Wednesday, November 29, 2006
Are you STUPID?
Nothing livens up a boring day at work like being grabbed by the ID badge (which we were on lanyards around our necks) and asked, "Are you stupid?" I guess I should be grateful that the monotony of my day was so effectively broken up.

But I'm jumping ahead. This all started when, for the second time today, I was literally on my way out the door - coat on, backpack loaded up, physically walking out of the room - when someone said, "Oh, wait, before you go, can you just...?" And, having been socialized to listen when people talk and to do my job (thanks a LOT, Mom), I took off my coat and did whatever. This second whatever was at the emergency room department, when an Angry Young Man had come in to be assessed for dangerousness, suicidal thinking, contrariness, something. Not an unusual request.

This particular Angry Young Man decided to pass the time, waiting in his little windowless room, by stacking up the couch and two chairs in front of the door, just to see if anyone was paying attention. Turns out that when you're being held in a room with a big obvious closed-circuit camera up in the corner, people are paying attention.

But he wasn't being a snot, just sort of bored and curious. I sat down with him, and he was calm and appropriate and straightforward, talked about how he's been arguing with his parents a lot lately, "They're always waiting for me to screw up," but said he wasn't depressed, wasn't anxious, wasn't suicidal. The ED doctor even offered him meds, and he turned them down, which is unheard of. So after spending a while asking some very blunt and intrusive questions, which he answered, I went to talk to his parents.

His parents, who had already decided that their son NEEDED to be hospitalized TONIGHT and they were NOT going to take NO for an ANSWER. And when "no" is, in fact, the answer that they got, Mom went a wee tad bit insane, herself. "Well, his PSYCHIATRIST told us he needs to be HOSPITALIZED and so you need to DO that NOW."

"I'm sorry that you were promised that, ma'am, but the psychiatrist doesn't work here. All I can base my decisions on is what I see in front of me, and what I see is a kid who is calm and in control and does not need an emergency admission."

"Well, if my son goes home and kills himself tonight, it will be on YOUR head."

"Ma'am, at the moment, he is not suicidal and says he never has been. I need to pay attention to what he says to me."

"But I'm his MOTHER, and I KNOW him better than YOU do. And I say he NEEDS to be in the HOSPITAL."

"I understand that he has some things going on that make you nervous, and I would strongly encourage you, along with his psychiatrist, to call the psych hospital tomorrow morning to arrange a voluntary admission."

"Are you STUPID? What is your NAME? What is your DEGREE? Where did you go to SCHOOL? I'm a school COUNSELOR, you know. I KNOW how the system WORKS. I KNOW what depression looks like when I SEE it."

(I'd like to point out that I did NOT say, "Oh, and do you also know poor parenting and tantrums when you see them? Because I do.")

Instead, I told her I'd be back shortly, and left to give her some time to cool off. And I made a few calls just to verify that this kid absolutely would not end up in any hospitals tonight, based on his current symptoms and presentation (of being normal). No. The hospitals wouldn't let him in. They told me so.

So I went back in to see if Mom had calmed down at all. She had not. She was on the phone in the little room, though for all I know she was talking to a dial tone not a person ("Hey, lady, call someone who cares! Oh, wait, there's no one!"). As soon as I walked in, she said, "Oh, here SHE is now, I can tell you her NAME." This is when she grabbed my ID badge and started to spell out my name, loudly and accusingly. Which forced me to stand very close to her, and since I'm about a foot taller and a good 50 pounds heavier, I could just stand there and crowd her. I'm not normally a fan of physical intimidation, but, well, she started it.

Afterward, she looked at me and the badge several times, repeated my last name, and said, "What is this? Your NAME? Is this your NAME?" Again, I showed great restraint by not saying, "No, I just found it on the floor somewhere. I'm in the Witness Protection Program." Instead I agreed that it was my name, which was her cue to hang up the phone without actually saying good-bye to the dial tone. I stood right where I was, figuring, she got me there, now she could decide how to deal.

"WELL? Where is he GOING? Did you figure OUT how to get him into a HOSPITAL?"

"No, ma'am. In fact, I called two places, and he doesn't meet their criteria. You'll need to speak with his doctor in the --"

At which point I stopped talking, because she had stormed out of the room and I didn't think it would be helpful for the couch to speak with his doctor.

Though it might actually have been helpful, because an hour later the psychiatrist called me to ask why I hadn't done my job correctly and why this kid was sent home. I re-explained it to him. He handled it better in the sense that he didn't grab my badge or call me stupid, but worse in the sense that it's kind of his job to know this stuff already.

Big sigh. At least it wasn't a boring afternoon.

And don't you feel better knowing that she's a school COUNSELOR?
Fit From Finola
My job entails a lot of waiting, interspersed with periods of chaos and disorganization and frustration... which makes it pretty similar to the rest of my life, except I have to dress nicer and I get paid for it.

In a nutshell, I sit and wait for phone calls; sometimes from clients having a hard time and needing some support, and sometimes from an emergency department (seriously, DON'T call them emergency rooms, the look of contempt you get might just slay you in your tracks) asking me to come down and assess someone who is in the middle of some form of mental health crisis - suicidal thoughts, a psychotic break, delirium, voting for Bush, watching too many football highlights, driving cars with too many bumper stickers, whatever.

I'll go in, collect reams of paperwork because deforestation is not an active concern in the collective New England psyche, and sit down with the person and try to figure out where they'll go from the emergency room department. Some people go home, some go to hospitals, some to homeless shelters, rehab, a bar, their mother's house, and so on. Most of the time it's a case of reaching a decision together, so I don't get a ton of irate clients. Every once in a while I end up hospitalizing someone involuntarily, or not hospitalizing someone who thinks that's where they want to be, and I get dirty looks and insults. I just figure that's their way of expressing love and gratitude, free-floating hostility instead of a hug. Which, honestly, in most cases, that's what I would prefer.

It's often an intense situation, because you're seeing people as sick and miserable and in pain as they can possibly be, and once you start to push someone to the edge of their emotional capacity they start to react unpredictably. Usually it's a privilege to be invited into someone's life at their worst; sometimes it's an imposition or a disappointment.

And sometimes it's unintentionally hilarious. Like the woman I saw yesterday, who informed me, "I committed suicide two years ago." I'm fairly certain she meant "attempted," and I was able to prevent myself from a wisecrack about sitting with a godhead (or breaking into Rob Zombie).

I was also about to contain my snickering - barely - when I learned that one of the area doctors' first names is Finola. How many times in her life do you suppose she's been told she don't know fit from Finola? I can't be the first to think it. I just can't.
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
Bach This
Another season of "true love" and "amazing" and "fairy tale" and "dreamed about" and "cliche" and "trite phrase" and "baloney" has passed, and now I'll have to cast about for a new reason to log on and indulge in weekly snark sessions about strangers. Woe is me.

Yes, last night was the season finale of The Bachelor. The cute thin 14-year-old blonde girl won. The other cute thin 14-year-old blonde girl lost. Much angst and woe abounded.

After the show, I learned some interesting,uplifting and life-affirming information.

The star of this season is not just a prince. He's a prince who markets massage products for pets.

Yes. For pets. I wasn't able to determine whether the products come with mood music and GHB or if you have to buy those separately.

Producers of The Bachelor explicitly discriminate against people with physical disabilities. See #8 on their list of eligibility requirements. I guess I kind of knew this, because there's never been a deaf girl or blind guy ("In order to truly get to know you better, I need to use my hands. Can you please remove your shirt?") or even someone with a stutter or poor depth perception. Though, interestingly enough, being socially retarded doesn't seem to hamper a person's chances one little bit.

It's a wee tad bit disappointing to know that now I have to cancel my plans to nominate my sister for the show, given her total disinterest in skydiving. Wouldn't that have been the coolest Christmas gift ever?? Granted, she doesn't meet the age requirement, but come on, Mary, think of the adventure!

The producers also don't want felons or those with restraining orders against them. (See #7.) Which effectively cancels out most of the other people I know. And I am truly stung by the unfairness of this rule, since it means I can't get the $5000 finder's fee.

Once again in the eligibility requirements, if numbering has anything to do with relative weight, then it is more important, in the eyes of the producers, that you are not a political candidate for anything, anywhere - not even relatively low-level positions like dog catcher or Vice President - than that you are not a violent felon.

This one I already knew, but it bears repeating. Chris Harrison is a genius. Here's a man who has found a way to ride the wave of The Bachelor through several years and countless meltdowns and catfights, not to mention narrating Wife Swap and God knows what else, and yet by hosting these shows rather than appearing on them he gets to look mature and aloof from all that silliness, while being married and having a couple of kids and generally not being fodder for his own shows.

I tell you what, if Bill Kurtis ever needed to take a break, Chris Harrison could appease me in the meantime. (And please, I beg you, don't threaten that he will ever die, because a world with Bill Kurtis narrating crime shows is just a world not worth recycling for.)

Though I was amused by one line in his bio: "He also had the opportunity to cover hard news stories, including the 1995 tragedy at the Federal Building, an event which profoundly affected his perspective on life and career." Note that they didn't specify just how it affected him, though the proof is in the (love) pudding... he went from hard news stories to The Bachelor.

See? Genius.

The only thing that would properly fill the void of The Bachelor until the next season (and, might I add, based on the preview, the next stud-in-training is a horrendous egomaniac with a low enough body fat percentage that it's likely impacting his menstrual cycles - I already despise him, which should make for good snark) is a good, rousing season of Temptation Island. Fox Network take notice.
Monday, November 27, 2006
I Love Slipcovers
I do. I love slipcovers. Because it would have been difficult to fit my entire couch in the washing machine.

