Friday, July 28, 2006

Offending the Unwashed Masses is One of My Favorite Pastimes

Puritans be warned: this post may disturb you.

I mean it! If you can't bear the sight of an adorable newborn baby eating contentedly, hit the back button, quick!


Are you still there?



Read my post!


Made me feel like posting an image I never thought I'd publish, and not just because it's embarassingly out-of-focus (although it is):

Take that, nursing-haters. I flash my boob at you! In a grainy filtered out-of-focus photo that shows even less flesh than the one on the cover of BabyTalk, which, incidentally, showed a lot less flesh than one ordinarily might expect to see on the cover of Vogue.

This the one and only photograph I ever took of my son while nursing. It was hidden away on my hard drive, a nameless numbered file in a nameless numbered folder. Left there because I hesitated to put it in with the baby photos to be developed at the store.

I had to look through several folders of photos to find it. But I'd never forgotten taking it. I knew it was there.

Suddenly, seeing those beautiful, contented newborn eyes again, I find myself wishing I had taken more pictures like this one.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

However, I Am Ashamed . . .

That I couldn't hide my frustration with the boy when he refused to try even one bite of the little rolls I made for him out of slices of American cheese and deli-sliced ham. That I had to fight to suppress my anger with him when he wouldn't even hold a miniscule piece of a ham-and-cheese roll in his hand.

He has been known to eat American cheese, frequently. He has been known to eat deli-sliced ham, rarely. He likes the taste of the ham, but doesn't like its slipperiness on his fingers. Which would be why today I, decided to try rolling it in slices of cheese.

Cheese, and ham. Ham, and cheese. Two things he has eaten many times before.

And yet, if I put the two together in a roll, suddenly, apparently, in his mind, I am serving him a suspicious-looking object that is most probably poisoned.

Feeding it to his toy trains and cars didn't help. Unrolling the roll to show him exactly what was in it and how I made it for him didn't help. Eating a bite of the cheese myself, even though it was all covered in ham juice, and I don't eat meat, didn't help.

Even my clever Green-Eggs-and-Ham-based poetic improvisations didn't help. And I am the master of situation-based improvisational motivational children's poetry! The author, after all, of such smash hits as "Here We Go Brushing Isaac's Teeth," and "Even Thomas Trains Have to Go Night Night in their Cozy Box on the Bookshelf."

Heavens, I know this is normal behavior for a child with SI. But even after months of knowing why he acts this way, it is so hard for me to get used to throwing out platefuls of food . . . and still hard for me not to get angry, even when I know it's counterproductive.


I Am Not Ashamed . . .

To admit that I just now chopped a tablespoon of butter off the stick and let my son eat it plain.

Hey, he asked me for it!

Do you think if I can get him to eat a tablespoon of butter with lunch every day for a month he might make it up to the 5th percentile by his next weight check? Hmmm . . .

Monday, July 24, 2006

Stone Soup

Walk through this experience with me:

Your power is out. It's the second time this week. The first time, it was out for less than eight hours. But this time, you hear through the crackle of static on your battery-powered radio, state officials and the electric company are predicting it may be days, maybe even a week, before the power comes back on.

It's hot outside. Wicked hot. And, since you live in an apartment with windows just on one side, without AC it's already starting to seem stuffy in your home even with the windows open to the storm-fresh air, because the air can't circulate in a place with windows on only one side, and you can't use a fan. Because there's no electricity. And because you have so few windows, half of your home is also already dark. Even though it's noon, and the sun is starting to peek through the clouds outside.

But these are not your primary concerns.

No, your primary concern right now is the food in your fridge. The food you just bought, to replace the food you lost when the power went out a few days ago. Maybe it's just a few things, because you feared the power might go off again, but hey, you know, your baby needs fresh milk, and you wanted some cheese, too.

Or maybe it's a lot of food, because, like my neighbor upstairs, your mother and sister lost power in the last storm and never got it back. And now they're staying with you, and you have three households' worth of food crammed into your tiny fridge.

So you need to get ice to put in your fridge to keep that food cold if you're gonna save it. Lots of ice, to last maybe for days. Or you need to call around on your cell phone and try to find someone who has power and has a fridge with space in it so you can take the food there-- if you can get reception that is-- it seems perhaps one of these storms has knocked a transmission tower out, because everyone is having trouble getting a signal-- and then when you do connect, well, what do you know! The network is busy and you still can't get through, because everyone's electricity is out, and they can't use their home phones, so everyone is trying to use the cell phone network at once.

