A Year in Review

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2008 is going to be an odd year to put in a box, or a blog or in my memory.

I've tried to write this blog about 30 times now (and yes it's technically being published after midnight on New Years. What. ever.), but everytime it comes out sounding so depressing, I'm trying desperately to reword it nicely. Trying, not necessarily succeeding.

I'm not ever going to forget this year, that much is certain, but for which reasons will I carry it with me? I feel like so much has happened in these 365 days and I don't know how to reconcile the good with the bad. Many days the good feels like David's left pinkie fingernail in a fight against bad, the role being played by Goliath and his whole effing family.

So the only way I think that I can overcome the size/volume deficit is to make a choice. I'm going to choose to forget the badness of 2008.

Specifically, I'm going to choose to forget:

-The CSF leak that has caused what appears to be permanent damage to my left hand. And the testing that had to be done on it.

-The boob surgery, to remove a quarter of my right breast, and the pathology report that opened my eyes to a whole new world of worry.

-The post-surgical complications from the boob surgery, including the staph infection and the seroma, which caused me to have to bind my leaky boob for 2 full months, including on my wedding day and all throughout my honeymoon.

-Being robbed on my honeymoon. Robbed of my computer, my iPod and my faith in other people to not do things that are morally bankrupt. And the subsequent 2500 dollars of debt I have accrued to try and replace the stolen items.

-Getting a new job that I had to promptly quit because it didn't pay a livable wage. And then begging for my old job back. And then getting my old job back and remembering why I quit in the first place.

-Having a headache that lasted approximately 10 weeks. For no apparent medically comprehensible reason.

-Having incompetent doctors follow me like a frickin' magnets.

-Having my foot break again. AGAIN.

-Having my wallet stolen the day after Christmas.

-Having someone use my credit card SEVEN TIMES after it was stolen. So far, at least. Those figures seem to multiply by the hour.

-Getting into a car accident on New Year's Eve. And being totally at fault. No, I don't want to talk about it. Not even a little bit.

Instead, I will remember:

-Regaining my full range of motion in my neck post-brain surgery.

-Driving across the country with my mom. Our last girl's adventure before the wedding.

-Putting on my wedding dress and walking down the aisle to marry my best friend.

-When my husbands pants split during our wedding reception (because oh my God, it was hilarious)

-Nine and a half WONDERFUL days of honeymooning (where honeymooning is a euphemism for you know, bow chicka bow wow (kidding!))

-Electing a president I find to be competent and intelligent. And the feeling of patriotism that I had when I realized what we, as a nation, had done.

-Getting into the best graduate program in the country and getting offers to interview at 4 others.

I am as aware as any of you that the list of things I want to remember is shorter than the list of things I want to forget. But I know that this year, like many others in the past, has served a purpose. It has changed who I am, and it's up to me to decide how. Because, believe me, it would be REALLY easy to curl up into a ball of sympathy and forget to live my life. After all, I couldn't run into any cars or have my wallet stolen or deal with incompetent doctors if I shut myself in, but I'm choosing not to do that.

And I'm choosing to embrace 2009. Because I believe in change and I think maybe this is the time in my life where I'm going to see it take hold, for the better.

Happy New Year. Bring it on 2009. Bring. It. On.

Lost no more

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Just checked my credit card balance, at the suggestion of my husband, since all my cards have been cancelled.

Not one, but TWO charges were made on the day my wallet was stolen. Not from the gas station where I left my wallet (where I paid in cash), but from the one directly across the street TWO different gas stations across town (I made an incorrect conclusion about which gas station because there was an Exxon across the street, but there are also apparently 180 of those in town, and um, this asswipe went to a different one.) Apparently the dickwad stole my wallet and then filled up not one but TWO different cars with gas using my credit card.

And better yet, both charges were made AFTER my credit card was cancelled and yet the charges went through. Hey credit card company, you kind of suck at this.

So yes, I left my wallet at a gas station, but some stain on the cloth of humanity took it, and used my credit card before I was able to cancel it (they're removing the charges, but that is SO beside the point). I'm not sure what I feel right now. I feel stupid for leaving my wallet and so disappointed that it wasn't returned. I didn't expect it, but I had hoped that someone might have found it and would send it to me.

Having something stolen from me again, so soon after the last time, just makes me feel very small and taken advantage of. I need to believe in people again, to believe that they are innately good.

But honestly, no one is giving me a reason to right now.

The Bright Side The Full Story

Saturday, December 27, 2008

So I obviously didn't tell the entire story of the wallet, mostly because it's my fault. And I REALLY hate that it's my fault. But it is 100% my fault. Except for the part where the person decided to take my wallet. That jack assery was not mine.

Slappy and I were headed from where my family lives to Los Angeles, which is a 2 hour car ride. We had to take 2 cars because we had borrowed his mom's car to get there and we are using my mom's car while we are here (it's a long story, just nod, agree and don't try to figure it out). We noticed that his mom's car tire was a little low, so I had Slappy pull over to the air/water pump to fill it up (also, ignore the fact that I am the only one capable of putting air in tires. Slappy wanted to drive for 2 hours on a low tire and have his dad deal with it in Los Angeles. Seriously).

I parked my mom's car and walked, wallet in hand, to the air/water machine where Slappy was looking helpless parked. I had a boat-load of quarters in my wallet and I assumed we'd need them (in fact, I had JUST commented on how much change I had in my wallet). Surprisingly, the air and water were free, so I set my wallet down on the air/water dispenser and then started inflating the tire.

And then I finished inflating the tire and walked back to my car. I did not notice for about 20 minutes until I went to grab my purse and realized how empty it was. I then pulled over (as did Slappy who was behind me), and milled through my car for a solid 5 minutes. No wallet.

I immediately called the gas station, where the attendant went out and looked. No wallet.

I called my dad, and he and his wife scoured the area. No wallet.

My mom went next, even looking in trash cans to see if someone had tossed it after taking my Christmas bonus and gift cards. No wallet.

So yes, the wallet leaving was my fault, but seriously? What kind of person takes a wallet? WHO DOES THIS AND WHY DO THEY ALWAYS LIVE NEAR ME? Seriously. I realize I left my wallet, but if I found a wallet, I would take it into the gas station. I would try to find the person. I would do something, ANYTHING, besides fucking steal it.

It's just not right at all. It makes me ashamed of where I live, of the human race because this is the second time in just over 6 months that someone has felt that it was acceptable to TAKE MY POSSESSIONS. It doesn't matter if I leave them somewhere. It doesn't matter if I open the trunk to a rental car. It is UNACCEPTABLE to steal things. It's a fucking commandment for crying out loud.

My mother keeps telling me to look on the bright side. And believe me, I'm trying. I believe the last time she told me to look on the bright side I told her that I'd give her a call when I figured out the bright side of HAVING MY WALLET STOLEN. I'm sorry, there isn't one.

Sure, there's a lesson- don't leave your wallet in public places. But it's not as if I make a habit of it, or do it for shits and giggles. I made a mistake and now I've had to cancel all my credit and debit cards, I have to have my passport overnighted to me so I can reboard a plane next week and I have to get a new social security card, a mere few months before I have to get a new one for my new last name. I didn't ask for it, I didn't want it. In fact, I rather liked my wallet and ALL ITS FUCKING CONTENTS.

So yea, I'm going to continue to look for the bright side. 29 hours and I still haven't found it yet. I'm not holding out hope.

(As the shit topping to my crap sundae, I also found out yesterday that my favorite high school teacher died recently. He leaves behind a wife and 10 year old son. So in case you're wondering if I needed a dose of perspective, God was nice enough to drop that in my lap last night. I'm clear on the lack of severity of my situation and devastated for his family and his students.)

Thieves: 2, Me: 0

Friday, December 26, 2008

I had a lovely Christmas, which explains why karmatically I had to have my wallet stolen today.

The wallet that I had just put my 50 dollar Gap gift card in.

And my 50 dollar Barnes and Noble gift card.

And my 20 dollar Starbucks gift card.

And several New Orleans specific gift cards given to my by students this year.

And the rest of my Christmas bonus.

And my driver's license and all my credit and debit cards

And all forms of identification that might allow me to board a plane to return home in a week.

And my health insurance cards which might allow me to see a doctor for less than full cost for the UTI that wasn't resolved with 3.5 days of antibiotics.

And because I'm a big gigantic moron, my social security card. (warning, now is NOT the time for a lecture here)

And my faith in humanity.


