Monday, August 31, 2009

Educate this, b*tch

Today, at age 30, a full 13 years after I started college, I am the recipient of a college diploma. I am the purported holder of a bachelor of science in journalism, with a minor in political science. I have graduated. I am official. Officially capable of continuing to do what I do, except that now, on my resume, instead of "degree pending," it will say "Bachelor of Science, Journalism," and potential employers will dutifully note that I did not attend Berkeley or Stanford or even Santa Clara, but that at some point, I attended a state college, and completed enough courses that the bureaucracy that is my alma mater reluctantly coughed up a faux leather-bound degree, signed by the Governator and Chuck Reed, and some other people, and it says I have one less thing to worry about, now.

My years at college were, in retrospect, some of the best of my life, and believe me when I say I never thought I would say something so cliche.

During college, I met my husband and friends I'll have for life. I learned to drive stick shift. I learned to drink a lot. I learned how to work on a newspaper. I took classes I didn't need, including biology, remedial English, and sex education. I learned I was a very small fish in a big, big pond. I landed an internship in Florida, which to this day is one of the most surreal experiences of my life. I lived on my own. I worked funky jobs. I thought life was hard, and I had no idea.

College equaled time spent in the newsroom, the Student Union, the library, the Flying Pig Pub, football games, mysterious underground tunnels we had no right to be in. College, for me, was nontraditional. Home was mere minutes away. I needed jobs to pay for stuff. Completion was staggered and, frankly, miraculous.

I may not be the type you'd expect to attend college. My mom has admitted she never expected me to finish. I took math several times, and flunked several times. This, despite the fact that I was a fourth-grade champion of the multiplication table. I could tell you what the answer was to a pile of flash cards with multiplication problems on them faster than anyone in my class. I now realize I wasn't a multiplication champion, I was a memorization champion. Same reason I won the Copy Editing contest during an inter-collegiate competition several years ago. I'd memorized the Style Book.

College equaled coffee and walking to class in the rain and the smell of old chairs in an amphitheater classroom and professors with glasses sliding down their noses and books that cost too much and breakfast burritos and late nights and phone books hurled against the wall and corrupt student government that meant more to me than it should have. College was sexual frustration and relationship drama and weight loss and weight gain and crying and my dog died and my aunt's partner died too and I was in a car accident and I cut ties with my best friend and I did things I never expected to do. And how can college be such a great memory if part of that memory is skipping class because I was lying prostrate in bed, with, in retrospect, a dangerous bout of depression that actually made dying seem appealing? Well. It just was. After all, I got out of the bed, and I went to the newspaper, because I wouldn't disappoint those people, and they are the ones who got me through that particular time of my life.

So, college, it was real. I'm thankful for the experience and the wonderful people I met there and who I'm privileged to still call friends. But college, I am so glad to be done with you.

Friday, August 28, 2009

A bite to chew

I am buried under a pile of excel spreadsheets and lists of Things That Need To Get Done, so what I want to do is tell you about this article that you should read, even if you don't want to. Which, you probably won't want to, because it's Friday and this is not uplifting material, and it's thought provoking and horrifying and if you're like me, you'll feel tears well up in your eyes while you're reading it, not to mention that it's approximately the same length as the Bible so will take you a nice long while to read.

But, it must be known. It is the story of what happened at Memorial Hospital in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.

You may have already heard some of the story, heard of how some of the hospital staff administered lethal doses of morphine and other drugs, causing the deaths of several very ill patients after they waited for days to be rescued, after the electricity and generators shut off and the water stopped running and the hospital was surrounded with sewer water and the most critical patients, who were on ventilators, had already died.

But the whole story doesn't seem to have been told until now. I started reading it, believing one thing, and finished reading it believing another. Something happened to the people running that hospital. I can't imagine how horrifying it must be to be in a situation like that, with hundreds of people counting on you to save them. But because of the way these people were trained, and the time they've spent over the years telling people what's best for them, they made a decision that was very, very disturbing.

This is a story that needs to be a film. Protocols need to be developed out of what happened during those awful days. Everyone who works in a hospital needs to know what the process should be in case something like this happens at the hospital they work in.

This is a story that illustrates behavior exhibited by a majority of doctors and nurses every day. Doctors and nurses are, admittedly, the ones with all of the medical training, but that doesn't mean they know what's best for everyone's health all the time. This is a story that illustrates how people need to stand up for what they believe in and not be intimidated into complying with something they know is very, very wrong.