But even if you get through to your friend and your friend has power, you're still gonna need some ice. Ice for the cooler, to keep the food cold in the back of the car during a ride in the heat that you know will be long no matter how far you have to go, because there aren't any traffic lights working, and there are tree limbs and live wires down in the streets, and everyone's in this together here and for the most part they're all trying to be nice, but people are stressed out. It's hot and there's no electricity. So a good many more folks than usual are driving stupid around here, on top of it all.

But, ice? Where to get ice? Because, you see, in the short time your power was back on, you watched the news, and you heard that with so many homes and businesses lacking power, there's an ice shortage. People are following ice delivery trucks as they make their rounds, and dashing out to buy up all the ice as soon as it's delivered to one of the few stores that still has enough electricity to keep it frozen. You hear shell-shocked clerks on your crackly radio saying they sold out of 300 bags of ice in less than ten minutes.

But, you gotta have that ice; it's just the way it is. So you set out anyway, in your car, in the heat, in the traffic, hoping you'll get lucky. But as you leave you notice that your gas gauge is hovering next to empty.

Well, of course it is. Gas is three dollars a gallon, after all-- you'd been waiting to fill your tank, hoping that after the weather improved or people half a world away stopped shooting rockets at each others' babies for a minute, the prices might go down. And the first set of storm knocked out power to so many stations that there were long lines for gas at the stations near you that could still pump anyway. You didn't feel like waiting.

But now you're driving, in crazy stop-and-go, no rules gridlock traffic in the middle of the day, and you realize that the first four stations near your home all have their pumps shut down. No power. You drive through them anyway, to see if they have ice, but they don't, of course-- some have put hastily hand-scrawled signs in the windows reading NO ICE! When you walk into one that hasn't, the clerk points to the empty ice chest and laughs without humor, saying no one has ice anywhere.

You keep driving and pretty soon you see a station with a long line and you know it has power so you get in line. But while you're waiting, the station runs out of gas. The giddy station manager waves you away. You got there too late.

Finally, just when you think you're about to wind up on the side of the road in 95 degree heat with no gas, you find an open station that has enough for everyone. Now it's time to keep looking for ice, but there is none. None anywhere. Three quarters of the grocery and convenience stores you pass in your neighborhood are dark, and those that aren't are sold out of ice. As you check out the stores you realize that not only will you not be able to find ice to save your food unless a miracle happens, you also may not be able to buy new food once the food you have rots. Because the few stores still open are already sold out of almost everything cold.

Many of them are also sold out of batteries, flashlights, weather radios, charcoal, and bottled water. And you might need that bottled water. Because last time the power went out, your neighborhood wound up on a boil order.

But you have an electric stove. So you can't boil water, unless you can manage to build a fire in your backyard.

Some stores are running on generator power, and are only taking cash.

Which you don't have much of, because you usually use your debit card-- everyone does these days-- and it's going to be quite a chore to get more cash, because the nearby ATMs all seem to lack power.

This is the sort of situation the people in my apartment complex were faced with this weekend, when power went out across the complex for the second time. And many more people in blacked-out neighborhoods all over town faced similar difficulties.

A lot of people in my area left on Friday, after the storm, to spend the night in other parts of town that still had lights, fans, air conditioning, grocery stores, gas stations, banks, and pharmacies. I was one of those who left.

But some didn't. Among my neighbors, some had no place to go; their friends and relatives nearby had also lost power; they couldn't afford to stay in one of the very few hotels that still had power and available rooms. Others were wary of leaving their property unattended in a place with no power, worried that thieves might take advantage of the situation if our complex became an unlighted ghost town.

When my family and I returned on Saturday afternoon to check on our home, see if the power was back, and, if it wasn't, try to decide what to do next, this is what I saw:

People were outside, in numbers I'd never seen outside before, in clusters, sitting in shade in lawn chairs and picnic tables that had been pulled to the coolest spots under the leafiest trees.

People with portable grills had brought them out near the tables and chairs. People with charcoal had filled the portable grills and a few stationery grills owned by the complex, and people with matches and lighter fluid had lit them. People with meat that was still good had brought it to cook. People with chips, pretzels, already-popped popcorn, and bottled drinks had brought them out for everyone to share.

People with flashlights and candles were sharing their lights with people who didn't have any. People with working battery-operated radios had brought them out so everyone could listen. Young people fanned elderly people with paper fans. Everyone chatted animatedly, sharing news about where power had already come back on, what the weather forecast was for tomorrow, where someone had been able to get cheap gas, or a bag of ice.

Children ran together, laughing, in the shade, sharing their non-electronic toys and spraying each other with water.

My entire apartment complex had come out of their dark homes and pooled what supplies they had left to share as a group, and the result looked like AN ENORMOUS BLOCK PARTY.

Watching my neighbors help one another, I felt irrationally guilty for having left to stay with relatives the night before.

