Sunday, April 19, 2009

No more Dark & Twisty

I've been looking for a way to extricate myself from my self imposed pity party, and Thursday night, it finally happened. Although this wasn't really the way I would have wanted it to go.

A little background, first. LittleG has had a long and colorful history of respiratory issues - lots of snot, lots of coughing, tubes in her ears at 16 months, and a tonsillectomy a year ago. We do preventive antihistamines every night, and I have a respiratory medication plan that we follow when she gets wheezy. I've become more relaxed over the past five years, and have learned that a sniffle is not necessarily indicative of a trip to the doctor. Most times, they tell me she has a virus and there is nothing they can do, so I have adopted a "no doctor till fever" policy that has served us pretty well.

She's been suffering from Texas springtime allergies lately, and I knew she was getting pretty close to the infected stage. I picked her up at school on Thursday, and she was burning hot with fever and very weepy. Mine doesn't just cry for no reason, so when she turned on the waterworks, I knew something was up.

We went to doc-in-the-box in our suburb and I was disappointed to see 11 names on the list in front of ours. When I asked how long our wait was likely to be, the receptionist told me at least an hour. This is the old fashioned wait-in-the-waiting-room-with-everyone-else-in-town-who-is-sick-as-a-dog kind of clinic. If you're not certifiably ill when you walk in, you will be when you walk out, because there is surely someone in that waiting room carrying every contagious disease known to man, and most of them are sneezing in your direction. We high-tailed it out of there and headed home for Plan B - Care Now.

We don't have a Care Now in our city, but there is one about 20 minutes away. I LOVE Care Now because you sign in online and you get a call when you're on deck. You wait at home instead of surrounded by sick people, then drive across town, they whisk you into your own little relatively germ free room, and bang, you see the doctor. Yeah, it's hard to explain to a sick little one why we aren't at the doctor, but if she's eating popsicles, she really doesn't care anyway.

We waited our time at home, drove across town and got right in, gave the nurse the rundown of her symptoms, and I, certified Mom of the Year, say, "I know it's just a sinus infection, but her fever is high and she's out of sorts."

The doctor comes in, checks ears and nose and throat, then listens to LittleG breathe. It's then that it gets a little scary.

The doctor wrinkles up her forehead and raises an eyebrow as she asks LittleG to take another deep breath. Her brow furrows further as she repositions the stethoscope and listens some more, and I get a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach.

"Has she been tested for pneumonia," the doctor asked. "Well, no. She hasn't acted sick, hasn't had a fever," I say. "Well, we're doing a chest x-ray," she says.

Off we go to position a squirmy, feverish, overwrought 5-year old in front of the x-ray screen. Lady Luck smiled down upon us and we got two good shots right away, so we only had to go through one round of pictures. The x-ray tech ferried us back to room #3 and we waited for the doctor to come back in.

She came back in with a grim look on her face, and a quick nod confirmed my fears. My sweet baby girl had pneumonia!

Pneumonia these days doesn't mean what it used to mean. It's serious, but it's not "pack your overnight bag, you're staying in the hospital" serious. LittleG had to get a shot of something magic called Rocephin, and we left with four prescriptions and instructions for managing the fever and cough throughout the night. Despite my pleading, those cold hearted bastards would not give me a valium, which I had certainly earned by holding down my thrashing child so they could give her a shot.

After a 30-minute stop at the all night pharmacy (with an accompanying 3 digit bill for medicine), we were off to the house for a super quick dinner and a round of medication. I slept on the blow up mattress on the floor in her room that night, and she was so wiped out that she was asleep before I could get my teeth brushed. She slept very well; I slept fitfully, at best.

We were back there early Friday for a check-up, and while she wasn't 100%, she was a whole lot closer to it than she had been. Saturday, she had bounced almost all the way back, and today, you'd hardly know she had been sick at all.

So I had been desperately seeking a diversion from the drama at the office - something to help clear my mind. I have to say after this weekend, that there are probably not very many things more effective at helping you remember what matters - and what doesn't - than a sick child.

