Friday, April 28, 2006

I like my surgeon.

This, I feel, is a huge plus. You know, you get referred to some guy with a medical degree…maybe you walk in there and are confronted by a grizzled old troll, maybe you walk in and it's Cary Grant. (Usually, though, it's the troll.)

But I like my surgeon. Nice guy, young but not, you know, too young (hey, this is my first surgery! Hope you don't mind if my mom comes to take pictures of me…), intelligent, thorough.

Some of my liking of him undoubtedly springs from his 90% certainty that we're going to be doing the "zippy" version of things, that he doesn't think things are even half as bad as the nurse led me to think they might be in there, that I'm going to be in on Thursday and out on Friday and back to work by Wednesday the 10th at the latest…yes. Those are the things that make you really, really like a surgeon.

But of course, I have a new problem: what project to bring with me.

See, I still do have that 10% chance that I'm going to end up in the hospital for four or five days. It's a slim chance, but it's still there. So, I want to make sure I'm covered, because the last thing I want to be doing is trying to send my husband into my stash with instructions.

"In one of the boxes {with about twelve to choose from} there's a blue wool – not the dark one, the medium one – and some white wool, but make sure it's the same weight, 'cause there's five different kinds; and also I'll need #6 and #8 needles and the pattern from MinnowKnits II, not MinnowKnits I…"

Fraught, FRAUGHT I TELL YOU!, with peril. No man should have to face the stash closet. Even smart, strong men like my DH are completely emasculated by The Stash.

Also, he will bring me the wrong yarn and pattern and probably needles too (gads, he might even grab the {shudder} $2 plastic needles I ought to throw away but can't because they're the "in case" needles – you know, "in case" the social order breaks down and I can't replace needles that break or something?). And since I'm on drugs, I'll probably snark at him about it, which is both unfair and mean.

But it won't be at bit funny at the time. I might even go into the 'if you really loved me, you wouldn't have brought me superwash!' tailspin.

Yes, that must be avoided at all costs.

But then again, I don't want to show up for a twenty-four hour stay (sixteen hours of which will be spent sleeping, and eight of which will be spent getting blood drawn, filling out forms, and being given long lists of instructions I won't remember about how to tend my healing wound) with a forty pound duffle bag of yarn, either.

I mean. Granted, it's true, but I don't feel the entire world needs to know I'm insane right from the get-go. I prefer to let it dawn on people, you know, slowly.

I'm pondering (and this is probably very silly of me) trying something that doesn't actually have a pattern (yet). See, I got three hanks of truly sexy yarn at Stitches with the wild notion that I could design a sweater with them.

It's Brooks Farm Primero, in colors not listed on their website. It's like…well, two of them are this gorgeous brown; hints of copper and green. They make me think of walking through old trees hung with moss. And the third is variegated, lighter, with white and brown and tan and beige and the same mossy-greenish-brown as the two main hanks.

This is a sexy yarn. It's a yarn that you just want to lie down and roll in. It's soft, it smells good, it makes your hands feel happy. And, by the way, the Brooks Farm folks are darned nice. They put up with me touching Every.Single.Skein of yarn (twice) and were delightfully (and justly) proud of their art. Sherry is a goddess.

I'm sorely tempted to try to write up a pattern over the weekend. My vision was to have a sweater with minimal ribbing, just a little seed or something to keep it from rolling at the bottom, going into narrow bands of stockinette and then with a leaf design around the cuffs and hem.

I know. I have trouble visualizing such things, too. I also can't decide if it is going to be a winter-thing with long sleeves, a summer-thing with sleeve-caps, or a cut-the-middle-thing with 3/4 length sleeves.

I am so not cut out to be a designer. But at the same time, this yarn has been singing to me. (Hey, it's OK – you people already know I'm insane, I can say that here.) (Better not mention singing yarn in the hospital, though…)


Just a thought. Which are dangerous things.

{singing} “Lefou, I'm afraid I've been thinking" "A dangerous pass time!" "I know” {/singing}

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Someday when I'm wealthy…

I am going to contact the Addi-Turbo company and I am going to say, "Please send me one of each of your products."

That's roughly 70 circular needles, at a cost of anywhere from $14.95 to $19.95 apiece. Split the difference, I'm looking at roughly $1,200. Give or take.

But someday, when I'm wealthy…I'm so there.

I'm making a scarf right now. I don't do a lot of scarves. For one thing, they bore me. For another, I don't usually wear scarves. I don't actually even own a scarf, at present. But I'm making one now, a lovely lace pattern in a burgundy fingering weight alpaca. If I ever find the digital camera cable, I'll take a picture and show it to you. It will be quite lovely when it's all done and blocked. Also, it will hopefully make my fantastic, ever-so-San-Francisco black wool jacket look a little less funereal, without being too "perky" or "over the top". I'm going for the 'sophisticated' look, because I have this wild dream that I can pull it off.

Don't spoil my best daydream. I can't pull off sexy (can't take myself that seriously) or cute (too old) or perky (too cynical), but I like to dream that I could pull off sophisticated. If I tried. I just…don't care to try…right now…

Anyway, I'm using a set of #4 Sally Bates circulars for the scarf ($4.95 at WalMart). They don't exactly suck…but the join isn't as smooth as Addi-Turbo, and they catch just a little tiny bit as the stitches slide past them.

I have only two (2) sets of Addi-Turbos, in size 6 and 8. They wouldn't be snagging my poor alpaca like this. I'd like to have a set of 12" #4 Addi-Turbos for this project. But they'd set me back $15 and probably take two weeks to get here, and this thing will be done in a couple days so…why bother right now.

But someday.

When I'm wealthy.

Addi-Turbos, in every conceivable size and wire length. From 12" to 60", sizes 0 through IMPOSSIBLY HUGE.

They will be mine. Oh yes. They will be mine…

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

What the…?!

It's Trash Forgiveness Week in our little corner of paradise. So we're all putting piles of rubbish out at the curb. Alas, this year, we have no good trash to offer. It truly is rubble out there. A busted computer monitor, some smashed up 2x4s, broken toys and other oddments.

I could wax poetic about the 'freecycle' style donations we've had in the past – the rusted out patio table that only needed a good dose of paint to look, uh, less rusty, the plastic chairs that had reached a stage of deterioration where the white paint came off on anybody who sat in them. All these things were taken. Along with the stroller missing a wheel.

There was this one really cool moment when we had put out this HUGE plastic kitchen that our kids had never cared a fig about (and which took an enormous footprint in the playroom). A minivan pulled around the court, surveying the assortment of stuff we all had put out. They paused next to our pile. A man started to open the door, noticed we were standing in the garage, and almost got back in.