I have never felt so proud to live in this neighborhood, ever.

From now on, whenever I find myself in a moment of extreme frustration with humanity, I think I'll call up my memory of this past Saturday afternoon.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

15 Things I Love

1.) Cold drinks.

2.) Hot showers.

3.) Clean water.

4.) Lights at night.

6.) Air conditioning.

7.) Clean laundry and dishes, washed in a machine with warm water and soap instead of in a sink with cold water by hand.

8.) Gasoline available at gas stations within a 10 mile radius.

9.) Dairy products available at stores, which have lights on.

10.) Medicine available at drugstores.

11.) Working telephone lines.

12.) Working traffic lights.

13.) The guy at the Metro Mart who, instead of getting annoyed or angry with me when I filled two gargantuan soda cups to the brim with nothing but ice and set them down on the counter with the lids barely on and gave him a look that dared him to chide me for brazenly using a soda machine to get ice instead of soda after hours on the road stopping at station after station trying to find gas for our car and ice for our cooler, smiled at me with genuine sympathy and only charged me 61 cents.

14.) My mother-in-law, who let us spend the night at her place when our power went out for the second time, and told us we could stay there indefinitely until the power came back on.

15.) The local bloggers I've met in person once or not at all who offered to let me and my family stay with them until my power came back on.

I'm lucky to have power again so soon. I'm even luckier to have had the money, the transportation, and the family and friends to make my experience of this situation more an inconvenience than a crisis.

There are still many people in my area who are waiting for help. People who have spent days without air conditioning in extreme heat they are not accustomed to having to endure. People who have lost all the food in their refrigerators, and can't buy more because none of the stores in their area have power. People who have been told to boil all of their drinking water, but have no electricity to heat water with.

I know the electric company has working hard to restore power in my neighborhood, because I see that many homes and businesses that were dark a day ago now have their power back on. But every day this situation persists, danger persists, especially for the elderly, the disabled, and small children.

I truly hope the lights come back on for everyone very soon.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Power Out

A second set of strong storms came through this afternoon and knocked my power out again, and I expect my home is now somewhere near the end of a very loooooong list to have power restored. Earlier today I heard estimates that the two sets of storms have knocked out power to over half a million households (which means over 2 million people) on the west side of the Mississippi alone. Our electric company predicts that it may take up to five days to restore power to most customers. And it is still very, very hot.

I am staying the night tonight with my mother-in-law in Imperial. More on horizontal rain, traffic signs pushed flat to the ground, Mad Max driving on unlighted streets, and 30 minute lines for gasoline when I've got the time.

I am very grateful to have a place to stay for tonight with clean water and air conditioning, but many people in my area are not so fortunate. I have heard very little about this situation on the national news, which I find disturbing.

Let me reiterate: there are OVER TWO MILLION people in my community currently without power, and many without drinkable water, in the middle of a serious heat wave, and conditions may not improve significantly for several days. This is a serious situation in need of national attention.

Not that I have much hope after the utterly reprehensible government response last year's hurricanes down south, which damaged a much larger area much more severely, but hey . . .

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Hell Hath No Fury Like Ma Nature Having a Hot Flash

So, do y'all know it's been hot here?

I mean, HOT?

I am sure you DO know, if you live in the States, because from what I hear, it's been unusually hot across the country lately. But here it's been hot, and humid. Suffocatingly humid. Disgustingly humid. So humid that dew soaks the cars in our apartment complex parking lot every morning as though it had rained.

My city, you see, is at the intersection of two enormous rivers, smack dab in the middle of a prairie flood plain.

As any native St. Louisan will tell you, Hot + Humid summers are our specialty.

But this past week has been even hotter than usual. A week of temps at or above 100 degrees Farenheit. Heat indexes as high as 115.

Okay, okay, dwellers of tropical isles. You may call me on my whine. I permit you. I know it gets just as hot and humid where you live. I know in some places of the world weather like this can last for weeks at a time.

But tell me: does it also get below freezing there in the wintertime? Does it snow? And then invariably sleet the next day, so that there is a treacherous slippery-slick crust of ice on top of the snow that you must punch through with a shovel in order to clear a path from your home?

I thought not.

You see, here in the midwest, even though hot and humid weather comes back every summer, we can't get used this heat. We just can't. Because if we did, then we would be freezing our ample midwestern butts off every winter.

So, we do the only reasonable thing we can. We compromise. We set our internal thermostats at something around 60-70 degrees. And complain about the weather for 6 months out of the year.

But I digress.

It's been hot. Even hotter than it usually gets here in August (and it's only July).

ice-chips-in-the-dark hot.

Fucking hot.

