and thus, the office.) It wasn't until after she gave notice at her apartment that I began explaining (read: making up) the rules around here. It started with explaining that, as a pastry chef, she would be required to bake us one cake or alternate agreed-upon baked good per month. The following is in no way an exhaustive list of the additional rules, but represents all of the ones I can remember.

Newest roommate pays the cable bill.

Last one finished eating cleans up. (This one was explained following our first dinner in the house as roommates, which I tore through in a matter of seconds, thanks to the aid of Pre-Menstrual Syndrome.)

Person living in That Bedroom empties the dishwasher.

Your rent will be twelve hundred dollars per month. Holly and I will each pay four fifty. Four dollars and fifty cents.

Every month, one of us cooks a multi-course meal for the others. You have this month, then we'll, uh, take the months...after...that. Totally.

Shortest person cleans the floors. (Actually, I just made this one up right now, but it makes a lot of sense, doesn't it? I mean, she is closer.)

There were a lot more. (Jenny: "Wow, there are a lot of rules here." Me: "Yeah, we like a very regimented household, run with military-like precision.")

Fortunately, Jenny is well aware that I am full of crap.

(Confidential to Jenny: except about that one cake per month thing. WE ARE TOTALLY SERIOUS ABOUT THAT.)

Anyway, Jenny moved in on Tuesday. We spent that night pulling every single thing out of the kitchen cabinets so we could make sure that we only put in things we really needed and got everything put away logically. Unlike when I moved in and just shoved my stuff wherever there was room.

What we discovered through this process was that we own a ridiculous amount of wine glasses and coffee mugs. A really inordinate number of them. We had been thinking of having a Welcome to the House, Jenny! party sometime after she got unpacked and I think I've now figured out what the theme should be.

Watch your mailboxes, Internet, for your invitations to Lori, Holly, and Jenny's Legal Addictive Beverages Party.

Just be aware, guests buy, bring, uncork/brew, and serve drinks. House rules.

A willow deeply scarred, somebody's broken heart, and a washed out dream

June 29, 2009

Michael Jackson was the first man I can recall wanting to marry. This would have been roughly kindergarten, the Thriller days. You know, back when I was five and he was good-looking. I've wondered whether seeing how he disintegrated after that contributed to putting me off the idea of speedy commitment. You never know how a handsome, seemingly normal guy might go off his rocker.

Michael Jackson was obviously not quite right. It would be nice if his descent from child prodigy to tragic figure would make parents think twice about pushing their kids into the limelight. It doesn't seem that anybody's psyche can handle becoming so famous so quickly. He was an icon, had become one by his early 20s. That's happened to a handful of people ever, and none of them have coped well. Seems it does something to a person.

There's also the genius thing. Because he was one, had to be. He was an innovator in both music and dance. He changed them forever. Creative geniuses see their art in a way that you and I can't, in a way that no one ever has. But true creative geniuses also never seem to last. They are ephemeral, not long for this world, and they don't seem to hold up well during the time they are here. I wonder why that is. It's almost as if opening oneself up to that level of artistry leaves a person especially vulnerable to shattering.

There are lots of opinions about Michael Jackson and whether he really did hurt little boys. I don't think we'll ever know. I did hear someone who knew him well saying that she couldn't believe it of him because he seemed so utterly nonsexual himself. He never mentally grew up to the extent that it was a consideration for him. He was truly the eternal child.

I don't know. What I have discovered in the past few days is that while I knew that I loved his music, I hadn't realized how much of it I loved. There was some on my iPod. PYT, Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough, Wanna Be Startin' Something. Watching his videos on MTV (Videos on MTV!) I rediscovered how great so much more of it was. And his dancing. West Side Story may have given the world the dance fight, but Michael Jackson elevated it to an art.

Maybe he wasn't a good person. Maybe he was just exceedingly odd. Maybe he was broken by a cruel father, the crush of fame, the necessity of being a shut-in, or the fragility of his own mind. But no matter what you think of Michael Jackson the man, his art is undeniable.

I hope in death that he is able to find the peace that so eluded him in life. For my part, I'll join the crowd in downloading his music, celebrating the gift that he gave us while he was here of his immense, extraordinary talent.

