Saturday, April 29, 2006

Hakuna Matata

I think one of the neighborhood feral cats got a bird under our bird feeder. There's a whole mess of reddish feathers on the ground under the feeder.

There's this one fat, long-haired black cat that's always under the tree next to the feeder, hanging out, waiting for an unsuspecting dumb-ass bird to linger too long, so I think he was finally successful. I hope it wasn't the female cardinal. There's a pair of cardinals that regularly visit the feeder, and the female is a muddy reddish-brown color, kind of like those feathers. That would be a bummer if it was her.

Whenever I see that cat (or any other cat) under the tree, I fill up a big cup of cold water and go out on the deck and throw it in the general direction of the tree, and the cat usually runs away, (note to self: purchase Super-Soaker) but it's always kind of half-hearted on my part. I figure the cats and the birds and the squirrels and whatnot are all sort of keeping each other in check, balancing each other out, maintaining the Circle of Life and all that, so I don't try too terribly hard.

Which reminds me of a story.

When I was at HBO, one of the other assistants, Ron,* was given this mini-aquarium kit as a Christmas present from his boss. It was a small glass globe that came with some little aquatic plants and a tiny little frog and snail to inhabit the place. The whole thing couldn't have been bigger than a softball; it was very cute sitting there in his cubicle, and Ron was quite enamored of his mini-life setup. He held a naming contest to determine what the tiny beasties should be called, and there were a number of cutesy suggestions along the lines of Cheech and Chong, Laverne and Shirley, Simon and Garfunkel, et cetera. I can't remember what he finally decided on, but for the story's sake, let's say it was Laverne (frog) and Shirley (snail).

Sadly, Laverne passed away inexplicably a mere few days after setting up housekeeping on Ron's desk. Ron was quite upset at the frog's early demise, and called the company that made the aquarium to find out why it might have happened and how to get a replacement frog. The company's hapless customer service rep asked Ron for the serial number on the bottom of the globe (or something like that), and informed him that they'd had "a bad batch of frogs." So he got a brand-new frog.

Not two days later, when he came in to work in the morning, Ron discovered that Laverne the Second had also died. Not only that, but Shirley had gone missing. Dead frog, floating on top of the water, and no snail. Naturally, Ron was quite distressed.

Another assistant named Rowan (who is Australian) and I were in Ron's cubicle commiserating with him on his bad luck and trying very very hard to keep straight faces about the whole thing. We were saying things like, "It wasn't anything you did" and "They had a bad batch of frogs, Ron." He obviously felt bad about losing his mini-pets and was trying to determine what might have happened.

He explained his theory to us: Maybe Laverne had tried to eat Shirley and choked on her, thus explaining the missing snail. At this point, Rowan and I couldn't even make eye contact with each other, we were in such fear of bursting out laughing. Then Rowan sealed the deal. He said (and you have to imagine the Australian accent) "Well, you know Ron, it's the Circle of Life." and I couldn't help myself; I busted out the "Naaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa, nee-benzaaaaaaaaaaaaaa, habba beech eemawaaaaaay" from the opening of The Lion King.

Then we fell all over ourselves laughing, and apologizing for laughing, and then laughing some more. We were terrible people, laughing at another person's mini-aquarium tragedy.

But it was pretty funny.

Thanks for reading.

*That's his real name. I know you thought this asterisk was going to be one of those "Some names have been changed" kind of things, but I actually just wanted to give a little shout-out and say, "Ron the Don! Wassup my homie?"

Friday, April 28, 2006

It's the end of the world as we know it

It's all over. He's crawling. Nolan is crawling, ladies and gentlemen. And life as we know is about to come to a screeching halt.

He's been on the verge for about three weeks now, getting on his hands and knees, rocking back and forth and then slumping down to his belly, wiggling backwards and all that, but yesterday the light bulb went on and he put three slide-knee-forward-and-lift-hand movements together in a row.

So now, instead of staying in a pretty pre-determined radius on the living room rug when I put him down, he's gonna be all over the friggin' place, finding all the (probably numerous) instances where we haven't completely thought through the childproofing measures we've taken.