(Only you know, you don't really want to, ahem, because it's too HOT).

And apparently, even the sky itself here felt it was too hot.

Because last night, a strong but fairly normal heat-driven summer thunderstorm popped up on the east side of the river. This was not a predicted thunderstorm. But everyone around here knows the risk of such pop-up storms is high at this time of year. After all, it's hot, and humid.

The storm raged for a while on the east side, causing typical thunderstorm damage. Then it veered southwest, crossing the thick air above the Mississippi.

And suddenly, a typical pop-up thunderstorm became the worst non-tornado storm to hit the St. Louis metro area in years. Packing 80-mile-an-hour straightline winds, it raced into the St. Louis metro before the local television news stations could even put out a severe thunderstorm warning on television.

I know, because I watched from my window as the storm came up. The sky darkened rapidly. The wind whipped up almost instantly, bowing the trees in the green commons area outside my apartment at severe angles, pushing a torrent of leaves and litter through the air.

"Is there a tornado warning or a thunderstorm warning for our area?" I asked my husband, who was watching TV.

He flipped through the channels. There were warnings for Illinois. For us, there was nothing.

Our neighbors began coming out on their balconies, shouting to one another.

"Do you see that?"

"Do you see those clouds?"

"Have you heard anything?"

"I don't hear the sirens!"

"Should I move my car out from under that tree?"

All I could think was, Get back inside, morons. Who needs a warning to know this is serious shit?

And yet I myself stood at my patio door, with nothing but a screen between myself and the coming storm, transfixed.

The power flickered. We turned off our computer. The lights flipped on and off rapidly, and then went out.

The sky turned green. Then yellow, then red. Lightning lit up the clouds. Whole branches ripped from the trees. At first, there was no rain.

The lack of rain made me nervous. Having lived all my life with this kind of storm, I know that when it rains hard, the winds usually aren't so bad.

But lightning and no rain is usually a recipe for strong straight-line winds, hail, or tornadoes.

Then the rain came, in nearly horizontal torrents. And the wind remained. Suddenly, we heard sirens-- not the storm warning sirens, but police sirens. More than a dozen police car sirens, sounding at once-- more than could possibly be responding to a single event.

"Do you think the storm sirens have been knocked out, and they are trying to tell us there's a storm warning by turning all of the police sirens on?" my husband wondered. We had no idea. We had no power. Our battery-operated radio was out of juice, and we didn't have enough replacement batteries. Our cell phones were having trouble connecting. The few friends and family members we had been able to get through to had no information about the storms; they had power, but had heard nothing conclusive on the news about the strength of the storms in our area.

All the while, our son wandered through the house, giggling, waving a flashlight. He'd been frightened at first by the sudden power outage (despite the fact that we lose power regularly here when it rains, he seems frightened at first almost every time), but in minutes he'd decided it was all quite an excellent game. He smiled at the candles we'd lit, calling them "decorations." "Look outside, Mommy! Look, Daddy! Windy!" he kept admonishing us, gleefully.

We tried to keep him corralled in an interior hallway, away from the windows. We don't have a basement.

Oridnarily I am terrified during strong storms because of this fact. Every midwesterner knows that a residence without a basement is a disaster waiting to happen in tornado season. During a tornado, if you don't have a basement, you might as well be taking shelter in a house of cards.

And yet, this storm had come up so quickly, and seemed so unreal, that my customary fear took a backseat to sheer wonder at the sudden ferocity of the skies.

In less than an hour, it was over. Tree branches, leaves, and trash littered the ground, but there were no felled limbs on our car, or on any of our neighbors'. Pieces of siding had ripped off of a nearby building. The power was out for blocks in every direction, and the power company wouldn't answer our calls. But otherwise, it seemed, our neighborhood had escaped major damage.

We used the last of our hot water to give our son a bath and take quick showers ourselves. Then we opened our freezer lightning-quick to get out our carton of ice cream. If our power was going to be off indefinitely, and ther was a fair chance that all of our food in the freezer might melt, I reasoned, at least we could eat our damn ice cream.

So, my husband and I ate fresh sugared strawberries and ice cream by candlelight, all our windows open to the absolute darkness outside to catch any rain-cooled breeze that might come, listening to crickets singing in the uncanny-seeming, natural silence.

All in all, it was actually pretty relaxing. Even romantic.

Our power was restored just after midnight. It wasn't until I turned on the TV early this morning that I realized the extent of the damage to our area.

450,000 households in my area lost power during the storm. Tens of thousands of people are still without power today.

And the weather forcast predicts a high today of at least 101 degrees. The furious storms did nothing, absolutely nothing, to break the heat wave. And tens of thousands of people are today without air conditioning, in 101 degree heat.