When Hubs was in the hospital a few months ago for his appendectomy, he was lying in a bed in the emergency room, and nurses would come in and out and tell him what was what. At one point, a nurse came in with a vial of dilaudid and aimed a needle-full of it toward Hubs' IV. "What is that?" we asked. "Dilaudid." The nurse kept moving toward the IV. "I'm not sure I want that." The nurse's facial expression did not change. After all, it was 4 a.m. and he was probably tired of whiny patients asking annoying questions. "Believe me, you want it." He injected the dilaudid. Hubs' eyes widened and he sank back into the bed.

This is how you are treated in the hospital. You are officially their ward if you have the misfortune of needing immediate medical attention. Your opinion is worth little to nothing to them -- after all, they know best and you will comply. This is why I have vowed to stay as far from doctors and hospitals as possible, unless I have an undeniable need to see or visit one. I can defend myself only so much. I have no medical training and couldn't tell you the first thing about what dilaudid, or any other drug, really is or what it does to you. And if someone decides that they are certain they know what is best for me, whether I want it or not, I am doubtful that I could defend myself from that while lying helplessly in a hospital bed.

So read this, and remember it. And then, enjoy your weekend.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Returning to normalcy

Don't ask how we did it, but we watched the entirety of "Lost" Season 5 in 4 days. Suffice to say I am exhausted and more than a little relieved. Now I can stop obsessing about this show for a few months ... until Season 6 starts in January.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Setting the tone

The weekend ...

Friday night:
-Muchmuchmuchmuchmuch too salty Emeril recipe for grilled salmon with sweet corn salsa which was yummy aside from the salt.
-Bottle of wine.
-Friend arrives in minor distress about relationship. Tequila is unearthed from recesses of freezer.
-Muchmuchmuchmuchmuch too much tequila is drunk.

-7:20 a.m. -- Cat is banging on bedroom door with force of gorilla. Head is throbbing with a feeling not felt since 2006.
-7:25 a.m. -- Cats have been fed, glass of water has been drunk, two excedrin have been taken. Lying in bed as still as possible.
-7:45 a.m. -- Stumble to toilet for unpleasant expelling of water and excedrin.
-8 a.m. -- Lying on couch as still as possible. Cats are jumping on me.
-8:15 a.m. -- Dry heaving. Oh, joy! How old am I, again??
-8:30 a.m. -- Lying very still in bed again with ice pack on head.
-11 a.m. -- Headache portion of Killer Hangover From Hell is gone. Nausea portion in charge now.
-12 p.m. -- Very slowly drink coffee, eat toast. Writhe uncomfortably on couch.
-2 p.m. -- Shower.
-3:15 p.m. -- I am somehow attending a housewarming party. Eating pile of fruit.
-5 p.m. -- I am somehow attending pre-season football game party. Eating pile of chicken wings.
-10 p.m. -- Home. Watching too much "Lost."

-9:30 a.m. -- Awake. Booo.
-10:30 a.m. -- Bacon and toast. Push eggs to side.
-11 a.m. -- Clean house with Wrath of a Madwoman.
-2 p.m. -- Eat McDonalds salad. I know. This is stupid.
-2:30 - 4 p.m. -- Clean house with Wrath of madwoman.
-4 p.m. -- Shower.
-4:30 p.m. -- nap.
-5 p.m. -- "Lost" marathon.
-8 p.m. -- Chipotle.
-9 p.m. -- Continue "Lost" marathon.
-12 p.m. -- Bed.

Happy Monday....

Friday, August 21, 2009

Three things + 1 admission of guilt

So remember how I kvetched endlessly about Starbucks and how they were jacking up my drinks and how I was tired of paying an arm and a leg for a cup of skim milk with a couple shots of espresso in it and I was never, ever going to go back there? Well. That lasted a couple of weeks, until I got tired of making my own coffee and drinking subpar coffee from other stores. I returned to the Starbucks I'd been frequenting and to date, they have not jacked up my drink again. For the record, I am still tired of paying an arm and a leg for my beverage.

Anyway I had to admit that because I am listing three observations this morning, and one of them involves Starbucks.

1. I was staring longingly at the croissants and muffins in the glass case at Starbucks, and as I stepped forward to drop diamonds into the cashier's palm in exchange for my latte, he said, "I saw you looking at them. You've touched them with your eyes, now you have to get one." It struck me as funny. I didn't get one because I haven't eaten a bad carb all week and I'm not about to start today.

2. The garage stairwell smelled like that Esprit perfume that all the girls used to wear when I was in junior high. What the hell was that stuff called? Anyway, it was a welcome change from how it normally smells, which is like cigarettes and farts.

3. I saw the Esprit perfume-wearing culprit walking toward the entrance to my office building. She performed a small ballet twirl and then entered the building. I took it as a good sign.

Happy Friday.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Items for discussion

So, at least 10% of America is on antidepressants.

