Wednesday, March 31, 2010

I am attempting

to write a letter of recommendation for SisterCh, in regards to an apartment she and her fiance are hoping to rent. It is tricky to do.

Particularly if I want to be honest. (It's a good thing I have my BS, because I have learned the art of putting a kernel of truth in the best possible light.)

All the advice says things like "tell how reliable she is, that she pays her bills on time." But I can't say that I have any experience of that personally - she doesn't pay rent here, and only just paid off the money she borrowed from me for SisterJ's wedding (yeah, that's nearly 2 years and various weekend vacations for her later). But, I do know that she paid her rent on time and in full when she lived in a condo before, so I can say that.

I am absolutely able to rave about her turning a temp position that was only supposed to last 6 months into a full-time position with full benefits and a raise 3 years later. I am immensely proud of her for that, and I know that she deserves a lot of kudos for it, so that definitely goes in. (2 paragraphs down, one to two more to go).

Next advice: "Discuss how neighborly she is" Um Yeah - Roadblock. See, SisterCh and I have a long and complicated history of her being particularly unneighborly, in my opinion.

I have a lot of needs that other people have to take into consideration, and SisterCh has not always understood, embraced, or really cared about that. She's been the hardest of my siblings to educate about my condition, hands down. Mostly, I think, because she was really young when I got sick, and I'm pretty sure she has a lot of resentment about how much of our parents' (mostly our mom's) attention I managed to siphon off by being, you know, nearly dead. I know part of her is still very much in the whole "suck it up"/"get over it already" camp, and her dismissive attitude has been incredibly hurtful to me for years.

Which isn't to say she hasn't improved. Because, in a lot of ways, she has: the smell thing is still a battle occasionally, but it's not a daily battle, it's not the constant me being trapped in my room until an hour after she leaves for work nonsense that it used to be. She may still roll her eyes when I say something is bothering me, but we don't scream and shout about it as much as we used to. We've both gotten a lot better at walking away before our feelings get too trampled (mostly).

Nowadays, she sends me e-mails when she finds unscented lip glosses, offers to share her work discount with me when I tell her I'm searching for a new computer, or posts a link to some FM article where they talk about vitamins (:sigh: on that last one, but at least she's trying). And she nearly decked a waitress last week when she patted me on the back, so that's a plus.

So, yeah, she's growing up. We both are, and it's helping us.

She's also taking responsibility for her fiance's kids, and I think that, in the process, she's getting to be more mature & understanding, and I hope that our relationship will continue to improve as we both get older, but she's still the same girl who told me I was a selfish bitch because I needed her to stop spraying her perfume in the house. She's still the same girl who rolls her eyes when I say she doesn't understand how lucky she is to not have to worry about whether or not a ride in the car will make her head spin for the next three days, or complains when I open the window to air out a (freezing but) smelly house. Or who stops speaking to her sister without even realizing that the thing they are 'fighting' about is not the end of the world.

Which is why you shouldn't ask your sister to write a letter of recommendation for you, I think. Because sisters' relationships are too complex. Because being her sister means I would kill for her, but sometimes I can't stand to be in the same room as her.

I could write about how much I love her, and how proud I am of her, and how brave I think she was the time she stood up to our dad and told him to fuck off (he really deserved it), but I don't think that that will get her the apartment, really. I could write about how she and SisterJ used to be thick as thieves (actual, literal thieves who stole all my good toys when they thought I wasn't looking), but now they just can't figure out how to speak the same language & that it hurts my heart, but that also doesn't really seem like what they are looking for.

So, instead, I'll write things like "In her previous living spaces, she took pride in maintaining a lovely home, always managing to keep her areas clean and tidy." Which, if you cold see her room right now, would seem like an outright LIE, but I know that when she lived in the condo, she was impeccable, so it technically isn't - I did say "previous" living spaces.

Back to work, trying to make 24 years of sisterhood & obsessive love (Do you think it would help if I mentioned how, when she was a little girl, she was really shy and I lugged her around on my hip for the better part of three years? Nah, I didn't think so either.) sound totally positive and not at all twisty and complex.

She is your mirror, shining back at you with a world of possibilities. She is your witness, who sees you at your worst and best, and loves you anyway. She is your partner in crime, your midnight companion, someone who knows when you are smiling, even in the dark. She is your teacher, your defense attorney, your personal press agent, even your shrink. Some days, she's the reason you wish you were an only child.   Barbara Alpert

Friday, March 26, 2010

You know what I am really good at?

