Friday, December 25, 2009

this is the boy who once made his Christmas list in July

"So are you coming to pick me up from the airport?"

"Yeah, I'll get off work at 8. Please tell me that you're not bringing your entire wardrobe again this time. Getting your baggage takes FOREVER! It'll only be seven days, for God's sake."

"I'm going to bring it, even if it's mostly empty. For all the presents I'm going to need to take back with me. "

"Whoa, greedy, what if all you get for Christmas this year are hugs?"

"Then they'd better come with gift receipts."

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

you won't get this if you don't listen to Weezer

We just got back from the Weezer concert at the Aragon Ballroom* and I've gotta say, the band put on an excellent show. I only wish I could say the same for the people in the audience. 

Here's a little bit of commentary from H and I, Siskel and Ebert--style.

H: I don't know if I know how to do "Siskel and Ebert--style." Doesn't that mean that one of us has to hate it?

C: No, they agreed sometimes, right? Anyway, we can agree that we both loved the songs (except that one I didn't like) and that Weezer put on a great show. 

H: Agreed.

C: But those motionless dudes in front of us who only came to life for the Pinkerton songs, those guys I could have done without.

H: I could have done without them, the potsmokers, the chick next to me who was constantly updating her Facebook about how much she loved Rivers Cuomo. Coulda done without a lot of them. 

C: I was coveting the balcony seat of that one guy ROCKING OUT above us. Kind of like when we went to see Rancid and my boss hooked us up with center balcony seats. H, what are some highlights for you? (That's part of my s&e spiel.)

H: I just enjoyed Rivers's performance, because he was just fun to watch. And when they had that radio contest winner come out and duet "(If you're wondering if I want you to) I want you to," I thought it was going to be terrible, but it turned out pretty decent. I didn't know if they were putting any prerequisites on whether the person had to know how to sing or not. You know, at first. 

C: She was pretty good. She's from my hometown--of course she'd be good. I liked when he put on the blonde wig and did the Lady Gaga "PokerFace" cover. But the sad thing is that everyone in the audience was surprised. What's that about? That song is on the new album. At concerts I've been to in the past, I always felt lame because everyone already knew all the words to the latest album--which, duh, came out right in time for the tour. NOBODY knew any of the new songs, which I was pretty much rocking out to. I can admit it: I LOVE POP MUSIC.

H: Yeah they did "Let it all hang out" early in the show, and the crowd just stopped moving. Nobody was singing along. They were just standing there like they were waiting for it to be over. 

C: I think people were way too uptight. And I'm tired of people saying Pinkerton is the be-all/end-all of the band's catalog. Seriously people, there are WAY MORE SONGS that do not sound like that. GET OVER IT. As you can see, I'm not much of a fan of Pinkerton. I happen to adore the fact that Weezer's Cuomo is "ticking off some of his hardcore fans." Hello, hip-hop? I'm all about it!

H: It's like you hate Pinkerton on principle now. I think it's a decent album, but I agree, it's not the be-all/end-all, but their entire catalog is solid; there's not an album that I don't like. I don't understand how you're ticking off fans just because you do something they don't like. What are you a fan of the in the first place?  

C: Yes, I now hate it on principle. I can't believe people are stupid enough to think bands are supposed to sound exactly the same from album to album. Bands grow, too, people. Which is sad, because maybe I would have given it a chance if it weren't for the die hards who hate on everything else. Make Believe is the album that resonates with me the most.  

H: I agree. I'm always annoyed when fans don't like a band to experiment. I'm a fan of the *artistic* side of it. If you want to keep re-creating the same album over and over again, I'm just going to get bored with it.

C: Amen.

H: Less Than Jake is the same way. Some of their fans got pissed when they changed up the band a little bit.

C: Same with Madonna.

H: What songs didn't we hear that you wished they would have played? 

C: There were so many. Personally, I would have loved "This is such a pity." I'd say that's the song that made me really start liking them. It reminds me of driving around with you in California and falling in love. I also like "My best friend." But I'm a sappy cheeseball.

H: Those were good times. It's funny because it took me three or four full playthroughs before I started to really like Make Believe. On the flip side, their new album, Raditude**, I've loved from the first time I heard it. 

C: We could go on and on, but then it'd be like that part of I Love You, Man when Paul Rudd and Jason Segel were talking on the phone to "go over the setlist" of the Rush concert and Rashida Jones felt all left out. Actually it's going to be exactly like that. Here's the setlist*** from tonight's show, which was the first stop on their national tour: 

Opening acts: Jack's Mannequin

1. Hash Pipe

2. Let It All Hang Out

3. Tired of Sex

4. (If You're Wondering If I Want You To) I Want You To

5. Say It Ain't So

6. Troublemaker

7. My Name Is Jonas

8. Perfect Situation

9. Why Bother

10. Dope Nose

11. Undone (The Sweater Song)

12. Surf Wax America

13. cover of Pink Floyd song that is killing me that I don't remember the name of

14. I'm Your Daddy

15. Can't Stop Partying

16. Beverly Hills

17. Pork and Beans

18. Kids/Poker Face 

19. Island In The Sun****

20. Buddy Holly

*References to Chicago places like this are what made me EXTRA love Audrey Niffenegger's Time Traveler's Wife.

**Apparently, Rainn Wilson came up with the name of the latest album.

***Don't quote us on this order.

****This was the first song in the second encore. Rivers pretty much performed it by himself using a loop-back machine. He started off by playing a few measures on the drums, followed by the bass, then a little rhythm guitar and he had the crowd do the "hep hep"s. Wil Wheaton linked to a similar-technique performance by Kid Beyond. The concept is very cool; probably one of our favorite things of the evening.

Monday, November 30, 2009

all together that's 120 posts, y'all

November 30 (at least for the last four years, anyway) is a bittersweet day. On one hand, there's a huge sigh of relief that I don't have to carve out two hours to dial into my parents' Internet connection and then figure out what the heck to post about anymore. But on the other, I know that when I do a quick sweep of my comrades this year in NBPM*, Syar, Madelyn, CoFo and Jon, there is no longer a guarantee of new material.

I know I phoned it in at least twice this month, but like anything else, writing every day gets less tough the more you do it. And post ideas start to come more easily the longer you need them (Except for days when all you'd like to do is moan about the people you had to deal with all day at the risk of being fired for breach in confidentiality). Right?

So to a close comes another hectic month of posting. I am sad that I couldn't spread my net of comment love farther, but there's only so long I can wait for pages to load (re: dialup), and the swine flu is keeping me clocking some serious overtime.

I don't think my mom will miss it, however; my leaving to go post for hours at a time really cut into our knitting-on-the-couch-while-watching-Hindi-soaps time. But at least now she sort of has an idea of what I've been doing on the computer for the last half a decade.

But thanks for reading, guys. Your comments make it worth all the trouble. And a special shoutout to the unicorn crew for letting me in even though I didn't have the bandwidth or patience to get the button onto my sidebar.

*And also SupaCoo, whose beautiful blog's design I love but unfortunately takes forever to load on dialup, so I haven't always been able to comment.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

isn't technology grand?

Jazz just texted me asking if I could please email Ale and ask her to text Jazz as to where Ale and Jazz would be meeting up tomorrow. Something to point out: I'm in Chicago, Jazz is somewhere in Kenya and Ale is just outside of Amsterdam.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

my sister's keeper

I just finished reading My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult. I approached it with a little hesitation. Mostly because I've always thought of myself as my brother's keeper, but more in the sense that I asked for him, I can't give him back and (don't tell him but) I would never want to. 

I'm not going to go into detail about the book, except that it's about how a family deals with having a daughter with a serious medical condition. Cc is also reading it; she mentioned that it could hit close to home for me and that I didn't have to finish if it made me uncomfortable. And I did identify with some of the book--the helplessness, the confusion, the loving somebody so much that you'd risk anything for them. But that's about it.

As the story unfolded, I started to examine the memories of feelings I had as a kid. Sure it wasn't always a picnic when my brother was in the hospital (and maybe it's because that was so long ago), but I rarely felt overlooked and certainly never felt invisible. I credit my mom for that; she grew up having to share my nani's attention with six other kids and three jobs. It made sense why other, more needy kids got more facetime, but that doesn't mean it didn't hurt her. So my parents have always gone out of their way to make sure I had special moments as the center of attention, too, and that I wasn't an afterthought. 