Happy fucking holidays.

p.s. Dear God: This lesson about material possessions not being important? I got it. We're clear. You can stop this now.


Wednesday, December 24, 2008

So I doubt I'll have another chance to write this today, and if I do, I'm going to try and spend that time with my family.

May all of you have a safe a blessed holiday, regardless of what you celebrate, even if it's nothing at all.


Monday, December 22, 2008

I've been trying to write this blog for days now. Trying to find the words for it. But I just can't write this as gracefully or make it as heartfelt as I want it to be. I can't convey the struggle in my heart. I guess maybe that sort of thing doesn't translate well into words.

Christmas is a time I struggle with in a lot of ways. I love it, I love spending the time with my family because that time is so rare and so precious. However, it's also the time I miss my family the most. In the span of 6 months in 2002, I lost 2 of my grandparents, and they were a huge part of our family, of our Christmas celebrations. It's hard for me to get too excited about Christmas, knowing that two of the rocks of our family have gone away.

We always did Christmas Eve at my dad's parents house, where my Grandpa sat in his chair (and oh we tried to steal his chair) and we opened presents. We also always positioned the trash bag for the wrapping paper right next to him and would then proceed to throw all our crumpled up pieces of paper at him, rather than at the trash bag.

Since he died, we initially continued the Christmas Eve tradition at his house, but eventually, my Grandma found it too big to take care of alone and moved into a retirement community. Now we celebrate Christmas Eve at my Dad's and there's almost never a year that goes by where we don't think of my grandfather and his affinity for sticking wrapping paper bows onto his bald head. Or his Christmas Snoopy sweater. He was just so important to all of us and I think at Christmas we all show how afraid we are of forgetting him. Of forgetting his funny little quirks, the way he always asked me what my favorite color was so he could reply "burple, what color is that?" or telling us that we're all getting rubarb for presents.

It gets a little easier each year, but I think it's because our memories have faded enough that we almost don't realize his absence.

Christmas day was celebrated with my mom's parents. My grandmother always single-handedly created the most amazing dinner, although, every Christmas she overcooked the turkey. On her last Christmas, she made the most deliciously moist and perfectly cooked turkey and I remember her saying that since she had finally perfected the turkey and that meant she was surely going to die before the next Christmas. We laughed at her at the time, as she was in fine health, and then less than 3 months later we wept as a family at her funeral.

My Grandmother had a childlike spirit. She always gave the worst gifts, but they were always thoughtful. There was one year she bought my aunt (her youngest daughter) a bell and wrote her a little note that said "a new bell, for your bell collection." My aunt, in her confusion pointed out that she didn't have a bell collection, and my grandma's response was, "well, you do now." And each year since someone has made it a point to buy her a bell.

Grandma held our family together, she demanded that we be at Christmas, and since she died, small clusters of people have slipped out of the family celebration. I know that in time we'll all celebrate with our own families and the tradition will be over, but I also know how hurt she would be to see us separating without her there. Without her cord binding us together.

Christmas feels like a double edged sword. It is a wonderful time of togetherness, yet it is also a time to remember those who can't be together with us. And I know I'm among many people who would give all the presents in the world to have just one more Christmas with those we miss so greatly.

The Great Holiday Debate

Saturday, December 20, 2008

So, it's been a while since I've stirred any pots. And I'm going completely stir crazy in bed, so I think it's time to stir one.

There are a number of blogs that I read (and to my knowledge, none of them are ones who read here just in case you're worried that I'm talking about you) that have recently been taking jabs at people for not celebrating Christmas. Or for people because other people want to say "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas."

This issue seriously bugs the ever-living crap out of me. And it has nothing to do with being politically correct, or censoring myself, it has to do with being kind to others. Just generally kind. Not politically kind, because this isn't about politics.

I am Christian, I do believe in the birth of Jesus and I celebrate it with many others on December 25th. However, I am also aware of the fact that Jesus' birth is not the only thing that is celebrated on December 25th. This year the 4th night of Chanukah is on December 25th. Chanukah, a legitimate holiday, which ironically, is probably a holy time Jesus himself celebrated. You know, what with him being JEWISH and everything. But obviously anyone who celebrates that should have to wish everyone a Merry Christmas.

Flip the situation around. What if you were celebrating the smaller holiday and Jews were forcing you to say "Happy Chanukah" and being offended if you wanted to use a different saying? If they were publicly ridiculing you for wanting to have an inclusive holiday greeting.

It's childish nonsense, that's what this is.

I just don't understand why it's so difficult to say "Happy Holidays." Does it pain you to not mention Jesus' birth in your greetings? Do you think that Jesus wouldn't want you to extend holiday greetings to those who are different? To those who are celebrating other important religious holidays? How does it impact your holiday experience by acknowledging that other people celebrate other holidays?

I don't understand hatred or unpleasantries based on wanting to force Jesus' birth onto people. That's not what Jesus was about, he didn't promote hatred, he didn't force anyone to convert to adopt his ideals. And I don't think he'd be happy to hear that when people wish you "Happy Holidays" that you always respond with "Merry Christmas." I just don't. I don't think Jesus rolls like that.

And also I don't think it takes anything away from Christmas by recognizing other religions. I think, as I have previously mentioned, that this is one of the greatest parts of our country- religious freedom. Your holiday is not compromised by the fact that other people are celebrating something different. Or if it is, I must not have noticed that in my 25 years of celebrating it.

You might be wondering why this bothers me so much, and truly, it has a lot to do with my husband being Jewish. It also has to do with human decency and with the fact that it's not okay to be closed-minded.

So next time you get upset that someone is being too PC with their "Happy Holidays" greeting, consider that maybe it's not a politically correct statement at all. Maybe the person was trying to extend greetings to everyone, instead of one group of people. Maybe they were trying to be universally kind.

Please, tell me how that could possibly be wrong?

Dear today, you can suck it.

Friday, December 19, 2008

I have a feeling I'm going to have to update this blog post several times today as the shit/fan collisions continue to occur.

I am still in excruciating pain from the UTI that I think is a kidney infection (except I don't have a fever, but I have horrible back pains, so who really knows) and now I'm so nauseated that I hovered over a trash can in my classroom for a solid hour before leaving work (no, I'm not pregnant, fyi). I don't now if the nausea is due to the infection or the antibiotics, but it's not good. I've thrown every anti-emitic I have at it (Zofran, Phenergan, Meclizine and some Xanax), and I'm just praying that it settles down after the nap I have planned. Or I fall into a state of severe unconsciousness from the drug interactions. Equally possible.

I called my pcp and asked if I could be switched to Cipro instead of Bactrim (which I've never had a problem with before), so hopefully she'll do that without much trouble. I could go down there, but I really would rather just lie in bed as long as possible. Bed right now = sleepy bliss.

In addition, my husband's flight home has been cancelled because mother nature fucking hates me. I don't think she appreciates what it's like to be sick with no one to take care of you. Both my housemates are gone, my husband is gone and I feel wretched.

Seriously, today can SUCK IT.

And now we're square. Thanks universe.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

So clearly things had been going well too well in my life. I mean really. I have 2 interviews for grad school and have been accepted to the best program in the country (a fact which I am going to repeat indefinitely, in case you wondered) and my headaches have almost disappeared (no, I'm not talking about it, I do not need to tempt fate on that AT ALL). How could I not see karma balancing itself out?

As I type, I have a 101 degree fever from what is the fastest moving UTI/possible kidney infection of all time (men, you can stop reading now). I went to bed last night feeling fine and woke up at 6:30 this morning and bam! UTI. It was like the worst miracle ever.

I've you've never had one, just imagine the sensation of peeing battery acid. Or volcanic lava. Or volcanic lava laced with battery acid. That's pretty much what it feels like.

It's awesome.

What really seems unfair to me is that when you have a UTI, not only do you have the pain when peeing. No no, that's not enough. You ALSO have to pee more often. What the hell? I mean really. If it hurts, you should have to go less. It's just not right.

And maybe this is just me, but it also hurts all the time I'm standing. Like standing up does something that jams 8000 needles into my bladder and makes me want to die. No, I'm not prone to dramatics, thankyouverymuch.

I called my doctor to get antibiotics and she's giving me 3 days of Bactrim, which is a standard course for someone with a first time, or at least very infrequent UTI(s). For someone who has had 8 trillion UTIs, many many of which have morphed into kidney infection some of which some have morphed into antibiotic resistant kidney infections, this is not sufficient. Like it's 7 days short of even being close to sufficient.

