Friday, August 31, 2007

you never know when Batman will show up

There's a frigging LAMBORGHINI parked outside the office, for use in the new Christian Bale batman movie, The Dark Knight. They've blocked off all the streets on our block and on the way into the office this morning, my colleague almost got run over by Bale in a sleek black car flying up the street. When you see the movie, look for a bewildered dark-haired woman in white pants and a dark brown shirt, hopping onto the curb to save her life.

This makes me really pissed I forgot to put my camera back in my bag this morning after it charged.

But at least I wasn't missing out on this (includes video).

***UPDATE on the UPDATE***

Here's a picture and some scoop about the movie and the Lamborghini--I'm thinking it's supposed to be Bruce Wayne's, so it's a regular non-Batmobile Lamborghini Murcielago. (Murcielago means "Bat," which I thought was pretty appropriate.)

Wednesday, August 29, 2007


It has come to my attention that my Google PageRank is now at a 3. Previously, when there had been talk of such things, I believe I was ranked a 4.

I would delve further into figuring out where I went wrong, but all the math on the Wikipedia entry scared away my motivation. So now I ponder. What could it be, incessant linking to myself (for sake of background)? Nonstop complaining? Have I pissed off someone at Google? Was I delirious back when I thought I was a 4? I feel like one of those people who took too long to reciprocate on a love interest and missed out.

What gives?

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

but is she ugly?

"Did you get to see the baby?"

"Yeah, they stopped by the office with her."

"So is she cute?"

"Cadiz, she’s a baby. What do you think?"

"Well, there have been known to be ugly babies out there. You can’t just generalize."

"How many ugly babies have you ever personally seen?"

"Well, there was just the one, but that one was enough to make me believe they’re out there!"

"Their baby is very cute."

"Phew. That’s good to hear."

Sunday, August 26, 2007

a big long post about three little words

Last weekend was Super Awesome.

Even though he was red and peeling in a sunburntastic way that brown people usually only hear about and his tastebuds were still stunned, my brother happily carted his crap back to Alabama to start what will hopefully be his last year of college.

My high school peeps requested my presence at 5 pm Friday for a shindig in my honor, but they wouldn't divulge any details, except that Highcon wasn't going to be able to fly out from nyc that weekend after all. When asked about dress code, Ri told me to wear something casual "that doesn't snag easily." All day, my coworkers and I were trying to figure out what the hell it could be, but could only come up with that fad from a few years ago where people would jump on a trampoline and affix themselves to a Velcro wall. Don't laugh; I would totally get a kick out of that.

Unfortunately, there was a snag. Normally--except for those 14-hour days--I get to work around 8 am and leave around 4:30 pm. And it would have been the case that Friday too, but as you may remember, earlier in the week we discovered they're dissolving our jobs, which made it a little harder to concentrate and work ahead.

All of my colleagues had afterwork plans, so we were busting our collective hump to send the reports and get the hell out of there. Kaiya was supposed to pick me up at 5 in her cute new car and whisk me off to wherever, so by 5:30 the text messages started buzzing with growing urgency. We have far to go! We may lose out on our tickets! Sadly, it was two more hours before I finally emerged onto the street with an overnight bag, my seersucker dress flapping in the wind. I was searching around everywhere for the cute new car, until a less-new-but-still-cute car pulled up and Highcon leaned over and said, "It's ABOUT TIME, missy."

Ever since we could drive, I've known to hang on to my life when riding shotgun with Highcon. It's a good thing I grew up with a dad that accelerated at hairpin turns, so I was only slightly fazed when my chauffeur for the evening was texting, dancing and even reading me a Forward joke in a bad Indian accent from his Blackberry, all while zipping around cars on the highway. I kept trying to guess where we were going and he kept making me promise to close my eyes as we approached signs.

