Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The Best of Both Worlds

Last night as we were coming home from the gym, a Miley Cyrus song came on the radio. Not that one song. You know, the other one.

I didn't know it was Miley Cyrus until Ainsley started talking to me about it.

"Mommy, have you ever watched Hannah Montana?"

Yes. Considering we watch Disney Channel all day every time I stay home with Ainsley when she's sick, I am familiar with her work.

"When can we go see her in concert?"

"Well, she came to Cincinnati a little while ago, but it was really hard to get tickets and I didn't know you liked her, so we'll have to try to go next time."

That's when my 5-year-old rolled her eyes so big that I could actually hear them turning in their sockets. She then let out a sigh that said, "My poor old mother. She has no clue."

"No, the movie. Of the concert. You said we could go."

Indeed I did. When we took Ains to see Enchanted, we saw the posters and the preview for the big 3-D movie version of the infamous Best of Both Worlds tour. Knowing there was no way in heck I was ever going to be able to stomach paying over $100 per ticket to take my kid to an actual Miley Cyrus/Hannah Montana show, I figured this was the next best thing. What I didn't realize until I heard the DJ talking after the song is that the movie is in theaters for one week only starting this Friday.

Sigh. From me this time. Because a promise is a promise.

When Ainsley knew that radio song was by Miley, I was floored. I didn't know the duality of little miss Achy Breaky Heart, Jr., was on Ainsley's radar yet. I thought the only reason she wanted to go to the movie when she saw the posters at Christmas was because she saw the visuals of one of her Disney Channel characters; I had no idea we had progressed to FM song recognition.

It shouldn't be surprising. This is also a kid who has listened to one or the other High School Musical soundtracks every night for a week now, singing along with Gabriella and looking dreamily at the picture of Troy. She still has one foot in The Little Einsteins and Backyardigans, but we're movin' on up to Hannah Montana and teen heartthrobs. She's becoming aware of pop culture. I couldn't be more proud.

Do you know what this means? It means I may never ever hear The Wiggles sing about fruit salad or shaky-shaky again! Hooray! Recently she's watched Star Wars, Jurassic Park, and even selected scenes from Titanic with us as we've come across them on new favorite channel TNT HD (we encouraged her to be elsewhere while Kate and Leo were in the back of the Model T, or course.) And she's seemed to be interested in them. Before long I'll be able to share my Brisco County Jr. DVDs with her. And we can have girls' nights in watching Dirty Dancing (with some strategically placed popcorn and potty breaks; not sure if I'm ready to explain Penny's predicament just yet.) Think about the possibilities with movie musicals alone! Grease! And maybe Hairspray! Once she becomes interested in more of the "tween" shows, we will be close to entering the era of shared TV- and movie-watching. Of shows and movies we actually have some adult interest in. Instead of watching The Little Mermaid (good movie though that is) for the 500th time! Oh, rapture!

I know, I know, I'm getting ahead of myself. We're talking about a kid who still gets in bed before prime time TV even starts. And a kid who may hate everything we try to rent or record to watch together. And who will probably argue with us very soon over conflicting TV interests (we already get some grief when The Good Night Show coincides with a Saturday night UK game.) But for someone who cherishes memories of staying up late to watch MASH reruns with her dad, and being "forced" to watch Gone With the Wind by her mom and unexpectedly falling in love with it, this is exciting stuff.

Bring it on, Hannah Montana. The Cranky girls are going to be catching you in a theater very soon. And it could be the start of something new.

Monday, January 28, 2008

I'll Never Let Go, Jack...I'll Never Let Go

Just before dinner last night, someone or other in my house switched the TV to TNT. And Titanic was on. And I couldn't look away.

It's very uncool to like that movie these days. When the AFI revised their 100 Greatest Movies list and re-aired the special this fall, I could hear the groans in the blogosphere that James Cameron's epic had made the list, albeit it way down on the list. When we had friends over that next weekend and were talking about the new and improved Best Movies countdown, I joined in on the hate. How did that movie win an Oscar, let alone a spot on the list? What were they thinking? But for me, Titanic is one of a handful of movies that, if they get in my path while I'm channel surfing, suck me in like a tractor beam. And if I watch that one in particular, I'm going to get emotionally invested, and maybe even feel compelled to cry a little bit when Rose meets Jack at the grand staircase in the end with all the other lost souls, and then have "My Heart Will Go On" stuck in my head for days. What's the deal here? Why can't my cynical heart go on? What is it about this movie that gets me, and why can't I admit to liking it in mixed company?

Is it overblown? Yes. Sentimental? Absolutely. Do the main characters avoid death one or two or three too many times? Definitely. Are the villains bad solely for the sake of being bad? Sho nuff.
Does any of this matter as Rose is floating on a headboard in the middle of the frozen Atlantic with ice in her hair saying in her raspy, just-about-to-die-of-the-hypothermia-everybody-else-has-already-died-from voice, "I'll never let go..." No, it doesn't. And if you'll excuse me, I need to go get something out of my eye.

Some lines are cheesy to the point of being laughable ("Are you ready to go back to Titanic?"), and no matter how many times I hear that the specifics were researched and the ship really sank like that and blah blah blah, I can't completely put aside my disbelief at certain details of the plot (two people who walked through waist-high north-Atlantic sea water to get from the bottom of the ship to the top deck, one of whom was wearing a dress that can only be described as "gauzy", later had the strength to outswim the undertow of the sinking of the biggest vessel in the world, and were also able to find a large floating piece of wood before anybody else did? Riiiiiight.) And old Rose throwing that rock overboard at the end? Are you kidding me?! When I rented this movie for my parents years ago, my dad's big criticism (besides that Jack and Rose almost died something like 5 times in the last hour of the movie) was that the old lady threw a priceless necklace into the ocean.

"I liked that movie until she did that. What did she have to go and do that for?" he said, throwing his hands in the air in disgust. We know there's some kind of romantic metaphor or something there that makes that meaningful, but really, that's just wasteful.

So with all the valid criticisms, why do I kinda sorta love this movie? I don't like romances. I don't like being emotionally manipulated (see my criticism of "The Christmas Shoes."). I'm not a big fan of the tearjerker genre. I'm usually so much more of a Pulp Fiction girl. I just don't get it. And I'm a little ashamed of myself.

Chalk this up with my closet Delilah-listening and the hokey 80s and 90s love songs I have on my iPod. Deep down, I'm a softie. With bad taste.

Help me out here, readers. Who here also likes Titanic but doesn't want to admit it? Come on, you can tell Cranky. She'll understand.

And are there any other universally uncool movies you like, but are afraid to confess your love for?

