Friday, September 29, 2006
Gnus 'n' Roses
That's a deliberate spelling there. That's how my very-tired and slightly numbed brain read the email I got from Ticketmaster this evening. I should be careful not to miss Gnus 'n' Roses.

And, honestly, I'm intrigued.
Guess I'll Keep Him Around
I don't know how single moms do it.

I had to work today, like evehy Friday, but Willem is in Boston for a concert. He promised diligently to get babysitting lined up in case I got a call, and of course guess who was on the phone at 8:00 last night because he got too busy and forgot? Yeah.

But he got someone set up for 5:00-8:00 and he had already talked to our friend Sue about covering from 3:30-5:00. But being male and, well, you know, he forgot to remind Sue, so she stayed late at school. So when I called at 3:15 to say, "I'm stuck on a hospital call, can you get Emily off the bus?" she gasped and said, "I totally forgot! I'm still at school!" -- which is about 30 minutes away. Ugh.

Meanwhile I'm calling Jacob's preschool to tell them I'll be late - but he was fine there. And he can't read a clock yet, so he didn't know I was late.

Sue was able to get hold of her partner, who went and met Emily just after the bus dropped her off - and just in case, we'd been practicing what she should do if she ever gets off the bus and we're not at the stop. So Emily walked herself home, let herself in, got a snack, got her Larry monkey, sat on the couch and cried until Wendy got there. Which was only about 5 minutes, but still. :guilt:

Wendy brought them both back to her house, and by the time I arrived (maybe half an hour later), Emily and Sue were drinking hot cocoa and coloring pictures of Bigfoot, happy as clams. So I was able to bundle Emily in the car, go get Jacob, get everyone home, and now they're playing happily. But.... :guilt: and :stress:

So even though, strictly speaking, this was all his fault......... I know it wasn't, and I feel bad, too. And the up-side is, I married a guy with enough of a conscience that he'll feel guilty, as well, and we'll comfort each other with phrases like "never happen again." I think I'll still keep Willem around. For now.
A Tale of Two Tantrums
I don't like to have tantrums in public. I don't mean the face-first on the floor, kicking and screaming type (though those have their place), I just mean the calm and intense, "I need to speak with your manager now" variety. I would truly, truly just prefer to go to a business establishment, do my business, and leave, without being memorable or annoying in the slightest way. Honest.

But sometimes, they just make me do it. And even though I don't like to do it, I'm pretty darn good at it. If I do say so myself.

Exhibit A, on Wednesday night I went to the grocery store for a quick pre-dinner necessities run. Milk, soda, ice cream, grapes. You know, the basics. So when I came to the soda aisle, as is my wont, I started at one end, looked at the prices for Pepsi products, and then (*gasp*) held that number in my head all the way down to the other end of the aisle to compare it to the Coke products. Then I buy whichever is cheaper. I understand, there's a certain level of blasphemy in the fact that I don't care which brand I buy. I have accepted this about myself.

So, this time, the Pepsi products had a bright neon orange sign in the middle of the display proclaiming 3/$10. Okay. Down at the other end, there was the same style of bright neon orange sign in the same relative position within the 12-packs, stating 4/$10. Now, I'm no rocket scientist, but I was pretty sure that made Coke cheaper, and was even willing to hazard a guess that, at the register, they would appear on the checkout screen thingy as $2.50 each.


They scanned in as $4.00 each. Which seemed to me like a big margin of error.

Now, on Wednesday, I was tired. It had been a long day at work and I have had a sort of fatigue/malaise for the past day, which I'm hoping is not a precursor to illness (but if it is, who cares?!? I get health insurance on Monday!!). So I was willing to accept that maybe, possibly, I was so tired and out of it that what I thought said $4/10 actually said $4.00. I *doubted* it, but I was willing to grant the possibility.

Since there was no one in line behind me, I very calmly and almost timidly said to the Snotty Cashier, "I'm pretty sure those were $4/10." She glared at me with the disdain and impatience that only a 16-year-old can muster, and turned to the Nearly Brain-Dead Bag Boy who was apparently three hours shy of major withdrawal if the twitching and vacant stare are any indication, and sort of head-jerked him back toward the soda aisle with a "Go price check" mutter. Which he very obediantly, and surprisingly quickly, did, reporting back that the sign did, in fact, say $4/10.

Now the Snotty Cashier wsa risking neck injury, because she had to glare at both of us with that angst and disgust. She flicked her little light-post switch that made the checkout number flash, and eventually the Podium Girl came over.

The Podium Girl (who is NOT a manager, and don't ever make THAT mistake) stands at her little podium, facing all of the cashiers, ready to leap over at an instant to solve any and all arguments or difficulties. Or she hangs out there to flirt with the Football Bag Boy and sighs as though the weight of the world is on her shoulders when someone interrupts her giggle-and-hair-twirl maneuver, and then walks so slowly as to be almost invisible, as though if she moves slow enough we'll all forget why the special little light-post switch was flicked in the first place. Podium Girl is all of 18, so she is wicked more mature and streetwise than Snotty Cashier.

Snotty Cashier explained the situation, and Podium Girl asked, "Well, did you do a price check?" Snotty Cashier indicated that Nearly Brain-Dead Bag Boy had done one, allowing them a moment of eye-rolling bonding. Podium Girl headed back to the soda aisle herself, and came back holding the bright neon orange sign, which she waved at me and said, "This says it's for 6-packs only. Not 12-packs." My statement that it was right in the middle of all the 12-packs didn't hold much weight with her. She actually said, "No, it's right here." Well, thanks, sweetheart, I can SEE it in your perfectly-manicured authoritative little hand, but it wasn't in that particular hand 10 minutes ago when I was in the aisle, now, was it?

When this all started, there was no one behind me in line. By now, there were 4 people behind me and I wasn't looking to ruin their days. So I told the Snotty Cashier, "Just ring it up, I'll deal with it." Which was apparently a cue to Podium Girl to evaporate because clearly she had done her job to perfection.

I paid, then walked over to Podium Girl, and got the rare opportunity to interrupt her mid-flirt twice in a handful of minutes. She borrowed Snotty Cashier's disdainful glare, but I was impervious. I told her I needed to speak with her manager, which actually got both of her eyes to snap out of their slumberous flirt and focus, and she made a call on her special little walkie-talkie. And informed me, "He'll meet you in Aisle 12."

How romantic.

So I met the Self-Righteous Manager, who is at least 21 and therefore a true man of the world, explained it all to him, including a field trip up and down the aisle to show him the Pepsi sign and where the Coke sign had been. I agreed that the sign could have been misplaced but didn't think that I should pay for the store's mistake. At one point I referred to Podium Girl as "the storefront manager" and boy oh boy did he snap to attention then. "SHE is not a manager. Did she tell you she's a manager? I'm the ONLY managed in the store right now." Yikes, easy chief, didn't mean to offend your delicate sensibilities. Anyway, I think more in an effort to rid his store of people who don't buckle under the accumulated pressure of teenaged angst, he gave me a $6 refund.

