Thursday, April 30, 2009

pandemic ready?

So are you pandemic ready? Are you worried about the swine flu? Or taking a wait and see approach? Or think this is all overblown entirely?

I am slightly worried. But mostly wait and see. For whatever reason, it seems like cases outside of Mexico are not as serious. And most new cases are coming from people who directly traveled to Mexico - not a lot of transmission between people in new areas. I think it's likely, as with the big one from 1918, that the flu will go underground throughout the summer, to re-emerge, possibly more virulent, in the fall. But, that gives our scientists 4-5 months to develop a vaccine. But I am thinking about starting to stockpile non perishable supplies - slowly, over the summer. Just buying a few extras every pay period kind of thing, to build up a small stockpile.

What about you? How worried are you, and do you have a stockpile?

Friday, April 24, 2009

My Mondrian

A cool Friday afternoon activity - check out Dead Baby Jokes for the explanation.

It's very.......monochromatic. Which is really not me at all. I am a profusion of colors, swirled, sloppy, spilling over. So, um, actually probably not very Mondrian whatsoever.

What great comments on my last post. And for inspiration, check out Am I Doing OK? today. She is doing very well, indeed.

Make your own self portrait as a Mondrian. Like Niobe, send me your link and I'll post it here.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

reverse body image

I have reverse body image dysmorphia. That is, I think I look fine. I think I look good. I feel good, I feel like I look good. And then someone snaps a digital picture and hands me the camera and I see a double chin. Or I catch a glimpse in store front window and am dismayed at the bulk of my body compared to others around us. Or I pick up a shirt or pants in a store and think they look the right size, only to find them impossibly small in the dressing room.

Losing weight isn't supposed to be about looking good or body image or buying clothes, but about health, right? And I feel great, feel like I have energy and am light on my feet. But, I am also not pregnant. I am not a happy pregnant person: I feel huge, and my back aches and my legs ache and I am so tired and I have no energy. So just not being pregnant means I feel relatively awesome. I can walk up to my attic office without huffing and puffing, as happened nearly all of 2008. But that shouldn't be my measuring stick.

Because I'm not healthy. I'm not at a healthy weight. I keep losing and gaining the same 4 pounds over and over again. I think, gee, I need to work on this, and a week later am at 183. I think gee, this is a drag and I want MORE MORE MORE dessert/chocolate/cheese/to veg in front of the TV, and the next week am at 187. Wash, rinse, repeat. Since December. Not lower than 183, not higher than 187. At least I'm consistent?

I know what to do. I know how to do this. I just don't have the day to day motivation to make that lifestyle change. And I don't know how to get it. Or at least I think I know the how. Eat less, exercise more. It's a simple equation. Write down everything I eat, figure out how much excess I am eating, cut back, eat more filling healthier food and less empty calories. Walk 20 minutes every day, and throw in some stength exercises plus a yoga/stretching class once a week or so. And I know I could be down 20 pounds in 2 months. I know this. I believe this. And I do not do this. And I do not know why.

Do you know why? Any ideas?

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Brown thumb

My honeysuckle has aphids. I was outside and thought it looked funny, so grabbed an end to examine closely - and realized I was grabbing tons and tons of gross little bugs.

My skin is still crawling.

It was just about to burst forth with cheery bright blooms. I love the smell of honeysuckle. Yes, I know it's an invasive pest - but I love the smell. It reminds me of summers at home. Last summer - and we live in the middle of the city, remember - I saw a hummingbird for a fleeting second on my honeysuckle. We have just one plant, in a large container, with the goal of having a nice fall over a fence, into the ugly alley behind our house. I thought we couldn't go wrong with a hardy weedy honeysuckle.

And now my skin is seriously crawling. Ugh.

Insecticidal soap? I don't even know what that is. This is seriously a bummer. Any ideas from anyone with a green thumb?

Monday, April 20, 2009

Rainy Monday

My dad's cataract surgery is today. Was today. Is now? My parents said they had to report to the doctor this morning at 6:15, and the surgery would be around 7 or so, he'd be done by 8. My mom asked if she should call then or just wait, and I said I'll be up at 8, call then. (while intellectually thinking, there's no way he's in and out by 8 am, that never happens so don't freak out when you don't get a call!) So it is 9:54 and there is no call. I should call. Normal people would call. In my family this would demonstrate an unbecoming level of anxiousness/hovering/peskiness. Besides, no one ever goes in and out by 8 am. There are always delays. So I do not call.

I am going to call. No, I am going to wait. Garr.
So I also learned yesterday that my uncle, the widower of my father's sister, has just been diagnosed with bladder cancer. Just a few days ago, I was thinking it had been nearly a year since her passing, and I wondered how my uncle was doing. And I thought - yes, I thought this - of how often, in close couples, there is a second death following closely on the heels of the first. How one cannot be without the other.
I have been spending some time tooling around the blogosphere. I discovered Gwendomama a few months ago, not sure what lead me there. But I've been hooked. Maybe because the pictures of her son who is no longer here are so stunning. He is/was an absolutely stunning child. That hair! That face! I cannot tear my eyes away from his deep, wise gaze in any/every picture she has ever posted of him. Stunning is the only word that is barely adequate. She is having a tough time right now, on top of the already tough times, and my heart aches for her, what little I know of what is happening.