I assumed being vigilant about doling out attention was something everyone's parents do, but as I moved through the book I realized that's not the easy feat my mom and dad made it seem. It must have been tricky to keep sight of something as silly as an extravagant birthday party for your six-year-old when your 2-year-old is getting ready to have open-heart surgery. But I remember all those birthday parties, every special outing, and how they only shuttled me off to some Auntie's house a couple times when the going got really tough, not as a protocol.

Little kids are perceptive. They remember things like the refreshing relief that not everything is about the other guy. And they hold onto feeling loved and special well into their adult life. I can only hope to do just as right by the kids I might have someday.

Friday, November 27, 2009

"shoe-wearing-agility" is right behind "healthy," "intelligent" and "well-adjusted"

[bending down to untie left gym shoe] "Um, are you forgetting something? You've got your coat on and are carrying all that stuff."

"Oh, you mean my shoes?"

[putting on left gym shoe and tying the laces*] "Yeeesssss; don't you want to put that stuff down?"

"Not necessary. [slips feet into gym shoes without use of hands] I got skills."

[untying right gym shoe] "Oh, well not all of us are blessed with such talent. I can only strive to one day be as good at putting my shoes on as you are."

"You'd better hope for the children."

*One of my early childhood memories is being 3 years old and tying my shoe properly for the first time, by myself, not at home and not under the supervision of my parents. It was a sunny day, and the a.m. pre-school class at Little Shepherd School was going outside to play. I stopped on the single step before the long long sidewalk, bent down and did it all by myself, using the bunny-ear way, not the bunny-goes-around-the-tree-way the other kids did**. I'm told I hated the Velcro fasteners. It was a fabulous day.

**I could have sworn I wrote a post long ago about the little song about the bunny going around the tree that people use to teach their kids to tie their shoes. I cannot find it in my archives. Am I crazy*** or do you guys remember that? Syar? (Btw, I added that link you requested for yesterday's post.)

***I AM NOT CRAZY! Blogger's in-blog search sucks!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

first Thanksgiving

H and I hosted our first Thanksgiving. We had some issues thawing the turkey (in that it didn't thaw all the way, but we had to start cooking it anyhow), but I'm pretty please with the way the bird came out. My mom even said it was good, and she's a tough critic. H made some awesome vegetarian gumbo, my parents brought over some Indian delights and we all sat around in a food coma while H tried out the new Wii games he got for his birthday. Even after helping us so much with making the food, my mom didn't even let us wash a single dish.

Thankful as I am to have a job (with benefits!), I'm not looking forward to getting up early for another long day tomorrow and Saturday, especially with all this tryptophan in my system. But at least this year I don't have any plans to camp out in front of a store wearing half my wardrobe!

I hope you all had a warm and filling Thanksgiving close to people you love.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

never thought i'd say it, but the retailers are right on this one


Well, the "giftiness" part of the holiday anyway. H greeted me with our new fancy new DC21 Dyson Stowaway vacuum when I walked through the door at 10 p.m. tonight. And even though I had worked for nearly 14 hours, I got nothing but joy from walking around a little longer to try out its various attachments. 

Our carpets haven't looked this good since I had the place "deep cleaned" after the snotty tenants and their cats moved out (H is allergic). Yes, his sister Amanda was right

Thank you in advance to the generous souls who have/will have offered to help make it our Christmas gift--this is something we will enjoy for a VERY long time. 

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

your wait would be shorter if your doctor wrote legibly

"I hate when doctors use those old-school scripts; I can never figure out what they're saying! Like look at this one: What the heck is "dysuna"? It's not in the dictionary and google says it's not even an English word."

"What's that after it, "renal" something? Oh so it's something to do with the kidneys."

"Yeah, I figured that, but insurance isn't going to pay for it if we put down something nobody's ever heard of."

"Hey, come over here, Cadiz and I can't figure out what this says."

"Dysuna? Man, that's way worse than Die laytah! Bwahahahahaah!"

"Oh my God."

"I got it! It's gotta be "Dysuria, painful urination."

"Yes, that's definitely it. Dude, I'm going to need that anatomy and physiology class sooner rather than later."

Monday, November 23, 2009

i'm ashamed to say i'm wearing Grey's Anatomy-brand pants

H's boss hurt her leg earlier this year and had to wear a boot, over which she often wore hospital scrubs. And every time she wore them she referred to them as her "Armani" scrubs. I've decided she got this from a promotional ad for a television show about nurses called HawthoRNe (get it?). H was unwilling to verify if his boss's pants were in fact made by Giorgio Armani.

I totally rolled my eyes at the Armani Scrubs. I mean COME ON H's boss, I've been wearing reject scrubs forever; they're so soft and comfy from years of washing, and their only markings are sizes labeled haphazardly in permanent ink. Clearly name-brand scrubs are just for suckers.

This new position I have is new to everybody: It's only shared by three other people, no other departments have it, nobody knows what we do and even fewer know who we are. So they're making us wear these khaki pseudo-labcoat-smock-thingies with our names and titles embroidered on them for a little recognition. And after I spent the last month trying to get by wearing my brother's used scrubs and avoiding purchasing said jacket, the director pretty much pointed me out and told me to get one. So I had to suck it up.

So this weekend, when H and I spent an ungodly amount of time in the Medical Uniforms store (mostly because the woman purchasing in front of us couldn't decide between Azure and Merlot; she ended up getting both), I purchased something I would normally scoff at: Grey's Anatomy-brand scrubs. I took one look at the TV-brand line (and their price tag) and harrumphed. Then I tried on every other style and brand and hated them.

The Grey's pants are SO DANG SOFT, as though they'd been washed a thousand times already. The cut is flattering--though I'd rather not have the split-flare leg--and there are beautiful, deep pockets. They don't drag on the floor and don't wrinkle easily, either (MAJOR PLUS). And after 11.5 hours of running around today, they still look as nice as they did when I first tried them on.

I stopped watching the show last season after the plotline became too ridiculous to bear, but a girl's got to put aside her principles when it comes to a nice-fitting pair of pants. I guess no one really has to find out; the khaki jacket more than covers up the waistband label. But I'll know, deep down inside. It's just a matter of how long it'll take to stop bothering me.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

nothing says thanks like cupcakes, right?

For awhile now I've been trying to think of something nice to get as a thank-you for the Breast Care Coordinator and the nurse who really went out of their way to be there for my mom during the last few months. I wanted a little something to go with a heartfelt note, but couldn't decide on anything for people I don't really know. Chocolates seem sort of already-done, so I jumped at cc's suggestion of cupcakes. 

There are a ton of great cupcake shops in the city, so tonight H and hopped the 22 Clark into the heart of Lincoln Park to Molly's. I got a box of six minis for each person, another box for H, my parents and I and a fourth for my coworkers, who no doubt would see me bring them in and wonder why they didn't get any. I hope the ladies like them, because I truly appreciate that they were able to give my mom the support she'd never allow us to give her because she's always trying to protect us.

Molly's was named after a 3rd grade teacher who inspired the owner by making cupcakes for the kids whenever it was somebody's birthday. She shared her recipe. 

Aren't these the cutest darn things? Their Red Velvet was named the best in the city.

We just had to take a picture of this sign in the window.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

i'll need to figure out where to keep the turkey until Thursday

"Hey, did you eat lunch yet?"

"Um, I just got here an hour ago. Did you eat?"

"Yes, I brought last night's rice and chicken."

"Sounds good. I'm going to have a sandwich. It's so weird that I work right there and I only bump into you in the hallway once in awhile."

"Well, that's how it goes when you work here. By the way, I don't feel like doing Thanksgiving this year; your brother isn't even coming home. So we're coming to the condo. Okay?"

"Uh, ok."

Friday, November 20, 2009

happy 30th, cc

A few weeks ago, cc stopped into town for two weeks to see some good friends and attend a baptism as Godmother. She was feeling a little guilty about being chosen over other friends to love and help guide this baby throughout his life. But honestly, I can't imagine a better choice. The thing about cc--and it's what makes her such an awesome wife, mother and overall friend*--is that she would love the heck out of this kid whether she was named Godmother or not, and even though she's clear out in California, she'll make sure this baby will feel like the most special boy in the world.