It's easiest explained by just copy-and-pasting the emails that left my account after 5:00 p.m. today:
Emily to Willem, 5:00 p.m.:
hi dad this is emily.
jacob is sick. he has a fever and he wants mom to hold him
he slept for 4 hours.
if he is still sick at 6:00 we will take him to the e.r.
i love you.

Emily to Willem, 5:39 p.m.:
hi dad i had a good day at school to day.
even though i bumped my lip.
this is how i did it.
a chare fell.
love emily.
to dad.

Kate to Willem, 5:50 p.m.:
The Motrin seems to be working now, so I'm not heading to the ER at the moment. Can you please stop on your way home and pick up a new digital thermometer? Nothing fancy - but the old one is leaking what looks like battery fluid, so I'm thinking we shouldn't use it.

Kate to Willem, 6:15 p.m.:
As a further update, Tang and milk can be thrown up completely silently.

Kate to Willem, 6:29 p.m.:
And apparently throwing up at high velocity does not lessen your son's desire for noodles with sauce one little bit. For once, I wish he was a butter-only kid.

They're in the bath now. I'm in the living room trying to block out the past 3 hours.

What time will you be home? I need to know when to schedule the drinking binge.
This Week's Google Searches
I routinely check my stats thingy over on the right, initially because I was curious and now because I find it hilarious. A lot of people arrive here via bookmarks or other blogs, but then you get the google searchers. Such an odd variety of things land people here.

There's the routine stuff, which is funny to me but not surprising:

  • passive-aggressive mother-in-law

  • psychology internship applications

  • pregnancy and idiotic husbands (sorry, Willem! *I* don't think you're an idiot!)

  • Chuck E. Cheese games

And then there's the somewhat-more-disturbing and bizarre:

  • 3some where husband watches wives

  • emu mating dance

  • Teri Schiavo and sex

  • Chuck E. Cheese massacre

  • serial killers and ceral

Two more just in:

  • i want to cheese my grandma in the head and permanent teeth

  • my mother in law peed on me I have an urge

Agreed, it's some weird people doing searches out there. But they're ending up HERE. So who's weirder?
I Am Happy, Dammit
Did y'ever have the experience of trying to convince someone that you're happy when they're certain you are not? Fun, isn't it?

I think I may have succeeded last night, but it was an uphill battle.

To back up... hmm. How far do I need to go for this to make sense? I could pick lots of places, because of that whole snowball/butterfly/dustbunny/pearl phenomenon - change one thing, change everything, and once something starts it just continues to roll along and accumulate consequences.

So, okay, then, I was born in upstate New York in... no. Just kidding. Not quite THAT far back.

Let's start with January 2005. That's when I hopped off the internship roller coaster for the first time, by abruptly backing out of my thus-far apparently successful internship applications and deciding to take a year off. We were planning to move that summer so that Willem could start grad school, Emily was on her way into kindergarten, and Jacob was about to turn one - just a lot going on and it seemed like me going back to work full-time was not right for my family. Or my sanity. I'm not sure which is more important, or even whether they're all that different.

So that was attempt #1, done. Attempt #2 happened last winter, and during that application process I made a big mistake: I was honest. I explained in my applications that I had taken a year to be with my family, thereby proving that I had a life outside of psychology internships, and I was rewarded for that honesty with no interviews at all. (Well. That's not entirely true. There was one interview, but it's at a site which tells you right in the application to save the date because they interview everyone who applies.)

This was... huh. There still aren't words for it, nine months later. Devastating, mind-boggling, consciousness-altering, horrible, scary, sad, pathetic... all apply a little, but I don't know of the right word to encompass the whole experience. This was the first time in my life that I had failed at anything - the first time I had set my goals and been unable to reach them. Suddenly my life plan was uncertain and, in fact, doubtful. Suddenly I wasn't going to be a forensic psychologist, or work in a prison, or any of the big career-related things that I had sort of, arrogantly, viewed as a given. Suddenly I didn't know who I was, or who I was going to be when I grew up.

This threw me into a pretty intense depression, and most of this year was sucked up by that. I didn't take pictures, I didn't write much here, I didn't maintain correspondence with friends or show up on time for playdates (speaking of which, I got a very angry email about that post, explaining that I have an incorrect memory about just about everything and I'm not ever allowed to write about that person again... but I'm not very obedient). I just wasn't me, and I don't especially like whoever I was. Then I hurt my back, so once you toss chronic pain into the mix, now you're got a real party.

I was never suicidal. But in retrospect, I should have been in a hospital, for at least some of that time. I wasn't, and I'm better now.

I AM better. Seriously. I've had time to work through the whole concept of failure, and to readjust my goals and plans and the ways in which I measure my own success. I've figured out a new career plan, one that is not dependent on someone else's artificial time constraints or academic hoops, and I've shuffled around my priorities, and in general have figured out how to be mellow with where my life is at now. Sure, it's vastly different than I ever expected, but life happens. I've been through major career changes before (I used to work as a photographer, and then on IBM's helpdesk) and I've gone through major non-career life changes, traumatic and otherwise.

Things are better. So much better. And it's not a case of having sat down with my head in my lap waiting for the storm to blow over, it's a case of thought and effort and activity in the face of an overwhelming need to curl up under the bed and hide.

So you can see, then, why repeated statements from Willem about how I don't seem happy, my baseline is lower than it used to be, he regrets going back to grad school when he did because otherwise I'd have an internship by now, etc., etc., might drive me a wee tad bit insane. There was a time and place when that was all accurate, but not now. And then to be told that I'm only calling myself happy now because I don't have any choice in the matter, because I can't change the circumstances... well, so what? Life is what you make of it now, not what you wish it had been.

Wow, deep.

Anyway. We had a long talk last night, some arguing and some listening and some communicating, just like grown-ups. I think he understands more of where I'm coming from.

I wish I could ease more of his worries, because I think a lot of where he's coming from is this sense of responsibility - we moved here for his grad school, so therefore it's his fault that my plans, my life, have changed so much. And that may be true, to an extent, but I never felt coerced or obligated into it. I'm not especially impulsive, I thought things through and certain parts of my brain, at least, had contemplated the what-if's, even if I didn't really understand what failure might mean. But I don't view my situation as pitiable or sub-par, and I don't believe in regrets. So, I'm okay. I'm happy. Dammit.

Change one thing, change everything.
Saturday, November 25, 2006
Fishes Out of Water
This is part of the bookshelf in Willem's aunt's room.

Now, let me think. Why is it that we don't try and talk politics over Thanksgiving dinner?

It's not that I have such diametrically opposed views that I can't even bear the thought. It's that I don't actually enjoy political debates, and my views are just enough different that we wouldn't exactly be chatting and nodding happily along.

The good part is, they're so comfortably ingrained in their beliefs that it never occurs to them that anyone might possibly not 100% agree. So we employ a don't ask, don't tell approach... hey, if it works for the military, then it works for in-laws.

I know. It doesn't really work for the military. But so far the in-laws are proving more obedient. Asking-telling-wise, anyway.
The Unbearable Urge to Pee on Something
I don't get sick especially often, and when I do it's normally of the head-exploding sinus-assaulting lung-escaping voice-croaking variety, very rarely with a sore throat and almost never with nausea.

So whenever I do get nausea, the knee-jerk assumption is, "Oh my God, I'm pregnant." There have been times in my life when that would be an okay situation. Now is not one of those times. Between my own professional uncertainty, and Willem's school plans, and just all-around stress and chaos right now, it's just not a good time. Not.

So today, there's the nausea and the queasiness and the sleepiness and the low-grade fever and the resulting panic and anxiety. Not a good time, there, uterus, you hear?? And with that panic comes an overwhelming need to pee on something small and white with a little indicator window.

It was negative. So I'll be sleeping tonight. With the help of my two close friends, Pepto Bismol and NyQuil.
This is JUST What I Needed...
...because who needs to pay attention to their children on the weekends, anyway?

Thanks EVER so much to Wordnerd for once again infecting me with an addictive little game.

I got to 28 on my first try.

I'll be back.
Friday, November 24, 2006
"Craptastic" was Willem's word during the drive home today, as well as the anticipated results of three consecutive meals of turkey and mashed potatoes and stuffing, but it applies just as clearly to most of the trip.

We did survive our family-time (whether we're family or not, and a repeated pfbllghtt to my mother-in-law... I wouldn't have put up with any non-family member this long, and now that we're done pretending like we might someday be family, well... let's just get through Christmas and then we'll see), and I kept my mouth shut, so it was not as momentous as it might otherwise have been.

My reflexive, tantrummy wish is to call her up and say, "Since we had Thanksgiving with Willem's family, we're going to have Christmas with my family. And since that's not you... see you next year." But I won't, because she's still playing up the newly-grieving-widow card and I keep insisting that I will uphold certain basic standards of civilization and humanity. I swear, I'm going to end up with altitude sickness from all this take-the-high-road nonsense.

Whatever. Wait 'til Christmas. That's happening at MY house. Which means I'm a wee tad bit more comfortable at actually throwing the tantrums that come to mind - I did last year, anyway. So there's hope.