Thus, successful tantrum #1.

The other tantrum was less drawn-out and didn't actually earn me any money. I had a hair appointment last night, scheduled for 5:15. I got to a beauty school down the road a bit, which charges $7 per haircut, which I just love. Plus they're all a little nervous so they're hypervigilant about getting every hair just so, so I'm in that chair for at least an hour every time. Which is more than enough time to slip into a coma.

Last night, traffic being what it was, I walked in the door at 5:20. Gave my name and sat for 10 minutes, and then they called me over to say that since I was just now arriving at 5:30 I was 15 minutes late and therefore had to reschedule my appointment. So, I unrolled my Tantrum Pants again, and ended up getting a walk-in with a different student (though I've never had the same person twice there, so who cares?) and still got my hair cut as planned.

I'm really hoping not to need to have any more tantrums for a while. But they seem to work so well...
Wednesday, September 27, 2006
Mean People Doing Bad Things
Last night both my dad and Willem decided to watch TV with me in the evening. This is fairly unusual - my dad is home Tuesday and Wednesday nights, and most weeks he and I will watch TV while Willem does homework or whatever mysterious things he does in the office. Last week, Willem watched TV while my dad was on his second (pardon me while I retch a little) date. But now that school's back in session, it's rare for the three of us to all watch.

Universally, when it comes to fiction/drama/prime time shows, we prefer shows that involve Mean People Doing Bad Things. So, Criminal Minds, Bones, House... crime documentaries narrated by Bill Kurtis... infomercials narrated by Bill Kurtis... you get the idea.

Given our purchase of Grey's Anatomy on DVD over the weekend, I had a lot of shows built up on the DVR last night, so we ended up watching Criminal Minds and Bones and House. And each of them was a letdown in some key way. I know they use their dramatic license, and it's not meant to be really true-to-life, but these episodes were clear examples of airing without a license. Just huge major plot/personality errors, people doing and saying and allowing things they simply would not do and say and allow in real life. Argh. I'm all for entertainment, but when a show bills itself as halfway-intelligent I really need it to follow through.

It doesn't help that, when my father and Willem are in the room, the Frat Boy Mentality takes over and they both end up making constant snide comments and wisecracks at anything and everything they can think of. I understand, you're a pair of comedians, but every once in a while the peanut gallery could just sit there and watch the show. Sheesh.

But I'm keeping the shows all in my DVR's tiny yet effective little brain and I'll give them another chance. I'm big-hearted that way. They'd just BETTER remember that profilers don't engage that personally with suspects, there is such a thing as too damn many coincidences in the forensics lab, and I don't care HOW talented a doctor is, there are limits to bad behavior. And there is no way on God's green earth that the carpet would have been available for reinstallation.
Tuesday, September 26, 2006
Foghat Hates Me
I had to drive to Concord this morning for a court hearing - part of my job is to involuntarily hospitalize people if they refuse or can't afford to go to a private hospital and can't be safe at home. It's way, WAY less exciting than it sounds... given delays and slow hearings, I ended up spending 4 hours in the waiting area and 6 minutes in the courtrooms. Total. And I didn't bring a book or anything, so I read the February 2005 Better Homes and Gardens. Twice.

On the drive there, which is 40 miles, I got stuck behind a 400-year-old woman who refused to go above 35 mph. In a 55-mph zone. And it's just twisty and turny enough that I didn't dare pass her. So I had LOTS of time to flip through radio stations and sigh and mutter. One station played "Slow Ride" by Foghat, which I would have found amusing if someone else was driving. But it was me driving, so it wasn't funny. I changed stations... and ANOTHER station was playing the same song. Nice to know that Foghat feels my pain.

I also had time to discover that apparently McDonalds' radio ads are intended to make a statement along the lines of, "Stupid people eat here. So don't worry. You can eat here and you won't be the dumbest person we've ever heard of. Come to McDonalds and feel smart by comparison!"

I did laugh out loud when I passed an Agway or something similar - their sign out front read, "Freedom isn't free and you can't fix stupid, but we can make your lawn ready for winter!" I have no idea what that means, but it struck me as profound.

Now I'm back at work and counting the minutes till I can just go home. And waiting for "...take it EAS-yy..." to not be stuck in my head anymore.
Monday, September 25, 2006
This Must Be Ironic
Now, I'm no Alanis Morissette, so I could be wrong... but I'm pretty sure that it is, in fact, ironic, to be driving into the parking lot of the body shop where you are finally going to have the car repaired after a month's worth of insurance-company wrangling, and to be suddenly faced with a tow truck barreling around the corner down the middle of the lot, leaving less than a car width on either side, and to know for a fact that there's less than a car width because the tow truck clips your driver's side mirror and pushes the rear gas-cap-area of your minivan into a parked Jeep.

At least there were witnesses and it was AT a body shop so it's all going to be fixed and it's neither my fault nor my problem... but seriously.
Sunday, September 24, 2006
Internship Applications = Sudden Death
I've once again embarked upon the internship application process. This is my last time trying, for a number of reasons... some because if I don't get placed next year then it would require special circumstances to allow me to delay completion of my doctorate, because the rulebook says everything - including dissertation and internship - needs to be completed within 7 years of enrollment, which would be 2008. And more because I just don't think I can do this to myself again. Words fail to describe the level of anxiety, nausea, self-doubt, frustration and headache that the mere thought of doing this again creates.

For background - I applied once, in 2004, and went on several interviews... and then decided, somewhat last-minute, that given our plans to move across the state and send Willem back to school and Emily starting kindergarten and Jacob not being a year old yet, it was all too much to add me going back to work more-than-full-time. So rather than risk damaging my family life, I backed out then - sent nicely worded, grateful-for-the-opportunity letters to each of the sites I was considering, and focused on my family for a year. Which was good in the moment, but turns out to be professional suicide.

Because then in 2005, I applied again, and not only did I not get a placement... I didn't even get any interviews. I was straightforward and honest in each of my essays, explaining why I had taken the year off and why that year off was going to make me both a better mother and a better intern when I did return, yada yada... and therein I made my second professional suicide gesture. Never be honest with them about family, they don't care about work-life balance and mental health. It's only psychology, after all, no reason to expect some human-ness to the process.

Sigh. So this past spring I was universally rejected and went into a deep dark depression for a very long time... I really have only felt consistently better in the last month or two. I had to work through the idea that I might never get my dream job, or even anything in the neighborhood of it. That I had racked up well into the 6-digits of student loan debt which would have been okay if I had gotten the doctorate and would get a job that paid enough to cover the loans, but now that might not ever happen. That I was rejectable - me, who had never NOT gotten what I set my mind on ever in my life. I'm someone who finished a 5-course semester of my master's degree a month after giving birth, with three of my final papers typed one-handed while breastfeeding. I was back at work 4 days after an appendectomy because I didn't want to hand off teaching my class to a substitute that early. I've worked through migraines, back pain, uphill both ways, through snow this deep, and so on, and so forth. A combination of luck and hard work got me what I wanted, always, before - and so I was absolutely clueless as to how to deal with rejection when it happened. It was just baffling and scary and overwhelming, and I didn't cope very well.

