Friday, April 30, 2010

Wedded bliss

One week ago, my husband and I celebrated our 4-year wedding anniversary. Normally we take a little trip and do something fun. Last year we went to Napa and had a great time. This year, after everything, I mustered the effort to put on makeup and go out to dinner with a smile on my face.

We had a great dinner in Los Altos, accompanied by a bottle of wine. We came home and, feeling celebratory, I had a martini. The next morning I paid the price. I've always gotten extra nasty hangovers after drinking too much, and this was one for the books. As I lay in bed with an ice pack on my head, I could hear my husband pouring cereal into a bowl in the kitchen, and the mere idea of cereal with milk on it made my stomach turn so hard that I went running to the bathroom.

Maybe a day later, Hubs asked me if I thought I could go two weeks without alcohol. I smirked. Of course I can go two weeks without alcohol. Could I go a month without alcohol, he wondered? Yes, I said. I just don't want to.

At first I thought he might be accusing me of being an alcoholic. Moi? Who speaks so reverently of wine and frequently has a glass with dinner? Does that constitute alcoholism? Not in my opinion. This wikipedia entry calls it "compulsive and uncontrolled consumption of alcohol," which is not the relationship I currently have with alcohol.

But after more discussion, I realized his point was that perhaps we should take a step back and evaluate our alcohol intake. And after only one week of abstaining from alcohol, I admit I've probably overused it.

My fatty fatterton self-help books talk about how people (me! me!) use food to feel happy, to feel love. Food is not what we seek but it's the tool we use, stupidly, over and over again, squashing down hurtful emotions, not knowing how to deal with the shitty stuff in our lives. I believe alcohol can serve the same purpose. Every night at my grandparents' house, I drank (and ate).

Love is not in my fridge, love is not in a bottle of wine. Nor is comfort. I don't want to make excuses for myself, allowing myself certain indulgences because I "deserve" them. It's not living in the moment and dealing with crappy thoughts and emotions as they surface. I still don't know how to deal with some emotions, but I do know I don't want to stuff them down with food and alcohol.

Anyway, this wasn't meant to be preachy. Actually, this entry took an unexpected turn. I expected to write about my husband, supportive man that he is. And he is. Except for the other night when I cut myself making dinner and said, "Ow. OW!" and he didn't say or do anything, and it hurt my feelings and I cried in the bathroom while I wrapped a bandage on my thumb, not because it hurt but because I am needy right now, and right then I needed him to express concern. I always say "Ow" when I'm making dinner, by the way. I am accident prone, and burning or slashing myself is pretty much a nightly occurrence. It's not his fault if he thought this was just another minor injury.

Yesterday I framed and hung a photo of us from about five years ago. We are at my sister's wedding. It was so hot that day, oh misery. It was blazing. I was the maid of honor, wearing a short coral jacquard silk dress and carrying a matching bouquet. In the photo, I am sitting on my husband's lap, but in that photo we are not married, or even engaged yet.

Hubs is a very private man.

We used that photo for our wedding, framed in one of those mats that people can sign. And I was proud of myself for hanging that damned photo, finally. You must see our house to understand, there is not a single thing on the walls, barring two calendars and one broken clock.

I looked at the mat to read what people had signed, and saw two of my now deceased grandparents' signatures, sending love forever in black ink on white mat. I can't find my mother-in-law's signature on there but she probably didn't find time to sign it that night. We sat her with a round table of her best friends, and I'd never seen her so happy.

It brings things full circle -- the anniversary, the deaths. I am lucky to have the man, lucky to have had the grandparents and Sharyne while I did, lucky to be healthy and alive and enjoying a fifth year of marriage with someone who makes me laugh until I can't breathe.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Cha cha cha, and cha

And not Cha-Cha, my sister. My sister's name is not Cha-Cha, it just happens to be what my grandpa called her.

I'm thinking more like cha cha cha, tap dance left, jazz hands, leg kick, cha!

Did I ever tell you my sister was in a traveling singing group? A youthful group, they were, full of jazz hands. That's really when I first became acquainted with jazz hands. Cha-Cha told me about them.

I never ask my family if I can write about them, I just do it.

So I've decided that I sort of hate the names of the two main characters in my book. Nothing really stands out about them. They are forgettable. Not that they need to be unforgettable, like Maurice (Hmm. Maurice. I like the sound of that) or Claudio or Shandreesa. But ... they sort of do need to be unforgettable. Sometimes I'll read a book, and months later, I won't remember the author's name but I'll remember the main characters' names.

