Thursday, March 26, 2009

dipping in

One of the coolest projects that have kept me busy the last few weeks had me focusing on penmanship.

My pal EB is getting married in May, and as a gift to her and her future husband I did the calligraphy on the outside of their invitations. I hadn't worked in pen and ink for several years, but with a little practice I got the hang of it again. Plus it was a fabulous reason to buy a bunch of new nibs and inks.

For me, the best way to hone a skill is by playing for keeps. And this project slowed me down and steadied my hand--it's amazing how few envelopes you waste by actually stopping to think about what you're going to do before dipping the pen. I played with several sizes, styles, fonts and colors before showing EB three samples I thought would work well that were inspired by the scripty font on her invites. She ended up choosing the one I liked best.

I found myself looking forward to the addresses with a capital H or W--those two are fun to do and seem prettier to me than the rest.

All this got me thinking about how bizarre it is that I type faster than I write, and when I do jot anything down, endings of words trail off in a squiggle, I often don't bother with dots or crosses, and most people can't even read my handwriting. Why bother? Everything's electronic--H even makes To Do lists on the iPhone--and I rarely have a need to bust out the penmanship. I have even less patience to do it legibly.

But there's a satisfaction that comes with taking the time to make something pretty. And about 160 invites looked awfully sweet laid out to dry. I'm looking forward to doing this again sometime.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

if the first year is the toughest, we've totally got this

"Dude, can you believe that as of yesterday it's been a year since you moved here?"

"It doesn't feel like a whole year. More like six months."

"How ridiculous is it that we used to see each other for a weekend after being apart a month or two and that was totally fine, but now it's weird just to go a week without seeing each other?"

"Funny how things change."

"They say the first year of living together is the hardest."

"And people were concerned about us being practically on top of each other in such a little condo, too."

"I'm pretty surprised it's gone so smoothly, considering there's really no personal space."

"If anything, you think the place is too big. If I'm sitting on the chair you're wondering why I'm not next to you on the couch."

"Yeah, and when you're in the other room you seem so far away...I'll bet we could even make do with a studio!"

"Let's not push it."

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

the difference: you can give a toddler a time out

My mom's surgery last Tuesday went well; the doctor said it was rare to see flaps around a hole like that fall closed during surgery and that was a great sign. She was groggy for a few days, but diligently sat in her chair--for the first few days, anyway.

She has to sit where the purple scarf is (the seat is shaped like bicycle seat and only slightly comfier), knees on the blue pads and face in the white horseshoe-shaped pillow. The purple-and-pink thing is a hand mirror, and taped under the pillow is my high school locker mirror (they allow her to sort of see the television). She has another pillow apparatus to help her sleep face-down, too. That really sucks--she pretty much didn't sleep at all for five days.

The mirror that came with the chair is all scratched and warped. But they sent us a new one yesterday.

As much as I yell about staying in the chair, I can't imagine having to be face down for nearly 24 hours a day. Yesterday I sat on the floor with the laptop for four hours and my neck was killing me. The pain meds prescribed for my mom weren't so much for the eye, but for her aching back and sore neck. Poor woman.

But that was last week. As of Sunday, she still has to sit in the chair but can sleep on her side, so both of us are getting some much-needed rest. She's also feeling a lot better. However that means she is itching to move around and do stuff. I had been up late and overslept this morning, and in a few hours she managed to do laundry, make puri (Indian fried bread) from scratch, make sevayian (Indian sweet dish made with angelhair pasta), chop the veggies I got from the grocery store and scrape the stickers off our new front and storm doors and window. She swears she kept her head down the whole time.

About 45 minutes ago she left the chair to use the bathroom and I heard the sound of chopping spinach. I got my brother on the phone to give her a good scolding and she sat back down. Then I went to finish chopping the spinach and hadn't been in the kitchen two minutes before she was out in the driveway dragging in the empty garbage cans from the curb. All this is making me question my mothering capabilities; if I can't wrangle one grown woman, how the heck am I going to raise children?

