Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Who's the important person who died?

All our flags in St. Louis are at half mast. Last week, five officers lost their lives in a shooting in Dallas. Other officers lost their lives in other cities. Before that, two innocent men lost their lives to police officers. Friday, another police officer was shot just down the street from me. The shooter was captured in our neighbors' lawn. You can't escape violence. No matter what you do or how far you run, it seems to get closer and closer.

My son and daughter - 10 and 6 respectively - know that when a flag is flying at half mast, that means someone in important has died. When my son asked me who, I tried to be as honest as I knew how to be.

"Everyone is important. Every life matters. The lives of two innocent men were taken by officers who were meant to protect them. For revenge, someone took innocent police officers' lives. Not only in Dallas, but in other cities as well. I don't know if he was doing the same thing, but another police officer was shot in St. Louis, too."

When they talked about what a horrible thing it was, I didn't know what else to tell them other than all people are a mixture of bad and good. What matters is what you do. Everyone has bad thoughts. But your actions matter - your voice can speak only words; your actions speak volumes. Taking that step to thinking something bad, then doing something bad is one of the most dangerous things you can do - it's toxic. Mix that with easily-available weapons, and you have a deadly mix of willingness and the tools to carry out your intentions. And it doesn't matter who you are or why you're doing it - whether it's your religion driving you, your frustration, whatever.

I don't know what the answer is. Certainly I think that we should have far better gun control than we do now. But how do we fix a broken relationship? I'm about as white as white can be and even I can tell that there is a serious difference in how I'm treated and how someone with darker skin is treated.

I even see that sometimes in my children. "Oh, they're part Indian? I was wondering where they came from. They must be very hard workers." (Well, they sure as hell didn't come from the supermarket, and actually they're just about as work-averse as any kid unless you threaten their allowance.) Or my husband, who is apparently not supposed to sound like a Midwesterner, but a caricature on The Simpsons. I can't even imagine what being African-American is like in this country, where Donald Trump is for some ungodly reason on the rise while sanity seems to be waning. I guess that's what happens when people are afraid.

But until we air all our shit, important people - everyday people - will keep dying. And all our flags will keep flying at half mast.

I honestly don't know what the point of this blog post is. Venting frustration, maybe. Reminding people that someone's out there who's just as confused as everyone else, who's trying to find a way to explain to her children what in the hell is going on in the world. This may always have been happening - maybe we just didn't know until we had 24-hour media. But holy hell, we've got to do something other than what we're doing now. You want to make America great again? You want to make the world a wonderful place to live? Stop killing people. Stop giving people the means to kill other people and give them the tools to communicate.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Good morning, March!

Today is super Tuesday - have you voted yet? (Well, if you're in Missouri - if you're somewhere else, you might've voted already. Or maybe you haven't.)

Anyway, I did. I walked down to our local polling place and was astonished at how few people were already there. Then again, it was 7:30 a.m. and our poll doesn't open until 7. Whatever. I'm not going to go on a political rant. Yet. Suffice to say if Trump had been the only candidate on the ballot, I would've written in Elizabeth Warren. (I'm fairly liberal. What? It's not a dirty word.)

I walked for a while afterward to shrink my butt back to it's pre-transplant size. Taking care of someone with a transplant is not unlike having a baby in the house. Yes, she's an adult, but for a long time, mom couldn't lift anything, manage stairs or walk much. She required 24-hour availability, so I didn't get out much. Also, my more nuclear family (husband, kids, me) are mostly vegetarian. Since my mom had her transplant, I think I eat more meat in a week than I normally do in two months, which apparently equates to more junk in the trunk.

She is going home on Friday, though - we're both climbing the walls and looking forward to it immensely. Then the kids and I can come home and we and my husband will go back to our diabolically meatless eating habits and dangerously early-to-bed ways. For a month anyway, until she comes back for her next appointment.

So there. That's what is happening here. 

Monday, February 15, 2016

Hello, Stranger

We were told by my mom's transplant team she would probably never need or be able to get a liver transplant even though she made the list. She may be sick enough to qualify for the list, but she's comparatively too healthy, her blood type is too rare. It's amazing, isn't it, how saying something like that almost guarantees that it will happen?