Saturday, January 26, 2008

The Great Blizzard

Today some thoughts on the blizzard. Not the Dairy Queen kind, though it's one of my favorite things. As our local news outlets are reminding those of us in the Cincinnati metro area, this weekend marks the 30th anniversary of the blizzard of 1978, one of the most severe weather events our climate zone has ever experienced. I was just a tot when the storm hit, but I still remember a few things. And the details I can't remember are being re-told this weekend as everybody discusses "Where were you when..."

The winter of 1977--1978 was our first winter in this area. In October, we arrived in the 'burbs as fresh-faced rubes from the mountains of southeastern Kentucky. And from what I've heard, that was one hell of a winter to be a Cincinnatian.

Until I reasearched the statistics and logistics, I didn't realize just how rare an event a "severe blizzard" is. That storm was more like an inland hurricane (with snow) than like the other snow storms I've lived through in my 30-odd years. The barometric pressure dropped to record lows (at that time) for the continental U.S. and winds gusted to 100 mph. The amount of snow in the tri-state area wasn't that impressive, but the low temperatures and high winds created icy, towering drifts that stranded motorists and blocked people into their own homes for a week. A truck driver, who miraculously lived to tell the tale, was trapped in his rig for almost a week due to drifts that knocked over and completely covered his semi. He wasn't rescued until the snow finally started to thaw and the National Guard spotted the cab. People died in our area from being trapped in their cars, or from losing their electricity and their heat; with no cell phones, and with all major roads closed by emergency officials, it was almost impossible to check on and reach missing motorists and folks living in secluded areas.

And, though not all chilling tales of life or death, everyone has a story to tell.

My sister, to this day, marks the eve of the winter of 1978 as the last time in her life that she was skinny. Our school district was not one to cancel classes for a couple of inches of snow (we were walkers, not bussers), but prior to the late-January blizzard there had already been enough heavy January snow for Sis to have missed a few days. The blizzard itself cancelled school for weeks, and her sustenance of both choice and necessity during those days of going nowhere was broiled powdered-sugar doughnuts. The main ingredient was readily available at the convenience store up the road, which was the only place we could reasonably travel to the first week after the storm, and we were running the oven a lot to add to the warmth of our house, anyway. Her body was never the same afterward.

We learned a lot about our just-purchased home during the storm. We learned that the family room, built by the previous owners as an extension off the side of the house, was poorly contructed. How did we learn this? When snow drifted under the wood panelling and into the room. We kept hearing on the news about the snow accumulations outside; inside, in the corners of that room, we measured 6 inches.

We also learned that there was something wrong with the vent in the living room, and no heat was coming in (the vent remained broken until 5 years ago, when my parents got a new heating and cooling system and the installer asked, "And you've been living with this for HOW LONG?") The only room in the house that was warm enough to live in as the wind chill made it feel like 30-below outside and the wind blew against the poorly-insulated walls was my little 9 x 9 bedroom. All three of us girls crowded into that room until bedtime, while my stubborn father watched TV with a coat and gloves on in the living room. At night, we slept in our own corners but with winter hats on. But we were lucky; we never lost our electricity.

One night, I remember my dad going out to try to shovel the driveway. I don't know how successful he was, but I do remember him coming in with bowls and bowls of fresh snow, which mom poured milk and chocolate syrup into to make snow cream. It was so cold and so wonderful.

We had an above-ground swimming pool that came with the house, and the water left in it after partially draining at the end of the season froze solid. My sister went out and "skated" on the surface of it in her snow boots. I begged to do the same, and remember looking out the window and seeing her slide around, but was not allowed. Boo.

I've heard from many other people, including my mom, that as the rain first changed over to snow on the morning the storm hit that there was thunder and lightning, and that the lightning had an eerie green glow. I've heard of "thundersnow", and that the phenomenon was also witnessed in the ice storm of 1994 (remember that one, Centre-ites?), though I've yet to personally see it.

The consensus from my family is that it was a cool thing to have been through once, but that they hope they never have to go through it again.

Having so few real memories of it, and being so interested in the freaky side of the weather, I kinda hope we get another "severe blizzard" at some point in my life.

So long as I don't have to go anywhere. And so long as mom tells me how to make snow cream.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Friday Funnies--Arranged Marriage Edition

The funniest story from this week is from my own 5-year-old, who already knows who she's going to marry.

And has a 1st-runner-up in the event her first choice cannot meet his obligations.

There is one boy in Ainsley's class who she has adored since the first week of kindergarten. His name is Teddy, and he is second only to her BFF Noelle in her school-day affections. She's been telling me for a while that she's going to marry him someday, and once I met him at a class event, I gave him my early endorsement as a good candidate to be the future Mr. Junior Cranky. He is one of the sweetest little kindergarten munchkins I have ever met, and he introduced himself to me by saying, "I really like Ainsley." You gotta love that.

He gets two thumbs up from my mother, too. When she went to the Grandparents' Day event, she witnessed Teddy and Ains in action. She said they just randomly got up from their tables during the gingerbread house decorating and hugged each other. She said it was just about the cutest thing she had ever seen, because it seemed so sincere. Since then, though, I've been hearing alarm bells. Five might be a little too young for PDA.

Last Friday I dropped Ainsley off at Mom's for some Mamaw-and-me quality time. Mom asked Ains about Teddy, and Ainsley's answer was a little alarming.

"Well, I used to think I was going to marry Teddy, but now he says he might not be able to marry me because he might marry Evie, but if that happens, I guess I'll marry Anthony, if he doesn't marry Noelle first."

Mom and I just looked at each other, amazed. We were just joking around calling Teddy her "boyfriend." But apparently she's given this some thought, and apparently there's some playground drama. Like sands through the hourglass, these are the days of their lives. Or is it more like As the Merry-Go-Round Turns?

We've gotten several unprompted updates on the whole marriage thing during bathtimes this week. The last time she talked about it was with the hubby, and at first we laughed about it. Ha ha! Isn't that cute? Then, after further review...well, just listen for yourself.

"I really want to marry Teddy, but he wants to marry Morgan now, and Noelle said she's going to marry Anthony, even though he said he would marry me, so I might have to marry Cole now."

"Ainsley, you're too young to worry about that."

"But I LOVE boys! I want to marry them!"


Lock the doors. Bolt the windows. Hide the keys. We've got a boy-crazy one.

We're going to have to keep her on house arrest until she's 20.

Thursday, January 24, 2008


This post from the PopWatch blog at ew.com has sent me on a trip down memory lane. Join me, won't you?