That's good naming on the author's part.

I recently read an interview of Elmore Leonard, an entertaining author who often writes fiction about criminals in Florida. There is an FX show based on his book Fire in the Hole, called Justified.

Which, for starters, Fire in the Hole. Love it. And not only because I have a friend whose cousin once yelled "Fire in my hole! Fire in my hole!" at a group of firefighters in San Francisco. That is one of my favorite stories of hers.

But get a load of the main character's name: Raylan Givens. BAM.

That's a name.

Elmore says he was at a conference someplace, and met someone named Raylan, and immediately knew he'd figured out his main character's name. He places a lot of weight on his characters' names. Certain names won't do what he wants them to do. It just doesn't seem like a Rick or a Bob would do or say the same things Raylan would do.

I totally agree. Think about the most outlandish people you went to high school with. What were their names? I don't know if it's just me, but I remember that those freaks had some weird names.

I'm taking suggestions on names, you guys. Throw 'em at me. Fancy names, weird names, ethnic names, whatever. I've got a man and a woman in their late 20s who need names. The man hails from Texas and the woman is a Bay Area native. Have at it. Gimme whatcha got. I've got no prizes for you, other than a big fat thank you in my yet-to-be-published novel.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Not recommended for beginners

Cracking this shell of exhaustion I'm trapped in has proven to be a bit more difficult than expected.

I'm tired all day long and then I go to bed and toss and turn for hours. I sleep a couple hours and then it's time to get up. Why, body? Why do torture me so?

I was thinking yoga was going to help me break out of the Circle of Lethargy (I believe I've mentioned the Circle of Lethargy here before - it involves eating poorly, not exercising and becoming increasingly lethargic. Hard to break out of). So I went to yoga on Monday. Two embarrassing things almost happened, and one embarrassing thing definitely happened. The first two are that I almost vomited and passed out. The last is that I cried. I am pretty sure it just looked like I was grimacing in pain and sweating, so whatevs. I always feel like crying in yoga, and it just happens that this time I did. What's it to ya?

Maybe if it would just stop raining.

I can't stop thinking about all of the things I should be doing. And the thought of it exhausts me. And then I blog, and it is so whiny, blergh. When I think of the things I should be doing, I imagine myself doing them. I'm like a robot in my imagination, full of energy, whisking through the house and running around town on errands, getting things done. In my imagination, I've painted the living room 25 times. The idea of my robot self exhausts me.

Today I made a list of the things I should be doing, and decided I will very slowly do them. Verrrry slowly. I put on makeup: that is a good start.

I need to quit caffeine. I think I am taking a break from alcohol. I know. What is going on here?

The Wednesday night yoga class is a Level 2-3, not Level 1. I've been sporadically doing yoga for five months. Does that make me a Level 2? The class is "not recommended for beginners." This inexplicably pisses me off. If I saw no benefit to yoga, I would cancel my membership, simply because of those four words. Yoga snobs irritate me beyond words.

I might be a little sensitive right now.

I have a list, a very long list, written on graph paper (why? I don't know. I haven't needed graph paper in years). I am looking at the list, and deciding which things are the easiest to do. The list exhausts me. I hate lists. They are so efficient.

Would you like to guest blog? You may not blog about baseball or sex or swear too much because half my readers are Catholic and the other half are my parents. Are you my mother? Would you like to guest blog? I may take a note from a dear pregnant friend, and blog from the perspective of one of the cats. Or both. Something more cheerful must appear here soon.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Carrying on

So, I'm trying to get back on track. I've been out of commission for three weeks, with vacation and then everything with my grandpa.

Vacation and times of crisis are great excuses for eating really poorly and neglecting exercise, which I did for three weeks, and now I feel exhausted and sick. Time to detox.

I missed my 5K. It was on the 17th, two days after my grandpa had passed, and I couldn't do it. Which sucks. But I'm going to pick a new 5K and do it. I've been easily derailed off of goals in the past, and can't let that happen again. Also, this time I will go easy on training and not injure myself beforehand.

I also missed a bachelorette party, which is too bad, but probably for the best. No need to be the girl in the corner, crying into her mojito. I'm trying to re-socialize, get out of my hermit mode. Actually, this is one of my goals this year. I'm a notoriously neglectful friend, and need to change that.

