Thursday, March 31, 2005

Punkin' Pirates

Recent pirate sightings in this vicinity:

Couple weeks ago at breakfast, our youngest stood up on his chair, shouted "Punkin' Boy, Pirate! Argh!" as he jabbed his fist into the air, clearly brandishing a sword, then LEAPT across the table to make a grab for his older brother's Pop Tart. Buccaneer Boy, being an older and wilier pirate, easily foiled the attack and saved his breakfast, to the cheering of first mate #1 Son.

Unfortunately, Buccaneer Boy's pirate ship/bed ("Revenge" of course) was damaged by recent high winds and heavy seas (aka "jumping on it") and has had to be put into drydock. The bold captain, after a period of mourning, has employed his time and crew with digging up buried treasure and threatening the medical staff caring for the Pirate Mama (aka "M"). And plundering Easter candy. And cursing the cuteness that makes people not take him as seriously as he thinks they should.

Despite his lack of a seaworthy vessel, Buccaneer Boy has been trying to turn our entire house into an ocean by covering all available surfaces (and anything on them) with water. Consequently, Pirate Mama is lacking a functional timepiece and is more than moderately annoyed with her pirate son. Darn good thing he's so cute.

Pirate Baby has also been spotted wearing red sunglasses, pirate hat, and shoes five sizes too big for him and slouching around saying "Hey, dudes!" to everyone. It may be the cutest thing you'll never see.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Neighborhood News

Well, my big pirate boy is enrolled in kindergarten, hallelujah. He thinks that means he can start going to class right away, but I think I've managed to explain that he's a new student and has to wait until the old students are done. That'll hold him a while. After he turns 5 this June, though, we're going to have to arrange some serious distractions and possibly a team of wild horses to keep him away.

Unfortunately, the local school is still overcrowded, understaffed, and full of blooming idiots, not all of whom are students. Because our local school sucks so badly, we have the option of petitioning to transfer our kids to a better one. Unfortunately, the whole district is overcrowded because the people in charge like to play Monopoly with the money rather than, say, build a new school when a couple dozen new developments go up within a few years... So now there's a crisis, and nobody wants our kids. Fine. Anyway, we won't know whether our kids are allowed to transfer until a week after school starts in the fall. And what would be in it for the other school, after all? After we've paid our registration fees and our kids have brought in a year's worth of supplies to one school, why would the other school just take them without any kickback? Tax money, I guess. Like they'd get any from us, or anyone else in our neighborhood.

Have I told you about our neighborhood? I probably shouldn't, in case someone was thinking of buying our house, which is technically still for sale although we're not actually going to sell it until we have permission to move. So, like, in another 8 years or so. Anyway. Our neighborhood. I complain a lot that our house is small and we're so poor the mice bring us food, blah, blah, blah. This time, I'll just describe the area and you can figure it out for yourself. Directions to our house do not actually include the words, "Turn onto the dirt road." No, they include, "Go past the dirt road. Take the next left." They also include, "Go over the train tracks, past the storage place and the power station, and take the left across from the lumberyard." These directions usually start with something like, "You know the new Wal-Mart?" And we don't knock it, because that monstrosity probably raised our property value a good 8 grand all by itself. We have to make sure that the windows are closed whenever we have a showing, and at all costs, we don't have any showings after dark, 'cause the wind blows in from the sewage treatment plant, especially at night...

I hear the neighborhood's changed a bit since I've been down and out. Changed for the worse. A house on the next street has burned completely to the ground, according to my husband. I'm guessing it happened Monday night; nobody went out of this house yesterday because we were all sick. Monday night I didn't sleep much, although there didn't seem to be a good reason. I do recall at some point there were a lot of fire sirens. A lot of them. Probably more than we have fire engines in this town. But I thought I was just being cranky and delirious. I also recall that the night was bright. I lay awake for a while listening to the coyotes and wondering whether they were actually as close as they sounded. And why they were so close; it's not like we had a cold winter or anything. And hoping they were just coyotes. At about 4 in the morning, I dozed off and was awoken a few minutes later by the biggest, loudest conclave of seagulls that ever gathered east of the Rockies and west of the Mississippi. It sounded like a thousand of them were circling right over our backyard. But it could have been the next street over. It's only about 50 yards away. They kept it up for just ages. I lay in bed wondering what all the fuss was about, then I rolled over and saw the moon. It was blazing down in kind of a pink haze. (And no, my curtains are green.) Like noonday sun oozing through the clouds just before the hurricane hits. But I don't think there were any clouds this time. There was a horrible smell, but that's normal for this place. My husband reports that there were two burned-out cars that seemed to have been driven into the living room of the house on the next street. Even terrorists don't usually use two.

