Friday, June 26, 2009

Florida will be gone altogether, the whole damned place, in not too long.

So says James Lovelock. It's not too farfetched of an idea considering the crazy weather we here in Jacksonville have dealt with in just the past five days. But then again, it's Mother Nature and she likes to show off sometimes.

A massive storm pushed through this past Monday night and the glow from outside was so intense that every room in our house took on a yellowish hue. When we walked outside, everything was glowing blue. It's too bad that couldn't have been caught on camera, but this shot of the sky was pretty incredible.

I spent this afternoon in a medical building rushing from the pediatrician on one side (for my daughter's swollen eyelid appointment at 3:00) to my own doctor on the other side (to get the 411 on my allergy test at 3:45) and totally missed the excitement that went down only 8 miles from my office (which is a good thing since I hadn't brought a change of underpants for myself).

I've seen all kinds of things happen from the top of my favorite bridge (the Dames Point Bridge) that connects Jacksonville's Northside to the Arlington neighborhood on the other side of the St. John's River. Things like car accidents that leave vehicles piled on top of one another in positions that put the kama sutra to shame. Then there's the bohemoth of a cruise ship that threatens to topple the bridge with its barely-existent clearance (at low tide!). I've even called 911 in hopes that a would-be jumper could be convinced to give himself another chance at life. But that waterspout eventually made it to land and took out a couple of trees. It even threw some powerlines down with enough force to cause an explosion and burn a 3-foot hole in the asphalt.

Hurricane season? BRING IT ON.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Happy Father Figure's Day!

Now that I'm a parent, Father's Day is different. My own father is spoiled by his granddaughter who has nobody else to spoil on Father's Day. I think my dad enjoys it. Being spoiled, that is.

Elle questions the obvious sometimes, but not so much that I have to shed too much light on the situation. The situation being that her dad isn't around. My side of the story would say that it was and still is and always will be her father's choice to be around. It's like any other relationship, with the give and the take and the compromise and the problem-solving until a agreement has been made. People divorce over this very issue and it's unfortunate that children can't have the same right. And while it's usually when one feels unappreciated or unloved or overpowered by the other, no relationship between two people should ever be forced.

My daughter struggles with the reality of her father not being actively involved. Her friends have fathers who attend birthday parties and school functions. And while I've never missed a single event, I often wonder if she will she remember that or will she only remember that her dad never showed up? I'm not sure. But I can't really worry about that stuff right now.

Although she has no father in her life, she has other father-type figures. My dad and two brothers are involved every day and pretty much have been since the minute she was born. It was her Uncle Brian (Uncle Monkey) who followed me around the hospital room with his two hands cradled beneath her just in case I dropped her while shuffling around in my post-surgical state. Uncle Nick (Uncle Buck) is her babysitter (during those last-minute "oh, hey - can someone watch her for about an hour?") and her partner in crime when it comes to convincing Mommy to let her do something because she'll be with Uncle Buck. It always works. Always.

I've also been given the opportunity to choose her family. That is an enormous and trusting task so I've been careful to choose the men who have shown my daughter an insane amount of love and attention and have given her that feeling of self-importance. Sure, they have children of their own, but that only makes my daughter more aware of how a father should be towards his child. It's hard to watch my daughter's face when she sees Mr. Sean or Danny the Manny playing with their kids, hugging them and high-fiving them, cooing at them and their stinky diapers, or just sitting around enjoying their time together. Her father doesn't do that. But Mr. Sean and Danny the Manny don't just share those things with their children. They've shared those things with my child.

And for that, I'm forever grateful.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Real horror movies

The Wizard of Oz was finally being shown on television and my parents made a really big deal about it. We lived in Italy at the time and it was being televised in english. Halle-freakin'-lujah! I don't know how old I was, maybe 5 or 6. Having a pair of red ruby slippers just like Dorothy's suddenly became the priority in my life. My need for these shoes eclipsed my need to own every Strawberry Shortcake character doll ever made (which says alot considering I still have all of my Strawberry Shortcake collectibles). I imagined having a Toto of my very own to haul around in a cute little picnic basket until I saw the horse of another color and then I imagined having one of those instead! Everything was peaceful and serene and hopeful and then, seemingly out of nowhere, I screamed in terror and cried and cried and cried (I was a big crybaby as a child but I totally outdid myself with this one) and cried and cried at the sight of flying monkeys.

And after talking to a few people at work, I discovered I'm not the only one who was completely freaked out by those things! Seriously, it was years before I attempted to watch The Wizard of Oz for a second time. I was successful but the experience left me scarred.

