Tuesday, March 23, 2010

How I Spent My Spring Break

Ahhh...Arizona. Although not my first trip west, it was my first trip to the last of the contiguous states to be admitted to the union; usually, I just fly over it on my way to more glamorous states. Well, California.  Angelo and I went a week ago last Friday to visit his daughter who is both in school and teaching school there. Arizona's public school schedule coincided with my community college schedule so we were both on spring break at the same time. We had about four days to pack in our sightseeing, but since we were limiting it to the Phoenix area (where she lives) we were pretty confident that we would see everything we wanted to see and spend some quality time with Justine, too. That is, until Monday morning. Monday morning is when Justine's Jack Russell Terrier, Lilly,  decided she didn't want me out in the backyard with her and snapped her sharp little teeth into my forearm.
In my defense, I didn't provoke her. I thought I was helping to keep dirt clods out of her little throat by reaching down to grab one out of her mouth. But when she snarled at me and clenched harder, I decided that it wasn't my job and moved away from her. But not fast enough - she sprung - as Jack Russells are wont to do - and took a small chunk out of my arm. Ouch.
So, instead of spending the morning here...
We spent half the day here....at the Urgent Care facility conveniently around the corner. (Corners aren't like here in Connecticut - it was still about a mile and a half away...that's close in Arizona.)
Unfortunately, it was neither Urgent nor was there much Care. They weren't bad - obviously they had to take care of the little girl with a scorpion sting first. But still...I was in pain. I spent most of my time in the waiting room. The doctor spent about 5 minutes in the exam room with me - and most of the time he was talking with Angelo, impressed because he knew what "anaerobic" meant. We were talking anaerobic because the tetanus shot topic came up. I declined. I also declined the antibiotics because they caused photosensitivity. I was in Arizona...it wasn't likely I was going to take drugs that would make me break out in hives if I went out in the sun. Instead I slathered a topical antibiotic cream on my wound. And that made me break out in hives. And swelled my arm. And itched. There was only one thing left to do....
I love Spring Break.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Pets as Children

A couple of weeks ago, we were invited over to have a glass of wine with some new friends. After a quick tour of their home, we settled in on the sun porch with several platters of tasty cheese, veggies and bread and several glasses of wine. Our hostess took the wicker loveseat - by herself - because one of the two cats they own was asleep, taking up half the cushion. That's okay - there was plenty of seating. Naturally, after we took the obligatory toll of who has how many kids and where they all are, we got to the more important discussion - how cute is our cat? We talked about other stuff, too; travel, work, family, etc. But clearly, the cats - because eventually cat #2 showed up to say hello to company - were the center of attention.

I am not quite sure when this happened, this pets-as-children thing. It's not like we carry pictures of our cat around with us, but do we earnestly join the funny-things-our-cat-does conversation? We most certainly do. I think it might have happened slowly and insidiously over the last couple of years. For the most part, all of our kids have gone their separate ways. They all come back and visit - and sometimes take up residence briefly - but the separation of needing us as parents has occurred in all three. And there we were...in an empty nest with no more parental duties save the occasional distress call, which actually allowed us to continue to feel needed. And then we got Maia, who, as a cat, is pretty independent. She no more needs us than she needs a little yellow kitty slicker to go out in the rain, but she tolerates us because of our ability to buy food and open it for her.  But it's starting to look like we might need her. My husband will call me insistently into the living room from the kitchen - and when I get in there he'll say, "Look how she's sleeping - isn't she something?" Like she was a baby three days home from the hospital. Ridiculous.

But even more ridiculous is the recent behavior I found myself guilty of.  Since our cat is so much smarter than the other cats on the block (shhhh...the neighbors think theirs is!) I thought I'd try a little training experiment. I put all her toys in a little basket on the floor to see if she would return them when she was done playing with them. She is so cute because she will bring one of her toys upstairs when she comes up to bed with us and leaves it on the floor - as if to have it available when she wakes up. Adorable. So I thought I'd give her a place for her things, you know, to keep things in order. When I'd see the stuffed fish or fake leopard-skin mouse, I'd pick them up and put them back in the basket. Sometimes, when we are watching TV at night, she'll meander over to the basket.  I'll shush my husband, pause the show and we'll watch her stare at the basket and make her choice. So discriminating.

This morning when I came downstairs, I found the fish and the leopard-skin mouse on the stairs and in the dining room, the new purple mouse was under the table. I gathered all three and headed towards the living room to put them back. And it hit me: Someone was being trained to put all the toys back in the basket, but it wasn't the cat. She was leaving her toys around more frequently and in new and different places - for me to find and return! How funny is she?