One missed exit, fourteen phonecalls in code (I'm passing the "L.C." Do I keep going until I see the Big W?" Should we park by the "B.G"?) and a shuttlebus ride later, we arrived at Ravinia, an outdoor music/park venue with loads of lawn seating upon which people set up elaborate picnics with candles and mini-tables and blankets, and baskets of food and wine. It's a must-do summer pastime in the Chicago area. I was very excited because I hadn't been there since the college girls and I went to see Celia Cruz shortly before she passed away a few years ago. By the time we got to the gate, we'd missed about 45 minutes of the show. And I shook my fists at the work gods when I found out that the people on stage were The Gypsy Kings, whom I have loved since I was about 16 but have never seen live.

It was such a perfect Cadiz evening:

We were sitting under a canopy of tall, shady trees.

The stage was very close and sparkly.

The other kids had gotten there early, staked out an excellent spot to the right of the stage and had a delicious spread of MiddleEastern delights, handpicked by Kaiya. And everyone was there, including my favorite mami, whom I rarely get to see!

Even the brussel sprouts were good!

We rocked out on the lawn near the stage.

After plenty of dancing around barefoot in the grass, silly photo-ops and running around for ice-down-the-back tag, we lazily packed up our stuff and headed home. This part of the evening is kind of blurry, because I'm usually passed out by 11 pm and riding in the car has always made me fall asleep at the end of the night, so I have no recollection of the long road back to Ri and C's place. I'm sure all that wine probably helped, too. I knocked out on their couch.

The rest of the weekend, I crashed with Ri and C. They showed me the gorgeous albums from their wedding and forced me to watch myself give their toast on dvd. I'm glad they did, too, because even though I spent months preparing for it, I didn't know what I was going to say until the words were coming out of my mouth and all I had remembered was trying hard not to let the champagne spill out of my trembling glass. But the speech was actually very good. I sounded exactly how I would have written it as a blog post, and I was surprised at the details I came up with on the fly, like consoling Ri on the loss of River Phoenix and that we served a 12-layer tropical Jell-O mold at Kaiya's 25th birthday party, where we first met C. I was pretty proud of myself.

Saturday we were supposed to go to the Air & Water show, or perhaps Chicago SummerDance at Grant Park, but honestly I had a much better time eating blueberry pancakes and catching up with the two of them all day. I love that I don't feel like a third wheel hanging out with a married couple, and we rarely get a chance to sit around and shoot the shit for an entire weekend. Besides, they live in a highrise right off Lake Shore Drive, so we were able to see a lot of the planes swing around to make their next passes over the show. Unfortunately, the only ones I was able to capture on camera in semifocus were a sprightly group of tricksters in formation.

They can do some fancy tricks, too.

Later we dragged ourselves out of the house for a great All-American meal at McNamara's and then to see Superbad, which H was reluctant to recommend because he hadn't seen it yet, but I think it was actually because he knows he's dating SuperPrude. I admit, a few "oh my goodness"es escaped my lips during the movie, but I've decided that I liked it. (I've come a long way from having covered my face through most of There's Something About Mary.)

On Sunday, Highcon picked me up at the suburban train station and we went to this Chinese restaurant shaped like a pagoda that had mesmerized us as children, with its fake bridge over a koi pond and fancypants decor. Now all that stuff seems a little dated. We made the tragic mistake of overemphasizing how spicy we wanted our Ma Po Tofu and Garlic Chicken, and spent the entire meal dripping sweat and downing gallons of water. To add insult to injury, we both got the SAME fortune when we cracked the cookies: "Happiness is sitting right next to you."

I got home and called my brother to find out how his journey and moving in had gone. He insisted everything was great and warned me against getting HDtv because it would chain me to the house, but I suspect he was really tired. Then he described the sweet bachelor pad he has with his friend Mark, with a bigscreen, Xbox 360 and lots and lots of grilling. He sounded downright giddy when he said, "You know Cadiz, life is good."

That was the perfect thing to hear at the end of an excellent weekend. Yes, baby brother, life is good.

To steal an idea from Alexandra, a shot of the booty.

Oh and this, which was stowed away in the bag that I take on the train.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

completely against my nature

Last night I came home from work, talked to my brother on the phone, ate, passed out on the couch, talked to H (briefly before he told me, "Go to bed! I'll talk to you tomorrow!") and fell into a deep sleep--all before 10 p.m.