Here are a few other films that left my childhood brain saying, "WTF!!!":

Nightmare on Elm Street
How old was I? 9, 10?...old enough to have listened to my mother. But, noooOOOooo, I just had to watch it! The scene in which the bodybag is trailing blood through the halls of the high school should have been my first clue. But because I was a well-behaved Girl Scout who decided to rebel by sneaking in some HBO late at night, I continued to watch good-looking teenagers (Johnny *GASP!* Depp) get chased and slashed before I fell asleep. The result? I refused to take a bath with the door closed for months. Y'know, in case Freddie's knifey-fingers came up to the surface. Another result? My mother's infamous, "I told you so."
Nightmare Elm Pictures, Images and Photos
(the only thing worse than this would be sharing the bathtub with a sloth)

I don't remember much about this movie except my parents telling me it was a true story. We lived in Upper Michigan at the time (anyone ever heard of Gwinn? Marquette? Didn't think so...) and our big stores were Shopko and Woolworth's. My brother and I would head directly for the toy aisle while our parents did their shopping, just like Adam Walsh did. I mean, it was the mid-80s. In Marquette, Michigan. People in Michigan don't even know the town exists and I'm sure the crime rate is still low and virtually non-existent. However, this is when kidnappings became real to me and I was introduced to the fact that people kill young, innocent children. For fun. It still gives me chills.

The Blue Lagoon
Okay. If you're a woman, you might laugh at this. If you're a man, you'll never understand it so don't even try. Remember that scene in which Brooke Shields discovers blood? Coming from her hoohah? This is the scary part I'm talking about! I was watching this at a friend's house when I was 8 years old.
"Did she cut herself?", my friend asked her mother.
"No, she didn't cut herself. But that happens to all girls when they grow up. It'll happen to both of you one day!"
And this was all I knew about becoming a woman. That I would someday be in a lagoon with a cute boy and start bleeding. Thank goodness I developed boobs early and started asking some questions.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

There's a pill for that

I went to see my doctor today about my continuing allergic reaction and stumbled sorely away with a hiney-shot of Solumedrol and a prescription for Yaz birth control. The Solumedrol was obviously given to clear up my itchy head and spotty throat. The Yaz was given to clear up my bitchy disposition once a month.

It's a win-win, I say. For you, for me, and for anyone I could possibly ever come into contact with during PMS week.

For years I have fought against medicine and pain relievers, except in the event of near-asphyxiation by orchids or that pesky ovarian cyst (I named her Cyssie) that crawled into my fallopian tube and threatened massive internal bleeding. And while Wellbutrin played a huge role in my postpartum care and attacked my anxiety levels to the point that I could drive across bridges, I still took myself off of it by believing I could get over my own problems by fixing my own problems. For the most part, it worked.

Yet I still walked away wondering why doctors don't first recommend other solutions. When I was pregnant, I was scheduled to take the glucose test and argued with the nurses that I could not possibly down that much syrup in so little time. I ended up waiving the test only to later be notified that a certain brand of jellybeans contains just as much sugar as the glucose drink if eaten in large amounts. A few years after that, I suffered from dangerously low blood pressure to the point of passing out. It happened at the copy machine, in the parking lot, and at the coffee stand inside the mall. The doctor's solution? DRUGS!!! I refused and demanded he find another solution. I am skinny enough and healthy enough at this point to medicate myself with potato chips since a high-sodium diet was recommended.

Not too long ago, I noticed my personality becoming aggressive and downright mean during PMS week. I eat everything in sight (after I yell at it, of course). My jaws are sore in the morning from clenching all throughout the night before and I cry alot. CRY CRY CRY CRY CRY!!! Irrational decisions are made, feelings are hurt (mine and others'), simple things are forgotten, people get screamed at, and I just stop giving a crap. When the kid yells, I yell back. When the dog barks, I bark back. I beat myself up emotionally by calling myself names, I criticize my accomplishments and my bank account, and generally stop caring about myself. But, so far, I've been able to convince myself not to run dumbass drivers off the road, even if they do deserve it! Then it all goes away, until next month. Ugh! The worst part about it is knowing it's going to keep coming back.

No wonder I'm single. I'm a freakin' psycho.

Let's hope this Yaz stuff works because we all deserve some happiness. Especially the people who have to deal with me during PMS week. See how selfless I can be??

pms Pictures, Images and Photos

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Chillaxin' and Anaphylaxin'

Benadryl is an allergic woman's best friend. Over the years I've developed an allergy to artificial sweeteners, sulfa-based drugs, flowers, and latex. Each one of those triggers a different reaction and all are pretty disgusting, but on different levels. The artificial sweeteners give me mouth sores and I can usually hide those from public view. How my body reacts to latex and flowers is a different story, however, and may actually result in my grotesquely swollen face scaring small children. Or even big children. Or my dog.