Drafts. I rock at first drafts; love second drafts, have been known to have as many as 16 drafts of something before I am even close to happy with it. I was that annoying kid at school who would enjoy the peer editing conferences, knowing that I would get another chance to fix all the things that needed to be fixed. I have about 7200 of them sitting around right now: A first draft of a children's book I started writing 12 years ago; a hilariously poor batch of poems. A first draft of a letter to an old friend, two or three drafts of outrage (or, less likely, praise) to my senators; one for my aunt, sitting around waiting for me to add pictures. Hundreds of posts sitting in the draft folder. Probably the same number of e-mails sitting in that drafts folder. I go through drafts and drafts and drafts of every To Do list - with a lot more carry over and a lot less crossing off than I would like, unfortunately.

The only kind of draft I am not exceptionally good at? Final drafts.

And do you know that it has taken me the better part of my 30 years on the planet to make the connection between my labor intensive and research rich drafting process and plain old procrastination?

"But I'm working on it!" I can say to myself - "I'm re-thinking it, I'm re-working it, it's still percolating, it's not all the way there yet, not Done with a capital D Done." Right, and it's often true that things need more tweaking. But there comes a point where you are just holding on to something, just keeping it your control for as long as possible. At some point, though?

You need to finish things. You need to make the decision, write "The End", cross everything off the list (or decide it's not worth completing and toss it), stick it in the mail and sent it off.

One of the things that I've crossed off my list this week is deciding to have the sinus surgery. After my appointments last week, I did a bunch of research, I wrote about it here (once or twice), I asked for opinions and spent hours talking to someone I (only sort of) know who had a similar procedure. I wrote pro/con lists (yes: I actually do this), and argued with myself for as long as I could. Then I procrastinated a little bit because the answer I had wound up with was not the answer I wanted to wind up with. And then I passed in my final draft, and told the doctor to sign me up.

I'm still nervous, and I don't like that I have to have it, but it's pretty clear that I have to have it. I still don't know when, but that's the doctor's fault not mine. (His surgical nurse is supposed to get back to me next week with a date.) The good news is that my case is severe enough to require a special kind of sinus surgery, which can be done on an outpatient basis (Do not even ask me: the less severe surgery is inpatient, mine is all laparoscopic and laser-y, and so then I get to go home on the same day. Yay.) Also on the good news side of things is that the surgical nurse seemed to understand that liquid pain medication will be very important (bc I'm also getting my tonsils out. Did I forget to mention that? Yeah, they were what started this whole damn thing in the first place.) and was very clear on the fact that, since I won't be able to take my regular pain meds for at least a day or two, then I'm going to need alternatives.

So: final decision made. Now if I could just get the damn computer out of draft mode (Current draft title: "You cannot afford a Mac: choose again"), then I'd be all set.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

What I would say, if I were brave enough

Dear Facebook Friends,

I am genuinely glad that you are expecting your (insert number here) child. You are my friend, and I'm so glad for you (especially those of you that have been TTC for quite a while). I will happily attend baby showers and baptisms, and am already shopping for a gift to take to the hospital. But I am also sickeningly jealous, because the only thing I want more than getting well is a family of my own. So if you decide to complain about a)the gender of your baby or b)the fact that you are a little more tired than you usually are, you'll have to excuse me if I don't join in on the pity party. I know you have a right to how you feel, but since right now I feel like I'd rather be you on your worst day than me on my best, I'm just going to ignore your posts for a while and come back for the big announcement.

Kind of Sorry About This, and with Lots of Love, NTE

Dear Facebook Friends,

I am glad you get to spend your time playing games that entertain you such as Farmville, MafiaWars, Sorority House, Godfather, Wizard World, ZooPets, etc. For myself, however, I know that if I were to join you in playing any of these games, it would not go well. I have a limited amount of energy as it is, and if I get sucked into playing a highly addictive game (and I can see by the number of posts you have each day, these games are highly addictive), then I would get less than nothing accomplished. (Evidence Bejeweled Blast, and the fact that I had to uninstall it from my page, lest I get sucked in again.) So please, please stop asking me to join your cult community: even if I liked it, it would be bad for me.