I'm delighted that my mom is feeling better. Every four hours when she takes off the eye patch for drops, she can see a tiny bit more. She says it's more like a curtain opening from the top down. We see the doctor again on Thursday. Hopefully we can say goodbye to the chair very soon.

In the meantime, we've been flooded with so many good vibes, cards, flowers and presents that the living room looks like a gift shop. It's wonderful to see just how many people love my mom almost as much as we do. I won't attempt to post photos of all the flowers, but I had to include this, which is so huge I put my mom's iPod in the shot to show just how ginormous it is.

I'm thinking they miss her back at the office.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

patching up the hole

My mom's vitrectomy (eye surgery) is at 5:30 a.m. this morning. It is 1:05 a.m. and I'm bouncing off the walls because I made the mistake of inhaling a full-size Snickers bar at 9:45. Bad idea.

I've been at my parents' house for a few days and haven't been online. So now that there's little chance that someone will call my mother from other continents, I am attempting to check email, twitter and the blogs. On dialup. Dialup in general is very frustrating--Google Reader doesn't even register when you're checking gmail in basic HTML view--so I may just give up soon.

My mom's massage chair-like "Face-Down Recovery" apparatus arrived on Saturday. The delivery person adjusted it for her and showed her how they expected her to see anything when her face is planted into a pillow with a hole in it: A considerably warped "mirror" made of folded plastic that makes you feel like you're looking through your grandmother's bifocals. Horrid. H and I rigged up a much more effective one with a hand mirror, Velcro, electrical tape and my magnetic locker mirror from high school. Nothing's going to keep my momma from enjoying her Hindi soap operas in their full blingtastic-fashion glory.

Unfortunately, despite the badass viewing experience we created, the longest my mom could bear to sit in the chair was fifteen minutes. I even had to sit in it for half an hour to prove that it wasn't the most miserable activity in the universe, after which she accused me of "just saying that to make her feel better."

If you think it's insane that I can't watch tv without doing at least one other thing at the same time, you haven't seen my mother in action. It takes me a full day to accomplish what she does in a few hours. And if you lend a hand in her kitchen and don't hear some form of "move your hands and feet faster," either she's not feeling well or you're not in the right kitchen.

This surgery is supposed to repair the macular hole in the central part of her retina, which could leave her blind if it goes unsuccessfully treated.

During the operation, the surgeon first gently removes the vitreous gel with a procedure called vitrectomy. This eliminates any traction on the macula. A gas bubble is injected in the eye to place gentle pressure on the macula and help the hole to seal. In many cases, patients enjoy functional vision after the bubble has dissipated and the eye has healed.

To keep gravitational pressure on her macula, she has to sit face-down for "23 and a half hours a day for 10-15 days." So it's going to be torture for her to be stuck in a chair/lying-down contraption at the mercy of slower and more incompetent family members like myself. As I've described before, my mom is a nurse who can be a terrible patient. I've compiled a list of people to call when (not if) she gets unruly and doesn't follow orders. Top of the list? My brother, who has more than earned the right to yell at her about these matters. In fact, he can probably employ some of the lines she's used on him during all those months of open-heart-surgery recovery when he was stubborn and rude and cranky and in pain and unable to eat or even drink a thing. I'm sure the reminder of what she's had to watch him go through will be enough to keep her in line.

But in case that doesn't faze her, I'll play my trump card: Reminding her that if she wants to see what those future grandchildren look like, she needs to suck it up and make a full recovery.

Monday, March 09, 2009

this hold music sounds like a perversion of the Knight Rider theme song

Yesterday I attended a lovely brunch with my college girls. It was raining like nobody's business, so I am very thankful that pp swung by to pick me up so I didn't have to take the El and the bus. On the way over there, she asked me what I had been up to and was as surprised as I am that I haven't completed as many projects as I had planned since being laid off.

So I've been paying attention to what I've done today to get a better idea.

Today I got out of bed a few minutes after H left for work (about 8:10 a.m.), brushed my teeth, ate some yogurt and granola and caught up on my google reader. I finished watching The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (which I had seen a few minutes of and recorded last week) and Noises Off (which I started watching last night when I couldn't fall asleep) while working on the calligraphy on EB's wedding invitation envelopes. And then I watched an episode of Monk (the one where he gets buried alive).