Apparently, yesterday was National Handwriting Day. I am quite fascinated that there is such a thing. I suppose in the digital age penmanship is a dying skill. Had I known that yesterday, I might have posted a picture of my handwriting. It is legendary. I have possibly the worst handwriting in the history of the world. My own parents could never decipher it, no classmate ever asked to copy my notes for a class, and a student teacher once asked me in all seriousness to please start bringing a typewriter with me to school. In college, I gave up and started printing my notes and exams, and of course made good use of the computer lab; my printing is only marginally better than my cursive. My bad handwriting is probably my dad's fault. Not only did I inherit his incoherent scrawl, but in the weeks before kindergarten, when I was still coloring and holding pencils with both my right and left hands, he made me start using my right hand exclusively in the hopes it would make life a little easier. A part of me thinks I might have been a burgeoning lefty, and the switch caused irreversible neatness damage.

But enough of that. The ew.com post uses Handwriting Day as a backdrop for stories about celebrity autographs, and the stories behind them. I love hearing other people's tales of brushes with the famous and almost-famous. That I have had so few encounters with the gods of sport and entertainment always reinforces my opinion that I just have bad luck, especially since some friends of ours seem to literally run into famous people on every vacation they take.

I have had a few close encounters, though, and a few autographs that I treasure enough to place on my list of material things I would make a run for in the event of a fire.

1. My note from Johnny Carson
In 8th grade, our English teacher taught us how to write formal letters by having us write letters to the celebrity of our choice asking him or her to mail us an item they were about to throw away. Once we all got past the "Ewwww...garbage" factor, my classmates started writing to the standard heart-throbs of the day: Alyssa Milano, Ralph Macchio, George Michael, Kirk Cameron, that chick from Charles in Charge who went on to be on Baywatch, etc. Not me. My mom wanted me to write to Johnny Carson. Oh, I loved Johnny, too, but my coolness factor went down considerably when my classmates found out who I was writing to. Until the day my letter came back.

We provided our middle school's address in our letters, and one day the secretaries intercommed into my English class: send the girl down who wrote to Johnny, she got a letter from the studio today! In front of several teachers, I tore into the rich, thick envelope paper with "Carson" printed on it. Inside was a simple piece of crumbled note paper with handwriting from a blue felt pen: Rehearsal w/Ed, Thurs. It was a real-life piece of garbage. From the desk of one of the greatest entertainers of all time. With his own note-to-self written on it. My legs felt weak and my head spun, and all of us teared up a little. Oh, the power of a little piece of paper.

2. My Harper-Lee signed To Kill a Mockingbird
I was incredulous. How in the world did hubby get a new copy of TKAM with the reclusive Miss Lee's scrawl? Apparently, when the 40th anniversary edition of the novel came out, Harper Lee signed a quantity of the books for an independent bookstore in her town that had been kind to her. Jason found one online with the right certificates and credentials shortly after their release. If you know me, you know that this is my favorite book of all time; for a long time, I wanted to name my daughter Harper. I even named my first pet as an adult "Scout." I love looking at her signature, and when I first opened the box this gift came in, I caught a whiff of buttercream frosting that still lingers a little on the cover. I like to think of Miss Lee sitting at the desk at the bookstore, nibbling on a dainty slice of cake, sipping coffee, and signing those books.

3. My two Bruce Campbell-signed books
I love Bruce Campbell. If you're reading my blog, you already know this about me. I loved him as Brisco. I loved him as Ash. I even love those Old Spice commercials. I've had the pleasure of meeting Bruce twice at two different book signings; one for his memoir, If Chins Could Kill, and another for his novel, Make Love the Bruce Campbell Way. Of course, the first time is always the best. In 2001, Jason and I travelled down to meet a friend in Lexington the day before Halloween to hear Bruce talk about being a B-movie actor and get our book signed at Joseph Beth. He was hilarious, and during the signing I actually got to sit next to him for a whole minute and tell him about the Army of Darkness drinking game we used to play in college. Good times, good times. The autograph on that one says, "Stay groovy." The second time, Mr. Campbell was a little more rushed and the rules were more formal. But I did get to have a photo op with him, look him in the eye (they always look so much shorter in person, don't they?) and get an inpersonal signature on my copy of his novel. But he is the only celebrity I have ever met face-to-face, so I still feel the love.

What about you? Whose handwriting on an otherwise meaningless slip of paper made your heart jump? If you could get anyone's autograph, who would it be?

And since yesterday was a day to celebrate the power of the (hand) written word, go write something. Lipstick messages on bathroom mirrors are not only acceptable, but encouraged.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Crank On

It's been a while since I posted. My official excuse is that it's just too cold outside and my creative juices are frozen. All I've wanted to do is curl up in a ball in my cold house with a fuzzy blanket wrapped around me, cocoon-like. Anything that calls me away from that task, like work, housekeeping, cooking, or blogging, makes me cranky. Well, crankier.

So here I am, in my library, while a group of freshmen works on a "Countries of the World" project. And while I try not to write complete posts while at work, and just edit and publish entries started at home during lunch or before or after school, I have to crank out a little bit while on the clock.

Would you believe that I just had to ask a 14-year-old student to stop rubbing his scalp and purposefully shaking dandruff on the library table? And that right after I asked the one to stop, his buddy went and did the same thing? And that these are "normal" students, with no documented reason why this would be an acceptable thing to do at school?

Being an educator, I have a pretty high tolerance for weird behavior. But that is just nasty. And immature. And a little psychotic. (Maybe they've seen The Breakfast Club recently and I should applaud their retro tastes, but Ally Sheedy they are not.)

I have a really wide array of things I've said to our 9th-graders after the words, "Please stop...." Things like "Please stop hitting him," "Please stop playing that You Tube video of Britney Spears getting out of her car without underwear," and even "Please stop meowing." But "Please stop shaking your dead head cells onto the library tables"? Well, that's a new one, isn't it?

And these are the people who will be entrusted with the country some day. Try to sleep at night with that thought in your head, after you've been working with these kids all day.

But then my senior aides come into the library, and they are such a mature, responsible, and fun group of kids that I have to have some hope for our freshmen. Except for the two dandruff-shakers. I have no hope for them, beyond the hope that maybe their prison wardens will be understanding and rehabilitive.

Now, back to work with me. The next class that come in needs to hear me talk about using the almanacs, encyclopedias, and the CIA World Fact Book site instead of just searching for games and porn behind the teacher's back.

I promise to be more optimistic when I thaw out.

Cranky out.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Friday Funnies

Today marks the beginning of a new segment called Friday Funnies. I don't know about y'all, but by Friday, I don't even want to gripe or complain or be profound. I just need to laugh on the last day of the week, because by then every moron in my corner of the world has crossed my path, and if I don't laugh my head will explode.

So every Friday I am going to try to point you toward some funny links or tell you funny stories.

Let's start, shall we?

