Friday, November 30, 2007

No more NaBloPoMo

Today is the last day of National Blog Posting Month, and I made it, again. I almost stopped caring, quite a few times, when things started to get heavier and heavier, but it gave me something else to think about besides what's going on here, and that wound up being a good thing.

Last year, after I finished my first NaBloPoMo, I was all "I can do this, this posting everyday thing: I'll keep it going all year." Yeah, this year, I know better - t'ain't gonna happen.

But, I also know I'm still committed to this, this sharing with people thing. I hate how my best ideas for blogs happen as soon as I click the little "Shut down computer" button. Or in the shower. Or while I'm too sick to roll over and type. But I love that I have this almost constant voice in my head that's urging me to write.

Because I am a writer - I've always written, assume I always will.

I may not be the best writer, but trying to figure out the right words to say to make people feel what I am saying is important to me. (Sometimes, too important, hence the multitude of unpublished drafts in my post listings... if I can't find the right way to say it, I probably won't say it at all.)


I also know how important all of you are to me: my readers and the writers of the blogs I read. I'm addicted to, and committed to, this community. All of the smart, funny, brilliant, quirky, understanding, thoughtful, determined, and generous (mostly) women I've met since I fell into the blogosphere.

Every single person who I 'know' because they've sat at their computer, turned on their brains, moved their fingers and opened their hearts to the world.

To me.

It's funny how often I start a conversation with "Well, I was reading this blog and," or "You know my friend Janice said," ...or Miss Zoot, or the Goldfish - you know, all of these people I've never actually met but who feel closer to me than my in-person friends?
Or how so many of the quotes going into my collected wisdom folders are from blogs.
Or how a trick/technique I've read about here becomes a part of my daily routine.
Or how often I will be doing something (watching TV, eating, sitting in a doctor's waiting room again) and something I've read in the blogosphere will pop into my head.
Or how frequently I find myself sending good vibes to places I've never been, except in my heart.

So, with all that's going on in my life right now - and all I can see that is going on in all of yours - I'm grateful that we've got these places, these little refuges.

I started this blog more than 2 years ago, looking for an outlet, a very necessary place to call my own, even if it wasn't a physical place. I never dreamed that it would also be a place where I would feel so connected - to myself, to women, to mothers, to the world.

In real life, I'm so often the misfit, the one who doesn't/can't just blend in: I'm too sick, too lonely, too straight laced, too weird, too anxious, too abby-normal.

And yet here, I belong.

I'm just another voice, just another open heart.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

"And then

NTE fell asleep for a thousand years. And there was much happiness and rejoicing all through the land."

Which is a pretty good alternative to my actual life right now, so if there are any positions available in fairy tale land, please be sure to let me know.

Also... is anybody there? Did I chase you all away with all my whining & convoluted explanations (which would suck. For two reasons: 1) I like you all & 2) I'm not all that likely to stop venting here.) Or is everybody all caught up in the Christmas?


The Christmas seems to presently be evading us here at Chez NTE, given the heaviness of recent events/news, it's hard to be light and fluffy. I literally swore when a certain Christmas carol came on the radio yesterday - it felt so out of place to me it might has well have been June 29th.

My aunt is steadily improving, thank all that is holy. She's awake now, but we're still not certain what the issues really are. She's still very confused, but knew her sister enough to stick her tongue out at her, so she's starting to resemble her old self, a little, at least.

My Nana's biopsy results are due in tomorrow, but the doctor is pretty sure it's throat cancer. "Highly treatable, and usually curable" is a direct quote, but, somehow, the C word is so overwhelming that it's hard to see beyond it, just now.

We did have LilGirl today, though, and even though I was not in a place physically to be caring for her, I said screw it, because she cheers me up so much. It's nice to laugh at somebody giving a kissing parade, in the midst of all this crappola.

Also? For The Christmas?


I would like her coat, only with the furry part on the inside, because it is so freaking cute and snugly, I almost made her wear it around the house all day.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

"anywhere but here"

You Should Spend the Holidays In

India - where your Christmas tree might be a banana or mango tree


Just needed something light and fluffy for today.

And now for something completely different...

I'm going to confess that I have not yet read The Dangerous Book for Boys, even though it seemed like something I would probably enjoy. I haven't for 3 main reasons:
1) the ginormous size of my To Be Read pile
2)the fact that it was surrounded by hype ~ I am not a literary slob, but, having followed a few of the "must read/ bound to be a bestseller" trends, I find that I almost always disagree with popular opinion about what is good (Harry Potter is the only exception that leaps to mind, and I was on that bandwagon from just about the beginning. The DaVinci Code, on the other hand, is, in fact, almost entirely the reason for my skepticism towards letting the media steer me towards a particular book)
and 3)I just didn't like the title. The feminist in me instinctively balked a bit at a book whose title proclaimed it a boys-only zone.

But, I continued to hear good things about it - from people whose opinions are significantly more reliable than any list I've ever seen, and began to think that the only way to either confirm or rebut my initial reservations would be to read it myself. So, I added it to my ever-expanding TBR list, realizing that, given the Biblical proportions of that list, I'd get there eventually.


And then Mama Talk gave me the opportunity to review The Daring Book for Girls, the female counterpart whose publication was inevitable given the success of Dangerous. And I thought, "Why not?"

If it was as bad as it could be - all fluffy, filled with fripperies & frivolities, and ... pink, well then I'd have quite a review to write. And if it wasn't, then not only would I have a great review, I'd have a book to put on the keeper shelf, to add to Lil Girl's library, to recommend to my friends.

And, luckily, it is this second review that you're going to read.

Because, while it certainly doesn't - and shouldn't - ignore all things 'girly,' The Daring Book for Girls doesn't just cover those things - instead it strives to give its readers as a sense of perspective: that there is a world full of things to do, skills to learn, people to read about, choices to make, and all a girl has got to do is take the first step.