Then Citibank crank-called me again. I've been trying to talk to them about the mortgage for weeks and get transferred into their automated telephone system until I want to throw the phone out the window. Seriously, the time ratio of being on hold:talking to a live person is about 12,000,000,000,000 minutes to 1. Every time I have to explain my situation and give all my info, then they give me the "direct number" and "transfer" me--which usually means hold music for awhile and then a few rings before it hangs up on me. Or else I'll be on hold for several minutes and suddenly get a busy signal. It's no different when they call me, either.

Today I talked to--each in a separate call with a separate amount of hold time--Raman, Manisha, Brittany, Ron and now Nick. I've been on hold with the last one for about 1 hour, 4 minutes and 17 seconds now. However, he seems to actually care about helping me and actually said he'd hang with me until I get some help. That right there was worth the wait.

I'm shocked I forgot to tell pp that being on hold takes up a big chunk of my day. Are there any jobs that require listening to a loop of recorded messages backed up by annoying music? Because I'm starting to feel like a pro.

4:20 p.m. I've been on hold 1 hour, 34 minutes and 38 seconds. Now I'm working with someone named Melinda, who is looking into my situation. I've now found out that there's a chance my account has been misclassified all these years. Great. Kudos to Nick, who stayed with me, checking in every few minutes until I got to Melinda.

Sadly, this is the most productive call I've had in nearly a month.

***update 2****
So I'm working with Melinda, who puts me on hold while she goes to check on how my account has been misfiled and I'm waiting. Suddenly some Indian-sounding lady (I normally wouldn't categorize, but I happen to be intimately familiar with how they sound and have recently been talking with dozens of call-center people) gets on the line, says "You're welcome" as if she were in the middle of talking to someone else, and HANGS UP ON ME.

Then I spent about thirty minutes trying to get back to Melinda, dialing through the maze of all the automated menus and the numbers various people have given me. To no avail. I talk to Cindy, Felicia, Clint and then finally Eric, who seems nice. He asks me all my information and then comments on how I must be living downtown because of my mortgage. That jokester. He shut up after I told him I'd been talking to Citibank since 2 p.m. Maybe if I hadn't already spent several HOURS ON HOLD I could have laughed along with him. He says he'll try to get me back to the department where Melinda works and gave me a direct number. He said because it's an internal transfer, I'd be bumped up to the next available person, but he's not sure if Melinda is gone for the day. Then he transfers me.

It rings, then a message says they are CLOSED FOR THE DAY. Then it hangs up on me.


The worst part is that there are people out there with much bigger problems than I have. I pray they're getting better treatment than I am. EFF YOU CITIBANK. Because I'm going to become the nightmare that keeps coming and coming and coming UNTIL YOU TALK TO ME.

Because, you know, I don't have anything better to do.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

when your elbows are throbbing, it's time to put down the knitting needles

For someone without a job, you'd think I'd have a ton of time to post. Especially when I have spent entire stretches from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. sitting at the computer without even realizing I'd forgotten to eat lunch. But for some reason, I can't seem to find much to say that can't be summed up by what I've already said in this post. Which would get old pretty quickly.

Aside from looking for a new gig, I have been logging in some serious hours in front of the television--escaping into the drama of fictional people really takes the edge off of my real-life issues. And you know I can't watch tv unless I'm doing something else at the same time. Like knitting. Here are a few of my latest projects, which took SO much longer to complete than I had anticipated:

"Spiderweb" crochet afghan

"February Lady Sweater" for my mom's birthday (shh, don't tell her)

Baby booties on the fly for an impromptu shower that unfortunately didn't happen.

I'm also doing a few other projects that are either a) not completely finished yet b) going to be received by someone who reads this blog c) already given away without my having taken a picture.

I think I need to take a break because my arms really have been hurting lately. So perhaps there will be more posts up here soon. Stay tuned!