Friday, November 28, 2008

thanksgiving 2008--brought to you by jr

Yes, I had more of the gum graft surgery on the day before Thanksgiving--long story, but it was a timing, healing, following up thing--so more than a week before the big day, Jr announced that it was time for me to put together a list of cleaning, shopping, cooking, and preparing chores and a timeline for completion of such, so that if the almost-an-eagle-scout dentist was right this time and my mouth was sore, we could still enjoy Thanksgiving in the gardens.

Jr, with backup from Jack and Herschel (and some from Stu, Shi, and me) created and served a wonderful feast--

13--count 'em--13 pies
(apple, pumpkin, pecan, berry)
(check out the huge bowl of yummy fruit salad on the bar)

homemade, from scratch, rolls
(yes, jr cleaned the toaster!)

the drummer candying his favorite
sweet potatoes

just for fun--a lovely berries, bananas,
heart-shaped raspberry jello
(yes, that's stuffing in the background
and very ripe bananas)

some of us like very ripe bananas
(check out those veggies)

what a beautiful table!
with herschel's other contribution
next time you eat at a place with cloth napkins--
remember, these are not as easy as they look

the company--uncle boyd

great gramma, shi and the darling

four men and a turkey

and what is a thanksgiving feast
without a cat by the fire?


if you check out the counters and the sink in these photos,
you can probably guess my contribution to the day

Thursday, November 27, 2008

one of those shortlong nights

it is early
the house is quiet but
for a dripping faucet and
jack's uneven breathing and
cats stalking each other
and other imaginary foes

it is quiet
but ere long, clutter will be tidied
then turkey, rolls, massive sweet potatoes and
tiny red potatoes, fruit salad and vegetables
will be roasted and kneaded and candied and
mashed and mixed and beautified

the quiet will be overcome by the preparation--
the tidying into full-blown cleaning
the aromas and the sounds of the feast about to be
and the voices and feelings of the blessed

and after the doing
and the feeling
and the blessed chaos,
comes the peace
and the gratitude
and the quiet.

blessed is the soul who finds and feels the gratitude.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

today, not so much

gum graft followup surgery--at this moment, and for the past two hours, not on my list of things i'm grateful for.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

everybody's doin' it? maybe.

stained glass
utah wins again
birds, large and small
lots of rodents where the big birds live
the love of my life
joe peschi
my car
the independence of cats
changes in the weather
skiing on the greatest snow on earth
good health
boy shorts
rapidly developing medical breakthroughs
photos of my girlies
time with my kids
palm trees
a walk in the park
unnamed regular readers of my blog
regular readers
commenting readers
running water
bodies of water
my body
joyful dancing
needed hugs
welcome phone calls
white cotton sheets
willie nelson
red lipstick
two gold bands
hair satisfaction
eric clapton
whispy smoke
the future
satisfying food
rock walls
the zoo
new york city
mail in the box from others
washington, dc
new orleans
jazz and blues and zydeco
yard sales
colorful scarves
eclectic lamps
johnny depp
modern conveniences
mass transit
my bike
cheese enchiladas
fresh guacamole
dustin hoffman
simply beautiful women
nail polish
clothes that fit
deep thinking
clean tile
no guns
moving my body
fresh berries
red potatoes with mashed skins
striped shirts on little boys
tidy closets
finished space in the basement
harvey keitel
a home in the mountains
john travolta
comfy or cute new shoes
sunlight in the morning
evening light
night skies full of stars
jamie lee curtis
christopher walken
diane keaton
indoor plumbing
hot, fresh whole grain bread

Monday, November 24, 2008

what a great place i live in

I may not have mentioned that my mind has been a bit confused for the past few days. In my mind, it feels like spring--a time to clear out the cobwebs, to organize and tidy up, and to revel in the lightness that is spring. Yes, there have been some moments of winter, but that is spring--a time to move from the dark coldness in the depths of winter toward the warm sunny days of summer.

While my mind feels spring, my eyes and all of my senses were convinced today that it is autumn. Earlier today, I drove north on the Legacy Parkway. I know it was a controversial highway project, but I can't help myself--I drive it every chance I get. It takes me through areas I never knew existed--marshes and wetlands, and also opens beautiful new mountain views, so many desert colors in the marshes, and textures I only see in a marsh or wetland, and because the speed limit is 55 mph, I have time to soak it all in as I drive.

I realize that if it is autumn today, it will be winter before too long, but as I drove, inhaling so much beauty with my eyes that my heart ached, I could only hope I had saved this day somewhere in my mind where I can find it and remember it when the cold dark days and nights of winter surround.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

oddity or fact?

1. One of my friends--who I won't identify by name, but her name is the same as the stuff you sprinkle on sugar cookies--emphatically insists that men who drive big monster SUVs--think Hummer--have small body parts somewhere. On their bodies. Which will forever change the way I view guys in Hummers, in much the same way that reading fortune cookie messages changed forever after a friend suggested I add the words, "in bed" to the end of my fortune cookie message.