There are power lines and felled trees across roads all over town, not to mention a number of intersections without power to the traffic lights, which the local television stations say are snarling traffic.

My entire (large) county is under an indefinite boil order, because our water treatment system was knocked out.

And the winds caused serious property damage all over town, on both sides of the river. Semi trucks were pushed across highways. Trains were pushed off their tracks. The airport apparently had a piece of its roof blown off.

We are told to expect more storms tonight. I really, truly hope they're nothing like yesterday's.

Edited to add: If any of my local blogger or RL friends are without power at home but are reading this because you have managed to get temporary internet access at work or something, you are welcome to hang at my place in the AC this afternoon/evening. Drop me a comment here or send me an email at stellafitzgerald AT I'll be checking. My apartment is tiny and there are no guarantees my power won't go out again if it rains tonight, of course. But I offer what I have.

Monday, July 17, 2006

15 16 Things I Hate Strongly Dislike

1.) Greedy, condescending landlords who not only won't fix things that break on their properties, but also imply when you ask them to fix something that is broken that by even ASKING them to fix something you are seriously wasting their invaluable time.

I am paying your salary, bitch. I'm your CUSTOMER. You are supposed to provide me with SERVICE. That's your job: CUSTOMER SERVICE. I am not your serf.

End of story.

2.) Politicians who lie. So, wait-- I guess that's all of them? *sigh* I'll amend that: Politicians.

3.) People who park their Cadillac Escalades / Porche Cayennes / Hummers crookedly, across two parking spaces, at the Whole Foods Market. (You know who you are, and you're not fooling anybody).

4.) Childless, self-righteous, anti-child hedonists who deride me (and other parents) openly, in public, for having the temerity to continue the human race by having children. As though the very existence of my child inconveniences them beyond all bounds of reason. As though having children were a noisome fashion trend that had finally, thankfully gone out of style.

Yes, the world is overpopulated. Yes, having a child is a selfish decision in some ways. But children have to be born to someone, and raised by someone, if humanity is to persist at all. You yourselves were children once. You yourself had parents and/or guardians who gave you life and took care of you. Someone gave up hours of their own precious life just to wipe your ass.

And if everyone stops having kids just to please you, there will BE no one to wipe your ass in the nursing home when you're 95.

My "breeder" status does not make me a second-class citizen, any more than your childless status makes your life somehow less fulfilling and useful than mine.

If you really think the world will be a better place without humans, go do your part for the cause, and jump off a bridge, already. Otherwise, please muster enough common courtesy to avoid criticizing my lifestyle choices to my face.

5.) Wars over religion. (Here's a hint to the Children of Abraham: I am fairly certain your God was not joking when he said "Thou shalt not kill." Okay, so that's what the Jewish and Christian texts say, and technically the Quran version says something more along the lines of "And do not take any human being's life - that God willed to be sacred - other than in the pursuit of justice.” But still. Close enough. Come on now).

6.) The fact that children all over the world are left to starve while surplus food rots in warehouses.

7.) Belligerent willful ignorance. You know, that kind of ignorance that takes it up a notch. It's not just being ignorant (lacking in knowledge), or even willfully ignorant (rejecting knowledge; choosing not to learn a fact or facts even though evidence of said fact or facts is abundantly present)-- it's being so dedicated to, so besotted and enamored of your own ignorance, that you want to FORCE everyone around you to be as ignorant as you are.


8.) A public school system that does not teach critical thinking (see #7).

9.) Comma splices, superfluous commas, contractions confused with possessives, and improper use of apostrophes.

10.) When I make stupid typographical errors in comments I leave on other people's sites that make it seem as though I don't know how to use commas, semicolons, possessives, contractions or apostrophes (see my comment on Mom-101's latest post, posted today).

11.) Depression. (My own).

12.) Ennui. (My own).

13.) Writer's block. (My own).

14.) Pointless, circular, non-productive self-pity about lack of time and energy to write. (My own).

15.) Suffering from numbers 11-14 all at the SAME TIME.

16.) Feeling like I can't post ANYTHING because I can't come up with a good post to finish a meme. Having post ideas flit through my head one after another and vanish unposted day after day as I think, "No, I can't write about that yet-- I have to finish this meme! And this one! Oh, and that one too!" Being such a freakin' perfectionist that I can't finish a meme that would take someone else ten minutes to finish because, no, NO, I have to take it to the next level-- I have to be cool-- I have to do something completely innovative with this little blog meme that no one in the blogoverse has ever thought of before--

And then just putting up something crappy or half-finished after a week of rejecting/editing/procrastinating.

All instead of just having fun with it, like the nice person who tagged me intended.