1. Overheard
Coming in to the school building this morning, I passed a group of girls. One of them was carrying a huge poster she had done for a class. She opened it up and showed it to her friends, who were mightily impressed.
One them asked, "What's that big white spot?"
"Oh, no.! That's where a picture fell off. It used to be a picture of Barack Obama."
"Who's that?"
I stopped in my tracks. Seriously? We don't know who Obama is?
Without missing a beat, the girl who made the poster rolled it back up and, dead serious, smacked her friend in the back of the head with it. Hard.
"He's the black guy running for President, idiot."
Before you judge her for generalizing Obama as "the black guy," let me tell you that this student is black.

2. Olan Mills Awesomeness
This viral email came to me this week, and I had to excuse myself to the AV room after I opened it. I don't know if an email has ever made me laugh so hard. Well, maybe this one.

3. Not "Funny Ha-Ha,"...
But "funny crap-your-pants-scary." The Tom Cruise Scientology video. Remember, girls, how we used to love Tom Cruise? How we would have sold our souls to Xenu to have been Charlie to his Maverick in Top Gun? How incredulous and judgemental we were of Nicole after their divorce? How we used to watch A Few Good Men and think, "There's a genuinely good guy and one of the finest actors of our generation at work"? (Well, maybe that last one was just me.) Does this put the nail in that coffin or what?

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The Genius of Marketing

During dinner last night, a Pantene commercial came on. I'm sure you've seen it; "Unwritten" plays in the background while a gorgeously silky- and raven-haired model swings her long tresses around in a display of follicular blessedness no mere mortal can ever hope to imitate. The message is that if you, too, use Pantene hair products, your hair will reach a level of radiance only matched by flawless diamonds and the sun. And handsome male-model types will be constantly reaching out to pet your head. What a bunch of baloney. Who really falls for this stuff?

"Mommy, that's the kind of shampoo you use!"

Curses. She's on to me. I guess I, too, have fallen prey to marketing. Give me some credit, though; I also use Dove products, which are advertised by "real women." With great skin and hair.

But the hold those commercials have had on me is nothing compared to the frenzy they started in Ainsley. All through dinner, she talked about Pantene shampoo (yes, she called it by name) and how she wanted to buy some so that she could have "hair like that."

Now, I am old enough and wise enough to know that no bottle of shampoo will make me have supermodel hair. It might keep my hair from looking like something out of Swamp Thing, but it's not going to perform miracles. But my 5-year-old doesn't know this. She thinks if she sees a gorgeous, perfect head of hair on TV, and the owner of that hair uses a certain shampoo, then it's all the shampoo's doing. I've never really understood the power of marketing before, and why Joe Camel was such a big deal. I'm starting to get it. Kids are gullible. Heck, I'm gullible. I bought the shampoo, too.

During her bath, Ains spotted one of my bottles of Pantene on the edge of the tub.

"Can we start using that, Mommy? I want my hair to be really straight and long."

"That shampoo is for grown-ups, Ainsley. You already have pretty hair. You don't need that shampoo."

"Well, can we at least try?"


And so it begins: the female quest for unattainable physical perfection, fueled by billions in advertising dollars and images of airbrushed, Photoshopped, surgically-enhanced female forms. I've battled low self-esteem and off-and-on bouts of the "uglies" since 4th grade; I will not just stand idly by and watch Ainsley feel the same way. It's not what's on the outside, but on the inside that counts. Beauty is only skin deep. Pretty is as pretty does. And so on and so on.

But, on the other hand, if a little Pantene makes her happy...

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Rotten Potatoes

We finally figured out the mystery of the gnats/fruit flies/whatever-the-heck-those-little-things-were that invaded our house at Christmastime and made the first weeks of winter more miserable for us than usual.

It was the rotten potatoes.

Saturday morning I made my usual trip to the grocery. As I was picking up a bag of potatoes, I had a case of deja vu; I remembered that in the not-too-distant past, I had bought a 5-lb. bag of taters and could not remember what had happened to them. I shrugged it off and carried on with the business at hand.

At home, I started to put the new bag away into my trusty wooden potato-and-onion bin. Now, I've known for a while that my bin is not really the best place to store my root vegetables. It's really become just a nice little piece of furniture and shelving for my smallest dining-room wall. It sits right next to a vent, so hot air blows on it in the winter. It also has a plastic see-through front on the drawers, and it faces out into our sunniest room, so sunlight comes in on the vegetables. Potatoes and onions generally don't last very long in direct light and heat, so I don't use the bin for its intended purpose much.

When I peeped into the bottom drawer, I could see an old bag of potatoes in there. They were sitting in a puddle of black goo. Crap. I DID buy a bag recently, and I didn't use them all, and they went bad. And apparently dissolved. Double crap.

Double crap, indeed. When I opened the drawer, a swarm of gnats came out, Mummy-style. We've been vexed by these gnats since mid-December; I blamed them on the poinsettias I had bought for the holidays. They might have come with the poinsettias, but they stayed for the potato goo.

Then the smell hit me. And oh my God, the smell. It was the smell of death. Of organic matter returning to the earth. It was a hundred sewage drains all concentrated into one little drawer of intensified rot. The drawer had mercifully kept the smell from invading my house as the potatoes liquified and turned into baby food for fruit-fly maggots, but once the drawer opened...the nastiness was unleashed.

And that's when the gagging started.

I thought quickly and grabbed an empty grocery bag and threw the potatoes in and tied it up tight. I hollered for Jason and, while retching over the kitchen sink, told him to (rolf) carry the whole bin out (blurp) to the trash (blech) because we'd never (guuuulp) be able to get the smell out.

Of course he laughed.

In 30-degree temperatures, every window in the house was opened and Lysol, Fabreeze, and Oust all got employed in the immediate area. Ainsley was ushered back to her room; if I could have wrapped us in haz-mat suits, I would have.

After the bin was carried outside, and the bag of potatoes was disposed of, the smell went away and life resumed. And the new bag of potatoes is being stowed in a cool, dark spot in the kitchen. At least I learn from my mistakes, fabulously stupid though they might be.

Now there is a piece of furniture missing in our dining room; the gaping hole on our smallest wall feels like a lost tooth that I keep running my tongue over. I have no idea what to put there, (NOT another potato and onion bin, natch) and no idea if I can hold out until our new Ikea store opens in March, as has been suggested to me. (Look out, Ikea! Here come the Cincinnatians!)

I do know that I have learned a lesson.

Where there is a fruit-fly invasion, there is fruit. And that fruit just might be turning into a plague-like abomination.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

The Incredible Shrinking Lizard

Friday afternoon, my five-year-old had big news.

"Guess what, mommy? Liz shrank."