There was a wail from the backseat. Three small voices piping out, "Please? Papa? Please?!"

He stepped out and gestured at the kitchen. "Is it OK if I…?"

We enthusiastically said it was. In fact…hang on a second…

I ran upstairs and grabbed a big old plastic bag from the kids' closet. It was stuffed with all the plastic plates, food, utensils and pots and pans and whatnot that we had acquired over the years. Our kids never played with them; they'd been up on the shelf in the closet for months.

I came pounding up to the minivan and handed over the goods. There was much squealing and thank yous and so forth and so on. Those…were some happy kids. And we were happy, too. That kitchen set was one of those things that felt too nice to throw away, but none of the Goodwill-like people wanted it.

But this year, we've got nothing. Car after car, truck after truck, has circled hopefully through the court while I sat here typing, but nobody has so much as…


What the heck?


That's a…broken…PVC pipe…

{stunned pause}

OK. Apparently, the broken hunk of rather large PVC pipe was a Hot Item to the lady in the late model white SUV of undetermined lineage.


Well, you just never do know, do you…

I've got yer error RIGHT HERE, pal!

Some days are just harder than others. And today, is a hard day. Yesterday was also hard. And after eleven hours worth of wrangling…useless. I had to throw it all away and start over.

It isn't that what I'm doing is all that hard, really. Or at least, it shouldn't be. I'm having to use the 'openquery' routine in SQL Server to hit up an Oracle box.

But I can't see the box I'm hitting. So I'm querying blind. I can't just go look at the tables, because I don't have direct access. It's complicated – I can query them through a link server, but I can't…look at it.

This is not usually that big a deal. Honest. The actual query is a tad longer than this, but roughly something like this:


See? How hard can that be? Run!

Error: Server 1627, user not recognized.

Damn it. {Exit application, come back in} Run! (Why this works is beyond me, but it does.)

Error: Line 402, error near ')'

Damn. It. Uuuuuuuuuh, OK, extra comma. Take out comma. Run!

Error: Line 402, error near ')' Is not! RUN!

Error: Line 402, error near ')' Is not! RUN!

Error: Line 402, error near ')' Is NOT, you lying sack of - !! RUN!

Error: Line 402, error near ')'

See, now, if it didn't work the first twelve times, generally speaking, this is a subtle hint that it will not work the next twelve times, either. Undaunted, I keep hitting F5 like maybe this time, it will just sort of ignore the error and run my query.

Eventually, it dawns on me that this isn't going to happen. Combing through all lines, I find the error is not on line 402, it is on line 8. @*^&@.

Fix the error on the line 8. Run.

Error: Line 402, error near ')'

Oh, right. The comma I took out earlier. That actually belonged there. Heh heh. I knew that. Put comma back in. Run!!

Error. Line or field data would be truncated. Operation terminated.


Just truncate the freakin' data, I don't care!!!!!!!!!!!


ALTER TABLE MYTABLE {add ludicrous amounts of character space to all fields, don't give a crap about it really I'm going to delete the table right after I finish this FREAKING project} {freakin' truncating the space of the stupid PO numbers who the HECK built this piece of crap Oracle box in the first place WHY can't we just have a standardized grumble grouse kvetch}


Error: MSDORA error 29672b2968ui20672q: Field or table does not exist.

What field? Which one didn't you find? **sigh** {Query Oracle table with dummy where parameters to get field names [because I can't just look and see them], fix the typo and move on}

RUN! Run like the WIND! RUN FOR YOUR LIFE!!!!!!!!

Go make delicious Lean Pocket for breakfast.
Eat Lean Pocket. Try to act cheerful and not grimace, even though it tastes like turkey-scented cardboard.
Work Sudoku Pacific in newspaper, at which I suck
Answer some emails.
Stomp a few other fires burning elsewhere in Corporate America
Do some laundry
Organize the closet
Knit a few rows of the scarf I meant to make myself months ago
Call for refill of drugs (mmm…drugs…), read Wall Street Journal

At this point, 9:45 p.m., after fourteen hours of inattention to detail, I realize that I am:

a) using the wrong instance of Oracle
b) returning all 35,000,000 rows instead of just a subset of them due to having forgotten the second half of the 'where' statement, and
c) not cut out for this job and should return to being a stay at home mom, where the most challenging thing presented is how to draw a castle with rainbow starfish ponies on it

This morning I came back at it and actually, it's going better. I dropped and rewrote my tables, redid my openquery (with full where statements this time, TYVM) and now I've got all my data. Yup. I've got all 250,000 lines of information. Sitting there. In my tables.

It's just that…uh…well. I can't really remember, ahem, what I was planning to do with this information, once I got it.

I'm serious.

I can't remember where I was going with it. I was doing something with the credits and the debits and was going to compare them with…some…other thing…to do a kind of rebill thing…but I can't remember where.

There are eight distinct sales programs residing on three different SQL servers, with about two dozen linked Oracle servers housing various data regarding some, all, or none of them. What I need is…somewhere out there.

At least, I'm pretty sure it is. But my notes about what I'm doing look like they were written by a drunk monkey (well, I am taking hyoscyamine) and I think I may have mixed two different phone calls on the same sheet of paper and besides – I don't see what a Fidelity IRA has to do with anything.


It's going to be a loooooooooong day.

Monday, April 24, 2006

YAY! I get to see a surgeon!

…wait…yay, I get to see the guy who cuts large holes in people for living?


The scan last week showed that my gallbladder is broke. So I get to see a surgeon on Thursday to find out if I get to go straight in for surgery, need to take some antibiotics at home first or, worst possible case in the universe, I have to go into the hospital and languish around on IV antibiotics for a few days before they can do surgery. That would suck mightily, because there is no WiFi in the hospital. Geesh. How medieval can you get?!

In other news, the phrase, "…they'll assess whether you're healthy enough for surgery at this point…" is one of the weirdest ones I think I've ever heard. Let's see. I'm sick because my gallbladder is pumping toxins randomly into my system, irritating my pancreas and causing infection. But maybe I'm too sick to have it taken out? Sooooooo…let's go over options, here. If I'm too sick to have the gallbladder out, how, pray tell, do we get the dumb thing to quit pumping toxins long enough for me to get healthy enough for you to take it out?

Do I want to know the answer to that? Probably not. But inquiring minds still want to know.

I'll tell you what I'm looking forward to. I'm looking forward to the first time I can take a breath without it hurting. Right now, when I breathe in it feels like something sharp is jammed up between my right lung and my shoulder blade. It's one of those things that just wears you down. In the morning, it's merely annoying. By bedtime, you're trying to think of ways you could skip a few breaths, you know, get a little break from this @*((^& thing.