Okay, I know, that last one was like actually 5 things. Heh.

Now I tag Queue, because she's a meme mistress but I'm pretty sure she hasn't done this one (do correct me if you have), and Moonstruck Mama, cuz she's a newbie. Bwa ha ha!

Friday, July 14, 2006

Rainy Day Blues

Yeah, so, I really, really need to move the minute this lease is up.


I WORK from HOME, cheap-ass apartment office people who won't fix my wiring. Sheesh.

It rained all afternoon and into the early evening yesterday. I preemptively turned my computer off the moment the first drop fell. Which was good, because the power flickered, twice, during a totally-lame-for-the-midwest, no-sirens, no-felled-trees ho-hum thunderstorm.

In addition to keeping me from doing any work-related stuff on my computer yesterday afternoon, this completely foiled my blog posting plans.


And, even as I type now, I am watching the clouds gathering outside my door, and wondering, do I risk it? Do I finish editing that story?

Do I keep researching local real estate online?

I am thinking maybe I need to go back to writing with pen and paper . . .

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Random Stuff

Okay, so, all those times I said to various doctors, "Gee, do you think that maybe my abdominal muscles might have separated during the pregnancy as is sometimes wont to happen during pregnancy? And that maybe, just maybe, that is one of the sources of my pain?" and the doctors punched me in the gut a couple of times and then said, "Gee, nope, feels fine!"

Well, according to the nice physical therapist woman I saw today, they were wrong. And guess what? I believe her.

Stupid doctors.

That's not all that's wrong with me, though. Oh, no. This is me we're talking about here. Karma does not allow my life to ever be that simple. No, I also have apparently somehow mysteriously fubar-ed one of the muscles that connects the left side of my pelvis to my spine. The nice physical therapist told me the name of this muscle, twice. Once while she was jabbing her thumb into it, and once while she was shocking it with mild electricity. However, surprisingly, I do not remember this name. I think maybe it started with "S," as in, "Shit, that hurts, nice physical therapist woman."

But, seriously, I am SO happy to finally figure out what is wrong with me and be prescribed a reasonable course of treatment that does not involve death or surgery that I would TOTALLY be jumping up and down right now and cheering! If jumping up and down and cheering didn't hurt.

In other news, I am two memes behind. I have been tagged twice in the past month, and so far, the lameness that is me has only posted one small part of one of the memes! But I am working on it. I spent like two hours working on my Summer 1996 post tonight, thinking I would finish it, and then it went off in this totally weird direction I didn't expect it to, and now it's really long. Even for me. I think too long for a blogger attention span. So now I will have to cut it to ribbons, and try to weave something out of the shreds tomorrow morning when I'm not so emotionally attached.

In other other news, I am trying to find a good potty-training related book for my son that doesn't make ME want to puke. Any suggestions?

Finally, please check out my new and slightly improved sidebar! With more blogroll action! It's what I did yesterday instead of posting. Well, that, and reading 500 million other blogs.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Operation: Medical Vacation: Update

So, how is my mandatory, "minimal physical activity" medical vacation going so far?

Well, I decided this morning that it starts today. You see, it couldn't start yesterday. Not once my husband insisted we all "take a nice walk" with our son to the corner drugstore to pick up my prescriptions for anti-inflammatory drugs. A nice little walk, to placate the child, who wanted to "look at cars!" from the sidewalk. A half mile walk, in 85 degree heat, towing a teetering, tottering, car-chasing two-year-old, to get drugs for my INFLAMED MUSCLES. You know, the ones my doctor wanted me to rest.

Did I mention I had already walked to, and from, the doctor's office earlier in the day?

No. The vacation couldn't start yesterday.

So, I decided this morning that it starts today. Except, this morning, I couldn't find the pants I wanted to wear. The nice, stylish-yet-very-comfy track pants. Cuz you know, I'm on vacation.

And then I remembered, aha! They're in the washer! That's right! They're in the load I started yesterday morning, before I went to the doctor and he told me not to do any housework because I'm supposed to be on a mandatory medical vacation. That's why I didn't put them in the dryer. I meant to ask my husband to help, but after he told me he managed to throw out his back somehow climbing over the baby gate, I forgot all about the laundry. Humph.

Well, let's see if there are any comfy pants in the dryer, I thought. I won't put the clothes in the dryer away; I won't bend over to take them all out, and put them in the basket, and carry it, because I don't think the doctor would want me to do that. He said I should be resting my muscles. I'll just open the door, and look in, and if I see something I want to wear, I'll bend very slowly and carefully, and pull it out. That's what I'll do!

So I opened the dryer door, trying to be as quite about it as possible, but, being, you know, a dryer door, it still popped loudly when I opened it, and, immediately, my son barrelled out of his room screeching "Help Mommy cloooooooothes!"