Ummm...yeah. "Who's Liz?"

"She's our school pet. Liz the Lizard."

Ahhh. Now I remember. The first week of school, this was one of Ainsley's favorite things about kindergarten.

"What do you mean, she shrank?"

"Well, for a long time we watched her get bigger and bigger everyday. But Tuesday she was really small."

I hate to break it to you, kid, but that lizard didn't shrink.

I don't tell Ainsley this, that her teacher pulled the ol' switch-the-old-dead-animal-for-a-new-live-one trick. When Ainsley's first goldfish died, we were honest. We had to be; when Ainsley went into her room, the fish was tipped over motionless on its side on the bottom of the tank. Plus, she caught Jason holding Glory's netted body over the toilet. That one's not so easy to explain away.

But just because we told her her pet had died doesn't mean her teacher should break that to the whole class. Some of those kids have probably never lost a loved one, cold- or warm-blooded, before. No need for them to lose their innocence.

How amazing is it that kids that age believe what they're told, even when logic should tell them otherwise? At five, there is a part of Ainsley's little brain that knows that living creatures do not "shrink", just as strongly as it knows that the sun comes up every morning and that the sky is blue. I learned as an English major about the "willing suspension of disbelief"; is that device ever more powerful than when we're five years old and our parents tell us to be good so that Santa will come, or to put our freshly-lost tooth under our pillow so that a little fairy can bring us a dollar, or that that different-looking animal in the cage is the same hamster that was there when we left for school?

For now, I will let her believe that Liz just got smaller. Unfortunately, there will be other losses to come that no fairy tale, no fanciful story, can ease. There will be other losses that can't be replaced. Her heart didn't quite break when Glory died; after one day of sadness, she was over it and ready for her new fish, Ila (who, thankfully, is thriving.) Someday, though, she will lose something or someone who she will miss the rest of her life; she will feel it in her heart and her soul, and there will be no disbelief to suspend. It will be all too real.

Today is not that day.

Friday, January 11, 2008

And You Better Be Home by Midnight, Young Lady!

My mother has a date tomorrow night.

It's her first date in about a year. Last New Year's Eve she got set up on a blind date with a widower who lost his wife around the same time we lost Dad, by the woman who sold both of them their respective spouse's grave markers (this always struck me as a grim way of playing matchmaker.) She was really excited about ringing in 2007 with a former high-school football coach, but by the end of the date, after she had had to help him in and out of the car because of his bad hip and after realizing the "party" he was taking her to was at his house with just one of his friends, during which he very proudly showed her his late wife's beloved washing machine, she realized that dating sucks and that it was not going to be easy to find someone who makes her heart go pitter-patter (though with her heart problems, she should probably avoid anyone who makes her heart do anything except pump calmly.)

She says she's not interested in marrying again. She has freedom to do what she wants, when she wants, for the first time in her adult life. She can spend the little money she has tucked away however she pleases, and can spend every dime on herself. What she would like, though, is a fairly-decent-looking older gentleman (she doesn't kid herself that she's going to find an unmarried Harrison Ford look-a-like around here anywhere) to go places with. Someone besides her girlfriends to go to dinner with, someone who might want to go dancing every now and then, and someone to fill a little bit of the gap left in her life in the wake of Dad's death.

Since the New Year's Eve debacle, she's had one or two men that friends have tried to set her up with, but they've never gotten further than a few phone calls. Last Saturday, she went to a local hot-spot for the over-50 set, a dance hall that doesn't serve alcohol and plays live country and bluegrass music and has forgotten that line-dancing hasn't been "in" for over a decade. There she met a guy who seemed a little smitten with her, and they've been talking all week. He is taking her back to the dance hall on Saturday. Like the true Southern lady she is, she didn't want to go on a date "alone" with him until they had gotten to know each other better. I'm so proud. I raised her right.

At first, I was giddy. She didn't want to go on the date at first, but I told her to go for it. Why not! But then she hit me with the bad news.

"I need to tell you something about him, and your sister doesn't like it, and you're not going to, either."

Oh, no. Is he an ex-con? Did his last wife die from a mysterious fall in the bathtub? Does he train pit bulls and hold fights in his basement every Thursday?

"He's a smoker."

Dum-dum-dum. Not a smoker! Anything but that.

After I hung up, I started thinking about it. And so help me, it started to bother me that he's a smoker. I admit it! I am prejudiced!

It only bothers me because my mom is doing so well after her stint placement about staying away from the cigs. The last thing she needs is the temptation of having someone close to her lighting up and making her cravings a little easier to fix. Plus, if he's going to smoke around her and make her breathe the polluted air that contributed to her heart problems in the first place, I am going to get pissed.

I got so stewed about it, and so worried about this guy and what he might be up to with my mom, that I had to call her last night. He's nine years younger than her, and while my mother doesn't look or act her age, I had to wonder: is he trying to weasel into some money? Get a free ride from a widow? Stick around until he's made it into the will and hope she dies long before him? What exactly do we know about this person? Maybe he's one of those guys you see on Dateline or 48 Hours who goes cross-country switching identities and swindling mature women out of their life savings. He says he's a business-owner and part-time minister in a very small Methodist church a few counties to the south, but what on earth is a minister doing at a dance hall hitting on women? And the smoking! My God, the smoking!

My mother was patient with me as I told her she should be careful, and asked her what she knew about him, and what his family was like, and whether or not he had always lived here, and whether or not she thought it would be a good idea to invite him back to the house after date. She let me get that far before she laughed at me.

She assured me she is going to take things slow, and that they have both said they're really just looking for a friendship. She said she was going to ask him not to smoke in her house or in the car with her (should it get far) and that she is going to trust her instincts about him and stop taking his calls or seeing him if she feels like he's not on the level. She told me there was no way she was ready to be alone with him yet, since he's practically a stranger, and she's old enough and wise enough (and seen enough Datelines herself) to know that inviting someone you don't know very well into your life can be a risky proposition. Finally, she said that she would never dream of moving forward with someone who hadn't yet met my sister and me and gotten our approval.

And that's when it hit me: the tables have been turned.

I can picture myself at my mom's door Saturday night (thought I won't be; give me some credit) and inviting this cigarette-smoking "young" man in while Mom touches up her hair and makeup. I would sit him down across from me, and very politely ask him what his intentions are with my mother. I maybe would end with the time-worn, "If you hurt my little Mom in any way, you're going to have to answer to me," while absent-mindedly polishing a weapon of some sort, but I hear that only works for tall, scary-looking fathers.

I know I've got to let her go. I've been looking out for her for a while now, but the time has come to let my little bird fly out of the nest. I've given her advice, I've taught her the best I can, so now I just have to trust her judgement.

