Wednesday, November 30, 2011

That's a loaded question...

Mass e-mail from co-worker (edited to remove identifying information):

Hi Everyone!

For our Holiday Party, I am collecting your best/worst/funniest holiday memory.

The Social Committee will be using this information for a fun activity we have planned for the party.

Please try to keep it concise (a line or two at most) and email it to me privately.

If you could send it to me by EOD Friday, that would be great!

*** *** ***

OK, I'm assuming by "worst holiday memory," they are looking for worst/we-can-laugh-about-it-now stories about the time Santa left a lump of coal in your stocking, or you had one too many glasses of eggnog & woke up with a hangover -- that sort of thing.

Because, honestly -- do they REALLY want to hear people's WORST holiday memories?

I mean, let's face it, I love Christmas -- but most people's Christmases, even the best ones, rarely if ever measure up to the Norman Rockwell ideal. And I'm pretty damned sure nobody wants to hear about MY worst Christmas.

Do they REALLY want to know what it's like to be expecting a baby in November -- to have your mother exclaim, when she learns the due date, "A baby for Christmas!!" -- to dream about bringing that baby home for the holidays to her adoring grandparents & great-grandparents -- only to have that dream totally, utterly shattered when the baby is stillborn in August?

Do they REALLY want to know why you can't bear to hear or sing "Away in a Manger" anymore? (especially when, one year, the choir changed the lyrics to include the line, "A baby for Christmas...")

Do they REALLY want to know what it's like to start crying every year while you're watching the Santa Claus Parade, because it brings back memories of your pregnancy & your secret wish that you'd be able to watch the parade from the windows of the hospital (on the parade route) with your newborn daughter in your arms?

Do they REALLY want to know what it's like to go to the mall and be confronted with oodles of toys, impossibly precious holiday clothes at Baby Gap & Gymboree, and a massive lineup of adorably dressed babies & toddlers waiting to see Santa Claus, when you'd give anything to be doing the same thing with your daughter?

Do they REALLY want to know what it's like to lose your grandfather just a few weeks after losing your baby -- the grandfather you adored, secretly thought was Santa Claus, and spent every single Christmas of your life with?

Do they REALLY want to know what it's like to go to your Christmas party -- the one place where you think you're safe & looking forward to kicking back with your co-workers -- only to have the colleague who was pregnant at the same time as you were & due just a few weeks before arrive? WITH her baby girl in tow?? And then be told that not just one, not just two, but THREE other coworkers just announced their pregnancies? (See my post about the Worst. Christmas Party. Ever.) And then leave the party early & spend the next two hours sitting numbly in the train station, waiting for your husband (who is at his party -- this being pre-cellphone days), & reading the same page of your People magazine over & over again, because you keep replaying the night's events over & over again in your head and just can't focus?

Do they REALLY want to know what it's like to decorate the Christmas tree in silence & without smiles or laughter, that first Christmas?

Do they REALLY want to know what it's like, searching for the perfect ornament for the tree to memorialize your stillborn daughter?

Do they REALLY want to know why your entire Christmas tree is now covered in teddy bear angels & Classic Pooh Christmas ornaments that you've accumulated over the past 13 years (hint: the baby's nursery was to have had a Classic Pooh theme)?

Do they REALLY want to know what it's like to read the cards that your mother received from her friends (who obviously haven't heard the news), saying things like, "Congratulations! You're going to love being a grandma!" and "Being a grandmother is the best!" and "How's that grandbaby?"

Do they REALLY want to know what it's like to hear everyone around you mouthing platitudes like, "Christmas is for kids"?

Do they REALLY want to know about how awful it felt to watch your father's face crumble as he started to take the traditional "family around the dinner table" photo, set down the camera & retreated downstairs so that we couldn't see him cry?

I didn't think so.

(For the record, I sent the story about my parents giving me the stereo I had been bugging them about for years -- complete with turntable & cassette deck. It was 1981 (30 years ago, eeek), I was in third-year university and I honestly didn't expect they would ever buy me such an expensive gift (which seems so Little House on the Prairie-ish these days, when I hear about parents buying their kids iPods and iPhones and game systems and television sets and Ugg boots, & taking them to Disney World) -- you can see in the pictures that I'd been crying from shock! They hid it under a roll of carpet in the shower stall of an unfinished basement bathroom in their new house, and sent me on a treasure hunt to find it. I still have it, in my basement, along with all my vinyl albums.)

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

(Not) the most wonderful time of the year :p

(Sorry, I hit "publish" before I was quite finished. And Blogger has been acting wonkily enough that I couldn't go back in & edit -- I had to copy & paste into a Word doc, delete what I had posted before & then report -- ARGH. So if you read my first post in a reader, this is the correct version.)

For awhile there, I thought I was going to make it through November without my annual "I hate November" whine. The weather has been unusually mild (which actually makes me a little nervous, global warming & all that) -- & SUNNY (which lifts my spirits enormously -- part of the reason I dislike November is the constant grey and gloom, at least here in southern Ontario). I got through Katie's 13th birthday/due date relatively well. The stress of year-end activities at work has been pretty manageable up to this point (although the daily 1 p.m. project meetings were really putting a cramp in my day). I got an early start on my Christmas shopping. My cousin recently moved just a 15-minute drive away from me (after 26 years of being surrounded by dh's family -- nice people that they (mostly, lol) are -- I FINALLY have a relative living closer than 1,000 miles away!!) -- and invited us to dinner for his daughter's birthday last week. Not only did I get to eat perogies, homemade by his visiting mom (my aunt), it was American Thanksgiving and they cooked a turkey dinner with all the trimmings.