This morning we had a brief re-visit at Aunt D's house, which has become tradition. About an hour of awkward, stilted conversation and the realization that their house can only contain and entertain children for one day, tops. Then we got in the car, drove for 45 minutes, carefully following Google Maps' line-by-line instructions, and ended up precisely where we started from instead of an hour north. So we swore and made lame jokes about these hawklike birds circling a ways off and how they were actually vultures scanning for the cars full of New Englanders lost and defeated at the side of the road because the State of New Jersey doesn't view road signs, or roads that continue straight at intersections, to be necessary. Ha ha. Or something.

But eventually we escaped the greater Princeton area and made it to Lisa's house, where we were reminded of what it's like when people are just relaxed and sociable and welcoming. Lisa's husband and mine are similar enough in demographics that we had to consider giving them nametags to make sure the right one drove me home - both into math, both into hockey, both will tune out in the middle of a conversation to start counting and mumbling to themselves before checking back in with a numerically-related comment. Very fun visit, and put us in a much better mindset for a drive home.

Though, never fear, we still managed to fill up many, many miles with chat about his family.

Willem drove a wee tad bit over the speed limit after that, and we ended up home about a half an hour before the minivan actually pulled into the driveway. The children are sleeping all snug in their beds, and visions of Titanic are dancing in our heads... or TV screen, whatever. We're home.

Seriously. Just wait 'til Christmas.
Thursday, November 23, 2006
In a hotel hallway somewhere in New Jersey:
Family of four knocks on a door, to report that all are dressed and ready to head to Aunt D's for Thanksgiving dinner.

Door opens to reveal mother-in-law wearing no pants.

Said mother-in-law says, "Oh, okay, I was getting dressed slowly because I didn't know how long you would take. I'll be ready soon. Willem, can you come in here for a minute? I have something I need to talk to you about. It's private. Family business. Kate can wait with the kids, this is not for her."

Mother-in-law enters room. Wife gathers children, heads down to car, and bursts into tears because apparently there is a limit to just how much rudeness and exclusionary attitude she can take.

Husband later reports that at one point he explained to the mother-in-law, "Kate and I are a team. We tell each other everything. She already knows about this family business. We don't keep secrets from each other."

Mother-in-law replies, "Oh. Um. Well. H and I didn't have a relationship like that."

Bingo, sweetheart. Stop talking.

Last, overheard at a dining room table shortly after Thanksgiving dinner is served:

KATE: Jacob, for the fourth time, please sit facing the table. Just sit carefully. You're going to fall out of your chair.


KATE: [Stands up, gets the Mom Voice on] Jacob. You have three seconds to face the table, and then we're going to leave to have a talk.

AUNT D: Oh, leave him be, he's fine. He's just two.

KATE: [Takes Mom Voices off, tries Perky Family Voice] I've got it, thanks. He knows how to sit nicely.


KATE: Okay, bud, let's take a walk.

AUNT D: Oh, but he's only two, he's fine, just let him --

KATE: [Mom Voice back on] I've. Got. It. Thanks.

Removes child from table, has a brief, to-the-point, and might I add non-threatening chat with said two-year-old, who agrees that eating dinner sounds like a better idea than pouting somewhere, and then they both return to the table where they complete a lovely, delicious, polite and well-behaved meal. And no one gloats.

Visibly, anyway.
Wednesday, November 22, 2006
Genocidal Tendencies
The title of today's post is brought to you by the fact that Emily was carrying a United States puzzle last night and accidentally dropped most of the West Coast on the floor, thereby eradicating 50 million people in an instant.

And then we decided this morning, when I described how one little squirt of bleach cleaning spray gets rid of whole colonies of tiny tiny tiny little windowsill bugs in the bathroom, that she clearly takes after her mother in that sense.

There has got to be a genocide-related quip having to do with the fact that I'll be seeing my mother-in-law tonight. I just can't quite figure it out...

Though the title could also apply to the fact that, having defied the aliens and removed my alien communication device/IUD, I'm now back on the birth control patch. Someone somewhere once said, "With great power comes great responsibility," and that clearly applies because we apparently have the ability to conceive a child from across the room without even making eye contact. So until we're confident that the patch is up and running at full strength, we've been pretending like, as Christian Slater once remarked, "Sex with a condom isn't so bad." (And here I have to give a shout-out to Betsy from High School, whose knee-jerk response was, "But I've come to the conclusion that there should be a man attached.") And to be on the safe side, we've been using the ones with the extra genocidal spermicidal stuff, because a surprise pregnancy would just not do good things for my mental health at this very moment.

The thing we didn't antipate is the unpublished second line of that phrase, which is apparently, "With great responsibility comes an almost-normal sex drive." To be calling it "great" would be overstating, but still... Willem is delighted.
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
The Minefield of Turkey
We leave tomorrow. Wearing full body armor and drinking heavily, because it is my in-laws, such as they are, and the only way to get through these sorts of events is to come prepared.

This holiday will be particularly exciting in many ways. Of course, there's the big obvious one, whereby my mother-in-law becomes a chest-thumping hair-pulling puddle of emotion and proclaims how devastated she is during her "first holiday as a widow." Happily, we have already gone through the "first birthday as a widow," "first family gather as a widow," and "first bowel movement as a widow."

But then there's some other subtle things, such as the fact that Willem and I just minutes ago left from having our wills notarized. Aren't we grownups? For the most part, all she needs to know is that there ARE new wills (so Willem's old one from 1985 is invalid) and that she is Willem's backup health care proxy if I'm out of commission as well. But there's a tricky little part of that sentence: "needs" to know. Because we all know she's going to ask that big awkward question of, "So who gets the kids." And then we'll deal with the fallout of the fact that we've named my mother, and if she's not available we've named the geographically nearest person on the state's Sex Offender Registry, and if he's not available then maybe my mother-in-law can inherit guardianship. So that'll be fun.

And there are lots more... we were just discussing last night the ever-increasing list of sentences we can not speak at the Thanksgiving dinner table:
Cast of characters:
C=mother-in-law, H=now-deceased father-in-law, D=MIL's sister/hostess, P=D's husband, A=Willem's brother, D's son=D's adult son

  • "So, Willem's birth mother contacted him last month!"

  • "We named my mother as guardian of the kids if something should happen to both Willem and I. She's trustee and backup power of attorney, too."

  • "Do you think A is gay? Because I kind of do."

  • "We're thinking of moving to Prince Edward Island in a few years. Yes, really."

  • "Oh, by the way, C, Emily can't come spend a week with you next summer. I'm afraid that your constant negativity and defensiveness is becoming toxic."

  • "We had really great sex Tuesday night. And Sunday."

  • "So how about those Democrats? Man, did they ever kick ass in the elections!"

  • "C, tell everyone what you said about D's cooking abilities."

  • "Wow, things are really a lot less tense during the holidays now that H is dead."

  • "I'd like to raise a toast to the next president of the United States,
    Hillary Clinton."

  • "Hey D, can you ease up on the control freakishness for half a second? Being in a wheelchair does not make you queen of the world."

  • "P, tell us all the story of your infidelity to D years ago."

  • "What about you, D's son? Are you gay too?"

Good times, I tell you. Pass the peas.
Monday, November 20, 2006
See? Western civilization isn't all the way decayed yet, if this is any indication.

OJ Simpson is... well, he's not worth any more of my time.
I'm feeling all philosophical and intense today... probably makes it a good thing that I don't work on Mondays. Last thing a suicidal ER patient needs is for me to ask them, "What is the nature of friendship?"

Or, who knows? Maybe that would be a magical cure-all.


My current preoccupation falls along the lines of friendship. Specifically what it is, what it means, where its limits fall, and so on. Never fear, I'm not going to get into one of those sophomore year of college with a few too many beers lying out in a field (or on the roof of a fraternity house, not that anyone I know ever did such a thing) expounding on deep intense topics before the buzz wears off. I'm just going to throw out a few incidents from the past few years, so you can see why it's been on my mind.

Vignette #1 comes to us from sunny Las Vegas. Molly lives there now. She and I met in eighth grade, and were close for a long time. Got even closer after I went away to college, somehow. She was always the wild one, and I could live vicariously through her partying and uninhibitedness. I left high school a year early to go to college about 50 miles past the Land That God Forgot in really really northern New York, and she would come visit me, seduce/intimidate several of my friends, and generally shake things up. When she went to college, in Buffalo, stories of her exploits would reach me, 300 miles away, through people that didn't realize we were friends. She seemed free-spirited, but I now recognize more than a few signs of desperation and trauma in her impulsiveness and bravado.

But she had a good heart, and we enjoyed each other. She helped break down the door after a bad incident between myself and a 19-year-old sophomore with an off-campus apartment and access to GHB. I convinced a friend to drive the four hours to pick her up and bring her back to school with me for a week when she started to pull apart at the seams. It was intense and real and important.

Over time, she got married, had a baby, got divorced, and moved to Vegas. Which seems entirely appropriate, because there's no other town on the planet with quite the splash to handle this fantastic spirit who - admittedly with my help - got topless at a frat party just for the hell of it a few years after her daughter was born. Who arrived at my daughter's baptismal party, the day after my wedding, still wearing her maid of honor dress, arriving with five flustered friends of Willem's. And what's funny is, she's actually quite careful and circumspect in her private life, and she's a CPA, of all things. You'd just never know it to look at her.

Our friendship was always undemanding. We could go months without being in touch, and then suddenly, with a phone call, it was like we'd never missed a day. But those months kept stacking up, and recently I realized I haven't spoken to her in two years. I miss her terribly, but now that I'm aware of the amount of time that has passed, I'm self-conscious and awkward about calling her. So I'll write, and soon, because she's turning 30 in a few months and she needs to know that I still love her.