I haven't done this much 'calm, gentle, shallow breath' meditating in nearly two decades.

Also, I wouldn't mind not being tired All The Freaking Time. I wake up tired. I go to bed tired. By 3:00 in the afternoon I start feeling weepy, I'm so tired.

And that's another thing. The moodiness. Wanting to cry for no damned reason, or snapping at my family, or telling my daughter to Shut!Up!Already!, or snarking all over random medical personnel because they asked me the same question for the fourth time or told me that if I start feeling uncomfortable I should trot on back in ('start' feeling uncomfortable?! I've been uncomfortable for four months, you silly twit! SNARK! SNARK SNARK! SNARK!!!!!!)…I could do without that, too.

But I'm very hopeful that the end really is in sight, now. I've got the all important referral to the surgeon. I've got the pictorial proof needed by the insurance company that yes, Virginia, my gallbladder has left the building. I've got the lab work to prove that it is doing me real and immediate harm.

I'm not just whining. I'm really sick. *cough cough* Yes, very sick. Probably the only cure would be a huge infusion of California Brittle.

YES YES, I KNOW!!! Sick gallbladders do not need huge infusions of chocolate toffee.

Or pizza.

Or ice cream.

Or pie.

...stupid freakin' gallbladder…

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Ooooooh, warm and fuzzy

So I recently had occasion to set a foot into Michaels. I usually avoid this at all costs. Michaels is one of those places that has miles and miles of stuff I don’t need, seldom has what I do need, nobody to help me find anything and a ten hour wait to be checked out at the end of the ordeal.

If you’re getting the feeling I don’t like Michaels much…you’re right. I tend to rush in for emergency balls of baby yarn once in a great while and that’s about it. Somehow, even when I just walk straight to the ball of yarn I want and straight back to the cash register, they manage to annoy me.

Anyway, I had an emergency need for a bent tapestry needle and was 99% sure they would have it (sigh – they didn’t), so in I went.


Ahem. See, this is one of the reasons my Michaels sets my teeth on edge. This is like the time the cashier mis-keyed the UPC code and tried to charge me $8.99 for $2.49 skeins of yarn and then got all hostile with me when I pointed out the mistake and opined that, “It would really help if you’d make sure you chose yarn with scanable barcodes.”

That’s one idea. Or…you could try not sucking. That would also really help. (No, I didn’t actually say it to her, but I thought it real hard…)

I’d be willing to put money down right now that says every single knitter who asked, “Do you have size {10, 12, 14, ginormous} needles?” had either walked next door to WalMart to get them, ordered them online somewhere, or otherwise gotten her need filled weeks before you decided to graciously cater to our whim and stock those large size needles. Knitters do not wait when they have a project in mind. When I say I need #12 needles, I need them today. I will not be able to sleep at night until I have them. I will drive 45 miles to that Darn Yarn in Ripon to get them (cool yarn store, by the way – I finally got out there yesterday) (and then was so tired I wanted to just lie down and take a nap, which is the symptom that is driving me most crazy; I’ve got no staying power!).

And I’m also wondering, since when is confrontation with your customers a good idea? (Shoplifters aside.) See, let’s say I owned a store and, after fielding several requests for same had ordered a few #14 needles and then they didn’t move. I might draw attention to them with a sign. “Wow! Look! We now carry sizes 0 through 14! Woo hoo!” Might even put arrows and smiley faces and otherwise make sure it was a hard sign to miss.

But “We stocked it, now buy it, you jackass!”? Umm, probably not.

Fortunately for me, I have since discovered that yes, Virginia, we have a yarn store in Tracy. Right downtown, conveniently located near not one but two coffee shops. And since I have learned my lesson and now stock my baby yarn months in advance (purely for convenience and to avoid Michaels, not because I have any “stash” issues…) via online sales at Joanne or Smiley’s yarns – I can avoid Michaels and WalMart altogether.

Which is good. Because don’t even get me started on trying to get a stupid set of #8 needles at WalMart…

Friday, April 21, 2006

But I want an Oompa Loompa NOW!

Well, I’m back from the scan. What a non-stop rollercoaster ride of excitement that was! Basically, it goes like this:

Sign away all human rights and privileges
Get an IV (ouch)
Be injected with a toxic yellow colored liquid
Lie down on the machine
Nope, not done yet
Juuuuuuuust keep lying there
Don’t move the torso!
Not done yet.
Keep not moving
A little longer…

This goes on for an hour. Then, the cheerful radiologist will inject you with fat. Yes, that’s right! The stuff my doctor has warned me repeatedly to avoid at all costs. Right into the vein! {schloooooop!} This makes your gallbladder constrict so they can monitor how well it does(n’t) send its payload of bile down the tracks.

Now, before my very good friend Bill injects the fat, he tells me I can expect any combination of the following:

Cramping feeling

What I got within about eight seconds of the vile vial being emptied into that IV was a feeling first like someone with a rather large boot on was stepping on my stomach. It got hard to breathe. It got harder to breathe. It got rather alarmingly hard to breathe.

Then suddenly, just when I was about to start babbling incoherently (“Is it supposed to be {gasp} hard to breathe {gasp}? ‘Cause it’s really {gasp!} hard {gasp!} to breathe {gasp gasp!}!”) I could breathe again – and, I had Pain. Holy smokes. It felt like tiny little hot needles were being jabbed into my gallbladder. Ow, ow, ow, ow, ow, ow…fortunately, just as my very good friend Bill had promised, it faded to nothing within five minutes and left me craving pizza.

Don’t ask me why. For the last half hour of the test, while the machine monitored how much radioactive bile (which I think would be a great name for a rock band – ladies and gentlemen please give a warm Cleveland welcome to RADIOACTIVE BILE! {the crowd goes wild}) my gallbladder was(n’t) passing along to my small intestine, all I could think of was pizza. With mushrooms. Piping hot pizza, gooey with mozzarella, a bunch of fresh fungus steaming away on top of it.

Anyhoo, I had to lie still for over an hour and a half.

No knitting.
No reading.
Not even a @*^&@ TV (not that this would have made me happy, since I don’t like soaps, daytime “newscasts”, or reruns of sitcoms from the 60s, 70s, 80s…)

It was torture I tell you, torture!!!

Astonishingly, though, I made it through. I meditated (mostly about pizza and why it is such an inherent good and why I believe, as an inherent good, it could not possibly hurt me to get just a wee little tiny 26” personal sized pizza from Big Luigi’s Pizza Joint), practiced ‘just letting things be’, and suddenly it was time for him to peel all the tape off my arm, yank out the IV and send me staggering away. (The IV was no big deal. The tape, however…memo to me: next time, shave your arms before going to the hospital.)

