Wednesday, September 30, 2009

It's a Dog's Life

This is my dog, Molly.

I don't talk about Molly much, because her life isn't all that interesting. These past couple weeks, however, I've noticed that our lives have become strikingly similar. For example:

Molly is getting old, but she still likes to play. She just can't play quite as often or quite as long and she needs a little nap after a good romp.

Molly likes (needs, craves) attention and doesn't mind kissing up a little bit to get it.

Molly loves a nice sunbath.

Her favorite place to be is curled up against Tom.

She's loyal.

I'm loyal, too. (How's that for a segue?) I know this because my buddy The Scholastic Scribe herself awarded me this Loyal Friend and Visitor Award, and I couldn't be more pleased.

Purdy, ain't it?

I am fortunate enough to have many loyal friends and visitors (including the Scribe herself), so I would like to bestow this upon a few of them. (I usually hate this part because I'm always certain I'm leaving someone out, but this time it was easy - I looked over my last 10 posts and the following folks commented on 7 or more of them.)

Pick up your award, if you like, and pass it on to your most loyal friends and visitors!

And if you get a chance to have a nap in the sun today, be sure to think of Molly and I - it's likely that we'll be doing the same thing.

Monday, September 28, 2009

By Any Other Name

Sorry about the whinefest yesterday - hope you all had cheese!

How awesome is it that instead of rolling your eyes and becoming annoyed with me you all sent me great suggestions and well wishes instead? What a loverly land the blogosphere is.

All the support led to a refreshed attitude today - I'm ready to take on boredom with a sword and a cape. You know, from my couch where I'll be taking it easy. And maybe ordering a cape. Capes are cool. But the sword will probably remain figurative. I wouldn't want to cut anything off and have to convalesce again.

Sooooo. So the new season of 'Saturday Night Live' started up this weekend. It is a much anticipated event in our household as I have been a fan (a BIG fan) from day one. (Yes, I am aware of the fact that that makes me old. Well excuuuuuuuse me.) I have been a fan through the dark eras - always knowing the light would shine again. The hubs is a fan. The kids are fans (And yes, I have turned them on to the old stuff, too.) If Saturday night's offering was any indication, we are heading into a dark era again. A very dark era indeed. We need Justin Timberlake, stat. Preferably in a cape. Bring it on back to humorville. I laughed once and gasped once. In an hour and a half. That is not sufficient. Not at all.

The gasp? When the brand spankin' new girl on her very first show ever dropped an f-bomb on live TV.

I miss Casey and Mikaela (Bish pleeeeze).

But that's not where I intended to go with this.

The one moment I laughed was during Weekend Update, when Seth used two of my go-to funniest words in one joke. He showed us that they're developing new underpants for left handed men, so that the opening will make things, um, easier. His line: No one uses the wiener slot.

The joke was moderately funny, at best. But those words - underpants and wiener - make me giggle every time. Not the concept of them. I'm not twelve (an arguable point, perhaps). The words themselves. They're funny words.

Panties, too. Not as funny as underpants, but pretty funny.

When I was in pre-op, one of the nurses who came to call on me told me to recover quickly so I could go right out and buy myself a pair of pretty panties. Panties is funny, but pretty panties - for some reason - cracked my stuff up. It came from her lips, but my ears heard Spongebob. Her eyes did that Spongebob thing, too. You know. Where he grows eyelashes and they sparkle? Preeettttty paaaaanties. I may or may not have been under the influence of hospital drugs at the time.

'Tis a gift to be simple, and I have been generously gifted indeed.

My dad used to call pancakes and beans pannies and beans. I adopted the first part for quite a long stretch there, paying homage to my dad and not really hearing it. One morning the girls called me on it and pointed out that calling their breakfast 'panties' was unappealing. Well, yeah - I guess so! (Until you add fresh maple syrup. Then you could pretty much call them festering sores and I'd still find the appeal. What's in a name?) They've been pancakes ever since.

So are there any words that just crack your stuff up?

My girls are getting the ball rolling with 'hobo' and 'afro'...

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Just a Little Patience

Isn't it funny how we all long for things and then when we get them, they're not what we expected them to be at all? Towards the end of summer I was longing for just a little time to myself. Just a little time to myself with no obligations seemed too much to even dream of. I'd be willing to bet a few of you are reading that wistfully right now and thinking, "If only...." Well that's what I've got now. I've got all the time in the world. Every moment is "me time".

And I am bored out of my skull.

Apparently I'm not great company for myself.

I took a ton of books out of the library and even bought a couple in anticipation of an extended convalescence. There was a week there where I read voraciously, but now I can't seem to concentrate on even the simplest of plots. I can't stay on track for an hour long TV show, for Pete's sake. I have been knitting, but only small projects. I have no patience. A project I couldn't finish in a day or two would yield nothing but frustration. People try to visit with me, but I bring nothing to the table. Try having a conversation and having nothing to contribute. It's not fun. Especially when concentration is an issue. My conversations are more like lectures that I zone in and out of. I feel myself doing it, and I'm fully aware of how impolite it is, but I just don't seem to have any control.