They grow up so fast.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

If Writing Is a Bowl Of Cherries, Why Am I Always In The Pits?

I am thinking of entering an essay-writing competition, and I need your help. I want to win an Erma Bombeck award.

When I was a kid, I went through this weird phase of reading Erma Bombeck columns and books. While other 6th-graders were using their allowances for the Sweet Valley High books (which I eventually got hooked on, too) or choose-your-own-ending paperbacks, I was asking my dad to drive me to the public library and to wait in the car while I went to the humor section and grabbed an Erma Bombeck collection. I don't remember how this started; I think I saw her on a talk show, and found her hilarious, and then stumbled on her collections of columns while looking for joke books. God, I was a weird kid.

I've always loved parent humor. I shouldn't have been amused by it until 5 years ago when I became a mom, but something about hearing parents make fun of the absurdity of children and the American family has always tickled my funny bone. I have never in my life laughed so hard as I did the very first time I saw Bill Cosby--Himself on HBO. I couldn't have been much older than 8 or 9, but when he told the story of his 5 kids trying to get showers one night, and how they couldn't even be trusted to do that without pushing each other, getting soap in each other's eyes, tattling, coming down the stairs still wet because they didn't have enough sense to dry off, etc., and how it ended in a series of "beatings" from his frustrated wife, I could relate. I knew even as a kid that kids have "brain damage."

And that before we came along, our parents were normal, happy people. I used to watch my mom when she dragged me along to dinners with her friends (poor thing; she had no babysitter) and when she talked on the phone with her cousins; she was a completely different person then. She laughed. She spoke in a quiet, pleasant voice. She made jokes, some of them dirty. She was a pretty cool person. And then the conversation would end, or we would come home, and the smile would turn into a scowl, and the laughs would turn into screeches as she discovered the egg I had placed in my underwear drawer 6 months before thinking I could hatch a chick, or that I had put masking tape to the bottom of the cat's paws so I could watch her walk funny, or that I had gotten into my dad's carton of cigarettes and taken each cig out of each package and built a massive fort with them (all true stories of things I did while my mother was on the phone.)

In Erma Bombeck in particular, I saw a lot of my mom. She wrote about the things my mother would have written about had she had the time and talent. Reading her stuff, I got a glimpse of the person my mother was inside, the Joan underneath the Mom.

I don't have the talent that Erma did, but I strive to be like her in my writing. Last year, right after I started blogging, I found out about the Erma Bombeck Writing Competition. It is held each year by a Dayton, Ohio library (Dayton was Erma's hometown) and gives small monetary prizes to both local and international amateur essay writers. There are two categories: humor, and human interest. Here's where I need your help.

Rather than writing something from scratch, I thought I would re-work one of my blog entries to fit the criteria. Problem is, I I am having a hard time choosing. Not because I think every entry is fabulous, but because I am a pretty harsh critic of my own work. I don't know if I think anything would be funny enough for the humor category, so I was thinking of polishing up the entry I did about my dad. That one really came from my heart, and I am as proud of that one entry as I am of anything else I've ever written. But deep down I would like to get recognized in the humor category, since Erma is my idol, and she was a humor writer. Even though I don't find myself remotely funny; just cranky.

What do you all think? (All ten of you who read this!) Is there a selection that you think would work as a humor essay? Or do I go with a human interest, "serious" essay? Or am I completely wasting my time?

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

The Librarian Stereotype

One of my Christmas gifts this year was the Librarian Action Figure (with amazing shushing action!) I had wanted this little gem for a while to decorate my desk. Yes, it reinforces all those librarian stereotypes I usually bristle at, but it knows it's reinforcing that image, so doesn't that just make it kinda cheeky? I think so, so on my desk it goes.

On New Year's Eve, we had some friends over and we were talking about Christmas gifts. I mentioned my action figure; one of my dearest friends is also a librarian, and also owns a miniature of Nancy Pearl. The stereotype came up, and someone in the room stated that there is a lot of truth in the stereotypical librarian image.

This friend of mine works at a private liberal arts college in our area, and librarians occasionally use their facilities for meetings.

"You always know when there's a groups of librarians, because they all have that hair."

"What hair?" I asked, all offended.

"They all have the bowl haircut," he said. "You know, the short hair that's molded in place like those Little People dolls."

For those of you without children, Little People are the Fischer Price preschool dolls about as tall as a finger who come with the little barnyard, school house, zoo, and amusement park playsets. Every Little People, regardless of the intended sex or age, has the same hairdo: a little plastic football-helmet-shaped blob that hugs their head. This is not a flattering hair style for any real human.

I started to argue, but found myself laughing instead. I have known a good many librarians who sport a Little People hair helmet. Click on the link above to see the Librarian Action Figure and the librarian it's based on; if you put her in a little yellow toy Fischer Price school bus, she would blend right in with the others.

We're not all like that, certainly. The profession has changed a lot; many young people have energized the profession, and the emphasis on technology in today's libraries forces us to be a little more trendy, hip, and savvy. In my corner of librarianship, school libraries, I would say that we are quite an eclectic group. State school media conferences look more like a meeting of the Junior League than a Little People parade; we have some very attractive, fashionably dressed, well-blinged ladies in our profession (where they get the money for all the bling I see is beyond me; maybe in other parts of the state being a school media specialist is a big draw for ladies who marry well.) In my own county, I probably look more the part of the stereotypical librarian than any of the others, what with my glasses and sensible shoes (like Liz Lemon in 30 Rock, I wear the kind of shoes described by Jack Donaghy as 'bi-curious.") When we all get together, we just look like a bunch of different women; I don't see too many similar traits among us school librarians. The only thing that we all have in common at conferences is that for some reason we all carry our programs around in the free Baker and Taylor "cat" bags (which, unlike my public librarian friend, I have a weakness for.)

But my friend who made the Little-People-hair comment does come from the world of academia, and things are different there. My first professional library job was in a university library, and though I came at a time when a lot of older librarians were leaving and young, fresh-from-college librarians were getting hired, I was struck every day by how many of us looked alike. The other degreed librarian in my area and I got confused for each other all the time; we were both brunettes of average height and build who occasionally wore red-framed glasses. When I left so that my husband could take a job in Cincinnati, the librarian we hired to replace me was another thin, bespectacled brunette. I was starting to wonder if "nearsightedness" was a secret criterion the univeristy was using to intially screen its applicants. And among that university's more veteran librarians, there were quite a few bowl haircuts (even among the men.) Maybe my friend is on to something.