Rain, rain, go away.

They called, he's fine, just longer than expected. And my mom ends the phone call by saying, well, I won't call your brother at work, or your sister at work. My family. Worriers need not apply.

Monday, April 13, 2009

a dilemma question

I don't know why I'm not posting much. I just don't have a lot to say. So I'm sitting here, staring at my screen, struggling to put words to feelings and come up with something that makes sense. And I suddenly remembered there was a post I wanted to do over the holidays. I was on the periphery of a dead baby situation.

Here's the back story: my mom had 3 birth siblings, and one adopted sister. My grandmother was a famous champion of the lost, and in the late 1950s, when her children were older (the youngest 11, my mom 15, the older two 20 and 25) she took in the baby daughter of a lost soul - a woman who couldn't care for her young daughter (through bad choices with men, booze, drugs, etc). The child was eventually adopted. She is about 11 years older than me, and growing up I thought she was great - my aunt who was more like a cousin, who sometimes came on my family's vacations, who babysat us, etc. But as she entered high school, she got in with the proverbial wrong crowd and became a bit of a handful - smoking, drinking, sex, the usual. I have older cousins who were just a couple of years behind her in school, and were constantly disavowing her. Even at a young age, I grew to understand she was not the same as the rest of my fairly straight-laced family. She got married at 18 and had two children, got divorced, and then got really crazy. Most of my extended family really stopped interacting with her around this point - just seeing her once or twice a year when she'd pop by asking for something. When I was in high school I heard all sorts of rumors about her house - drugs, sex rings, you name a Jerry Springer episode and it was possible this aunt of mine could have a starring role. She never worked, and has lived on some sort of disability all these years. Honestly, knowing her and her choices has been one of the situations that has most tempered my political liberalism. I hate to sound like this, but a productive member of society she is not. Through adoption, she is a part of the family. But so unlike anyone else in the family - she is a Jerry Springer episode come to life. (there's some story about her and her daughter both dating, simultaneously, a guy who was in my brother's class - so 10 years younger than the aunt, 10 years older than the daughter - with accompanying drama.) We really have little to do with her - almost to the point of disavowing her. My brother was married in our hometown, and she did come. I was married the next year, away from my hometown, and did not invite her. I hate even referring to her as aunt or my mother's sister. Even though she is, she is not family. I'll call her Becky.

When my grandparents died, 30 years ago, their house was left to the 3 daughters - Becky, my mom, and my mom's other sister. Becky moved in, and has trashed the house for the past 3 decades. She pays the taxes and upkeep, what little there has been. This is a story for another day, but has been a major source of stress in the family. She's got the house, but it's at least partially owned by others - do we sell the house out from under her (though it's not worth much if anything) or gift it to her? She can't possibly buy it. My father is adamantly against giving her the house. My cousins and my siblings and I are adamantly against ever having any part of this house, though, and want our parents to resolve the situation before we ever have to think about it.

Anyway - my grandparents had also bought a large family cemetery plot, with spots for I don't know, 10 people or so. My mother, executor of the estate, was left the plot. But when my parents moved away from our hometown, my mother said the plots were her brother's, my uncle (the only one who still lived in our town), to do with as he wished for his family.

At Christmas, my mother got a rare call from Becky. Her son, whom none of us had seen in, I don't know, years, had a pregnant girlfriend. The son is in his mid 20s, the girl still in high school. The son had been married before and had other children with another woman. Sadly, this baby had died in utero, at nearly full term. The baby was to be delivered in the next few days and my aunt wanted to know about burying the baby in the family plot. My mother said it was my uncle's decision. My uncle called later - he had gotten the same call. He had sort of put her off - hadn't said yes by any means, but had not completely said no, either. He wanted to know what my mom thought, and she said it was his decision, she imagined he had plans for the plot, and she supported him saying no. He called Becky back and said he was sorry, but there was no space available.

I spent a fair amount of time thinking about this. I think my mom and uncle did the right thing, given all the circumstances and history, much of which I've left out. But really, for this pregnant teenager, what was the right thing to do? How compassionate should we be? My big question was, surely this girl has family? My uncle later said he felt it was presumptious of Becky to even ask. And I agree. I have no sympathy for her, and I don't know what that says about me. Perhaps not very compassionate. Having come to know so many in dead baby land, I felt many emotions thinking about this situation. And I certainly have sympathy for the girl, and her dead child she still had to birth.

My dad watched the obituary pages online (we are from such a small town - the online paper tells us so much) and about a week later saw the obituary and funeral home and burial information. The obit mostly focused on the mother's family, actually, it might have been a typo but Becky, who was the dead baby's grandmother, was not mentioned in the obituary, though the other grandparents were. The child was buried in the mother's family plot, which I guess did answer my question - yes, the girl had family, and her family took care of her. Reading broadly between the lines, I think Becky tried to insert herself into the situation - perhaps claiming to have the solution to burial questions - and was rebuffed.