Unfortunately, the burst of swine flu kept me working doubles in suburbia during much of cc's visit to the city, and I only got to see her a couple of times. However, with the help of a lot of tea, we packed in a whole lot:
  • Dim sum at Phoenix and shopping in Chinatown
  • Dinner at Adobo Grill and a show at The Second City (celebrating 25 years!)
  • America's Next Top Model viewing, complete with commentary
  • A visit to The Art Institute's Modern Bulleted ListWing (I'm so glad we have similar taste in art)
  • High Tea at the Four Seasons
  • Going back to hip-hop breakdancing class and me getting completely and totally SCHOOLED for not having been for two years; we left early before I died
  • Listening through the door/peeking through the peephole at the police-involved drama happening outside the condo unit two doors down at 3 a.m.
  • Shopping at cute boutiques in Lincoln Square, then thai food at Royal Thai (their sticky rice with mango never disappoints)
  • Brownies at the Palmer House Hilton, where the brownie was invented

Here are a few pictures from our High Tea at the Four Seasons Hotel:

Orchids in what I can only describe as rounded fishbowls of water. Gorgeous!

Hydrangeas by the stairs. This place is SWANK, yo.

We got seated at a couch overlooking the fireplace.

And we ordered a lovely champagne, which goes surprisingly nicely with tea and crumpets. The signature "sleeping" teapot was cool: You put it on its side when you want to steep (the loose tea is in a chamber where it's in contact with the hot water), and sit it up when it's strong enough. I can't remember what we had, but both teas were delicious.

They brought us the customary tiny sandwiches (though no cucumber).

And of course, the tower of sweet goodies! I wasn't expecting to enjoy the Devonshire Cream as much as I did.

They even brought out an awesome mousse-filled chocolate cake for the occasion.

Cc and I were giddy from the fanciness (and champagne). I can't think of another person who would enjoy High Tea with me as much as she did, and I'm so glad she loved it. I can only hope that as little old sixty-year-olds, we'll still have as much fun in each others' company over tea and sandwiches as we do today. I love you, cc. I hope you have a fabulous 30th.

*Cc remembered, from a conversation we'd had years ago, that my mother's favorite flower is the carnation. She went to multiple florists on foot and had a beautiful arrangement put together with a sweet card for me to take home. It really is the little things that mean the most.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

sometimes prayers trump privacy, mom

My mom has remained pretty tightlipped about this whole cancer thing, and she has asked me to keep the news to myself as well. I think it's mostly because she doesn't want anyone feeling sorry for her. I understand where she's coming from but I'm conflicted, because hello, one of my favorite things to do is spit out all my complaints onto this blog and then relish in the love and support from my readers. It must be a personality thing.

But the other day, not too long after she heard that they think the cancer was mostly cut out, I felt vindicated. Apparently one of the pathologists (disease-specialist doctors) ran into my mom in the cafeteria after her results came back. This pretty important dude told her that the reason it took slightly longer to get her results is that the laboratory technicians, doctors and analysts were giving the slides of what they cut out and sliced up an extra-thorough search. He said that every single person down there was keeping his or her fingers crossed and praying for my mom. Then this doctor stopped and gave her a big hug.

When she was retelling this story, she got tears in her eyes. To me, it's obvious: When you've worked somewhere for 32 years and have made a name for yourself as a sweetheart who always goes out of her way to help anyone from the janitor to the CEO, word gets around. Even though she might not have met all of these people, everybody knows her--for goodness' sake, on phone directories where numbers are listed by department, instead of the name of her area it just says her name.

I'm glad I opened my trap and told more people about what my mom is going through. Because we're not out of danger yet, and as helpless as I feel about this stuff, any tiny little good vibe that comes her way might just make all the difference.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

you shouldn't change your major to English just because you got a C in one calculus class

"He's some kind of engineer."

"I think you would have been a fabulous engineer."

"Yeah, if I hadn't been so stubborn and stupid."

"Stubborn, yes. Stupid, no. Because I'm not stupid and I'd never get with a stupid guy."

"Impeccable logic."

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Citibank: The kick in the head that just keeps on giving

One of the things I was most looking forward to about having a full-time job was the possibility of refinancing the condo, which has now been on the market for nearly 19 months. I waited until I'd been getting a steady paycheck for three months before doing a little research on the subject. And let me tell you, what a downer.

Apparently, because I'm making considerably less than I did when I purchased the property (can't count overtime pay) the combination of mortgage, property taxes and assessments takes up roughly 77% of my income--and that's before they take out taxes. I cannot include H's contributions in this calculation because I would list the place as my primary residence. Also, remember the little old issue I had with Citibank? You know, the one where they said I couldn't qualify for any of the government bailout mortgage readjustment plans unless I was a full 30 days past due? And how, against every fiber of my being, I let it go past to get some help? And how they EFFING PROMISED me I'd get a readjustment and even took a check over the phone then COMPLETELY AND TOTALLY SCREWED ME OVER, INSINUATING THAT I MADE IT ALL UP? AND HOW THEY FRICKING SOLD MY MORTGAGE TO SOME COMPANY IN WISCONSIN BEFORE I COULD DO ANYTHING ABOUT IT?

Remember that? Well, the number-one reason I can't refinance is because I had a late payment in the last 12 months.

People who have to give up that much of their take-home pay to have a roof over their heads can't get a refinance, but if it only takes up 28% of your income, you can get a lower rate pretty easily. I mean, I get it, but I DON'T GET IT. Can anyone tell me what I'm doing wrong here, besides the obvious: I didn't have the foresight to know that my industry would collapse a decade after I chose my major? I mean, I thought it was smart to have put the place on the market while I still had a job. Now I get to look at doctors' scripts signed by contemporaries I used to go to the library with, while I've had to start over, wrangling their patients and getting passive-aggresively chewed out at least once an hour.

Yes, I realize that I'm not alone. And that I probably shouldn't complain. I thank heaven every day that the people I love have their health. I just pray that it stays that way.

Monday, November 16, 2009

don't leave your facebook unattended when there's an 11-year-old around

You know how sometimes people tell you a charming anecdote and when they realize you're just not feeling it they say something like "You had to be there"? Well, you may have had to have been there for this little story, which I have shamelessly ripped off from cc, but I never would do so if she had her own blog. I've been laughing about it all week.

Cc's husband, p, is a philosophy professor. He's very scholarly and has studied the greats in their native languages (we're talking French, German, Italian and probably other ones I don't even know about). Dude is smart. He goes to the opera (perhaps not by choice, but he still goes). And he can converse on a vast variety of topics--including "professional" wrestling, as orchestrated by the WWE.

What keeps p (and cc for that matter) so informed on wrestling is that their son, b, is 11 and loves little else more than seeing grown men throwing themselves at each other in a ring. Last year b's favorite performer was Rey Mysterio and apparently he's also a big fan of Jeff Hardy (take a second and click on that last link). Who can blame him? WWE storylines put soap operas like General Hospital to shame. I know, because my brother was an avid fan of old-school characters like Hulk Hogan, Randy "Macho Man" Savage, The Ultimate Warrior and many others I will not name lest I get branded as a fan myself.

So p has a facebook page, which he primarily uses to keep in touch with all his jetsetting intellectual pals from around the globe; I'm willing to bet they're not all as down to earth or as in touch with pop culture as p is. Unfortunately for him, he left his facebook account open one day and came back to a string of mocking messages from his colleagues: b had gone in, become a "fan" of Jeff Hardy and written "I LOVE YOU JEFF HARDY!" on the wrestler's facebook page. Except to Jeff Hardy and the rest of the facebook community, it looks like that message was posted by a 30-something philosophy professor.

When I have a lull in my day and think about how p must have reacted to this turn of events, it makes me snicker out loud. Thanks, b! But maybe it's not as funny to everyone else. I guess you had to be there.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

compost happens...hopefully

Since we started the garden project this spring, I'd been thinking about fertilizer for next year--more specifically, compost. I got a book and was all excited to start until I realized it'd be wiser to wait until I had access to some fall leaves.

This weekend I stayed in suburbia to take advantage of the better-than-expected weather (60s!) and the bounty of leaves on the ground. What with the abundance of cherry, apple, maple and oak trees in our back yard, there was more than enough fodder; it was just a matter of time, clear skies and manpower to get it all together.