The book was going well, last I checked (ha, ha. I'm hilarious today!). I'd finished outlining and had started listing scenes and chapters. I'm a bit terrified to start writing it, and a bit unfocused. I'm tempted to order Adderall off the Internet. It's an attention-deficit drug that tons of college students are using to pull all-nighters and focus on their projects, per a 60-Minutes episode I watched last night. Tempting, but I'm all talk. Side affects may include psychosis, which sounds like a problem I don't need at the moment.

There are many things that need to get done, and I'm mustering the will to do them now. Organize and focus, organize and focus.

There is a clock over the desk with the words, "God's Timing is Perfect." It is my grandma's old clock, and it's dead, stuck between 2:10 and 2:15.

Must organize and focus.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Reclusive Mourner

Everyone mourns in their own style, and the way I like to do it is to turn off the phone, throw a blanket over my head, and go to sleep. I find death exhausting.

Services for my grandfather were held yesterday. I'd never been to a Catholic funeral before, but Catholic is what my grandpa was, so it only makes sense his funeral would be as such. During the rosary, I closed my eyes for about 10 minutes. I may have fallen asleep.

...pray for us sinners...

All that chanting is calming and so I listened to it and zoned out. An elderly woman behind me was speaking slower than everyone else and ending her sentences like they were questions. Her "Hail Marys" ended with: '... now and at the hour of our death? Amen?'

Yes, old lady. Amen. Question answered.

I closed my eyes because I had an unholy urge to do one of two things. 1) Laugh hysterically. 2) Scream and run.

Screaming and running is nothing new for me. I often have the urge to do that at the grocery store and frequently wanted to do that in math classes.

The urge to laugh hysterically caught me off guard, because I did not find the situation funny. At all. But I'd start giggling and became afraid I wouldn't be able to stop. If I hadn't closed my eyes, I'd probably still be laughing. Or screaming. I'd be at the funny farm, maybe.

There was an altar boy with Down's Syndrome. He was picking his nose during the mass. That did not help my laughter problem.

Have you ever been to a military funeral? I hadn't. This was not a military funeral, per se, but the Veterans Administration will give vets a proper sendoff when the time comes, if beckoned. They were beckoned. They did the whole nine yards, shot the guns, played Taps, folded up the flag and handed it to my grandmother. Ho boy, that is a killer.

My grandpa was wounded in World War II, shot in the arm somewhere in Europe. He has a Purple Heart somewhere. Can we find it? No. It's there somewhere, they say.

This is a picture of a picture, taken with an iPhone, no less, so not the highest quality. This is my grandfather at what I estimate to be the same age I am currently - 31. He would probably be really pissed off if he knew I put his picture on the Internet.

Grandpa, I will miss you. Please say hi to everyone. And also, I hope they have martinis and blackjack (and football) in heaven.



Friday, April 16, 2010

Four days

This is a photo essay of pictures taken Monday through Thursday of this week at my grandparents' house or in the hospital. Although I took photos of people, I didn't include any here.

These are all taken with my iPhone because my camera ran out of battery power. I kind of like the grainy quality.

A mother dove was raising her two chicks in a hanging planter in the backyard.

Retro advertising on the first step of the pool.

In one of the bathrooms.

The scene of many childhood memories.

Coldspot. There is a freezer in the back storage room you could probably fit four bodies into.
This particular freezer contains several weeks worth of Meals on Wheels.

Tiene dolor?

'Yes. This box.'
I'm not sure what the story is behind the words written on this piece of tape on this shoe box, which contains all of my grandma's meds.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

At rest

He didn't make it.

I'm not sure why or how he'd miraculously bounced back from the grave earlier in the week, not that it matters now.

I took the 'come now' call at 12:30 am today from a nurse. I stayed with my grandma, who is very frail, and my mom went to the hospital. I stared at the ceiling until 7 am, when I got the final warning text message from my mom. I frantically tried to get my grandma out the door, but as I was finding her socks, I found out it was too late. I had to tell her. Telling someone who's been married for, what, 60 years? That her husband was gone and we'd missed his final moment? That was a killer.

They are napping now. I tried unsuccessfully. There are relatives and friends to tell, funeral arrangements to make. People are calling. People are on their way over. The irony of funeral arranging is that you must do it when you least feel like it. Maybe that's not ironic.