And then, as per usual, when I asked with a positively embarrassingly bad attempt at casualness, “Soooooo…did it look like the old gallbladder was doing anything? There? To you?” I got the usual and customary reply: “Heh heh, I just take the pictures, I don’t do the diagnosis. Your doctor will have results by Monday.”

I resisted the urge to fling Bill onto the ground and jump on his spleen until he told me everything he knew. Or made up something. I didn’t care which. I wanted an Oompa-Loompa now, not freakin’ Monday or on the 4th of Octember. Now, now, NOW!!

After having laid still for an hour and a half, meditating (mmmm…gooey warm goodness…) and otherwise becoming as one with my inner peace, I was halfway desperate for some instant gratification. Could I walk across the hall and sign up for surgery now? Should I start collective surgical resumes? Is the end in sight, or not? Is it the gallbladder, or not? Just tell me!

It is amazing how being sick can shake cowardice off me. In real life, all you’d have to do to make me decide that whatever ailed me probably wasn’t that big a deal would be to say, “OK, so, we’ll just start an IV…hey…where’d she go?!”

But not only was I completely OK with the IV, but I’m anxious to go back to the hospital again and get another IV and let them cut a hole in me and yank out my gallbladder.

So now I’m back to waiting. However, on the positive side…I feel remarkably good. And I have the Whole Entire Day Off Work today. Sure, I could log in anyway and get back working on a few things I’d like to finish up…

…but then again…

See, there’s this yarn store, in Ripon…?

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Around and around and around we go

Well. Here we are. Tomorrow, I’m getting a gallbladder scan.

I’ll try to contain my excitement.

I’m taking the entire day off tomorrow. If I feel up to it (and they haven’t shot me up with morphine) (or maybe even if they have, ha ha!) I’m hoping to hit up a new yarn store I discovered in the neighboring burg of Ripon. They carry Dale of Norway yarn/patterns. While I’m not worthy of either one, I’d like to go and gaze with respectful deification at them.

But it all depends. Yesterday I thought I’d like to take my $300 in gift cards to Sears and get myself some decent clothes. And I went to Sears. And I walked into Sears. And I grabbed a bunch of crap off the racks more or less at random and got out of there as quick as I could. I felt OK before we left the house, but by the time we had gotten to Sears I just wanted to go back home and go to bed.

I don’t expect that tomorrow will be any different. While I’m sitting here at home I can say, “…and then I’ll go to the yarn store! And the coffee shop! And I’ll dine at Max’s! And then the library! And then…!”

But the truth is, I probably won’t have a damned thing left before I even start the test.

Being sick sucks. It’s like, all this time off from work – and no gumption to do anything interesting with it!

I have reserved the right to flat out not come back to work at all until the dust has settled. I say ‘reserved the right to’, but I think what I mean is, ‘offered to save my coworkers the aggravation by’. Have you ever driven past a construction site and seen three guys digging like crazy while a fourth guy stands on his shovel and looks impressively stupid, like he just can’t figure out what to do with the thing?

I’d be that fourth guy right about now. Basic things are a bit beyond me. And I have to admit to a certain lack of enthusiasm for anything that doesn’t involve not doing anything. If whatever it is involves not doing anything whatsoever, I’m all for it.

Otherwise, eh. Not so much.

I have, however, been knitting socks. This is the Year of the Socks, thanks to my having suffered a bout of momentary insanity and gotten myself the sampler packs of KnitPicks sock yarn. I have two huge boxes of sock yarn in my closet. Everybody gets socks for Christmas this year.

I apologize in advance to my family and friends. Some of the colorways are…hmm. Rather…surprising. Also, personal opinion, I dislike the cotton/wool/nylon blend socks. They feel weird. Lumpy. Bumpy. Kind of unforgiving.

A hand knit sock should be all about warm fuzzy comfort. I feel like the cotton blend is kind of harsh; not exactly scratchy, but…dry. Like when I wear them, they make my feet feel unloved.

So I’m sticking with the wool for socks. It just feels more loving to me.

This is about the only thing I’m interested in doing right now. Knitting socks from the most basic pattern imaginable. Socks like these:

These socks? Simplest. Pattern. Ever. This is a pattern that is so easy to keep in mind it’s ridiculous. You don’t have to remember anything but a formula: the heel flap is half the originally cast on stitches knit back and forth to that same number minus two, that kind of thing. I don’t have to go running back to a pattern asking, “Now, do I do K2tog, or SSK, or P2tog or…?”

It appeals to my need to not be thinking about anything in particular right now. Around and around and around we go.

Hey. That’s kind of like my medical treatment these last four months! Get sick, go to doctor, be sent for test, go back to doctor, go home, get sick, go to doctor, be sent for test…

Around and around and around we go…

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Earning my wand

I have long said that in my next incarnation I want to be a fairy godmother. I just think that would be the coolest gig. Being somewhat childish, I insist on believing that there really are benevolent spirits out there who do things like make your laptop case fall apart so that you are forced to stop and deal with it instead of running in front of the speeding SUV because you're trying to catch the bus.

Yesterday, I suspect I may have been interviewed for the job.

The grooviest thing that happened was the very first one. The ACE train pulled into Pleasanton, and those of us on that next-to-last car were faced with a fairly large jump from the train to the platform. It's the usual. So I hopped down, and bent over to pull the handle of my rolling laptop case up.

Before I knew why, I was jumping up, putting my arms out and under the chest of a woman who was falling face-first toward the pavement, flipping her back upright and holding her steady while she found her feet again. Jackie Chan had nothing on me yesterday morning – it was slick. We don't know why she fell, maybe her heel caught on the metal step or maybe she just misjudged the distance, but if I hadn't caught her it would have been a very painful face-plant on the concrete.

I was being moved by some other force, because I literally had no idea why I was moving the way I was. My body reacted like it knew, but my brain was jogging along behind going, "What? Wait! What are doing? Why are you grabbing that person? RIGHT ACROSS HER BOOBS?!?! Ooooooh…I seeeeeeeee…wow. Kewl."

But it didn't stop there. All day, I was given the opportunity to be a decent person.

I got to help a lady figure out the BART system – she was on the phone with a friend saying she had to get off and switch trains across the platform to get to San Leandro. That would have taken her the wrong way. So I turned and said, "Actually – San Leandro is on this line. Two stops up from here."