This neighborhood has only been around for 5 years and hardly has any of the original owners left. I once bumped into some prospective buyers of our neighbor's house, and they asked what I thought of the neighborhood. I said, "Well, it's a good place to start." They didn't buy the house. Some friend of a wanted criminal did. Just who you want next door.

And all this can be yours for only $175,000! Such a deal...

Monday, March 28, 2005

Something's Rotten

Here's one more fast fact that you probably didn't (want to) know about steroids: They make you burp sulfur and rotten eggs. That's something you don't need when you're coming up on Easter. Or, OK, any other time.

My back's feeling a lot better--I think. Now I (and the rest of the family) have the flu, or something equally nasty. Our doctor insists that you can never have an upset tummy because of the flu; it's just an amazing coincidence, every time. Fine. We're still sick.

And all those poor, tasty Dove bunnies are just sitting around our house languishing. Cruel, cruel fate...

Friday, March 25, 2005


(Not that I would use a cheap, cheesy pun for my title, oh heaven's no, and nobody who works with me better make a peep...snicker)

So I went to the surgery place, which is an actual real surgery place where they do actual real surgery involving actual real IVs and actual real anesthesia and they do this a couple dozen times a day at least, but for some reason, they kept asking "What's noracaine?" OK, so your one nurse has slightly sloppy handwriting, but for heaven's sake, how many extra brain cells does it take to make that little tiny leap and change the apparent lower-case "r" into its true identity as a "v"? How many, honestly? This does not breed confidence in any innocent bystanders who happen to be about to die-- er, about to be shot twice in the back with large dangerous implements. And possibly with Noracaine unless they quickly identify what exactly the patient is really allergic to...

Oy vey. Once it started, though, it wasn't bad. OK, there was the strange episode with the man in the NY Yankees head-covering swabbing my back side (and my backside) with alcohol, and the unexplained incident of the elderly nurse in the lead apron. (I never actually saw her face, just her hands. In my head, I can hear her saying, "I'm 37; I'm not old!" But that's just the aftereffects of the sedative, I'm sure.)

Speaking of the sedative, it was a good one, and only a distant cousin of Nora and her sister Lido Caine, so it didn't actually kill me or even make me wish I was dead. I didn't even realize they'd started the IV drip, but suddenly, Lead-lined Nurse was shaking me awake and telling me it was all over. Holy cow. It seemed like half a second passed. Cool.

Aside from a slightly worse-than-normal mental fuzziness, the only aftereffect seemed to be my butt falling asleep. Yeah, you think that sounds funny or maybe only mildly annoying, but think about this if you dare: It was asleep all the way through. In this condition, not only can you not move your legs to, say, walk, but you can also not do things like, say, tell when you need to run to the bathroom. Unless you're a girl-- no, forget that: a highly experienced female-- and suspect that the odd but intense pressure means some messy, female time-of-the-month stuff is on its way, you're gonna be out of luck. Hah. Another weird story to add to the slush pile.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Ode to a Math Teacher

This post is a result of a cocktail of influences, consisting of one part my husband's third attempt at calculus, one part some funky drugs that are playing with my head (actual recovery instruction: "Don't make any major decisions today"), and one part my flurried re-reading of all the Discworld books involving the Ankh-Morpork Watch, particularly the one I'm finishing right this minute (much to my chagrin), Jingo. They're the only books I currently have unpacked that contain anything even vaguely resembling American police procedure. I kid you not. Sure, I'll go find something more realistic at the library when I can walk again. Meanwhile, I'm having fun, so just you bu-- go 'way and leave Sam and me alone, there's a good blog audience.

My dad clipped me this from the Good Clean Funnies but didn't mention the source until the end. Since he's always sending me news articles he finds as part of his job (what a gig, eh?), it took me a couple seconds to catch on, and when I did, the laugh was all the heartier for it. OK, really I only laughed at the first paragraph. (Dang, what did they give me, sodium pentethol? Sheesh!)

AT NEW YORK's Kennedy airport today, an individual - later discovered to be a public school teacher - was arrested trying to board a flight while in possession of a ruler, a protractor, a slide rule, and a calculator. At a morning press conference, the U. S. Attorney General disclosed that he believes the man to be a member of the notorious al-gebra movement. He is being charged by the FBI with carrying weapons of math instruction.