I am so grateful that I was plugged in enough to realize that something was amiss, although my mom diagnosis was totally off base. Thank heavens we have the option of the after hours clinics, and thank the good Lord above that we have health insurance that allows this type of care. I'm looking at a $600 bill, for which I've only paid a $20 co-pay so far. How in the world do families without health insurance ever manage situations like this?

I shudder to think what would have happened if we hadn't had that option available to us, or the financial wherewithal to pull it off. Or, God forbid, if I had still been all wrapped up in whatever has been eating at me the past month.

So my little duck is tucked in her bed right now, breathing fresh oxygen deep into clear lungs, dreaming of happy fairies and princes. And that, my friends, is the silver lining in this cloud......

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Help a sister out

One of my loyal readers is participating in the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer 3-Day, which raises money to fight the battle against breast cancer.

Each participant in the walk is required to raise a pretty big chunk of money. If you can help - anything at all - click here to donate:
Shelly's Team,

I donated this morning in memory of my grandmother and in celebration of my mother, because my life has been inexorably altered by breast cancer.

She didn't ask me to do this, by the way. I just think it's the right thing to do.

Please help if you can. Oh yeah, and tell her Lady Steele sent you.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

I know, I know

I've been thinking about you. I promise. I said in my last post I was going to try to ditch Dark & Twisty Lady Steele. She's still hanging around, so I'm not blogging right now.

Well, I'm blogging in my mind. I have lots of things swirling, some I've been thinking about for a long long time. If I ever string the right words together, I'm going to have some fabulous new posts for you.

Until the good witch returns, I am going to brew a little longer. I'll leave you with this, which I think is hysterical....

The neighborhood accountant-in-a-box joint has been paying temps to dress up like the Statue of Liberty and dance on a street corner in an effort to attract clients this tax season. LittleG and I have been debating for three months now why a tax office wants people to dance on the corner, and why for the love of Pete do they think it works?

At any rate, yesterday when we drove by, one of them was holding up a big sign that said "The End is Near."

I don't know why, but it tickled my funny bone, and it is bringing me some measure of lightness even now.

Ever forward, friends.....

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Yes, please

I had an email from my BFF late last night and part of it said, "I loved the blog today, but do you need a vacation?"

Well, yes, I do, thank you for asking.

I guess I've seemed a bit dark and twisty lately. Tell you what - I will do the best I can to find the amusing and sassy Lady Steele and see if I can get her back here for you.

Best Regards,
Lady Steele's Dark & Twisty Evil Twin

How to self soothe with ony 4,327 calories

Mentally, the past two months have been a disaster for me. I've worried about the economy. And my job. And MrG's job. And my sister's job. And my mother's health. And my friend's mother's health.

Two of my friends lost their mothers, so then I had to worry about them. (The friends, not the moms).

I had a really tough discussion one day this week with a coworker. It was a lot harder for the other person than it was for me. It was not a pleasant conversation, but I'm glad it happened because I think it needed to. Some things were said that needed to be said, and now we can move on.

I have another co-worker who is on my VERY. LAST. NERVE. My filters are worn totally thin with this person. I am finished. In fact, I fear I may push this particular offender down the stairs at the first opportunity.

As you can imagine, these situations are not improving my outlook on life.

The Desiderata says "do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness." I've tried to use that as a motivator, but it is amazingly hard to play mind games with yourself.

So the mental aspects notwithstanding, physically I've been in some discomfort. My foot still hurts - since January! I've had an annual gyno exam and some dental work done. I am quite certain I've been violated in damn near every orifice in the past two weeks.

The nice dentist gave me pain medication, but the gyno didn't even buy me dinner. I'm feeling a little cheap right now.

Mother Nature cannot seem to decide what season it is. One day in February, it was 88 degrees. When I got up this morning, my outside thermometer showed 36 degrees. WTF?

It's allergy season, and I'm pretty much sniffling, sneezing, dripping and draining. Not adding to my feeling of well being, or improving my mood. Not one little bit.

MrG's response to my mental and physical state of being? "Boo-effen-hoo!" Someone please tell me again why I married him?!