I tried, very politely, to explain this to the doctor and was met with resistance because I guess she's never actually seen me for a UTI. She's only been my doctor for a year, but when I went to see her about it she referred me to a urologist who dealt with the neverending string of UTIs. And um, maybe ordered a cystoscopy that I never scheduled because that. is. an. EXIT. only.

Anyways, apparently I haven't had a UTI in a whole year now (holy crap) so I didn't think I could call up the urologist as easily as I could call up my pcp to get antibiotics. Which I'm now thinking was not true at all.

Anyways, she called in 3 days worth and said if it wasn't better I could call back and get 3 more days then. Because clearly that's easier than calling in the 10 day prescription now. CLEARLY. And 3 days from now will be Saturday, in case anyone is counting. And I'm leaving for California Monday, so that should work out just frickin' swell.

Excuse me while I drown myself in cranberry juice. And then go scream at the pharmacist because how does it take FIVE hours to put 6 pills in a container? SERIOUSLY.


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Instead of telling you about how horribly afraid I am that this school is going to call me and tell me they accidentally sent the acceptance letter to the wrong person, I'm going to try to explain the Slappy/me matching system. Because it is confusing.

So, I have now been accepted to one (best in the country) program in California, I have an interview with one here and one at the extremely prestigious university in New York (the interview the other day had to be shortened so I have to go back January 23rd). Slappy has applied for residencies and as interviewed in Alabama, California, Arizona, New Mexico, New York and will interview here as well.

Once he has finished his interviews, he has to make a "rank list." Now, Slappy is actually applying for TWO residencies, so he has to do this whole she-bang twice. He's been alternating between interviews for each residency (one starts this year, one starts in 2011). Ironically, the first rank list will be for the program he starts second. Apparently this is to aid in making the first rank list so you don't have to move across the country after 2 years.

I see that there's logic, it just seems so ass-backwards to match for a second residency first.

Anyways, back to the story. Slappy will finish his interviews the second week in January and make rank list #1 for residency #2. He will find out if he matched in a residency (#2) sometime at the end of January. I don't know the precise date because a) I wasn't listening or b) he's not sure. Both are equally possible.

If Slappy doesn't match for residency #2 he can, a) "scramble" which involves calling a lot of programs and asking politely to be chosen; b) reapply next year; c) take a different route and screw this residency altogether for a fellowship (this is not preferred).

Whew, okay. So once Slappy finds out where residency #2 is, he can make his rank list for residency #1. Now if residency #2 is in New York, then residency #1 will hopefully be there also, that is, he'll rank all the New York programs he liked, higher than the other ones. Since my program is 3 years, it's easiest if we can stay in one place all 5 years of his residencies. We might not be able to, but it's a bridge we can cross later.

After rank list #2 for residency #1 is finished, we wait. And wait. And wait. Until March 19th. Match day.

Let me begin the rest of the explanation by saying that this match process is stupid. So so stupid.

Let's say Slappy really wants to go to New York, so he ranks the New York programs 1, 2 and 3 on his list and the Southern California ones 5, 6 and 7. He doesn't just get to go to his first choice if they like him, instead, the programs create their own rank lists of the interviewees. And then, the program with the closest match to Slappy's rank, will be his residency. So even if one of the New York programs ranked him like 12, if one of the Southern California programs ranked him 5, he'd go to Southern California.


The best part is that you find out publicly. They have a big room and they call your name and tell you where you're going. Out loud, in front of everyone. I think you get an envelope, but I'm pretty sure that you don't find out until they say it in front of all your peers. So the reactions are interesting. Some are very happy, some are not.

And then everyone goes and drinks a lot because they're all doctors with residencies.


What does this mean for my schooling? Basically I'm trying to get into at least one program in each area Slappy will be ranking. He is going to rank his schools based upon where we both want to live and then it's out of our hands. If I can get into a program wherever we'll be, I'm happy, especially if we can stay all 5 years.

The easy answer is, I don't know if I'll go to this (number one in the United States) program. I don't know if I'll go to the extremely prestigious university. I know that I will go with my husband, I will be proud of his hard work to get to this place and hopefully, I'll be enrolled in a graduate program. If not, then we'll deal with it then.

That's me, pretending to be rational.

Pretty damn funny huh?

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go back to freaking out about having my acceptance revoked.

Disbelief part 2: Where things are more amazing than I ever imagined.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

So you remember how last week I got an interview with the extremely prestigious university in New York? So that interview was shortened a bit yesterday and I have to go back in January for a full fledged one. Which is perfectly fine with me, minus the cost of flying. I liked the campus, loved New York (more on that tomorrow) and am excited at the opportunity to continue the application process. I got home last night and life has resumed to normal.

And then I got the mail today.

I found a small, but thickish letter from some place I never dreamed I'd get a letter from. At least not a thickish letter.

As it turns out, I got in to the number ONE program in the country.

The I-almost-didn't-apply-because-it's-so-far-out-of-my-reach program. The one close to my family and to where Slappy wants to move. The dream program.

I. got. in.

(holy crap)

In a show of good sportsmanship

Monday, December 15, 2008

Okay, so you may know that I am a die-hard Dallas Cowboys fan. Don't judge me. My family was originally from Texas and Oklahoma, and I was raised on them. My father even had Dallas Cowboys sheets when he was a kid.

On the other hand, my husband is a die-hard New York Giants fan. Judge him. His team members carry loaded guns in their SWEAT PANTS and then shoot themselves in the thigh. But his family is from New York and thus he bleeds red and blue like I bleed blue and silver.

I'm sure you'll be surprised to know that, since the Giants were to play the Cowboys last night, my husband was the world's biggest jackass all damned day. When I grew tired of the incessant arrogance, I suggested a bet, which we arranged.

The terms of the bet were: if the Cowboys lost, I would have to go a full week without any candy; if the Giants lost, Slappy would have to go a full week without french fries.

I thought this bet might make some difference in his jack assery, but no. If anything he just spent more time encouraging me to eat candy while I could and reminding me of how much I'd miss it.

You might also know that last night, the Dallas Cowboys handed the New York Giants their ASSES.

It. was. awesome.

What's that? Oh, it's the sound of me eating a Godiva chocolate bar.

What's that silence? That would be the sound of my husband NOT eating french fries.


Saturday, December 13, 2008

Just a quick non-blog to say, I'm in New York, freezing my ass off and loving every single moment of it. Slappy and I are about to head out to a Broadway show, so I'll catch you up on all the details (including Slappy's night in an airport, his still missing luggage, our Macy's shopping experience, the subway and of course, all the other mishaps and experiences of tonight and tomorrow) some other time.

I heart NY

The Chronicles of Irony: Chapter 10,001: Snow

Thursday, December 11, 2008

So I spent the past several days bitching lamenting that it was going to snow in New York the day and morning before I arrived, but not while I was actually there. Since I had never seen it snow in any setting other than skiing (where you're supposed to be in the snow), I was bummed out.

So of course, I woke up this morning to this:

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Image and video hosting by TinyPic


And I took video, to try to prove that it was indeed snowing. And my narration is just a small glimpse into what a huge dork I am. (Warning, if you're offended by the use of the words "Holy Crap" you should not watch this video, because those are pretty much the only words I used besides "covered in snow" which was apparently the phrase of the day.)

And in case that wasn't enough proof, here's an hour later. Still covered in snow.

An hour later. Still covered in snow. from Overflowing Brain on Vimeo.

Tales of a Traveling Husband

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

So as promised, I'm going to not talk about the clusterfuck that is trying to set up my Spring schedule tell you about how Slappy came to get a brand spanking new suit yesterday.  An alternate title might be, Katie and Slappy switch lives for a day, because seriously, this is SO something that would happen to me.

So Slappy has been on his residency interview adventure since right after Thanksgiving and is approximately half-way finished, thankfully.  He has seen multiple schools in California, then on Sunday trekked to Arizona, and then Monday to New Mexico.  When he got to New Mexico Monday evening, he turned his suit and shirts and ties into the hotel's same day dry cleaning service to have them pressed.  He didn't need them until Wednesday (today), but he turned them in early, just in case.  

You see where this is going, right?