Tom wants me to rest and heal.

I know I need to do this.

But I am so bored with myself.

Late last week and early this weekend I incorporated a few outings and some light housework. And now I'm in pain. I hadn't been in pain before, I'd just been tired and bored (and a little sore). Now I'm tired, bored, sore AND hurting.

So I'm back to taking it slow. Can anyone suggest a nice anthology of short stories? I bet I could get through a short story or two...

Baby steps baby steps.

No wonder babies cry so much...

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Football Friday Night

On Friday night, when Lea asked if she could go to the football game with friends, I was thrilled. My dark daughter has, in the past several months, gotten a haircut that is sassy and cute and decidedly NOT designed to hide her face. She has started to wear colors. She has a nice social group and all of the attached angst and drama associated with a teen social group. And now she wanted to go to a HS football game.

How awesome.

How very normal.

I indulged in memories of attending HS football games when I was in Jr. High. It was warm and happy and wholesome. It smelled like autumn leaves and tasted like hot chocolate. I loved cheering with the cheerleaders and watching the band - knowing that soon I'd be a part of it but for those two short years of seventh and eighth grade I was free to just absorb it all. To be a part of it without any obligations. To be a part of it from the sidelines. To be old enough to be interested but too young to actively participate. It was one of the few 'between' stages that I actually cherished.

I loved football Friday nights.

So when Lea said she wanted to go to the game with a girlfriend who lives basically across the street from the school, I couldn't say yes fast enough. Yes. Absolutely. Go. Blessings be upon you. My only concern was that there would be a traffic cop to help them get across the street, because it's a busy one. I was assured that there would be. I rested easy. She made plans to sleep over at the same girlfriend's house after the game.

How awesome.

How very normal.

When she came home the next morning she told us excitedly about the game. She asked if she could go every week. Yes ma'am, you sure can.

I'm still not able to drive and Tom REALLY hates to shop and is a little bummed that he has to do all of my errands, anyway, so I asked my sister (who assuredly does not share his aversion to shopping) if she'd take Lea shopping for some spirit wear for next weeks game.

Spirit wear has NEVER been something my former child of darkness has ever requested. I was positively giddy at the prospect and started planning sweaters and scarves I could knit for her. We've got spirit, yes we do! We've got spirit, how 'bout you?

How awesome.

How very normal.

My sister's response? I've used the comparison before: 'twas the needle scratching and bumping its way across your favorite album. Screeeeeeeeeeech! You won't be enjoying THIS song anymore...

"You let her go to a football game without parental supervision?"

"Yeah - What? WE went to all the football games without parental supervision." I don't want a kid who runs wild in the streets, but I don't want to be a helicopter mom, either. I'm working hard to find that balance. I felt sure a high school football game was a safe place to give her a little freedom.

"Do you KNOW what goes on under the bleachers at those games?"

"Nooooooo....." I replied, feeling considerably less awesome.

"Well, everything, that's what. It's crazy."



"Like smoking?"






"Making out?"


"Wow." I said, feeling pretty defeated, naive, and duped.

"And more."

"There's more?" Now I just felt deprived.

"You name it."

I greeted that with an extended silence. I thought I just HAD named it. All of it. The conclusive list.


So now either Tom or I will have to go to each game and work once again to find that balance. A little freedom, but not too much. Watching but not hovering. A presence. Frak, frak, frak. Just when I thought I was getting it right.

How non-awesome.

How very normal.

Friday, September 18, 2009

A Purple Letter Day

Oh, man, have I been looking forward to today. But not as much as my friend Ellin has. Today, you see, is Ellin's birthday. It's a special one. Yep. Today Ellin turns 47. Now you may be scratching your head at this point and saying, "Forty is a special one. FIFTY is a special one. But forty-seven? Isn't that one that just comes and goes?" Normally you'd be right. But forty-seven is a special one for Ellin. She hated being forty-six, and as of today SHE ISN'T ANYMORE!!!

You can clearly see that Ellin is beautiful. What you can't see is that she's strong (one of the strongest women I've ever had the privilege of knowing), loyal (she's put up with my dubious antics for around thirty-five years, but I'm far from the only one she's loyal to. If Ellin loves you, she loves you. Period.), and she makes the best pizza west of the Schuykill (if my hometown readers aren't eating Ellin's pizza at least once a week, well, what the heck is YOUR deal?)