I'm grateful he did not suffer long, and did not suffer at all in the end. I'm fortunate to have your good thoughts. It helps.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Turn for the worse

I won't get into the grim details because it's too exhausting and disturbing, but suffice to say that today was a real soul-crusher. By 8 pm (when visiting hours end at the hospital) I felt like a shell. Some little soul-eating bugs crawled in through my nose today around noon when I first walked into my grandpa's room. The bugs procreated and chomped away and by 8 pm I was hollow.

Today was much worse than yesterday and I'm afraid the white Zinfandel in my granparents' liquor cabinet didn't quite do the trick. After today, I take back everything I said that was positive from Monday and Tuesday. We are back to square one, and I'm worried I'll be stuck in Hanford until Christmas.

Amazing and gorgeous mother Trisha (sorry I can't link to you here, Trisha) complimented me for yesterday's humor in the face of a dark situation and I'm disappointed that today I can't maintain that humor. I, quite honestly, would like to cry myself to sleep in my own comfortable bed tonight. I have perspective (John). Things like this make you appreciate your fully functioning limbs and lungs and brain and love your family more.

But it's hard, there's just no question about it.

Maybe tomorrow will be better.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Embedded blogging from a central valley hospital

I'm sitting in a hospital room that my grandpa is sharing with another patient, whom I haven't met because he's drawn his curtain to shield himself from the ear-blasting volume Gramps is 'watching' Dr. Phil at. I use quotation marks because my grandfather is asleep, breathing deeply, his bottom dentures slowly sliding down his chin. I'm waiting for them to fall onto the floor with a clack.

He woke up a few minutes ago and said, 'I have to go to the bathroom. Get my sweatpants from the cedar chest, will you honey?'

I only argued for a few seconds before just agreeing 'ok,' and leaving the room for five seconds. When I walked back in, he was sleeping again. He is, of course, fully rigged to eliminate any and all waste from the comfort of his hospital bed.

(He just woke up again and said, 'I'm so tired!' I told him that was ok and he should take a nap.)

My grandfather was expected to die on Sunday night. His cardiologist says as much. He was read his final rights or whatever it is you Catholics do (that is not meant to be derogatory).

But on Monday morning, he woke up and ate breakfast. By the time I arrived around lunchtime, he was eating steak and mashed potatoes. Last night he talked a blue streak for hours on end, telling my mother and grandmother all of his oft-repeated stories.

It's a bit of a miracle. He's not fully recovered and likely won't be, perhaps ever, given the heart attack and the fact that he's 90 years old.

Thanks to everyone for your thoughtfulness even though I know many of you are dealing with your own crises. I am thinking of you now, too.

Monday, April 12, 2010


I am taking an unplanned road trip to visit my grandfather, who's had a minor heart attack and is in the hospital. I was told he was sitting up, eating breakfast this morning, so I am hopeful.

I'm not sure how much I'll be posting this week, if at all, since I'll be in a technological no-man's land. But, I'll be on Twitter, I'm sure.

Until next time...

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Last Night

This is our last evening in Oregon. It was the best day, weather-wise and sunset-wise. Vacations always do that to you on your last day.

Don't let this picture fool you. It's damn cold out there!

I didn't do my hair a single time this whole trip. It's damn cold out there on that rock. And windy.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Dogs of the Sea

Introducing ... the first video filmed by Yours Truly and posted to this here blog. We are becoming very, very advanced!

This is a short clip of sea lions in Newport, OR. I could watch these guys all day. They crack me up.

Maybe some day, if I get the guts, I'll try some vlogging. Maybe if I can get 100 unique hits in a day. Then I'll vlog, bad hair day and chin zits be damned. I promise.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Wine, buck teeth & gravy

Every time I look at this goofy alpaca, I just about go hysterical with laughter. What kind of unfortunate animal ends up looking like a llama crossed with a cat crossed with a rabbit with dreadlocks? This poor bastard can't even see past the hair in his eyes. I've taken to making this toothy alpaca face at fellow vacationing family members for shits and giggles.

Today we ate too much food. My brother-in-law ate three breakfasts and all of the chocolate pieces out of the Moose Munch, for which he will be punished accordingly. The rest of us ate breakfasts befitting lumberjacks, although not quite as much as my BIL.