So, there's that. And then, for Vignette #2, there's someone whose name I won't use here, because I respect her privacy and I think she reads this, or used to. We met via a message board, which despite my early doubts has actually given me some true, close friendships. This particular woman lives somewhat near me, not right in the same town but close enough that we could get together once in a while. So we would, and we'd chat, and watch our kids play, and I enjoyed her company. I thought she enjoyed mine.

This summer, there was a day when we were supposed to meet at the beach, but I got my schedule all screwed up and was running late, and ended up having to call to cancel. She was upset with me then, because it turns out that she hates the beach and never wanted to meet there in the first place. I felt guilty but not terribly responsible; I'm happy to go elsewhere if a day at the beach isn't, well, a day at the beach for someone.

Then a few months ago, we were chatting again and planned to meet at a playground on a Thursday afternoon. I wrote it down for a certain date. A week before that date, my phone rang, "I'm at the playground now, where are you?" Of course, I felt horrible, guilty, disorganized, frazzled and all of the other things you might expect of a mother of two who had just returned to work full-time for the first time in many years. I stammered an apology, explained that I had the wrong date, and her response was, "Whatever. Everyone has problems."

She's right, of course. Everyone does have problems, and she was dealing with some especially intense ones at the time. And my screwup was rude and annoying, and trying to explain how it happened obviously sounded like I was making excuses. Fair enough.

I've had no further communication from her, either by phone or in response to the email I sent. I'm not heartbroken over a lost friendship; I enjoyed her but didn't rely on her as a primary source of support. I was just disappointed and shocked at how abruptly and easily she ended a relationship.

And for Vignette #3, well, I can't say what, just yet. Someday, remind me, and I'll be able to talk more about it. Well, realistically, just hang on a few months, if it ends up happening then there's no earthly way I would NOT be able to write about it.

Suffice it to say, a close friend has floated an idea by me. And I think I can do it for her. It's a big deal, and I'm honored that she would even consider asking me, and I'm going to stop talking right now because her privacy is more important to me than my aimless babble here.

What I can say here is that it has caused me to reexamine just how far I would go for a friend, what I could consider asking of someone, and what does this all MEAN anyway?

My brain is tired. I'm going to go find a countdown show on E! and see if I can't let some of this deep-thought stuff dribble out onto my shoulder for a while.
In the World of Lucky Charms...
...there are three inhabitants.

There are the people who randomly and haphazardly scoop up cereal without looking first, without even acknowledging that there are, in fact, separate and distinct elements of Charms.

There are people who carefully pick out all of the marshmallows first, leaving a bowlful of cat food which they will then shovel down with the penitent and remorseful attitude of a weekend marijuana user on a 2-5 year sentence, just doing their time so that they can get out and move on with their lives.

And there are the people who carefully sort through and select out all of the cat food first, leaving a bowl of oddly compressed marshmallows that would never make an actual s'more, in order to snarf down all of those marshmallows in three or four frantic spoonfuls at the end and ride the sugar high most of the way to lunch.
Saturday, November 18, 2006
Bertucci's at 1:00
I have a date tomorrow. It's with two of my closest friends, Carolyn and Jenny, and has been a roughly-monthly event for, what, two years now? Give or take. Before that it was monthly-if-not-weekly dinners, and so on and so forth. We've all been infected with motherhood and normal life chaos, but we've made a point of carving out a couple hours a month to go, without children, and complain about our husbands delve into the deeper philosophies of life, always at the same place because just getting out of the house is challenge enough without having to hunt down a new restaurant every time.

I tell you what, I would fear for my sanity if I didn't have these lunch dates. Just that small reminder that other people can be married to wonderful men and yet be exasperated by the sheer stupidity of testosterone sometimes, that other people's children are just as annoying as my own, and that my in-laws really are crazy (because, like almost anything else, you live it long enough and it starts to look painfully normal)... it's priceless.

And it's probably hilarious/boring-as-hell to listen to us from the next table over, because we're all in the mental health field, so there's a certain way of speaking and listening that we can't seem to escape. We're a soothing bunch. Especially when we're smart enough to just skip lunch and go straight to the chocolate mousse.

Apparently this sort of arrangement is just mind-boggling to Perfect J. At work the other day, we were talking about socializing and I mentioned that this standing lunch date is why I won't be attending another coworker's baby shower... which I do feel a teeny tiny bit guilty for, but I made up for it with a pretty darn cool gift, I think. Perfect J was just so awed by the idea of having a social life independent of my kids' sports schedules. Her son plays professional hockey, with the, what is it? AHL? not quite cool enough to be on ESPN but cool enough that Willem was able to find his stats online and remark, in a tone of reasoned professionalism, "He's not very good." It sounds like the extent of her social interactions have been limited to other hockey-moms and coworkers. Which makes my heart ache just a smidge... though her tantrum toward Curmudgeonly J about a piece of paperwork minutiae that was nitpicky and perfectionistic even by Perfect J standards goes a long way toward wiping away that pity.

In other gender-related news, Jennifer, a geographically distant friend of mine, is extraordinarily pregnant, due in a little over a week. The other night, she wanted brownies. She asked her husband to make them. He said no.

Then Wendy, a mutual friend who is even more geographically distant, called to speak to him about this clear lapse in judgment. He still said no.

I tried to get Willem to call, but in a misplaced display of testosteronish loyalty, he declared that he couldn't [insert street slang here]. Something about, couldn't diss a brother, or couldn't hang a salami, or whatever. It was pithy and far too ghetto for my very white husband to pull off. Whatever.

So then I called. And wore him down. Brownies were finished 28-32 minutes later. Boys are so easy.

And in a fun addendum, when I was sharing this story with Jenny today, she got so righteously fired up on behalf of Jennifer (both in sympathy for her initial brownielessness and her insufficiently sympathetic husband, and in shock at Willem's refusal to step up) that she announced, "I'm going to go punch my husband in the face now, just for belonging to that half of the species."

Do you see why I look forward to these lunches?
Friday, November 17, 2006
Thanks for Protecting my Morals, Delta.
Now, bite me.

Woman kicked off plane for breast-feeding baby

Seriously? Really? The worst possible thing that this woman could do, bad enough to get her kicked off the plane, is to breastfeed?

Why do things like that never happen to me?

Because you don't breastfeed anymore, Kate.

Shut up. I did, for almost three years, cumulatively. I'm not earthy-crunchy enough to think that I would have continued to do so long enough for my kids to grab a quick snack before walking across the stage to collect their diplomas, but I followed their lead and was glad to get 14 months with Emily and 18 months with Jacob.

And I never got any really good crap about it. Oh, I got the inevitable mutterings from my mother-in-law, culminating in an observation that by choosing to breastfeed, I was being selfish because it meant less time that she could spend with the kids. Yes. I breastfed just so I could lessen my children's time with their grandmother. No consideration of their nutrition, or attachment, or my own personal preferences. It really is all about her.

But from strangers, from stewardesses, from anyone at all... even from the guy working the toll booth on the Mass Pike who got an eyefull because it's darn near impossible to be discreet while breastfeeding a carseat-ensconced and frantic child... nothing. No censure, no questioning, no threats, no insults.

And I would be so good in that sort of situation. I throw a mean tantrum when it comes to professional service and my legal rights, and I keep that tantrum right here in my hip pocket, handy to whip out and lob at poor brainless ineffective customer service policies at a moment's notice. AT&T can talk to you about what happens when they misread my time zone and call me at 3:00 in the morning to offer me a sales pitch, which I politely yet frighteningly decline. Likewise with the student loan companies who can't be bothered to read silly things like graduation years.

All through both pregnancies, I was set and ready to go if a stranger had wanted to rub my belly - "Sure, but only if I can rub yours, too" - or if people had expressed doubts about my chosen names, weight gain or birth plan (I adhered to the "meds and meds NOW" philosophy) - "I'm so glad you're taking such an interest in my personal life. How much do you weigh?"

And again, the only time I ever got to actually use a snarky line was with family, that time my father-in-law. When he found out that I was pregnant (news that came to him through another family member because he'd been camping at his no-phone no-electricity place up in northern Maine yet somehow we were supposed to tell him or hold off on announcing at all until he returned), he called and said, "I think you're too young to be having children. I think I should have been consulted first."

And I was able to reply, honestly and from the heart, "Well, H, we weren't exactly thinking about you at the time."
What Matters
One of my grad school professors once said, "No one dies at the end of their life. They're always right in the middle when it happens."

As I've said before, I've been following the blog Atomic Tumor for a week or so, and it has been sort of hovering in the back of my mind most of the time. Their life circumstances were nothing like mine, and yet were exactly like mine, so the phrase "it could happen to you" is just a little too accurate. And scary, and perspective-inducing. The woman, BJ, was healthy right up until she was in the ICU in a coma. Bang. She got to kiss her kids, but she didn't know it was good-bye at the time, so does that count? (Damn right it does.) Her husband got to kiss her after the oxygen mask was removed, but she couldn't kiss back. Does that count? (See prior answer.)