The book said leaves are practically useless unless they're shredded, and it recommended using a leaf-blower with a vacuum/mulching function or a mulching lawnmower. I didn't really want to invest in those, so I went with a third option: a garbage can and a weed whacker. The book said goggles were a must for this method and it was NOT kidding.

So I put on my earphones and protective goggles I suspect are left over from high school chemistry, poured a mix of oil and gasoline into our decrepit weed whacker and got to work. It wasn't as intuitive as I'd thought, but after about four garbage-canfuls I got the hang of it. By the time it got dark again today, about twelve or thirteen garbage cans of leaves were shredded and stuffed into four chicken-wire compost bins plus one lawn refuse bag (in case I need more later).

It was a lot of physical labor, but I relished the time outside while I can still have it. Yesterday my mom was at work so I didn't have to worry about trying to keep her inside. I had the day to work mindlessly and just think, which is also rare luxury. Today mom was off so of course she was right there helping me, even though she probably shouldn't be lifting too much or pulling weeds (she swears she only did with the arm on her non-post-surgery side). I tried to find other jobs for her like cutting through chicken wire or making tea, or better yet staying inside and watching television but she couldn't imagine sitting on the couch while I was outside working in the yard. I'm certainly going to tell on her when I get back to the hospital tomorrow, but was nice to have another set of hands to keep things steady. And we always make a phenomenal team.

I will try and post pictures of my rudimentary compost piles--hopefully they will cook up into some healthy stuff for the garden next spring. It's my first attempt at this sort of thing and I've got my fingers crossed that it'll turn out well. But even if it doesn't, at least I got that crisp, refreshing satisfaction from laboring outside.

That feeling will have to tide me over until it's time to shovel the driveway.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

just when i thought i had cornered the market on complaining about working too much

I finally talked to my brother this morning, giving him crap about being m.i.a. for the last few weeks. I knew he was somewhere in Kentucky or Pennsylvania working overnight shifts, but didn't realize they were 12-hour shifts that included weekends. Apparently, in the last two weeks he logged in 144 hours--including eight 12-hour nights in a row. It's too bad he's on salary and isn't raking in the overtime.

Regardless, I stand humbled. I will think twice before complaining about too many hours again. One thing's for sure, we both inherited the work-ethic gene. If only I had gotten the "morning-person" gene (I'm the only one of us who has a problem waking up); getting this engine going in the a.m. wouldn't always be such a terrible experience.

Thank the heavens it's the weekend!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Thursday, November 12, 2009

triple double

I think all I really needed was a good night's sleep, peeps. Of course, it would have been nice if I didn't get called in to work an hour and a half early, but still. I feel (just a little) bad complaining so much, but DUDE, YESTERDAY SUCKED SO VERY BAD. Today, on the other hand, was almost as many hours (I'm at the filthy public computer again) but not nearly as busy. All of the broken equipment has been fixed with parts flown into O'Hare, everything is back to the usual, and no one really yelled at me today (can't avoid the passive-agressives, of course).

I'd say it was a pretty good day--mostly in comparison to yesterday, though. The best part? This patient had to go through a very drawn-out exam that involved drinking bottles of this nasty stuff. She got here at 5 am and was sitting in the hallway for about 2 hours before her test. I had to pass by her about forty gazillion times, and each time she either smiled at me or had her eyes closed because she was straight-up JAMMING (I'm talking up on her feet and rump-shakin') to music on her iPod.

Before she left, instead of saying "Have a good day," I told her that seeing her awesome attitude really made mine.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

i feel like i've been run over by a truck

This week has been horrible (and it's barely half over). I wish I could just crawl into bed and start over next Monday. This whole working doubles thing is lovely as long as you're not on your feet for 15 hours doing a job with tons of departments that each think their jobs are the only ones in the entire place that need to be done. If I had a dollar for everyone who snapped at me today, I'd have enough to buy a pretty nice steak dinner.

I can't tell if this stuff is getting to me worse because I took on too many hours and am too stressed out and under-rested or because the general population of the world continues to treat me like crap. However, I can't really afford NOT to work this much, either. So I'll suck it up, at least until I get admitted for whatever I'm going to catch from this hospital-lobby computer, (at which I'm writing this during a 15-minute break); this thing should be nuked for all the germs that are probably on it.

Now that this has become a pity party, I can take solace in the fact that one of those departments bought us a Thank You cookie cake with a card full of messages about how great we are. Granted, we've been too busy to eat it, but still.

I know I shouldn't be bitching. Two months ago, I didn't have steady work or health benefits. I just need a hot bath and a nap.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

it's time to find a BACK-UP back-up alarm

At my workplace there is a no-grace-period clocking-in policy. If you're a minute late, you get what's called an "occurrence." Unfortunately this also applies to a lot of other instances, such as when your car won't start, your kid gets sick, you are projectile-vomiting last night's dinner, and if you just don't show up without a call. You only get seven of these instances during a calendar year. I'm not exactly sure what happens if you hit seven or beyond, and I really don't want to find out.

This morning when I woke up right about at the time I should have been starting my car and pulling out of the cul-de-sac, I got ready in RECORD speed, made all green lights and punched in at 4:55. Close one.

The worst part? As exhausted as I had been, I slept fitfully, yet somehow I managed to shut off the alarm when it was actually time to get up. And this includes a trip downstairs to say goodbye to my dad at 3:45 a.m.

Let me tell you, that start made for a very interesting 15-hour day.

Monday, November 09, 2009

don't have enough fumes to make it through this week

I'm pretty sure I bounced/ran/jogged/skipped/laughed menacingly enough to get all the caffeine out of my system yesterday, but somehow I couldn't get to sleep until 1 a.m. This would have been dandy--I'm fine on about four hours' sleep once in awhile--but my alarm went off at 3:30 a.m. so I'd be able to punch in by 5. And because I was so paranoid about oversleeping, I kept waking up throughout the 2.5-hour nap I had last night.

But work went okay. Everyone knows that near-allnighters don't affect you until TWO days out. So I'm going to bed right now, at 8, so I can make it through the doubles I'll be working the next three days and not collapse in a navy-blue-scrub heap and hope someone drags me to the Emergency Department.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

some things never change

This morning I woke up to the smell of freshly made blueberry muffins and a pot of tea on the stove. Bless his heart, my fiance knows how to put me in a good mood. He's definitely a keeper. 

I was so excited that I drank up all the tea without realizing it had two tea bags in it. Some of you longtime readers may have heard about my reserved-for-emergencies-only caffeine policy. During college, I weaned myself off the stuff so I could hit that sauce when I needed to pull an all-nighter (ask pp, it wasn't that uncommon). So nowadays when I have a cup, I'll be up for a minimum of 40 hours, easy--and likely to be found bouncing off the walls. 

That's where I'm at right now, skippity-doo-dah-ing all over the place. I'm betting H had no idea he'd get so much entertainment from one pot of tea.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

just gotta put those Save The Date cards in the mail

"So everyone at work is saying you're telling them your wedding date is 2013!"

"Pretty much, mom. It's the only thing I can think of to make them stop asking."

"H, help me out here. You two have to give me something. At least tell me what time of year you're thinking of."

"When they ask you about a date, just tell them we've narrowed it down to one of 12 months."

Friday, November 06, 2009

the customer is always right, even when he wants to kick your teeth in just for doing your job

I've been working A LOT lately. And I recently got a bit of a promotion, which came with my own in-hospital "spectralink" cellphone, pager and responsibility over a lot more stuff. It's stressful, but so fast-paced that I hardly have a chance to think about anything but how I'm going to conversate on two lines at one time (still working on that particular skill).