This morning, I tried to use my well-honed powers of rolling over and sleeping in, but the latest I could managed to stay in bed was 7:30 a.m.

I don't even recognize myself anymore.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Mourning period=one week

Anyone who has spent 2.5 minutes talking to me or 2.5 hours reading this blog knows that I get excited. Often, and vigorously. Sadly, a lot of the ruffled feathers is of the freaking-out-for-no-cause variety, which is a lot less interesting than the dirty kind that I'm sure a few of you immediately thought of after that second sentence. Sorry to disappoint.

So of course those who know me are expecting that I'd totally lose it over having to job hunt again only two months after I hung up that particular rifle and furry-earflapped plaid hat. Especially when I heard that H was also "restructured" out of his job. (Oh, I didn't tell you? Add one more member to the Laid-Off Club roster, Jon. Let's get T-shirts!). In all fairness, I did sort of royally flip out when I heard H's news. Wouldn't you? I mean, no one would bet on the chances that both of us would be laid off from our respective jobs in different fields within the same month, let alone any closer than that. Normally, this is when I would rant and rave about how terrible a situation I'm in and how everything in the world sort of sucks (which I still think), but for some reason, I have a sense of calm. Because H getting laid off right after I was is the single best thing that could have happened to me.

Stay with me now; I don't think that H losing his job is good. He doesn't even get to stay and finish stuff up for awhile like I do. And that puts a damper on the plan to save money and get ourselves into the same zip code. However, it also puts a damper on all the whining he'd have to hear from me about how much job hunting sucks and how there's nothing out there and how I'm going to have to move to Biloxi and join the circus so why am I wasting time on resumes and not focusing on regaining my flexibility? What face do I have to bitch about all that to someone who's going through the same thing?

But beyond all that, I really don't have that weighty sense of impending doom that I had at the beginning of this year when the dungeon began to run dry. The kind that made me not want to go out or even talk on the phone with my friends because that would take away precious time from my panicking about my impending doom while pretending to find something to stop it. Perhaps it's different because of the small cushion I have until the checks stop coming. Maybe it's because all my coworkers can commisserate and share contacts. I don't know. But I've got this deadly sense of calm and assurance that things will be okay because I gd said it's going to be, dammit. And I'm going to get that out in writing before the doubt creeps in and asphyxiates it like a poisonous gas.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

you get what you put out there

I had such a lovely birthday. I woke up and went through the day showered with love from family, friends and coworkers and got so many warm wishes from you guys, too. And I got badass stuff in the mail! Oh, how I love getting nonbills/nonjunk in the mail! Especially with exotic postmarks like The Netherlands and California and The City of Chicago! H sent me way too much stuff, including one item he put together himself that probably took a very long time, which I adore. During the day my colleagues took me to Hop Haus, and though I was tempted to try kangaroo or ostrich meat, I went for the excellent beef Bistro cheeseburger and was not disappointed. After work, my godmother brought over the most impressive jasmine tree (yeah, it's that sturdy-looking) with fist-sized fragrant blooms, and my mom got me an ice cream cake just like she has every year since I was three. Yum!

However, all day I had this nagging feeling of guilt ab0ut yesterday's post. I was convinced that unveiling myself as a terrible horrible person to the world like that surely would garner some sort of karmic retribution. But those words came out my fingers to live forever on the Internet, and there's nothing I can do about it now.

Sure enough, it came. Swiftly, semi-unexpectedly and deadly-ly. We got back from that great lunch and had a meeting with the mother office to learn that our entire office is getting laid off, two months (and one day) since I started. Happy Birthday from The Man!

You know how us pessimists like to say they always think negatively because then even if things don't turn out well they can take comfort in knowing they were right? Yeah, I worried that something bad would happen, but I didn't reeeeeeally think it would. Contrary to popular belief, the validation was not all that comforting.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Confessions of a terrible, horrible person

Today is my birthday. As a gift to myself, I’m going to suspend the guilt trifecta (culture, religion, personality) that normally filters what comes out of my mouth but has no control over what goes through my head, and indulge in some self-absorbed brattery.