Oops. Busted.

Did I mention that helping me do laundry is on my two-year-old's top ten list of favorite activities? I know. Strange, but true. (I fully intend to get video evidence at some point to share with any of his future prospective domestic partners).

So he dashed under my arm and immediately started pulling clothes out of the dryer. "Clothes in basket?" he demanded, and I sighed and pulled the basket down off the top of the dryer for him. This wasn't much housework. I started to help him pull out the clothes, but he grabbed my hand and glared at me.

"Isaac do it!" he huffed imperiously.

Seriously? This kid wanted to unload the dryer into the laundry basket all on his own? Sweet! Maybe I wouldn't have to call my male Puerto Rican maid who scrubs floors in the nude (the one who used to be an Abercrombie model, before he decided that the modeling world was "demasiado irreal" ("Desmasiado verdad," I agreed with him, when he told me) and became a surrealist artist by night and housecleaner by day) after all.

I watched with satisfaction, and not a little marvelling, as my pint-sized helper pulled every single piece of clothing out of the dryer and put it in the basket. Hrm, no comfy pants in there, though-- just some lately-seeming-too-tight jeans. Well, I can wear those for now, while I wait for the track pants to dry. If my kid helps me put the wet clothes in the dryer, that's not really me doing the housework, is it? I started handing him wet clothes, and he tossed them in the dryer with glee.

"Push the button?" he asked hopefully.

Well, I knew I shouldn't be lifting him to sit on the dryer so he could reach the start button, but after he helped me so much with the laundry, how could I possibly say no? I hoisted him up on the dryer, wincing briefly at the pain in my side, but then willfully ignoring it. Like I always do when I hold him. Like I've been doing, daily, for over a year. So, I lifted him, up on the dryer, and down.

Then I kicked the basket down the hall from the laundry closet into the living room with my feet. See? I didn't lift it. It didn't count. I sat down in a comfy chair to fold the clothes, and pulled the basket up close so I wouldn't have to reach far. Hardly any work at all.

Then Isaac started joyfully tossing towels, washcloths, socks, and underwear all over the apartment. In less than two minutes there were clothes everywhere. Under the table. Under the futon. Behind a chair.

"Isaac, sweetheart, you were SUCH a good helper to Mommy, and SUCH a big boy when you helped me put the clothes from the dryer into the basket and then put the clothes from the washer into the dryer, but you still have a lot of practicing to do when it comes to folding the clothes, and today is not a good day for practicing. Mommy really needs to fold the clothes by herself now, okay?"

His lower lip trembled.

"ISAAC DO IT!" He screeched. "Isaac can do it. Isaac can fold clothes. NOW!" And he snatched a t-shirt out of my hands, and flung it across the room.

This whole doing housework without doing housework plan was not turning out as I'd hoped . . .

After I finally tracked down the clothes, folded them, and put them away, Isaac, clearly still reeling after being permanently tragically traumatized by my heartless criticism of his laundry folding skills, insisted on sitting on my lap and pouting until lunchtime. Which was actually rather convenient, as I couldn't very well give into my temptation to pick up toys that were scattered throughout the living room with a kid sitting on my lap, could I?

But at lunch, I realized, there were no clean sippy cups. THERE WERE NO CLEAN SIPPY CUPS. The night before, you see, I'd left the whole loading the dishwasher business to my husband. Because loading and unloading the dishwasher in our closet-sized kitchen (which is so small one cannot open the dishwasher and the refrigerator at the same time) involves enough bending and twisting to practically qualify as a gymnast's warmup session. And the doctor told me that's exactly the sort of thing I'm supposed to be trying not to do for ten days.

But my husband sort of didn't wash the dishes.

Oh, I could have just washed a single sippy cup by hand, I suppose. If I'd taken it to the bathroom sink. Because our kitchen sink is so incredibly shallow (it's something like 5 inches deep) that even after one meal for three people, the sink looks so full, with dishes spilling out onto the counter, that it seems like we haven't done dishes in three days. And this sink now held dishes from dinner the night before AND breakfast this morning.

So, while my son was eating, I loaded the dishwasher, and washed the dishes.

And then, of course, I had to wipe the sink down, and clean the counter. I mean, they were sitting there. Dirty. Right in front of me.

I managed to make it back to my chair without scrubbing the stove.

But not before scrubbing my son's booster seat in the dining room, and wiping off the dining room table.

I got a good hour of sitting in, while my son napped, reading depressing news on the internet instead of finishing the blog entry I told myself I would finish, entitled, "A Story About Summer, 1996."