Love, NTE

Dear people I used to know and now only sort of know because we are "friends" on Facebook,

Perhaps you are unaware of my particular life circumstances, and that is fine: I understand that we haven't been close in the 10-15 years since we've last seen each other, and so how were you to know? But if I post something about how I am feeling, or the status of my 1200th doctor's appointment of the week, or if you happen to see a picture of current-ish me (of which there should be none: although sometimes my siblings sneak them in when I am not vigilant enough) and notice that I am in a wheelchair, it is not an appropriate response for you to say things like "Damn, what happened to you?" or "Really, you're that sick? I would kill myself if that happened to me." It's called common sense, people. Rudeness is still rudeness, even if you're typing it.

Whatever, NTE

Dear Facebook Friends who are too cutesy,

If I have to hear how your and your fiance/husband/boyfriend are head over heels, lovey dovey, to the end of the earth and back, never been in love like this before in LOVE, one more time, I might unfriend you. Just warning you. You have a right to be happy, but I have a right not to roll my eyes every time I open up my homepage, too. I am actually glad that you are in a happy and stable relationship, but if you called each other those cutesy names in real life, in public, your friends would laugh at you and walk away. So maybe you should just keep it to the private messages, and leave the "smooshy" "bestie" "Daddy" (ick) & "Snookums" (Really? Unironically?) for when you're actually seeing each other, so that I don't have to read it. Deal?

Love, NTE (See how I could say that without drawing 17 hearts in a row? You could try that too!)

Dear Facebook addicts who tell me I don't update my status enough or think I should get a Twitter,

Honestly? Most weeks, if I updated my status daily/tweeted it would look like this:
Ow, plus Lil Girl is here.
Ow, am recuperating from Lil Girl.
Look, Ow & now Lil Girl is here again.
Ow, and now I have another doctor's appointment that I don't want to go to and will probably be a big waste of time.
OUCH. Doctor's appointment was a painful bust, but now I have pill number 756 to try, so we'll see if that works.
Pill Number 756 gave me hives. And hallucinations. Am not taking it anymore.

Actually, that's a lot more interesting than my normal week - purple unicorns are few and far between here (hives, unfortunately, are much more common). I realize that since you are working, you might have something new to talk about all the time, but for me, my life is a lot of same shit, different day. So, you should be glad that I only post things when they're actually interesting. Ow loses its meaning, after awhile.

Thanks for thinking I'm interesting, even when I'm actually not, NTE


Dear Family Members/Friends from elementary school,

You do know I have lots of embarrassing pictures of you, right? And that I am consciously choosing not to post them? Ok, so maybe you don't want to get on my bad side, is all I'm saying.


Love, NTE

Sunday, March 21, 2010

"But if the road's been kinda bumpy, And you need to rest a spell Well, welcome home to Happiness Hotel"

The very fabulous Sue, over at Learning To Live with CFS gave me The Happiness Award last week, and I can't thank her enough for it. What with all my obsessing and decision nonmaking, it was nice to have something positive to focus on.

So here is a (very random) list of things that make me happy right now:

We'll start off with these four - Oldest Nephew, (No Longer) Youngest Nephew, BabyB, and Lil Girl, the beginning of the next generation of our own special brand of weirdos.

Being able to open the windows. Fresh air without the sunshine is just the kind I need.

Talking to people who listen, care, and (at the very least try to) get it... in person, on the phone, or on the computer.

Having a nice fat TBR pile. (I get antsy if it's not big enough. TWSS.)

My parents are away for the weekend, and I'm glad for them, since they never go anywhere.

Family Friendly Weekends, on WERS; the Emerson College radio station. From 10-8 on Saturdays and 12-8 on Sundays, they play the kind of music you don't hear much of on the radio anymore. It's Broadway, show tunes & soundtracks in the morning, with Standing Room Only; All A Capella in the afternoon, and a program called the Playground in the evening, which is "music for the young and young at heart". It may just be me, but I think there aren't enough radio stations playing the Tale Spin theme song nowadays.

And we'll finish off with the Muppets, because how can you be grumpy if Animal is banging the drum?

I'm not going to link to other blogs, mostly because I don't have that many readers, but also because Sue said I didn't have to. But if you read, and you'd like to play along, consider yourself an award recipient.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Change of subject

Because one of my favorite Shutter Sisters, Tracey is judging this week, and because I was able to find an older photo I thought fit the theme (negative points, borrowed netbook, for not having a card reader!), I'm entering this week's I ♥ Faces contest. The theme is "Bundled Up", and here's Lil Girl hiding from the wind - and auntie's camera - last winter:

Head on over to I Heart Faces to check out the rest of the (gulp: 600+) entries, to see some fantastic shots.