I'm curious - although I can't adequately convey all the nuances of this story, what do you think? Was my uncle within reasonable bounds in saying no? Do you have any black sheep in your family? How do you interact with them?

Friday, April 3, 2009

cards as emotional currency

Aha. I knew it had been too quite on the in-law front. On a day where others are asking very real in-law questions, I picked up the mail to find two cards from the in-laws, addressed to the kids. Talk about ridiculous. My daughter got the $.99 card, while the little guy got a happy first Easter.

Who sends cards 10 days before Easter? Insane people who probably think this will 'solve everything' and result in us arriving for Easter dinner.

Um, no.

Better living through Hallmark, I guess. I better get on the phone and invite my brother over for dinner so we can officially say we have plans that involve once again choosing my family over theirs.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009


I absolutely, positively cannot read or watch anything that involves kidnapped children. I bought at the thrift store for $1 a copy of The Stolen Child. It looks interesting, but not for me, right now. Maybe in 20 years. I'd also like to read What the Dead Know, by Laura Lippman, but also not for me.

The rest, though? Stuff related to my life? I actually tend to get sucked in, even with the pit of dread of my stomach.

Private Practice, though, just infuriates me. I really enjoy Grey's Anatomy. Even though it is ridiculous. Storyline about the face transplant? Absolutely laughingly ridiculous, but it was used to get Izzie to tell her friends about her cancer, so fine, good metaphor, and who cares that it made no sense from a medical perspective, it's a soap opera. I feel that way about law shows, cop shows, science shows (the rare ones) - who cares? It's escapism entertainment, they're getting the broad outlines ok, so just enjoy the story. But Private Practice? Where to even begin. The sanctimonious jerk of a pediatrician? The Amy Brenneman character who walks all hunched over with too much eye makeup and ridiculous fake pregnancy? I don't remember her being that hunched up and annoying in Judging Amy. So she's intentionally playing the character that way? The prolife fertility doctor? I'm with Wabi, give me a freaking break. The fact there seem to be no patients in the clinic? No nurses? (No wonder the practice is in financial trouble.) No bulletin boards of smiling baby pics? The "feel good" doctor who diagnoses cancer and doesn't send his patient to a specialist? No background happening except for the central characters? Are they that cash poor they can't afford extras?

And then there's Addison. OK, here's her backstory. She's a OB/GYN surgeon, married in NY to a brain surgeon. He has no time for her, she has an affair with his best friend. Husband leaves her, moves to Seattle, and thus Grey's Anatomy begins with him hooking up with Meredith in the first episode. Addison gets pregnant from best friend, has abortion, move to Seattle to save her marriage. Best friend (plastic surgeon, he of the bad face transplant storyline) moves out to Seattle to get her back. Husband rejects her for Meredith Grey. Addison rejects plastic surgeon. She visits her friend fertility doctor in LA to see if she could have a baby and through the marvels of modern technology, learns she has no eggs left. None. Zippo. So she moves to LA, spinning off Private Practice, to start a new life.

This most recent storyline - she has a patient who has lost at least two pregnancies, one at 7 months. Patient's marriage is in trouble. Addison puts her on pelvic rest, no sex, promises to see her through. Meanwhile, Addison washes her hands at the surgical area three times over two months and meets a heart surgeon who falls in love with her after brief inane exchanges of conversation. Shocking plot twist - heart surgeon is husband of pregnant patient. Heart surgeon expresses love, says he'll stay away. Addison resists by blinding repeating, "I'm not a cheater." She lets it slip she has feelings for heart surgeon, too. Last episode, heart surgeon shows up at her door like a creepy stalker and they partake of one passionate kiss before she pushes him away and closes door behind him. Oh, and earlier pregnant patient begs Addison to save her and the baby to save her marriage, before her heart stops and heart surgeon saves own wife.

Yeah. I watch this show, still, despite how stupid it is, because it's supposed to be entertaining escapism, and I like the Addison actress - she's very striking and wears good clothes and shoes (escapism!). And she was strong and tough as nails when she was a character on Grey's Anatomy. She was at the top of her game professionally, strong personally, and interesting. All this shit (infidelity, marriage break up, abortion, infertility) happened to the character over the course of about two years. That is a lot of shit. A vertible hell of a shitstorm. And yet, she's managed to make it through all that without realizaing one shred of self awareness or gaining one ounce of maturity. Because if she learned anything, from any one of those experiences, it would have made her turn to heart surgon and say, "look, your marriage is tough right now. You're not having sex. You've been through a lot with this woman. You need to feel close to someone right now, and you're grasping at me. But this is not real, this is not based on anything other than trying to escape what's been happening between you and your wife, and you need to man up, straighten out, get your priorities in order, see your wife through this pregnancy, get some counseling, and get your life in order. Not transfer all these feelings onto someone else who seems fresh and new and without troubles, but I've got troubles too and I'm not interested in compounding my own troubles by getting involvved with someone in your position."

Because. If she really learned NOTHING whatsoever about herself, her life, her priorities, her place in the world - after having an affair, having an abortion, having her husband leave her, and being diagnosed with infertility - then, frankly, she's not a very interesting character at all.