So I've been pensive, and was spurred to action. Our wills are being notarized on Tuesday. We're leaving everything to each other, or to the kids. With custody of the kids going to my mother, as well as trusteeship and primary backup power of attorney. My mother-in-law's head is going to simply fall off her shoulders and burst open like an overripe melon if she ever finds out, and I suppose we probably should tell her to avoid one more tantrum just in case... but I don't wanna. I won't have to deal with that tantrum, in any case. She is Willem's backup health care proxy, so she plays a supporting role. She won't be appeased by this.

But the naked, shivery, unattractive truth is, I trust my mother with my children. I trust that she will allow Willem's family to see them and spend time with them. I trust that she will love them and make good decisions for them. I don't feel the same about my mother-in-law. Go figure.

Willem and I have also had a few Schiavo Conversations this week, you know the ones. Back when Terry Schiavo was in the news, we had the vague not-for-me statements, but in recent days we've been explicit. No heroic measures, no feeding tubes or life support in case of persistent vegetative state, and bedside reading aloud from Oprah's book list, because anything too heavy will only confuse me and anything too light won't encourage me to wake up and think. No music, I wouldn't be able to hear it anyway.

And let my babies see me, but only after all hope is done and they're sure it's the end. I don't want my kids to be scared and scarred to see Mama sick and unconscious in a hospital bed somewhere if I'm going to get better someday, but if I'm not going to recover, then I want them to see me, just briefly, before I die. So that they don't go on believing that people can be perfectly healthy and then suddenly die without warning, even though someday they'll realize that is, actually, quite possible.

Let them think that you have to get very sick first.

Let them think that death doesn't just jump up and grab you when you least expect it.

Let them think life is fair, for a little while longer.

And let them know how much their mother loves them. Always.
Thursday, November 16, 2006
The Great Equalizers
How sweet.

Truly, heartfelt.

Of course, I'm speaking of OJ and Britney. (THERE's a love child I don't even want to think about.) How nice of them to do big wild crazy newsworthy things, which are bound to make BOTH sides of the political spectrum foam at the mouth, just before Thanksgiving. Way to create some pre-dinner conversation topics, my friends. Or, people whom I could never ever in a brazilian years imagine myself being friends with. You know, whatever.

Though, actually, this is somewhat of a relief. The last time we spent Thanksgiving with Willem's aunt, they staged an impromptu pro-Bush, anti-Kerry rally in their living room on Black Friday, and it was a wee tad bit awkward. Neither Willem nor I are strongly political, in the sense that we simply don't enjoy a rousing political debate any more than we would enjoy, say, having hot pokers driven underneath our fingernails. There's just a futility to that type of discussion, particularly when dealing with a room full of people who feel the need to cross themselves and spit when the word "hill" is uttered just on the off-chance that it is followed by "ary."

So, now, let's see... who else? Somebody big. Maybe Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt could conceive their next child on live television to benefit orphans and baby seals? Or Elvis could resurface in an emo band? Or Big Bird could come out "on a very special episode"??? One more big event, and we should be well and truly insulated from politics for the whole week.
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
No, I mean it. Really. Stop. Please, please don't publish this.

And if you have a few dimes to rub together, please just throw them in the street. Don't buy that book. I beg you.

The title, for those of you not willing to click on a hotlink, is O.J. Simpson to discuss killings and the opening line is, "In a new TV interview and book, O.J. Simpson discusses how he would have committed the slayings of his ex-wife and her friend 'if I did it.'"


Why is it that bad things happen to good people all the damn time but no benevolent god has seen fit to drop a piano on this chump's head??

While we're at it, contibuting to the downfall of society and decay of Western civilization is this pathetic waste of creativity and coding talent.

Who buys garbage like that for their children? And who, as an adult, wants to play games like that? Ugh.

Nothing like creating a world full of future clients for me. Nice to know I'll always have a job somewhere.
It's Not Friday, But They're Playing Kum-Bah-Yah Anyway
The building where I work has offices and such for mental health issues (though I really hate that word in the context of, "He's got... issues with sandpaper and weasels...") and on the other side of the same building they deal with clients with developmental disabilities. My office shares a wall with that "other side" - and yes, we refer to it just that dramatically - and usually on Fridays I get to listen to the concrete-muffled sounds of guitar-playing and sing-alongs. It's just weird enough that now that I'm used to it I forget how weird it is, you know?

Anyway, like I said, Fridays. So they're doing it today, which by all accounts appears to be a Wednesday, and I've been re-reminded of just how odd that is. How many jobs are there where half of your time is spent sitting in the emergency room with someone on the verge of some form of total breakdown, and the other half is spent knitting, blog-hopping and listening to the strumming of a guitar and dubious harmonization?
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
They're Coming to Take it Away, Ha Ha...
My car, that is. They're coming. Whoever They is. And wherever Away is. I don't much care, by this point.

Seeing as how I've had a snazzy new minivan - with an even snazzier new headlight - for, what, five months now, it finally seemed like a good time to get around to doing something with my old Saturn. Which is 10 years old with 157,362 miles on it. It served me well.

Probably still would be, except it needs more work, plus seating for about 2-3 more people, in order for me to be willing to keep driving it. It hadn't sold on craigslist after two halfhearted listings, and it sat in my driveway and I let life happen. Until, finally, it reached critical mass on my to-do list, and I called AAA to come jump-start it. Apparently cars don't like to sit untouched for five months. Who knew?

And then I called AAA again, because it couldn't idle for 20 minutes to let the battery charge up. It gasped and died before the tow truck was all the way down the block (but, I'm sure to the disappointment of my neighbors, was far enough away that I didn't chase it). So, when, after a second jump-start and slightly more successful idling time, it died again, I took that as a sign from the Car Gods saying that it was time for a sacrifice.

Fine, whatever. I decided to donate it to Children's Wish Foundation because they sent my family on this fantastic Disney vacation back in 1998, and an old rusty car that needs brakes and a muffler and a battery and probably an alternator will more than make up for that... right?


So all I have to do is leave the key and the title in the glove compartment and they'll come get it on Thursday. And in the meantime, if you're in the market for a really, really big paperweight, there's one at the curb, just rarin' to go.
Monday, November 13, 2006
S/He Once Was Lost, But Now Is Found
I think my friends give me credit for using more diminutives than I actually willingly use. Because last week, Jacob lost his stuffed cat, which is his favorite (though not as much a favorite as Emily's Larry Monkey, who could more accurately be termed as my second child, given the amount of time I've spent looking for that damn think). He named the cat, in a burst of creativity, Kitty.

I mentioned to people, trying to be melodramatic and amusing, and apparently falling short on both counts, that "We can't find Kitty, I just don't know what we'll do." And then it promptly fell out of my head - I would look once in a while but was operating on the assumption that since Kitty (who is still, by the way, androgynous) had not left the house since last visual contact, and it was unlikely that Kitty was going to become mobile anytime soon (s/he's not THAT grungy), then eventually Kitty would turn up someplace odd.

Imagine, then, my befuddlement on Saturday, when a friend called specifically to ask whether I had found Kitty yet. "No, not yet, but Jacob seems to be doing fine without, so far."
"Well, did you post signs in the neighborhood or anything?"
"Um... no. I don't think that'll help. Stuffed animals don't tend to come when called, anyway."
"Oh! You don't mean YOUR cat, you mean a toy!"

Hee hee... yeah. Sorry for the confusion, and I appreciate the concern, even if misdirected.

So last night, Willem was folding laundry and went on a brief search for refugee socks, and when he reached behind my enormous piggy bank... well, just look:

We had looked back there before, because the short people in my house have been known to play back behind there when they think they can get away with it, but apparently overlooked Kitty. Because, as Willem remarked, "It's not like the pig has a functional butt."
Got Creativity?
Because I don't.

I've decided I no longer want to keep the title to this blog, but I can't decide what to replace it with.

I know I want something that doesn't focus on my mother-in-law, because I really don't want to define myself by her anymore. Not that I do in every aspect of my life, but everytime I check my own blog, or post, or whatever, I think of her for at least a second. And I hate that. (Astute readers might notice that this implies that I have a life outside of blogging... my husband might disagree, but sometimes I actually do!)

So, any ideas? Input? Whatever?

I'm thinking short, one or two words... For a while I was thinking "So Anyway..." because I've been known to use those words a time or three, but then it made me think of the movie Say Anything and I really, really, really hate that movie. Because I used to really love it and now it reminds me of something that pisses me off. Then I was thinking "Surreality Check," but my life isn't that surreal. Long, long ago, before it was on Blogger, it was called "Random Insanity" but then I realized that (a) it wasn't random, and (b) it wasn't insane. Being in the mental health field, I find myself annoyingly sensitive to inaccurate casual references to being insane, schizophrenic, passive-aggressive, and so on.

I'm just pulling a blank here. Anybody? Anybody? Bueller?
Sunday, November 12, 2006
Not the Man in Charge
Willem was just telling me about a fraternity brother of his, known far and wide for his ability to annoy acquaintances and strangers alike before he even starts to speak. You might notice that I didn't mention friends and family; that's because if he has friends it's because they're intoxicated and well-paid (er, I mean, uh, brothers for life, and stuff) and if he has family they have long since disowned him and entered the Witness Protection Program.

Anyway, Willem just started a sentence with, "So, somebody just put F in charge --" and I cut him off right there. Because there is nothing, unless perhaps it is the first-person study of how lemmings feel going over a cliff, that F should be in charge of. Nothing.
Y E A H !

Willem and I went out last night. For eight hours. Without the kids. Just like a real date, with real grown-ups and nice clothes and everything. Except for the weird/funny parts that proved, once again, that we're not as cool as we thought we were. And we never thought we were that cool.