2. I've been performing an experiment recently. In my twenties, I started shaving my legs nearly every day. Not in an act of rebellion against my mother, who insisted that the more often you shave, the faster the hair grows, but instead, at the advice of a silly girl I worked with at the time who insisted it was much easier to shave every morning in the shower. Yeh, I let an airhead who was probably five years younger than me determine how often I would perform this ritual, and lucky for me, she didn't suggest something more outrageous, like exercising without a bra to ensure good muscle tone or consuming 5000 calories every day to improve my skin.

Back to my experiment. Some of my friends--not the friend mentioned in #1 above--are a few years older than me, and they claim that they no longer shave their legs because the hair has stopped growing. Whaaaa? No more shaving? A benefit to aging besides all of the wisdom I've gained? It sounded good to me, so just like that (picture my fingers snapping), I gave up shaving.

I had to change the plan after six days and three of those days were when I was under the influence of lortab. For the past few weeks, I've been shaving once a week, and it's, um, okay as long as I don't look at or touch my legs. And nobody else does either.

I'm not sure where this whole experiment is going, but let me say that I cannot even describe how disappointed I was this morning when, after a very thorough shaving, I turned off the shower and opened the door to grab a towel and watched as Millie hurried into the shower and rubbed up against my hairless legs, leaving more hair than I could grow in three months.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

seriously, is it me?

This morning, after breakfast at the IHOP, Sugar and I decided to do some shopping, but first I needed to stop at my financial institution to deposit a check. We pulled up to the window in the drive-up lane and demanded to see Jr because he's a teller there. That always startles the newbie tellers and dang if it didn't work today. Jr came over to tell Wes that it was his mom, not to worry, and while Wes deposited the check into my account, Jr asked if I'd get him a chai tea at the Starbucks next door and when I said yes, he passed me my receipt with a note that gave me detailed instructions about how to order his tea and to also, please, pick up a couple of pieces of banana nut loaf. I told him I'd be back in a minute with his tea and I'd be sending it through the drive-up window drawer, unless, of course, Jr decided to meet me out front to pick it up.

Sugar and I went through the Starbucks drive-through and picked up Jr's order and then we returned to the drive-up lane to give Jr his breakfast. I pulled up behind a truck in the lane closest to the building. Wes was doing his best to quickly help the guy in the truck, but after a minute, I decided to go to the next lane, one of the lanes with a tube that shoots transactions up and into the bank, intending to press the call button to tell Jr to meet me out front.

As I started driving into the center lane, Sugar, with an urgency in her voice that I don't think I've heard ever before, yelled out, "Hey, wait, you can't send Jr his tea from this lane!" And at the same instant, Jr said that inside the bank, Wes was urging him to "Stop your mom before she puts that hot tea into the tube!!!"

After I stopped laughing hysterically and Jr came outside to pick up his tea and then went back inside to calm down Wes and the rest of the employees in the lobby, I wondered if maybe I still have some of the outer crazy to rope in, or if Wes and Sugar think I look just young and rebellious enough to follow through on my offer (perhaps viewed as a threat?) to deliver Jr's tea through the drive-up?

Friday, November 21, 2008

here we go again

1. Stu's doc called, his numbers are down some, still elevated even for him, the scope is scheduled for December 4, and none of us, not Stu, or me, or Shi, or Jack, or even little Audrey can do a thing about it except see what happens next.

2. I succumbed to peer pressure today at work. My employer, headquartered in Minneapolis (where there must be a state law requiring all citizens to own at least three items that have images of moose on them) is all about keeping us healthy, as in, higher insurance premiums for smokers, $100 refund of yearly health club dues, etc. Because this is the start of hibernation time in the cold northern regions, the company is again sponsoring the 'weigh to go' delio wherein we sign up as teams and have regular weigh-ins to see if we can either maintain our weight as a team or lose weight during the holidays. My team will be self-weighing using the well-established honor code concept because none of us are willing to admit out loud just how much we weigh. After work tonight, I hung up all the clothes that were hanging over my treadmill and I walked on it for 30 minutes. (Come on, give it up for me, yeh, that's better, I can hear the cheers now...)

3. Sugar emailed a cookbook to me today that had 594 pages of recipes (excluding the index pages and cover). It is full of 'actual' recipes from popular restaurants (Olive Garden, KFC to name a few), favorite candies and goodies, and of course, the original Mrs. Fields' cookie recipes. whatever. Tonight I cooked rice in my rice cooker, scrambled up some eggs, and tossed the rice, eggs, some leftover shredded carrots (that were cooked with a bit of butter and honey), onions, and toasted sesame seeds together in my biggest frying pan. And for good measure, I added some tiny peas. The recipe--yes, I was following a recipe, but I didn't have all of the ingredients--called for soy sauce, but unfortunately the bottle of soy I've had in my fridge for how long I don't know, was nearly unopenable, and when I did get it opened, before pouring some into the fried rice mixture, I carefully sniffed at it and was overwhelmed by the smell of very ripe vinegar, so I left out the soy and instead added a bit of salt and freshly ground pepper. It didn't look at all like fried rice, and it didn't taste a whole lot like the fried rice I've had at Benihana, but dang it was good. Tomorrow maybe I'll make the Olive Garden Toscana soup--potatoes, sausage, greens in a cream sauce--or perhaps I'll make some of the Sizzler cheese toast.