"Consider the Daring Book for Girls a book of possibilities and ideas for filling a day with adventure, imagination - and fun. The world is bigger than you can imagine, and its yours for exploring - if you dare." (Introduction)

It's not about boys or make-up or losing weight or sitting quietly, and I can't say how truly awesome that is. It's about making your own fun, your own adventures, your own choices. It's about learning from women who've dared, who've leapt, who've led - many of whom you, unfortunately, will never learn about in school. Curiosity, patience, wisdom, wit, adventure - that's the spirit this book is written in.


Andrea J. Buchanan & Miriam Peskowitz write in such an entertaining, engaging style that I can't imagine anybody who couldn't find something interesting between the covers. It's like an encyclopedia that's only filled with things you might actually want to know.

The illustrations, by Alexis Seabrook, are simple and purposeful, and there's -thankfully- more than one chart to help you follow along as you go.

There were more than a few topics that I wondered about their place in the lives of modern girls - Clapping games are still popular on schoolyards, but pegboards and willow whistles aren't exactly X-boxes or Barbie's Dream House... However, I don't necessarily consider this a drawback: There were a lot of things that I never did as a child, but maybe if I'd known how to, I would have. Daisy chains or a lemon powered clock would definitely have tempted a younger me. (Ok, I'm still tempted, but we've got no daisies, and I don't think I'm going to explain to Dad - who does the food shopping - why I need lemons.)

And they also include a lot of things I think should make a comeback - letter writing and tree swings, lemonade stands and female pirates.


It's also not just for 'little' girls -
I'm not ashamed to admit that I learned quite a few things on my first read through. For example, while I'm not interested in sports (and will never understand the obsession with them), I also don't like to not understand what people are talking about. I suppose I could've googled what a power forward was, but I didn't care that much. Now, I don't have to look it up.
I still can't change a tire, but that's more about the physics than a count against that entry. And I'm interested to see how the salary negotiating or public speaking guides measure up in real life.

And although I'm not as daring as I once was, this book provides more than a few adventures I'd still be willing to try out: Making a snowball that doesn't fall apart once it leaves your hand, tying a sari, whistling with two fingers (which, I swear I have been trying to learn how to do for years), finding ways to incorporate brobdingnagian into the conversation - or to call someone my flea in French.

I'm happy to be able to say that if you've got a little girl to holiday shop for, you should add this to your list. Honestly? Add it anyways - put it under your own tree, and learn how to supply a toolbox or what the heck a Chinook is. Go for it. Dare.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Tempting Fate (part 2)

Here's yesterday's introduction to what we're talking about here, in case you missed it.

Mum's sister, Auntie E, was already in pretty serious shape - sedated and on a respirator, in a safe room - when we got up Thursday morning, so we knew it wasn't going to be the easiest holiday ... our celebrations, as they were, were supposed to be pretty low key anyways.

And then Nana (Mum's mother) calls and says that E's organ's are failing and Mr.PUS (Mum's brother) is going to drive her to the hospital immediately.

Now, in an attempt to not flood the internets (and my brain) with vicious hate, I have tried to keep the PUS postings to a minimum. (PUS, by the way is both the noun for what they are and the acronym - People UpStairs.) But there's a reason I call them that. They are, truly, despicable people. They are verbally abusive to all of us, most especially my Nana. If I must give a concise sort of encapsulate of their vitriol, I will say that the following things have been said, by them, to another member of our family: "If I have to, I will go down there and beat the shit out of them, I will set him on fire... you won't be able to stop me." "Your mother is a slut who hasn't worked a day in her life, because she couldn't keep her legs closed and just kept popping out kids." and... probably most important in this situation, "The wrong sister died." As said to Nana, about the death of her eldest daughter 20 years ago this month, and referring to his 2 remaining sisters, Mum and Auntie E.

Both Mum and Auntie E have refused to speak or deal with him, for about 3-4 years now. He, of course, considers himself the wronged party. It's all his sisters' fault for not speaking to him, for making him an outcast, blah de blah. So, this, of course, excuses his - and his family's - behavior towards us and towards Nana. It is ok to spread rumors in Nana & Auntie E's place of work, because it's our fault. It's ok to TOTALLY IGNORE Nana for more than a week - and I mean not speak a single word to her, even though you live in her house, on the same level as her - because it's us who are being mean to you.

It is all ridiculous and childish and hurtful and tense and disgusting, and, on its best day, makes me nauseous just to think about.

And, of course, this was not our best day.


So, long story short, Mr. PUS is not allowed to visit Auntie E - her husband has put a restriction on her visitors, and he is NOT ALLOWED.

So when Nana called and said that, Mum immediately said no, and said she'd take her. Nana - who, while I love her, totally makes this whole situation worse by not just doing something about it.. instead she plays both sides: she plays up her victim status to us, and let's him be the victim on his own side... says "Oh, but if it's that bad he HAS to see her... he's his sister."

No mention of the fact that it's his sister's RIGHT to choose, no, it's all about poor him.

Ahem.

Anyways... Nana has been sick out of her mind with worry this whole week - Auntie E is in bad shape (her chances, when last given, have been pretty evenly split), and Nana knows it. Not to mention that this time of year reminds her of when her daughter, Auntie M & her husband died (different years). Add the fact that she's got her own health issues: scary tests and possibly dangerous diagnoses to deal with.

But Mr. PUS doesn't care about that... it's all about how HE can't get in, how HE's trying to do the right thing, how SHE's doing him an injustice by not letting him in, how it's Mum's fault because she won't tell him anything, won't even look at him. And he's badgering Nana, all week long. I can see it; I can hear it.

And Nana, she just takes it. Snaps at us for interfering. Tells us he isn't, when he obviously is. Takes his side, again and again.