"Al-gebra is a fearsome cult," he declared. "They seek average solutions by means and extremes, and sometimes go off on tangents in search of absolute value. They use secret code names like 'x' and 'y' and refer to themselves as 'unknowns,' but we have determined they belong to a common denominator of the axis of medieval with coordinates in every country. As the Greek philanderer Isosceles used to argue, there are three sides to every triangle."

When asked to comment on the arrest, the President stated,"If God had wanted us to have better weapons of math instruction, He would have given us more fingers and toes. I am gratified that our government has shown us a sine that it is intent on protracting us from these math-dogs, who are willing to disintegrate us with calculus disregard. Murky statisticians love to inflict plane on every sphere of influence. Under the circumferences, we must differentiate their root, make our point, and draw the line."

The President warned, "These weapons of math instruction have the potential to decimal everything in their math on a scalene never before seen, unless we become exponents of a Higher Power and begin to factor in random facts of vertex."

The Attorney General concluded, "As our Great Leader would say, read my ellipse. Here is one principle he is uncertain of: though they continue to multiply, their days are numbered as the hypoteneuse tightens."

Countdown to Showdown

OK (not Corral), I have about 5 minutes till I leave for the doctor's. I mean, the surgical center. Whereupon I'll be poked and prodded and foisted onto an x-ray tray, and THEN I'll be shot in the back. Twice. Lovely. And after all that, I'll probably feel worse, but I might feel better. Eventually.

For this I've spent the day without food, water, medicine, AND chocolate? Yes.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Be Like Pierre! Don't Care!

I've often been told that one of my biggest flaws is caring too much. About what? Everything and everyone? Nah, 'cause mostly I don't. But apparently I care way too much about the things and people I do care about. Like my family. My friends. My credit rating. My love life. My health. Whether I'm about to be forcibly evicted from my home. Things like that. How dare I feel strongly about those? I must be incredibly immature.

And I have to admit that, on those subjects, I am passionate. And the idea of becoming blase about these things seems just wrong to me. But of course that's because I'm wrongheaded and overly emotional. Or something. I always thought that caring a lot was an admirable character trait. America was founded on deep feelings and strong beliefs and so on... right? So where's the good in just not caring? Maurice Sendak even wrote a book about it.

But maybe there's something in the middle. Could I possibly care just enough and not too much? So that when my bank and my credit card company stop speaking to one another, I don't get overly anxious, not to mention angry, that it's my credit that's going to suffer for their snottiness. Or when I try and try and try for years to raise even moderately civilized human beings, is there some way I can possibly keep from yelling when a reasonably bright 10-year-old pours a cup of salsa on his food and then spreads it around with his hand because somehow he's forgotten the idea of using utensils? And somehow I still care an exorbitant amount about said child and get very upset that someone wants to tear him bodily from our home and our family. If only I didn't mind. Life would be so much easier.

You see, I've discovered what's ripping my body apart. It's all this caring. When I disover that the bills are all due tomorrow and somehow they've disappeared into the filthy mess that is our house and nobody has any idea where they are because hey, that's mom's job even when she's bedridden and drugged... that's when my spine seizes up and twists and eventually goes *SNAP!* If it didn't hurt so much, I'd be fascinated and attempt more research.

I was going to be all deep and philosophical about this post, but I just don't care anymore. Instead, I'm going to drug myself and pass out, preferably for several hours. Let someone else do the caring for a while.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Topical Medication

I'm not going to get any "real" writing done tonight if I do a long, thoughtful post here (yeah, how likely was that anyway?) so I thought I'd just mention one thing: Steroids'll kill ya.

I discovered this when I actually read the package insert for the stuff my doc's had me on for the past several weeks. And I probably wouldn't have done that if I hadn't been feeling incredibly bad for several days for no discernible reason. Well, here's a few good reasons, listed as "Adverse reactions" to the meds:

  • Hypertension
  • Tendon rupture
  • Pathological fracture of long bones
  • Peptic ulcer with possible perforation and hemorrhage
  • Impaired wound healing
  • Increased sweating (this explains a lot)
  • Convulsions
  • Vertigo
  • Headache (no kidding)
  • Menstrual irregularities (the only good thing on this list)
  • Decreased carbohydrate tolerance
  • Fluid and sodium retention

And much, much more! They also stuck in this small paragraph unobtrusively:

"Psychic derangements may appear when corticosteroids are used, ranging from euphoria, insomnia, mood swings, personality changes, and severe depression to frank psychotic manifestations. Also, existing emotional instability or psychotic tendencies may be aggravated by corticosteroids."