Since Mr. Sensitivity isn't being much help, I'm kind of on my own, so I've been running through my self-soothing options. Exercise? Hah! Even if I wanted to, I couldn't do it - the foot hurts too much. Fresh air and sunshine? Yeah, right. Only on alternating days when it's not freezing or raining. Drugs? Too illegal. Wine? Too hang-overish.

So, what's left?? I've turned to my kitchen. The center of home and hearth. Solace and peace in this topsy turvy world.

Despite my near mental and physical breakdown, my family is in pretty good shape. Why? Because I've turned out some terrific homemade pita bread, a decent atttempt at naan, a most excellent pot of white beans, some really yummy oven-fried fish, and some respectable banana bread. Did I mention that banana bread makes the BEST french toast EVER?

Nothin' says home cookin' like Mommy losing her mind.

I've also bought and consumed Girl Scout Cookies, and Easter candy of all shapes and sizes. On the upside the Girl Scout cookies are long gone. And the Easter candy is, for the most part, the least worst kind - jelly beans, Peeps, marshmallow eggs. Not an m&m or Snickers in sight! And in all fairness, I bought the candy because I needed it for LittleG's Easter Egg hunt (or the more politically correctly named Spring Holiday Egg Hunt).

In my defense, I've also made some healthy food discoveries. I found
Brothers All Natural Fruit Snacks, lovely freeze dried bags of fruit that run about 40 to 60 calories. They have lots of varieties (banana, pear, and apple are my favorites) and are sweet, crunchy, and packed with the same nutrients as fresh fruit. Yummy!

Thank heavens summer is on its way because at least every third day or so, we are able to go out and grill dinner. It's fast, it's healthy, and I don't have to wash a dish!

I'm looking forward to getting this whole worry thing behind me and feeling good again. Fresh air, sunshine, healthy food. All bodes well for my mental health. Which is good, because soon it will be hotter than the hinges of hell and I'll have something else to gripe about. Ever forward, friends.

I gotta go. There are some pink Peeps calling my name.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Real Life

So I am surrounded in my day to day life by these people I think are crazy. Certifiably. At the very least, part of them lives constantly in an alternative world, a lot like the bizarro Seinfeld episode.

LittleG spends much of our time together debating "which one" she wants to be. Doesn't matter what we are looking at - flowers, cartoons, characters in a book, oranges - she wants to identify with one of them, and she wants me to identify with one of them. Doesn't matter to her that five minutes ago she wanted to be the cute pudgy cartoon character with the yellow face. Now she wants to be the white daisy with the yellow center. And what's scary is, it doesn't seem to faze her. A. BIT. I, on the other hand, feel perpetually like the stupid kid at school - I never seem to keep up with her as she changes subjects and characters.

She tells these long colorful detailed stories about her and her sisters (she's an only child, mind you), where there are fairies and balloons and secret castles. My BFF told me once that children who have fertile imaginations tend to be intellectually gifted. If that's true, watch out Ivy League, here we come!

She makes up rules to games I've never heard of, uses words that have absolutely no connection whatsoever to the only language we speak in our family, and constantly barrages me with questions about life and nuggets of information that only she understands the significance of.

Then there is MrG. He spends a lot of time on his Xbox or his computer playing one game or another. Sometimes he's a big scary looking monster who has magic powers. Sometimes he's an army guy shooting good guys. Or Zombies. I can't keep it straight. There is nearly always some type of violence involved, no matter the medium.

The only violence I participated in today was some really horrible arm waving at this idiot in front of me who apparently didn't understand my sense of urgency for getting to work TODAY. Oh, and I squished a bug in the grass.

The point is, sometimes I feel like I'm the only one connected in any way whatsoever to reality. While LittleG is curled up in bed with Mr Duck, her dad is down the hall shooting guys on the TV screen and speaking entirely too loudly to his buddies who are somehow magically now connected into our game room through his headset. Many nights, I creep in quietly and kiss him on the forehead silently, because I'm afraid a big wet goodnight kiss will be broadcast all over cyberspace or Xboxland, or where ever the hell he happens to be that night.

Don't get me wrong. My husband could be out drinking and carousing. He doesn't beat me, doesn't cheat on me, doesn't gamble away the family fortune. And my kid? She could just totally ignore me, as I know she will eventually. But instead, she includes me in her fantasy world and engages me constantly with that little mind that is expanding so quickly.