To the point that, Wednesday night, I got so upset and started planning this whole little speech (1 of about a million) I would give her the next day. About how she's constantly playing both sides, and it isn't right. How she keeps telling us that she's making them leave and then she never does. How all her daughters have ever done is stand up for her, their families, and themselves, and yet, somehow, she tries to make them seem like they are in the wrong.

But I never got to give the speech.

Because after Nana's phone call (and a quick check on Auntie E, who thankfully was not failing...she was, in fact the same - stable, and holding on), there was a little altercation between Mum and Mr.PUS (and me! Yay... blech~!) and then he took her to the hospital anyways.

He couldn't get in to see her (even though Nana tried to manipulate my uncle and cousin out of the room in order to get him in!!), and - here I am only guessing a little - took Nana aside and started berating her. He didn't scream (or else my other uncle and cousin would have heard & intervened), but he's capable of such a cold, blank intensity that it is frightening. And I am sure that he used it on her then. Then he left her there - without a ride - and came back home to slam the outer door and storm his way up the stairs.

My other uncle, Auntie E's husband, called Mum and told her to come get Nana... she left right away (leaving me in charge of the food).

And then she called, 25 minutes later, in tears.

Mum never cries... I mean... I have seen her cry, but maybe 10 times, total. So, I knew it was bad.

Nana had collapsed, she said. She'd thrown up and then passed out cold. My cousin had caught her, but they were taking her down to the emergency room.

Dad and SisterJ went to the emergency room right away - Mr. & Mrs. PUS both raced off as well - and I was here alone, left to call the rest of us and put Thanksgiving on the back burner, both literally and figuratively.

What followed is another, long, too-tiring-to-write-right-now post, but as of today, Nana is OK. She was dehydrated and stressed past her limit...and they've been giving her fluids and running tests. Since we already know that she's got some sort of mass (although we haven't really had a chance to digest that information yet, coming, as it did only a day and a half before my aunt's collapse), they're being extra careful and making sure the two things are not related. But she is much more her normal self, which is to say pissed off that she's still in the hospital, more than slightly scatterbrained (a whole nother worry), and ignoring that which she chooses to ignore.


Case in point - that SOB Mr. PUS is acting like the perfect son - taking her the paper in the morning, peeling her banana, acting solicitous to the doctors and nurses, trying to find out what he can. It makes me want to throw up. And here is one reason - in a post that is supposedly about my aunt and grandmother, who have I talked about the most...? He always manages to make it about him, when it is NOT ABOUT HIM!! And... even better... she lets him.

It is so hard to love someone so much, and still be so angry at them that they allow things like this to happen - to themselves and to our family. I'm mad at her for not taking better care of herself, or for not letting us take better care of her... but my being mad just adds more strain, which is dangerous for her. Does this make any sense? I feel like, even though I have a perfect right to be angry with her, I can't be angry with her because she's so sick.

SisterJ and I were talking about how, you always hear that when there's emergencies or difficulties, families are supposed to put aside their differences and come together. But how do we come together with him, with the rest of the PUS, knowing that their behaviors are one of the main factors in her being so sick? Having heard them screaming at her the night before, knowing how scared she was about her daughter, and still obviously not caring? How can you put that aside? I don't know that I can, even if it is what she wants us to do. I can't ignore it, knowing that this part... this solicitousness... is all an act, that nothing in his/their behavior has really changed. It would be nice to think that this scare has woken them up, but it hasn't: he continues to rail at my mother, at not being allowed access to Auntie E, at not being the one in charge of Nana's medical decisions (Mum is). He continues to try to manipulate things.


He hasn't changed, and neither has she: she refuses to see him for what he is, but I feel like I can't just put what I know about him aside.

I don't know if I can do that, not even for her.

And wow, this post is long and morose, and I thank you for listening, letting me babble it all out this way. Needless to say it's been a very difficult week, and adding my Flare to this all hasn't really helped - I was totally out of it Friday and Saturday, but my brain hasn't shut off since. The intensity of this Flare is largely because I tried to do to much - in the face of such crises, I couldn't exactly just go lay down whenever I needed to, plus there were a million things that Mum does for me that I had to attempt to do on my own, plus there were the million other things she normally does that I was trying to do. So, I'm not in the best spot, physically, right now either.

Which brings me back to the point: Things are getting better today. Yesterday, Auntie E was being taken off her ventilator, and the hope is that she'll be much improved today (Mum hasn't gone yet, so I don't know). Nana's ok right now, just pissed because they haven't let her go... she's hoping to come home tomorrow or Wednesday. And I am stuck in bed, but off to lose myself in the glories of the blogosphere (and maybe some internet shopping?): I really appreciate the chance to just get this all out of my head for a little bit.

And not typing anything else about how grateful I am that things are getting better, because I ain't tempting fate again.

Tempting Fate (part 1)

It took me more than an entire day to find the energy/block the pain long enough to type this much, so I know y'all won't mind if this post comes in fits and starts... here's the beginning. But let me just say this so you won't worry too much: today, we are all making do. We are all pushing through. We are all, hope to God, getting better.

From Wednesday's Post:

Because of issues - health, family, other assorted craziness - tomorrow is not looking like the easiest day, but also it is definitely not our hardest, and that is something to remember.

Why, exactly, do I feel the need to tempt fate? Was it our worst day ever... no. I've had a lot of worse days. And, sadly, will probably have more in the close-future. But... it was certainly our worst Thanksgiving.

Which makes it a prize, because five or six years ago, my Thanksgiving was spent in bed, while the rest of my family went to my aunt's house. And while I did not miss the in-law who laughs like a hyena, scarecrow girl, or the constant smell of wet dog, I did miss the family, the dinner, the connection.