But we're still cooler than you. Especially if you were the size-18 woman in the size-12 see-through sheer tan tank top, the image of which has been burned onto my brain. When your choice of clothing stands out at a Def Leppard concert for its inappropriateness and unsuitability, you know you've reached a higher plane of being.

But I'm jumping ahead of myself. It's just that her outfit was really just that bad.


I got the tickets earlier this week, in what was apparently a bizarre fluke of arena karma, because I got 6th row seats four days before the concert and it was a sold-out show. Next time I'll sit behind a pole next to the sweaty smelly guy who knows every other word, just to balance it out.

I didn't get tickets because I'm a long-standing Def Leppard fan, or even a Journey fan, though I will admit to belting out a few bars of "Wheel in the Sky" upon occasion. I got tickets because Willem's birthday is December 26 and that is, frankly, an annoying time for a birthday to be, giftwise. Plus with his first round of comprehensive exams (The Dreaded Comps) lurking in January, I figured it'd be better for him to have a birthday present now, while he can enjoy it without obsessing over imaginary triangles or whatever it is that really smart mathematicians take tests on. He's not a die-hard fan of either band, but he has seen Def Leppard in concert a few times back in the day, so it was really a nostalgia type gift.

So we got a sitter and got dressed and left our children in the hands of a 17-year-old. Well, hand, actually. She had wrist surgery earlier this week, but she was confident that she could still handle both kids. For eight hours. Alone. Okee-dokee then! If I had had wrist surgery earlier this week, I still wouldn't want to be alone with them, but whatever floats her boat.

On the drive to Manchester, because nobody in their right mind would come within an hour of here to play to a crowd of more than, say, 24 people, Willem and I chatted of cabbages and kings and crazy family members, and then I caused his brain to explode. I had a skein of yarn and knitting needles, and wanted to know how many stitches I should cast on so that I would end up with a square piece of fabric and use up as much of the yarn as possible.

This was a much more difficult problem than I had envisioned, and I had envisioned it as being too hard for my poor little brain. It kept him happily entertained for most of the drive, sitting a few feet to my left muttering numbers and correcting himself. It was kind of sexy, actually. But recall the current state of pregnability around here... I was able to restrain myself.

Plus he was driving at the time, and I'm no Tawny Kitaen.

We ate, we chatted, we did not have to discipline any children. We were able to make snarky comments about our fellow diners without trying to encode them so as to make them child-safe. Such as my description of a couple who were both clear 3's on the attractiveness scale, obviously on their very first date ever, with the gentlemanly half so overwhelmed with lust that the intense hormonal stare never flickered when she made that horrible laugh-nicker noise. And such as Willem's response, when he was finally able to see the couple, who had the poor manners to sit behind him so he couldn't politely ogle them, that, "Well, yeah, she's a 3, but she's a 3 with big boobs."

Up to this point in the evening, I had been experiencing a low-grade discomfort because the black jeans I had picked felt fine while I was standing, but when I sat down the waistline dug directly into my recently-assaulted uterus, and I didn't enjoy that nearly as much as you might think. I finally insisted that I needed replacement pants, pronto. Willem laughed at me. I insisted. He caved.

So we found a Burlington Coat Factory, and I said that if I couldn't find something with five minutes of entering the store, I wouldn't bother. Willem laughed at me. I insisted. He waited in the car.

I was back in that car eight minutes later, and it would have been sooner than that if the brain trust charged with running the store on Saturday nights had seen fit to open more than one register at a time.

So there.

And, for those of you who think about such things, instead of finding another pair of uncomfortable jeans, I bought a black skirt with sparklies on it, and to compensate for the unshavedness of my legs I found some black thigh highs (because tights are too darn hard to put on in the car - trust me, I was in marching band, I know my limits). Changed in the front seat of the minivan. Seriously, how cool am I??

So, the concert. At the Shinedown/Godsmack/Rob Zombie concert, I sat near a boy who was young enough not to be at all self-conscious about his rock-on-ed-ness. This time, I sat near a boy just enough older to have the obligatory 15-year-old hunched-shoulders and hate-the-world glower but who was not above air-guitaring to anything and everything. During a break, he was able to break his angst long enough to tell me that, way back in eighth grade, he won an air guitar contest to "When the Lights Go Down in the City," for which I was suitably impressed.

Journey opened, and proved that they're really very smart. The show started with a guitar solo, of the "Star Spangled Banner." So right from the start they had the whole crowd on its patriotically obligatory feet, and most of us stayed obediently vertical for the next several songs. I think they've done this performing thing before.

They have a new singer, who looks to be about 25 to the rest of the band's 50something, both in energy and fashion sense, all of which adds together to create a vaguely American Idol feel. But the singer sounds enough like Steve Perry to placate me, so I thought it was a fine show.

They actually proved several times that they're really very smart. Before they played "When the Lights Go Down in the City," (to which, by the way, my angstful neighbor did, indeed, rock out) the singer put on a Manchester Police Department t-shirt and dedicated the song to Michael Briggs (go ahead, read that announcement and try not to think about "those poor boys," I dare you). Very touching and got the crowd's attention. Likewise later, when he wore a Manchester Monarchs jersey for a few songs and somehow, by a feat of physics unknowable by mere mortals, did not simply melt into a steaming puddle under the stage lights while wearing it. And again later with a Patriots jersey. The band knew their audience, good for them. We've already done some shopping today to reward them.

And, I'll admit it, I bought a Journey t-shirt.

Then there was Def Leppard, a band so far out of its prime that it's not even in its golden years anymore. We're talking Bonze Age now. But the thing is, they respect and understand that about themselves - this is a bunch of 50something guys playing for an appreciative crowd and enjoying themselves, not a bunch of 50something guys hoping that no one will notice that they're not 20 anymore. They played well, a good set list so that even those of us who've never owned a Def Leppard album could still sing along at least most of the time. The post title is a reference to their latest album. Def Leppard is still coming out with albums. Who knew?

Unless you're the wildly overenthusiastic blonde in the tank top and cowboy hat (who does deserve a personal shout-out for being able to carry the outfit she had chosen; far too many in that audience were not hampered by thoughts of flatteringness when selecting attire for the evening), who could sing along the WHOLE time, while dancing with a beer bottle and waving her arms and generally really FEELING the BAND - a would-be roadie with seats too far back and tickets 20 years too late. She knew.

So, a good night. Much fun. Good music. Yippee!

And, a note to those terrorists who might be thinking of targeting a slightly aged, oddly dressed group of very white rednecks mulletheads Americans, chances are good that the Journey/Def Leppard show will soon be in an arena near you.
Saturday, November 11, 2006
No longer an impregnable fortress of alien communications am I... I went on Thursday and found a nice, soothing, comforting doctor with sufficiently warm hands and no sudden movements, who, after a 5-minute conversation, was willing to remove my IUD (and show it to me, which I'm not certain improved the relationship) and send me on my merry way. If only more interactions were so decisive.

Though, in all honesty, I don't think I would want a 5-minute chat with the checkout girl at Hannaford to result in her asking me to scootch to the end of the conveyor belt. No matter how warm her hands are.

So I'm dealing with some, as the medical community likes to term it, "mild discomfort." Whatever. I've defeated the aliens, and that's what really matters.

And for the immediate future, Willem and I are carefully avoiding eye contact, and we won't be washing our underwear together. While I do want a third baby someday, maybe, I don't want to start that process NOW, and we have a knack for knocking me up at the slightest provocation. I've been pregnant four times, each time on the pill or the patch.

Yeah, go ahead and read that again, you ladies who are out there protecting yourselves from the onslaught of diapers and drool with one tiny little pill a day. Not that it could happen to you, but, well... apparently it could. Two kids, two losses, four pregnancies all on the pill. Happily, three of those times we had recently had a conversation that started with, "I think we could start trying in a month or two..." and BAM.

Anyway. Now that I've had that thing removed, I'm hoping that soon I'll be able to return to my normal, better-living-through-chemicals state, in which I trust that slapping a little square sticker on my hip will somehow prevent a population increase in my house. Medicine is weird.
Friday, November 10, 2006
Life Isn't Fair
I don't often ask you to go read someone else's blog, because I have a whole list of them over there on the right if you're interested (though the REAL reason for that list is so that while I'm at work I can still visit people without recreating bookmarks on the work computer)...

... but this guy's experiences and words are killing me today. Read it for a while, give it some time - the awfulness of it took a few posts to really wash over me. Somehow reading it in reverse is even more horrific for me, but if you prefer to read things in chronological order, it seems like November 1 would be the place to start. It's on page 7 right now, but may continue to slip backward.

Just let me warn you. This is horrifying, because it's so damn mundane at first. And it just keeps not getting better. And I don't know what I would do.

There's one line, paragraph, clump of words, whatever, that just blew me away.
She never believed in an afterlife. I did, to an extent, but we never talked about it. I wish now that we had agreed on a place to meet, just in case.
Men ARE from Mars
My husband spent some unknown amount of time last night - more than the thirty seconds it just to me to decide that I don't get it - playing this game. Snickering and giggling and generally enjoying himself.

So I came into work this morning, all set to play some fun new time-wasting game, and I'm left clueless. Maybe I'm not supposed to understand.

Okay, an update from Willem:
Well, it's NOT fake popping bubble paper or singing horses but the reason I find it funny is because I try really hard not to hurt the little guy, and he always crashes spectacularly.