I think it's going pretty well so far. Except for that one patient whose husband was, um, difficult, and tried to chase me back into my office, rip out all my hair and feed it to me. Basically:

a) His wife had some possibly serious symptoms; the doctor's office wanted to squeeze this woman onto the schedule. I was called in to make sure a spot was held for them, and I did. Despite my assurances, the husband demanded a printout of proof, then did not accept it as valid because it did not list his wife by name. This should have been a warning. Looking back, I estimate that this was about the time the husband heard I was new to the position and decided that my brain was made of horse manure.

b) The husband had a little knowledge (likely caused by a WebMD search) and freaked the heck out when he saw we weren't going to throw everyone else to the back of the line and get her onto an examination table before he had finished parking the car. Every second that went by in the waiting room, he inched closer and closer to the edge.

c) Their doctor gave them an order for a routine (read: non-stat) test, which he presented to the registration desk. He proceeded to rip the registration person a new one because she dared to tell him it didn't match the test he was demanding his wife have.

d) When I found out, I started investigating the discrepancy, contacting the patient's doctor's office (which was closed) via my in-hospital "spectralink" cellphone while running around to different departments trying to track down the correct order on foot. Technically, we should have just done the test the doctor ordered, but something about it seemed off. And if it indeed was an emergency, we wouldn't want to do the wrong test and waste precious time.

e) I came out to the waiting area to get the patient for the test, but got a call on my not-quite-as-big-as-a-Zach-Morris-model phone ABOUT THAT VERY PATIENT. I turned around mid-stride and went to find the answer at my computer.

f) The husband caught this move and decided that I was "taking personal phone calls instead of helping" his wife. He got up and followed me to give me a piece of his mind. Thank God the registration person held him back, then came to warn me that he was irate, because there likely would have been a brawl. I had to be held back myself when I heard he was yelling things like "she's unprofessional!" and "I don't ever want to see her face again!" after I went out of my way to make sure his wife was getting the right test. If I had been allowed a confrontation, I'm pretty sure I would have been fired.

g) The doctor called me back personally with the correct order (it was a stat after all), and thanked me for looking into it. By that time, the registration person calmed the husband down, but that didn't stop him from passing my office door no less than 8 times (who needs to pee THAT much in a 20-minute period?). The kicker? When the wife heard the protocol for an appendix cat scan (you can look it up), she nearly canceled the test.
I get it. When someone you love is sick, everything takes a back seat. Frivolities like getting all the facts before you jump to conclusions go right out the window. And I've been there; my mom has questioned nurses and prevented them from making an error with my brother. But there's a difference between paying attention/asking questions and impeding the process. I was absolutely seething for three or four days over the fact that I went out of my way for this woman and then had to hide in my office for half an hour so I wouldn't get my ass kicked FOR DOING MY JOB.

After my "time out" was over, I had to walk past that couple in the waiting room one last time. It was awfully convenient that the husband looked away as I went by. Normally I'd smile and say something like "take care" or "have a good night," but for this guy I just narrowed my eyes and resisted the urge to kick him.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

perspective from a pro

"He looks so white, my friend is afraid people are going to think she's her own kid's Asian babysitter."

"You know that's my worst fear about the kids H and I will (hopefully) have one day. If somebody mistakes me for the ayah, I am going to LAY THE SMACK DOWN."

"I doubt that's going to happen. Not when you're calling out their Indian names."

"That is exactly why I want them to have those; maybe then they'll feel a desire to connect with the culture. Right?"

"Dude, your hopes are so high. You're talking about your future children connecting with culture when you're not even married yet. Lower your expectations about those kids."

"So I should just hope they'll learn a little of the language?"

"Cadiz, when you become a parent, you'll be ecstatic if your kid will flush the toilet."

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

we are so blessed

UPDATE: My mom is recovering well from last week's surgery to remove the offending cancer and has returned to full-time work (probably earlier than she should have). The results from the lab are promising; the doctors believe they got it all.

The five days of waiting for results were more agonizing than I can describe. The woman who normally has a limitless supply of smiles and good cheer was noticeably withdrawn and silent. It was as if some sad, blue shadow of my mom had taken over her body and could only muster the energy to humor us with a positive attitude once in awhile. It was heartbreaking, and there was nothing anyone could do to make it better. 

I just want to thank each and every single person who sent out a good vibe, prayer or hopeful thought our way. On days like this, love certainly can seem to work wonders. And, as with any medical condition, we must be vigilant and take things one day at time. But for now, things are looking pretty hopeful. 

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

and when they say "E.D.," they're talking about the Emergency Room (Department), not that other thing

Last month I started a new career at the hospital. In that time I have learned:

1) The fastest way to lose fat and gain muscle is to run around for eight hours a day, pushing 350-pound patients on beds.

2) People who are asked to wear masks to protect other people in the waiting area from what might be a highly contagious flu believe they are suddenly not contagious as soon as they enter the department where their test will be conducted and remove their masks.

3) The public cannot seem to grasp the concept of covering their hacking mouths with the crook of their elbows.

4) Parents do not realize that paying a babysitter to watch your healthy child/infant for an afternoon while you get an outpatient test done is WAY CHEAPER than the medical care your healthy child/infant will need after catching something from an ignorant person coughing all over your child/infant.

5) There is NEVER enough hand sanitizer.

6) Or soap and hot water.

7) Hospital employees GET THE FLU, TOO. And double the patients with half the staff makes for a little longer wait. Bring a crossword puzzle and be a little considerate.

8) The more unhealthy the cafeteria item, the faster it will sell out to the employees.

9) There's way less hanky-panky (from what I've seen, anyway) in the hospital than they show on one-hour television medical shows, but nearly as much drama as on the tube.

10) Wearing scrubs every day saves about 20 minutes of standing in front of the closet in a daze in the morning.

Monday, November 02, 2009

no one appreciates the sun until it gets cloudy outside

Last Thursday, my mom had surgery to remove the cancerous bits they had found in her previous test. The doctors will send the sample to a lab, where they will put a dye on it and slice it up to look at under the microscope. If they don't believe they've got it all, they will have to go back in and try to get the rest. Any other decisions--about radiation or any other forms of action--will depend on these results, which won't be available for at least five days.

She didn't allow me to take the day off, but because of my new working hours (11:30 am to 8 pm), I was able to see her into surgery before my shift, take a break when they were wheeling her out to the car and get home in time to help my dad make sure she was resting comfortably. And she didn't allow me to take the next day off, either. Of course, during that alone time she managed to do a week's worth of laundry, clean the whole house and call around to the bakeries to see if they could make H's favorite pie for his birthday the next day (key limes are apparently out of season during Halloween). She also dug out her "Trick or Treat" embroidered longsleeved tee to wear when giving out candy. When left to her own devices, this woman will do anything but rest.

My brother is in agony because he couldn't swing coming home (as if she would have allowed it anyhow), and sent a gorgeous bouquet instead. My mom stuck with the party line "Why did you spend your money?!," but I could tell she was touched. I know that's not enough for the kid; we learned at an early age that being present is worth so much more than anything money buys--my mom was at my brother's side 24 hours a day for every single night he's spent in a hospital, often sleeping in a chair for weeks at a time. And boy did that make her feet swell. That's the kind of stuff we'd like to do for her, if only she'd let us.

I'm having a hard time seeing her like this. If you ask anyone who knows her, my mom is the sunniest, most warm person to be around. The doctors and the patients adore her. And hell, a handful of people she works with who are our age refer to her as "Mom." but in the days after the surgery, she's been a little down. I can tell her energy level has taken a hit, and she's actually been sleeping more than four hours a night. I explained to her that I learned (from a reliable source, the '80s animated show Muppet Babies* "Scooter's Uncommon Cold" episode) that when you're sick, you need lots and lots of rest so young Kermit, Piggy and the gang can fly around inside your body in a tiny spaceship and help your immune system fight off the bad guys. All I got was a chuckle and a wan smile. It's killing me that all our love and jokes aren't enough to make this cancer go away.

This futility-of-love-against-life-threatening-illness seems to be a running theme in my life.

*Dude, Muppet Babies had a ridiculous premise, but it was awesome. Am I right or what?

Sunday, November 01, 2009

the ring hunt

H and I have never been what most people call "conventional." From how we met to how we conduct ourselves in daily life, we don't always do things the way everyone else expects us to.

Take our engagement, for instance: One Sunday morning, as I was watching the Indian Show and H was making brunch, he came over to the couch with some delicious pancakes and a diamond ring, which he'd had in his possession for more than a year. Everyone who knew us well was aware of that, which meant that anytime we went to a remotely romantic place, people anticipated a proposal. But H really wanted to take me by surprise, so an engagement over Bollywood hits and Sunday pancakes was perfect. I hadn't even processed what was happening until after I'd already answered the question.