Ellin hated being forty-six because both one of her favorite aunts AND her beloved brother passed away when they were forty-six. She dreaded turning forty-six the way many of us dread changing that decade marker on our birthday cake. Forty-six wasn't a banner year for her. She's one of the best people I know, but the world sees fit to batter her around way more than her share. She gets to practice that 'strong' trait I mentioned more often that she should. It got a workout this year.

But you know what? She made it. And today she's forty-seven. Today is a new day. Today is important. Today is big.

Ellin and I have been friends since Junior High. I had my first drink with her. (yep, she's to blame) My parents were (and are) teetotalers, but Ellin's were not, so she would go through their liquor cabinet and pour out just a little bit of everything. We'd add orange juice and call it good. (it, um, wasn't) We are probably lucky to be alive. She was also the one right next to me when I went to my first concert (Nazareth, for those who haven't heard that story before. Now you're messin' with a son-of-a-bitch.) Somewhere around tenth grade we made a countdown chart to our High School graduation. That was the day we were gonna hop in a purple van and head to California. Instead, we headed to different colleges. Sometimes, in retrospect, I wish we'd done it. College would've waited a year. Many years and many adventures later we had our first daughters within six months of each other. I could tell you stories for a month, but I won't because, well, even the guilty deserve a little privacy sometimes. Of course if I told you purely fictional stories about Helen and Sammy's adventures some day...

(Don't sweat it, babe - not gonna happen)

I love Ellin.

Happy birthday, my friend. Cheers!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Comfortably Numb

This is the song that has been my recovery soundtrack, making me - not unusual at all.

Of course if this song is the soundtrack, "my hands felt just like two balloons" was the earworm. Even if it was only one hand. No one ever wrote an iconic lyric about that (or if they have, I'm not aware of it). More on the hand in a moment.

I'm not sure if I've mentioned it here much before - it's certainly something everyone in my real life knows about me - I love to write longhand. It is quite habitual for me to pull out a notebook and jot down random thoughts and phrases as they occur to me. When I was out of surgery and brought to my hospital room, the first thing I asked for was my notebook and pen. Now this was the night that my best friend was the button that delivered my pain meds. I hit it pretty fast and regular (I know, I know, that's what he said...). I dreamed lovely dreams and - because jotting things down is habitual - made notes about them when I was awake. Alert would be overstating it. But awake happened.

What a hoot.

I wrote of pure white cliffs and clear skies. I wrote of rocks and waves and clean air. I saw the course my life should take with utter clarity. And it was beautiful, man. (The same could not be said for my handwriting.) The word bliss was utilized with an almost shocking frequency. I wanted everyone to know this pure, true - well - bliss that I'd discovered.

Then the writing took a turn as true clarity started to make it's return. In letters not quite as tall and not quite as loopy and spidery, I wrote, "What if this is all just an effect of the drugs? Oh please don't let this be an effect of the drugs!" and later "What if this is all just an effect of the fasting?" (I hadn't eaten in 48 hours at that point) "Don't some religions utilize fasting to facilitate insight? Oh please, don't let it be an effect of the fasting!" Reality bites.

It was just funny to be able to read it over later - to actually be able to watch myself bliss out then crash. It's nice to have a recorded memory of the revelations, though, even if they are awfully silly in retrospect. It's nice to know that I was conscious of feeling that way - at least for a little while. Conscious enough to want to record it for posterity. Bless my little drug-addled heart.

When I stopped hitting the pain button so often, my recovery began in earnest and it went well. I did everything I was asked to do and, in my humble opinion, was a model patient.

Then the hand thing happened. Around 4 am Sunday my nurse came in to very routinely change my IV bag. Immediately after she did, I knew all was not well. My hand hurt and started to swell. It started to stretch. It got scary pretty fast. I'm a little bit on the older side of young, which means, for the purpose of this story, that there is a little extra skin on my hands. (Sometimes I see them on the steering wheel and don't recognize them. It freaks me out for a minute.) That extra skin filled up in no time flat as my hand literally blew up like a balloon. I estimate that it was about four times it's usual size before my (rather desperate) nurse got it all taken care of. I developed the wrist equivalent of cankles as my hand faded directly into my forearm. Which was also beginning to swell. There's a name for this - my nurse used it, my mom used it - but I can't retrieve it. At any rate, it's just something that happens and it wasn't a result of anything my nurses or I had done wrong.

It took two solid days before my hand returned to normal size.

I couldn't write in my notebook anymore.

I had a hard time signing my discharge papers.

And, as Tom told you a couple days ago, I couldn't type.