So there you go--I exercised and cooked today. And to reward myself, I'm going to the kitchen right now to get some oreos or ice cream bars for me and Jack. And when our year's supply of oreos from the Costco is gone, I'll simply make more because, yep, you guessed it, I've got the recipe.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

worst case scenario

Remember the other day when I blogged about some bits of news, and then when I blogged about feeling so hopeful? See, if I were in my right mind (or wherever it is in my head where I keep everything straight--obviously a very small, unused room) I would have the door slightly ajar to the nagging feeling room in my brain and not spat right in the face of the fates or whatever it is that happens when I proclaim all is well.

And here are thing 1 and thing 2 for today:

1. The doc followed up with Stu today. Those three higher than normal numbers were high even for Stu, oh, and yes, so is the bilirubin number. More tests today, results tomorrow. Worst case scenario: scope of liver ducts, early December; still worst case scenario: scope within a scope (hello again, mr. spyglass scope, aka the scope the doc uses to biopsy ducts); and worst of all worst case scenarios: biopsies show atypical cells, i.e., cancer, which puts Stu in the liver transplant program and at the top of the liver transplant recipient list.

I keep telling myself--worse case scenario, worse case scenario...

To remind myself that all of #1 above are clearly the worst case scenario(s) and most, if not all of them will not occur in the near future--when I start thinking that these scenarios are imminent, I will instead think of times like this afternoon when:

2. My phone rang and Jr was calling to tell me that Ann Taylor is closing a bunch of stores after Christmas so if I happen to have any gift cards from Ann, I better use them quickly before they are no longer valid.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

willie nelson may be right again

Several years ago, I read or heard Willie Nelson say that his life was really good right then, but he wasn't sure that was so good for his songwriting. He couldn't write when he was feeling great.

After my lame post of yesterday, I started thinking long and hard about Willie. And the life and times of Gilian. (Did I just refer to myself in the third person? arg. It's worse than I thought.)

I don't remember if I've posted any random thoughts lately, but these are the most recent--

1. I am almost off all of the drugs--just four more low, low doses of the anti-d's and then it's just a matter of time until I lose the anti-d/sleep inducer, which likely means the crazy, chaotic, entertaining, glimpse into my psychi dreams will end or I won't be able to remember them--but, anyway, the drug year is coming to an end.

2. Sometimes--like when I'm trying to post every day--in my mind, I hear the Sesame Street episode where Telly and Baby Bear are trying to figure out how to get the word "DOG" to get back in Abbi Kadabbi's magic book, and even though Telly thinks and thinks, his brain will not alert him to a good idea with a 'DING'. He thinks and thinks and finally admits, "I got nothin'."

3. Today I am hopeful. Jr seems happier, Jr and the Drummer are hanging out and enjoying each other, and in some cases, are contemplating dating, and in other cases, moved from contemplating dating to actually going on a date, Audrey will be a big sister next summer, Jack and I are in tune, Cory got a job, Jessie and the girls seem happy, scientists announced today that they had successfully used stem cells to replace an organ in a French woman, Dooce is pregnant, and well, I heard on the news, that O'Bama beat McCain by 296 votes in Salt Lake County.

4. With so much good in my world, it's no wonder I'm having a hard time writing. Perhaps my post today can be a reminder to those who are still in the dark or painful or extremely creative place that sometimes it can be light, painfree, and maybe even less creative, but still very good.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

i try to not fall for the cute stuff

Sugar sent me an email today that had pictures of a baby panda, from birth to four months. I'm pretty sure she found it on the internet, but there was no one to credit, so just know that I would credit the photographer if I could.

This little guy reminds me of baby siamese kittens that start out white with no markings and by the time they're weaned, their siamese marks have appeared.

So, here's the panda, enjoy the cuteness factor, and I'll be back tomorrow, cranky as ever.

Monday, November 17, 2008

you'll never believe this

Got back to the calm of the office this morning, still emotionally drained from the whole missed plane, stuck in the airport for four hours, no pincesses for mama with the girlies (who told me all of the things they saw and loved) and nowhere near enough time for me to recover (although I did my very best, obviously, because I made it to work) and guess what was in my email inbox?

A customer satisfaction survey from Southwest Airlines.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

missed it by this much

After the retirement ceremony (see next post) and the yummy buffet at the Academy, Eileen (my coworker), Jack, and I went back to our base housing, watched a movie, and sacked out for the night. (Uh, just to clarify, Eileen had her own room.) But there were a few bits of news on Friday to share (or not) and then there were the events of Saturday. Yes, you're getting another list or two. Plus explanations. This will be another long post, but well, that's what this post needs.

Bits of News:
1. Stu and Shi called with some exciting news that we cannot share just yet, but you can probably guess...
2. Later in the day, Stu called to tell me the results of his recent blood tests that were ordered because the whites of his eyes were yellow. The results: see the doctor this week because the three levels that were measured were respectively, 10 times, 15 times, and 20 times higher than normal.