The guy is pretty crafty. In the past I've gotten a handmade board game, a laser etching on the back of my iPod, a Legend of Zelda puzzle map and all kinds of other creative, thoughtful gifts. His great-grandmother's ring (hand-cut and made in Germany somewhere around 1919) was too big for my finger and the inside of the band was a little flimsy, so he took it to Jeweler's Row to be re-sized and fortified. The first time I came to the condo after he got it back, H was nowhere to be found and I opened the door to this:

Hanging in the hallway in front of the door was my "mission: to find the ring." It reminded me of the recent Mystery issue of WIRED (my favorite magazine), with random letters in different colors to offer hidden clues. The green letters happened to spell out Fourth from the right. I was also instructed to keep his iPhone close by in case I needed any help.

Taped to the ceiling were what seemed like hundreds of envelopes, each attached to a colored ribbon and a folded piece of paper with a number on it. It looked amazing and daunting at the same time. I was trying to figure out what "fourth from the right" could possibly mean in this setup, as well as overthinking the colored letters in the first clue. I figured H had some sort of candid camera recording me, so I kept yelling out things like "I'M NOT GETTING IT!" and "I NEED HELP!" I wasted a lot of time trying to solve the first clue before realizing it was a simple reference to the candles in the bathroom.

We'd never lit the votives in this candleholder, but it looked so pretty, we should do it more often. Fourth from the right! I blew it out and grabbed some tweezers to pull out the candle base.

It took a lot of maneuvering to take a picture of this while the wax was still melty.

In the dryer was a very thoughtful (and challenging!) crossword puzzle all about me, things I like, phrases I say and whatnot. Apparently, H is a very good listener and actually remembers stuff that comes out of my mouth. Some of which I don't recall myself. Several boxes within the puzzle were shaded yellow, and those letters fit the six-letter word scramble at the end that would get me past the next clue.

The mouse had a Post-it that said "Shake me." That six-letter scramble from the crossword unlocked the computer.

This one would have been tricky if I didn't know that H had originally set up a camera to alert us when people who come to check out our home are done (otherwise we'd be stuck outside for HOURS; the realtors never call to tell us they're done). I figured out the webcam had been moved behind the computer stand.

And when I looked into it, the iPhone vibrated and I saw my own face in the app.

There was another frame with the next clue. I misinterpreted the E.T. part of it and called my parents' house. I assumed they were in on it, but Mom and Dad were no help. So I went into the living room and started yanking down envelopes. Starting with the green ribbons, of course.

I was told later that the "phone home" part of the clue corresponded to the numbers hanging off the ceiling--the only ones of use for the next clue were the numbers in my parents' home telephone number.

The green-ribbon envelopes happened to be those numbers; they all had puzzle pieces inside. I opened all the rest, just in case.

The puzzle looked like the accent pillow on the bed. I couldn't help but run over there and grab it, looking inside and underneath, but stopped myself from actually cheating. I put together the photograph and taped it together (a trick I learned from Angel07's Amazing Race Party).

Yep, it was definitely a detail shot of that accent pillow. I flipped the puzzle over:

Back to the pillow.

Sure enough, there was a little brown box under all that stuff. I was glad I hadn't cheated.

The ring seemed nicer than I had remembered. Not bad for being 90 years old, eh?

And it fit much better, too!

H was sitting downstairs in a common area that entire time. He had seen me walk in, but didn't realize I spent 20 minutes chatting with cc on the phone before coming up the elevator. He didn't, in fact, have any cameras on me (which is a shame, because I sort of hammed it up for an audience of nobody), and was kind of worried why it was taking so long. In the box was a note telling me to email him when I was done. When I did, he came upstairs and put the ring back on my finger, where I suspect it'll be for a very long time.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

the big c

"Hey ma, you think I could leave my hair down for an entire double shift without it driving me bananas?"

"What's wrong with those clips? They keep the hair out of your face. And they make you look like a little girl. I like them."

"That's probably the reason why everyone is so flabbergasted when they find out I'm 31 years old, not 21, mommy. Not that I mind."

"Nobody can guess my age, either."

"I hope that means I've inherited the genes that keep you in shape, being able to work those insane hours and still look great. Not a lot of people's moms are as healthy as my mother."

"Your mother has cancer."

I debated ending this post right there, but realized it'd probably hit like a suckerpunch. And while that's not how I found out that my mom has breast cancer***, this evening was the first time the big c tiptoed into an everyday conversation and took it down. Which sure felt like a fist to the gut.

My mom's a tough lady. She tried to keep this from us for as long as possible, but when her doctor called the house while we were chilling on the couch watching Bidaai (I call it the "light girl/dark girl" Hindi soap opera), it was hard to keep to herself anymore. As much as I wanted to smack her for suffering by herself back then, I would have straight-up wrung her neck if she had fake-smiled through a Stereotactic MRI, biopsy and next week's lumpectomy without telling us kids. You know, so we wouldn't worry.

I've been trying to keep from falling apart--mainly by cramming as many hours onto my timesheet as possible. And training on two very different jobs in various areas is a pretty good distraction. It's easy to pretend this cancer thing is just a nightmare I had last month, and that the glue that holds my papier-mache world together is still just as impervious to cracks as ever. Especially if I can walk past her office a dozen times a day and hear her talking on the phone or laughing, normal as ever.

She works in the hospital, too. She understands that they caught her cancer early, that it's likely they can cut it out and it's possible that they can keep it from coming back. We all realize how TREMENDOUSLY LUCKY we are to have early detection in our corner with the water bottle. Not every person gets that kind of fighting chance. We are so so so very grateful. But this thing is scary as hell.

My brother is having panic attacks. For his entire life he has always been the one in jeopardy, the one people toss and turn worrying about. He has absolutely no coping skills to deal with feeling so powerless, terrified and being too far away for a hug. All I can offer him in the way of comfort is a welcome sign to our side of the fence.

For all of her usual "no-big-deal" nonsense, this has been one situation where I saw a hole in my mom's toughguy veneer (hell, the lady watched my kid brother yank out every last tube from his body in the middle of an ICU night, need four grown adults to hold him down, then be clinically dead for several minutes before coming back to us. And she kept her cool until it was all over). Now she is afraid, and that scares me half to death.

My new shared office is next-door to the office of the hospital's Breast Care Coordinator. I'm running all over the place all day, so that means I pass her pink-ribbon nameplate fourteen kajillion times each shift (twice that if I'm working a double). And every time I see it, I want to knock on the door and crack that Breast Care Coordinator's ribs with gratitude. Because she's been with my mom every single step of the way so far, holding her hand and making smalltalk throughout painful surgical procedures, explaining the situation to her in excruciating detail and giving her books to read (but not allow us to see, too frightening). Most of all, she's given my tough, strong-willed mother the opportunity to put down the armor and let it all out, which is something I don't have the power to ever offer her.

Up until today, I haven't let myself really feel the enormity of this disease. It truly is a different sort of snaggletoothed beast when it's going after the woman you love most on this earth. I came very close to losing it the day I saw the NFL players with their pink towels, cleats and helmet stickers, but something about how casually my mother said she has cancer with a sad smile just laid me out flat tonight. I'm so thankful I'm the only one awake so I can work my way through this box of Kleenex unabashedly. Tomorrow I'll have to get it together. I'll have to be able to walk around past office doors all day with a smile on my face, normal as ever.

Tomorrow I'll put on some of my mom's armor. She's going to need backup for the fight.

***Oh and by the way, she doesn't want me to advertise this news, so if you know her in real life, please pretend that you don't know. I realize this is easier asked than done. Thanks.

Monday, September 28, 2009

a colonoscopy is way more comfy than the symptoms of what it might detect

In all of my life, I have never actually seen someone die. However this afternoon, at about 1 p.m., I got hella close. A patient was gurgling and gasping for breath two feet in front of me. I cannot describe the exact color her face turned, but it was most definitely in the royal-blue family. All we could do was make her a little more comfortable and send for some licensed clinical help on the double. I won't go into details about the circumstances because of confidentiality, but I will share this: This patient wasn't much younger than my mom (read: too young for this kind of incident) but she hadn't seen a doctor in more than 35 years.

Take care of yourselves, folks. There are a lot of you out there (ahem, people who gave me my genetic material) who spout utter-crap statements like "nothing's going to happen to me" or "I'll just take this pill and lower my cholesterol" or "I've already lived my life" as excuses to avoid being inconvenienced for the sake of their health, and THOSE PEOPLE NEED TO BE FLOGGED. Seeing that woman today, barely hanging on through such misery, makes me shake my fist at all those who take their good health for granted until it's too late. 