As of this morning, it is weak and it still hurts. I won't even tell you how many typos needed to be corrected in this post because I don't have the control that I would like. It'll come back. Stronger every day.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

I Heard You Missed Me, I'm Back (Sorta)

Tom here again, typing for Tammy, as she is still pretty weak...too weak to type, that is. She's not too weak to tell me what to do...including typing this blog entry (including this very sentence). :)

First off, I/she (pronouns are tricky with me typing...bear with me/her/us) is very thankful for all the kind words and thoughts that you have expressed over the last few days, both on the blog and on Facebook. She would love to respond to every one of them, but as she has already told you, she's a tough stick. This procedure proved no exception. So there were multiple IVs, one of which blew in her right hand around 4AM Sunday. This was quite painful and she is just today gaining limited use of that hand. As soon as it feels better, probably in the next day or two, she'll be back to typing regularly.

Believe it or not, she's not lying around in the drug induced haze that the doctors made available, but is instead trying to limit the good drugs until bed time. Her recovery is pretty much on schedule and she looks forward to returning to life in the blogosphere within the next couple days. To my/her bookworm friends, she is finally able to concentrate again and is reading voraciously with all the time in the world. So that's cool.

Well, she says it's ok for me to stop typing now, so...

Friday, September 11, 2009

Surgery Update

Tammy wanted me (Tom) to post an update for everyone. Her surgery went fine. When I left the hospital this evening, she was groggy but feeling ok. Visiting hours are noon to 8:30 tomorrow, so I will be sure to take her Netbook to her so she can surf if she wants.

-tom (Tammy's lesser half)

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Boob Man

It's Thursday - time to trip down Memory Lane (or - given today's title - Mammary Lane. Oh, I slay me, I really do.)

It is always disillusioning when children realize that their parents are sexual beings. I imagine some folks come upon this realization slowly and gently. Some folks deny it well into adulthood. I was not afforded that particular luxury.

My moment came one Christmas when we were having a rare indoor get-together with our camping friends. We roasted hot dogs and mountain pies over the fire in the basement fireplace to try to replicate as closely as possible the camping experience. I remember someone had taken a shot at making homemade root beer and I’d wanted very much to like it, but I didn’t. And I remember there were gifts.

Not a lot of gifts, it wasn’t a huge thing, wasn’t a big part of the party.

But there were gifts.

And my dad got one.

One that it seemed everyone but me thought was wildly suited to him.

This was during the era when everyone and their mother was taking ceramics classes. They would buy greenware and paint it and glaze it and – I wasn’t completely solid on all of the particulars. My mother and I had never jumped on that bandwagon. But we were in a minority. We still certainly had our share of lighted Christmas trees. I had a cheerleader with big eyes painted in my school colors. My sister had a basketball player from the same line. Praying hands? Check. Easter eggs? Please. People loved giving away their ceramic creations as much as they liked making them.

And our hostess had made a gift for my dad.

It was a carefully rendered boob mug.

She had clearly worked diligently to establish a realistic skin tone. I don’t like to ruminate too long on her amazing attention to detail.

It sure did look like a boob.

Do I really have to tell you that the recipient of said mug was to drink through the nipple?

I thought it was funny.

A little bit funny.

Kind of funny.

Vaguely amusing.

The adults thought it was hysterical.

And then they all started talking about what a great gift this was for a boob man like my dad.


I felt homemade root beer churning up the hot dogs and mountain pies as they all tried to work their way back up.

It wasn’t even a little bit funny anymore. Now it was the most vulgar thing I’d ever seen. And my favorite store at the time was Spencer Gifts. Just to give you some perspective.

Suddenly I experienced a sharp, vivid memory from the past summer. We had gone to the beach. When we picked up our pictures from the drugstore, my mom had a loudly whispered confrontation with my father that hadn’t made sense at the time, but now became utterly clear,

She had asked Dad to take a picture of her, my sister and I with the ocean behind us. And he did. But when the film was developed, the foreground of that picture was dominated by a young woman sunbathing with her bikini straps undone. Very small and very much in the background was my mom, my sister and I, smiling and waving.

We are very lucky to have digital technology in this day and age, that’s all I’m saying.

And mugs without nipples.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Random Randomness That's Random

Today, as you know, is 09/09/09. What a cool, orderly date. All nice and round and even. Not random at all. And yet...

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Last night we went to Liv's band orientation. There were lots of things to sign up for and everyone had to sign up for multiple things. Before the speakers were done speaking, parents were rushing the stage to get to the sign up sheets. It was an astoundingly rude display. The teacher just looked sort of helpless. I don't know what he'd do with kids who acted so rudely, but he clearly didn't know what to do with adults who showed him no respect. Many in front of their kids. And we wonder why so many kids feel like the rules don't apply to them...

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

I was a wiener this week! Blue Violet over at A Nut in a Nutshell ran a contest and yours truly won a coupon for $45 off $100 purchase at Old Navy. I got the coupon today and spent it tonight. Grass doesn't grow under my feet, baby. We got quite a nice little haul for the whole family, and I am most appreciative.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Another cool thing happened, too. The Redhead Riter passed along a couple goodies to me:

This one is the bookworm. It came without rules. My favorite! Not a big rule follower! The lines are not my friend! This is not really contradictory to the above bit of randomness where I complained about people thinking they were above the rules. I don't break rules if to do so would be blatantly RUDE...