Also, there is a space rock 430 feet in diameter that has a 1 in 3,000 chance of hitting Earth in 2048 and an asteroid twice that size that has a one in 43,000 chance of hitting Earth in 2036, 2037 or 2069.

Talk amongst yourselves.

Hello, Kitty

This morning I called Hubs while I was at work and he was still at home, getting ready for work. I had a question about something or the other, and when we were finished discussing that, he says, "Do the kitties want to say hi to mommy?"
Yes, this is what we've become. We refer to each other as mommy and daddy to our cats, for godssakes.
"Say hi to the kitties."
"Hi kitties! How are my babies?? Hellooooo?"
Intervene cube mate: "You are not seriously talking to your cats right now."
Hubs: "Talk to them! They like it!"
"Kitties? Hello, kitties!"
*silence on the other end of the phone*
*disturbed head shaking from cube mate*
"They like it! Murray held his paw out toward the phone! I think they know it's you."
So there you have it. Wednesday morning phone chat with my cats and something that will take me a while to live down with my co-workers.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Annual Panic-fest

Two years ago this month, I almost passed out during a meeting at work. I hoped no one in the room would notice that my chest was heaving as I tried to get enough breath to continue being conscious. It was a problem that had been happening for a few weeks at that point, and that meeting was the straw that broke the camel's back. I had to do what people in my family simply do not do unless they feel they might just die -- I had to go to a doctor.

Many, many, many tests later, my doctor told me that I had an enlarged heart valve, an arrhythmia, an iron deficiency and a vitamin b12 deficiency that used to be called pernicious anemia because you could actually die from it. My condition is exacerbated by stress and I've been told not to be terribly surprised when it returns occassionally. Which is why, today, I am not terribly surprised that my heart is thumping and my head feels light.

It is, after all, that same time of year that set me off the first time -- budgets. During this time of year, my blogging efforts flag due to late hours in the office and a general feeling of being pissed off for about 30 days straight. So, I must apologize for any spotty blogging this week, but you see, I will be flogging myself in my ergonomical chair for the rest of the month and any blogging I do might end up seeming even more bitter than I normally seem, and that's saying something.

September will be better, I promise...

Thursday, August 13, 2009


So. Somehow I have refrained from blogging about my new be-furred children, who are almost 3 months old.

Hubs and I picked them up from the Humane Society. They're said to be litter mates -- brothers -- although how and why they look so different is anyone's guess. We're told it's possible they could have different fathers.

My kittens' foster mother tells me that their mother was hit by a car and had to be euthanized because she was too badly injured. So really, I feel like their adoptive mother, even though, yeah, I know, I sort of am their adoptive mother, but really, they're little orphans and now I'm their mommy.

Destroyer 1, aka Murray

Destroyer 2, aka Simon

The two destroyers play a game I like to call "I kill you," where they bite on each others' necks. The one doing the biting seems to be saying: "See, here is what it is like when I kill you." And the other often lies limp, as if to say, "I see."

Simon is easier to snap photos of because he holds still better than Murray.

I'm accustomed to hearing calamitous crashes from another room, and thinking nothing of it. I have accepted the fact that these cats will destroy my every possession.

This morning, Simon scratched the shit out of my knee, and this afternoon, his little destroyer twin Murray scratched the shit out of my boob. It's never malicious, they're just trying to hang on so they can be close to me. I decided to try cutting their nails today. So far, I've succeeded in cutting exactly one of Murray's nails and none of Simon's. Yeah.

The Destroyers have a couple more games. One is called, "Fuck, you stink!" and the other one is, "Where have you been all my life?" The stink game involves vigorous licking of one's brother's stinky parts. And the "Where have you been..." game is less of a game and more of a cuteness fiesta wherein the cats cuddle each other until you feel like you want to tear your eyeballs out from the cuteness overload.


Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Happy, Happy Birthday, Baby

Hello, love.

Today is your 33rd birthday. Three is a number I've always fancied, and I'm hoping being double-threes will work out for you in that way where you look back and think to yourself, Ah Self, weren't things grand when I was 33?

Kind of like when we look back on our college days and grin at each other, remembering how silly and young and naive we were, and how sort of neat it felt to not be sure where things would end up and how the world was our oyster. Not that we're old geezers now, or anything, just that some of that adventure might be over. But, my love, if there's one thing I've learned while living with you, it's that the adventure doesn't need to be over and nothing needs to be set in stone.

So, because it is your Birth Day, I've decided to start a new tradition, and that is going to be to give you a list of the things I love about you that corresponds to your age. So this year, it will be a list of 33 things. This list would be easier if you were turning, say, 6 years old, and if I keep this up, it could be a challenge when you turn, say, 80. Then again, I love a lot of things about you, so maybe it won't be that hard. I won't know 'til I try.