The books all tell you to get down on your hands and knees and look at things from the child's point of view to see what they might find interesting, and I actually did that, but I think the problem with that approach is that I don't think like a ten month old (thank God). I have absolutely zero interest in the speaker wire behind the stereo as long as it does its job and provides us with music, but to Nolan speaker wire is apparently a tasty appetizer. Ditto the tumbling tumbleweeds* of cat hair under every piece of furniture. I am quite capable of looking at them and going, "Ew, cat hair" and moving on, but I think Nolan will add them to his list of Nasty Things That I Must Taste Immediately.

The funny thing is, I was so worried because Nolan seemed to me to be rather late in learning to crawl. My friend Christa's daughter Samantha is 7 weeks younger than Nolan and she had crawling mastered about a month ago. I was trying to remain calm and tell myself all those things that the What To Expect bible tells you, namely "Every child develops at their own pace" and "There is a wide range of normal" and blah blah blah. Secretly I was afraid Nolan would be so delayed he'd have to crawl onstage to get his high school diploma.

I guess it's one of those grass is always greener kind of things, because Christa babysat Nolan one night and she was marveling over how long he was content to sit and play with a toy compared to Sam, who is like the Tasmanian Devil all over the room.

So I'm looking forward to the next few weeks of "No, don't touch that!" and "Yuck, that's dirty!" and "Oh my God, what the hell is in your mouth?!?!" And when I say looking forward, I mean dreading like a tetanus shot.

Thanks for reading.

*If you don't now have the opening scene of The Big Lebowski stuck in your head, well...that's just sad.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

And I wonder, I wah-wah-wah-wah wonder

I'm so bummed. Almay is no longer making their Pure Tints line of tinted chapstick-like lipcolors. They were so perfect, particularly the shade Cocoa. They were skinny and small enough to fit in my pocket, just like a chapstick, so I could take it everywhere. They were SPF 25, for my butt-white self.* They put just enough color on your lips to, well, give your lips some color, but they were sheer enough not to look too lipsticky.

I'm not a big makeup person, particularly since I can almost never find colors that look good on my tres tres pale ass. I don't buy department store makeup because it's too friggin' expensive - who wants to spend twenty bucks on a mascara that you're supposed to replace after six months when it "expires?" I don't wear it often enough to make it worthwhile. So I stick to makeup I can buy in the drugstore, without the interference of a "helpful" saleslady whose job it is to sell me more than I really need.

Even with drugstore makeup, I've made some expensive mistakes, especially in the lipcolor arena. I walk out with a lipstick that looks great in the store, seems to be that perfect pinky-browny-red I've been looking for all my life, but then when I get home and put it on in natural light, it always becomes too...something. Usually too magenta. And I look like a dead fish. So it gets thrown into a drawer, never to be seen again, at least until the next time I move house and start boxing up the bathroom, only to discover the makeup graveyard I've created.**

But the Pure Tints! They were fabulous! My mom introduced me to them, believe it or not (my mom's not a big makeup person, either). Two years ago at my wedding she brought the Nude and the Cocoa shades and I borrowed one from her purse and was like, "WHERE DID YOU GET THIS?" Ever since that day I've been buying the Cocoa on a regular basis. And it was only 5 bucks! And they lasted, well, not forever, obviously, but quite a while. I would slip one in my pocket (I'm not a purse person, either) when I grabbed my money and driver's license - it was like, part of my essential equipment. "Cell phone - check. Money - check. Pure Tints - check."

I got suspicious that something was afoot a couple weeks ago when I did my usual drugstore run at our local Brooks and found the Almay display conspicuously empty of Pure Tints. They didn't have any of them, not a single shade. So I figured maybe their shipment didn't come in or something and I'd just check back next week. Then I looked at the Big K-Mart the next time I went and THEY didn't have them either, and alarm bells started to go off. I asked my mom to look down where she lives and she can't find them, either. Where have all the Pure Tints gone?

Almay's discontinued product page doesn't even list them. They're still on, but who knows for how much longer? I'm going to buy a bunch of them right now and hoard them in my medicine cabinet. I hate it, HATE IT when a company discontinues a product I love without telling me. Why wasn't there a news bulletin about this? How dare they stop making Pure Tints without a Homeland Security Alert? Argh.

Thanks for reading.

*When a makeup company finally invents a shade of foundation or concealer called "Butt White," I will know it is for me.