Really? Yes. I was sure? Yup. It's the stop after the one you're proposing to make your transfer, and I hear them announce twice daily. Saaaaaaaaaaaan Leandro, San Leandro station. If you look at the map over there…you can see. Bayfair, San Leandro. {smile, nod pleasantly, go back to knitting}

She was on her way to a job interview. Being late would have been…not so good. She was very grateful. And welcome to the help. I could have used it m'self a few times.

Helped a lady pick up her dropped and scattered newspaper, chased down a guy and returned his dropped BART ticket, and got into the office feeling like I'd done my work for the day.

But no!

In the evening, as we were pulling into the station in Dublin I glanced back and saw an elderly couple surrounded by bags at the rear of the train. I looked at them, and a little voice said to me, "They are so not going to get off this train before they shut the doors and pull out again."

(The train pulls into the yard, turns around, and comes back – they don't always do anything to make sure there isn't anybody on the train. I have, in fact, taken this ride myself twice – once when I dropped a knitting needles and was determined to find it, and another time when I was so engrossed in my book that I failed to notice we had arrived.) (FREAKED me out the first time!)

So I went back and asked if they needed some help. They said no. I stood by the door anyway and sure enough – it started to close. I stuck my bag in it and waved at the driver, pointing into the train. He opened the doors again, I helped them collect their bags, walked them to the elevator and guided them down through the station to where their friends were waiting to pick them up. They were visiting old friends, here from 'back East', had heard that California was a friendly state but wasn't this just to beat all?

But wait! I still was not done! Twenty minutes later, as I sat waiting for the stupid shuttle, a lady asked me if I took the 54. Yes, yes I do. She asked how much it was and if she needed exact change. I told her it was free for ACE riders; the driver doesn't usually even ask for it, but technically all you need to do is show your ticket.

What ticket? The ticket you need to purchase in the morning. They do not sell tickets on the trains or in the afternoons. Yes, it's stupid. No, I don't know why. They just don't.

She had no ticket. This…could be a problem. I glanced down at my ticket, which had two punches left on it. Where was she going, I asked? Same place as me.

Hokay. I told her I knew just what to do. We'd double-punch my ticket, stick together for this trip, and we'd be golden. Which we did, and it was a delight. She's a neat lady; hopefully, we'll be seeing each other fairly regularly on the train. She even paid me for the trip in spite of having been told, "Don't worry about it, no big."

I'm wondering if maybe I was having an interview or something. Sure, you might get two opportunities in one day – but six? C'mon. That seems pretty intense to be random.

Bibbidi Bobbidi Boo, y'all!

Saturday, April 15, 2006

On the flip side of the talking thing…

Boo Bug has been talking non-stop for {checks clock} five hours now.

Non. Stop.

Her little voice has been chattering away without so much as a pause for breath. She even talked while she was eating. With her mouth full. Though warned with quotations not to. Chitter chatter chitter chatter…it is like having a very large squirrel darting through the house.

“Do you like my skirt? It’s pink. So is my shirt. And it’s a girl skirt. Not a boy skirt. A girl skirt. Because I’m a dancing girl today. Because it’s a pink skirt. And also I have on tights. Are those earrings? I like earrings. But THEY HURT MY EARS! So I don’t want any. And my brain is going into my heart, and it might break it. And it can be invisible! Mommy! My brain? Can be invisible! And…”

She is talking to her family, her dolls, her bed, a chair (? – don’t ask me, I don’t for the life of me know why), and she is now lying across the rocking horse staring up at the ceiling and discussing something at great length with it.

Personally, I am amazed at how a child can be so adorable and so annoying at the same time. Those rosy little cheeks! Those earnest blue eyes! The bubbling little laugh! The excitement! The intense desire to be a contributing member of the community!

…the constant noise…the incessant “and you know what else?”…the never-ending poking at my arm, “Mommy? Know what? Blah blah blah blah blah! Blah? Blah! Blah? Blah!!”

There are moments when I engage in wild fantasy: I’ll tell them I’m going to go run errands. I’ll leave the car at the mall, walk to the Greyhound ‘station’ (a.k.a., the Foster’s Freeze parking lot), get a ticket to the Amtrak station…I’ll get a ticket to Seattle, but get off in Portland, ha ha! see, because that will throw off any pursuit!, and then I’ll vanish into the mountainous forests of Oregon and live a life of pure self-sufficiency in a tiny one-room cabin ha! Ha ha! HA!

But of course, I’d have to give up the Discovery Channel, the Internet…Starbucks…the endless (and I do mean endless) stream of artwork emblazoned with hearts, stars, smiling dancing figures drowning in seas of flowers, the hugs and the cuddles and the sloppy kisses and the declarations that I am the best mommy ever (said declarations usually made over dessert, going to the playground, and other such events – not so much over the ‘first you have to eat both of those peas’ or ‘no, it’s bed time’ ones).

The constant changes, the growing, the learning, watching the person they will become emerging.

The forty times a day they make me laugh.


Guess it’s still worth it. For now.

Besides. What do I always seem to get on the bus? The seatmate from hell, who wants to talk about their sex life, their spouse, their grandchildren, their poodles/cats/rodents all the way to wherever we’re going.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m being told a very involved story about fairies and dragons and an invisible brain. It might be easier to follow if I’m not trying to do anything else…

Friday, April 14, 2006

Waxing poetic

We took Captain Adventure to the doctor today for a follow up visit. The kid has been suffering (and I do mean suffering) from ear infection after ear infection this winter, plus a deep chest cough that is driving us crazy. The cough doesn't seem to bother him much, but his daddy and I are about to climb the walls because it sounds awful.

The doctor was looking in his ears and announced that he had a lot of wax. Now, I don't even attempt to clean out my kids' ears. My mother used to clean out mine on occasion – and on occasion, she would jab me in the eardrum with that Q-tip. I remember that pain…vividly.

I'm not woman enough to handle the Q-tip in the kid's ear thing. I can barely handle the risk-factor involved in trimming their fingernails, there is just no way in hell I can stick a Q-tip into those delicate little seashell ears.

So, after supporting my defensive response that "I don't like to try to clean out his ears – I might hurt him!" with a "oh no, you wouldn't want to do that – you'll just pack the stuff in tighter. I'll write down the name of some good drops you can use…" she gets this plastic thing that looks vaguely like a crochet hook and says, "OK, let me see if I can get some of this out of there…"

Captain Adventure began fussing almost before she even got it into his ear. And as soon as she started fishing, he started yelling and screaming and kicking and trying his darndest to get away from us.

And she gets a little bit of wax out, and goes back in. Dips up another fairly impressive bit of wax, tries to peek in the ear, shakes her head, seizes up the ear hook again and goes back in for a third go.