Check that out, all fancy and sparkly-like! Who adds sunshine to my day? Well YOU do, silly!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The other night I dreamed of pizza. This is not as unusual an occurrence as it perhaps should be. But this dream was special. I could actually taste and identify, like, every piece of pizza I'd ever eaten in my life. I wonder if this is the east coast version of having your life flash before your eyes? I remembered pizza from my childhood. Pizza from that little shop at the beach. Pizza from my grandpa's bar. Pizza from a restaurant I went to ONCE on a vacation when I was LITTLE. Pizza from every pizza shop in my small college town. To extend the old saying that pizza is like sex: even when it's bad, it's still pretty good - I guess this was the equivalent of a pizza lover's wet dream. A full-on pizza orgy. Hmmm. What shall we have for dinner tonight? Oh! I know!!!!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

My uterus will leave me in three days. My mom will arrive in five. Anyone wanna hazard a guess as to which future event is making me more nervous? 'Future events such as these will affect you in the future.' If you actually get that reference, I don't know if I'll cheer for you or weep for you. Probably a little bit of both. I'm multi-faceted like that. Plus, I'm pretty hormonal.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

As my sweet baby Lea would say: Peace, Love, Randomness.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Who Says You Can't Go Home?

My mother is an excellent attentive interesting hostess.

I just spent a long weekend in my parents tiny home with my own family and my aunt. My sister and her family and various cousins and their significant others streamed in and out pretty regularly.

My mother feels compelled to take care of all of our - their - needs, whether they be real or imagined.

She's always done this with me. I always assumed it was some sort of sweet, although somewhat misguided, maternal thing. She likes taking care of me and I'm - what you might like to call - a little bit on the lazy side. I'm very good at being taken care of. We're a good fit.

When I was in high school and had mono (Which went undiagnosed until I was way past the stage of contagion because she insisted I was just burning the candle at both ends. Until my throat swelled shut and I couldn't swallow my own spittle. Then she felt pretty bad.) and I was resting on the couch as per doctors orders. As we had nothing as fancy as a remote control, I would just say I wanted to watch something else and she would come out from the kitchen to change the channel for me. On the TV that was fully three steps away from me. Sometimes when Tom watches South Park, Cartman and his mom make me have flashbacks. I'm not proud of that, hon, but there it is. Now would someone please bring me some Cheesy Poofs?

But I digress.

Please try not to have a heart attack and die from the shock.

So this weekend when there were so many of us in the house I noticed that it's not just me. She feels the need to take care of everyone. Sometimes it's sweet. Sometimes it's downright intrusive. Always it's well intentioned.

She packs a lunch for my unmarried cousin every day.

She had several reunions this summer which would not have been able to occur without her. She takes on too much because she fears that if she left it to anyone else it wouldn't be done right. What an awesome responsibility her life must be.

A mundane and all too typical example:

I like to read. My husband, my father, my aunt and my daughters like to read as well. My mother? Not so much. So when one of us is reading (and at least ONE of us is almost ALWAYS reading) she becomes very concerned about our comfort.

"Here, you don't have enough light."

"I do. I have enough light. I'm fine."

"Well, let me just..." at this point she leans across whoever is reading and either turns the nearest light on or turns it up a notch. "There. That's better, right?"

"I'm fine."

"Did you know that chair reclines?"

"I'm fine."

"Here." She reaches down and pops up the foot rest on the recliner. "There you go."

"Ok. Thanks. I'm fine."

"Did you want something to drink?"

"No thanks, I'm fine."

"I have Diet Coke. You like Diet Coke, right?"


"I'll get you one."

"Not now, thanks."

"It's right there in the fridge if you change your mind. Did you want a sandwich? I have lunchmeat. Ham and roast beef. And that good Colby cheese you like."

At this point bookmarks are usually employed and sighs are rendered.

"Oh, you're not going to read anymore?"

She cannot and will not sit down until she is certain that everyone's every possible need has been met.

When visitors come, she can't sit and chat until everyone has a beverage and perhaps a piece of cake. It doesn't really matter what they answer when she asks if they'd like a piece. They'll be getting one.

This might all be seen as nice and or sweet, but then she turns around and bitches about it. You know, "If I don't do it, it doesn't get done. I'm so tired, but there's just always so much work."

There is no winning there.

Now I'm on my way home, where I find myself in a similar situation. If I don't do it, it doesn't get done.

A lot of stuff doesn't get done.

I'm cool with that.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Have a Fine Birthday

Thursday sort of caught me by surprise this week! Here's a birthday trip down Memory Lane.