Yesterday morning I woke up feeling kind of crappy. So I called in sick with the justification that my brother will probably be going back to school sometime soon, and the more time I can spend with him the better. Plus, spending time would constitute lying on the couch, which would work well with the feeling crappy. It was a good thing I was around, too, because while things had been looking good all weekend, my brother woke up covered in a red (almost purple in some spots) and extremely itchy rash all over his body. Usually we would try to wait it out, but last year he had what turned out to be a severe allergy to a drug called Keflex that was pretty dangerous and had started the same way. So we went to the emergency room.

After several hours of shivering in the ER, they let the kid go and said that they'd stop the antibiotics (which make food taste like sawdust) and give him some pill for the rash. Unfortunately, that rash remedy is a steroid, which will lower his immune system's effectiveness, which makes him more susceptible to an infection, which is what they were trying to prevent at all costs with the nasty antibiotics in the first place. A vicious cycle to say the least.

The rest of the day went by as usual, with my brother claiming the BLT I'd made for him was the best he'd ever not tasted and showed his appreciation by not throwing it up. This was especially good because it was pretty much the second actual meal he's kept down in the last couple of weeks, and we're all very glad because he's not a big guy and has dropped 15 pounds since his surgery. (Bulimia must be a very powerful disorder indeed if people force themselves to live that way on purpose.)

At about 11 pm, he starts yelling and screaming that something is wrong with Mom. I guess she was having some sharp chest pains, so I went down the heart-attack checklist to figure out what to do next. The problem with having a nurse for a mom is that she is extremely quick to dismiss medical concerns because the rest of us are "laypeople" who obviously don't know what the hell they're talking about. Because of this, she is also a terrible patient. It turns out that she had forgotten to take her thyroid medication for the last two days (which my brother would NEVER be able to pull off without getting his ass kicked) and she said the pain was just a reaction to that, but that she'd wait and see if it came back enough to go to the hospital. So while I was one foot out the door in my pajamas to make a second trip to the emergency room, she calmly took her own blood pressure (is that even accurate?) and turned on a Hindi soap opera.

People like to tell me they think I'm overly paranoid and to "just chill out," "let it go," or "don't worry so much." But honestly, if a reminder that you could lose the things you care about most in this world smacks you in the face at least once a day, you'd start to clutch onto everything just a little bit tighter, too.

Here comes the part about how I'm terrible and horrible. Yesterday while I sat in the emergency room watching my mom rub my brother's feet to keep him warm under three blankets, I kept praying that he'd be okay and wouldn't have to get admitted. Of course, this isn't unusual. But even though I'm old and birthdays are just another day of the week to me now, part of that prayer was for not having to spend another August 14 at the hospital.

I’m not sure if it’s my bad fortune for having emerged into the world so close to the end of summer, or because my parents always made sure to get that day off from work at the beginning of the year and it ended up being convenient for his tests, but some of his same-day procedures, all-day doctor visits and one major surgery happened to fall on my birthdays. Hospital waiting rooms are not as fun as they sound, and I don't even want to think about how much the rest of my life would suck if--Thank God it didn't--something bad happened.

Don’t get me wrong--my parents have always tried to be fair and they made sure I had kickass parties sometime before or after the actual day. But when you’re a kid, it’s extremely tough being the sibling of somebody who needs a lot of attention through no fault of his own. Nonstop. Especially during those developmental years, when it's very difficult to grasp how hard it is on your parents. However, at the same time, they may never completely understand how hard it can be on you, either.

When a person has gone through a cardiac catheterization, the obvious choice is to ask that person what he’d like to eat for dinner when he hasn’t been able to eat for two days. But when you’re the sibling and it’s the actual date of your birth, it can be a real struggle to keep from yelling, “WTF?! Why does he get to choose? This is MY day, dammit!” at the top of your lungs. Of course you wouldn’t do that. Doing that would make your poor recovering brother feel worse about a situation nobody can control. It would also reveal that you are a terrible, horrible person. And the last thing you want to do is let that secret out of the bag.