There is piercing screaming. There is desperate writhing. There is an expression of grim determination on the doctor's kindly face.

And suddenly, she produced from out of my tiny little boy's ear, a blob of earwax weighing approximately 65 pounds and covering the entire landmass of Asia.

OK, so I may be exaggerating just a little bit.

But it was a lot of earwax. I have never in my life seen that big a hunk of earwax. It was nasty.

Then she looked back in his ear, tsk'd, and said that it looked "really inflamed" and prescribed some antibiotics and some drops to put in all Denizen ears to break down the wax.

All the way to daycare, he was sitting in his chair talking to himself. "Ba? Ba! Ba? Ba! Ha ha ha ha! BaaaaaaAA? BA!"

It was as though the sound of his own voice was a new thing, something exciting and different. And I have to wonder: did the removal of the earwax restore his hampered hearing? Is this what my little darling has needed, to get him talking?

Will this be the night that he comes home and say, "I say, mother, could you spot a fellow a cup of juice?"

It just might be.

It. Just. Might. Be.

A patient patient I ain't

You know what? I'm a rotten patient. Not only do I have no patience whatsoever, but I can't seem to learn one of the basic lessons around being sick and/or injured: if it hurts, stop doing it.

I went into the office Wednesday, for the first time in about three weeks. I left the house at 5:45 and got into the office at 8:45 – half an hour longer than usual due to delays on the trains. And coming home was no better. Short BART train, had to wait half an hour, in the rain, for the shuttle, had to walk the entire length of the ACE train car before I found a suitable seat and then scored the blabbermouth seatmate and was too tired and pain-ridden to smile politely and move seats (not that there were any seats to move to, but ordinarily I would have tried…). I left the office at 3:00, and didn't get home until 7:00.

And from about 40 minutes into the morning commute onward, I was experiencing some pretty…intriguing…pain. The kind of pain that, if I didn’t know what it was, would have caused me Great Alarm™. But, since I know what it is, it merely irritated me and made me want to cry. Which irritated me even more, since I would rather take a beating than bawl in public.

When I got home, I hobbled as fast as I could to the medicine box and swallowed a bunch of random pills that looked like they might do me some good took the dose of the Levsinex my doctor prescribed, followed a couple hours later by a dose of the Vicodin he didn't but which I have cunningly hoarded up for just such an emergency from previous surgeries. (Yes, I know, you're not supposed to do that – sue me.)

And, as my vision got blurry and my motivation dropped to an all-time low, I said to myself, slowly and with great determination, "Damn it, this is stupid. I refuse to believe this. And I'm going to the office Friday whether YOU like it or not – I'm too busy for this crap!" I added, giving myself a jab in the general area of the Damned Organ.

It responded, of course, by giving me a shock of pain that felt as though I had stuck a live wire into my abdomen.

Poking the imploded gallbladder? Not the brightest move ever.

So Thursday I took my Levsinex as prescribed: one in the morning, one at night. Because I was informed that this is something I should simply do. This is not a pain pill per se, no. It's one of those acid-reducing thingees that is supposed to work over time.

I'd like to share with you some information from the bottle:


Blah blah blah avoid alcohol don't operate machinery yadda yadda don't chew it so forth and so on.

This morning…well, may I direct your attention to the "pronounced drowsiness" part of the disclosure? Not only is it true, it also appears to be cumulative. Having taken three doses on schedule…well.

Our alarm clock goes off twice: once at 4:30 for the person who is going into the office that day, and then again at 5:30 for the person who meant to get up when Person #1 was going downstairs in a show of solidarity, to have coffee together, and then to get busy with the lunch making, kid-wrangling and so forth, but instead fell back asleep and made only the vaguest of grumbling noises when Person #1 announced their intention to go downstairs and make coffee.

I slept through both alarms. And since my husband never hears either alarm but must be forcibly pushed out of bed by yours truly when they go off, so did he.

By the time I realized it was light outside, and got my sorry butt out of bed, into clothes and downstairs, the third and final train had chugged out of the station and there I was. Stranded. Because I can't drive right now – even the brief jog over to the train station is probably pushing it from a safety perspective.

And besides. I am still pronouncedly drowsy. And unmotivated. And it hurts to walk. It also hurts to sit. And to lie down. And I've felt too queasy to eat anything. And I wanted to be in the office today because I had things I wanted to discuss in person with someone and now I have to wait until next week. If I'm still alive. And he hasn't quit the company in disgust because I've stood him up – again.

Then I got mad.

And I snarled, "Stupid damned thing!"


Memo to me: You are not smart enough to be sick and/or injured.

So stop it, immediately.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

So far, silence

Captain Adventure still isn't really talking. Oh sure, he says "mamamamama" and makes other word-like noises, but he isn't really talking.

It's driving me crazy.

I don't care how often people say, "Well, he's a boy, they tend to talk later" or "Well, but weren't ALL your kids pretty slow to start, word-wise?"

The kid doesn't talk. And it makes me nervous.

He doesn't say, "My hat!" or "Where's daddy?" or even the perennial almost-two favorite, "No."

He doesn't even say "juice" when he wants some. He'll walk over and stare fixedly at the cupboard where we keep his sippy cups, but he won't point and/or say, "Juice!"

Or "joos" or "jjjjjjjjjj" or "mine!" or "gimmie" or "abba-gus" (which was how Danger Mouse used to ask for apple juice).

Just…a fixed stare, with the occasional glance in my direction to see if I've noticed yet.

But just when I say to myself that the kid is obviously broken in the eardrum department, he'll utter something like, "Dank doo!" when I hand him a plate of bananas, or "shhhhhh!" while holding up his shhhhhhhoes, or grab his bare feet and laugh when I say, "Where are your socks?!"

But if encouraged, he will immediately stop all communication and revert to staring. If you get in his face and said, "Where's your foot? Where's that foot?!", he will neither say 'foot' nor touch his foot. Just…stare. Full of surprise at your audacity. Is it addressing the Royal We? he seems to be wondering.

He also does this while singing. He'll be happily going through the ABC song, but if you join in – he stops. And watches you sing it. Fixedly. With great interest, and focus.

But he won't sing it with you.


Kids just like to drive their mothers crazy. I think it is some kind of massive kid conspiracy. Boo Bug went from not talking much at all, or speaking some language of her own device, to having a serious case of logorrhea overnight. She was three years old, and about five seconds from being sent by her pediatrician for hearing tests.

But it is frustrating to read the gushing reports from The Experts™ about how my 20 month old (week 3) ought to be moving on to simple sentences now. Acquiring ten or more words per day at this point. Turning into quite the chatter box, they inform me eagerly, along with many helpful tips for continuing the flood unhindered.