Wait til I tell the neighbors...
Maia (in my chair)

Friday, March 5, 2010

Another one from the vaults

Okay, I really don't have a vault with shelves of essays and writings carefully categorized into topics and sections. It would be cool if I did - but I don't. I have a brand new office space (see below) and the closest thing I have to a vault is an opague plastic crate with a snap-on blue lid. It'll do.

On my other website, I post my longer essays. I started almost five years ago and the idea was to post weekly to keep my writing chops in shape. In my defense - sometimes it is weekly - but realistically it has dwindled to about once or twice a month. One way I've found to keep up with my own (sometimes unreasonable) demands is to pull out some old columns I wrote over ten years ago for the Waterbury Observer and here is another one. I wish I had thought to post it last month - say, around the 14th, but I was not that forward thinking.  But it's about love and who says you only get to read about love in February? Certainly not me....

So, here... for your reading pleasure is On Love and Other Related Illnesses.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

My Bad (day)

My new discipline is to post every Tuesday and Thursday. This morning I had to run out to get some bloodwork done - early, because if I can get in and get out before 7:30 it's a 15 minute ordeal. One minute later and - - no offense but if I get there after 7:30 the waiting room is filled with um, older people. And it could be an hour. So, I was up early.

I came home ready for my morning at home. No classes, no visits or appointments. Just time for me, me, me. I made a quick bowl of oatmeal and had a neat shot of espresso (I know - you thought I was going to say scotch...) and headed upstairs. I had a post to write. But first I had to reduce to at least one, the four piles of - I'll just say it - crap that obscured any open space on my desk. I've written about my home office before, but the last time was when it was planted in the middle of our living room. Which worked just fine until we had company or wanted to use our table or any number of small and large distractions that keep one from working at home. Like its proximity to the kitchen. Now I've got a whole desk - with drawers and everything. It became my desk a week ago when my husband and I decided that he had all the office space he needed in the building where our Mom and Pop Therapy business is. The room at home, which he used to use, was now declared mine. He moved out most of his books and paperwork, I shifted my books and paperwork upstairs from the living room. All I had to do was clear it off and begin working.

You'd think I was handed a shovel and told to muck out the Aegean stables in a day by the way I was acting this morning. The piles I had to clear contained textbooks, old calendars, worksheets, lesson plans, pictures and cards from my 50th birthday. (Everyone keeps all their cards from their 50th, right? I'm not weird to do that, am I? Please say no...) I had a new and spacious place for everything, due to hearing over and over in my head one of my Dad's mantras as I was growing up: "A place for everything and everything thing in its place." But I whined at every turn.  And then it got worse...

The bag I had been tossing old papers in split and erupted its contents as if powered by a volcanic plume. The books I placed on the shelves crashed over and spilled to the floor - not in alphabetical order. The post I started this morning about annoying people in the medical field wasn't working out because my vocabulary would not come when summoned. The station I had playing on Pandora was irritating - who told Mary J. Blige she could sing?  I banged my fists, I stomped my feet. I yelled out bad words. The cat fled the room. Why was life so unfair?

And then, to distract myself, I visited my daughter's blog. Her last few posts are about cheese, snow days and happiness. Oh, so cheery, blah blah blah. Wishing everyone a happy Friday and an inspired March. Oh, please. How could she write about such wonderfulness? What made her so perky? Why isn't she writing about her stupid subway ride home or how hard it is to start her own business in a shaky economy?

Finally, finally, dear reader, a big cosmic hand came through the haze of my self pity and smacked me on the forehead. What the hell is wrong with me, anyway? What am I complaining about? Of course she's perky - she's an energetic and enterprising young woman who is doing what she wants to do. And I am clearing a place in my very own home so I can have a private place to work; a move suggested by my supportive husband so that I wouldn't have to work in the middle of the living room. And, oh, yeah...wah... I can spend all morning doing this because I don't have to go into a 9 to 5 job where I'm working my tail off for someone else, but have the luxury of time to follow my dreams. Is that what I'm complaining about?

Well, yes, I suppose it was. Yes, it was pitiful, but thankfully, I'm better now.  I'm fortunate to have people in my life who remind me how lucky I am without even saying a word. No one yelled at me, no one scolded me. They're just there...being themselves. And you, dear readers, totally dodged a bullet as now you won't be subjected to my tirade on irritating medical personnel. (Well, you might, but not today!) And even though some hippies with a dog have already memorialized this on T-shirts and other 100% cotton accessories - Life is good. Shame on me for forgetting that.