Events of Saturday:
1. *Rising, showering, makeuping, dressing, packing, ordering three tickets online for the 2:30 Disney on Ice show back at home so the girlies, their moms, and I could see the 'pincesses', leaving the Academy.
2. *Breakfast at the IHOP.
3. *Got in the rental car and drove onto freeway.
4. *Realized the map to the airport was in the trunk.
5. *Decided we could probably find our way back without the map.
6. Enjoyed the drive--
7. *Until we realized we might need the map after all because we took the exit we thought made sense, drove past a couple of exits, realized things didn't look familiar, got off the freeway, stopped in the Target parking lot, checked the map in the trunk, acknowledged we took the wrong exit, got back on the freeway, and took the right exit towards the airport.
8. Started enjoying the ride a tiny bit less.
9. *Got off the freeway to fill up the rental car gas tank at the Conoco located closest to the rental car lot (as 'required' by the rental car company), filled up the tank, and waited in line inside the Conoco for the "required" receipt because the gas tank printer was out of order.
10. Re-entered the freeway, took the exit for rental car returns and dropped off the car.
11. Took the rental shuttle back to the airport.
12. *Waited for the shuttle driver to unload twelve suitcases for four women who tried their best to slow down the unloading process, and did, indeed, succeed at slowing down the process. And didn't give the driver a tip.
13. *Got off the shuttle at the next entrance into the airport--maybe 100 feet from the unloading process for the four women.
14. *Entered the airport, walked to the self-service kiosk for Southwest Airlines, and printed our tickets.
15. *Walked to the security lines, asked a TSA person if we would have a problem making our flight that was departing in half an hour, was reassured that we'd have 'no problem', and waited for our turn to enter the security process.
16. Chose the line with the 'most likely to be frequent, thus quicker through security' fellow travelers.
17. *Waited while TSA-carry-on luggage-scanner employees relieved each other for break (accompanied by much chatter and joviality).
18. *Finally went through security, redressed, repacked, headed to shuttle to concourses.
19. *Missed shuttle to concourse, waited three minutes for next shuttle, rode shuttle to Concourse C.
20. *Exited shuttle, rode escalator up two levels to gates.
21. *Walked on moving sidewalk past Gates 1-29 to Gate B30.
22. *Exited moving sidewalk, ran to Gate B32.

*All opportunities to save anywhere from 30 seconds to several minutes thus ensuring we would make our flight home in time for me to accompany the girlies and their moms to the pincesses show. Alas, we did not save any of those seconds or minutes and missed our flight. No amount of pleading would convince the Southwest Airlines gateman (who closed the door as my fingers reached out to it, unlike the several times the Delta agent opened the door as I ran up and allowed me on the plane) to open the door and let us on the plane that sat there, mocking us, for at least 10 minutes after we arrived at the gate. Gateman's name escapes me because once I realized we were missing the flight, and I would be home no sooner than 4:50, clearly too late to pick up the ice show pincess tickets from will call with my photo id, order number, and credit card used to purchase the tickets, that not only would I be out the $116 I paid for front row seats (how amazing is that? it was cheaper to buy those tickets online on the day of show than it would have been if I'd purchased them through my work discount for upper bowl seats), and there was no way that Ticketmaster could exchange the seats for the 6:30 show because the tickets had already been printed---but more than any of that, the little girlies--one redhead in particular--had been talking about seeing the pincesses with mama (princesses with me) for days (two days, which in the mind of that redheaded two-year-old who asked her mom every half hour if it was time to go see the pincesses with mama, is an eeeternity), well, the idea of disappointing them and the dissapointment I felt by missing the opportunity to see their excitement and delight and even comfort their fears, was enough to cause me to simply crumble in a heap on the floor of Denver International Airport, tears leaking from my eyes, cell phone to my ear, while waiting for the compassionate Ticketmaster sales rep to change the name on the order for pickup at will call from mine to Jessie's.

We spent the next four hours, Jack encouraging me to do whatever I could to ease my pain (quesadilla's at The Cantina, gift-shopping for the girlies, chai tea from Starbucks at the end of Concourse B--way, way far away from Concourse C), until we barely made our next flight.

Yeh, I never learn, do I?

Saturday, November 15, 2008

rocky mountain high

1. Colorado Springs has some seriously great outdoors going on.
2. The Air Force Academy is an impressive place with its city within a city atmosphere--perhaps the same could be said of all bases, but not all bases are located in a beautiful forest, five minutes from a college town.
3. Colonel Michael L. Bell (my boss) retired after a 31-year career that was honored at his retirement ceremony on Friday at the Academy, and while I knew my boss is a smart lawyer, I had no idea how much he has contributed to the Air Force and his country, how unwilling he is to blow his own horn, and how deeply patriotic he is.
4. To be honest, I started this post on November 15, but I was too tired to finish it before Sunday.

Friday, November 14, 2008


good news. scary news. unexpected news. expected news. great, really great news.

i don't even know where to start.

must be the altitude here in colorado.

Thursday, November 13, 2008


I'm too weary to post much today, but let me notify you, in case you haven't noticed:

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

tooth-scrapin' update

I went back to see that sweet young boy scout who has been getting in his required hours of torture for his dental hygiene merit badge, in my mouth. Seriously, he is the nicest kid (who's probably in his early thirties) and he is so kind--just before he starts hurting me.

Today's visit was a five-minute appearance. You will be happy to know that the roof of my mouth (site of the donor graft) is healing nicely, keep up the good work.

However, when he carefully pulled my lower lip away from my front teeth, I immediately heard him let out a long slow breath, and I thought that even through his paper mask, I could see him mouthing the words, "oh, my." With his fingers still in my mouth, I said, "Not what you usually see one week after surgery?" And he answered, "No, not usually." Not exactly what I hoped to hear.