Meanwhile, I'm still trying to get him to say "juice" when he's thirsty, or to call for me by name when he wants to get up from his crib, or to in any way indicate that he understands his voice can make a difference, his words mean something to others, that we want to know what he thinks, feels, wants, dreams…

So that we can then turn around and say, "Gosh, do you ever stop talking? Geeesh! Give it a rest! Holy smokes! Talk talk talk talk TALK!"

Monday, April 10, 2006

Oh come ON now…

For additional humor points, the medication my doctor prescribed to help with the impact of my symptoms on Real Life comes with the warning that I should not take it and drive. Because it causes blurred vision.

“Gee, I’m having trouble driving because of my symptoms…” “Here, take this – it will help your stomach. Of course, you won’t be able to see…”

Effin’. A.

I suspect there is only one hope for me: I should immediately drive myself to the closest McDonalds, clutching a $20 bill and screaming, “Supersize me, baby!!!!”

I suspect that one Big Mac meal, supersized, would put me right into the hospital and get that gallbladder yanked out faster than you can say, 1,140 calories and 60 grams of fat! (Which happens to be how much of same are in a Supersized Big Mac Meal with a diet Coke.)

…and I’m only half kidding…

……maybe not even half, at this point……

………but my hair is Can Be Seen From Space Red now!.........


Well, I went to the doctor this morning, and learned the following: "…"

Yes, that's right. The result of the ultrasound last week? "…"

They see nothing of any interest. To which my doctor rejoins, "Well, I didn't really expect anything…" (THEN WHY SEND ME FOR THE STUPID THING IN THE FIRST PLACE?!) "…so now we'll do this other test where they inject (!) radioactive (!!) dye (!!!), wait around an hour (feh) and then inject (!!!!) garblegehkthock (!!!!!), which causes the gallbladder to constrict and then they can measure how much it does(n't) function, after which we can go do our surgery."

On the plus side, it should be immediately evident if there is blockage lurking around when they inject the garblegehkthock. Ha ha, yes, if there's blockage, apparently, heh heh, oh, this is just SO funny, I'll double over grabbing my side screaming for someone to come shoot me.

So. I've got that to look forward to. (They're bastards. Every single one of them. Bas. Tards.)

We agreed that on the whole, if we're positive we're going to surgery we'd just as soon skip this charming little step…but we can’t. Why? Because insurance won't let us. Oh no. The insurance company needs to have pictorial proof of my malfunctioning gallbladder before we're allowed to do anything.

On the one hand, I'm down with that. Running around cutting organs out of my body at random isn't what I would consider to be the best of ideas. "Let's see if it's this! No? Let's try that! No? OK…I'm not sure what this dingle-dongy thing is, let's cut it out and see if THAT helps…"

On the other hand…let's review:

I can't sleep at night, and am ergo dragging around all day barely able to keep my eyeballs open. I have back pain you wouldn't believe. I have gone through an entire bottle of 250 Motrin in a little over two weeks, which just can't be helping my stomach issues. Everything I eat, low fat or not, makes me queasy; and occasionally I explode in spite of having carefully scrutinized the labels for things like a 1:1 ratio of calories to calories from fat. I have a constant low grade headache which occasionally (whenever most inconvenient) explodes into blinding migraine-like pain. My entire lower abdomen hurts, especially when I walk, sit, or lie down. I have trouble driving, concentrating, or even talking – I especially like it when my speech goes all slurry and the words coming out my mouth bear almost no resemblance whatsoever to the thoughts in my brain.

Oh yes. That's my favorite. Especially when I'm on the phone with my new boss. Oooh goody. Pass the party hats, it's a real knee-slapper going on in here…

And now we have another week (or so) before I can get in for this test. Then we wait another week after that (or so) until somebody can get off their tuckus and get the results to my doctor, plus another day or two (or so) for good measure until I can get in to see him again, at which point we move on in the whole process toward getting the gallbladder removed.

So I'm looking at another three weeks minimum of this before we can start really making progress toward a solution?


On the bright side, if I keep losing weight at my current rate, I should be down to about 105-110 at that point. See? There just ain't no rain don't bring no flowers. Hmm. Wait. How many negatives is that…ain't no, don't bring no, um. Carry the one, multiply by my age, divide by number of children…well, anyway. Silver lining and all that. My new pants are already falling off my hips and I tell myself it's all worth it because of same.

I'm lying, of course, and I know it, and I'm about as depressed as I can remember being since the Great Post Partum Depression Ordeal I Don't Like To Talk About Because It Makes Me Feel Like A Really Really Bad Mother™ of 1998.

There is, of course, only one thing to do. Well, two things.

First! I am getting a box of !!BRIGHT RED!! hair dye at the supermarket today when I go to pick up my prescription for stuff that is (allegedly) going to make my stomach feel better while we wait for the actual cure. Enough of this 'I'm going to just let it grow out and be proudly brownish-gray' bullshit. I'm goin' firecracker, and that's that. I can handle gallbladder disease or seeing all that @(*^&@ gray in the mirror, but not both at the same time.

Second! I am casting on a 5-Hour Baby Sweater (with hat and blankie but no booties because I always found those dumb things to be utterly worthless – lots of points for cute, but they never, ever, EVER fit or stayed on or otherwise got used for anything other than a tabletop display), to be donated to Stitches from the Heart.

I don't care how pissy I am, I find it physically impossible to knit something for a newborn, especially of the preemie size, and not get all snuggly inside. 'Cause life goes on, with me or without me, good times and bad. And it goes on in such adorable forms as this, which make men who otherwise would probably prefer a punch to the kidneys over schmaltz do things like this, and just darn it makes you go awwwwwwwwww.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Random memory du jour

Today, a conversation I had with a coworker brought to mind a phone conversation I once had with a friend's roommate. Said roommate, it must be said right up front, was a major pothead. Oh my, yes. This guy…well. He liked the old weed - a lot.

This friend of mine was at that point in time Transportation Challenged. My ride was not exactly the most reliable in the universe either but it was at least running (and had actual, working seat belts), so I had offered to give her a ride from her place in San Francisco up to the Renaissance Faire in Novato.

I had made the offer, we had made the usual, "OK, I'll call you to confirm/deny" noises and then forgotten all about it until right before I'd need to leave my house in the East Bay to come get her and then toodle on up to Faire.

I called her house, and the roommate answered. All names have been changed to protect the guilty, but as Dawg is my witness, this conversation really happened.

{ring, ring, ring, ring}


"Oh, hi, Pete. Is Laura there?"