**Of course, the makeup graveyard is nothing compared to the hair product graveyard. I have probably spent, over the course of my thirty-one years as a Curly Girl, enough money on hair products to finance Nolan's college education, 95% of which products did nothing special to my frizzy-ass, wacked-out hair.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Love is such a beep beep feeling

I wish there were a way to use computer shortcuts in real life. Perhaps our lives are overly influenced by our computers these days, but it seems that we should be able to figure out a way to make these things happen.* How many times have you spilled Fruit Punch flavored Crystal Light on your beige carpet and thought, "Oh shit! Control-Z! Undo! Undo!" Or spun out your car on an icy highway, crashed into the guardrail (these are all purely hypothetical examples, of course) and looked at the bumper and wondered if you could Restore your car to an earlier, uncrumpled version?

I knew I had been using Microsoft Word a little too much when I was writing in my journal one day. I wasn't sure about the spelling of a word, so I wrote it like I thought it was spelled and then waited to see if the little red squiggly line showed up underneath it.

KB uses this computer application called TalkStation when he dictates his radiology reports. Basically it's like an instant computer transcriptionist that uses voice-recognition software to type out what he's saying. Apparently the technology is till not one hundred percent up to snuff, because they still have to go back and read through the reports and correct all the mistakes the computer made, like "violate the pubics" instead of "evaluate the pelvis", or "according to the State Department" instead of "according to protocol." (He finally got the chance to dictate to an actual human transcriptionist at one of his moonlighting jobs recently and he said it was awesome, so the computers haven't taken over the world just yet.) My favorite feature he's told me about is the "macro" feature. If you've ever used Excel or another spreadsheet program you know what a macro is, I'm sure. KB can say "Macro" and then something like "Osteosarcoma" into the computer, and it knows to type out a whole phrase describing that particular condition or observation or whatever.

How I wish we had this feature in our conversations sometimes. You could just say "Macro" and then "I'm feeling unappreciated" or "Macro - Boy am I tired" and not bother to go through the whole routine that you've gone through a hundred times before. But I guess that would take some of the fun out of things, now, wouldn't it?

Thanks for reading.

*I also think it's about time someone invented the Star Trek transporter, already. What's the holdup, science geeks of the world? Imagine the time saved! The fuel crisis solved! Jeff Goldblum with endless sexual energy! What could go wrong?

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

I'm a Marcy Projects hallway loiterer

So KB has decided he wants to do a fellowship year in Interventional Radiology after he finishes his residency. Basically, this means an additional year of even more specific training before he finishes and gets a "real" job. MGH has already told him he can stay here if he wants to, without bothering to go through the whole interviewing process, but he's not sure the training here would be the best for him. So he's also applied at Cornell and Columbia in New York and Thomas Jefferson and Penn in Philly.

I'm torn about this whole thing. One more year of training means one more year of KB working like a dog at his regular gig plus moonlighting at a couple other extra gigs in order to make enough money to support us so I can stay home with Nolan. This is because even Mankind's Greatest Hospital doesn't pay its residents or fellows shit. We don't get to see KB as often as we'd like, he's really tired and burned out, and our relationship suffers because our conversations happen mostly at 10:30 pm when we're both exhausted and consist of things like, "Did you write that check to the oil guy?" So part of me really wants him to say "Fuck it" and get a private practice job next year as soon as his residency is over. Quit dicking around.

On the other hand, KB's going to be working in a private practice job for the next 40 years or so. I want him to be happy with what he's doing and feel fulfilled and creative and like he's learning and all that. I don't want him to look back in about ten years and go, "Geez, I wish I'd done that fellowship year so I could be doing more Interventional stuff*." Then I would feel bad for asking him to skip it and he might feel resentful for not doing all the training he wanted to.

The other factor is where we're going to live. If he takes a fellowship at one of the places in New York or Philly, we'll have to move once to be near that job and then move again to be near wherever he ends up with his private practice job (which will hopefully be in the same general vicinity, but still.) That's two moves in a year, and that would suck big donkey dick. We have to think about Nolan and good school districts and safe neighborhoods and location location location not once, but twice.