He went on to tell me that he had hoped that all of the stitching he'd done in my mouth would still be in place, but unfortunately it looked like some of the stitches had come out prematurely, but not to worry, because it looked good. And I might have believed that looking good comment, except for the deepening worry lines in his young, baby-soft forehead skin.

He gave me this really cool red, really soft toothbrush for me to use in the tender areas. In two weeks, I go back for a 30-minute visit, during which, he hopes to accomplish two things. The first is to clip that little muscle that divides the front of my mouth and attaches my lip to my gums. He said that clipping would be easy. (What do I do with that comment? Easy like clipping my toenails? Easy like eating pie? Easy like delivering 10 lb twins?) The second procedure involves "filleting" my gums to reposition the grafts. Before filleting my gums and the new graft so he can insert the graft in between layers of gum tissue, he will, of course, need to prepare my teeth (and by prepare, I mean, scrub, rough up, and in general, bring back the achy pain) so that the graft and the gum tissue will grow into one happy little family with its adopted child, the scraped, once again achy, tooth and its root.

I'm telling you, I can hardly wait--for Christmas, because my next appointment is the day before Thanksgiving and did I mention that Jack's mom and brother and some of the kids will be over for my usual Thanksgiving production including the freshly made rolls and of course, pie.

Another stop at the Lortab Station. Seriously, about the best I can hope for is the novacain for an hour and that funny me on the gas. I crack me up.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

yes, another list

i wish...

i'd been more clear in my last post--i no longer see the pill-dispensing doc.

mean people recognized their meanness and immediately sent it packing.

good dogs didn't get old.

seriously great treats (my homemade pie, brownies, cream puffs, you know what i'm talking about, right?) were health-inducing, and only the 'waste of good sugar' treats (like those pale orange candy sugar marshmallow peanuts and those sugar easter eggs with the hard shells and hollow insides) were unhealthy.

dust bunnies and their compatriots were more attractive than cat nip to cats and were the best way to prevent fur balls in those same cats.

the time i can't spend with those i love didn't exist so that all time could be with those i care about so much.

people could cry when they needed to and smile more than cry, because they feel joy more than pain.

rainy days were 'in' days for adults--no going outside to go to work or school or appointments.

rainy days were only 'out' days for the adults who need to splash in the puddles.

Monday, November 10, 2008

i'm cuttin' back

I've noticed lately that a lot of medical personnel operate on the notion that if a little is good, but not quite great, well, then let's just up the dose, missy.

One of the things I learned in the pysch ward a year ago was to take what I was given; if I realized there were more pills or different colors of pills in the little cup I got every few hours, I took the pills and asked questions later. When I arrived at UNI, I took two pills each morning. When I left a week later, I took nine pills throughout the day. The first night, as promised by my therapist, I got a new pill at bedtime. But she was wrong about its effects. It was not a lovely deliverer to restful sleep. It was an amazing, frightening way to keep my mind racing, doors opening and slamming closed, screeching and crying, while all of my muscles relaxed so much that all I could do was lie still in bed, while my mind wrapped itself up in knots, warred against itself, and refused to realize that my eyes were closed and all of the images were in my mind. Likely one of the longest nights in my life.

Within a day or two, my three pills per day increased to nine. My antidepressant was increased and an anti-anxiety medication showed up in my little cup. By bedtime, I realized that I now had three pills that were a different color than the old familiar ones. When my psychiatrist and therapist showed up the next day for one of our three daily chats, I asked about the extra pills, and the psychiatrist explained that he thought I might need them, so he had added them to my cup list. Unlike the 'no such thing as a sleeping pill' pill from the first night, these new friends relaxed my body and my mind. Relaxed might not be a strong enough word--it was more like being asleep with my eyes open. Stupor-like, maybe. But, the doctor gave them to me in my trusty little cup, so I dutifully swallowed them down and waited for their magic. Unfortunately, those stupor-inducing pills turned me into a blubbering, quivering mass of uncontrollable emotional silly putty. I morphed into whatever was imprinted on me by those around me. And yet, after only a week, feeling more fragile and vulnerable then I had ever felt, the docs (or perhaps the insurance) sent me home. Astounding.

A few weeks after I left UNI, I saw a new psychiatrist and by new, I mean that I met with him for 20 minutes and at our next appointment, when I admitted that I was still crying just three weeks after my mind shattered, he introduced me to another new pill. Lythium. I had never heard anything about lythium, and the guy who prescribed it seemed convinced it would cheer me up and hey, it's nothing to worry about, trust me, ms gillian. So I did. After only a few days, I was beyond relaxed, beyond stupor, close to zombie. Walking, non-dead zombie. My eyes were open, but I wasn't home. More often than not, my eyes were closed, my mind begging for rest.

After three months on all of those pills, even I started to wonder where I'd gone. The shrink seemed offended when I asked about lowering doses, so I checked in with my internal medicine guy, who agreed that I was taking high doses of strong medications, and also agreed that I could, over a few weeks, stop taking six of the ten pills. After a while, the coma with my eyes open was relieved, and even though I still had some crazy side effects that were caused by the pills I took to control the crazy in me, I started to feel better. And I started seeing the amazing Carolyn, my therapist.