So yesterday afternoon (Tuesday), he calls to find out when they'll be ready, and the hotel says they don't know.  And Slappy is very perplexed by this since it is SAME DAY cleaning.  But he waits and calls back later.  Come to find out, the cleaners is closed and he can't get his clothes until they open at like 10 Wednesday morning.  Which would be fine, were his interview not earlier than that on Wednesday morning and kind of non-negotiable.

Slappy strapped on a serious pair and went to the hotel manager and made A LOT of noise.  They agreed to pay for a new shirt, tie and pair of pants, but Slappy refused.  He was interviewing and he needed a suit (and he really did).  So the hotel bought him a suit (including shirt and tie).  And comped him a night in the hotel.  And his dry cleaning bill.  And kissed his feet.

He actually ended up thoroughly enjoying his interview today, but I believe think that perhaps this will be the last time he ever uses a same day dry cleaner again.  Or at least without some sort of ransom.  

You know, like the owner's first born child.

Disbelief, day 2

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

So since the wonderfully wonderful news yesterday I have gotten additional good and additional bad news (that's life, eh?)

The good news first.  Extremely prestigious university just happens to be in New York, where, incidentally, I'll be this weekend and Monday.  So after getting their email yesterday, I wrote back and asked, very innocently, if I could stop by while I was there to see the campus since I've never been there.  

I received an email back from the Program Director stating that I could come by on Monday and she'd arrange for a group of students to meet with me and then I would meet with her.  Which, in case you wondered, is an interview.  We're just not calling it that.  So basically I got an interview.  On Monday.  At extremely prestigious university.  Again I say, HOLY CRAP.  I'm elated.  I may not end up attending this school (if I get it, that is) because if Slappy matches elsewhere we'll go elsewhere together, but I am still so over the moon just to be considered as a real applicant by them.

The not-so-good news is that the other program I have an interview at won't accept the online course suggested by the extremely prestigious university, so I can't drop a whole bunch of classes (don't get me started on the irony here- extremely prestigious university suggests a class that isn't accepted by a much less solid program...).  So it looks like in the spring I'll be taking 2 classes and 5 labs and hopefully both of those classes will be online ones.  It's not ideal by any means, but I can't even look at course schedules right now and devise a plan because College #2, in its infinite stupidity, CLOSES it's ONLINE services at night.  WHAT?  Seriously, what could possibly be the purpose of that?  I mean seriously.

So I continue to be extremely excited (and now, really, really, really nervous) about extremely prestigious university.  So excited I had to buy a new shirt.  And coat.  It's apparently really cold in New York in December.  

And tomorrow, I'll tell you why Slappy also got a new suit today.  It would appear that we have switched lives and he's now living a life of irony and frustration.  In New Mexico.


Monday, December 8, 2008

I got such good news today that I'm hesitant to share it because I'm truly afraid I might wake up from this dream to a depressing reality.  But since I've never learned from all the times I've jinxed myself, I'm going to tell anyway.  

On Friday, I got an email from an extremely prestigious university letting me know that I was a course short of what I needed for my application.  I searched high and low at UNO and College #2, but could not take the course.  I replied to their email Friday afternoon letting them know that I simply couldn't take the course, but that I was willing to do anything to fix the problem and fulfill the prerequisite (like seriously, about anything.  First born child?  YOURS.  A.n.y.t.h.i.n.g.)

And then I heard nothing from them all weekend.

On Saturday I got my first official interview for a local (good and tough to get into) program.  It came as a surprise and it was in a super-thin envelope that I almost didn't open.  Dear Grad Schools: put good news in BIG envelopes.  After a short celebration over my interview, I had resigned myself to the fact that this would be my one and only interview.  Because I'm an eternal optimist like that.

And that's why I was caught so completely off-guard by the email I received today.  

The extremely prestigious university found an online course I could take to fulfill the requirement, referred to me as a "strong applicant" and explained that many of the people who take this particular course this course are admitted to their program.  

Let that sink in for a moment.

Strong applicant.  Good chance of admission to program.  Extremely prestigious university.

And, better yet, if I can use this online class and apply it for all my applications, I can drop my planned Saturday class and lab, and take only 1 class and 4 labs instead of 2 classes and 5 labs.  It would be, in a word, AWESOME.

I am afraid to check my email again.  I'm afraid they're going to email me back and tell me that they meant to send that to someone else and that I am, as I thought, going to have to withdraw my application.  Or that I can take that class, but really, it might not be worth my time.  That the words "strong applicant" will be replaced with some vague description about my academic shortcomings

And yet, every time I reopen my mail account, the email is still there.  

I can hardly believe it.  I'm speechless.

What a year looks like

Sunday, December 7, 2008

December 5th, 2007

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December 5th, 2008

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Not your mom's pumpkin pie

Saturday, December 6, 2008

So a few years ago I stumbled upon (like while reading a cookbook, not in the literal or new-fangled internet way) a recipe for an amazing pumpkin pie.  I will be the first to say that I do not care for standard pumpkin pie.  I think it's a combination of the texture and the boringness, but I just don't really like them.  Much to my husband's dismay, I should add, because it's his favorite thing in the universe and I never make it.  And yes, I'm totally saying he loves pumpkin pie more than me.  Pumpkin pie, Sara Rolls (from Kyoto) and Alligator Cheesecake from Jacques-Imos.  But still, 4th isn't bad.

But I digress.  Basically I found a different pumpkin pie recipe and it totally knocked my socks off.  

I know some of you are purists and like your boring traditional pumpkin pie, and I understand, because trust me, I'm usually a traditionalist too.  But this year I asked my husband if I could make MY pumpkin pie recipe and he (begrudgingly) said yes.  And he LOVED it.

The Ingredients:
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Pumpkin puree (NOT pumkin pie mix!)
Sweetened condensed milk (NOT evaporate milk!)
2 eggs
Pumpkin pie spice (or, if you're not lazy, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cloves)
9" deep dish unbaked pie crust (you can make your own, but seriously, it's not worth the effort.)
Brown sugar
Chopped walnuts (I like mine candied, but they're totally omittable)

Let's get baking.

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.  Do it now, otherwise you'll forget and be annoyed with how long it takes to heat up when you've assembled your pie and are ready to bake it.  Not that I've done that before.

This first part is totally optional, especially if you don't like walnuts (you can substitute pecans too).  Or even if you do like walnuts, but don't want to "candy" them.  I'm just kind of a baking over-achiever.  Except with pie crusts.  

I'm not going to go through the whole process of candying because it's difficult to explain because I don't measure anything but here's the Cliff's Notes version.  

Combine nuts, brown sugar and a little water.  Cook over medium heat, stirring the whole time (otherwise you'll burn the ever living crap out of your walnuts), until they look something like this:
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Do not, I repeat, do NOT pour these out onto aluminum foil or wax paper to cool.  Because when they cool, they become completely and totally attached to the foil/paper and then you might have to spend 30 minutes peeling tiny pieces of foil/wax paper off the bottoms of them.  Again, not that I've done that before.  Set these aside.

Now to really begin with the pie:

Separate your eggs.  
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Then add the pumpkin, sweetened condensed milk (so so gross), pumpkin pie spice and salt to the egg yolks.  If you only have one machine operated mixer, you should do this part by hand and save the mixer for later.  Just trust me.  
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Mix.  If you're using an electric mixer, start on low, otherwise you'll be wearing the spices and probably the milk too.  No that I've done that either.  
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Now, put the egg whites in a clean bowl with a mixer.  You really really really will want to use an electric mixer with a whisk attachment for this.  (It's possible to do without one, but you'll need some crazy strong arms.)  Turn the mixer on medium and let it go.  These are my whites after 1.5 minutes of medium speed mixing.  Not fluffy enough.
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We want soft peaks, which means that when you pull the mixer attachment out, a small peak will appear in the eggs and then fall after a second.  You want them fluffy, but not stiffly mixed.  There's a fine line.  After about 3 minutes of mixing (though it depends greatly upon your mixer and climate), I had soft peaks.
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Pour the egg whites into the pumpkin mix.
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Do NOT mix these together.  FOLD.  You've just created light fluffy bubbliness and if you mix, you'll kill the bubbles.  Don't kill the bubbles.  Just don't do it.  Fold the eggs in and you'll save the bubbly goodness.
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It takes a little extra time to fold instead of mix, but when you've finished you'll have a light, bubbly, pale-orange pumpkin pie filling.
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Pour this into your pie shell (it will be very full, this is a deep dish crust) and pop it into the 425 degree preheated oven for 15 minutes.  Note: if you are using a store-made crust in a non-glass pan, it will be VERY heavy and very full.  Carry it with one hand under the bottom.  Otherwise your pie might fold in half and pour all over the floor.  Not that I've done that.
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While the pie is baking, combine flour, brown sugar and cinnamon.  I didn't measure the cinnamon, but don't overdo it.  Remember, you've got some in the pie and in the walnuts (which we are going to use, hold your horses).
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Cut in the butter (you could probably do this with a mixer, but even I don't have 3 mixers, nor the energy to wash bowls that often throughout the baking process).  I use a fork, but pastry cutters, two forks or your hands are suitable alternatives.  You want to achieve the feat of "coarse crumbs" which looks something like this
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When the 15 minute timer dings for the filling, lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees and carefully take the pie out of the oven.  Sprinkle streusel over the top of the pumpkin, pressing it in lightly if necessary.  I had more than enough streusel and probably could've used less, but seriously, where's the fun in that?
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Before putting the pie back in the oven, you'll want to create some sort of pie crust shield because the crust browns too quickly.  I've found that foil works the best, but since my inconsiderate housemates used the rest of our foil and did not bother to replace it, all I had was parchment paper.  I folded it in half and then in half again and tore a(n ironically) pie slice shaped piece out.  When you open the folds, you have a piece of parchment with a hole in the center.  You could also use scissors or the fancy pie crust covers.