Three or four years ago, in the week coming up to Thanksgiving, the PUS decided to spread mothballs in our basement, and I had to evacuate. I spent the week leading up to, and that Thanksgiving morning, bunked on the couch at Grandmother's house, and eventually got home in time to have a Thanksgiving meal with one sister, Mum & I, all laying on my bed, watching The Grinch. (And, this is all without mentioning my usual Post-Holiday Flare.)

And then, two years ago on Thanksgiving my Grandmother (my father's mother) passed out on our kitchen floor and we had to call the ambulance. She left looking like a ghost, and my brother said as she did "I feel like I'm never going to see her again." Fortunately, he was wrong: she's still alive and in pretty great health for a 90 year old. But it was unbelievably scary, impossibly chilling.

But, somehow, this Thanksgiving beat them all.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Friday, November 23, 2007

thinking ahead..

Know I'm not going to be good today, so here's a little something I've got sitting in the draft folder, so all I have to do is click post.

You scored as Hermione Granger, You are Hermione. You are academic, intelligent, and reasonable. On top of this, you are highly concerned with justice, scorn the small-minded prejudices of others and work hard to defend the under dog. Many times you may find that your heart and mind are constantly at war with each other.

Hermione Granger

81%

Albus Dumbledore

75%

Remus Lupin

72%

Percy Weasley

69%

Neville Longbottom

69%

Harry Potter

66%

Luna Lovegood

66%

Oliver Wood

63%

Severus Snape

56%

Draco Malfoy

56%

Sirius Black

50%

Ron Weasley

47%

Bellatrix Lestrange

44%

Lord Voldemort

38%

Harry Potter Character Combatibility Test
created with QuizFarm.com

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Good morning !

Happy Thanksgiving...

I'm going to blog along with the parade for a little while, see how that goes.

- It smells good here. I may not like to eat, but these smells are pretty great.

- I love the musical numbers: I think we've talked before about how much I love Broadway...and, having never been there, it's awesome to catch some of the newer numbers right here from bed. Also, while I'm not a purist by any means, I'm hoping that next year there'll be some non-movie-inspired shows included. (Xanadu... blech)

- It does not bode well for the rest of my dad, drama-wise, that I started crying at the Michael Phelps commercial.

- I keep thinking "that's my favorite part of the parade." Favorite parts of the parade so far? The broadway kids at the beginning. The Rockettes...I could've been a Rockette (at least that's what I delude myself into thinking. )Some none favorites: the 'banter' with Al Roker...which are really just commercials for NBC shows.

- How cute was that Rudolph/Aflack commercial? I kinda liked it and kinda didn't: I don't like it when they take heritage type stuff and screw with it, but it was still funny, so I'm on the fence.

- I wonder what you have to do, who you have to be to get one of those seats behind the performers, at the Macy's Herald Square store...

- Also love: that the traffic light behind Matt and Meredith isn't off: 1,2,3 Red light. 1,2,3, Green light.

- Those toothtune toothbrushes are scary to me. Sending music right to your teeth (/brain)? uM... no thank you. It's a good idea, the 2-minute song thing, but the application seems freaky to me.

- Rockettes time! Yay! Did I mention that I could've been a Rockette? Well, thinking back... maybe/maybe not. When I was dancing, I was always the tallest, center of the line. I was also - am still - insanely flexible (Remind me to tell you about some of the theories that my FM may also be in the Ehler-Danlos family of connective tissue disorders). That led to a lot of high kicks. My dance teacher (who was petite... ok short) loved to show that I could kick high, and it was kind of a given that I'd be kicking high, doing splits, and stretching my long legs as much as possible. One year we did a Chorus Line number - One - and ended with those Rockette type kicks, as the curtain closed. We had to start out with 15 kicks, and then keep kicking as the curtain closed, opened, and closed again. The short people on the ends of the line only had to kick till the curtain passed them, breathe, and then wait for the curtain to come back to them. Me? I was dead center... kicking the entire time. I'm pretty sure we counted 31 additional kicks, after watching the recital video. And, mostly, they were eye-high. See... a few more years of training, and I could've been a Rockette.

- Why do they think that we'll think that these songs are being sung live? Well, actually, probably they are singing live, but that's not what we're hearing... We've all heard what live singing actually sounds like, and this ain't it.

- I should probably get dressed soon. Laying around in my bathrobe may be comfy, but it's not exactly company-ready.

- The family drama - for those of you who asked: it's freaking ridiculous. My aunt is on a respirator, her asshole of a brother (Mr. PUS) is making it all about him and creating ridiculousness, scaring my Nana, who's already scared out of her mind. And there's a restraining order involved and everything... It's awesome. That's ust the beginning, I'm afraid. So... I'm ignoring it for right now, even though my horoscope said to face things head on today. I don't wanna, and it can't make me.

- I have never built a bear.

- When she was like 9, I made SisterJ watch the tv-movie based on my favorite Stephen King novel, It and now she is afraid of clowns.

-I don't like - have never liked Hello Kitty.

- My high school marching band had about 25 people in it... and my high school wasn't really small. You can see how important it was to us.

- alright... am really getting dressed now... if I don't come back Happy Thanksgiving, everybody in the US. And to all of you who spend time here, however long or short, know I'm thankful for that.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Thanksgiving Eve

Baked a pie. Am now very sore and exhausted (and totally not listening to Dad rant and rave about how there was a blueberry stain on the table. Seriously: I do the best I can, and it takes a lot for me to try and pitch in like this... I couldn't keep an eye on everybody else at the same time, so you need to just lay off!) Almost forgot that I am supposed to post something before I take a loooooooooooooooooong hotttttttttttttttttttt shower, and let some things melt away.

Because of issues - health, family, other assorted craziness - tomorrow is not looking like the easiest day, but also it is definitely not our hardest, and that is something to remember.