So you graciously sign for the balloons that arrive at the front door on your day with a smile, or pretend that instead of Get Well Soon, the cookie bouquet somebody sent spells out Happy Birthday Cadiz. What does it matter anyway? You're still going to get to eat the cookies. Years later, you look back at your immature self and congratulate that kid inside for making the right call. Because with all the other stuff going on, the last thing your family needed back then was a whiny brat to make an already difficult situation unbearable.

If a spoiled princess like me had trouble relinquishing the spotlight a couple of times, I can’t imagine how terrible it is for people who are overlooked more often. Sure, they shrug it off as it's-okay-no-big-deal-don't-worry-about-it (always so agreeable, aren't they?) and never call their loved ones out for forgetting to invite them, or treating them unfairly, or not doing as much for them as they do for others. Perhaps they're content enough with themselves that it really doesn’t bother them. But honestly, I don’t buy one word of that crap. Nobody should feel like they are invisible, unless it's either buildup for a surprise party or else some tabletop canoodling a la Sixteen Candles. No matter how noble the reason, if you make a habit out of taking the back seat, it’s easy to start thinking you belong there.

Remembering people's birthdays is hard work, and the guilt of forgetting can be so pointlessly awkward. If you think about it, every date is pretty much the same anyway; they’re only made special when something is appreciated. Like just now, when my brother stayed up late to come down here, give me a hug and a kiss and wish me a Happy Birthday.

Let’s all celebrate this lovely day by calling up a person of value and telling them how cool they are, or giving somebody wonderful a big hug. You never know how many chances you're going to get to do it. And personally, I can’t think of a better occasion.

Friday, August 10, 2007

return of the smack

Yesterday, my brother had the IV line taken out of his arm, permanently. Hooray! This was a joyous occasion for all because it was the cause of much getting-up-at-all-hours-of-the-night, itching and overal misery for everybody: He needed to flush the IV by squeezing a syringe of saline into the line, hook up the medicine bag, let it drip into his arm, flush the IV again and and repeat, four times a day for the last couple weeks. He was always cold, had a temperature that spiked to 103F pretty often, and couldn't keep any food down. He was so miserable, all he did was lie down and sort of watch tv.

After the first few days the first PICC line in his upper left arm began to burn whenever the antibiotics were going through. And then it started to leak. So they removed it and put in a similar IV called a midline that didn't go so far into his vein in the upper right arm, which ended up doing the same the same burning/leaking thing after a few days. The home health nurse redid that one a few times, but they finally got sick of all that drama two weeks into it and took the damn thing out*. Now he's on oral antibiotics and MUCH happier.

Now that the IV is gone, he's better able to keep food down, but the antibiotics make everything (even Portillos!) taste like plywood. His temperature is still hovering around 100F, but he's walking around the house and up to his old shenanigans. The power cord on his new XBox 360 is defective, so he's been on the horn with customer service, and I'm sure it won't be long until the parade of his local buddies starts coming in with boxes of pizza to cause a most welcome ruckus again.

However, the reason I know he feels better is that he has resumed openly mocking me. Last night's target: my new "day" schedule.

"Yep. Right about 9:30, your head starts drooping and your pressing my legs becomes extremely half-assed. Then at about 10 or so, you go downstairs and sit on the couch with mom for a bit and start to drool. Then at 10:30 you'll get up and go brush your teeth and come back up here, acting like you're all awake because you're rejuvenated. But that never lasts long and you start dozing again. By 11 you're full-out passed out, and that's the ballgame."

"Whatever, smartass."

*Knowing he went through all that gave me the courage to sign up to donate blood next week, if for anything, so he won't call me a wuss.

Monday, August 06, 2007

cat got your blog?

I know some of you have been wondering; thanks so much for your concern. I stole the title of this post from an email I got from highcon. I don't think It's ever been this long between posts before, and believe me when I say it's not for a lack of trying.

It's just that every post I sit down to write ends up sounding like a big fat whinefest about all the crap that is happening to my brother and how it makes me sad. I feel too guilty to try and cover it up with something funny, because it's one of those things that will never go away. Which makes me sadder. And while I can acknowledge that complaining is certainly not something I shy away from, I do understand that it doesn't help anybody. Plus, I've come to intimately understand that no, life isn't fair. I get it. But that doesn't mean it doesn't really freaking suck. So I'm going to go ahead and bitch about it.