Which brings us to the present. I've finally worked through all that, accepted inevitable money problems due to student loans, realized that I can still find self-worth and enjoyment of life even without the profession I'd been working toward for a decade, and generally crawled out of that deep, dark place. So, by all means, let's risk another slide down in there by sending out a new round of applications!

And, by the way, let's pause and reflect on just how long and drawn-out this process is... I started gathering application materials and so on in September, with hopes of having it all in the mail by mid-October. Then I wait. In December I will be notified about whether I got any interviews at all out of the roughly 15 sites I'll apply to. Then in January the interviews will actually happen. Then I wait. The last Friday in February, I'll find out *whether* I got placed, and the following Monday I'll find out where, if I did. Ugggggghhhhhh.

Remind me again, why is it that alcoholism is a bad idea? Because it's starting to seem like a reasonable coping skill right about now.

But I wouldn't be me if I didn't try one more time. So I'll write the 30-page application and send out copies to everyplace within reasonable - and some unreasonable - driving distance. I'll put my heart and soul into it, though no I will NOT be honest this time, about my true life and priorities. And if I get rejected again, then I'll know that it's for-real, and forever, and I'll cope. Somehow.

Though I did get a sign directly from the Internship Gods this morning that perhaps I shouldn't apply at all... when I was gathering some papers to start work this morning, I had to go out into the breezeway to dump off last year's application shtuff, and there were three enormous bees in the breezeway. Bees, which I am deathly allergic to. My heart is still pounding, two hours later. So, clearly, that was a sign that if I work on the internship application, it will mean certain and sudden death... right?

Guess I have to risk it anyway.
Friday, September 22, 2006
You AND the Horse You Rode In On
I suppose there are arguments to be made that my mother-in-law has never treated me civilly... that since before Willem and I got engaged, she has been passive-aggressive and underhanded and therefore even when she was polite on the surface it wasn't a genuine thing so it doesn't count. But I was willing to accept surface niceness before. She would act polite, I would act polite, and then we'd go snark about each other and everyone would be happy.

Since my father-in-law's death, and a bit before then, she has just apparently lost all ability to even pretend. We had one phone conversation in which she sort of vented and dumped a lot on me, which was okay and I was comfortable with that - I went into Therapist Mode and we got through it just fine. As part of it, I had told her, "Whatever I can do to help out, like to plan the memorial service or anything, just let me know." And she said, yes, she wanted help addressing envelopes and sending out invitations to it. So, wonderful, right? We're finally reaching a point where she's willing to accept that I might be something other than slightly below minimally competent, right? She's letting me do something for the family... right?

Hah. She emailed the list of people to Willem, and has continued to talk to him about it and refused to acknowledge that it was (a) me that offered, and (b) me that did it.

And aside from that one pseudo-human phone call, she has been frankly uncivil. If she calls and I have the audacity to answer my own phone, she immediately says, "Oh, can I talk to my son?" And sometimes, like last night, I'll ask Willem and he'll say, "No, I have to do work," or just, "No, I don't want to talk to her." And if I relay his unavailability to my mother-in-law, I am greeted with instant icy anger and a panicked rush to get off the phone now now now, and being polite about it just isn't necessary.

I think she has this vision of me tying him up and leaving him writhing on the couch, desperate to talk to his mother on the phone because, really, what is more fun than listening to uninformed whining and guilt trips about a will that he didn't write and never read before his father's death? But I won't let him talk on the phone, and in fact being as horrible a person as I am, I won't even tell him that she called.

So, she can bite me. Not that this is a new development or a new sentiment... she and her horse-riding, guilt-tripping, melodramatic self can take a flying leap.

I hate feeling this way about family.
Wednesday, September 20, 2006
Take my Car... Please.
I finally got motivated enough to clean out my Saturn and list it for sale on Haven't gotten around to putting a For Sale sign on it yet, but let's go with baby steps, okay?

Before I listed it, I made sure I had the title readily available. I made sure the car could actually, you know, DRIVE. (I don't know too many people in the market for a 4-door manual transmission paperweight.) I cleared it out of 6 1/2 years' worth of backseat child debris. I ran it through to get ideas on an asking price, and then knocked that down by $500 because it needs brakes and tires before it can pass inspection, unless you're a LOT friendlier with the inspector than I am. I delicately and sweetly asked my husband to vacuum it out. Okay, well, to be fair, I listed it first and then frantically called him today to squawk, "Ack! Someone wants to see the car today! Can you vacuum it for me, please, please, please?" All the basics.

So I thought. Apparently there's a problem with people randomly listing untitled cars, not cleaning them, not verifying the mobile-ness of their automobiles, and running a random number generator to pick a price with no sense of logic or reason. Because I have gotten some really weird emails from people who apparently didn't read the post they were replying to when they replied to my post about a car for sale.

Such as, "How many miles are on it?" Umm... a lot. 157,000. Like it says in the ad.

"Does it need any maintenance?" Yeah... new brakes and tires, and probably a muffler in the foreseeable future. Like it says in the ad.

"Does it need any body work?" No. Like it says in the ad.

And my personal favorite, the ubiquitous, "How firm are you on the price?" Well, it's been advertised for 2 days, so I'm not desperate yet. I know it has a lot of miles, but I'm still going by, not The Whim of Kate. One guy offered me $500 yesterday, and then when I said no, I wasn't willing to go that low yet, he assumed I was insulted and explained that I was selling a piece of excrement (my word, not his.... his had fewer syllables) and I shouldn't expect to get that much money for it. Which makes me wonder, is he just naturally nasty, or has he somehow figured out where I live even though I didn't post it and there's not even a sign on the car yet, in which case he's both nasty AND creepy. Everyone else has asked, "How low are you willing to go?" Well... I ASKED $1000. Let's start there. Come see the car, and then if you can come up with a halfway decent argument then I'm wiling to negotiate... but let's go back to that original, "I'm not desperate" philosophy.

Bah. I want it to sell quickly, which is why I'm not bothering to plug the money into having it repaired myself, because I want to buy a really nice camera. A REALLY nice camera. And I'll tell you what, if I didn't have this unquenchable lust for that really nice camera, I'd have called the Association for the Blind to come pick up my car months ago... because I'm not that motivated, usually, and because the idea of selling a car to blind people just tickles me.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006
What a Difference a Pill Makes
I understand that there are people out there who are all about the meds. Not just any med, mind you - penicillin just doesn't give that kick - but the fun ones. Ones that cause dizziness or buzziness or just plain old fogginess. And why not? They make you feel better without hardly any effort at all, assuming swallowing isn't a huge chore for you.

There are also plenty of people on the clincian side who have a had time with people who are in it for the meds. "Drug Seekers," they're labelled, though I can't find a font which adequately represents the sarcasm dripping from each syllable. And, sure, it's frustrating when people just want a chemical fix when you know it will just be a short-term Band-Aid until the high wears off.