My plan is to watch the parade in the morning --- YAY! I LOVE THE PARADE! - and hopefully post sometime then... But, in the hopes that you're having a fantabulous time and can't rush right over here to see what the hell I am talking about:

I'm going to wish you all the very best Thanksgiving you can possibly have...

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Monday, November 19, 2007

MBSM - Illicit

Today's Best Shot Monday picture combines a few of my favorite things: the energy of Youngest Nephew (7), time alone with just Youngest Nephew, and the two of us acting like children - which, although he can do it all the time, is such a treat for me!

Here's an action shot from our sleepover this weekend, when I caught him catapulting from the couch to the ottoman, something the grown-up me would've had to get mad at (if only because it's not technically my furniture, and I know his Papa would've), but the fun & games me just laughed and showed him the picture.


I don't ever remember having this kind of careless, frenetic energy -



but it's still really fun to watch.

Happy Monday, all: If you're one of Best Shot Monday-players who usually only stop by on Monday's then ---> I hope your week is filled with things to be grateful for, and that you spend your Thanksgiving exactly as you wish.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

How to cheer me up...

I feel like everybody else is as behind in reading blogs as I am, and so I'm not going to feel guilty about it. If you're getting a comment from me on a weeks-old post, I'm sure you won't mind.

As for other things, can I just say that having your 7-yr-old nephew sleep over is a cure-all for many things? It really gave me no time at all to sit and obsess about some of the things that have been happening, and I'm kind of grateful for that.
My aunt is staying in the hospital till at least Tuesday - they still don't know what caused her to pass out, or why she's so anemic (I still vote for the whole, you have to eat food to get nutrients thing, but I'm not doctor). My dad is still on vacation, and I have only wanted to kill him 3 or 4 times. I'm still trying to do battle with this last flare, hopefully in time to get ready for the next, post-Thanksgiving flare. (I have, in fact, missed out on Thanksgiving before - twice - and so, won't do so again unless absolutely necessary. Let me explain to you how much I love gravy...)

But back to the sleepover.

Except for the fact that baby talk and whining are apparently Youngest Nephew's newest favored forms of communication (and the fact that Auntie NTE does not hear either of those things, which confused him a lot), we had a fabulous time.

We played computer games; he showed me his Webkinz' house & let me feed them (woo hoo); We played Clue Jr about 7 times.

He ate cold pizza for lunch and had dinner at 8:30 (I told you Dad was home - he was obviously in charge of dinner as well).

He got up at 7:30 this morning, came into my (freezing - where was the HEAT??) room, snuggled under the covers and we played Would you rather... He'd rather learn to scuba dive than learn to climb a mountain, btw, and I'd rather have him build me a house than try to build a house out of Legos.

He made scrapbook pages for his Mum & Dad, while I tried to do some but kept getting distracted by the glitter. And the scraps of paper that were flying in the air. And the mess.

We listened to the Animaniacs and Schoolhouse Rock.

He watched his first Looney Tunes cartoon with my dad - and laughed.

He told me he loved me about a million times and left a message on my dry erase board that reads:

To A. NTE:

Hihooowaaaaaaaaaahya?
This is from a book we both love, The Wicked Big Toddlah.

I slout you. He is not, contrary to Mum's opinion, calling me a slut. He salutes me... aw..
And I love you.

Love, ?
Secret messages are verrry popular in our family.

(Relly, it's from Youngest Nephew) That says "really," andd he signed it in cursive! He's getting so big.

You just can't beat that, if you ask me.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Here's where SisterCh is hanging out today




Kinda takes your breath away... or gives it back, as the case may be.

Made me breathe a little deeper, anyways. Happy Saturday, all!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Sitting around waiting for inspiration ain't really accomplishing much for me ~

It's been a long, long week.. everyday a new & surprisingly bad revelation, and for me - who was already worn out from this fantastic flare - it has been pretty hard just to drag myself through. Here's some of the highlights -

On Monday, Sister Ch developed a rash at work (again... this is like the 4th time in a row). Only this time, it was severe enough to get her to go to the ER... where she waited 4 hours to be told that she has some sort allergy. They gave her the name of an allergist and an Epi-pen. Of course, since she has no idea of what she's allergic to, it should be interesting to see how that works out.

On Tuesday, we discovered little bugs in our kitchen. They are not ants. They are not roaches, they are some sort of little beetle or something... and they like our windowsills. Oh, and also the cabinets.

On Wednesday, some of my Nana's test results came back and the news is not good. We don't know how not good yet, so I'm trying not to think of it just now... She's got an MRI scheduled for tomorrow morning, and then she's got to see an ENT for a biopsy.

Yesterday, there was no bad news. And we had Lil Girl, which was great. And she said SisterCh's name, which was adorable. And I breathed and took a shower, and waited for the doctor to call. He didn't, but that was O.K. cuz I didn't really want to talk to him.

And today? Well today was supposed to be a nice relaxing day for Mum & I, b/c Dad's on vacation starting tomorrow and 'vacation' for him in reality means 'more opportunities for driving us crazy.' Like making homemade raviolis, which he wants to do, you know... for Thanksgiving. (????) But instead of that, my Mum got a call from Nana saying my aunt had passed out at work and was on her way to the ER in an ambulance. My aunt has been sick for a while now, but - because she refuses to go to the doctor - nobody knows what's wrong with her. She just lost a lot of weight (and she had little to spare to begin with), her skin got all crepe-y and off colored, and she had trouble eating. Turns out she pulled a little me - the whole low-blood pressure = syncope number - and hit her head on the way down. (Boy, that hurts, let me tell you.) A few stitches, nothing big. But now that they've got her, they're trying to figure out the why of it: she's anemic and severely dehydrated, and, when my Mum finally came home right about 8 hours after she left, she told me they were thinking there was a problem with her liver.
(This is where I mention that alcoholism runs in both sides of my family - largely unacknowledged, btw. She wasn't drinking this morning, certainly, but I doubt that her drinking isn't in someway connected to her problems.) But she was awake, alert and cranky by the end of the day.