Wednesday mom got a call from her transplant coordinator, then called me. About 15 minutes later, I was in the car on my way to meet her in Illinois. We got her to St. Louis, to the hospital then the next day she woke up with a new liver after a relatively uncomplicated five-hour surgery. She is getting discharged tomorrow.

I haven't slept a full night in about a week. When I have slept, I've slept in my clothes crunched up on a couch or a chair in the hospital. I've spent hours feeding my mom ice chips, swabbing her mouth with water, learning how to get her to and from the bed and bathroom. My sister has walked her, helped her change her clothes, bullied her and encouraged her and gotten her to follow her nurses' orders and to the breathing exercises that will clear her lungs. The nursing staff at BJC has been patient no matter how many times my mom threatened to call their mothers and has been upbeat and positive no matter what.

And my mom has a new liver. Someone out there was generous enough to give a major organ to a complete stranger so that stranger could live after the donor died. And that stranger happens to be my mom.

My mom was lucky enough to be transplanted while she was still "healthy." Regardless, it'll be a long recovery for her. She's staying with me to recover and I hope while she's here, while we're chafing at each other, while she and my husband snipe each other and she rolls her eyes at my kids and my sister and she argue that we all remember that some wonderful stranger donated something so vital so someone else could live. So thank you, beautiful stranger, wherever you are.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

The difference a day can make

Again, not much going on in Andiland today. Or the last few weeks. I worked all through New Year's - 10-16 hours days for about 20 days straight, so it was nice to have a day off over the weekend. By the end of that run, I was so burned out I could hardly feel my face anymore.

Other than that, I've got nothing. My bum is not magically smaller, I'm not magically prettier and work sure the heck isn't easier, but I'm not dead yet. So that's good.

It's the little things, right?

Monday, December 28, 2015


Another year about to end, a new one about to begin. 2015 has been relatively good to me, but the year is not over yet. And the past week we've had torrential rainfall resulting in some pretty dangerous flooding plus a lot of tornadoes, which is pretty darned unusual for December.

What I want for the new year hasn't changed from what I want every year. I want to keep my family, friends and self healthy and happy. I'd like us to be able to pay the bills comfortably. I'd like the kids to do well in school. I'd like all of us to live another hour, another day, another year the way we want to. Oh, and I'd like a smaller ass. And a long weekend or two and/or a cool vacation or just time spent with friends.

I'd make resolutions, but I don't often do so. First, they are so very easy to break. And once you break them, it's not like you pull up your big girl undies and get back to the business of keeping them. You generally fall off the wagon for a while. Or I do - I'm probably projecting. One way or the other, I'd rather not do that.

Second, using the first of January as a good day to start the rest of my thinner, healthier, happier, more self-actualized life has never worked well for me. The best place to start is that moment I realize, "I'd better do something about this or it's going to get much, much worse." I know myself. If I future-date my better self, my better self never happens. I envy those people who have the discipline to not only remember their promises but to make good on them on the date they specify, but apparently I have the memory and will of a gnat if I don't start right the heck now.

So, that's that. Another year ends, another one begins...really soon anyway. So happy everything - Happy Christmas, Kwanzaa and Hanukkah. Happy Solstice, Happy Anything I've Missed or Am too Ignorant to Be Aware Of. Happy New Year, Happy Holidays. May you be blessed with health and happiness and family and friends or at least contentment with yourself. May I have the same (and a smaller ass, which I'm working on right now).

Thursday, November 12, 2015

40, 40!

Today I am 40. I say it every year, but every year I'm shocked at how not upset I am. Yes, I wish I were still as young as I feel. I was a hell of a lot slimmer when I was in my 20s and had all the freedom of being childless and unmarried (but living with my then boyfriend, now husband). Yet every year, though it brings more responsibilities, brings new experiences, new joys, new friends and more opportunity. So, thanks for coming, 40. It's good to see you. May this be the best year and the best decade yet.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Falling down on the job

I haven't posted for a long time. I honestly haven't had anything interesting to say. Life has been mercifully calm with the exception of sarcastic children and insane work. I'm trying to decide if sarcasm = intelligence or just means you're an asshole. I guess I'll find out.

Anyway, we've reorganized at work. Again. Because that's apparently what we do instead of what we actually should do. Which makes absolutely no sense, but it's corporate America, which as a rule, makes no sense. That's how people get employed.