Then we went in search of wine. At the first winery, we were turned away by a harried woman wearing leg warmers (oh, I saw them, girlfriend) because Congressman Wu was due there shortly. But just after we'd been turned away, someone else convinced her to very begrudgingly invite us back. At one point, no joke, she proclaimed "I don't have time for this shit," so this of course became the saying of the day, followed by chipmunk-alpaca-teeth-face. We drank our wine as quickly as possible and got out of her hair. Right after my dad took a picture of her.

Then we harassed a herd of alpacas.

Then we went to another winery and talked crap about the girl who didn't have time for this shit to the girl who was pouring. We showed her the picture of the leg-warmer infractor. She said the two of them had gone to high school together. Then my dad took a picture of her, too.

Then we went to another winery and harassed another pretty girl. There are lots of pretty girls pouring wine in Oregon. My sister and I warned the new girl that our dad might try to take her picture. She said she didn't care to end up on the Internet (smart girl!) and took our picture instead.

Then we ate a late lunch/early dinner at a brewery. Some of us drank beer.

Later we watched "Lost" (Desmond is still on my freebee list).

It was a pretty perfect day.

Monday, April 05, 2010

Medusa on the Beach

Poetry is the impish attempt to paint the color of the wind. - Maxwell Bodenheim

Weather forecast: Rain, wind, clouds, rain, wind, hail, rain, wind, sea foam, wine.


I'll admit it --that photo didn't look like that until I totally messed with it in iPhoto. For some reason, I'd never edited my photos before, but ya'll? Times have changed. Now every photo is going to get the royal treatment.

So the beach you see in that photo is my backyard this week. We are staying in my aunts' gorgeous beach house in Depoe Bay, OR, with my family. My husband and I drove up 101 on Friday. It took 11 hours, and we only got ticketed once!

My parents, sister and brother-in-law took I-5 and got stuck behind a 20-car pileup that delayed them for about three hours. They drove through five snowstorms. It took them about 15 hours.

Sunday, some family friends who live in Eugene visited us. They are a married couple with four good-looking kids. Hubs and I agree that if we had such good-looking kids, we'd hire armed security to follow them around.

Their father told us about the three separate incidents in which he managed to cut off three of the fingers on his right hand and have them reattached. Two of the incidents involved lawn mowers and one involved a giant paper cutter. He's well-known among emergency room attendants.

On Easter, my dad and I did a little light jogging and my leg didn't hurt too bad. Then us ladies went shopping and later we ate brisket. Mmmm, brisket.

It's exciting stuff. We're trying to figure out what we're going to do today. It's raining, and expected to continue doing so every day except for part of the day on Wednesday. I think I see wine-tasting in my immediate future...

Thursday, April 01, 2010

A Trip to the Doctor

I don't get out of the house much any more, because in case you missed it, I'm unemployed, w00t! It's the best.

Anyway, because I don't get out of the house much anymore, I like to blog about the times when I do leave the house. So you get to read about how I went to the doctor today.

I have Kaiser now, and I've never had Kaiser before so I was a little wary of how this was going to go down. I went to the doctor because I maimed myself trying to run the other day, and also because my ear feels plugged. Like, waterlogged. I can hear my heart beating in it.

If I had gone to my previous doctor, who has her own practice, she would have ordered a CT scan, an X-ray, a full blood panel, and crutches. She would have interrogated me about symptoms. She would have put me on a diet. She would have created her own 5K running program for me.

Today, my new doctor, who is very nice but is a close talker (WHY? WHY DO THEY TALK SO CLOSE?) looks inside my ears and says It's probably allergies. Take an antihistamine and do a sinus rinse. (Like a neti pot. Neti pot doubters, eat poop!)

And then I tell her about my leg. She doesn't look at it, doesn't touch it, just says, It's probably a muscle strain. Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation. It should be fine.

My friends, this is how large HMOs make money. By telling you that your ailments are probably something curable by over-the-counter drugs, so that they don't have to use their fancy machines to diagnose you. Which is fine. Whatever. I will go back if my problems persist. I will demand that they use their fancy machines.

So, you guys. Tomorrow I am going on vacation! I plan to blog during the trip. We're driving up to Oregon and staying in my Auntie's beach house. A very kind friend is going to be visiting Simon & Murray while we are gone, and hopefully the pussies will not destroy too much furniture in revenge for us leaving them for a week.

Stay tuned. Rainy, moody Oregon beach photos coming soon...