So - little annoyances, bigger issues, health worries right and left, a not-so-major flare, and Thanksgiving looming... it was, in fact, a particularly un-fabulous week. I'm pretending that a new week starts tomorrow, on Saturday. Because I need it to. Youngest Nephew is coming for his regularly scheduled sleepover, and I'm determined to have a better day.

I hope you all are having nice, normal, calm, peaceful weeks. Get ready to think of all the things you are thankful for: they've been uppermost in my mind just lately, I'll tell you that.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

I'm definitely not GIDDY,

but today's Thursday Theme is. So I searched through some of my photo archives, and came up with some pictures of giddiness. Here's the one that made me smile the most.

It's Youngest Nephew, his mum (Soon-to-be SIL), SisterCh & our Mum, New Years 2005...



They've just finished a puzzle. Seriously, who can get that excited about a puzzle? I do not like puzzles. At all... it's a huuuge waste of time to me. To each his own, I guess.. and seeing as how it was Mum's birthday - and puzzles are in her list of favorite things to do, it was nice that she found some people to play with her.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Ok, in addition to being Elinor Dashwood,

I am also a big fat liar. Totally not coming back with anything resembling a fabulous post today.

Unless you think that quizzes I've saved as drafts count as fabulous... in which case, are YOU in luck!!

Thanksgiving Horoscope for Gemini

You're the sign most likely to bring up interesting and controversial topics at Thanksgiving dinner.

Your signature dish: Sweet potatoes with marshmallows

Your signature dessert: Pumpkin cheesecake

This holiday: Play bartender. You're family is much more lively with a few drinks in them.


And if, by "much more lively" they mean "totally crackhouse crazy," then this horoscope is right on target.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

I am Elinor Dashwood!


Take the Quiz here!




Hiding from the flare, in good old Regency England. (Not with Ms. Austen, although I did reread P&P recently, but rather Ms. Quinn, Ms. Kleypas, & Ms. Laurens.) Back again tomorrow, in hopefully a more pleasant manner.

Monday, November 12, 2007

MBSM

Here's the newest member of our clan - Baby O, at 3 months old.

His parents, my cousin and her husband, trekked down from Maine to introduce us to their new guy. It was great to see them all, particularly since Baby O was a long time, and quite a few troubles, in coming. We're all so happy, and it was just one of those things that fills your heart: Seeing Baby O with his doting Daddy and head-over-heels Mommy. It's nice to see happiness where there was so much pain.

Plus, I am uncontested Queen of the Baby Hogs, and Baby O had no issues with that at all. (Although Lil Girl was more than a little put out at first... she handled it pretty well, though.) ;)

So here's the cutie, My Best Shot Monday, and totally worth the little flare I'm dealing with today.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Present time....

See yesterday's post Re: The 1st party of the Clump, and you will see that I am pretty exhausted, so here's a look at SisterK's birthday present. A year ago, I decided to do scrapbooks for all of my siblings, and each year on their birthdays, I add a year's worth of pages. I enjoy doing them (even though they are a lot of work), and so far, my siblings have all really loved them. Of course, I have a ton of work to do for SisterS and Only Brother over the course of the next month, but I'm not thinking about that now. Instead, here are a few of the pages I added to Sister K's book this year:



Saturday, November 10, 2007

And so it begins...

Yesterday was Youngest Sister/Sister K's 19th birthday, which ushers in our season o'birthdays. Or, as I like to call it, The Clump. Oldest Nephew really starts things off in the end of September, but then things really start to roll, and birthdays start coming fast and quick all the way through to the first week of February. Here's a brief rundown of the birthdays just in our immediate family:

Oldest Nephew - Sept 20th
SisterK - Nov 9
SisterS - Nov 30
Soon-to-be-SIL - Dec 10th
Only/Big Brother - Dec 15th
Mum - Jan 1
SisterCh - Jan 5
Dad - Jan 21
SisterJ - Feb 8

Hence, The Clump. If you throw in a couple of cousins, both of my grandfathers (who are now deceased), and a handful of anniversaries - not to mention Christmas, Thanksgiving, and New Years... well, you can see how it might get a little crazy around here sometimes.

When I was younger, I was jealous of The Clump - everyone in my family had their birthdays all together, and I was stuck out in June all by myself. (Of course, they were all jealous of me, because it was for my birthday and I could have cookouts. Grass greener and all that.) But additions to our family in recent years have contributed to a sort of Mini-Clump in the late spring. Now there's

Youngest Nephew - May 2
Lil Girl - May 21
Soon to be BIL - May 22
Me - June 5

It's not quite so isolated now, and with all the graduations and first communions we've had over the years, it's hard to remember a time when it really was just me, out there all by myself. I kind of like that our Mini-Clump is gathering new members... we'll see what the future brings.

Anyways, tomorrow is our first Clump-party: SisterK will be coming for cake, and my cousin, her husband, are coming down from Maine to introduce us to their new baby (yay! except I've been worried about my sinus infection and being contagious, but the doc said it's not strep, and I've been on the antibiotics for... well, these ones for a week, and he said I should be good. I've got masks, though, just in case.) I've finished up SisterK's present, and am resting, resting, resting for tomorrow. Now if I could only get some actual sleep, it'd be fabulous.

Friday, November 09, 2007

You know what I would consider fair?

I would call it fair if, as consolation for having the "sinus infection that laughs in the face of 3 (count them 3!) antibiotics," my sense of smell was diminished a bit. You know that whole hyper-olfactory sense? Yeah, I shouldn't be able to have that and what feels like three elephants sitting on my head. It really should be an either/or type deal...

But, if there's anything we all know, it's that fair very rarely enters into the equation.