But you know what? Sometimes it's both. Sometimes there's work to be done on someone's internal whatevers, that fun mental stuff that we all enjoy so much. But sometimes - dare I say often - there's also an underlying chemical imbalance and the drugs do what they're intended to do, which is keep someone from peering too deeply into the abyss.

And when I see a woman who is actively suicidal and pacing and twitching and begging for Ativan, and an hour later I see the same woman, still suicidal and miserable but now able to sit down and complete a sentence, then I think maybe this wasn't just another irritating Drug Seeker. Maybe this is someone doing the best she can with what she has, even what what she has is a pile of anxiety big enough to ski down.

So, I guess if there's a split between drug providers and drug withholders in the world of mental health, I'm sympathetic to the providers. But I can't prescribe those fun drugs... sorry.
Monday, September 18, 2006
Sometimes it's all worth it.
Like last night, for example. I was chatting with some friends online, and ended up staying up until 2:00 in the morning to continue a conversation with the lovely Lisa down in Australia. Sleepy, and my rear end has formed to the chair, but it was worth it to just connect with someone for a while.

And then, this morning. Emily is at school, but Jacob and I are home, for what will likely be the last near-90 day. So we headed to the beach. It was the first time I'd taken him without Emily, and I got to watch him be himself, without trying to follow her lead. We left sandy and hungry and tired, but it was worth every second.

Now the back of my minivan is covered in baby powder and sand, but that's worth it, too. I don't remember who taught me the baby powder trick, but it is such a fabulous way of removing sand without taking sensitive little body parts with it.

Jacob was developing the 10-yard stare and putting his little arms up so that his hands were behind his ears and his elbows were up in the air - a position affectionately known in our vehicles as "tuning into the nap channel." Apparently he gets better reception that way. So instead of making him wait 20 minutes to get home to eat lunch, we swung through McDonalds. And the 4,597 calories I consumed alongside him were worth the successful lunch-and-naptime extravaganza here.

It's even worth having AAA, because yesterday Willem and I pushed, pulled and prodded my Saturn out from the side of the house to the front, and we weren't able to get it jump started. So the AAA dude showed up today, a big sweaty guy named Jeff who apparently doesn't need more than two words per sentence, and got it running in about 5.2 seconds.

Happy sigh... I just don't know what I'd do with myself if every day was like this.
Sunday, September 17, 2006
Rejected from the Guys Union, so I Didn't Get the Memo...
...but apparently Friday was Angry Young Man Day. A normal work day will have me at the hospital once, maybe twice (as an employee... it's pretty rare that I end up as a patient). Friday there were four patients lined up all at once, and every one of them was a male between the ages of 16-24, all varying degrees of angry, hostile, antisocial and self-righteous.

Which is less attractive than one might think. I bet THEY would be shocked to know how little the aggressive frontin' (see? I just can't pull that off.) and rebel-with-a-heart-of-angst persona encourages others, particularly women, to slip them a phone number. Unless maybe it's a phone number to a mental health clinic.

It would have been nice to know this ahead of time, that it was going to be Angry Young Man Day. But my father and Willem decided on Thursday that I'm not allowed into the Guys Union. This is not especially heartbreaking for me. But their grounds are that when I threw a piece of pork backwards, underhand, and it bounced off the dishwasher and landed in the cat's food dish, I wasn't allowed to nod smugly because I hadn't called the bank yet.


Willem was so passionate about this that he has been polling his other Guy friends to make sure, and many of them agree, vehemently, that if I didn't call the bank, it didn't count. You simply can't imagine how much sleep I've lost over this.
Friday, September 15, 2006
Arachnophobia from the Past
This is an old story, but I was just telling a friend about it, and it's still funny to me.

I had a friend in high school, named Bill. He liked to get me very weird birthday presents. Like, one year, he bought me an eggplant. Another year it was the meanest gerbil every to grace the planet - it was so mean I had to return it to the pet store after a week. And for my 16th, he got me a tarantula. Yeeeuuuuccccchhhhhh.

But it was a gift, so I kept it. It ate crickets - so once a day, I would get a cricket out of the fridge (they lived longer chilled), shake it into the cage, slam the lid down and run away. I never touched it (and a good thing, too, because I have since learned that tarantula venom and beestings contain the same venom... which I am badly allergic to... maybe Bill was actually trying to kill me), and I tried never to make eye contact. But when a critter has 5,683 eyes, it's hard to know whether you're making eye contact.

Anyway, we lived in a split ranch, with the living room downstairs, and on the other side of the basement was my bedroom, a second bathroom and the laundry area - which is where the tarantula lived. We'd sit in the living room to watch TV, and every night, I'd feed the spider and then settle on the couch, and soon afterward we would hear, "chirp..... chirp...." After a few days, it was noticeably louder, "Chirp..... Chirp..." And after a week or so, it was seriously loud, "CHIIIIRRRRRRPPP!!!!! CHIIIIRRRRRRPPPP!!!!!!" We assumed it was the crickets screaming as they were attacked, so we all felt kind of horrible and kept turning the TV up louder and louder.

Finally one night my father went to investigate, because it was really unreasonably loud. And he discovered that it wasn't the crickets at all - it was the smoke alarm, chirping to let us know the battery was dying.
On My Honor, I Will Try...
Oh, I am such a grown-up. It's just a lost cause.

I attended a meeting last night to start the process of becoming a Girl Scout leader. Which means that I have a child old enough to be in Girl Scouts. Which means I'm willing to be involved in her life even at the cost of dealing with other people's children for long stretches of time. Which means I'm all cute and dedicated, Mommy-wise... but ugh, so grown-up.

The meeting was held in a church basement, in between AA meetings. It was pretty low-key and reasonably well-organized, and totally, completely, wildly overwhelming. The number of details that a Girl Scout leader is responsible for just amazed me - it's not just showing up and doing arts and crafts, it's finding a meeting place and writing a contract with the site to be able to meet there, filling out lots and lots of paperwork, being responsible for the troop's checking account, fundraising, planning... a lot of stuff. I'm sure it's manageable by normal people; they don't require that I have an MBA to apply, and I sure seem to be able to remember Girl Scout leaders in my past who were barely functional enough to tie their own shoes. Just a lot to try and take in all at once. Especially while still trying to reconcile myself as someone who attends a Godsmack concert one Thursday and a Girl Scout leaders' meeting the next.

It'll also be good for me, to meet new people and get Emily hooked up with new friends and generally be social once in a while. We're busy a lot with school and that sort of thing, but we don't do a lot with people outside work or school and I'd like to feel a little more a part of the community, since we've lived here a year already and the one friend I had made in town has moved an hour away. Just doesn't seem right, somehow. Other people know how to make friends and set up playdates, how come I can't?