With that said, here we go (in no particular order):

I love:

33. When you do that thing you do with your lips when you're focusing very intently on something.

32. When you say sweet things in the morning.

31. When you fill up my car with gas for me, even though I haven't asked you to.

30. When you gush over a simple meal I've made.

29. Your clean soap smell.

28. When you laugh at my jokes.

27. When you encourage me to write "my book."

26. The way you invent alternative words for everyday things.

25. The way you triple check certain things.

24. The way you pay all the bills.

23. The fact that you let me hire Oscar.

22. The fact that you aren't a clean freak and don't seem to care that I'm not, either.

21. How you make me feel beautiful.

20. When you stand behind me and kiss my neck.

19. How you got me breakfast and flowers on Valentine's Day.

18. The way you encourage me to shop.

17. The fact that you're the life of the party.

16. Your generosity.

15. Your eyebrows.

14. When you email me funny things at work.

13. When you do your woman voice.

12. The way you volunteered to be the litterbox cleaner.

11. The way you are with children.

10. Your ambition.

9. The way you feel people out.

8. The way you take over the bed after I get up in the morning.

7. The way you like it when I'm mildly angry.

6. When you hold my hand.

5. The fact that you have hordes of friends.

4. Your adventurous palate.

3. The way you make me feel safe.

2. When you fall asleep on the couch.

1. Your reaction to "For He's a Jolly Good Fellow."

Happy birthday, babe.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Coast

The coast of Oregon could have been a whole trip unto itself. It was gorgeous and ethereal, shrouded in fog.

Here you can see a lighthouse in the distance.

Being an extreme dork, I'd brought my Fodor's guide of the Northwest with me to tell me what to see, where to stay and what to eat. This guide came in super handy quite a few times. Such as when we ate at Mo's.
Mo's claims to have the best clam chowder around, and they might be right. Check out this bread bowl. I soon realized that not only was the top of the bread smothered in butter, but the interior of the bread bowl had also been generously buttered before the chowder was poured in the bowl. Chowder purists might not fully appreciate this stuff since it's not as thick as clam chowder often is, but I thought it was quite tasty.

There's a chain of these places up and down the Oregon coast. To be honest, I don't remember what town this was in, but I think it was Florence.

Fodor's also suggested that we stay at this bed and breakfast in Coos Bay. It was kitschy and unfortunately the breakfast was sub par. I mean, if I'm staying at a bed and breakfast, I want some motherfucking BREAKFAST. Know what I mean? I knew you did.

This place is on the National Register of Historic Homes, yada yada. That's code for you can hear the guy in the room next door do EVERYTHING. And I mean everything.
So cute, and yet ... so irritating!

The view a few miles from Coos Bay.

There was a Japanese garden near Coos Bay, but it's largely unimpressive at the moment. I think they're replanting.

I like this photo.

One of my favorite pics from the trip

So now here's what happened after we got out of Oregon. We stayed a night in Arcata or somewhere around there, and I, like, didn't take any good photos. Here's what I've got. It's pathetic because we drove through the giant redwoods and do you think I got any good photos of that? That's a no.

At least I got the important stuff.

Golden bears over the Klamath River.


I bet you know this one...

In a couple days, KITTIES!


I'll try to remember to post the coast pics tonight. Last night the heat zapped my will to live, and all I was able to do was lie prone on the couch and defend my glass of water from the cats.

BUT. Since I am on here anyway, I must recommend that you read "It Sucked and then I Cried; How I had a Baby, a Meltdown & A Much Needed Margarita," by Heather B. Armstrong. I just bought this book and started reading it last night and I was laughing out loud, it was so funny. I don't usually laugh out loud at books, even when I am particularly amused, but this stuff is hilarious. Heather also has a website that I've plugged here about a thousand times because I enjoy it so much, which is how I found out about her book. And then the other day she mentioned another book that, ordinarily, I would never in a million years purchase, but because she is the one recommending it, I bought it. It's called "Your Best Birth" and is written by Abby Epstein and Ricki Lake.

Why on EARTH would I purchase such a book when A) I am not pregnant, nor am I really sure that I will be in the next year or so and B) I am like 99% certain I want drugs and lots of them when the time comes to give birth.

Well. Because it sounds like Heather and I were of the same mind when it came to drugs, but something magical written in that book seems to have changed her mind, so recently when she gave birth to her new baby daughter, she did it naturally, sans drugs.