A few months ago, some of my scarier crazy symptoms reappeared and the regular doc increased my antidepressant. And increased my antidepressant. That's when the tremors increased and the involuntary twitches reappeared. Oh, and then I discovered my inability to put together a coherent sentence--mostly, I think, because not only were my fingers trembling, my brain had seemingly became a bowl of jello. Man, was it fun to hang out with me. Okay, maybe it was fun for others, but not so fun for me. And hello, I was with me almost constantly.

That's why, a month ago, I decided it was time to see who I am now, after all of the drugs and all of the therapy. I lowered my antidepressant dose. And the next week, I lowered it again. And last week, I lowered it again. Kids, don't try this at home, because I didn't talk to my doctor before beginning my tapering plan, which is the one prohibited thing that is in big capital red bold letters on the information sheet that comes with most drugs, and is repeated several times for drugs that alter the brain, ergo the mind.

This morning, I called the doc to get the lowest available dose of the antidepressant, so I could take that amount this week and then be done with it next week. I left a message with his nurse, and while he usually returns my call before 7:00 pm, I have yet to hear from him.

I feel better than I have in a long time. The nagging sense of immenent uproar has been quieted. The communication skills I've learned at the knee of my therapist are still with me. Who knows, maybe by Christmas, I'll be able to speak in coherent sentences--sorry, jr, no more slips like the time I said, "Not to change the sandwich, but..." and the remainder of my sentence was lost in the sudden outburst of merriment because seriously, what mom says sandwich when she means subject, while walking into the IHOP with her family?

If nothing else, this post should be an excellent tale to keep the kids off the drugs. You've read about my brain and my brain on drugs. Kids, don't take pills unless your doctor prescribes them. And don't take pills just because your doctor prescribes them.

So, for now, I'm high on life. Don't seem to need all those pills. Might decide I need them afterall, or maybe my family or Jack or you, gentle reader, will observe something that indicates all is not well in the gardens. But, for now, I am upbeat. Not cover up upbeat--true, real, alive upbeat.

Or perhaps it is a whiff of hope.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

prop 8

if you've read my blog in the past 24 hours, you may realize that this is my third version of this post. hopefully, it will be my final revision.

when it comes to issues like gay rights or abortion or other extremely personal, yet very public policy, matters, it is very easy to see the big picture in black and white.

it is not so easy to see the black and white when looking at the little picture--the effect of these big picture issues on a small scale as they apply to those dear to me.

at least for me, the black and white are still there, but they have also blurred into many shades of gray and even many shades of black and many shades of white and sometimes into shades of color i didn't even know were part of the picture.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

not without my purse

Jack and I met up with Jessie, Cory and the girls for lunch today. (Don't tell Jessie, but Janey really likes little bits of those Cafe Rio grilled tortillas that wrap around the mahi mahi tacos.)

We got there a few minutes before they did, and when they pulled in and parked, Jack and I walked towards their car to dote on the girlies, because, hello, that's what grammas do (according to one of the Merriam-Webster crossword puzzles online today). It looked like Cory and Breanne were having a bit of a discussion about something he wanted her to leave in the car that she didn't want to leave. He told her he didn't want her to lose it, and she was having no part of his logic and was on the verge of her version of those 'Daddy, how can you say no to me' tears. Cory gave in quickly and Breanne emerged triumphant from the car with her Bahamas Elmo purse that contained her pink flowered shades and her tiny Snow White doll and Ms White's three extra plastic outfits.

And even though I am considerably older than Breanne (and by older, I mean, of course I'm older, I'm her doting gramma) when it come to purses, we belong to the sisterhood. The sisterhood of the purse. We need our purses. We love our purses and even though we have more than one purse, we can love more than one purse. We love the purse that our shades are in. And then we love the next one that holds our shades, and sometimes, we have more purses than non-sisterhood members could ever understand.

I rarely go anywhere without my purse and it always contains mints or gum or some tasty snack, as well as my shades and my keychain that has a toy on it to entertain me when things are slow. Breanne had her shades and her toy, but she needed some snacks, which I gave to her in the form of a tin of dark chocolate-covered altoids.

And as a fellow member of the sisterhood, she shared them with me until our food arrived. Now she has a lovely tin to hold her treasures in her purse.

Tell me, if you are part of the sisterhood, what do you always carry in your purse?

Friday, November 7, 2008

answering the phone

my cell phone rang today--a call from Shi's number, one I don't often see on my phone. I said hello and heard, "LLLLLO MMMAAAMMAMAMAMA" followed by many more of the Audrey jibberjabbers that if translated to adultspeak, mean something like, "Gramma, I love you, I miss you, I want to come play at your house. Do you have any of those yummy gummy fruit snacks? Can I sit in that chair at the bar? Are you still drinking that yucky diet coke? And finally, did I hear that your tailless, black and white rocking cow is wearing its own brown and white cow Halloween costume? Really?" and then she ended with, 'bubye'.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

again, who knew?

still no capital letters, but maybe tomorrow.

i had no idea there are different strengths of lortab. always, before yesterday, my prescription was the unsatisfying, 'what's all the hoopla about lortab' 5/500 pills.