I had forgotten, and was forcibly reminded last night, of a certain style of interaction that can happen when too much estrogen accrues in one space. We're all polite and smiley, and yet there's an edge of sarcasm and a tendency to overstate things, and an insistence on finding things funny when they weren't intended to be so. Just nerves and each person trying to find their own place within the group, I think. There are worse ways to spend an evening.
If Only He Had a Morning Talk Radio Show
I enjoy crime documentary-type shows, non-fiction in nature and NOT with re-enactments (why bother having a re-enactment if your actors are so horrible that you have to wonder if they're partly robotic?). American Justice, The Investigators, that sort of thing. Bill Kurtis narrates a lot of these types of shows. So, over the years, especially since I've had DVR (which is back in my good graces after a week of not misbehaving), I've watched a lot of these shows, and have grown deeply fond of Bill.

Bill could narrate a bowl of Cheerios and I would listen, rapt and enthralled. "And then she took out a spoon, and laid it down next to the bowl."
Thursday, September 14, 2006
Coke and Gravity
I'm typing this on a brand-spankin' new laptop. It's pretty, wide screen which will take some getting used to, and everything seems to work just fine. But it's also kind of embarrassing.

Because I wasn't planning on getting a new laptop yesterday. I was planning to continue lolling on the couch and enjoying my sick day. But then as I was getting ready to get Emily from the bus stop, I somehow looped the printer cord (which was stretched through the living room so I could scan some stuff in from the comfort of my couch) around my full glass of soda and tip it, nicely and as though it was intentional, directly onto my computer.

And then I said bad words.

The computer's not ruined - it still boots up and runs and connects to the internet, blah blah blah... but the G key and one of the control keys snapped off in the clean-up process. Now, I don't know if you've ever snapped a key off a laptop keyboard... but if not, please allow my idiocy to be adequate education and don't try this at home. It's very difficult to put back on. As in, hours of struggling and failure difficult. And midway through my struggle and failure, the little plastic doohickey that connects the actual key to the actual keyboard broke. Done. Kaput.

More bad words.

I could still type, but it became an exercise in unintentional Ebonics... I was "cookin dinner" and "pickin up the kids" -- and let me tell you, I cannot pull off that style of speech. I can't even say the word "peeps," which is apparently becoming the new cool word for suburban moms around the country, unless of course I am referring to those marshmallow things that appear on the store shelves at Easter time. And even then, I don't EAT Peeps. Unless they're in S'mores. They make good S'mores. Or if you're blowing them up in the microwave. 'Cause that's fun. But I digress.

So I was G-less and half ctrl-less, and when I called up Willem to whine about my own ineptitude he reminded me that I'd already gotten five years out of that laptop and maybe I should just go get a new one. So I did. Not top-of-the-line or fancy, but it does what I need it to do, so we're retiring the other laptop down to Emily's games and goofing around.

This one is going to take some getting used to. First of all, the delete key is over where the backspace key was on my old keyboard, and the home/pg up/pg down/end keys are way over there down the side. And it has the same little blue Fn key down in the left-hand corner, which is where my finger expects the ctrl key to be, so I routinely do Fn-something and get nothing. At least there's no one-button Turn Everything Off spot, so that's a good thing.

The weirdest thing for me, though, is the fact that all of my keys have actual letters or other labels on them. Through my transcription work, I had literally worn the letters right off the old one... which was fine by me but tended to mess with anyone else trying to use my computer and actually look at the keys.

So now I need to come up with a new way to discourage the riffraff from accosting my computer. I'm thinking small electric shocks to sensitive areas... but getting people to wear the electrodes is so tricky. Must continue to ponder.
Wednesday, September 13, 2006
I Do Good Sick Days
I am the perfect amount of sick right now. Sick enough to feel too yucky to be at work - I'm running a low-grade fever, so anyone who touches my skin or gets within a foot of me runs the risk of defensive flaying from me - and my throat hurts which messes up my voice and makes on-call work not a great idea... but not so sick that all I can do is lie on the couch and moan.

So I took a sick day. I can't remember the last time I had a job that allowed me paid sick time - this is pretty cool! I can sit on the couch, do low-impact stuff like print out photos for my kids to take to school with them and write some emails, watch horrible television (I had no idea how many court shows were out there! My goodness!), and eat chocolate. It has been fantastic. And it works out perfectly, today happens to be an early-release day for Emily, so rather than worrying about taking a late lunch and hoping I don't get a hospital call, I can just get her off the bus and come back home again.

Want to know how I spent an hour this morning? And HOUR, I say. I surfed and picked out a handful of rings that I like. Not to buy or even to ask for... just to email to my husband, all casuallike, so that if he ever happens to be in the market for a new ring for his wife's poor naked right hand, or a ten-year anniversary gift of a new engagement/wedding set (he's got four more years to plan!), he has some ideas of where to start... [innocent eye fluttering]

It was actually a very strange email to write, because I don't make wish lists or ask for specific things as gifts - but he had said he would like some pointers, and boy oh boy did my estrogen get revved up once I started a-clickin'.

Lovely. Just lovely. I can handle this.

The only storm cloud on my horizon is the knowledge that my father has a date tonight. My father. A date. [shudder, quake] He and my mom have been separated for something like four years, and divorced for about nine months, so it's okay, it's legal, it's aboveboard... and I'm sure it's not his first date since, but it's the first one since he's lived here, that I know about. So it's still weird. Weird. Weird.

But I wish him well. And I wish him not to share details.
Monday, September 11, 2006
An Anniversary
Five years ago right now, I was settling into my second day of "real" grad school, a doctoral program, so early into it all that I hadn't even yet reached the "maybe I don't really belong here" anxiety. My professor that morning was Diana Sholtz, who is one of the smartest and yet most human professors I've ever had the privelege to experience, and I am grateful for that. I was grateful throughout my classes with her, but I was especially grateful on that day. Back when "September Eleventh" was not a phrase in the Americn vernacular and two really big buildings were standing in New York City, back when there wasn't a big scar on the Pentagon and a crater in a field in Pennsylvania.

Class started at 9:00, and a few minutes later someone - maybe Martha? I can't even remember now - went downstairs to get something, or maybe came in late, somehow heard someone talking about a plane crash in New York. Maybe even somewhere in the city. No one was sure. Diana tried to start class, but no one was quite focused; there wasn't anything specifically wrong, just a vibe in the room that we needed to know more about this weird little plane crash thing before we could get on with our day. So at 9:30 she cancelled class and we scattered to wherever we could get near a television. Some found them on-campus, but I lived a mile from the school so I just drove home, with Bob, Lindsay and Mark joining me there. The second tower fell while we were en route to my house.

My mother-in-law was at the house babysitting Emily, because her preschool wouldn't accept her until she was 18 months old, which happened in October 2001. We startled my mother-in-law, who was just about to get into the shower, and I distinctly remember the looks of horror on Bob's and Mark's pre-parenthood faces as they beheld the evidence of Emily's productive sinus cold. And we sat on the couch, and we watched it all unfold. We tried to call friends and loved ones in and near New York to make sure everyone was okay, but the lines were down. We tried to call friends and loved ones anywhere at all, just to make sure no one had taken an impulsive plane ride that day. And we sat and watched it some more. I wish I had remembered to toss in a VCR tape and record some of those early, raw, initial reports and video. But I didn't.

