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.