Thanks guys!

Appreciate the support and will keep you updated. I've got a follow-up booked for Thursday, so we shall see what he says then. Till then, I am going to try to cheer myself up by posting some pictures: enjoy!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

In which I ramble (again) ...

I know my posting these past few weeks has been lean - and it will probably get leaner still, should I have to have that damn surgery - but, fear not; I have not been sitting around wasting time. (Or, more accurately, I have not just been sitting around wasting time, since I did, in fact play more than my fair share of Bewjewled Blast on Facebook.)

No, I've been thinking. And plotting. And researching. Oh my heavens, with the researching.... Here are some things I have done, based on my research:

- I attempted to repair my laptop my own damn self: After reading a lot of blog posts and watching a video or two, I came up with the smart idea that the problem was the LCD inverter. So I tracked one down on E-bay, unscrewed my screen, and hooked the new inverter to the rest of the screen. Unfortunately, it was not the problem. This is unfortunate because A) that part only cost me $10 and fixing the damn computer for $10 would have been awesome, B) the part that is actually broken is most likely the LCD backlight, which is a little more expensive (ok, 10x more expensive), and that sucks, and C) not fixing the damn laptop means that I still have to steal mom's netbook. On the plus side, however - I took apart (and put back together) a computer screen solo. This is no small accomplishment for a girl who failed a Lego class.

- I have learned a little bit more about Macs, and using Photoshop with Macs (or even Windows with Mac, if necessary), and now only need to get my butt to the store to see what size will fit me best. (I have tried to have this size conversation with three people in the past week or so, and NO MATTER WHICH WAY I try to say it, it always ends up in a "That's what she said" type of comment. There is no avoiding it - if you're talking about size, TWSS will naturally appear.)

- I have found a new book series that I think (no longer) Youngest Nephew would like to read, and have started reading it myself.

- I may have found about 27 new books for me to read. And PBS-ed them. And read a few of them.

- I have found a couple of fun things for us to do this summer (hopefully).

- I have realized that I have a real issue with eating, and I'm working on it. (Awesome new-to-me resource: Did you know eating is not actually supposed to be a chore? Somewhere around the time that my meds killed my appetite, food and I started to have a very complicated relationship. I'm excited to think that can change, even though I can't afford the sessions she offers, just reading her blog has been so worthwhile for me.)

- I have scared myself out of sinus surgery. Twice. And scared myself back into it twice as well. Needless to say, I am very confused about this damn surgery, and am retroactively glad that my appendix decided to twist itself up in such a way that decision making was unnecessary: The only thing I thought that day was "Holy hell, did I just throw up blood??"

- I am trying to be kind to myself while I waffle over this decision, but I feel stupid, and inadequate, and ridiculous. No one has actually said anything mean to me about it, but I feel horribly judged - if I decide against the surgery (because it is painful, and because I don't heal well (no matter what the doctor tells me is "normal" healing), and because I petrified that this will make things worse instead of better, and because I don't know if I can handle that), I will never know if this is the thing that could have made me better. I will always wonder "what if". Maybe the people around me will wonder "what if" too, and judge me and think that I don't want to get better, because I don't want to do this one thing. If I do have the surgery (because it might actually solve a real problem, and because the doctors think it's my best bet to ward of the ever-present infections), then my face might get messed up. And - although I do not, generally, consider myself to be a particularly vain person - it is my face. And my sinuses might wind up worse than they are now, which would leave me worse than I am now. Or I might not heal right, because I never have before. And on and on and on.