As I type this, I'm beginning to feel the sleep-inducing effects of two Benadryl pills slowly pulsing through my itching body. My head feels like it is crawling with bugs, my body is spotted with small red splotches, and I have dry-mouth, which makes the ever-dreaded throat closure difficult to diagnose. I'm trying not to panic. About 30 minutes ago I called Cold Stone Creamery to talk with a manager about the ingredients in a Milk Caramel Latte that I drank 2 hours ago. I explained my urgency to the girl who answered the phone before being placed on hold so she could "finish making someone's order".

It's okay. I'm dying slowly anyway.

The first time it ever happened to me, I woke up with what felt like my head on fire. My daughter assured me that she didn't have an itchy head but I didn't believe her, so I checked her for lice. Nope. No lice. I couldn't open my eyes and thought I was just exhausted. Until I walked into the bathroom to splash water on my face (to help wake myself up) and noticed my eyelids were humongo!!! They were so fat that I barely had eyelashes! While I was smart enough to take a Benadryl pill, I stil sat around for about an hour expecting it all to go away. After spending nearly the entire day watching my hands turn into clubby fists and calling various people who I hoped could help me uncover the mysterious origins of my first-ever serious allergic reaction, my friend Martin, a horticulturalist, assured me that I was probably one of the few people he knew to develop an allergy to orchids. So I opted to take a shot of something in the asscheek and thanked my lucky stars I didn't die.

FYI, in case you didn't know, orchids are like poodles of the houseplant world. People who are allergic to most flowers are big fans of orchids. They are low-allergen and a handy excuse for any future boyfriend/husband of mine to never present me with flowers.


Friday, June 5, 2009

The day I gave birth to a second-grader

Today was my daughter's last day as a first-grader and her first day as a second-grader. Which only means that she's that much closer to legally dropping out of school when she turns 18 during her senior year. Yes, I worry about this already. And I can't stop looking at her and thinking, "Oh, god. You're not a baby anymore, yet you still cannot tie your own shoes, or ride a bike, or properly floss your teeth." Then I do a little jig inside because I still have some time left with her before she starts sneaking cigarettes, skipping school, and kissing sleazy boys named Vic and giving me ammunition (read as guilt) as I remind her of the day she was born (and the day she was almost born).

My pregnancy was not an easy one. Aside from the stress of a broken engagement and an already damaged relationship with BabyDaddy (in this household, we refer to him as Mr. Dumas), my baby was not positioned correctly. EVER. It was confirmed that she was being carried in a breach position and that I would never be able to give birth naturally (and here is where I must argue that if a baby is coming out my body, she is being born naturally - she was not manufactured at the Ben & Jerry's in Vermont). My baby decided to ride the wave of the womb in a standing position with one foot in my ass and the other foot in my hoohah. The nurses didn't believe me when I told them there was a foot down there and I demanded an internal ultrasound. Behold!! Five toes!! In my hoohah! And she was a kicker! I suffered massive bouts of dehydration and consumed approximately 2.5 tons of Wendy's chicken nuggets, per month. I also developed an expensive habit of paying for the buffet at Shoney's on Thursday nights solely for unlimited access to fried chicken. And I didn't even eat the chicken. Just the fried chicken skin.

Forty-two pounds later, I watched two planes crash into the World Trade Center towers. Because I'd been raised in the military and grew up outside of Washington, DC, I was appointed "All-Knowing Expert on Terrorist Activities" by my fellow hotel coworkers and found myself answering every question with, "I wouldn't worry unless a plane actually hits the White House or the Capitol Building. Now let's go watch some TV!!" Then my father's best friend went missing in the Pentagon and my whole world changed. I grabbed my stomach and clenched my teeth in pain and found myself in the emergency room 4 hours later with a few bags of fluids going through my body. Whatever it took to keep my baby inside until after midnight. Whatever it took to not allow her to be born on this day that would carry the burden of increased cultural and religious intolerance and the heightened opportunity for historians to tell more lies. I held out until 12:04am on Wednesday, September 12, 2001, and was released from the hospital at 4:00 that morning. I was still pregnant.

For the next three weeks I stayed in bed. I was 30 minutes from the hospital and afraid of going into labor again with a breached baby. My c-section was scheduled for October 5th at 8am but because someone believed that my body hadn't been through enough already, the real labor pains kicked in at 3am. I clawed my way out the front door, clutching my belly with one hand as the other hand grabbed onto the brick exterior of my house, all while my father told me to get a move on (note to all men: saying this to any pregnant woman is a sure-fire way to get your ass kicked). Once I arrived at the hospital, I was told to practice my breathing exercises since the drug guy wouldn't be in until 7am.