Home Improvement Gets Political

June 20, 2009

My dad, a retired electrician, works part-time at Lowe's in the electrical department. Here's an actual customer interaction he had this week, as nearly as I can recall the wording:

Customer: Where are the lightbulbs?

My Dad: Do you want incandescent or compact fluorescents?

Customer: Compact fluorescents! I don't want those damn Obama bulbs!

My Dad: Actually, you won't be able to buy incandescent bulbs anymore after 2012 because of a law passed in 2007 by the Bush administration.

Customer: Well...what do those bulbs look like?

The guy went on to buy the compact fluorescents. Maybe Lowe's in this area should look into putting a Bush seal of approval on them to increase sales.

And if you're a commie pink-o liberal Obama-lover, perhaps they can show you something in a fly-swatter.

Essentials

May 27, 2009

Coffee, keys, phone.

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Ok, fine. The pretty pink cell phone isn't mine. It was left here this weekend by a small guest of ours. (Holly and I have since been fighting non-stop over who gets to play with it.) Today, when I got home from school, I set my mug and keys down to open the mail and later walked by the counter to see all three things together like that and it cracked me up, so I took a picture.

The End

Summertime and the living is sticky

May 07, 2009

Summer and I have a complicated relationship.

Of course, this year I am looking forward to summer more than usual. If my former employer were running camps, I would go and run them because it would be the fiscally responsible thing to do. But they aren't and I am not sad at all to not be working full-time teaching reading all summer. I'll still probably tutor a couple of days a week, but I am also getting a real break. Only twenty school days to go until my break starts. However, early evidence indicates that they are going to be an incredibly long twenty days. The children are nuttier every day.

Even when I haven't had several weeks off, summer has had its charms. Pools, beaches, cook outs, trips, and of course flip flops. I am staunchly pro-flip flop. Berries are in season. There are fun sundresses to be worn. My hair gets lighter. And, some places I've lived, I've been able to spend a lot of time outside.

Here, less so. Not only is it often too hot to want to be outside unless actually in a pool, but there are the bugs. Bugs everywhere attack me. I seem to give off some sort of signal to the biting insects that my blood is especially drinkable. And there are stinging bugs everywhere, which terrify me irrationally, but here we have the addition of the fire ant. Essentially, what I'm trying to say is that summer is trying to kill me with its hostile insects. So you'll excuse me if I don't sound entirely convinced about how all-fired great summer is.

I'm a fall girl. Fall is lovely. I like the colors, I like the weather, and I like the football. Fall is the coziest of the seasons. It's soup and bread on a chilly night. It's walking under the leaves on a crisp, sunny day. It's relaxing after a hot, sticky few months of being uncomfortable. Oh, fall. I heart you.

I'd say that fall will be a bit sad this year, what with the end of my break and all, but let's not pretend that school doesn't start still in summer. I don't know what late August is like where you live, but there's nothing crisp about it here.

I think this post started out to have a point, but I couldn't for the life of me tell you what it was. Have I mentioned how the children are insane? In another month, perhaps there will be well-organized blog posts, what with school being out. Ooh! And possibly ADD meds! I get evaluated soon after school ends. So there's something this summer has going for it: the possibility of my own prescription for insurance-subsidized speed. I take it all back, summer. If you could just do me one tiny favor, I think we could be friends.

Get

Here

Faster.

kisses,

Lori

22 Minutes

April 22, 2009

6:03 - radio alarm - SNOOZE

6:10 - radio alarm again - SNOOZE

6:13 - cell phone alarm (back up for in case I forget to turn on the other alarm) - become angry because alarm tone is too cheerful, yet this phone offers no better option - TURN OFF

6:17 - radio alarm again - LEAVE ON so as not to fall back asleep

6:17-6:18 - burrow face into pillow

6:18-6:21 - become morally outraged at society's barbaric demand that everyone bow to its daytime-intensive schedule

6:21-6:22 - vow to go to bed earlier tonight

6:22-6:24 - compose Ode to Pillow

6:25 - aw, crap, am already late again - GET UP

Pearls of wisdom from yours truly

April 08, 2009

One of my students came by before school on Friday to show me that for the first time, she was wearing make up. A little eyeliner under her bottom lashes. She was VERY excited about it.