My birthday is September 1st. My maternal great-grandmother's birthday was August 31st. My cousin Scott's birthday is September 2nd and he is my age.

What I'm telling you, here, is that I never got to have a birthday celebration just for me until I was into my early teens.

When Great-Grandma was still alive, we would always have a big reunion for her birthday. Great Grandma lived less than an hour away from us, but it was like visiting a foreign world. We were small-town; she was rural. I loved playing there when I was very young. Their grounds were endless - you could just run and run and run. When I got a little older the charm sort of wore off. Most of my mother's cousins lived right around Great-Grandma. There was a sort of complex, actually, with her old farmhouse at it's hub. They were a big extended family. We were visitors there.

When they would bring out her cake with all of it's candles - 91, 92, 93 - in truth, we didn't know EXACTLY how old Great-Grandma was when she passed away, because she had attempted to erase her date of birth from her birth certificate. She was not a vain woman, by any stretch, so I'm not exactly sure what prompted this, but there it was. We knew she was well into her nineties. You'd think that at SOME point age would become a source of pride - a badge of honor - but not Great-Grandma. She never looked a day older than 88.

In any case, they'd bring out the cake and Mom would sort of push me to the front of the throng of cousins and second cousins and cousins twice removed and tell me to help Great-Grandma blow out her candles since it was my birthday, too.

This would usually result in her saying something like, "Now who's this one?"

"That's Nancy's girl, Grandma."



"Oh. Nancy's girl, y'say?"

"Yes, Grandma. It's her birthday, too."

"Now what do they call her, Nancy's girl?"

"They call her Tame-y, Grandma."

Less than an hour away, but there was a whole different dialect. Believe me. Tame-y was not a nickname anyone would've come up with for me. I had cousins (all sorts of twices and removeds) out there who I called Brine and Dibbie all through my childhood and teens. When I received an invitation to Brian's wedding, I had to think for a moment. I don't know any Brian - oh! - BRINE!!! I guess I don't have to tell you there isn't a birth certificate in my family that reads 'Dibbie', either.

"Tame-y. Well she's just fine."

Just fine was about as much praise as Great-Grandma was gonna dole out. That was pretty high praise, actually.

"Tame-y, you go get you one of those pink lozenges, if you want one."

"No thank you"

"They're right over there, honey - g'won - go."

The same conversation or some reasonable facsimile thereof would occur the following year. And the year after that. I guess when you're at some indetermined place in your nineties and have 'leventy 'leven great-grandchildren it's hard to remember. When you're under ten it's considerably easier.

Then we'd go home and celebrate with my paternal relatives. You know, the side of the family with Scott. At least I KNEW everyone at this party. And they all knew me. This one was all aunts and uncles and first cousins. Most of us lived within a 5-mile radius of my dad's homestead. My dad had only ventured two blocks away. This was OUR complex.

Mom would bake cakes using ideas from her women's magazines. In the early sixties it was a very popular and clever idea to make several large cakes and then cut them into shapes and put those shapes together like puzzles to resemble things and then frost the new shape. Mom loved making those things, because people would say, "Oh, Nancy, you're so clever." Who doesn't like being told they're clever? They always said, "Happy Birthday Tammy and Scott". My name was always first, because I was the elder by twenty-four hours, and because it's always ladies first, and because my mom made the cakes.

I was very satisfied with this until I started going to school and being invited to birthday parties. Whoa. Hold up, here. People get to have parties just for themselves? They don't have to share them with nonagenarians or (gasp) boys? Well this was a fine little howdy-do. Just fine, as my great-grandma would've said.

I started lobbying for my own party in kindergarten, but didn't get one until Jr. High. I was so excited. I mean, just over the top excited. The anticipation was as delicious as the cake my mom would've made for me if I'd wanted a cake - which I DIDN'T, because cakes are for babies (How's THAT for misguided logic?) and I wanted a cool party - would have been.

When the day of the party arrived, I was too nervous and excited to eat.

I just picked at that bowl of plums my dad had left out on the counter.

As my guests started to arrive, I greeted them with the sort of glee reserved for pubescent girls unaccustomed to seeing each other in a non-school setting on a non-school day.

There was much squealing and hugging and jumping up and down.

And they brought PREsents!

I'd always gotten presents from my mom and dad, but the parties I shared with Great-Grandma and Scott were always gift-free.

Guess what excitement plus presents plus a lot of plums equals?

Did you guess?

Do you remember Jr. High math?

Excitement plus presents plus lots of plums equals a birthday girl on the hopper (as Great-Grandma would've said) while her friends party on her brand new deck.

Well that's just fine.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The Obligatory Back to School Post

I just put the last one on the bus.

Ever see a middle-aged fat chick do a cartwheel?

It's not that I don't like having them around. I do. I really like my kids. If anyone had told me this years ago I wouldn't have believed them, but I like them even more the older they get.