Uh...what? #@&$**@!!!! Aaaaaaaaarrrrggggggg!!!!! Tears!!! Whining!!! More tears and whining!!!!!

My strategy worked and within an hour I had a good dose of Stadol. Wow! is all I can say about that stuff.

Over the next few hours, I was cared for by a sweet Scottish nurse who made sure I was drugged and happy (the opposite of the terrifying Nurse Ratchet, my post-natal nurse). The epidural only numbed my left side and didn't take very well the first time around so the doctor strapped me to the table (all One-Flew-Over-the-Cuckoo's-Nest-like), flipped me over sideways to the right (hoping to drain some more to my right side), and pumped me with some more drugs. My mother said I looked like Jesus on the cross. Except I might have been drooling.

After a few test pinches on my not-completely-numbed belly, I fought against general anesthesia and waived my right to sue them if they would just hurry the hell up and get this baby outta me! Like I said, I was drugged and anxious and probably having an out-of-body experience, but the doctors agreed with me, called me "one tough woman!" and went in for prize.

Hello, baby!

And that is the story of my daughter's birth (and almost-birth). And in case anyone was wondering, our good friend John survived the attack on the Pentagon. Another miracle of September 11th.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

What NOT to listen to when you're sad (besides Tori Amos)

The snooze button came in handy this morning. I couldn't pull myself out of bed without dragging some emotional burden around with me. Here it is, nearly 8pm, and I can't quite put my finger on it. This feeling of...what? What is this? I'm not hopeless, I'm not depressed, I'm not crying (but I want to). In fact, I probably should. The unfortunate part about it is that I only cry when I'm angry. Or when someone dies. Or, sometimes, when someone comes back.

You know how the memory of a person can take the air out of you and leave you with an involuntary urge to hunch over forward into a fetal position just to keep in what air you have left? It's exhausting to me. My ribs will hurt. My back will ache. And then I'll lose my breath just when the lyrics of an incredibly beautiful song I've listened to hundreds of times finally make sense at exactly the right moment (or wrong moment, depending on how you look at it).

I'm not the guy in this song. I'm not even the girl in this song. I'm the girl who was with the guy who really wanted to be with the other girl. This was his song for her and I had to listen to it. It's a year of my life that I wouldn't mind forgetting, only because I was never really a huge part of his life. He said I was, but in the end I discovered (or finally realized, as the case may be) that I was only there until she chose to be there. That's when I walked away and learned that sometimes doing the right thing doesn't always mean doing the easiest thing.

And it starts, sometime around midnight.
Or at least that’s when you lose yourself
for a minute or two.
As you stand, under the bar lights.
And the band plays some song
about forgetting yourself for a while.
And the piano’s this melancholy soundtrack to her smile.
And that white dress she’s wearing
you haven’t seen her for a while.

But you know, that she’s watching.
She’s laughing, she’s turning.
She’s holding her tonic like a cross*.
The room’s suddenly spinning.
She walks up and asks how you are.
So you can smell her perfume.
You can see her lying naked in your arms.

And so there’s a change, in your emotions.
And all these memories come rushing
like feral waves to your mind.
Of the curl of your bodies,
like two perfect circles entwined.
And you feel hopeless and homeless
and lost in the haze of the wine.

Then she leaves, with someone you don’t know.
But she makes sure you saw her.
She looks right at you and bolts.
As she walks out the door,
your blood boiling
your stomach in ropes.
Oh and when your friends say,
“What is it? You look like you’ve seen a ghost.”

Then you walk, under the streetlights.
And you’re too drunk to notice,
that everyone is staring at you.
You just don’t care what you look like,
the world is falling around you.

You just have to see her.
You just have to see her.
You just have to see her.
You just have to see her.
You just have to see her.
You know that she’ll break you in two.

The Airborne Toxic Event - "Sometime Around Midnight"

I still can't cry.

This isn't why I woke up this morning with a black cloud hovering over me. And like I said, I've heard this song hundreds of times and it never hit me like that before. Maybe I needed it to so I could listen to what someone else is saying, in someone else's words. It's not even that I have feelings for this person anymore. I think what grabbed me the most in these lyrics was there are no fluffy puppies and sparkly butterflies. I mean, how fluffy-puppies-and-sparkly-butterflies are these words:

Then she leaves, with someone you don’t know.
But she makes sure you saw her.
She looks right at you and bolts.

It is such a beautiful song, though.