While my family escapes into whatever it is that drives them, I am faced with the stark reality of real life. My laundry is piled in its basket - a basket that never seems to be empty. The clothes get dirty, the clothes get washed, the clothes go in to the basket, and the whole cycle starts all over. I cannot imagine a moment in my life when that basket will ever truly be empty.

(Note to those of you not getting it - the clothes basket is a metaphor for the skutwork in my life - laundry, dishes, groceries, bills. Keep up here, folks).

At least my escapes are sane ones - some crappy reality TV, Castle (I heart Richard Castle!!), the 30 or so of you who click in to read my words of wisdom every day. (Please invite your friends, I'd really like to be at about 50).

I spend a lot of time in my own brain trying out phrases, thinking of words that paint a picture. And that's been really good for me. Gives me a tiny escape from reality. So I guess I do get a little respite from Real Life. But my stays in Bizarro Life are short and sweet, and I always come back down to earth.

I've had some comments that I've not blogged every day during Lent. Trust me. I have. I just haven't published it all yet. And some of it you may never see. Because once it's out there, it becomes reality. And a girl's gotta have a little escape sometime.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Way to go, Iowa

I am celebrating tonight, for my friends who are not like me.

I've laid it out for you before. I'm married. Never strayed, not even once, even though I work in an industry once dubbed "spring break for grown ups." I will cop to the occasional impure thought, but those don't really count, since 9 times out of 10, I tell MrG about them.

I like boys, always have. And I was lucky enough to marry one nine years and nine months ago. Most of the time I like him pretty well, and sometimes, I like him a whole damn lot. Never tried the girl thing. And although I love some women dearly, they are friends to me, not sexual objects over which I obsess.....

But I have friends who fall in a different demographic. None of them are in what I consider the Lady Steele Inner Circle, although there are a few pretty damn close. In other words, I do not have a vested emotional interest in this - my best friend, my brother, my uncle, my aunt - none of these are affected by the current marriage laws in our country. I have no axe to grind here, I promise.

But I do have friends who are affected, and for them, I am happy tonight.

Iowa has become either the third or fourth state to recognize gay marriage. I say it that way, because it depends on how you view California - they were in, but now they are out. Either way, folks of the other sexual persuasion can now make their unions legal in the fine state of Iowa.

So why does this matter to me, Lady Steele, whitebread heterosexual that I am?

I happen to believe, with every cell in my being, that folks don't just choose to be gay. I don't think that anyone suddenly decides one day to rock the boat and that the best way to do it is to crave the love and attention of someone of the same gender. Who wants that for themselves, really?

Thank God I ended up straight, because I remember being in first grade or Kindergarten and having it B.A.D. for a cute red headed boy named Billy. Really hasn't changed much in 35 or so years, and I am thankful every day that I am wired the "right" way and that society doesn't judge me for my taste in mates and sexual partners, (The Boy) notwithstanding.

I have a friend who lost her daughter after she and her partner split up. Because of adoption laws in Texas, my friend and her partner had to choose one parent as the legal delegate when they adopted their daughter. And despite the fact that my friend went through the exact trials and tribulations that her partner went through - diaper changes, teething, first steps, rotavirus - my friend lost all legal ties to her daughter when she and her partner split up.

Common decency dictates that my friend's ex keeps her in her daughter's life, but Texas law does nothing. So my friend, who has the distinct disadvantage of having chosen a total raving bitch as a partner, now has no legal ties to the daughter she raised as her own for 4 years. She is as much of a parent as the other woman, but because the other woman's name was the only one recognized by the law, my friend finds herself alone without any rights. And her daughter? She finds herself without one of the the women she called Mommy.

I have other friends who are same sex couples whose lives are inexorably challenged by their sexual orientation. One male friend has a partner who is having some health challenges. They have been together for years - ten or more. And yet, my friend, who is closer to his partner than anyone else on this planet, has absolutely no say whatsoever in his significant other's care. He doesn't have the right, according to Texas law, to make decisions about his partner's health care. And if things go south, he doesn't have any right at all to be in the room with is partner in the event of a critical health situation.