My kids are cool.

They're cool little individuals who I'm pretty sure I would like even if they weren't my kids.

They aren't me - although both of them have some aspects of me.

They aren't Tom - although both of them have some aspects of Tom.

They are themselves. They are completely self-actualized. They are awesome.


But I love the thought of being able to get back into some sort of routine. The summer was great. We had a great summer. But there was no routine at all. It's hard to establish one when you're traveling, and when we were home I spent a lot of time getting them from where they were to where they wanted to be. And that's ok - that's right - that's as it should be.

But now Momma can get her routine back.

The house will be cleaner (stop laughing, it will).

My life will be more organized.

THEIR lives will be more organized.

I will go out for coffee more.

I will read more.

I will do my errands all by myself - which isn't as much fun, but it's a lot faster.

It will be boring.

It will be mundane.

And I am looking forward to it.


The hot breakfasts of choice have been served (toaster waffles for Lea; scrambled pancakes for Liv)

The new outfits have been donned (cute, bright and on trend for Lea; dark, black and rockin' for Liv)

The school supplies have been purchased.

The paperwork is (mostly) done.

I'm off to have coffee with my bud. We've neglected this routine far too long.

I may buy a book.

Then I'm going to the yarn shop.


Tuesday, September 1, 2009

I Am Not a Beautiful or Unique Snowflake

But I am a flake.

And I'll tell you all about it here in an unprecedented second post in one day.

Responses from my blog go straight to my email and to Tom's as well.

My blog posts on Facebook as well.

Since posting this morning, the outpouring of concern in both places has been overwhelming. And it has been overwhelmingly AGAINST going to the school of casual discomfort.

At about the same time that Tom was IM'ing me to ask me to please listen to my bloggy buds, I was reading an e-mail from one of my nearest and dearest IRL buds pleading with me not to do it.

I canceled.

I will reschedule with the original doctor - the one who made me feel comfortable - the one with a professional office with private surgery suites with big windows overlooking the woods - the one who thinks IV sedation is fine but total sedation is better. I will call him as soon as I am recovered enough from the hysterectomy to know when I will actually be able to make - and keep - an appointment.

I will still feel - be - ugly - very very ugly, no doubt - for several months. That is inevitable. But I will not be as anxious about the procedure or about the ultimate result.

Now here's the thing: I would not have come to this conclusion without the support of my blog and Facebook community. How powerful is that? Tom was too close to the situation. I value his opinion, of course, but in this case - I don't know - I felt like I was just being a pain in the ass and a big whiny baby. And he was going to be affected by this. I didn't want to make things harder on him. My online community stepped back and said - NO - this is really scary - these are valid concerns. The little bit of distance made a difference.

As I was chatting with Rosa (my IRL friend I was e-mailing when I made this decision) I said, "How much does it suck that these people who know me only through the interwebs were able to give me the love and support that I needed, while my mother said, 'It'll be fine, there won't be any difference. Why would you pay more for the same thing? ' " Then I reminded her and myself that my mother is the one that made me walk home from school after a root canal.


I am breathing so much easier since I made that phone call.

I am still upset that it is something that will have to happen. I wish I didn't have to put it off - to keep that low grade worry in the back of my mind - but I really think I'm making the right decision.

And I really have you to thank for that.

And I don't know how to thank you.

Thank you.

That's Me in The Corner

Ok, so here's the thing: I have perfect teeth. Now the only people who have ever bestowed that compliment upon me were dentists and x-ray techs. I have perfect teeth, not a beautiful smile. Not by any stretch. Capish? You see, while they're perfect - structurally - and while I've never had a cavity, and while I have a perfect bite (oh, this is sounding a lot like bragging, but I promise, that isn't where it will end up...) - I have my share of problems. Maybe more than my share, but don't we all sort of think that, where problems are concerned?

The first is purely cosmetic. One of the two reasons I do not have a beautiful smile. I have never whitened them. They are the natural shade of teeth well into their fourth decade of existence. That shade is, I can assure you, not a blinding white. The reason I haven't jumped on the whitening bandwagon has to do with the other, much more major problem.

When I was seven and still had a mouthful of baby teeth I was playing Brownies and Fairies in a church basement with my Brownie troop (oh, like you never played Brownies and Fairies...) and I tripped over my own clumsy feet and slid face first into a stage. I knocked out my front tooth - one of my ONLY permanent teeth - in a perfect diagonal. There was a lot of blood. And a lot of screaming Brownies. I think the Fairies were pretty distressed, too.

Because I was so young the only solution they could offer was a series of temporary caps as I grew. I had my first root canal in second grade. The dentist expected me to completely lose all four of my front top teeth due to the impact. Forty years later, that one tooth remains the only one I've had problems with, but oh the problems I've had.