BEING SERIOUSLY ILL IS AN AGONIZING EXPERIENCE. Would you like me to have my brother elaborate on the kind of time and pain it requires to recover from having your ribcage sawed through on multiple occasions with something with the horsepower of my dad's chainsaw? Why would you allow that to happen if you could avoid it? As much as I cherish cheeseburgers (and I love my cheeseburgers), even I can admit that at some point it's simply not worth it.

There are so many terrible things in this world you can't prevent; why not do something about the stuff you can? Your family will thank you.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

the big reveal

This is the story about how I met H, and how you might have known him all this time, too.

MAY, 2005
I started this web log on March 7, 2005, partly because I had been reading other people's work and was inspired, and partly because I needed an outlet to replace the four-hour conversations I was used to having every day (dungeon hours meant I was only available when my friends and family were either at work or asleep). And I didn't want anyone to forget about me.

Around that time, a popular blog written by An Intern In New York named Andy was featured as a Blog of Note. One of the links in his sidebar took me to Jazz...In Strange Places, and Jasmine's "100 things about me" post. I identified with a lot of her list, particularly her love for Nancy Drew novels. So at 2:42 a.m., I left her a comment about the girl detective, chocolate and cats.

Apparently another new blogger, Jon, found Jasmine's 100-things list simply by clicking the "Next Blog" button at the top of his screen, and at 3:41 a.m., he left a long comment lambasting the previous commenters as well as himself. Normally I would have gotten angry, but something about his self-deprecating tone made me hesitate to tear into him about how the Internet was supposed to be about supporting people, not bringing them down (funny how naive I was back then). I went over to his blog and made a case for old Nancy, who really was a pioneer for her time. He replied that he was glad I didn't take it the wrong way and that he was only trying to be funny, not a jerk.

JUNE 2005
After that, we all started commenting on each other's blog posts. Along with Jasmine, Jon and I, there were Omar, Syar, and several other bloggers who have come and gone in the last four and a half years. Soon, Jon wrote his own "100 things" post. My response to it was jon, honestly. i won't even try to explain just how much you scare me. So many things on that list could be said about me, too, except the part about his HATING being barefoot (I'd be barefoot all the time if it weren't for snow). I was impressed at how many of his priorities lined up with mine, what with all the love for siblings, loyalty to friends, mutual appreciation for tv, etc. There were also some bizarre things on the list, like the fact that we've both dreamt of being shot and how he drove from New York to California making only four stops. One of those stops? My hometown. To me, it was a sign.

The comments started adding up, however, and after a few months it was obvious that Jon and I were practically conversating with each other in the comments. One night in the dungeon, Blogger broke down and I realized just how much I missed hearing what Jon had to say. I emailed him, saying it had been nice of him to keep me company all those nights when I was convinced the one-eyed man was going to hack me to bits and stuff me into a utility closet.

I had met Jasmine in person that summer (it's important to note here that at this time it was still perceived as sort of creepy to meet people "from the Internet" so that was kind of a big deal). I tried to get information about what she thought of Jon, whom she had met in California, and she confirmed he's as cool as I suspected. In September I saw Jasmine again in New York when I went to visit Alexandra, and we went out to dinner and to a club.

Those four days had been the longest I'd gone in six months without communicating with Jon, and it was killing me. A few weeks earlier, he had conveniently given me his phone number by sending me a photo from his phone. Alexandra and I had been bar-hopping, and obviously discussing the bizarre long-distance infatuation I had with him as well as the improbabilities of it going anywhere (again, dating someone you'd met "online" at that time mostly meant going through something like, which had a bad connotation because of a friend's bad experiences). With every drink, the urge to contact Jon was getting harder and harder to resist.
So I texted him: How screwed up is it that you can miss someone you're [sic] never even met?

He replied: Only slightly.
The texts kept coming, and I kept giggling in the corner, until Jasmine--who hadn't been aware of our email love affair--said, What are you laughing about so much, Cadiz? Is Jon the one text messaging you? I was so flabbergasted that she'd guessed* that I asked him what I should tell her.
His reply: That you and I are text messaging each other tonight...and that you are carrying my baby :)

What I said next: That's cool, as long as you understand one thing: The children will have Indian names.

Text messages led to phone calls, phone calls led to plane tickets, and Jon arrived at Chicago's Midway airport November 4. We went to my favorite all-night diner and then I dropped him off at his hotel. I went back to my parents' house, sad that I hadn't heard trumpets and birds singing when we first saw each other and the next morning I called cc in tears because I thought we didn't have a *connection* in real life. He had been shy and reticent; I was unsure and still processing how different he is from the guys I had always pictured myself dating (i.e. he's not an Indian boy). Both of us were acting really awkward. Jon and I had discussed the implications of this meeting and agreed that it had to happen, that we had to find out sooner or later. And if we didn't have chemistry we could always be good friends. So with that in mind, I picked him up and showed him the sights, starting with hot dogs at Portillo's and a trip to the then-named Sears Tower.

Somewhere after lunch and before we got to the top of the tower, the good old rapport surfaced through the nerves and the tension and we fell into our normal banter. I liked the sound of his voice and that I could actually see the expression on his face. I especially enjoyed hearing the exotic "o" sound he pronounced as in "honestly" (which I pronounce in the midwestern style, "haanestly"). As soon as I forgot about my expectations, things went right back to the lovely way they always had been.

There was a suspiciously short line on the way up to the Sears Tower, and surprisingly few people in the observation deck. It was so dark and clear, we could see lights all the way out to a couple of states. There were a few times I thought he was going to kiss me as we looked out over the glittering city, but I'm really glad he didn't--I would have lost all respect for the guy.

I brought him back to his room and stayed to watch the ten-minute film he had made in college on his laptop. He stars in it as well, and I think I fell in love with him even more after seeing how he looked in college, bright orange corduroys and all. We didn't feel like going to a bar or a club, so we sat through the only thing on tv: It was a Hitchcock film, his only screwball comedy, called Mr. and Mrs. Smith. We laughed about the ridiculous plot and how everything was magically resolved as Mrs. Smith crossed her skis at the end. If only life were that simple.

I went out to California a month later and he officially asked me to be his girlfriend. We've talked for several hours every night since, and have only gone one five-day stretch over the last four years without at least a text message back and forth. I must admit, we haven't yet run out of things to say. And I hope we never do, because today he asked me to spend the rest of my life talking to him, and I wouldn't want it any other way.

Oh and if you haven't figured it out yet, H is Jon. And Jon is H. I love them both equally.

*Jasmine's response via twitter: @cadiz12 @jonmuller I knew it was Jon only because I know how funny he is. Also, your 1,000 questions about him were pretty transparent ;)

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

i don't have enough fingers and toes to count all the patients who come in with strokes or chest pains every day

"I just don't understand it! How did my cholesterol get all the way up to 285?"

"Could it be because you are addicted to CANDY?!?"

"Aw, c'mon, I never smoked and I barely drink; a little something sweet now and then is my only vice!"

"Now and then? Can I remind you of the cookies in your lunch bag, the popsicles and ice cream after dinner, and don't get me started on your daily peanut butter and jelly sandwich--there's one teaspoon of peanut butter and four of jelly."

"I only use a little bit of jelly! Just a tiny bit!"

"Blood work does not lie. Unless someone stuck an IV full of sugar into your arm while you were sleeping..."

"Don't exaggerate. Look, I'll just get this prescription the doctor gave me and you'll see how fast I bring my cholesterol back down to under 200."

"You can't just take a pill, you have to CHANGE YOUR HABITS. Peanut butter only every other day, just one cup of tea, stop eating so much bread, don't eat cashews by the can while you watch tv, and for God's sake stop with the candy. I've been telling you this stuff for the last ten years! Oh, and you're gonna start eating Cheerios every day."

"CHEERIOS? How about a cereal with a little more sugar?'

Monday, September 14, 2009

27--that's three nine year olds

Oh brother, of course the year I fail to post on your actual birthday is the year you decide to check in on my blog. But it was Saturday night, man! I have a life, you know. H and I were busy partying with mom and dad at a church-basement birthday bash for an 88-year-old. Yep, that's the kind of stuff you can look forward to in a few years. Live it up while you can.