Then my son woke up, and before I knew what was happening I found myself engaged in a 20-minute no-holds-barred cage wrestling match with a miniature cougar when I attempted to change his diaper.

Because I asked if he wanted to wear his new "big boy" pull-up training pants instead of an "Elmo diaper," you see.


I am TRYING, people, I am TRYING.

But did I mention my toilets need to be scrubbed? And my sweet basil plant needs repotting, ASAP? And my son needs a new set of sheets on his bed? And there are dishes in the sink again? And there are so many toys and books on my coffee table right now that one cannot, in fact, see the table?


So, I've decided my ten-day vacation starts tomorrow. Really!

Sometimes I Think We Should Bring Back the Stocks and PIllory in the Town Square

Local jackasses SET FIRE TO A PUBLIC LIBRARY. Twice. Any other ideas on appropriate punishments for such behavior?

Thursday, July 06, 2006


I think that in addition to somehow magically aquiring a respiratory virus over the internet from Lildb at I Obsess last week, I have also managed to contract Bloggeritis from the lovely Ms. Sweatpants Mom. You know, that paralytic disease that somehow disconnects your fingers from your brain when you sit in front of a computer, rendering you completely unable to use the "Publish Post" button? Yeah . . . that one.

Or, actually, come to think of it, it's more likely that she caught it from me, being that I seem to have been suffering from bouts of Bloggeritis every couple of weeks for like three months now.

Anyway, this morning I went to the doctor. Not because of the flu (which is all better now-- thanks for the well wishes) or for Bloggeritis (because, sadly, the medical establishment has, tragically, not yet committed nearly enough resources to studying the epidemic of made-up virtual diseases plaguing unfortunates such as myself).

No, this was for a regular checkup. And . . . my two-years-overdue tetanus booster. Now can't move my right arm more than like two inches. But I can henceforth live dangerously once more, and garden without gloves. Ah, the power of preventative medicine.

While my doctor was confirming that I am not 1.) pregnant 2.) smoking crack 3.) dying of any serious disease, he asked me about my mysterious chronic left-side abdominal pain.

What, Jaelithe? You have mysterious chronic left-side abdominal pain?

Why, yes, yes I do. In fact, I have had mysterious chronic left-side abdominal pain for one year, one month and two weeks now. Have I not mentioned this to you before, dear readers?

Oh, right, I haven't.

Well, maybe that's because originally my doctor had been attributing it to a problem I have with recurring ovarian cysts (which I have previously mentioned).

Or maybe mysterious yet-to-be-diagnosed chronic abominal pain SCARES THE CRAP OUT OF ME, which is why I don't write about it. Out of blog, out of mind.

Anyway, several elaborate and/or invasive medical tests have been perpetrated upon my unfortunate person over the past year, which have led to several conclusions about what the pain is not. It is not:

1.) Colon cancer
2.) Stomach cancer
3.) Intestinal parasites
4.) Irritable bowel syndrome
5.) Ectopic pregnancy
6.) Ovarian cancer
7.) Uterine cancer
8.) Fibroids
9.) Pancreatitis
10.) Pancreatic cancer

Having ruled all those things out, my doctor seems to have concluded the problem is chronic inflammation of certain muscles and tendons in my abdomen and pelvis, possibly originating from undetected muscle tears during pregnancy, possibly exacerbated by adhesions or scar tissue from a previous surgery.

So, today, my doctor gave me a prescription for a ten-day course of anti-inflammatories, ordered me to call a physical therapist despite the fact that my health insurance is currently in company buyout-limbo (which has been my excuse for not calling a physical therapist for the past two months, but he told me he will call two different insurance companies himself and harass them for me if there are any problems), and, get this:

Told me to rest for the next ten days. Take it easy, don't do housework, pick up child as little as possible.

REST? For ten DAYS?

Ha ha . . .

Yeah, doc, I'll just pencil MANDATORY MEDICAL VACATION in on my calendar, and then I'll call in my two nannies to watch my two-year-old around the clock, my cook to make dinner for my husband and myself each night AND make a separate meal for my picky son, and, oh, I musn't forget to call my male maid from Puerto Rico, who scrubs floors in the nude.

Somehow I think I will be having mysterious abdominal pain for at least the next five years . . .

But this is a great opportunity to force my husband to cook dinner and wash the dishes while I catch up on my blog writing, eh? Now I have no excuses whatsoever not to spend my days regaling all you beautiful people with endless musings about musings about my own narcissistic navel-gazing. Sweet.

(P.S., everybody-- BTW, I got a Perfect Post Award for this post while I was hiding from my computer! I guess it's only fair now if I jump on the Perfect Post Award-giving bandwagon next month. So write well, friends!)

A Perfect Post