Here's my pie, covered with parchment paper, which, in case you wonder is an EPIC FAILURE at protecting the crusts.  Use foil people, use foil.
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Bake for 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes, pull the pie out and sprinkle walnuts on top.  Do not be persuaded by the upcoming picture.  DO NOT DO THIS WHILE THE PIE IS ON THE OVEN RACK.  If you do, you will surely miss and end up with walnuts on your oven floor, and then, instead of pumpkin cinnamon goodness, your kitchen will smell like burning walnuts.  Very festive, trust me.
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I put my crust shield back on since my crust was already very brown and I wanted to stop that process.  Again, do not put nuts on while in the oven.

Put back in the oven for 10 more minutes (still at 350).  After those 10 minutes, if the filling appears set (it doesn't jiggle when you move it), remove from the oven and let cool.  If, like mine, yours is not set after those 10 minutes, bake it a little while longer.  When in doubt, throw it in for a few more minutes.  You're not going to overbake the pie (the crust possibly, the pie no).

(Yes, I did totally forget to take a picture of the finished pie.  I'm a moron.  I'm aware.)

When finished, cool to room temp and then refrigerate if not serving immediately.  Enjoy!

(Full recipe)

For walnuts (optional!):
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
brown sugar

For pie filling:
1 (15 oz) can pumpkin puree
1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk
2 eggs, separated
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/2 tsp salt
1 9" deep dish pie crust, unbaked

For streusel:
5 tbsp flour
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
cinnamon to taste
4 tbsp butter, chilled-ish

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

For nuts:
Put nuts in saute pan, cover with a layer of brown sugar and add water to desired consistency.  Saute over medium heat for about 3 minutes, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat, set aside to cool.

For pie:
In one bowl (if you only have one mixer, this should be the non-mixer bowl), combine pumpkin, milk, eggs yolks, pumpkin pie spice and salt.  Mix until well combined.

In a different bowl (electric mixer bowl, if you have one, by hand with a whisk will work too), whisk the egg whites to soft peaks.

Fold whites into the pumpkin mixture.  Pour filling into the pie crust and bake for 15 minutes.  

For Streusel:
While the pie is baking, combine the flour, brown sugar and cinnamon.  Cut in the butter to resemble coarse crumbs.  

After the pie has baked for 15 minutes, remove it from the oven.  Lower the heat to 350 degrees and cover the top of the pie with streusel.  Cover the edges of the pie so the crust doesn't burn.  Put it back in the oven for 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes, remove the pie from the oven, sprinkle the walnuts on top, and bake 10 more minutes, or until filling is set (does not jiggle).

Remove from oven, cool and enjoy!

Loose ends, again

Friday, December 5, 2008

So I realize that my blogging has been a little ADHD lately.  Like, a blog about my boob, a blog about my dad, a blog about my co-worker (tomorrow a blog about how to make an awesome pumpkin pie).  So I'm going to just try and tie everything up today because otherwise I will instead write an extremely long rant about how I want to quit life right now.  

My Mom:  Is okay.  So I never really got around to sharing this bit of good news.  I think part of it was fear of jinxing it.  Like if I told everyone the good news too soon the doctor might call back and tell us that she confused CT scans and my mom was totally screwed.  However, my mom's CT angiogram (of her carotid artery which showed up 50-69% blocked on an ultrasound) was completely clear.  I do not understand this medical anomaly, but I have been referring to it as our "Christmas miracle" since we got the results and I'm clinging to this bit of happiness so very tightly.

My Dad:  Is out of the hospital and home.  So far he hasn't eaten anything more than what he was able to hold down before, so we really don't know what removing his gallbladder did, if anything at all.  He's scared to eat (I would be too if I'd been vomiting daily for 3 months and then had abdominal surgery) and recovering from surgery, so his appetite is not great.  They're giving him another week before they go back to plan B, which is artificial nutrition.  He wants to avoid that so much that I'm rather sure he'd eat anything in the universe and suffer any number of repercussions first.

My Boob:  Is stitchless.  I had all but one stitch removed on Tuesday and the last one removed today.  However, the wound is not healing well (OMG it's May again) and we might have closed up one hole only to create a whole new one.  No, I don't really want to talk about it.  Hopefully when I go back on Tuesday it'll be magically healed the way it's fucking supposed to be.

My Foot:  Is unchanged.  The doctor said he thinks there's a 50% chance that my 5th metatarsal (not the original source of the pain...) has a stress fracture and we really need to do an MRI to be sure.  Which is fine, expect I'm still "booted" until then and if it is a stress fracture, as he said, it'll mean crutches and a cast for 6 weeks.  By the way, OMG it's 2005 again.  My life is one ridiculous circle of events.

My Head:  Is also unchanged.  Which is fine.  Status quo is acceptable.  I did have a day of miserable dizziness, but it has since normalized, so I'm calling it a fluke and ignoring it.

My School:  Is unresolved because apparently no one at college #2 can use a phone.  So I have to go in on Monday in person to see what happened.  Nothing I love better than wasting time I don't need to waste.  But also, it is over for the semester, which is amazing.  My final exam was not so good, but it's over and that counts for so very much.

My Grad School Application Process: Is sucking in ways I cannot even begin to verbalize.  Apparently, I just hurled 2000 dollars directly down a drain (not to mention the other 10 grand spent on these prerequisites over the past 2 years), because even if I manage to arrange my schedule to please the first program who contacted me about prerequisites, I cannot fix the problems that the now second program has pointed out.  In a word, I'm totally and completely screwed.  And really, really, really, really pissed off.  And upset.  Because I've worked so damn hard and I'm going to have absolutely nothing to show for it.  NOTHING.

My Coworker: A few people commented and emailed about "Mary" and I just wanted to follow up.  We are raising money at school, but not for a computer.  The school is working to find a way to find her better living arrangements.  We can't give her money because then she'll lose some of the insurance aid for the nursing home (or that's how I understand it, there's some issue with giving her cash, besides that I bet she wouldn't take it), but we can supply her with other things.  I know she's also getting gift cards to buy her son Christmas presents, etc.  We're doing all we can, but I would love so very much to give her a computer (two, maybe 3 of them) because I just see how it could make such a positive change for her.  

As for the Paypal button, we'll see.  I'm so afraid I'd screw it up somehow and that scares me.  What if I lose all your money?  Gah.  But I really appreciate the offer for donations for her.  If more people are interested let me know (in the comments) and I'll decide whether or not to do it based on that.

My Donation: Is completed.  I was able to donate 4 dollars per comment to St. Judes for a grand total of $124 dollars.  The last four is for me.  I was originally only going to be able to give them 90, but I got my first check from the proceeds of blogging and decided that all of that should go to something bigger, so it did.  I was also contacted today by another blogger who is going to match the donation I made.  More details on that later (read: after I check and make sure it's okay to reveal who it is to everyone).  I am so very pleased with this and appreciate you all being a part of it.