On New Year's Eve as I was trying to fight back and argue that we contemporary librarians are, in fact, a sexier bunch, I looked at my dear friend, my fellow librarian. Like me, she was wearing her glasses. Like me, she wears her brown hair in a bob. An elegant, non-Little-People one, of course. But maybe there is a grain of truth in that stereotype. A tiny, little grain. That's not so bad. We're not all dowdy, matronly, shushing, hair-up-in-buns types. Maybe we once were, but it's changing. In It's a Wonderful Life, Donna Reed's character, without Jimmy Stewart to save her, was the saddest woman in Bedford Falls: a homely, spinster, librarian. (Nooooooo! Anything but that! Make it right, Clarence!) In another "classic", The Mummy, Rachel Weisz's librarian is smart, funny, and sexy ("I may not be an explorer, or an adventurer, but I'm proud of what I am...I am a librarian!") Perhaps by the time my daughter grows up, the stereotypical librarian will be a glamorous, technologically gifted, Angelina-Jolie-as-Lara-Croft superwoman. I've always heard of the myth of the sexy librarian, the girl who is plain and reserved by day but who can let her hair down and pop in the contacts and party with the best of 'em in the off hours. Maybe that alter ego will push out her dowdy counterpart as more young librarians enter the profession and change our image (and get Lasik.)

For now, though, let me push my glasses back up on my nose, re-tie my black Eastlands oxfords, and shush this rowdy bunch of teenagers who just came in the library.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Death and Vacuum Cleaners

I had an epiphany on my drive home yesterday while thinking about my new vacuum cleaner and death. They both suck! (Ba-dum-dum.) No, beyond the bad jokes, I've realized a deeper truth. I know how that sounds. Bear with me.

My old bagless Hoover Wind Tunnel has become an electrocution hazard. Six years of wrapping the cord around the reel and accidentally running over the cord has frayed it in about a dozen places. I like my vacuum, so I have wrapped electrical tape around these frayed and worn places and hoped for the best. Last week while cleaning up after New Year's Eve festivities, I noticed the largest nick in the insulation yet. The innards of the power cord were completely exposed, and I recognized that I was taking my life into my hands if I kept using it. I taped one last time to finish the current job, but then began the search for a new sweeper.

I've known for a while that when the old vacuum died, I would get a Dyson. I'm a bit of a clean freak, and I'm a sucker for all the technological wizardry I've seen in the ads. I'd also been advised to get one by my eye doctor, who had invested in one and said they were great for people with asthma and allergies. A part of me has been wanting my Hoover to die a hasty death so I could upgrade to the Dyson. I've even had sudden compulsions to, oopsie! push it down the stairs.

I found a great deal on a Dyson online, and on the way home from work yesterday I found myself daydreaming about whether or not I would find a big ol' box on my porch that afternoon. My thoughts were interrupted by Ainsley.

"I love you, mommy. You're the best mommy I've ever had."

"I'm the only mommy you've ever had." (This is a standard script of ours; we repeat it at least once a day.)

Then the variation.

"If you die, will I get a new mommy?"

Umm...yeah. What do you say to that?

I constructed a quick, tactful answer and in mommy fashion, changed the subject (Look, Ainsley! An airplane! Way up there! Just shut up and and keep looking for it!) But I was thinking about Ainsley's new mommy.

We all like to say that, should we die an untimely death, we would want our spouses to move on and to find happiness with someone else. We tell them this, but it's not 100% true, now, is it? In our heart of hearts, we all want to be our beloved's one and only, his soul mate without whom he would shrivel up into a sad shadow of his former self, and know he will never find true love again. Don't lie. You know it's true.

But we also know that life does move on. I get giddy for my widowed mom every time a man flirts with her, or asks for her number, or when she gets set up with a friend-of-a-friend. She loved my dad, and I loved him, too, but I don't want her to be alone. I want her to love again. Most people, especially young widows and widowers with full lifetimes ahead of them, do find love and marry again. I have to confess, though, that when I was sick, I thought a lot about what would happen to Jason when I die, and though I wanted him to get through it and not raise Ains alone, I was sometimes sick with jealousy over this fantasy person who I don't even know and who might not even be out there.

Jokingly, I tell him she better not have bigger boobs than I do (this should narrow the field since approximately 95% of the female population has bigger boobs than I do.) And if she's all those other things I'm not, like tall, blonde, and leggy, I will haunt him. If she's a feisty brown-eyed brunette, well, I just may leave them alone; at least that will show me that I'm his type.

I was mulling all this over yesterday when it hit me: if I felt like Jason was trading up, like I am with my dead vacuum cleaner, I would be really hurt. Like, if she had bigger hooties and a smaller waist and a more pleasant personality and didn't freak out over spiders. This would kill me. Even though I would be dead.

And Ainsley asking me if she would get a new mommy? What if she's like I was, and secretly wanting the vacuum cleaner to die so she can get a better model with more bells and whistles? I am all excited about my new super-cleaning, high-tech, never-loses-suction sweeper; what if she's secretly thinking about a new mommy who can play Barbies for 6 hours at a time without losing interest and can bake 2 dozen cupcakes for class parties on an hour's notice and enjoys watching Wonder Pets?

My new Dyson did show up yesterday evening, but I haven't gotten it out of the box yet. I had done too good a job pondering the whole new vacuum/new mommy metaphor to be able to stomach it.

I will have to get my DC17 out soon, and when I do, I will have to set the Hoover out on the curb. I am putting the old aside and welcoming something brighter, shinier, better. I will probably have a religious experience the first time I vacuum with it and fill the dust cup up a dozen times with all the dirt my old Wind Tunnel has left behind.

But right now I can't help but think...I am the Hoover.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Diva In Training

Used to be when I would check on Ainsley in the night I would think, "Awww. She looks like an angel when she sleeps." Now I think, "Awww. She looks like a little diva when she sleeps."

One of my holiday gifts was a pair of pajamas with an attached satin sleep mask. No sooner had this little goody been snipped off the pajamas than it was snatched out of my grasp by my five-year-old, who said she loved it and wanted it. I have another sleep mask that I use when I have a migraine, so I let her have it, not knowing that it was going to become attached to her face every night.

When she first asked to sleep in it over our Christmas break, I humored her and helped her slip it over her eyes. I fully expected to find it tossed on the floor in the middle of the night. But the next morning, when she slept past 10, I worried that she had gotten it wrapped around her neck, so I rushed in the room, convinced I had doomed her by letting her sleep in something constrictive on her head (I read waaaaay too many parenting magazines, and have strangulation paranoia). Instead, I found her sound asleep, eye mask still in place, oblivious to the fact that the sun had risen.

For the rest of the break, she insisted on sleeping with the eye mask. It was nice for us; with her little pink satin mask, she could be counted on to sleep late. But as her first day back approached, I set a ground rule: no sleep mask on a school night. It's hard enough waking that kid up in the morning without one; I have to flip every light in her room on and hold the alarm clock 3 inches from her ear to convince her that it's time to get out of bed.