It's certainly not the worst thing that I've got going on, but it just seems illogical that my sinuses are so clogged that I have to turn my head every three minutes or else that side starts to throb and my eye waters, and yet I can also smell that somebody has their fireplace going down the street. And that Mrs. PUS spilled gasoline in the driveway (Which is right outside my window. Yeah, my love for her knows no bounds.) when she tried to fill up the snow blower.

Doesn't that just seem wrong? Smelling or snot, but not both. That should be a rule.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

I specifically waited until after The Office...

so that I could pepper this link with a fabulous quotes from this week's episode.


Here's is Dwight (Oh, boy was Dwight awesome in this episode): I keep various weaponry strategically placed around the office. ... People say "Oh, it's dangerous to keep weapons in the home or the workplace." Well I say it's better to be hurt by someone you know accidentally, than by a stranger on purpose.

I've never actually had a full-time, paying job. When I was a teenager, I babysat pretty regularly & subbed as the secretary at the local rectory. For two years before I got sick, I'd been an assistant dance teacher at the dancing school I took lessons at, but it was paid in kind - teaching classes to pay for my classes & a discount on the costumes. (Did I ever mention that? That I was a dancer before I got sick? I can't remember now...) When I got sick, I was 15 - about 9 months shy of being old enough to get my work papers (without parental permission and a whole lotta red tape). It worked for us. Anyways...

Then I got sick, and I went to school ~ still took some babysitting jobs here and there, but that was all I could manage. Then I did my placements and internships and semesters as a student teacher, but none of those are paid positions.

So I've never been in a union. What I know about unions comes from repeated viewings of Newsies and the scattering of information to be found in economics classes, history classes, & sociology classes about the intersections of poverty and prosperity. I realize I don't know too much about this strike beyond it's ability to impact me, as a television viewer (No Daily Show! No Jon Stewart! No Steven Colbert! How will I liiiiiive??)

But it seems to me that the contracts of workers should have to keep up with the development of newer technologies in that particular field. I don't find it absurd that they're asking to be included on ALL of the profits from their work... in fact, it makes no sense to me that there's even a debate about it. Aside from greed (or other excuses that seem to boil down to greed), I haven't heard any justification of the opposition's position to this increase.

And that's why I'm so glad that Steve Carell said he wouldn't cross the picket line, even if it means that there won't be any new episodes of the Office to watch for a while... Because he's standing up for the people on his team, doing what seems right to him. As if I didn't already love him enough.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

I am not a normal people.

I know it most when I watch them go - walking, talking, absentmindedly - absent-bodily, actually.

They move without thinking, sure their bodies will obey. They don't think through each step; don't plan out those quick head turns. They never pause & wait for the "all clear" before continuing.

To them, movement is natural: It just happens - their feet know when to lift, when to fall. How fast they run down the stairs - never having to check, to reassess the distance between steps.

Their hearts beat faster when they need them to, slow down of their own accord.

If they trip or fall, it is because they were going so fast - too fast to notice an untied shoe or cracked sidewalk. It isn't because their bodies can't remember how to make energy or just gave up trying. It isn't because their nerves are too busy receiving pain signals to comply with the order to 'go.'

When they pause to talk to someone, they don't spend the conversation worrying about whether or not their heart will choose this moment to stall. Or if the person they are talking to can notice that they don't understand what they are talking about.

They walk. They stoop and swivel and sway as they go.

All of their systems remain connected: Each speaking to the other frequently, sharing all of the vital information that a person's body requires. My systems have turned rogue - secretive and paranoid, deciding it's best to only communicate through a complicated series of guttural clicks and signal fires.

While my body has decided to boycott anything more strenuous than yawning, theirs amble on. As they flow freely from one place to another, my body gasps at their courage - or foolishness. To face the sun unprotected?!? To wander recklessly without holding on to walls?!? To spray things at themselves without concerns of headache or nausea?!?

To move as if pain were not their constant companion?!?

Don't they know that sleep is the body's enemy? Obviously not, as they seem blissful in their hours of rest. My body knows better - it recognizes sleep as a necessary evil, battles against it as long as possible, often with remarkable tenacity. When it finally gives in, it does not surrender completely - the battle continues again and again, all through the night. And when the sun rises, I am all too aware of who has emerged the victor.

Perhaps it is their bodies that are neglectful - ignoring the obvious threats posted by any common wayward smell or ray of light. Perhaps my body is right to guard me from standing: after all, it is a a much higher place to fall from. Perhaps it is right to keep me from straying to far from my bed, to limit me to view the world outside from my bedroom window.

Perhaps.

But I'll take one of those neglectful bodies, any day.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Here I am ...

Not too late for today's post, but a little late in the day for my brain to be working. But I have a good excuse - or, rather, a familiar excuse. I'll give you a hint.. it rhymes with Finus Bnfection.


Yes, that's right... the sinus infection from two weeks ago decided that it had enough of this whole "I'm getting better and just lingering a little" phase and decided instead to try on "I think I will make her throw up because the pressure in her head is so bad" for size.

So, a whole new antibiotic and a narcotic or two later, here we are.


Thankfully, I had a doctor's appointment scheduled for yesterday anyways, and Zack took one look at me and said, "What is with this sinus infection?"

And I don't mean he looked up my nose or down my throat and said that... I mean, he walked in the room, saw me, and said that. It was not the best compliment I've ever received, but it's also pretty awesome how well he knows me.

We talked about a whole lot of other stuff too - updates (including why my next appointment is with a neurosurgeon, and wth is Fibromyalgia-plus?) to follow on a day when I'm not oozing anything.

There, now aren't you glad you stopped by?

:)

Monday, November 05, 2007

MBSM

Most people are putting their Halloween pictures up for MBSM, and I already did that here, so I'm just going to leave that link for anybody who hasn't seen them.