- I have given myself permission to feel stupid and call and ask the doctor for another consultation, because I did not understand everything he told me that first day. That first day, it was all hypothetical and "then we do this" and "ten days later, good as new." Now, it is My Face, and My Body, and My Nose that you are going to be shoving a hammer up. Now, it's "Why should I do this? What are the real benefits?" and "How do I take my medications for 10 days if I can't swallow things?" So, yeah: I think I need more than 6 minutes of your time. And I'm sorry if that inconveniences you. (I think I am spoiled by Zach, who sat with me for 45 minutes on Friday - during a completely unrelated visit - and said things like "Don't do it if you're not ready" and "You have to realize that doctor's only know what they know - you know you." )

- I have finally posted something on my blog again - with words and thoughts and everything!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

A sweet little song,

because everything I'm writing looks as if I've forgotten how to combine consonants and vowels into words. So, here: Zooey always cheers me up. Zooey and hula hoops? Even better.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Thanks for all those well thought-out replies

to my computer search questions. The responses (here and on my Facebook) have been overwhelmingly pro-Mac, so I'm going to see if I can carve out some time to get back to the Apple store at the mall, try to play with it a little bit more. I think I can swing it, moneywise, if I go for the mid-range version of the Macbook Pro, rather than the high-end one. (And, really? I do not need, nor would I like, a 17" screen.) So I'm going to go play with the 15"-ers and see how that works out. I'm glad to know that the OS is easy to learn: I have no doubts that it's easier once you know it, so my real concern has been, knowing nothing about it, how long will it take me to figure it out? But I've been doing more research (Hello: I'm NTE, Chronic-over-researcher, nice to meet you), and I think it seems do-able.

The only remaining cons are program-wise: that most of my files are in Office format, and that I don't have Mac Photoshop, which is one of my preferred tools for photo-editing, but I think I can get around that if I have to (either by fixing what I think is currently wrong with the old laptop, and using it specifically for that, or installing it on Mum's netbook and saving up files that I want to 'shop). So, I think I'm a Mac, and I'm going to go play with one tomorrow or Monday, just to be sure. I'm already searching for good deals (which are much harder to come back with the Macs, unfortunately) so that I can buy it ASAP.

Thanks for all your advice: Personal experiences count for a lot, when it comes to stuff like this. I think what tips the scales for me is the customer service... HP customer service has been really hit or miss (and mostly miss) for five years; I need something I can rely on, and the Genius Bar gets high marks for helpfulness.

So, barring something unexpected, I should order my new computer this week: pretty exciting!

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Still no new computer: I'm trying to decide, definitively, if I am a Mac or a PC. Right now, this is boiling down to two issues:

1) Do I have enough brain power to learn a new operating system? Even though every Mac user I have talked to says that it's an incredibly intuitive OS, it's still not what I am used to, and will therefore require me to learn things. Thinking back, I know I taught myself DOS and, later, Windows (we had a computer before Windows - can you even imagine?) when I started using them, but I am not as smart as I used to be. I say this semi-jokingly, but it's true: brain fog is my real enemy now, in a way it didn't used to be, so that even things that should be simple wind up being unbearably complicated. So I have to really consider whether I have the energy to deal with learning a new thing. (This is a particularly important consideration when you're thinking about things breaking - when my PC stops running, I know of about 13 different ways to try to get it back up again... with a Mac, I'm clueless, and would probably make things much worse.)

2) How much money can I spend? Did you know that if you are on SSI, you can't have more than $2000 in the bank? Yeah - people with disabilities are apparently an exception to the whole needing to have money/plan for the future in anyway thing. (You can read a great rant about that on FWD, if I can find the link.) So I'm not allowed to have over $2000, and a 15 inch Mac starts at $1600. Which means, less taxes and whatever else, I would have about $300 to my name. Until April. I am not entirely comfortable with this, as I am generally "worst case scenario" prepared - I like to have the cash on hand. So I'm trying to figure out how to get the most bang for my buck.

There's a couple of other considerations... like I have no Mac programs, which, when it comes to photo editing, is kind of important; knowing your tools and how to use them. And then there's the fact that I need to make the RIGHT decision, or else beat myself up for all eternity. Blah. Choices - who needs them?

No, I need them, and I need to make this one - I hate being wishy washy, especially about something so trivial. But I think I kind of obsess about the more trivial things I can control, since there's no use obsessing about the stuff I can't control and would like to. BUT I'm going to set myself a deadline of this weekend, and see if I can do a last bit of research either tomorrow night (we're having a Lil Girl sleepover tonight, so that's out) or Friday morning before I finally get the damn CT scan for my sinuses (that the doc ordered 4 weeks ago - GROWL - and which will necessitate me making an actually important decision about whether or not to have the surgery - double growl.) And then my bank card will weep for a few weeks, and my mom can have her little netbook back.

Any last input on the whole computer issue would be appreciated - do you love what you have? Hate it? Wish you'd gone PC/Mac when you made your last purchase? Anybody?