She's in one of my afternoon classes, along with a boy with whom she bickers constantly. He walked in, sat next to her, and said "What's that black stuff around your eyes?"

She looked at me.

I passed along the benefit of my years of experience with the male of the species: "They don't get much better when they grow up."

These Little Words

April 06, 2009

If you've been around here any time at all, you know that I am a believer in words. They are tremendously powerful. It doesn't take very many words at all to make a person happy, if they're the right ones. The obvious words here are "I love you" but let's dig a little deeper, shall we? Sure, those are pretty universally pleasing, but there are words more specific to each of us, the hearing of which fills us with joy. I'll go first.

Here are some of the words I thought of that make me happy:

Now boarding all rows.

You've completed workout one of the Thirty Day Shred. You're well on your way to being shredded.

75 and sunny.

@superfantastic has been Favrd

[REDACTED] is absent today.

It's Friday. (See, I start every morning by asking myself a very important question: What day is it? Yes, every morning. The answers Friday, Saturday, or Sunday make me happy.)

You're funny.

Margarita on the rocks with salt.

Miss, how was your weekend? (I have one student who recognizes that I am a person who exists outside the time that they see me and is polite enough to ask how my weekend was after I've asked him. It's really very nice.)

There's coffee.

There's cake.

There's coffeecake.

Can I have some of those for homework? (We had a word scramble as part of a larger in-class assignment. One of my students, having figured it out pretty quickly and being pretty proud of that, asked if I could give him word scrambles for homework. Yes, little one, you may do as many word scrambles as you like. I'll keep them coming.)

May I see your ID?

On an all new season of Project Runway...

Your Federal tax refund has been deposited. (I tell you what, relative poverty sucked all year, but really paid off come tax return time.)

Target giftcard

Want to get some sushi?

Three-day weekend!

That last one applies to both this coming weekend AND the weekend of the 24th, thanks to Battle of the Flowers. I do still have four days of school though and a lesson to get ready for tomorrow morning, so before you all leave me your happy-making words in the comments, I'll give you just these three more:

macaroni

and

cheese

I love this story.

March 26, 2009

Ok, so this makes two reality TV-related posts in a week. But how can I not make sure that you are all apprised of this story regarding Kenley, of Project Runway fame?

Nm_kenley_collins_090319_mn

Remember Kenley? Kenley with her huge ego and her inappropriate laughter and her throwback pin-up girl sensibilities? And the crazy shit she used to put in her hair?

Well. Kenley was arrested for assaulting her fiance (some reports are calling him her ex-fiance, which seems likely to be the case at this point) by throwing at him, while he was sleeping (though not for long, one assumes) some apples, a laptop, and HER CAT.

Naturally, PETA is all up in arms about that and feel that she should never be allowed to own another pet. Personally, I'd like to see her banned from laptop ownership as well. Paolo concurs.

Here is where the story gets even better for me. Tim Gunn, in an interview, said that the editors had been kind to Kenley and that if viewers had been forced to endure as much Kenley as he had been, everyone would have turned off their televisions. Tim Gunn! Who is, near as I can tell, the sweetest man alive!

My favorite part, though, was pointed out by Kristy in this tweet. Kenley's (ex-)fiance's last name? Penley.

Sadly, it seems the cat-throwing incident has cost the world one Kenley Penley.

Damn.

Oh, like I usually write about Nietzsche or something.

March 20, 2009

Yes. This is a post about American Idol.

I hadn't really watched it since the first season. I watched one episode this year though with Holly and really, that's all it takes me to get sucked into pretty much any reality show. I pick a favorite and get invested and I MUST KNOW what happens. Because, you know, it's not like I could find out via the internet mere minutes after the show ends.

(Honestly, with American Idol, there is also the trainwreck that is Paula. One week she was orange. Was it self-tanner? Cheeto dust? Side effects of the prescription pills she bought off some kid outside Arby's? We'll never know.)

I do have a favorite contestant (it's Danny) but that is not even the major motivating factor in this case. As much as I want Danny to win, even more than that - much more than that - I must know that Adam does not win.

45305895

That is Adam. I despise him immensely.

Well, not him, obviously. I don't know him, but I do have an intense dislike for his performances. And his overstyled hair and eyeliner and black nail polish and whole wannabe Zach Efron vibe.