Watch this video to see what you're supposed to do (not that I can do this yet). I especially like the last part of the video.

Clearly my creativity and commitment muscles are atrophied in the realm of Windows games. I'll have to work on that.
Thursday, November 09, 2006
Note to Self
Don't allow the boy to eat large amounts of popcorn the day before driving more than 10 minutes away from the house. And Jacob... sorry, man, but much of Concord, at least the people in the Borders parking lot, have seen your equipment.

So we're down one child for the next 2 days. How weird is that? The house just feels and sounds empty and echo-ey, even though there's lots of times when Emily is at school or at a friend's house or whatever. But somehow once she's out after dark, the house just fits wrong.

She's with her friend Em, who joined us at Storyland over the summer and chased ducks. It's always nice to farm your kids out to people you actually like, as opposed to sending her to redneck birthday parties. Even Willem likes Em's family, which is not necessarily a given with Mr. Studly von Manlipants. He has a gift for finding the flaws underneath everyone's perfection. Which may just be why I married him.
Wednesday, November 08, 2006
Awww and Oops and Yeah
As is my habit at the end of each shift, I called Curmudgeonly J, who is on the overnight shift tonight, to let him know what issues are ongoing, who was hospitalized today, et cetera. And at the end of the phone call, he said, unprompted by me, "How are you feeling today, any better?"

Awwww, I could weep. Curmudgeonly J not only knew I was sick, but remembered to say something. Isn't it sad when we're surprised when someone turns out to be human after all?

But never fear, there's a 4-hour staff meeting tomorrow... plenty of time to balance that out.

As for the oops. My father and I were chatting at lunchtime, and he said, "Oh, just so you know, I've told your sisters and my family about W. So it's not like some big secret now." Umm, yeah. Except I posted it a month ago here, so I've already told just about everyone I know. But I appreciated the clarity, I suppose. Whatever.

And then the yeah. I was, briefly, a celebrity today. A local radio station was having one of those ongoing discussions where they ask people to call in with stories, today's topic being weird break-ups. One DJ started it with a story about his buddy who broke up with a girl via a text message to her phone.

So I called in, being en route to the hospital with nothing better to do (shut up, it would NOT have been better to just pay attention and drive), and told them about RobbieG, my weirdest high school relationship.

RobbieG preferred to be called Rob, but his last name was one syllable and RobbieG**** just flowed so much better... and besides, who picks nicknames based on what the target would prefer to be called? I knew him distantly, we had a few friends in common. But he was a year behind me and I was a nerd in a lot of AP classes, so our paths rarely crossed. And I was a wicked band geek, not to mention theater club and mock trial and Mathletes (yeah-huh!) and he was not, which removed us even more.

But I knew him. Sort of. By sight.

So you can imagine my surprise one day, to answer the phone and have him on the other end. And even more so when he said, "Hi, Kate. I just wanted to let you know that I want to go out with someone else, so I think you and I should stop seeing each other."


I said, "Hello? RobbieG? Um, I mean, Rob?"

He said, "Yeah, who else?"

"Well, sure, good question. Um. You know this is Kate, right?"

"Yes, of course. Duh. I'm just saying, I really like you, but I don't think we can be anything more than friends."


(long pause)

He said, "So... you're okay with that?"

"Yes. In fact, I always was."

"Oh. You're not mad?"

"No. Confused, but not mad. I guess I didn't realize we were, you know... anything."

"Oh. Well. Okay. I'll see you around, then!"


(long pause)

I said, to no one, "I think I just got dumped. That's really weird."

So I ate ice cream and got over it. To my knowledge, he and I never dated again... but now that I think of it, he never did officially call and tell me he couldn't marry me, so maybe I'm married with 4 kids in upstate New York. I should check on that.
Tuesday, November 07, 2006
"If You Don't Vote, You Can't Complain."
Well, I voted. So I get my complain-all-year-free card in the mail soon, right?

And it's funny that I was able to vote. I actually didn't plan on it today, because I had to work from 8:00 in the morning to 8:00 at night, and I didn't have all that much strength of emotion about state politics. Or national politics. Or school politics. I mean, I barely have the energy to remain both conscious and civil during office politics.

Which were in full force this morning, because I was still feeling under the weather but well enough to be at work. Because, trust me, if I'm feeling too sick to go to work, then I won't go to work. Even if I'm thinking about feeling too sick to go to work, or if I just wish I was too sick to go to work, then I won't go to work. Are you sensing a trend?

So this morning, I was there, but I sounded bad and looked like hell warmed over. Not that this is terribly different from an average day, but it was enough that Perfect J was visibly recoiling every time I exhaled. I could actually see her thoughts when she started visualizing the construction of a large tub of boiling bleach into which she could dip me and anything I have ever touched, just in case. On its own, this probably would have been more than sufficient entertainment to keep me at work all day, but then Supervisor N came in and she was also adamant that I didn't need to be there and I should go home. Fine, twist my arm, whatever.

I went home, puttered for a while, and then went to vote. It was actually just cute enough to be nauseating without actually inducing vomit: Willem and I went to vote together, and then went and wandered through the small-town tragedy 43-year-old hardware store going-out-of-business sale... just so romantic.

Actually, it kind of was.

So, I voted. Therefore, my complaints:
1. The drapes at the polling station were too stiffly starched, so whenever someone left their little cage, they briefly opened their two neighbors' cages, as well. What if we were voting naked, huh? How embarrassing would that have been?

2. Election night coverage is annoying yet somehow hypnotic. But it preempts everything else, and I'm just not interested in men in suits whose heads don't move talking about numbers.

3. The guy who ran against Charlie Crist in Florida really should have billed himself as the anti-Crist. He wouldn't have won anyway, but the title would have been way cooler.

4. For a while, the candidates for one of the NH Congress seats were just ludicrously close: Jeb Bradley with 74,337 votes and Carol Shea-Porter with 74,308. 31 29 votes out of 148,645. That's just insane. Carol has since pulled ahead. No hanging chads for us.
My mathematician husband was appalled at my error. Me, too, in all honesty. Stupid elections anyway.

5. My husband has learned well what to say to make me happy. (Though, no, it was not, "Here's your muffin, I didn't eat it, I just moved it.") Such as, "We had to vote for nine people for the NH House of Representatives, and I didn't know much about them. So I chose the seven women on the ballot, plus the other two guys I'd heard of." Good for him. His mother would simply die if she knew. Especially since he didn't vote for her types of people. ESPECIALLY since her types of people were decidedly routed in New York.

6. It's 11:30 and I'm still awake after announcing I was tired back at 10:00 p.m. Stupid elections, anyway.

There. Enough complaining for tonight, don't you think?
I Hate Stepping on the Cat
Lucky for her. Because she doesn't seem to be a huge fan of it, herself.

I've never done it on purpose, but every once in a while she likes to hang out under the table, and standing at the table can result in smooshed catness. She yowls, loudly and with authority, and since she's not normally a talkative critter (though whenever touched, she says, "Murph," which would be a great name for a cat, but by the time we noticed this habit she had already become Sabrina), it scares the bejeezus out of me.

Hence, I hate stepping on her. Not because I'm a good person, but because I don't particularly like having the bejeezus scared out of me. I like my bejeezus intact.

I also hate sitting on her.
Monday, November 06, 2006
The Sanctity of the Three-Day Rule has been Violated
And let me tell you, I am rocked to my very core.

The way it works is, if there are leftovers from a home-cooked meal here, they're open game. Anyone can have them, anytime, whatever. But if there are leftovers from takeout or a dinner out, be it Friendly's or Au Jourd'Hui, then the ordered and partial-eater has dibs on those leftovers for three days. If by some odd quirk of nature the leftovers are still around after three days, and are still edible, then they become open territory. The only exception to this is if the orderer has verbally and deliberately relinquished leftover-rights.

This has been long understood in our house, after a few heart-rending and difficult moments early on.

So you can imagine my shock and chagrin, then, when I came out this morning prepared to have the second half of yesterday's coffee cake muffin from Dunkin Donuts, and found... nothing. All gone. Not even the bag was still here.

And a suspicious silence from my husband makes me wonder whether he is avoiding me due to guilt or whether he was forced at knifepoint to abduct the muffin against his will on behalf of terrorists. Neither of which will absolve him of the Three Day Rule transgression, of course.
Sunday, November 05, 2006
Magnetic Cat Water
Jacob and I are sharing some sort of illness at the moment. I can't quite tell if it's a cold on its way to getting better, or if it's a warning shot fired over my bow and I'm about to be subjected to a full tactical assault. I sound sick, all nasal and lacking certain key consonants, but I mostly feel okay, except for the vertigo and fever.

Likewise with the boy, I think. His ability to clarify symptomology, at 2, isn't all that developed just yet. I do know that he reacts to illness completely, 180-degree opposite from how I react. Me, I give serious consideration to constructing a bunker underneath the house, stocking it with chocolate, soft clothes and a few trusted DVDs, and hiding out in solitary confinement until I start to feel human again. And maybe for a few days longer, even, if my offspring have been particularly trying lately. But Jacob wants all snuggles, all the time, regardless of minor details like horrifying nasal output or the skin-crawling-ness of a fever.

So he's extra-clingy today, despite all of those dryer sheets we've been rubbing all over him, which set him up for an impressive feat of gravity and aim this evening. Willem was getting something out of the fridge, and Jacob was perfecting his Whine-and-Hover technique. Willem moved to close the door, Jacob overbalanced... and landed, diaper-first, precisely into the cat's water bowl.