I'm just kidding, the party was really nice. I was awestruck that my godmother, EB and 200 members of their clan all dressed in their grandmother's favorite color, teal (boys wore ties, girls Indian outfits), put together a slide show and gave heartfelt speeches about how phenomenal the guest of honor has been to them all their lives. During the festivities, mom turned to me and said, "When I'm 88, there will only be three of you." Any chance you can come home and take the heat off me for like five minutes?

It was odd for all of us to be together at Not Your Birthday party on your actual birthday. And because everyone was speaking in Gujarati, I had no idea what was being said. So I had about three hours with my own thoughts. 

Yes, I'm wearing your old scrubs every day (and if you still think I'm going to pay you by the hour for using them, you can keep waiting for it). Even though you never worked in my department, people keep asking how you are and it's funny for me to be known as your sister instead of the other way around for once. One of the girls training me even said she was trained by you. I can't imagine you training anyone on anything other than obscure football regulations and video-game cheats (Up, Down, Up, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right, A, B, A, B, Select, Start). But when I think about it, you've taught me a lot: about living life for the moment, not caring so much about what people think and not tripping over myself by trying to do *the right thing* all the time. I just haven't been a very good student. Oh well, we all have our roles. 

Another thing mom said at the birthday party was how it was so nice that the 88-year-old got to hear how much her family respects and loves her. Those kinds of speeches are often only made at funerals and who knows if the person ever knew how much people cared while she/he was alive. You're too cool for school and all, but it means a lot to me that you're not too cool to say you love me back when I say it before hanging up. Because the biggest  thing I've learned from having you as a brother is that time is precious, people grow up and go far away and that I shouldn't waste a single opportunity to tell the ones I love how much they mean to me. 

Happy birthday, you big dork.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

aw snap, the Auntie Patrol is locked and loaded

So this morning at like 6am, A and I were up on one of the floors of the hospital to see a nurse about a patient, and I spotted one of the members of the Auntie Patrol sitting at a nurse's unit with her nose buried in a chart.

The good little Indian girl that I am (You MUST "time-wish" anyone who is more than ten years older than you after church, no exceptions), I went up to her and gave her a hug. But while she was stunned I took off for the other end of the ward, realizing that if I weren't so well-trained I could have walked right past her and she never even would have noticed me. Damn internal programming.

I called my mom during break and warned her about the run-in so she could prepare. "Oh no," was all she had to say.

A understood the implications of what went down and shook her head about the "way 'the community' works." It's only a matter of time before the rumor mill starts churning and my mom has to deflect talk about about what a shame, with my degree from that live-away-from-home university, it is that I am doing something that has nothing to do with said degree. I reminded her that I am still freelancing in my field and that I plan on more school as soon as I figure out what, and hello, BENEFITS? We don't have to make excuses to anyone. But I hate to have put her in a position where my parents will likely be judged. Because a) they didn't create this craptasticular economy b) letting me follow my own path actually made them better parents c) shit happens.

There's a chance the Auntie Patrol will exercise some discretion and refrain from slinging backhanded compliments about how getting into the medical field is such a great idea, even if it's so late, or casually mentioning that kids I used to babysit are already two years into medical school. But there surely will be commentary out of earshot. Who knows, maybe that's a good thing; it'll take their minds off wondering if my sexual orientation is the X factor keeping me from being married already.

I'm not terribly upset about this, because it's better than having one of them come in as my patient and see that I'm still working out the kinks on my stretcher-parking. Again, I know I don't have to explain myself to anybody. But seriously, what are the odds?

*"Time wish"= saying "Good [morning/evening]/Happy [Thanksgiving/Christmas/New Year/Easter], Generic term for relation such as [Uncle/Auntie/Big Sister/Big Brother]." Those kids who did not act accordingly back in the day were perceived as snotty little brats who were not raised properly.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

home is where i'm at

Whenever I'm living outside my parents' home, I have a confusion about what to call it. If I tell my mom I'm coming to her house, she snaps Oh, so all of a sudden this isn't your home? And then when I call the condo "The Condo," H is like so this isn't your home? So I've decided that wherever I'm headed is Home, like the concept behind Air Force One.

The first week at the hospital is over. I was so exhausted that I spent the majority of my time back at the condo sleeping, which I'm sure was awesome for H, whom I barely got any time to talk to all week. We're heading to my parents' house today for barbecue and maybe even some baking, but I didn't roll out of bed until noon so my mother is annoyed. She wanted us to come over early. H wants us to stay here longer so he could spend time with me when my eyes are actually open. I just wanted to clear out 600-some unread posts on my google reader (I've now got it down to 11, thankyouverymuch).

One thing I did catch with my eyes open was the pilot of Glee. Then we went back and watched the Director's Cut version (which explains weird comments like "you changed out of your uniform?" when there weren't any), and I better understood the premise. Cc told me that the show would make me feel happy inside, and darn tootin, she was right. I even spotted Lauren from So You Think You Can Dance in the "Rehab" number. I think this show is going to be very entertaining. And sad as it sounds, few things make me feel happy inside like really well-done television.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

shuteye does a body good

Sorry about the whinefest yesterday, and thanks for your comment, Supacoo. I got to sleep around 10:30 last night and it made an enormous difference in my outlook. And I'm starting to pick up on little things here and there (as they said I would), so that was nice. Today we were less slammed, so there was more time for chit chat; people do care to know what I'm about, after all. Though they don't readily seem to understand why my industry has become so bad that I'm willing to start this completely different job from scratch. I'm guessing it's been quite some time since they've been without steady work and/or healthcare benefits. Which is probably a good example of the job security.

I'm going to start taking advantage of my free hospital fitness center as soon as they can process the paperwork. Living in suburbia means no more booking it from one place to another on foot because I'm late, so I'll need the scheduled exercise. At 1:30 (when I get off these days), the place will be mostly empty!

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

here i am, back again

The way I'm feeling today is due to sleep deficiency (it's not easy to make yourself fall asleep by 9 p.m.) and fatigue from two days of feeling like a deer caught in headlights. On roller skates.

There are so many this-is-an-exception-to-the-rule-don't-write-this-part-down moments in the job I'm trying to learn that people say it takes a minimum of 90 days to get it all straight. Of course I assumed that amount of time did not apply to me; I expect myself to master things on the first or second attempt and not picking things up right away sends me into a shame spiral. This has happened at every job, and yet it catches me by surprise every time.

But this time I feel a sadness on top of the disappointment and confusion. I got smacked in the face by just how totally out of my element I am. During break someone was reading a gossip mag that mentioned something pertaining to my old career she thought was surprising. I saw an opportunity to show I'm not totally brainless (despite the number of times I ask people to re-explain certain things), so I shared some behind-the-scenes knowledge from my old job. The person um-hmmmed. I started to elaborate, but she cut me off with a comment about Heidi Pratt's boob job.

At that moment it was clear nobody in this new arena is going to give a blob of zebra poop about my old career or how good I had been in it. It's the feeling I'd get at Indian parties when some Uncle asked what I studied and when he heard that it wasn't medicine or law or engineering, he'd put on the death-in-the-family expression, say "that's nice beta" and start talking to somebody else as if I had wasted his time. As much as it really shouldn't matter, that shit makes me think of myself as a zero for a long time.

I realize that's silly and this is an adjustment. I'm sure I'll go through some kind of mourning period, too. But reality is nipping at my ankles. It's like I got caught in a loop right back to when I started this blog in 2005: living at my parents' house while barely covering a fat mortgage on someplace else, and working hours that designate the tv as my main extra-curricular companion. My conversations with H don't even benefit from a time-zone difference. But at least I'll get to see him on the weekends.

I am also looped back to where I was back in 2000, the place where I spent four years as a volunteer and another four years as a seasonal employee trying to convince myself that a career in medicine could be viable for me. I decided it couldn't and bucked my parents' expectations to go in my own direction. For years I busted my behind for peanuts, crap hours and no vacation time, hoping it'd eventually feel rewarding. In return, I got laid off three times in three years and had to vie against the best as well as the least expensive competition in my industry.

This time around, medicine seems more viable--what with all the real-world experience I have now--and at least I secured a steady part-time position. I had my shot at what I thought I wanted to be when I grew up, and it wasn't a cakewalk, either. I guess I have to throw the sense of entitlement I built up from working hard all that time into the trunk, lock it up and suck it up. It's nice that mom and dad have held back from saying they'd told me so.