Speaking of, my husband's contract is not being renewed at work, which is kind of a bummer. On the upside, his contract doesn't end until February. On the downside, I might be the primary breadwinner in February. Hopefully I did well on my performance review this year, because I could use that bonus.  

Monday, September 21, 2015

Long and lost

I am facebook stalking my brother and sister. Yes, I have another set of two siblings - twins - that I don't talk to. I remember when they were born. You have no idea how happy I was not to be the baby anymore, even if I was 15 at the time (my dad and my step-mom had an oopsie).

Anyway, as luck would have it, my dad has shitty taste in wives (my mom excluded, of course). His second wife was insane and ran away one day, though that lady made fabulous blueberry pancakes. She left him for a handyman, he said, but later admitted that he couldn't throw stones because she used to be his secretary.

His third wife - my brother and sister's (and step-brother and step-sister's) mom - had bipolar disorder and, over the course of 5-7 years, poured a steady stream of verbal poison into my brother and sister's ears until they refused to speak to any of us. They talk to my dad now. He's no prince, either. He had a temper on him, which is why my mom left in the first place.

Anyway, I'm hitting another milestone birthday this year and I wish I knew my siblings better. Or at all. I wish my kids wouldn't their their extra family. I love my sister - she is wonderful. It just freaks me out that there are two more siblings, even if they're half siblings, out there in the world somewhere who couldn't pick me out in a lineup. And when they have kids, those kids, my children's cousins and my nieces or nephews, won't be able to pick my kids out of a lineup either.

I could do what a normal person would do - e-mail, call. Dad frequently texts or e-mails us in a group, presumably so we have each other's numbers. We never respond to the group. None of us. I wonder what they think of me. I wonder if they care that they have two sisters somewhere, out there in the world that they never talk to.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Run, rabbit, run!

I went to the gym on Saturday afternoon. It was awesome - I got a decent run in and lifted weights. As I was tossing my towel into the bin, however, things took a turn for the strange.

I made a mistake: I made eye contact with someone and smiled. The older gentleman on the bike in front of me smiled back and asked, "How are you?"

"Great," I said. Everything's going swimmingly. Then it took a turn.

"Who are you voting for?"

"What?" was my response.

"Tell me - if you're a Democrat, you're probably a socialist. If you're a Republican, I'll find a reason to fight with you anyway. But I'm a Christian. Those Dems are baby killers - I'm anti-abortion. No abortions. Ever." At this point I considered mentioning that in 2011 I was faced with the choice of terminating a pregnancy or a 95% change of dying (it was ectopic and causing internal bleeding), but I decided that that was a discussion I really didn't want to have with a stranger.

Because I'm either way too stupid or too polite or a combination of the two, I decided to play along. We chatted, I answered honestly. He told me my choices were socialist. We argued back and forth for a while. Then he looked at his bike and said, "There we go. Done! You were my rabbit."

Uhhh, WTH? "Rabbit?" says I.

"Yeah, I find a pretty young thing every time I go to the gym to argue with so I can finish my workout."

For the record, I'm 39. At one point in my life I was pretty enough, but I would hardly describe myself as a pretty young anything. Anyway, he went on to say that he finds some woman he finds attractive to talk to anytime he goes to the gym and that I ought to take that as a compliment. Who the heck does something like that (other than this guy)?

Anyway, it's not like he catcalled me and told me I should have sex with him or told me what he wanted to do to me (after all, he is a Christian - yes, sarcasm intended), but still... Rabbit? Ick, ick, ick.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Home again, home again

It's back to the grind. I've been on vacation with my family in South Carolina. It was wonderful and I'm still shaking the sand from my flip flops. Of course, today we all went back to our day jobs: my kids to school, my husband to work and me to my kitchen table to work, too. I could do without it. Well, not financially, but I'm not quite mentally ready. Is anyone mentally ready to go back to real life after vacation?

I'm sitting on a conference call all day today - it's a webinar put on by the federal government. I hate these. They're spun far in advance and involve carefully scripted talking points, much like you'd expect of the government. After all, you can't reveal too much but you can't be perceived to be deflecting questions, right? Even though that's exactly what happens - "we'll get back to you." "The right people aren't here to answer those questions." "That'll be posted later." Dude, if the right people aren't "here to answer those questions," why the hell would you present on the topic in the first place?

Oh, well - what do I know? Darned logic. It never works.