A good mother would not have been as amused at this as I was.

Later, Willem tossed a towel toward the washing machine, which is still in my kitchen until I get the motivation and energy and presence of mind during business hours to get a plumber or three here to give an estimate on putting in a second bathroom-slash-laundry room. (Because I did get an estimate a while ago, but then when I called the guy back last month, it turns out that he had died a few days ago. Which apparently makes scheduling difficult.) The towel also landed directly in the cat's water.

As did my foot, later, when I was getting a glass out of the dishwasher.
Friday, November 03, 2006
It's Not Illegal to Be Crazy
This woman keeps calling at work, asking if we can force her son's girlfriend into treatment, because said girlfriend is "sick and crazy," which as far as I can figure means delusional and paranoid. Girlfriend has been taken to the emergency room and evaluated three times in the past week. That's a lot. Shows stamina.

But each time she says the right things, such as, "No, I'm not suicidal and I don't want to go to the hospital," so we keep sending her back home. With encouragement to get help, call a doctor, get on meds, etc., because I just can't imagine that under any circumstances is it pleasant to live in a world inhabited by malevolent robots and bugs crawling under your skin. (Though, I grant you, perhaps that's a shortcoming in my imaginative abilities.)

And she doesn't follow up, because she doesn't want to. Because she's paranoid. Because, whatever. She doesn't. That's her right. It's not illegal to be unhealthy.

It is, however, illegal to be suicidal or homicidal, and if she says she is, then we can hospitalize her even if she doesn't want to be. But she's not. And, no, as a matter of fact, I do not think it would be okay to lie and say that she is just to get her in a hospital for the weekend.

So she goes home, and a few days later, boyfriend's mother gets revved up again, and starts calling. "But what do I do? She's staying in my house, and I can't take it anymore." Well, ma'am, seems to me like a quick fix would be to get her out of the house. I know, I know, you would feel guilty about that. I hear ya. Guilt sucks. But that's your choice - guilt or living with the crazy lady, because I'm telling you right now, the pretty, quiet asylums with acres of green lawns and comfortable padded rooms don't exist anymore. There's noplace like home, said Dorothy - and as long as you're letting crazy girlfriend live with you and eat and be comfortable, she's going to want to keep doing that. Because she's crazy, not stupid.

And it wouldn't be illegal to be stupid, either. Trust me. You think we have prison-overcrowding issues NOW?

Today, boyfriend's mother has called me twice, and I just got a call from the local police department that she's calling and visiting them. She called my coworkers 4 times yesterday, and she has also called another nearby agency plus the Department of Children, Youth and Families. As though if she asks enough different people, eventually she will get the answer she wants.

More power to her in her efforts... but I'm holding the party line on this end.
I'm Such a Lemming
I was not in any sort of a mood this morning. Not a good one, not a bad one. Just doing my job and waiting for the day to pass by.

But then I started chatting telepathically communicating with my friend Kim, and SHE was in a bad mood, and like the good little lemming I am, I jumped right over that cliff with her. From blase to bitchy in 4.7 seconds.

And the answer is NO. NO, I don't know where all of the paperwork is for the people who worked yesterday. I wasn't in that particular crowd, and even if I was I wouldn't babysit their paperwork. NO, I did not wear an IQ-reducing tie over my casual-dress-Friday t-shirt today in honor of some guy, whom I have never actually shared airspace with, leaving the company. And NO, I don't care where you're going for lunch, you insipid overly-chatty ... person. No.

And please don't ask me if I want to come along, because I think we've already established the answer.
My Cat is Stoned
The good news is, my cat didn't end up needing any teeth pulled yesterday. The bad news is, it cost me $220 to get her teeth brushed. Those suckers better be good and strong now. I'm talking tooth-wrestling strong, for that kind of money. Though this is the first time we've had to have anything medical done to her since the weird eye-covering tumor 10 years ago, so I guess I can forgive her.

The funny thing, and what makes the money all worth it, is that the vet initially thought that she would be yanking a tooth or three, so they knocked the cat out in preparation. Which means that though the cat was moving and well enough to yell at me for putting her back in the carrier and the car again, she was stoned all last night. Lots of walking directly into walls, not quite judging the height of the couch well, and staring at nothing. Which may not sound unusual for a cat, but this one seems to have figured out the fundamentals of not weirding me out, so normally she's a little more, well, normal. Not *smart*, but normal.

There was one particularly amusing incident in which she wanted Willem to open the door for her but she couldn't seem to figure out that she needed to back up out of the way. He would open it an inch, and the door would bonk the cat in the head. She would back up an inch, he would open the door a little more, and it would bonk the cat in the head. Repeat.

Good times.

Me, now, I'm not stoned. But I'm really, really tired, and I'm already on my second hospital call of the day, 53 minutes into my official shift (though I started a half hour early today, aren't I a good doobie). So I'm thinking coffee is in my immediate future. Because, really, what makes a Friday better than feeling jittery and anxious all day?
Thursday, November 02, 2006
You Rank it and Count it Down...
...and I will watch it.

I love countdown shows. I don't even care what they're counting down. I've been known to watch sports countdown shows, and please believe me, that is saying a lot.

Right now I'm set up on my couch, knitting happily, and watching a VH1 countdown of the best '80s songs. The level of bliss that this brings me is nearly inexpressible. I just had to flip open my trusty laptop and share it.

And this show/series/whatever is FIVE HOURS LONG. My goodness.
Please Don't Wish Me Luck
In some things, sure, I welcome it. Wish me luck in finishing about a dozen sweaters before Christmas. Wish me luck when trying a new recipe. Wish me luck in not creating something new for my kids to talk to about their someday-therapists, today.

But when it comes to internship applications, please don't wish me luck. If you all could do your best to, in fact, distract me from the mere presence of such things as psychology internships, student loans, and imminent rejection, that would be just fabulous.

The thing is, last year, my applications were 100% rejected, and I was crushed. I wandered into a deep dark depression that lasted many months, made worse by my lack of health insurance (no meds) and employment and acquaintances who were employed at all of the local mental health agency (no therapy). I thought I would never be able to have the career I had set my heart on, and I thought I would never pay off my student loans. And I thought I would not be myself, as I had always envisioned me.

I've had time, and healing, and perspective... and a big enough change in my financial future... to make all of those worries fade a bit. So I'm better. And I've learned that I can live through that big slimy pile of rejection if it should get dumped upon my head again, so I'm not even especially anxious about it this time around. Really. I had a bad week leading up to the completion and mailing of the applications, but now that they're in the mail, it's all out of my hands. I'm calmer than I expected. Yippee.

The moral of this rambling is, I wanted to provide an update because, well, just because. It's my blog and I'll post what I want to. I'll offer another update when there's news. And in the meantime, if you hold an ounce of affection for me in your hearts, please just distract, distract, distract...
Wednesday, November 01, 2006
Some Things Don't Belong in an Office Environment
Such as, Perfect J's daughter's 120-pound dog. Sure, it's cute, and quiet, and well-behaved. Lovely.

But it also is disconcerting, off-putting, and a wee bit unnerving to be on the phone with a client, trying to convince her not to commit suicide, and to glance over at the enormous dog sitting on the floor next to your desk, and be confronted with an unobstructed view of far more dog penis than would ever be cleared for primtime television viewing.

I mean, really.

Speaking of inappropriate things to do at work... While I'm not quite as cool or popular as Wordnerd, I'm still jazzed at the idea of rolling over 10,000 hits today. Took me all of 342 posts to do it, but then many of them are just archives from my pre-Blogger days... so who knows how many posts it actually took?

Anyway, thanks to everyone for visiting. In honor of 10,000, I'm trying out a new template. Thanks to Pannasmontata for doing all of the hard stuff so that all I had to deal with was details.
To the Man in the Red Corolla
I don't care that you supported George W. Bush in the last election. Fifteen times, if your bumper stickers are any indication.

I don't care that you carry a gun. It doesn't make me think any higher of you, or assume that you are any more masculine. TRUST me, it's not that impressive.

I don't care that you're against abortion. Given that you are middle-aged and, please God, not married, it is not likely to ever be an issue for you. Sure, okay, "Abortion Stops a Beating Heart," but you know what? So does smoking, and gee what's that little white stick in your hand?

I don't care that you support the troops. My personal opinion is that the best possible way to support the troops is to constantly question why they're over there and remain critical and aware. But if you need tens of thousands of Americans in the Middle East, fighting and dying, in order for you to feel like a better patriot, fine. Whatever. The sticker with the word "IRAQ" centered in a gun scope doesn't seem to me like the best or most effective foreign policy, but maybe you're just in the know.

And, to be clear, if you were at the opposite end of the political spectrum on every single one of those bumper stickers, I still wouldn't care. If I want to get to know you better, I'll sit you down and have a chat. I don't need your entire biography spelled out in cheap sun-faded stickers on the back of your car.

What I DO care about is actually not attached to your car at all. Do you see those little yellow lines on the road? They're there for a reason. Maybe you could try staying to the right of them. And that big bright thing overhead? That's a stoplight. There's a secret code to what all those colors mean, and I'd be happy to clue you in sometime. And also, those big white signs with the weird numbers on 'em? They have a purpose, too.

Until you've unlocked the mystery of traffic control devices, and perhaps some restraint in personal advertising, I'd appreciate it if you wouldn't drive in front of me, ever again. Okay? Okay.