Plus, I'm not the kind of person who makes friends easily, and moving twice in a year just makes me feel that much more unsettled. It's like, why bother putting down roots and making friends and getting to know your local butcher when you're just going to move in a year? What's the point? (Although, I also have to concede Zach's point, made in January on our visit to the Bay Area when I got to go out drinking with him [on a school night!] like a non-parent, which was something along the lines of "We met at a three-week long summer camp when we were fifteen and we've never lived in the same place since then, but we've been friends for fifteen years." Which made me go, "Oh yeah.")

We spent a year in New York when KB did his internship year, and let me tell you, a year is a weird length of time to live in New York City. It's not long enough to really get to know the place well and feel like you're actually a resident, but it's way too long to get away with being a clueless tourist who doesn't know anything.

So I'm torn. We know we'd eventually like to end up in the New Jersey area, simply because I have oodles of family in Pennsylviania/Delaware/New Jersey/New York and it would be nice for Nolan to grow up around his family, and there's plenty of job opportunities out there. I'd like to live in the Bay Area, which happens to be near KB's family, but the cost of living there is ridiculously high. Plus my mom would hunt us down and kill us if we did that after she finally moved from Wyoming back to the East Coast after 25 years.

Why is this so hard? Why does it feel like whatever decision we make is the FINAL one, the huge fork in the road where once we choose our path, we can NEVER NEVER GO BACK AGAIN. It may be just in my head. But it feels like a doozy.

Thanks for reading.

*For those of you who, like me, know bupkis about radiology, Interventional Radiology is a little more active than traditional radiology. IR involves doing procedures on the patient using imaging to guide the procedure - things like threading a catheter into a blood vessel. Traditional radiology involves a lot of sitting in a darkened room staring at a computer screen - there's very little patient interaction.

Friday, April 14, 2006

I'm taken with the notion

Looks like I spoke (or typed) too soon. The computer is once again on the fritz. I've had to resort to actually taking the laptop downstairs into our basement and (gasp!) physically plugging it into the modem. Dear lord, what is the world coming to and all that. This means that I am once again limited to getting on the computer when Nolan is asleep, because he's not real thrilled about hanging out in the Pack-n-Play in the basement any more.

So, I'll keep this quick. Here are some baby pictures. My friend and fellow new-mom Christa showed me some baby pictures of herself, and they look exactly like current pictures of her daughter, Samantha. I was inspired to go look for some baby pictures of me to see if they resembled Nolan at all (or rather, if Nolan resembled them.) The first one is me at about eighteen months, I'm guessing, judging by the Easter-type colors that were prevalent in the other pictures that were with it. So, about 30 years ago this time of year. The second one is Nolan enjoying his Easter present sent to him yesterday by his great-grandmother, my Mom-mom. (The actual present was three teddy bears (three!) and two books, but, Nolan being Nolan, he was much more interested in the box and the card. Specifically, chewing on both of them.)

He's only ten months at the moment, but I think you can see a wee bit of a resemblance.

Thanks for reading.

CORRECTION: My mother was here over Easter weekend and she informs me that the top picture is actually me at about 12 months - she thinks it may have been taken at my first birthday party - so the age difference between the two photos is pretty small.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

I'll tell anyone whose heart can comprehend, baby

We've been having computer problems here at Chez Thptpth. KB has started a new moonlighting gig at another hospital near us, and they needed him to install software on his laptop so he could basically work from home - they would send him what he needed over this network software they had him install. Well, every time he installed the software, our home wireless network went down. Which kind of made the software moot, because he needed to access the internet to get the work from the hospital. Uninstall the software, hey look! There's the wireless network again! So all of last week there was much sturm und drang surrounding the computer. At one point we had to take the laptop in to the hospital's IT department who, in the oh-so-helpful way of IT departments everywhere, said, "It's working fine for us. It must be something with your network, not our software." Then we found out that a couple of KB's co-workers who also moonlight at this place had problems with the software, and it's like, "Hmmm."

So the upshot is, it's still not working. We finally just uninstalled the software again so we could use the friggin' computer. (We have another, old, slow desktop computer at home, which is how I managed my one measly post last week, but it is sloooooooow. Did I mention the slowness?) The lesson we've learned here is that old cliche "Don't put all your eggs in one basket." We need to move some of our vital info off of this computer and onto either another computer or an external hard drive, 'cause if this one dies, we're screwed.