Now they tell me. Explains a lot about professional athletes, though.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Playing around

My pirate boy-- always looking for a new adventure. This shot is from our family reunion last summer.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Bonus issue for loyal fans (both of you): Insanity

Courts all over the world are totally insane, apparently. It's not just in my neck of the backwoods. CNN tells the story of a man with 6 months to live who won't find out whether his insurance company will ever pay for his medical costs until the court rules-- approximately 8 months after he dies. Of course, this process has been a quick one by Italian standards. According to the article, the average suit takes more than 8 years to settle.

It's times like this when I get all anarchist (or at the very least libertarian) and start screaming "Kill 'em all! Let God sort 'em out!"

My husband, however, that bastion of rational thought, takes a different approach: bribery. OK, he doesn't think of it that way. He just puts 2 and 2 together and gets $1000. That is, what the psycho ex really wants is to be able to claim #1 Son on her taxes, but she can't legally when she doesn't provide any real financial support for him. The tax savings would add up to approximately $1000 a year if she could do it, so obviously it's an offer she'd be hard-pressed to refuse: Just let us out of this state and we'll pay you. Every year.

But it's been a week and there's been no response from Miss Thing. I'm guessing that she's consulting with the Devil's Advocate over how they can turn this to their advantage (and preferably get the money too). A thousand dollars currently amounts to almost all the child support she pays in a year, so it's like getting a total rebate.

This proposal is all part of my husband's plan to look good instead of devious and evil next time we go to court. I still don't understand why it's so bad for her to follow the court's order to do all the driving when she has visitation; she was the one who moved 4 or 5 thousand miles away from her kid in the first place. We moved him a few thousand miles closer, but of course it's obviously my husband who's keeping her from her precious child...

OK, I'll stop with the snide snarking, but insanity is a peeve of mine. That and stupidity. I'll just be over here stewing in my own juices.

Friday, March 11, 2005


One of the most disturbing things I've heard in my life is that depression is a sin. Maybe I misunderstood that idea the first time I heard it, and probably whoever propagated the idea misunderstood what true depression is. Or maybe they meant just getting discouraged and down on yourself. But it was a depressing idea. Catch-22.

I guess I can see the point from a certain perspective. When you're wrapped up in self-pity, you have neither self-control nor self-esteem, nor do you see anyone else's suffering-- and consequently you can't relieve any of that suffering nor do anything productive. And not fulfilling your purpose in life is certainly a sin.

Plus, of course, that lack of self-control is just an open invitation for temptation to stroll through the door and make itself at home. You may think that a woman who's bedbound and sedated doesn't have many temptations, but I do. First, there's the drugs themselves. Vicodin and percocet at my fingertips make all the pain (mental and physical) go away. The pain might not be very bad, but maybe I need just a little more codeine to help me sleep. (How many can I take?)

And of course the drugs bring more temptations with them, along with that warm, floaty feeling that just makes all the troubles go away... for now. I'm tempted to say what I think all the time, and some of the things I think when drugged should really remain unsaid. OK, all of them.

I'm tempted to spend the day reading in bed instead of doing anything useful like writing my novel.

I'm tempted to just stay up reading all night instead of doing anything useful. Like sleeping.

I'm tempted to just pack up to leave this state and say, "Whoever wants to come with me, get in the car." (This was one of those things that should have remained unsaid.)

I had more temptations, but the drugs stopped working and I'm not due for any more quite yet. I'll just lie here and whimper quietly. That's not a temptation; it's just something I've gotta do.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Pre-stressed Scone

In case you were wondering, we're sucking it up and going with option #2. And again, in case there was any confusion, I didn't intend for that last entry to be a lot of sniveling and whining. Or any, actually. I know I'm walking a fine line when I get those "It'll get better eventually" comments from everybody (which often translate to "You have my sympathy, OK, now shut up and quit complaining!"). If there's still any confusion, see my first post. And this one, which is still mostly valid.