My Weekend: Is free.  Except for 10,000 papers to grade and apparently 4000 classes to schedule/rearrange.  Only I'm sure I can't actually schedule any of them because that would be, you know, IDEAL.

The Season of Giving

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Several of the blogs I read regularly have been overtaken lately with what I can only describe as a completely kick-ass contest.  HP is giving 50 bloggers the opportunity to give away 6,000 dollars worth of technology (each) in their HP Magic Giveaway.  

Each of the 50 bloggers has chosen a different way to select their winner, some by chance, some by humor, and some by need.  Among my favorite of the contest ideas are those that insist the prize be shared with someone who needs it, like the one going on at one of my favorite (what?  It does not hurt to suck up) blogs, moosh in indy.

When I read the rules to her contest I immediately knew who I would give a prize away to.  And don't get me wrong, I'd freaking love to win myself a computer.  After having both our laptops stolen on our honeymoon and having to fork over the money to replace them, I feel like karmatic balance would be restored.  But, to be honest, I don't really need a computer.  

But I know someone who does.  

One of my co-workers, Mary (not even close to her real name), has a life harder than anything I can even begin imagine.  Mary's house, like so many others, was damaged in Katrina.  They were able to replace the flooring and return the house to a "livable" state, but many of the roof repairs went unfinished.  There simply wasn't the money.  And the reason that there wasn't the money is because Mary's husband is very ill and more of her income goes to his health insurance than goes to their homeowners insurance.  

Just before the storm Mary's husband suffered a series of 3 strokes, each of which robbed him from another piece of his functionality.  After the last stroke, he was paralyzed on one side, and has not and will not regain any mobility or feeling.  Mary is his only caregiver as well as the only caregiver for their 13 year old son who has significant learning disabilities.  Oh, and she works full time, because without her income, they would have no insurance, and no food or shelter.  

In January, Mary's washing machine exploded and flooded part of her newly floored house.  She has yet to find a way to replace the flooring.  Or the washing machine.  And yet, she continues to move on.  To work.  To do what is needed and then some, without ever complaining.

Less than a month ago, Mary's husband was diagnosed with diabetes, but only after coming down with a disastrous case of gangrene.  And Mary was told that her husband would have to moved into a nursing home.  Permanently.  That after this hospital trip, he'd not be coming home again.

The insurance would only cover so much of the nursing home costs, but Mary had few options and so she found a way to make it work.  The way was to give up their house and move into an apartment with her mother and sister (and son).  

It seems like each time she starts to gain ground, starts to find a new normal for her family, something else goes very wrong.  And yet, each day, she comes to work, smiling, and teaches children with more patience than I will ever have.  I have taught across the hall from this woman for two years and have never once heard her yell (which is possibly because I can't hear anything over the sound of the voices in my head my own yelling...) or raise her voice.  She's one of those people who was meant to teach, and she does it with ease and grace, despite all the other challenges that await her outside of the classroom. 

If I won the HP Blogger Magic giveaway, I would share as much of it as possible with Mary and her family.  Mary does not have a computer at home and I know, without a doubt, that her son would benefit greatly from something like the Touch Smart computer, which would allow him to do school work and practice his skills with various physical manipulations through HP's amazing hands-on technology, instead of just through standard methods of learning.  

I know that Mary would be able to go home much earlier each afternoon if she had a HP Premium Notebook at home to use for work purposes.  Without a home computer she spends several hours each day doing all the work she might need from our computer lab at school.  She sacrifices time for her students, time which I know she doesn't have.

And finally, I know that if anyone needs a good surprise, a positive turn in their life, it is her.  

Like I said before, I would be thrilled to have a new computer, but I don't think that the excitement of winning a computer would even compare to the excitement of improving my friend and her son's lives.  If it makes one part of their life easier in this tremendously challenging time, then it's a greater gift than any piece of technology or any item on any wish list.  If it allows her to spend more time with her son at home and visit her husband more often, I'll happily give her every single piece of the $6,000 prize package.  

In this season, as so many people are thinking about presents and material objects, I would love nothing more than to give a true gift to my friend Mary, the gift of time with her family, time she greatly needs and deserves.

Moments before my head exploded...

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Oh. My. God.

To tell this story, I have to backtrack some.  So just bear with me a minute.  And by a minute, I mean 4 hours, because this is possibly the longest rant on record.

Prior to this semester (fall 2008) I have been taking classes at University of New Orleans.  I have found them to be easy to work with, and generally speaking, very reasonable.  However, they do not offer all the courses I need at times I can make, so I have had to enroll in another local college, which, for the sake of anonymity, we'll call College #2.  

So early in November I had to go register for College #2 in person because I need to take courses that have prerequisites, ones which I took previously through UNO, and therefore which require an override.  I was able to fit in all but one class, that apparently, no college in the universe offers at a time I can attend.  I decided to just stick with it, despite the missing class.

And then I got an email from a grad school program this weekend indicating that if I did not take this ONE UNIT lab, I would not be considered for the program.  [insert exasperated expression here].  

So I found a way to circumnavigate the problem with a different lab that's not perfect but which works for what I need (I ran it by the grad school).   If I dropped my chem 2 lab and took this new physics lab, I could re-enroll in a different section of the chem 2 lab and make it all work.  In case you wondered, it's nearly impossible to take a class and 5 labs, all at one time if you work from 7 to 3:45.  But the heavens opened up and sang a hymn of wonderfulness and I found a way to make it work.  Which should've been my first clue that this shit was not going to fly at all.

So I got the prerequisite overrides from the academic counselor with no trouble and headed off with my registration paper for the registrar.  Clearly, everything was going too well.  

The registrar comes out from her cubicle and asks me how I'm taking both Chem 1 lab and Chem 2 lab.  I explained that it was because I have taken Chem 1 lecture and Chem 2 lecture already, and all I need are the labs.  Wrong.  The correct answer is apparently that I'm not taking both labs. 

She explains that I cannot take both labs because the Chem 1 lab is a prerequisite for the Chem 2 lab.  

And then my head exploded.  

Because UNO did not require me to take the Chem 1 lab with the Chem 1 class (and did not offer it at any time I could go), I now cannot take the Chem 2 lab.  Even though I've already taken Chem 2.  And let's pause and take a moment to remember that I was ALREADY ENROLLED IN THE CLASS, I'm just switching sections.  This plea fell on entirely deaf ears.

I totally get the reasoning behind the prerequisite, but seriously, I got an A in both Chem classes, I have the knowledge base, I'm not going to suffer in the Chem 2 lab for taking it concurrently with the Chem 1 lab and even if I do, isn't that MY problem?  No, apparently it's not.

So now I have to appeal to the Dean to get the whole thing sorted out and his word is final.  Period.  Which means I may or may not be totally screwed.  Because if he will not allow me to take this lab, I cannot reasonably get into a single one of the grad programs I applied to.  Which means I just wasted no less than 2 grand on applications and well, go back and read the post this weekend where I discussed the calamitous crashing down of all my well made plans.  Because that's what will happen.

I hate today.  And I preemptively hate tomorrow, since I have a final exam that I'll never ever be prepared for.  Even if I did care about it, which, in case you wondered, I DON'T.

A Cacophony of Silence

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

I had a revelation after my husband returned home from his month in California: he is loud.  

He's not necessarily loud in an offensive way (not that he's not capable of that too, trust me internets, he is), but more just loud in a, has-to-fill-any-gaps-of-silence-with-noise kind of way.  Like a 4 year old who asks "Why?" 10 thousand times.  

He sings all the time.  Not necessarily popular music or known songs as much as life narration.  One of his greatest hits is the "I'm shampooing my hair" song, which basically includes that line and one other one about "getting oh-so clean."  I have to remind him many mornings that perhaps our housemate whose bedroom shares a wall with our shower does not give a crap about the cleanliness of his hair at 6 in the morning.  And also, did you notice that it's morning and NO SINGING IS ALLOWED?  

He's also been known to sing about organizing a folder, looking for socks and basically every single thing he might be doing at any given time.  These songs don't usually rhyme, but he is not perturbed by this.  

At first this narration singing was a great enigma to me, because he won't sing in front of other people at all, but when it's just us, he's like a frickin' jukebox.  And then I was wandering around his parents house for Thanksgiving a few years ago when I heard a familiar melody, but with the words "I'm chopping the onion" instead of "I'm shampooing my hair."  This is apparently the only genetic trait he shares with his mother.  