Did my friend wake up one day and decide he'd mess with his mom by liking boys? No, he knew very young - elementary school - that girls were not his cup of tea. Did he think he'd just piss off the cool kids at school by ignoring the girls and hitting on the boys? Nope, my friend is who is he is. He likes boys. And he was lucky enough to find one. And they've been together for the entire time that I've known them - more than a decade. They've bought a home together (more than one, actually), built a life together, they've attended church together. They are a family, as much as me and MrG and LittleG.

And yet, we heterosexuals, climb up on our high horses and call these guys sinners and condemn their "lifestyle" like it was some type of choice they made just to lash out at society.

What the heck difference does it make to me, as a heterosexual female, if two men choose to be together? Does it somehow affect my marriage, my relationship? I think not.

You can stand on your scripture, if you so choose, for your proof that homosexuality is wrong. I'll give you that. If you're going to go that route, I encourage you take a good long look at the other things that the bible says are wrong - who among us hasn't coveted a neighbor's lawn/new car/new TV/fabulous wardrobe/perfect children?

Who hasn't lied, stolen, cheated? In the eyes of biblical law, we are all sinners. So it's not just the gay folks who are rocking the boat. It's any red blooded heterosexual who cheats on his wife, or the woman who desperately wants her best friend's Dooney & Bourke bag, or the couple who lies to their family about how happy they are. It's your neighbors, and your friends, and the folks you're related to. If you say a homosexual couple has an effect on my marriage, it's got to count for the heterosexual sinners, too.

Keith Olbermann said it very well last fall here: Thank you, Keith

I can assure you that no other couple straight or gay, has any effect whatsoever on my relationship with MrG.

And they shouldn't on yours, either, whether you are gay or straight. What goes on in someone else's mind or bedroom has no bearing on your life or the sanctity of your union.

So I'm so excited tonight, to see that Iowa has jumped into the fray by recognizing gay marriage. It is going to be terribly unpopular here in my heterosexual Texas life, to put a big fat check mark on the work of the Iowa legislature, but I'm going to do it anyway.

So, I'm sorry Mom, for putting this out there. I know this is likely to cause you some psychic pain.

But for you, Nora, Mauri, Jeff, Kim, Bill, Bill, Paul, Mike, and others, I am so damn glad for you. Our families matter. All of them. And it's about damn time that the government recognizes it.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Math, Lady Steele Style

Fresh air + sunshine + ten bags of mulch + family = good

Five year old + actual, honest to God worms + fresh dirt = bad

Water hose + dirty siding = good

Five year old + water hose + fresh dirt = bad

White beans + Zatarains white bean seasoning + Crock pot + 10 hours = good

Laundry in washer + 48 hours = bad

Bottle of white wine + exhausted grown ups + sleeping late in the morning = good

MrG + Lady Steele + LittleG + Home Depot + American Express Card = we'll see in the morning

I cannot tell you what a blessing it is to come home after a week like this and spend some in the yard with fresh bags of mulch and the people I love the most!

We had a great time in the yard and it looks fabulous. And yes, we used 10 bags of mulch in the FRONT yard. Came in to a terrific meal - I heart my crock pot!! And now, we will relax with some tivo'd shows and a nice bottle of wine. Take your happiness where you get it folks, and be thankful.

Happy Weekend.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

My brave new world

I wrote a few months ago about a friend who had changed jobs after 25 years and what I leap of faith I thought it was. A brave new world. My situation pales in comparison, but as my friend so eloquently put it this week, "change is change."

I have on purpose not addressed the changes that took place at my office last week. That's because some people I really like were affected deeply by the changes, and I would hate to say something in an attempt to be amusing or funny that could be misconstrued in any way. The worst thing for me would be to alienate someone I care about by using a poor choice of words. So, I've left it alone until now.

Anyway, one of the changes is that I got a new boss. I don't purport to understand the hows and whys of our new arrangement, but I have to think that the folks I work for are really smart, and they wouldn't make a decision like this unless it was the right one.