Last night I tucked her in as usual, and reminded her why I wasn't giving her the sleep mask. A few hours later, when hubby when to check on her before we called it a night, he came out of her room with an amused look on his face.

"Did you put her sleep mask on her when you put her in bed?" he asked.

"No. Why?"

"She has it on."

Apparently, the little diva got out of bed and snatched the mask. We had left her aquarium light on, and I guess that was just too much light for her.

It was still on her face this morning, and as I went in to turn her lights on and make sure her alarm was going to go off, I was struck by how grown-up she looked. And by how high-maintenance she is.

I hope she isn't going to be one of those people who has to put Reynold's Wrap on the windows and masking tape over the LED display on her alarm clock. I've known people like that, people who have to have complete darkness and utter silence when they're trying to sleep. They make the people they live with nuts. I don't get it; I had to sleep with a night-light until I was thirty.

I'm grateful that she's not afraid of the dark. But on the other hand...I am raising a prima donna.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Rage Against the Wii

Guitar Hero 3 has ruined my life. If not my life, then definitely my arm.

Oh, I still love it. Playing that has been the highlight of my Wii-owning experience (though I do love me some Dance Dance Revolution, too.) Many a Saturday night has been spent rocking out on my fake little "Gibsun" with my alter ego, the blue-haired, guitar-throwing Judy Nails. And even when I'm not actually playing the Hero, I'm enjoying the music; just this morning I heard Rage Against the Machine's "Bulls On Parade" on the radio and found my fingers trying to find the right buttons for the "WOWOWow WOWOWchucka chucka chucka" guitar part.

The addictiveness is exactly the problem. It's not that I play it too much and let it get in the way of, you know, parenting my child and taking care of my personal hygeine. I play responsibly. The problem is that it's made my left arm swell like a boiled hotdog.

I don't talk about it much anymore, but I have a condition called lymphedema. It's a little leftover from my lymphoma and my cancer treatments; those rare times I feel like a completely normal person and forget I had a life-threatening, soul-altering illness, it rears its ugly little head and sings, "Don't you...forget about me...no, no, no, no!" And then my left hand puffs and looks like a blown-up surgical glove, and I remember that, indeed, I have very few healthy lymph nodes left in the upper half of my body, and lymph tissue doesn't regenerate.

Lymphedema is basically a plumbing problem in a limb. When lymph nodes get removed or damaged, either by surgery or by radiation, your lymph channels, which carry protein-rich disease-fighting lymph fluid out of your extremities, get clogged and harden. All that fluid your body produces to fight infection when you get a cold or a cut or scrape pools up at the lowest point in your arm or leg and has nowhere to go. Your circulatory system keeps bringing it in, but it can't get out. It causes the limb to swell, and can cause serious infections because the fluid is so rich in protein that it's a bacterial nursey. Lymph nodes do not grow back, and the lymph channels can't repair themselves because the nodes they used to connect to are gone. There's no cure; you just have to learn how to manage it. And I've learned that playing Guitar Hero for hours with your bad limb is not a very good way to manage it.

I'm supposed to wear a compression sleeve and glove every day. When I was first diagnosed, I was really good about it. But the sleeve is made out of a heavy, stretchy, surgical-stocking-like material, and the glove is like an Ace bandage, and it's hard for a 30-something, slightly vain female to stomach the look of it every single day. Plus, it's hot. And itchy. And expensive. And it has to be hand-washed and dried every evening. Having lymphedema is a huge pain in the ass. So I play the role of good patient for a while, get the swelling under control, and then pretend it's not there until it puffs up again.

Exersicing regularly has made a huge difference in my lymphedema, so I haven't worn the sleeve or glove in over a year. I'd gotten complacent. Big mistake.

Tiny cuts on my hands from a serious case of chapped winter skin brought on my very first bout of it. So you'd think I'd know better than to let that happen again. But this winter my hands got dry and I didn't pay close attention to the little cuts. And then I played Guitar Hero, hitting buttons with my bad, left arm for hours with no support, overusing the muscles in my hand and wrist, increasing circulation to those problem areas, and opening the door for the swelling. And swell I have.

I have a big puffball of fluid just above my wrist. It makes my arm look like it curves, like the inner bone on my arm has bowed. Not only is it ugly, it's painful; the skin is stretched, and my wrist aches and pops and feels full. I admit defeat. I am wearing the sleeve and glove.

Will I stop playing "Bulls on Parade" and "My Name is Jonas" any time soon? Heck, no. But I will be adopting a new look while I rock out.

I'll still probably be in my pajamas, and I'll still have a long-necked bottle close by. I will probably still be swaying with the music, too. But from now on, I will be adding sexy new designer accessories: a Juzo sleeve and a Jobst gauntlet-style glove, all in a very fashionable, chic nude.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Glass Eye

I almost lost an eye this morning.

Well, maybe not lost. But I did barely escape spending my first day back to work from the holiday break in the hospital having a piece of glass dug out of my eye.

Let me set the scene. Every morning before I hit the showers, I drink some water and empty the dishwasher. I hate having to do that chore after I get home in the afternoon, and would rather get it over with while I'm getting awake.

This morning, I had to put a wine glass away in an overhead cabinet. I had the cabinet door open, and when I reached up with the glass, it caught the corner of the cabinet door and broke just a few inches away from my face. It wasn't too big a mess, so I didn't think about it too much. I just swept up the shards, quietly cussing. It was a craptacular way to start my day.

Minutes later as I was brushing my teeth, I noticed a speck on my glasses. Arrgh. I HATE it when my lenses are dirty. I took them off to see what it was, and realized that the speck was a shard of glass that had imbedded into my right lens. Yes. Imbedded. I couldn't pick it out or scrape it off; the force of the break had driven it right in there. The glass must have shattered with more force than I thought, and since I was looking up, it blew out just a couple of inches from my eyes. Wow.

The thought of what would have happened had I already had my contacts in or if I had just not put my glasses on before I unloaded the dishwasher has me shaking in my shoes a little. Sometimes I do that; I stumble around half-blind if my glasses aren't on my bedside table in the morning. I'm quite nearsighted, but I know my own kitchen well enough to wing it. But I wouldn't have seen the glass coming, and it was a sizeable speck. Enough to blind somone if it had gone into my cornea with the same force it went into my Featherweights lenses.

The good news is that I'm fine, and my guardian angel was watching out for me. The bad news is I need a new pair of glasses, and I need them pretty quickly. The shard is smack in the middle of the lens and makes everything blurry through that eye.

But I just keep coming back to the good news.