(And also, I saw this episode of South Park and laughed endlessly, because, hello, this is practically the soundtrack to my life.)

After being alone for a month, his noisiness was surprising, but welcome.  And as much as I have been ragging on him, his bubbly, singing personality is one of the things I love the most (except, you know, in the morning).  And now that he's gone again (on the residency interview-pallooza which includes 12 interviews in 4 states in 18 days.  Seriously, someone give them man a trophy.  And a job.) I'm realizing just how much I miss the noise.  There's no one here singing about their day or asking me the same question 30 times because I didn't answer the first 29 times and apparently attempt 30 seemed luckier.  There's no one sharing their thoughts and humming about their plans.  

There's silence.

I come home to a quiet house and an empty bed.  I come home to a place without singing, to a room without a ball of energy and noise awaiting my arrival.  

I come home to a place, that in its deafening silence, doesn't really feel like home at all.


Monday, December 1, 2008

So I have my Microbiology final exam on Thursday and a Psychology test tomorrow, so naturally I've done nothing of productivity today since returning from work (and arguably even while at work, if we want to get nit-picky).

The highlight of the nothing-doing was an in depth session with Google Analytics, finding all the ways that people find themselves here.  Can I just say, some of y'all have way too much free time on your hands?  I mean seriously, what did you do before Google?  I think Google might be destroying the natural selection process.

For example...

"Feel like brain is melting after too much caffeine"  Sha, no way you could figure out the solution to this one without the internet.  DECAF.

"What are the symptoms of flying cockroaches?"  FLYING. COCKROACHES.

"Who's the brains behind Where's Waldo"  How is it possible that FORTY TWO people have searched for this in the past 6 months?  Dear universe, get a HOBBY.

"How do you translate wonderful husband in Hawaiian"  Di'ish Wah'sh'ur

Then there's this class of random statements.  I think these people are looking for affirmation more than anything else.

"God points"  To my blog apparently.

"So yea" (I'm totally serious, four people typed this into google and came up with my blog)  Smoke some more weed.  Seriously.

"I have substantial knockers"  Did you want a cookie?  

"George Foreman is stupid for naming all his kids George"  Holla.

And then there's like a whole category of medical questions.  Because this, above all other things, is a blog devoted to clear and correct medical answers.  

"Am I allergic to moose?"  Where the hell do you live that this is a big problem?  Narnia?  Here's a tip, don't get near a moose.

"Will pot show up on an MRI?"  Yes.  In your well-developed dumbass pre-cortex.  So yea.

"Doctor won't give STD results over phone, why appointment later?"  Sherlock, that would be because you have an STD.  

And my very favorite

"How would I know I'm crazy?"


Sunday, November 30, 2008

Update: My dad is out of surgery.  They said his gallbladder was distended, but everything else looked okay.  They took some biopsies of things and we'll have more information later this week.  Thanks to all for the thoughts and prayers, they truly carried me through the day.

(Original Post)
Instead of boring you with today's grad school/class switching calamities (which trust me, I could, for hours and hours and hours), I want to switch gears dramatically and ask once more for your encouragement, good thoughts and prayers.

My dad's colonoscopy came back wonderfully clear on Wednesday, however, he is still having surgery tomorrow.  The plan is to remove his gallbladder and then do some significant looking around to make sure there's not anything else going on.  His doctor is unsure about whether the gallbladder is the real cause of his problems since they've been so dramatic and since the earlier tests indicated that his gallbladder was fine.  I guess there's some questioning now about whether the non-functioning gallbladder is a cause or an effect of these problems.  

As of today when he was weighed at his pre-op appointment, he's lost a total of 35 pounds (off his 175-180 pound frame) since the last week of August and if the surgery doesn't make a big difference in his ability to hold down food he'll have to receive artificial nutrition, which he's VERY against at this point.  

So if you could spend a few minutes tonight (Sunday) or tomorrow (Monday) thinking good thoughts for my Dad, for this surgery and for his ability to heal quickly, I would greatly appreciate it.  

I'll update when I know more and have access to a non-school computer.

Daring to Dream

Saturday, November 29, 2008

First, I want to sincerely thank everyone who commented on Thursday's post.  I will count all 30 towards my donation, even if not quite all of you made it in the time limit.  Charity shouldn't have a time limit.  I haven't yet decided how much I can donate (more than 1 dollar per person for sure!) without bankrupting myself.  I know the size of the donation doesn't count, but I'd sure love to give them a good amount.


I have spent a great deal of my day doing work, but during one of my few breaks I checked my email and had a piece of mail from one of the graduate programs I applied to.  The email essentially listed all the ways I was unqualified to be an applicant and asked me to clarify or defer my application a year.  

I was able to defend all but one of my shortcomings, but right now it appears that a one-unit lab is going to prevent me from being considered for the program next year.  ONE UNIT.  I can't take the class because I'm already taking 4 labs (and, as of that email, another upper level biology class, crap crap crap crap) in the spring and will be at school Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday nights, and oddly, they don't offer the lab on a Friday or Saturday.  I've looked at several different schools, and well, I'm screwed.

So basically my current greatest fear, that is, not being accepted into any programs, is appearing before my very eyes.  One unit is preventing me from being considered an applicant, and I can only imagine that this is only the first time of many I will encounter this problem, since the lab is a prerequisite for virtually every program.  

I have worked remarkably hard since January of 2007 to get all these classes finished in time for this application process.  I've created a plan, mapped out my future and now it seems impossible.  

The program I'm applying for is 3 years long and Slappy's first residency is only 2 years.  It means that if his second residency is in a different location that we will have to live apart for a year.  If I get rejected from all 22 programs this year, it means reapplying next year and the prospect of living apart for 2 years, or deferring the application for another year, which might require me to retake some college courses because they EXPIRE.  

Furthermore, this is my last year of teaching, no matter where we live or what happens with these applications.  Teaching is not something I can or will do any longer.  It's simply not what I want to do with my life and I will not subject myself to something that makes me so unhappy.  However, I'm not qualified to do anything else, which creates a whole new problem.

So you can see my fear.  If I don't get accepted into a program, I have to re-tool and re-think a lot of things, am out a TON of money from the applications (GRE score reports are 20 dollars per program), and I have to spend another year preparing myself for my real life, which is endlessly frustrating.  

I want so much to be at a point in my life where I have a job I enjoy and I can just do that job (rather than that job, going to school, filling out applications and observing for 3 hours each day after work).  But it seems like that dream is just that, a dream.

Continued Gratitude

Friday, November 28, 2008

(I'm gonna be really honest and say that I'm basically just writing today to keep myself from failing at NaBloPoMo.)

If you haven't read yesterday's post and commented (each comment = donation to St. Jude!), please do that before midnight tonight.  

Come on kids, bankrupt me!

Overflowing Gratitude

Thursday, November 27, 2008

When I saw earlier this year that Thanksgiving fell on November 27th, I couldn't help but smile a little.

On November 27th last year, I woke up to my alarm at 4am, scrubbed my body with hospital grade anti-bacterial soap, loaded up a suitcase and rode in a car to the hospital in the pitch blackness of early morning.  From there I had an IV placed, I chatted with my parents who both looked like they might both burst into tears at any second and finally I was rolled into pre-op.  I found myself cuddling a stuffed animal in a way I hadn't since I was a young child.  I found myself terrified.

Sometime before 6 the anesthesiologist asked me count back from 10 and then I woke up, 6 hours later, in a different room, with 13 staples in the back of my head.  An outside reminder of what had been done inside.  But soon thereafter I saw my parents and my husband and I knew that I was okay.  I was breathing on my own, I was alive and everything was alright.

There could not be anything more fitting than to have Thanksgiving fall on the one year anniversary of my brain surgery.  Many of you have asked recently if I regret having the surgery since the headaches re-emerged.  The answer is no, I do not, for even an instant, regret it.

I had 8 blissful months without headaches.  After 2 years of having them at least several times a week, 8 months without any was literally like a dream.  I forged friendships with people on the internet and in real life, people who lent a helping hand and cared for what happened to me.  I have learned a great deal about myself in this ordeal.  

As I type this, I have a thundering headache that could defy laws of physics and of narcotics, and yet, I am thankful.  I had the resources, insurance, family and friends to allow me to have 8 months of pain-free living and I am hopeful that soon I can resume that life.