Everything about this past surgery is technically less bad than the other nine or so open-heart surgeries he's had before. Except that everything about this past surgery is also much worse than the nine or so open-heart surgeries he's had before. Let me explain, briefly:

1) Thankfully, this past surgery did not require that they saw through his breastbone, so technically it was not open-heart surgery, and the recovery is supposed to be easier and shorter. However, little kids tend to bounce back from physical trauma a lot more quickly than adults. Youthful as he is at almost 25, my brother's recovery isn't as springy as it once was and surgeries over previous scar tissue tend to take longer to heal, so it ends up being the same seemingly neverending amount of time to get back to life as normal.

2) He can't plan his life. This was supposed to be a pretty straightforward antibiotic annihilation (because that wound around his pacemaker had been open and covered with gauze for more than a year, they went in, took out the pacemaker, flushed the spot where it had been with the most powerful antibiotics, put in a new pacemaker generator, closed him up and put him on IV super-antibiotics for two weeks.) Now it's looking like healing may take longer, which will delay going back to school, which will drag out his already-six-year attempt to graduate even further.

3) He's tethered to an IV and was determined to still have a little fun, but had to turn down really-hard-t0-get baseball tickets because he can't seem to bring down his temperature or stop throwing up everything he puts in this stomach. Plus he's allergic to the adhesive tape they use to secure his IV line; the itching has been bad, but everyone telling him "just don't scratch it" is much worse--it's a hell of a lot easier said than done.

4) We're blessed that, save for the little "heart issue," my brother is pretty normal. He gets tired more quickly than others and has a complicated pill regimen, but he's your average college student who can do everything for himself. If you didn't know about his condition, he'd try to make sure it stayed that way. So because he's used to having a normal life, whenever these things come up and he's restricted from nearly everything, it sucks just a little bit more than if he had to incorporate bedrest and no fun into his daily life.

5) I know I'm biased, but he's really a very good kid. He's smart, responsible, caring, ambitious and has a good head on his shoulders. I hate to be nasty, but when I see a perfectly healthy kid his age fucking up his life beyond belief and throwing away his good health on stupid destructive shit, I just want to reach into his chest, rip out his heart and give it to somebody who will take care of it.

6) I get that healthcare professionals see this stuff all the time and so it's just a job to them. I worked in an emergency room and understand that people moaning over a nosebleed should see what just came off the ambulance and shut the hell up. Yes, he can handle the pain/hassle/uncomfort, and yes, he has been through a lot of this stuff before, but it doesn't mean that it doesn't suck any less or that he can be treated like a car in a repair shop instead of a person with feelings. (Fortunately, for the most part caregivers have been kind and generous with their time and effort.) He might be one of fifty heart patients, but he's the only brother I'm going to get.

7) They allowed him to come home and have home healthcare for the first time. However, it's the same as if he were still in hospital--he can't sleep because of pain or itching. So neither does my mom, because she's scratching his arms so he doesn't rip out the IV and massaging all the places it hurts all day and all night. That's the way it has always been, but they're both very very tired of it.

I want to emphasize that I am so lucky and grateful that we've had my brother in our lives for so long, and that I know that so many people in this world have it much, much worse. But it's really hard to come to grips with the fact that no amount of money, time or technology will make all this go away for him. He has been such a good sport and never once has used his situation to get pity or out of responsibility. So many others can't say the same. I don't even know if I would be able to say the same. I am immensely proud of him.

The part that gets me down--so much so that I have a hard time enjoying myself and then feel guilty because it really isn't about me--is that this time around I can see him getting weary. That above all else is the worst, because what has best kept him alive all these years are good vibes and his own amazing ability to withstand and fight. If it were me, I probably wouldn't have made it beyond infancy.

In the middle of yet another sleepless night a few nights ago, I was sleeping on the floor near him and my mom was on the couch pressing his throbbing forehead when he said in a small, quiet voice, "Mom, what did I do to deserve this?" Nobody has any kind of answer for a question like that.

If love could cure all, my brother would be a triathlete right now. But life just isn't that fair.