Adam has been doing musical theater for a long time. This makes sense, based on the way that he overdoes everything. Great for audiences who are far away from him, but when he gives the very close camera what is clearly meant to be a sexy look, I get the heebie jeebies. If a man in a bar looked at me like that, I would get up and move. Possibly all the way out of the bar.

He has been annoying both Holly and me all along, with his screaming and his over-the-top-ness, and yet the judges LOVE him. He's so comfortable on stage! He has such presence! He makes the music his own!

This week was Country Week. What would Adam do to country music? We could only assume that it would be some sort of abomination. Even thus steeled for the worst, we were not fully prepared for the horror that would be Adam's performance.

He chose Ring of Fire. And then he bludgeoned it to death with a sitar.

Yes, a sitar. He gave it all kinds of Middle Eastern flair and then he sang it more smarmily than you'd think was possible while, I assume, Johnny Cash spun in his grave. I became a little bit concerned that a Zombie Johnny Cash was going to emerge to visit the revenge upon Adam that he so rightly deserved. Or scarier - an unwashed, unshaven Joaquin Phoenix attempting to perform hip hop!

Holly and I were in total agreement regarding its awfulness. Brody had this to say, via Twitter: "Creepiest version of Ring of Fire I have ever heard/seen. I need a hug." I sent him a message concurring that it was indeed a crime against Johnny Cash. Also a crime against music in general. And ears.

Surely the judges would concur.

Paula? Loved it! Randy? He's his dog! (In what seems to me to be the parlance of late 90s Urban Dictionary, this is Randy's way of saying that he likes someone.) That other girl whose name I think begins with a K? Also inexplicably liked it.

Simon was our only hope. And people, he did not disappoint. He called it "absolute over-indulgent rubbish." Yes, Simon! Thank you!

I missed the results show last night because I had gone with my mom to a concert at her church performed by the Concordia University of Wisconsin chamber choir. They were really very good, although the two hour length was rather taxing to my limited attention span. The director looked quite a bit like George Lucas to me and I couldn't help but think that this concert was better than anything Lucas has directed since the 80s.

I later learned that Alexis had been voted off American Idol ("Is she the one with the pink hair?" I asked Holly. Indeed.) Michael Sarver, who let's face it, is not going to win, but we sure do enjoy watching (read: he is very nice to look at and occasionally has a scratchy face) was in the bottom two. Sure, his performance wasn't among the best but we very much hope that America will keep him around a while for our viewing pleasure.

And please, please America, stop voting for Adam. Zombie Johnny Cash and I implore you.

Grown Up Spring Break (Spoiler Alert: It's Less Fun)

March 11, 2009

Technically, it wasn't a spring break, since I had already graduated the December before, but I took the week of spring break ten years ago off from my job doing telephone interviews for an insurance company so that my friend Julie (still in college) and I could drive to Colorado to visit our friends Heath and Loraine.

Julie and I were driving there in her dad's Honda and having a fine time, right up until we got just outside Newton, Iowa, where the car broke down. We were forced to get towed to Des Moines since there was no one in Newton who could work on a foreign car. And the shop in Des Moines couldn't work on it over the weekend (it was Saturday) so we'd be stuck there pretty much until it was time to turn around and drive back to Wisconsin. So we got a cab to the airport, where we rented a bright blue Sunfire and drove straight through to Denver, getting in around 4 am. In order to save a little money, we only listed me as a driver on the rental, so Julie and I rolled down the windows and sang loudly and obnoxiously to keep me awake.

Transportation issues notwithstanding, we had an excellent time on that trip. We went to Breckenridge and Estes Park, did a little hiking (we discovered an entire prairie dog colony, which amused us to no end) and got to spend time with our friends. A few days later, we packed some sandwiches, left around 6 am and I drove all the way back to Des Moines, where we picked up the Honda, dropped off the Sunfire, and Julie drove us back to Wisconsin.

It was an adventure.