I had a second root canal sometime in Jr. High. I remember this clearly, because my mother sent me to school in the morning then picked me up a few hours later, signing me out for a dental appointment. I had the root canal with a local anesthetic. When it was all said and done, there were about 45 minutes left in the school day. Instead of taking me home, my mom took me back to school. I was still drooling a little bit when she dropped me off. For one lousy class. Sometime in the middle of class, the drool stopped and the pain started as the anesthetic effect wore off. I didn't learn anything in that class, I can assure you. Then I had to walk home. My mom still feels a little bit bad about that. I may or may not remind her of it from time to time.

Sometime in high school I had a permanent cap installed and that was pretty much that. I needed a new one every 10 years or so. Just couldn't whiten because the cap wouldn't whiten and would then stand out. Not too bad.

Until recently.

Now they tell me there's bone loss, and quite a good bit of it.

Now they tell me I need an implant.

Right there in the front.

And that while the implant itself heals, I'll be toothless for - oh - about six months - give or take - depending on how well the healing is progressing. But not to worry! Because I can use a flipper! Which I have also referred to as a flapper and a flopper. Which makes the dental people laugh, but it seems like a pretty easy mistake to make to me. It is a purely aesthetic device that will keep me from looking like a picture with the tooth blacked out. It will not be functional. Think about that. I cannot eat without having a big blank space right in the front of my mouth.

Oh. My. Hell.

Do you know how much of my social life revolves around eating? Did you read my last frakkin' post? This means I can't even eat dinner with my family. For half a year. I'll drink a lot of smoothies through straws and nibble on things huddled over in a corner when no one is around. Maybe I'll lose weight. That would be a nice side effect. Of course I'll gain it right back as soon as I go back to solid food. I know how that works. I've seen Oprah. So there's not even that.

Ok, so I have this diagnosis that is giving me nightmares. Then comes actually getting some of this accomplished. First I made an appointment with a clinic near my home. I was pretty comfortable there until they told me how much it was all going to cost. I mentioned my concern to my primary dentist and she said, "well, there IS another option..."

Long story short, she sent me to an implant clinic at the local university. I am freaking out at this point. Dental school? Really? But it was a difference of around $2,000. But STUDENTS??? Freaking out is really an understatement. I won't get a manicure at a cosmetology school. There were a couple of days there when I couldn't stop crying. Ask Tom, he'll tell you. He kept saying, "Go back to the place where you're comfortable! It's only money!" Only money. Yeah. Money, in case you didn't know, is not something we swim around in, here. A couple thousand is significant to us.

So I go to the school for a consultation.

It's a big medical center and a big school. There was construction and I was detoured. Shit. Google maps hadn't said anything about that. Parking? She was a bitch. I got lost several times once inside the building because I couldn't find the clinic I was looking for. When I finally did, I felt my heart fall into my stomach. This was a school all right. There was no privacy. There were just chairs in a big open room. That's where all of this humiliation would begin. In a wide open space full of teachers and students. With me as a visual aid.

Now at this point I reminded myself that as part of my living will I agreed to donate my body to science. And I read Stiff. I know how cadavers are treated. But I figure privacy won't be as much of an issue when I'm a CORPSE!

So, despite my reservations, I take a seat and I sign the papers. The papers that say:

- a student will do all of the work, which will then be approved by a certified oral surgeon.

- there is no guarantee that your results will meet your expectations.

They said other stuff, too, but those two got the tears flowing. Right there in the waiting room.

I had my consultation. They didn't want to give me IV sedation. I stood firm. They shrugged and said they'd try, but if I'm a hard stick, they'll just do it with a local. I'm a hard stick. Fuck.

Then the scheduling - oh my stars, the nightmare that was scheduling. They were to call me. I waited three weeks. (I wasn't in a real huge hurry) I finally called them. They informed me that they never call patients and that I had been misinformed. Really feeling like I'm in good hands, now. So they say they'll 'see if the doctor still has my charts' and call me back. Four days later, no call. I called them again. Answering service. Message. No callback. I called the next day. Got a person. They put me on hold. I got disconnected. Called back. Straight to voicemail. Where I left a detailed message, as instructed. Next day? No call. Called back, spoke to a real live person, got it scheduled. "Bring an iPod or something, because if they can't do the IV sedation, you can listen to music to drown out the sounds..."

I think it would take a lot more than an iPod to drown out the sounds (of my screams)...

I've assumed the position in the corner, now, knees to chest, manically rocking, thumb in (still fully toothed) mouth.

When are they gonna do this? September 10.

When is my hysterectomy? September 11. (Yep. 9/11. What could go wrong?)

I won't be able to eat brownies.

I could sure use a little fairy dust.

Happy lucky joy time in the casa de Mommakin.

There's no hope for me. Send help for Tom.