And after a while, we shook it off and tried to attend our second class, at 1:00 in the afternoon. It was not a successful attempt, and everyone headed home by 2:00. For more watching, but now with the added awareness of just how many planes normally fly over, even in a small town in rural New Hampshire, and just how quiet it was now that they weren't flying over. For months afterward, once the air filled with planes again, I found myself suddenly, acutely aware of air traffic, in a way that I hadn't been since toddlerhood. "Oh, look, a plane," every single time, though it wasn't in the happy awestruck manner that Emily was saying the same things.

I didn't lose anyone near to me on September 11th, nor did anyone close to me lose anyone close to them. The nearest loss was two steps away: Willem's aunt lived in the same neighborhood as a stewardess on Flight 93, and was socially acquainted with her. We live and were raised in the Northeast, so we're grateful and a little surprised that it wasn't any more personal.

And here we are, five years later, and it's stil unfolding. Slowly, sometimes painfully, and sometimes just stupidly. Last night, I was in the grocery store, and the two women in line ahead of me were talking about 9/11, and one said, "Yeah, it's the worst day in our history. More Americans died on that day than any other, you know." Um, actually, no, I don't know. In fact, I know otherwise. I know about things like the Battles of Antietam and Gettysburg, the Galveston Hurricane, D-Day... They're all well over the estimates of 9/11, which hover around 3,000. It's a lot. It's too many. But it's not the most.

And I sat there, staring at my bag of Chex Mix and package of mushrooms, and wondered, if an inaccurate memorial happens in the supermarket, does it still make an impact? And, is it better to be clear and accurate or to be hyperbolic to make sure we get the maximum drama for the scene? I know where I lean on that spectrum... I'm the same person who has had a hard time with the sympathy cards to Willem that describe my father-in-law as a "good man" when what he really was fell closer to "well-intentioned but complicated and often hurtful." But while I value accuracy for myself, I didn't accost these poor women with facts and reality there at Hannaford. If they feel more important, more impacted, more real by remembering Septemeber 11th as the worst ever, who am I to take that away? It was a superlative in their lifetimes, and in mine.

Everyone remembers it uniquely.
Saturday, September 09, 2006
Goooooo, Raisins!
Every year since we've been married (and probably since conception before that), Willem has joined a football pool through It's not one where you pick the individual players along the way like you're at a dog race - "Bet on the one that does his business right before the race" - but where you pick which of two teams will win a given game, several times over every week, sixteen weeks a year, stretching on and on and on into the future as far as the brain can conceive.

Can you sense my enthusiasm? But it makes Willem happy and doesn't negatively impact my life, so I don't need to be enthusiastic. So there.

Anyway. Since Emily's birth, we have also set up a place for the kids to enter their picks - and some weeks they do quite well, to the chagrin of the frat boys, er, I mean, adult fraternity members, who are also in the pool. They've never come remotely close to winning the whole season, but they're being raised on it. They should be forces to be reckoned with as adults.

Which, incidentally, was one of the things I assigned as Willem's fatherly duty from the moment I knew I was pregnant with Emily - he needs to teach all of our children, male or female, the rules of football. So that they can choose whether to be unenthusiastic as an adult, rather than going through the process of having several indulgent and condescending people explaining minute deviations of rules during the game so that THEN they can be unenthusiastic. Or, one never knows... maybe they'll all get really into it and I'll have Sundays to myself. There are advantages...

So, this morning, they did their first list of picks. There was one game Thursday night, apparently, and I'm to report that Willem and Jacob picked it correctly and Emily did not. But today they had to enter in their list for the other 400 games being played tomorrow - "And Monday!" Okay, and Monday.

And my personal favorite of Jacob's picks, and possbily my all-time favorite football pick, is that he thinks the Baltimore Raisins will win. Go, boys!
Friday, September 08, 2006
Feeling Patriotic?
THIS is very funny to me.

I would hope that it would be funny to me even if I tended to agree with different politics. Who knows?

Edited to add: Apparently you have to subscribe to Slate online to read the whole thing. I don't want to publish it all here, but I don't want to make you register for something you wouldn't normally register for - so email me and I'll send you the full text.

Edited again to add my Technorati profile, at least for the moment:
Technorati Profile
Guess What? I'm Not Totally Lame!
I may be somewhat lame, and I understand that no parent can ever be 100% cool just by the mere act of procreation - ask any teenager - but I am not chock-full of lame.

I discovered this last night, because my friend Jenny got me tickets to see Godsmack and Rob Zombie as a birthday present, so we went to the show in Boston. Willem and I haven't been out on a date in ages, so the mere act of dropping them off at Jenny's house and driving away giggling and chortling was fun all by itself. We remembered to wear black, so that was a good start - though I forgot to wear the denim jacket Willem had in high school, with the big Metallica patch on the back. (Which in itself is evidence of Willem's bizarre and twisted raised-by-wolves upbringing: It's a Calvin Klein jacket with a Metallica patch. Brooke Shields would be appalled.)

Regardless, we were wearing enough black to fit in, and it didn't take too long to realize that we were neither the oldest nor the lamest people there, which is always a relief. Plenty of sweet grandmotherly types and long-suffering next-time-we're-seeing-Justin-Timberlake girlfriends around, not so many as to overwhelm the place, just enough to make me feel better. And isn't that really all that matters?

The show was really good, worth the price of admission (yeah, yeah, it was free for us... but we bought $8 beer and a $40 t-shirt, so we made up for that). Shinedown opened, and while they looked like another growly too-loud bunch of grunge rockers, they were actually very musical and well put-together. Still much angst, but talented angst. Their cover of Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Simple Man" is fine by me on the radio, and they did a neat acoustic/electric combination on stage. We didn't even realize they were going to be there, so we started off skepical but ended appreciative.

Rob Zombie puts on a really intense, bizarre, provocative, disturbing stage show. Lots of nipples and blood, sometimes on the same individual. Don't interpret this as a bad thing - I knew what I was in for ahead of time, and while it was risque it wasn't offensive, to me. Not something you'd expect to see in church, but... well, he just made his point, and made it well. And I'm happy that he's choosing to make his point in the form of music and stage shows rather than by wearing babies around his neck or creating new cases for the FBI profilers to study.

That I know of.

And last was Godsmack. Who actually weren't as earth-shattering as I would have hoped they would be, playing to a hometown crowd, but then I first saw them in 1998 when they were raw and young, playing in bars where the bathrooms didn't have doors and neither did the pool tables (which were occasionally used for the same purposes), so I have seen them before they got big and fancy and popular - maybe I'm just jaded. They were so perfectly loyal to their albums that the experience was really a lot like just playing the album really loud, except for the crowd.