So other than that, things are pretty much status quo around here. My dad left to go overseas with the Army yesterday, after several delays while he was at Fort Benning, in Georgia. Apparently the Army has some doubts as to my father's clinical skills since he's no longer a practicing physician, but rather a medical director for an insurance company, even though he keeps his license current and takes all of his CME credits. Of course, they didn't bring up these doubts while he was still happily at home in Nebraska, but rather, once he got to Georgia. And they didn't bother to factor in that he went to Ecuador with the Army in November for two weeks and demonstrated his perfectly fine clinical skills there. (I know, you're shocked - the Army is not a model of efficiency and good communication? Preposterous!) So their brilliant solution to this problem is to send him first to Germany for a couple of weeks so he can work under another physician and show them he's still got what it takes, doctor-wise. Did I mention my dad is a Colonel? So the time he spends in Germany won't count towards his BOG (Boots On Ground) 90 days that he's officially supposed to be gone. Which just means that he'll be gone that much longer. *sigh*

Anyway. That's the haps 'round these parts. I'm going to try to get back into the routine of posting on a regular basis, if only for my own need to feel connected with the world somehow. Thank god the computer's working.

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

I am a snake head eating the head on the opposite side

I read that early this morning, at two minutes and three seconds past one in the morning to be exact, the time and date were 01:02:03 04/05/06. For some reason that's really cool to me. I know that time is just an arbitrary construct, months and days and numbers are just applied by us humans, and that that particular second of time really has no intrinsic significance to speak of, but it's still cool.

I'm the kind of person who pays attention to the odometer on the car and notices when it's a palindrome, too. That's fascinating to me. I think I picked that habit up in Wyoming on looooong car trips when I had no car stereo (my first car was basically an engine, wheels and doors) to entertain me. I would play mental games with the odometer, trying to figure out when would be the next time a palindrome would occur, if there was some kind of pattern I could divine. I would do it with the mileposts and the exit numbers, too.

Maybe I should check out numerology. Or become an actuary.

Thanks for reading.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Pants on fire

By popular request* here are some more examples of LIARS attacks:

Getting Nolan out of his high chair after a meal, I usually ask, "Are you ready to get down?" This, naturally, led to Kool and the Gang's "Jungle Boogie" being transformed into the Baby Boogie:

Get down, get down
Get down, get down
Baby Boogie
(dititidoo dititidoo)
Baby Boogie
(it's time to get down)

Also after meals, as I struggle to wipe the accumulated food mush off of his face, I tend to exclaim, "You've got food on your face!" which always brings on Queen's "We Will Rock You":

You've got food on your face
Your baby face
Somebody better pick you up and wipe off your face
(singing) I will, I will, wipe you!

Jesus, I'm a dork. (That's not a lyric, that's just an observation).

Then there's the classical section. When Nolan has a nice, big but relatively manageable poop, he gets Handel's Hallelujah chorus (sometimes in two-part harmony with me and KB):

Super Pooper! Super Pooper!
Superpooper! Superpooper!
Super-er Pooperrr...

Also, on our way to the changing table when he's got an evident load in the pants, I like to bust out the, umm...that Wagner (I think it's Wagner) song about the, know. It goes, "Kill da wabbit, kill da wabbit..." Not only am I a dork, I'm a poorly educated dork. Except instead of "Kill da wabbit," it's:

Poopy diaper, poopy diaper
Poopy diaper, poopy diaperrrr...

And let's not forget the poor, neglected cats. Every now and then one of them, usually Jake, will decide it's time to freak out and tear around the house with his tail puffed up. This earns him a tune by Joe Jackson, "Steppin' Out":

Kitty's, spazzing ouuuuut...
All through the house
He's spazzing out

But probably the most embarrassing one of all is this: Among Nolan's many nicknames is the frequently used (by me, anyway) "Baby Guy." I don't know why, I just call him that sometimes. I'll walk into the room and see him sitting on the floor with a toy, and it seems so natural to say, "Hey, baby guy!" So of course, you know what's coming...that's right. It's "Cherry Pie," by Warrant.

He's my baby guy
He's so cute make his mama cry
He's my baby guy
Sweet! Baby! Guy!

This poor kid. He's going to be so warped.

Thanks for reading.

*Nobody requested these. I just felt like posting them. So there.