but yesterday, that nice young root scraper gave me a prescription for 10 of the 7.5/500 pills.

holy pain relieving cow. can you say, 'omgosh!!!!' okay, well, even if you can't, i am. (don't worry, stu, i'm not addicted, just feeling no pain in my freshly scraped roots.)

between the 7.5s and the afternoon viewing with jr of 'fido'--a perfectly delightful zombie movie--my roots feel so much better.

ps another stitch just came out. that's two of, oh, i don't know, 20 or so? seriously. no joking here about the stitch count.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

another no capital letters day

today i have no capital letters, not much focus, but enough lortab to get by.

jack's esophagus was scoped early this morning (and by early, i mean earlier than i can remember right now) because some of his stomach cells have set up camp in the bottom of his throat (and yes, cells that move to a place other than their usual body location can get a wild hair and begin multiplying in what can only be described as, well, cancer.) the doc said nothing looked too different from the last scope, but he biopsied the area and will get back to us, and jack will see him again in a couple of years. all good again for now.

then jack and i went home and ate breakfast--him: frosted flakes; me: cocoa dynobytes because how can you not go for a cereal that is chocolate and dyno--and then he went to bed and slept for hours. and since it was quiet snowy outside and quiet cozy inside, i fell asleep in the tv room, with the tv off, and slept for slightly fewer hours than jack. lovely, delicious, much-needed, enjoyed and deserved naps.

later, i went to the mouth-torturing, yet very nice young man commonly known as a periodontist, so he could move some mouthroof tissue to the lower front of my mouth in hopes that it will grow into gum tissue (which may sound a lot like jack's stomach cell journey, but apparently mouth tissue is mouth tissue, thus not cancer). the doc had the novocaine and some pre-novocaine topical gel that he described as a pina colada (defined by merriam webster as 'a tall drink made of rum, cream of coconut, and pineapple juice mixed with ice', but this dental version had no rum so we could really say it was coconut-scented gum numbing gel). additionally, he had the nitrous oxide gas. i love the gas--perhaps love is too strong a word--but if not love, then certainly enjoy, deserve, and appreciate the feeling i get from the gas (commonly referred to as 'laughing gas' because i am so funny when the dentist hooks me up with it or to it, if you prefer).

as someone who worked in an orthodontal office, you'd think i would have remembered that when someone has their hands and sharp tools in your mouth, scraping on the roots of your teeth, you are going to have some of what the docs refer to as discomfort, because they can't feel a thing, but there is no such thing. if i'm the one feeling the 'discomfort', i call it pain. and there is the one drawback to the gas. the gas and i tend to lose focus and the ability to remember anything of any value. so when the doc asked if i could feel him scraping on my roots, i said, with his hands in my mouth, that 't ddiiidn't hoot a 'it.

the grafting wasn't a big deal, at least during the procedure--using the gel and novocaine, scraping the roots, making a flap in the roof of my mouth, removing the graft tissue, stitching the flap closed, setting the graft in place, stitching the graft in place. when i left the office, i felt pretty good. even when i stopped at the pharmacy to pick up the mouth rinse and lortab, i felt pretty good. until i spent seventeen hours waiting for the prescriptions. okay, maybe it was only two hours. or maybe half an hour. but it seemed like days because the novocaine was wearing off and the gas was long gone. partway through the wait, i bought a cold diet coke, swallowed a couple of aleve, collapsed on the floor, all the while maintaining my place in the prescription pick-up line, and then held the bottle against my jaw because it was comfortingly cold. when i finally got the prescription of lortab, i used my last ounce of strength and sprinted to my car, busted open the door and settled into the driver's seat, where i ripped open the prescription bag and lortab bottle and swallowed one, like some kind of addict. or something like that.

that was two hours, a diet coke, an icebag, some reheated chicken parm, and a frozen fruit bar ago, and can i just say that i will survive this procedure, thank you, jack, and yes, lortab is my best friend in the friendship circle of drugs?

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

change can happen

yes, we can.

Monday, November 3, 2008

six straight hours (less time outside her room) with mom

no, she hasn't settled down yet. today my mom had surgery (bladder repair, if you must know). she asked me to wait with my dad and then stick around with her in case she needed anything. by now, you are probably asking yourself, 'what were you thinking?' or 'jeez you are crazy'. and i have to admit that it was hard, painful even--seriously bad headache that eased when i went to the cafeteria, took some advil, and ranted to jack. mom didn't stop talking from the time she spied me from the hallway outside of her room until i left, and even then, she was still talking as i left her room to take dinner to dad. (what are you having for dinner? what will you fix for dad for dinner? there's a hungry man dinner in the freezer in the garage, oh, you have some leftover chicken parm? he'd like that. but no rice. oh, no rice? no pasta? well, there's a baked potato on the 2nd shelf down in the fridge that you could peel, cube into 1" cubes and fry in some margarine in the small frying pan that is hanging in the utility room. and then go into the storage room and get one of the small cans of creamed corn in the cupboard on the west side and open it and put half of it into the tupperware bowl under the toaster counter, and the lid's in the bottom drawer, and my, that tupperware's expensive, don't you think, and what? you're going to take vegetables with the chicken? what vegetables? fresh vegetables? what vegetables? i know what he likes...) and that's when i said, 'bye, mom, talk to you later.' and walked to the elevators.