"Uuuuuuuh…{long pause} No. But Stephen was here…" (Stephen being her boyfriend.)

Another pause. See, I'm waiting for what Stephen having been there had to do with anything. Like, a normal person would say, "Stephen was here and they left together half an hour ago, or Stephen was here and he said they were going somewhere. You know…it isn't just a pure non sequitur. Eventually I realize that this is his Final Say until further prodded, and, undaunted, I carry on…

"Hoooookay. Um. I'm not sure if I'm supposed to give her a ride today or not – do you know if Stephen took her to Faire this morning?"

"Uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuh…" (I'm already asking myself why I even bothered to ask) "I don't think so. No. 'Cause his bike? It's in the garage."

"Pete. Is Stephen in the garage right now?"

"Uh. {pause}"

The pause lengthens. I can hear him breathing steadily into the phone. He's forgotten he's even talking to someone. I wake him up cautiously.



"Is. Stephen. In. The. Garage. Right. Now?"

"Oh. Uh. No. He went out or something."

"So he isn't home?"

"Dude, I already told you."

Resisting the urge to reach through the phone and throttle him, I keep prying information out of what's left of his brain.

"Right, OK. And Laura isn't home either?"

"Uh, no. 'Least, I don't think so. Lemme check."

{thud!} {sounds of him wandering going, "Laaaaaaaura? Dude, you there? Laaaaaaaaurrrrraaaaaaaa!"}

He comes back to the phone eating something, and provides the following information amid loud smacking and chewing noises:

"No, she totally isn't here, dude. But Stephen was here. A while ago. I’m pretty sure."

Oh, Lord. Grant me strength. See, now, I'm feeling really uneasy. I'm not sure what's going on. For all I know, she's sitting in the living room ignoring him, or she and Stephen are actually down in the garage playing video games or something – I have no idea. This guy is a lost cause and I'm afraid if I send him down to the garage to check I'll lose him forever. But all is not lost, I've got a good half hour before I'd actually have to leave my house…I'll leave a message, and if she's home she can call me!

"Hey, Pete? I want to leave a message for Laura, OK?"

"OK. Let me find a pencil or somethin'…" {frantic rustling of stuff}

Now, I happen to know that the stack he's going through is a pile of mail and bills and all kinds of stuff that probably shouldn't be written upon or otherwise messed with lest it become lost forever.

Besides. Anything he does write down, he'll probably turn right around and use for toilet paper or put under his pillow or something equally weird. That was just Pete. So I intervene.

"No, hey, know what? How about we use the machine, OK? We'll hang up, and I'll call right back – just let the answering machine pick it up and I'll leave her a message, OK?" (Not that I don't trust this clown, but…)

"Oh, hey, great idea. Ok. Bye."


{ring, ring}


"Pete. Don't answer the phone. Let it go to the answering machine."

"Oh! Right! Sorry, dude!"

{click} {ring}


"Dammit, Pete! Don't answer the @*^&@ phone!! I wanna leave a message ON THE TAPE!!"

"Dude! You don't have to yell! Sorry for living, GEEEEEEZ!"

{click} {ring}


I gave up at that point. I drove out to Faire, where it turned out she had indeed arrived (IIRC) the night before via a different set of friends.

And that, my very dear friends, is why I will never smoke pot. I am dumb enough without the help of the mighty weed.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

And a weight was lifted…

I finally broke down and called a maid service. Well, actually, I called four maid services. One never showed up to do their estimate or called to tell me why (OK, we're going to call that one 'off the list'), one was silly-expensive (excuse me? $250 a week, are you mad?!), one answered the phone with, "Yeah?" and then proceeded to be unsure about whether or not his wife (the maid service) was still "doing that" (hoooookay, gonna call that one off the list, too), and finally got hold of our local Molly Maids, who were pleasant on the phone, in line with my expectations cost-wise and who (gasp!) showed up right on time to walk through my filthy Den and give me a contract for de-filthing it.

They were to come Monday morning, she said. It would be a good thing if we could declutter before they arrived, she added with gentle reproach (what, so it looks like a Toys-R-Us truck slammed into our house and exploded its innards all over it…). Not that they wouldn't throw the toys into the toybox for us, but…time is money you know...

So I spent the weekend decluttering the Den.

Only decluttering.

I got the massive piles of laundry off my dresser and put away – but I didn't then dust the dresser.

I put away my earrings, the hair pins and ties, the brushes, the 'refill' package of toilet paper and the nine hundred little bottles of assorted facial unguents guaranteed! to make me look less haglike – but I didn't then clean the bathroom.

Picked up the toys and threw them into the toybox – but didn't then vacuum, dust, remove the spiderwebs from the window runners, and sanitize the doorknobs.


And yet, remarkably, I got the entire Den decluttered in only a few hours. It was a lot of clutter. I thought it would take months to get through all that clutter – but focusing purely on the clutter and not the filth around, over and under it, it actually got put away really, really fast. I even got through my handle-it-handle-it drawer, packaged up and filed away last year's paperwork, and made new file folders for the new stuff we've got this year.

I was on fire, baby.

At precisely 8:00 Monday morning, two ladies pulled up in a little pink car, unloaded about six hundred pounds of cleaning implements, and went to work.

Five hours later, the entire Den was clean.

All of it. Every single room. Dusted, vacuumed, scrubbed, from the ceiling fans to the baseboards. Even the window runners. Showers: Sparkling. Cabinets: Glowing. Beds: Neatest they've been in months.

By 6:00 that evening, I had even washed, folded and put away all the laundry that needed doing.

I'm not used to having Nothing Whatsoever To Do on the housework front. Since I usually clean in 'zones' (the front room on Monday, the office and downstairs bathroom on Tuesday, etc.), there is always some room that hasn't been touched in a week (or more).

It was weird to have a little pause in the day and think, I really should go clean the girls' bathroom – oh wait! It's already clean!

At first, it made me feel oddly resentful. Redundant. Guilty. What kind of mother has strangers change the sheets on her kids' beds?! What's next, hiring a chef to come cook all their meals?! (Hmmmm…)

But I've gotten used to it. Don't worry about me, I'm fine.

I feel astonishingly less stressed out. It's as though a huge weight has lifted from me. I can ignore little spots on the hall tile, or fingerprints on the sliding glass door, or the sludge ring left on the tub by four filthy children. It's OK. The maids will be here Monday.

Even given how cheap I am, I have to say it: It's easily worth the money.


About that backyard…while there may well be a contest for Biggest Weed Ever, I don't think I really want to win it… unless of course, there's a money prize that might cover the cost of a gardener…