This is my first spring break since then. Allow me to regale you with my adventures this week:

Monday: I went to the dentist for the first time in six years. Only two cavities! Except my insurance only covers cleanings the first year, so it will cost me $250 to get those filled. I went to the grocery store for spinach, bananas, and milk. Then I went home, ate cake, and went to the oil change place. Which I hate, so it seemed appropriate to do it on doctor/dentist day. I wiled away the time in a tiny waiting room with a spring breaking frat boy, who was so stereotypical that if he were in a movie you watched, you'd think he should dial it back a little in the interest of realism. I then drove to the doctor's office for an initial visit with my new GP. Yay, prescriptions! One of which turned out to be not what I asked for, but it was ok because I was going back on...

Tuesday: to get blood drawn since nobody's done that in a few years. I also got a corrected prescription. Then I went to brunch with a friend from my new job. She was the new girl for about two weeks before I got there and she moved out here from Virginia, so we've bonded. I had just posted here about needing to lose weight and making better choices, so naturally I ordered eggs benedict with breakfast potatoes. It was brought to me with no hollandaise sauce which, honestly, is kind of the entire point of getting eggs benedict. I didn't complain though. "It's healthier this way," I told myself. But when the waitress returned, noticed the error, and asked if I wanted my sauce, I nodded vigorously (I had a mouth full of potatoes, so speaking would have been rude.) I intended to finally go and get my Texas license after brunch, but when I stopped home to pin down the exact location of the office near me, I discovered that it wasn't on the list anymore. The next closest one isn't very close to me at all, but is close to where I'm meeting my mom on Thursday to shop, so I've put that off. I love it when financial and environmental responsibility support my efforts to procrastinate. Instead, Holly and I went to happy hour at an English pub that had been kind enough to send us a postcard offering us a free appetizer. Chips with Guinness cheese and bacon dipping sauce. Oh, like you'd turn that down, weight needing to be lost or not.

So, aside from food that I enjoyed even though I oughtn't, it's been a couple of days of being pretty responsible and getting things accomplished. Which isn't what spring break is supposed to be about at all. There are obviously quite a few hours unaccounted for above, many of which I spent avoiding doing any work on my novel, while it sat open in front of me on my computer. So I guess that was appropriately irresponsible.

The rest of the week is looking better, schedule-wise. Tomorrow I may go to a movie. Something that middle schoolers are unlikely to see, for it is my week off from them. On Thursday, there's the drivers license/shopping thing. Which brings us to Friday. Friday is my day of jubilee, Internet. I have no plans for Friday, except to do a lot of nothing but reading. I do not intend to leave the house. I may not change out of my pajamas. I may not even leave bed, except to retrieve food, which I will then eat in bed while I continue to read. Why? Because I can. Because being a grown up has to come with some privileges. Also because it's pretty cushy up in here and I don't spend nearly enough time in my bed during the average week. We've got some catching up to do.

Saturday, one can only hope, will involve much of the same. I don't know yet about Sunday, but there's likely to be some grading of papers going on since I've intentionally failed to include that in the schedule for any other day. Probably I should also devote a little bit of time to ironing things so I'll have something to wear to work the next week.

But it's way too soon to think about that. I've got, for the first time this week, no alarm going off in the morning. Meaning that I've got some sleeping in to do. Time to get started on that.

There is no version of dodgeball, for obvious liability reasons

February 16, 2009

We were talking about how crazy people Minnesotans play Duck, Duck, Grey Duck instead of Duck, Duck, Goose.

"What about Duck, Duck, Grey Goose?" Holly asked.

Naturally, this gave me an idea. A whole set of drinking playground games. HopShots, I decided could be Hopscotch, except that when you throw your pebble, the number it lands on is the number of shots you have to do.

(Much later, it occurred to me that "Hopscotch" already contains the name of a type of liquor. What can I say? I'm not a scotch drinker.)

I think this could be a highly lucrative business venture, given that I can secure a liquor license that extends to a playground. Some of my other ideas include Heads Up Seven and Seven, Kick the Beer Can, Killian's Red Rover, Who Stoli the Cookie from the Cookie Jar, and Long Island Iced T-Ball. They could even be seasonal. For instance, a nice St. Patrick's Day game of Red Light, Green Beer.

Ooh, and drunk tag! What? They all have to have clever names for you people? As if you won't take any excuse to get drunk and chase people. Right.

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My name is Lori. I write. I teach. I run. I enjoy intelligent conversation, professional football, big government and the public library. I married a libertarian. We live in Okinawa, Japan.

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