Because you see, there's a limit to what Prozac can handle, even with my extremely treatable clinical depression. And my life reached that limit at about 3 p.m. today. (It would have happened long ago if this winter hadn't been blissfully warm and sunny. Yes, I'm SAD, too!) I almost felt a physical CLUNK as the pieces fell into place. This is how it happens: I deal with the stress as best I can while it builds up to the bursting point and because I don't know where that point will be at any given time, I suddenly and unexpectedly end up crossing the line into the "red zone" and POW! depression hits. Then it's too late and no amount of anti-depressants can counter it and I'm completely paralyzed and my life just gets worse because I'm no longer dealing with the things that need dealing with.

Things that need dealing with: mostly money.

  • The $640 we still owe our attorney for ignoring us and doing very little preparation for the trial he lost for us. [Note that this is in addition to the several thousand we already paid him; he's not starving or anything.]
  • The $XXXX.XX mortgage check that bounced because our checkbooks are both blue and my husband has too many things to think about to pay attention to which account actually has money in.
  • The $500 in bills from our insurance company to make up its error from last fall. No, they didn't bother asking nicely, they just had Guido and Luigi send a "This is a collection notice" collection notice.
  • The bill from the storage place for $80 we already paid them.
  • Paying the fancy counselor my husband has to see for the next year or so in an effort to keep from hating his ex-wife in a completely uncontrollable fashion, or at least to keep from appearing to hate her as much as he does.
  • The several dollars in library fines because I've been bedridden and just thought the books were being returned as my husband and children were taking multiple trips a week to that lovely edifice.

What else?

  • Oh yes, the class I was supposed to teach this Wednesday that I forgot about until today.
  • The substitute I haven't yet gotten for tomorrow morning (why can no one lead music these days?) but desperately need to.
  • The fact that my fully paid leave runs out in 2 weeks but my back injury won't.
  • The fact that MRIs cost so blinking much and are so blinking useless.
  • Having to let a psychopath even further into our lives and into contact with my children (ack!).
  • Trying (given all the above factors) to get a student loan for many thousands of dollars in hopes that my husband can actually handle a full courseload of science classes and get As ('cause if he doesn't, it's worse than not taking them at all).
  • My laptop's DVD drive which needs fixing by the one IT guy at work, which will end up depriving me of said laptop probably until I return to the office in a month or so and consequently of the ability to work on my novel or do much of anything else during that time. This one bothers me more than it should, given the other items.
  • Pirate boy's lifetime case of alligator-skin eczema, which has gotten so bad he even allows us to put lotion on him now but which really can't be dealt with outside the medical arena.
  • Did I mention our evil medical insurance company?

The things I can just relax and enjoy:

  • Much beautiful Duke Ellington on the stereo.
  • Chocolate and very cold water.
  • A 4-year old (excessively adorable) who can identify quadrilaterals without prompting.
  • A 21-month-old (unutterably cute) who can not only say his ABCs but also count to 10.
  • An intelligent, funny husband who loves me no matter how cranky I am and who's usually a pretty good substitute for Prozac.
  • Dorothy Sayers novels.
  • That warm, floaty feeling that only Percocet can give.

See, it ain't all bad.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Oh, I Don't Know...

Forced into the unenviable position of choosing between his child and his education/career, my husband has chosen his child. That decision eliminates the possibility of our moving out of state, but now we're left with more choices. Do we:
  1. Sell our house anyway, rent locally for a while, and try again in a year to get the court's permission to move?
  2. Give up on selling our house, try to get the husband as many classes as possible this fall and try again in a year to get permission to move?
  3. Just give up, roll over, and enjoy the squalor for the rest of our lives?

None of these options is good, if you'll notice. Option 1 takes away our mortgage tax break and probably puts us into a smaller (if it were possible) residence, which is one of the last things we need with our growing, rowdy kids. And we don't have great odds of winning to begin with, so we'd be worse off with this one than with Option 3.

Option 2 makes our realtor mad, leading him to demand reimbursement for all the cash he's put into the effort of the past 6 months, despite the fact that our contract doesn't give him a leg to stand on. (Is everybody pursued by psychos, or is it just us?) Plus, we need the money from our house to pay tuition or at least the lawyer.

Option 3 isn't worth talking about, but it would be tempting if we weren't both so stubborn and contrary.

Also, we have the option of suing Miss Mommy Thing for lying under oath about how she'd support certain choices of her son, which in fact she has done the opposite of in the past and again in the present. Yeah, but I hate frivolous lawsuits, and I'm not sure this one wouldn't qualify.

I'm going back over this test; there's got to be a "None of the Above" option.