Ah, the crowd. Always my favorite part. I had forgotten how much I really like going to live shows - I don't think I've been to a concert since Jacob was born. Over two years ago. Sad.

My personal favorites were the little boy, maybe 12 though he clearly was cool enough to be at least 21, who sat in front of us with his father. He was cool enough to watch the show without a shirt on, allowing me to see that his slightly-too-low pants were revealing his name embroidered on his underpants. And, really, if your parents have saddled you with the name Fruit of the Loom, you'd better be badass enough to go to a Godsmack show at age 12. He was a good little concertgoer, and my vote for most-amusing was during the topless-women-on-screen section of Rob Zombie's show (which was not 100% of it... though it was close). My little buddy spent most of the time standing on his seat and doing the White Man Angst Dance, complete with head-bobbing and random hand signals that probably meant something to him, but whenever there were certain girl parts on display, he froze like a deer in headlights. Literally froze, arms in odd positions, no discernible breath motions, big buggy eyes... ah, education.

But there were plenty of drunk and disorderly gentlemen (and a few ladies), and older men pretending that they're young and angry (and at least succeeding with the second half), and inappropriately dressed women (that is, inappropriate to their figures, not to my morals) to provide adequate entertainment. And enough people indulging in certain substances that even though I didn't touch anything, I got the munchies.
Tuesday, September 05, 2006
My Calendar Says it's Tuesday...
...but it sure feels like a Monday.

Getting up and out of the house was fine; Willem is home on Tuesdays, but we have the extra hours at Jacob's daycare (flat rate for up to 20 hours a week) so he goes in for a few hours Tuesday mornings anyway. But since Willem doesn't have to go to school, I can take a long shower and get myself ready without feeling rushed, and come out to two magically fed and dressed children.

Then came the daycare drop-off. Jacob did fine, you can just feel it in his body that he's more relaxed and ready to go than he was last week. Which is a good thing for *my* mental health. But when we got there this morning, there were no teachers in the toddler room - all of the kids were together in the kindergarten room. Thirteen of them. And the one teacher there was on the phone with a prospective parent while a devil spawn of a little boy was throwing a 6" metal car around the room like a football and an apparently self-destructive little girl was trying to eat a plastic rhinoceros.

So I stayed until she was off the phone and gently but firmly had a tantrum. "I'm sure that was a very important phone call, but I'm really uncomfortable with the number of children in the room."

"Oh," she said, "But it's okay, I can have up to 15 in the room with one teacher."

"I don't doubt that you would be able to supervise them on your own, but when you're on the phone they're not being supervised, and I had to stop one boy from throwing things and another girl from eating things." (I couldn't say "plastic rhinoceros," I felt that it would take away from the impact of my tantrum.)

She didn't say much, just focused on getting the room and children back in order. And Jacob was happy and distracted, so I left then, all set to call Willem and have a big rant about the place, blah blah blah. But before I got the chance, my phone rang - it was that teacher, calling to apologize and explaining her plans to call a staff meeting and rearrange schedules and come up with alternate plans if someone calls in sick or late, and so on. Which just took all the wind right out of my sails. Nothing like getting ready for a good tantrum and having it deflated.

Then when I got to work, Judi was upset because over the weekend I saw a woman in the hospital (the "ma'am" woman) and suggested that she get in touch with a therapist here. Judi is a former substance abuse counselor and is of the mindset that if you have any history of substance abuse at all, then you should only ever see substance abuse counselors for the rest of your life. She was all set to gently but firmly educate me on the proper place to have referred this client, and was unhappy that I had considered that and had reasons why the referral wouldn't have been the right response.

And later, she was upset because her paperwork from last Thursday didn't get turned in on Friday (she has Fridays off). It wasn't left in the special Paperwork Drop-Off Spot, and I know it wasn't because I dropped off the paperwork from the Drop-Off Spot and it didn't occur to me to selectively drop off everyone but Judi's paperwork. She insists that it was there, and I didn't think to take photographic evidence, so she was simmering about that, too. Woe is she.

But she's worked off her mad, I'm not mad at daycare anymore, and it's only 45 minutes till lunchtime. So while it started off as a Monday, maybe it's Tuesday already...
Monday, September 04, 2006
Stages of Entitlement
My mother-in-law is wandering blithely through Kubler-Ross' Five Stages of Grief...

1. Denial
Characterized by her pretending that they weren't two weeks away from divorcing, acting as though it feels "weird" in her house to not have H. around even though they have lived apart for FIFTEEN YEARS, and generally placing herself at the center of a big dramatic stage. She's not denying his death, just the reality of the circumstances beforehand.

2. Anger
She went back to my father-in-law's house today to clean, which culminated in her having a big tantrum about what a jerk he was (and, it's true, he was) and kicking several things badly enough that she thinks she may have broken a toe. And may I just say that she seems so very comfortable in the realm of Anger.

3. Bargaining
I think this will happen soon, as she starts to come up with ways to justify her decisions and generally figure out ways to trade off her bad behavior for any perceived slights by him. Helps that tomorrow is the reading of the will, with the attorney and the accountant, so she'll actually be able to quantify her justifications.

4. Depression
This should happen just in time for Christmas. Can't wait.

5. Acceptance
Hopefully this happens sooner rather than later. She's acting now as though she is the only person ever to have had a loss, and she calls Willem or his brother several times a day to maximize the attention she gets - but she shall we all guess how much of those phone calls is devoted to asking how they are coping?

And let's go ahead right now and add Stage 6: Crazymaking. Shall we start taking bets now on how long it takes until she starts making plans to move to New Hampshire? Be still my heart.

I don't begrudge her feeling grief or sadness. I just wish she had an ounce of perspective regarding the rest of us.
DVR Betrayal
Last night, I was all set to collapse on the couch and watch Grey's Anatomy, which my faithful DVR was obediently recording so that I could avoid being tainted by commercials. Instead of 30 seconds of my life being sucked away by ads and propaganda and hype, I have about a 10-second interlude of movie/medicine/lawyer/show/vitamins/hemorrhoids/candy and then back to my chosen brain-melting show.

But no. Instead, it was the Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon. I was appalled, at the wanton disregard my DVR showed for my plans. Sure, sure, it's for a good cause - but clearly not more important than me watching GREY'S. Seriously.

And I have a sister with muscular dystrophy, but I still think the priorities were askew.

So, fine. I'm resilient, I can cope. I wandered through the guide and found an episode of House on one of the rerun channels, so I clicked there. Except instead it was the US Open tennis stuff running over an hour past schedule. The horror!

But I pieced myself together, amidst great heartache and grief, and found some sort of true crime show on MSNBC, with which I was willing to console myself.

Except the closed captioning didn't work. I was at an all-time TV-watching low.

I felt pummelled by the vagaries of the DVR, and had to settle for a countdown show on E!.
Sunday, September 03, 2006
Doesn't Take Much
I'm all proud of myself and revved and chipper right now. Despite having had a nasty (albeit shortlived) spat with my husband, and having to buy new clothes in a larger size than I want to admit that I need, and having a raging headache for the past two days which none of the drugs I have access to can touch... I'm still happy.