But, I digress. So I got a new boss, and she's a woman. Actually, I got two new bosses, and both of them are women. One was more or less a contemporary of mine, but now I'm reporting to her, and together we are reporting to the new head honcho boss.

I had a female boss when I first got into the industry in 2000, and she was a Beeyotch with a capital B. Since then, it's been just men, and only two of them. I think having a female boss again will be an odd thing. For example, she sent an email this week to her new team, asking each of us to tell her about our favorite drink, our favorite dessert, our favorite color, our pet peeves.

Are you kidding me?

I doubt that the men I used to work for even recognized that I might have a favorite anything. And even if they did, they certainly didn't care enough to ask me about it.

Don't get me wrong - I love it that she recognizes that we are all individuals and have our own likes and dislikes. She met with each of us and visited with us about what we need from her and the best way to manage us. Again. Are you kidding me?

I am optimistic about things for now, although I do not expect this to be all rainbows and sunshine. She's got more backbone than a lot of men, and she's been with the company since college, on a meteoric rise to the top. So, while she's all huggy and kissy with her management style, I expect she will be a total ballbreaker at the same time.

It has been a tumultuous few weeks, and I am actually looking forward to settling in and doing my thing under the new regime. Charles Darwin said, "It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change."

So, ever forward friends, as I find find my place in this brave new world.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

My exciting Wednesday

I thought of all sorts of fun things to tell you today, since I had plenty of time to think while I waited at one medical office or another.

My day started at the foot doctor for some hocus pocus foot therapy. During therapy, no one turns the lights down low and speaks in a soothing voice, encouraging my foot to just let go. Nope, there is a fancy contraption with magic suction cups attached to my foot. For 30 minutes, the machine zaps me while I sit there feeling silly. After my appointment, I have two big hickies on my foot where the suction cups were attached. That's about it. On the upside, one of the techs told me today that most patients feel better after therapy at least three times a week for three weeks.

My next stop was the annual gyno appointment. I won't trouble you with the details of that one, except to say that when you're over 40, they begin to screen for indicators of colon cancer. Oh, joy. Use your imagination, folks, and write your own joke here.

LittleG was the guest of honor at our next stop. Dr. Bob the pediatric dentist filled cavities for her for the first time. We were told not to tell her about the appointment since the dentist has his own words for things like shots and x-rays, so I basically did a drop-and-run, then spent the next 45 minutes feeling like Questionable Parent of the Year.

Back to school for LittleG after a stop for ice cream, because she couldn't eat, and her appointment was scheduled....wait for lunchtime. So not only did I leave my five year old unattended for a procedure she was unprepared for, but then I fed her ice cream for lunch. Get your ballots ready, friends.

And the last appointment today was the best. Just the best. I got a root canal. And a new crown. Regretfully, on two different teeth, in places far enough away that I had to get a whole round of numbing shots for each location! It's two times the fun!

This is not the first time at the rodeo for Dr. W, and he knew he'd have to get me all liquored up. Bring on the nitrous, folks. What should have taken an hour and a half actually took almost three full hours. I have a teeny tiny mouth, and the only thing holding it open at the end was a little rubber block thingy that Dr. W shoved in my mouth. My jaws both hurt, and the anesthesia is wearing off, so the crown site is now throbbing. On the upside, the front tooth is still numb, so I'm happy to say I can not feel the drool dripping down my face.

So during my extended stay at Casa Nitrous Oxide, I came up with lots and lots of interesting things. Think about it - nitrous flowing so fast that your brain cells begin to float, three hours lying back quietly in a chair, and so much junk in your mouth that you could not possibly speak to another human being. All of those words, and no way to share them! It's like a timeout on steroids. I came up with a slew of funny phrases, the perfect words to paint the picture of my day. Sadly, I cannot remember one of them. And Dr. W, as much as I tried, would not give me nitrous to go. The man has no soul.

I have had my tylenol with codeine, and as soon as I get LittleG in the bed, I am going to have myself another one, perhaps with a merlot chaser, and I'm off to bed myself.

I'm hoping tomorrow will bring a new blog, full of humor and emotion. But frankly, I'll be happy if I can get a day free of medical offices and co-pays.