As for other things, I'll just give you a brief update: SisterJ started back to work today, and she says that it is much easier today than last time. Last time, 2 weeks ago, when she was crying and hiding under her desk on the phone with me. I'm very, very glad that things are going better than that today, but since just about anything would be better than that, I'm not sure exactly what it means.

I do know that in the past week or so, I've seen a marked difference in her behavior & attitude - an ability to see past the next five minutes, for example.
Less panic, more steadyness.
Actual laughter. (Which, after she left, made me cry happy tears, I'm not ashamed to say.)

She's starting to resemble herself, and I am starting to not feel as if I have to check in on her every couple of hours - or panicked when I can't reach her. It isn't a miracle, of course, but it feels like one. Bit by bit, day by day, things are improving.

This is her third antidepressant, and it looks like it is finally starting to help her. The therapy is finally starting to help. She's finally starting to recognize that there are options and that time and life are not her enemy. When we talk, it isn't always in desperation: there's room for other thoughts and people, for the future, for planning. She's able to see that losing this job isn't the worst thing that could happen to her, that she can bear the weight all of the pressures she is under.

She has hope, again - I can see it.

It's still slogging through each and every day. It's still almost unbearably hard and sad and scary, but it's better, and I wanted to thank you all for listening and supporting me. Most important, I wanted to let you all know that things are changing, one little bit at a time.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

It is November 4th, is it not?

Because I heard Christmas music today.

And the Christmas channel is back on our digital music choices.

And that stupid Christmas Reindeer commercial for the Christmas Crafts Fair - I don't know if they have these in other places, but every year this stupid reindeer insists that there are only "Three shopping days till Christmas:" the Friday, Saturday, & Sunday of the craft fair. Which happens to be next weekend. But the reindeer's voice? ugh.

Of course the Christmas tree stuff is up in stores, I've heard. I'm not going to a store, and I'm using this as a reason why not.

Because Halloween was 5 days ago... literally FIVE days ago. That means it is not Christmas time yet. I love Christmas as much as anybody ~ I really, really do ~ but I like it to start after Thanksgiving. So that means it is much too early for this:

Saturday, November 03, 2007

You know, I am reading things besides Llama, Llama red pajama... and here's a little update on some of what's been making its way through my brain this week:


Here's the Quote of the Week, Books -->

"It had been a terrible day - Mam hadn't gone to Mass, and it's impossible to convey how serious this is to someone unfamiliar with the Irish Catholic mammy. The ICM won't miss Sunday Mass even if she's got rabies and is foaming at the mouth - she'll simply bring a box of tissues and brazen it out. If her leg falls off, she'll hop. If her other leg falls off, she'll walk on her hands while still managing to wave graciously at neighbors passing by in cars." p 54 Marian Keyes - The Other Side of the Story

I hadn't read any of Marian Keyes before, and I thought this was a great book - funny and honest and smart. This quote alone would make the book a keeper, because it's so true. My Grandmother is an ICM - My uncle usually drives her to church, but if he's not available and even though she has to walk down (and then back up) a hill that is referred to as Dead Man's Curve (I'm not joking), she'll walk it. In the snow. At age 90, with macular degeneration so bad in one eye that she's partially blind. (Of course, she could just call and say she needs a ride, but does she? No. But that's another story.) She honestly believes that giving Youngest Sister the Mass schedules for every church within 10 miles of Harvard Square is going to be enough to make her go to Mass every Sunday. When YSister calls home, Grandmother asks her which priest she had for confession. It's pretty funny.

But she's also, in recent years, become a lot more lenient in regards to other people's faith. When she lost two sons and her husband of nearly 65 years within a 2 year period, I think it changed things for her somehow. Shook her in ways she'd never have expected. I know she believes, but I don't know exactly how she believes. I wish I could have her faith, just that ability to know inside herself, but I don't. So it's amazing and wonderful to me.

But, even though she called the Pastor at her church when she found out my sister was reading The DaVinci Code, she's not nearly as set in her ways as she could be.

She's an odd mix of the radical - in that many of her more liberal beliefs fall way outside the official Catholic canon - and the traditional. She's pro-Gay rights, but not Gay marriage. She's against divorce, yet told me that leaving my father (her son) was the best thing my mother could've done (for all of us involved), and sees my half sisters (technically not blood related) as just as much a part of her family as any of her other grandchildren. I had always assumed that it was at her urging that my 16-year-old parents had gotten married in the first place, when my mother turned up pregnant, but learned recently that she was initially against it - and that she had offered my mother a home with them should her family object. She's always been extraordinarily kind, but she's also got unexpected pockets of coldness and stubbornness. She remembers all the Holy Days of Obligation - If I see the parking lot for the church across the street start to fill up, I'll call her and ask her why... and she'll know.

No matter what, though, I know if it's 5:00 on a Saturday, or 9:00 on a Sunday, Grandmother is at church. Even if she has to walk on her hands.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Missing:

It may just be the end of the world: We have misplaced our copy of Llama, Llama, Red Pajama. A true tragedy, my friends.

Nevermind that we have, literally, hundreds of other books. Only Llama, Llama will do! LilGirl is, I am proud to say, a book lover. And when she's in love with specific books, there are no substitutions allowed. Llama Llama was last seen on Saturday, at Grandmother's House, although she insists it is not there. It is also not in the blue bag we brought back from Grandmother's House, either basket Lil Girl's books live in, or any of its usual haunts. I have faith that it will be found, but not during this naptime... Hopefully, when she wakes up, she will not remember that she wanted it, and we can instead see how many babies will fit into this carriage.


Also, while searching for a picture of Llama, llama, I find that there is a NEW LLAMA - Llama, llama mad at mama. You know who's going to the bookstore this weekend, right? Well, not me... but I can send somebody!