Because two high school girls who live nearby came to the house this afternoon, after I asked them to, to meet Willem and the kids. They are both bright-eyed and just so cute I almost burst into giggles because of mere proximity, but they maintained good eye contact and carried on intelligent conversation and seemed to really like my kids, so I officially have not just one but two babysitters lined up for the Wednesday nights on which I get a hospital call and Willem is teaching his class.

(Notice that I did not include my kids' liking them in the list of criteria. This is because my children have apparently not developed that fear of strangers which one might think would be Darwinistically ingrained in small cute creatures, and so as long as you are not actively bleeding from the eyes or screaming at the top of your lungs, my kids will like you and talk to you about random personal household details regardless of whether Mom WANTS you to know them. It's just wonderful.)

So, that was lovely and happiness-inducing all by itself.

But wait, there's more! In my advetures in blog-hopping this week, I landed on Christina's Shoebox, which I enjoyed reading for its own sake, but I was also particularly taken by her drop-down menus in her sidebar, as opposed to the endlessly long lists in my sidebar. So since I had the time and inclination, I Viewed her Page Source (which sounds just vaguely dirty) and figured out that I should go to a site called and after an hour or so I figured out how to make several of my very own drop-down menus, and even made them match my blog's colors. Not an amazing feat, I know, but it's been 10 years since I took any sort of html course and most of my computer knowledge has subsequently been beaten out of me by the technophobia so rampant in the mental health field, so it was amazing for me.

So, while it hasn't been a noteworthy day in terms of personal events, I'm just aglow.
How Old Do I Look??
It didn't bother me when the 12-year-old Boy Scout going door-to-door called me "Ma'am" in the midst of his efforts to sell me popcorn. He's 12, he's tired, he's trying to be polite, and I understand that, from his perspective, everyone over the age of 25 is 50. Fine.

But last night, I had to do a crisis assessment with a 24-year-old woman with two kids, and SHE called me "Ma'am." I'm FIVE YEARS OLDER THAN HER. Sheesh.

I'm trying to convince myself that it's because I'm seeing her after she had another bad relapse into alcoholism (always a great sign when someone leaves the AA meeting and heads directly to the bar), has two kids under 5, just started a new job and is trying to start college soon, and yet she's in the hospital after an accidental overdose and just generally not feeling one tiny bit together or grown-up, and here I come with my cute little bag and my cute little clipboard and I basically hold the decision about whether she can go home or instead needs to spend the weekend in a psych ward, so she's erring on the side of caution.

Still. Old.
Friday, September 01, 2006
Willem, I'm Sorry.
I am. Truly. If I had any impulse control or conscience, I wouldn't post this.

Because I know you didn't find it as funny as I did. I know that you were, in fact, frustrated and saddened by it. And I know it wasn't intentional.

Honestly, I'm not laughing at you. Since you're not laughing, I can't say that I'm laughing with you.

But, seriously. If it had happened to ANYONE else, you would giggle. Perhaps even snort. Certainly you would be unable to repress a smirk.

Emily was so excited about finding a salamander, and you were almost as excited to see it. And it was so obviously miserable, covered in bright purple sand from her sandbox and having been manhandled by a series of grade school beasts. So I wanted to rinse it off - and of course that's the precise moment when my phone rang, so I sort of thrust a bowlful of salamander your way.

It's not your fault that it decided to wash right down the drain with the water.

But it WAS funny.
The Internet is Just Weird
Starting from Wednesday morning, I have now been at work for a total of 13 hours - not counting times at home while on-call - without a single work-related thing to do. Getting paid for not working is not as fun as I might have once thought it would be, back in the pre-kids, pre-lost-professional-drive days.

Though, to be accurate, I'm not completely certain that I actually lost that drive. I think it's more of a suspension of priorities. I still am fascinated by a lot of the same things I was fascinated by during grad school and before, I just don't feel that pressing need to achieve a set list of goals on a carefully prepared timetable. Someday, I will want to get back into the world of forensics and psychology and criminal law and all of those other things that are so much less glamorous and yet so much more visceral than TV makes them appear. Someday. Just, not now.

Anyway. I had to go to work, because we were broke and without health insurance and I didn't get the internship I applied for so I was out of other options. So I found a job with a laid-back atmosphere (and when it's not laid-back, *I* still am, so that's the same thing... right?) and really good hours for family life, and here I be. I've worked through my resentment of preferring to be home with the kids and I'm enjoying the paychecks.

What does not thrill me, though it is simultaneously the aspect of the job which I most enjoy, is the unpredictability of my work. I'm in the Emergency Services department, which means that I respond to crisis calls and go hang out with people in the Emergency Room (oh, dear me, so sorry, I mean, the Emergency Department - "It's more than just a room") while they decide whether they can get through the moment without being hospitalized. That part is great. It's sometimes fun, sometimes hilarious, and sometimes absolutely heartbreaking, and I love those moments. I don't know whether I'm touching people's lives, but they're touching mine.

The down-side is that unpredictable also includes long, loooooong quiet spells. Like now. Just waiting for a call to come in. I know it makes more sense to have me in the office so that I can reply or move quickly, but on days when nothing is happening I just listen to the clock. And get older. And build a neat little cairn of resentment over the minutes I could be spending somewhere else, better, worse, productively, bored, just different.

I don't surf the web well, and I haven't gotten into the habit of bringing a book to work with me yet. I will. Soon. I have been bringing knitting in, but really, how long can you knit without something else to occupy the brain? How long? 'Cause for me the answer to that can be easily converted to seconds.

So instead, lately, I've been blog-hopping and winding up in some very weird places. Some wonderful. Some stupid. Some worthwhile. Some NOT. In following through a chain of blogs and links I landed on my husband's ex-girlfriend's website, there's a blast from the past. I've not yet landed on any of my exes... but then, dear sweet lovely Willem, I just don't HAVE quite as many exes, now, do I?

And in reading strangers' blogs, I end up in a very odd mental space. It's like attending a big cocktail party and meeting dozens of people all at once. I'm juggling names and dates and facts and trying to sort everyone out, to decide who I'd like to spend more time with and who I'd like to lie to about my own name. And to add to the overall confusion, there's none of the traditional cocktail party talk. Instead it's immediately learning about people's sex lives, their religious beliefs, their politics, their innermost conflicts and secret wishes and gnawing regrets.

And while I appreciate that instant intimacy, and contribute some of my own shtuff out into the world every day, I still find it overwhelming and claustrophobic after a while. There's a limited amount of room in my head, and suddenly all these new people are clamoring for space and time in there too.

I went home Wednesday with a crushing headache and characters swirling around in my head like one of those weird dancing scenes in the Matrix movies. And yet here I am again on Friday, blog-hopping and filling up my head space again. I enjoy it all, even when it's not pretty - I just don't exactly know what my capacity for it will be.

Just -- weird.