Because of this surgery, I was able to finish planning a wedding without pain.  Because of this surgery, I was able to be a part of my wedding and enjoy the entire day, without pain.  Because of this surgery, I went on a honeymoon where I didn't have to cancel a single planned event for a headache.  Because of this surgery, I got enough of me back to rediscover the person I am and to want fight to keep her here, even as the pain creeps back in.  

I am thankful for so much that has happened in this past year.  For the pain, for the painlessness.  For the love and the friendship.  For the good news and bad news.  For the frustration and support.  I am thankful for what I have learned, even if the hard way and for the lessons I will continue to receive from this experience.

Everything that has happened this year has brought goodness into my life and I cannot find strong enough words to say how remarkably thankful I am for that.  

So I'm going to try to do it with actions instead.

For every person who comments (anonymously is fine) on this post before Friday at 11:59pm with at least one thing they're thankful for, I will make a donation to St. Jude's Research Hospital.  I can't give back directly to the doctors, surgeons, and nurses and who gave me back my life, but I can help those who are fighting harder battles, who are struggling more than I'll ever understand. 

I know you are spending time with your families, but please take the time to leave a few words and know that those few words, that expression of gratitude, will be transformed into a tangible form of thanks.  A donation to a place that needs it more than you or I.  

Thank you, to all of you, for being here, and for sharing in my story, in my new life.

The Boocedure

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

So obviously I survived the boob procedure (If you're new here, first, let me apologize for the fact that you found your way here on my boob post (I like how I made that singular, as if I haven't written about boobs 20,000 times).  If you want to know what is going on, I highly recommend clicking here or here and reading that first.  Not that there won't be humor found in the story without knowledge of why it's happening.  If you're sick and cruel like that.) 

Note to one and all, if you're not into boobs, come back tomorrow.  I have a very special Thanksgiving post prepared.  I know you're all spending time with your families, but some of us aren't, so keep us company at least come by on Friday.

Anyways, back to the boob procedure, or boocedure

The doctor began by drawing all over my boob and then draping me so that the field would be sterile.  At this point, the nurse took a picture, to which I said, "this better not show up on the internet" and absolutely no one laughed.  I swear to all that is good and sacred, my frankenboob* had better never show up on the internet.

(*I called it Frankenboob to Slappy last night and he looked at me and said, "no honey, it's not Frakenboob.  It's Frankenboob's monster."  Asshole.)

After a good cleaning she brought out with what seemed like a HUGE needle and my useful husband made sure that I knew it.  The doctor reassured me that just the middle part was large and the needle was small.  And that perhaps I should throw my husband out.  I did not.

So she stabbed me a bunch of different times to numb all the depths of my boob.  The shots weren't terrible and since they've now worn off, I'm remembering just how freaking awesome they were.  After numbing it down all the way she starting a very subtle cutting.  Honestly, I wouldn't even know that she was cutting if she hadn't put a MIRROR across from me.  So I got to watch the entire event.  Dear Doctor: do not put mirror in the procedure room of the office.  Thankyouverymuch.

So after hacking out of what we imagine in scar tissue (I got myself engrossed in a conversation about dentistry with the nurse) and cutting open the sides of the boob hole, she began the stitching.  The part I thought I would be freaked out about by the most, ended up being totally not bad at all (I know you're all shocked at my over-exaggeration).  We didn't ask how many there were in all, but I'd wager about 8 bright blue stitches to close the hole properly.

I have to go back on Tuesday afternoon to have her look at it, but the stitches won't be coming out for a while.  Which means quick showers, no baths.  And sports bras again.  And no alcohol, advil or aleve.  

Slappy and I had to shake on a hitting embargo because, well, we hit each other.  Not in the spousal abuse kind of way (mostly), but like he's obnoxious, so I hit him.  And he does not like being hit, so he hits me back.  This cycle repeats every time he's obnoxious, which is like 30 times a day.  However, Slappy is not reliable when it comes to not hitting me in injured places.  He's already messed with it twice ("accidentally").  So we made a deal where I wouldn't hit him and he wouldn't hit me.  And um, internets, my husband is freaking obnoxious.  I never realized just how often I had to hit him for obnoxiousness until I couldn't.  It's a lot.  Just so you know.

Since coming home from the boob doctor I've eaten lunch and then taken a nap.  I went to sleep with a totally numb boob and woke up with the boob of fiery pain.  So I'm going to go find a non-Aleve way to deal with that.  Right now I'm thinking of manually cutting off the nerve between my boob and brain, but I'm sure when my husband wakes up he'll have some other helpful suggestions.

Things I've learned today*

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

1.  If there is any food you don't want to choke on, it's Flamin' Hot Cheetos.

2.  If you were to consume Flamin' Hot Cheetos, you should wash your hands before taking your contacts out.

3.  If you continue to buy and consume ENORMOUS quantities of Flamin' Hot Cheetos, you may not bitch about gaining 5 pounds.

4.  Eating massive quantities of Flamin' Hot Cheetos, nearly choking to death on them and then burning out your corneas with the FHC dust will not help you get past the fear of having boob stitches put in (tomorrow, gah) while conscious.  

Not even one little bit.

*(edited to add) 
5.  That my father is having a non-scheduled colonoscopy tomorrow to rule out non-gallbladder related issues and is having at least his gallbladder removed on Monday.  The fact that they're insisting on doing the colonoscopy on such short notice makes me worry that I'm not getting all the facts.

6.  That I'm a jerkface for obsessing about boob stitches.  Nothing like a good heaping portion of reality and perspective to make you feel like an ass for whining about stitches.

Not false hope

Monday, November 24, 2008

Today was the new neurologist appointment.  The second opinion appointment.  The extremely long awaited appointment.  The I-was-so-nervous-I-had-dreams-about-showing-up-naked appointment.  Sorry, I'm done now.

I showed up 10 minutes late because I forgot to grab my MRIs this morning and realized that it would be fairly worthless to see a neurologist without any imaging.  After breaking a multitude of driving laws (that's not including my expired tags (I have the new ones, I just keep forgetting to put them on) or total lack of a brake tag), I got from work, to my house, to the doctor in under 30 minutes.  Yes, I am impressed with myself.

I waited very briefly (one of the benefits of arriving late?), and was taken back.  And get this y'all, he did a neurological exam.  Holy shit.  Who knew neurologists did this?  My fired former neurologist didn't, um, like ever.  Everything was essentially fine (still have the upward Babinski, still have no grip strength in my left hand) so we talked about the headaches for a while.  He indicated that having headaches for 9 weeks is unacceptable.  Who knew?  

He looked at my MRIs himself (again, practically revolutionary compared to the former neuro) and said that the one thing he observed is that unlike a lot of people who have the chiari surgery, my cerebellar tonsils haven't lifted up at all.  It's not the main goal of the surgery, but it happens in a number of successful surgeries and didn't in my case.  

I also have a large accumulation of CSF in the back of my head, which may or may not be why my tonsils haven't retracted, and which isn't completely abnormal, just something to watch.  He's ordering all my previous MRIs to compare and even my EMG test results because also, the fact that I still have no grip in my left hand is also of apparent concern.  Again, I say, who knew?

So what we're doing is trying another prophylactic headache medication called Neurontin, similar to Topamax in the mechanism of action and the way you taper up, but of which the graduated dose is so large it could tranquilize a seizing elephant.  It is also supposed to have far fewer side effects, which is good because oddly, I don't want to have to buy a new car battery for leaving my headlights on 400 days in a row.  He also prescribed Fioricet, which is a mix of Tylenol, caffeine and a tranquilizer (hello!), and which is supposedly wonderful.

I am going back to see him in January to see how things are going, but have been warned that the Neurontin takes a while to work and to not expect any miracles.  He's going to track down all my records and see if he can't come up with some sort of reasonable differential diagnosis for why I've been in pain for 9 weeks.

I know I swore I wouldn't get my hopes up about doctor's appointments anymore, as it has only led to great disappointments, but well, I'm hopeful.  And I can honestly say that in the last 9 weeks, moments of hope have been few and far between.  

Here's to hoping for more hope.


I actually thought to myself today (because I'm possibly the most arrogant and self-centered person ever), boy, I hope Bossy doesn't link me on her "Virtual peek at other bloggers" window in the next few days because seriously, my blog is sucking wind lately.

Which means naturally I'm there today.  

Don't get me wrong, I'm uber-grateful, but if you're here for the first time, please come back later tonight/tomorrow when I'll write something more entertaining witty interesting thought-provoking, um, wordy.