and then jack and i went to the therapist and that's when the really amazing thing happened today. i said something about thinking that jack probably thought my idea of how our kids should raise their kids is just like the way i raised our kids and he said he thought that pretty much whatever you do or don't do that kids usually turn out okay, whereas i get physically shaken whenever i see any kid who seems distressed--not just our grandbabies, whose whimpers, yelps, and screams call out to me to come love them, save them, give them whatever they want, but also strangers' kids at wendy's and kids who aren't totally jolly in the car next to us, and on and on--so the therapist pointed out that while each of us experience childrens' distress in different, but very real ways, that perhaps my apparent overreaction was not so outlandish when considered in the context of my childhood. and i thought, 'omgosh, why didn't i think of that?'

Sunday, November 2, 2008

dinner tonight

Clean, cleaned, cleanity cleaned.
Created seven pies.
Prepared dinner--chicken parm, fresh veggies, spaghetti.
Entertained--well, okay, served the food, yes, an hour late, but tasty, just the same.
And the pie, oh, oh, oh the pie.
Sadly, bade goodbye to the girls (no, it is never enough time)
Tidied up and loaded mounds of dishes into the dishwasher while Jack (the amazing Jack) washed the pans and the pots and the empty pie plates.
Realized that the best moments of the evening were Janey's smile, and also listening to the squeals of delight from the room the girls were playing in, matched only by the realization that the word Audrey was calling out--bbbbnnnnnn, bbbnnnn, oh no, bbbbnnnnn--was the way she pronounced the name of her friend and cousin--Breanne, as she searched the house to find her.

So deeply satisfying to see them enjoy each other.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

22 years ago

Early on the morning after Halloween in 1986, Jack and I went to the hospital and that is when the drummer was born. I don't think he reads blogs, even mine (I know, can you even believe that?) so I'm not doing the traditional list, but you really should know a couple of things about him.

When the drummer was born, Jack's dad was in the hospital, unfortunately not the same hospital I was in with the baby, so Jack journeyed from one hospital to the other and back for almost a week until we took the new baby home.

The drummer is the first of our children that I felt comfortable mothering. Our firstborn was the first baby I'd ever done more than look at from a distance. What an eye-opener. And when Jessie was born, I had two thoughts--first, I wondered how I could have another baby when I already had a baby, and second, I wondered how the same two people could produce two babies who were so completely different from each other. (I also realized how great it was that Stu was first and Jessie was next because if I'd had her first and then him, I probably wouldn't have had any more kids. He was nonstop action and she was fluffy and loved to cuddle.) When the drummer arrived, I had two kids who were old enough to enjoy each other's company and I'd had some baby-growing experience, so it was easier for me to relax and enjoy him.

The drummer was born with a sense of humor. I can't explain how or what he did, but that kid could make me laugh. He had this quirky way of looking at the world--probably something to do with being Stu's little brother? (He is the kid, who at the age of five, carved, "Stuart is a tyrant." into one of the wooden desks Jack made. Seriously, what five-year-old understands or even uses the word, 'tyrant'?) Drummer still has a quirky sense of humor that keeps us all entertained. Not that that is his goal. It's just that he finds humor in everyday things and, on occasion, he shares those thoughts with us.

There are two things that I think the drummer lives for. Percussion and Legos. While he can play most, if not all, percussion, his favorite is the bass drum. He has spent three summers with a bunch of other kids who like to perform on their drum or brass instrument, so they tryout for a corps and practice and travel across the eastern half of the US. He played a small bass drum and while those 14-hour days got old by the middle of August, he made it through and went back the next year. He is working out a plan that will allow him to play and teach drums for a reasonable living. We are hoping that when he marries, his new bride will love him for his dedication and it would be great if her dad is rich.

And then there are his legos. Thousands and thousands of legos. Everytime he got a new set, he would put it together according to the directions and then take it apart and begin his own new creation. Sometimes he creates villages, sometimes amusement parks, sometimes war scenes, even stop action movies based on scripture stories. Very creative and very entertaining. The daughter of the rich guy will need to be able to tolerate, accept, even embrace his love of legos.

I think the lego adoration is a way for the drummer to escape to his own thoughts. I've never seen a kid or anybody else, who was better at quietly slipping out of the room when chores were being assigned or dishes needed to be cleared. He was born with that talent but has improved it through the years.

I could go on and on about my kids, and the drummer is definitely one of my kids, but well, I am exhausted and nearly asleep as I type this, so I'll wrap it up and just write a couple more thoughts, beginning with this--even though the other kids in the family have thought for years that he is the favorite, he is one of four favorites in my world. He has a definite streak of nonconformity that I respect. Along with the nonconformity, he is a person who thinks things through and doesn't obey blindly or just for obedience's sake. I am proud of that quality in him. One other thing about him--he loves pie. Not just any pie, my pie. And sometime on Sunday, I'll make many pies because that is one of the few requests he makes--no cake, just pie for his birthday, thanks.

In case you read this, Drummer, I love you. I'm glad you're in my life. I'm proud of the person you've been and you are becoming. Please keep playing those drums and remember, you don't have to give up the legos just because you get older. But you already knew that, right?