There's a subset of people who seem to believe women should "take back" the birthing experience, rather than allowing science and medicine to dictate how your own child should be extricated from your womb. I like the idea of it so far, but still don't like the idea of pain. We'll see if Abby and Ricki can swing my vote.

So that is all on this Tuesday morning. Coast pics tonight, I promise.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Willamette Valley

We've wanted to see the Spruce Goose ever since we saw "The Aviator," which is a movie of Howard Hughes' life. Mostly he was a total nutjob, and at some point he built this giant wooden floating airplane that lifted off for about 30 seconds in its first and only flight.

So we decided we would go to McMinnville, OR, to see it. I know, where the hell is McMinnville, OR? It so happens that it's in Oregon's Willamette Valley, which, it so happens, is quite the up and coming wine country these days. McMinnville is a cute and sleepy little town, there's not much to see other than the enormous aviation museum. They recommend you set aside like 5 hours to see the place, and they're not kidding. It really takes that long.

So without further ado, I present the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum.

The hangar in which the Spruce Goose, and a number of other airplanes, are kept. There is an entire other hangar dedicated to the space vehicles, and another building that houses an IMAX theater.

The Spruce Goose

The belly of the Goose

Controls in the Spruce Goose

Our friendly tour guide in the cockpit of the Goose. That's iced tea, not beer.

The Wright Brothers' first airplane.

Cool plane with curtains in the windows


Ammo in the B-17

Honey Bucket. We saw this while lost in the Valley, looking for wineries.

10-beer sampler at Golden Valley Brewery and Restaurant. This place had really, really good food. And beer.

That's all for today. On Monday -- the Coast! Happy Friday...

Thursday, August 06, 2009


Did you know that at toll bridges in Washington, you can pay with a credit card? And yet, here in the purported aorta of all that is technologically advanced, you can pay with cash or a fasttrack card. We found this out the hard way coming back across the Golden Gate Bridge -- $5.25 won't cut it for the bridge toll, it's got to be $6. There's no amount of bowing, scraping or check-writing that will get you through. We were ticketed.

The Tacoma Something or Other Bridge, I believe.

I decided I could live in Seattle and not just because I've read too many Tom Robbins novels and have some romantic/perverted idea of what Seattle is. Although that could be part of it. Seattle is like SF except cleaner and friendlier.

When you go to Seattle, all anyone wants to know is "Did you see the Space Needle?" Yes. There it is.

This bathroom at Hotel Max was severely irritating in its smallness & impracticality. Where the fuck am I supposed to put my truckload of toiletries?

Hotel Max thinks it is very clever.

Here's what all the fuss is about: Pike's Place Market. This place is pretty amazing as far as fresh food and flowers is concerned.

Where we enjoyed a fantastic four course meal with wine pairings. This restaurant is called "Crush," it's in a house in a residential area of Seattle. We highly recommend it.

Tomorrw: The Willamette Valley.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

And then

We left Crater Lake, stopping for a picture next to some snow.

We were impressed with how long and straight the road north was.

Our accommodations in Portland were just slightly better than those near Crater Lake.

We noted that Portland is overrun with hippies, and we even saw a girl walking through downtown at about 4 in the afternoon, smoking a joint.

We enjoyed a very yummy dinner at the Heathmann Restaurant & Bar, where we had delicious crab cakes and cocktails to start. Hubs had a smoky martini and I had a bellini. We ordered a bottle of chardonnay, and Hubs had French onion soup and quail & scallops. I had chicken minestrone soup and sole florentine. We shared a dessert of bread pudding. Hubs had port and I had dessert wine. It was a glutton's feast and we were mighty sorry for it afterward, given our aching tummies.

Some bridge. That is the Willamette River.

And then, on our way out of Portland, we were rear-ended in Lacey, WA. It wasn't a huge deal, just a tap on the back by a brand new Prius driven by an elderly man with Parkinson's Disease who'd spilled a milkshake all over himself and was on his way to see his wife in the hospital, who had just had a heart attack. We felt terrible for the guy. The damage was minor, but enough that we're getting a new bumper.

After a lengthy drive, we arrived in Port Angeles, where my cousin lives with her husband and two children.

The view of the port from our hotel room.

As it happens, my cousin's 5-month old baby, Jordan, is the cutest thing Port Angeles has ever seen. Trust me on this.

Sweet Jordan

While in Port Angeles, we went to an Indian casino. Hubs won a little cash. I drank a dirty martini. We all went to a bar after that and drank a little more, maybe too much.

The next morning, Hubs got picked up on by a gay man in a restaurant, while I was sitting with him. Which is pretty impressive.

That afternoon Hubs went tubing for the first time at a lake near Port Angeles.

Rough life

More tomorrow!