Last weekend was lovely. I got to sleep in, & slept pretty well. Housecleaning went quickly. We took Christmas stuff to the cemetery to decorate Katie's niche which, although a sad reminder of what we've lost, also made me feel better to see her little corner of the world looking appropriately festive. We had dinner at a new local restaurant (Irish pub) -- the food was good & hot (we'll be back) & had a $10 coupon to pay for part of it. We had a nice, leisurely browse at Chapters without too many disruptions from screaming children in the toy section or inconsiderate dolts sitting sprawled out on the floor, blocking the aisle, while talking loudly on their cellphone. Sunday, we went to see "The Descendants" with George Clooney, & while the subject matter was on the depressing side (middle-aged man with two daughters dealing with his wife's impending death and the discovery that she was having an affair), the performances were excellent. Plus the scenery was gorgeous (not only George, lol, but it was set in Hawaii).

And then Monday rolled around (as it always does) & everything has been downhill since then.

It's crunch time at work -- major milestone coming up on Friday. A couple of projects will be more or less off my plate at that point, but (of course) other have come to take their place -- urgent stuff that needs to be done well before I leave on my vacation, of course.

Everyone is under stress. Dh is under stress at work -- and he has a mancold. :p And when I woke up this morning, it was pouring rain, and hasn't stopped all day. The sky has been dull, dark and grey.

Christmas decorations are springing up everywhere, I see people everywhere with shopping bags, but I don't have time to take a full lunch hour to work on my Christmas shopping, I'm too tired at night to head to the mall, and the thought of the mall on a weekend makes me cringe. :p

And so, just like that, I'm into my annual November sulk & feeling sorry for myself.

Update: Things are slightly better tonight, since I started drafting this. We had some hot soup for supper and assembled the Christmas tree (decorations to come later this week). Doing something a little Christmasy helped, I think.

To quote Scarlett O'Hara (watched the movie for the umpteenth time other night, Kleenex in hand), "Tomorrow is another day."

November 2010: Black Friday
November 2009: November blahs
November 2008: November again
November 2007: November: The cruellest month

Sunday, November 27, 2011

New header, new look

What do you think? The new header photo comes courtesy of Melissa, Stirrup Queen extraordinaire , who used it in a recent post & generously designed a new header for me when I complimented her on it. Absolutely love it, but it didn't quite fit in on top of the template design I had, so I have been playing around with new ones.
I was thinking I needed to update some of my links, etc., so this was the kick in the pants I needed to get started -- and it wasn't hard at all to add in the header either. Thank you, Mel! : )

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Guess I'm not alone ; )

Opened the paper this morning & found this article: 

Sample quote:
“Marketers are still targeting moms, just like they’ve done since the 1950s,” lamented Marti Barletta, chief executive officer of Chicago-based TrendSight Group, which provides insights about marketing to women. Ms. Barletta expresses her frustration with this short-sighted approach since people are having smaller families than they did years ago, and because marketing to moms resonates most often with first-time mothers only. “Marketers who were supposed to be trend forward, leading-edge and future-focused are the most outdated people on the planet,” she complained in an interview.

Friday, November 25, 2011

"Moms rock" -- oh, really??

I came home tonight & found a brochure from a certain telecommuncations company in my mailbox. Below my name & address was the line, "Learn how superphones help moms do more with their day." 

On the flipside, the title: "Moms Rock. Superphones help them roll." 

"What makes superphones so super? Just like moms: They're great at multitasking... They make every minute count... They don't just work hard -- they look good too." 


Inside: "Super selection for super moms" -- and this bit of advice: "If your kids are old enough for a phone, you can add them to your plan." 

Gee, thanks, B.e.ll.Can.a.da, for rubbing the absence of my child (who should be a teenager bugging me to get a cellphone, if she hadn't already sweet-talked her dad into getting her one) in my face (and not just once but over and over again in a single piece of marketing material). Flattery may get you everywhere, but you are barking up the WRONG tree here. :p 

FYI -- and for some reason, this seems to be a hard thing to grasp -- just because I'm a WOMAN does NOT automatically mean that I am a MOM. I know that moms are a favourite demographic in the marketing world these days -- but there's a growing number of us out there who, for whatever reason, don't have kids. (Although my guess is that the vast majority of us do have cellphones). 

Many of us are great at multi-tasking and making every minute count. And we look pretty damned good too, if I do say so myself. ; ) 


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

This year's model

As I've written in the past, I can be pretty picky when it comes to the Christmas card I send out every year. Since Katie, I tend to go for either angel designs or Classic Pooh (when I can find him -- sometimes he's pretty elusive...!). Almost without fail, I know "the" card when I lay eyes on it. I might look for awhile longer, but I almost always go back to that first one that made me go "aha!"

This year was no exception. I've bought Papyrus cards a couple of times in the past, and a Papyrus store opened in the concourse of my office tower this fall. When they set out their Christmas card display (in October, ugh...), I had a peek & instantly knew I had found my card. I did look around a few other places, but a few weeks ago, I went back & bought a stack of boxes.

It's by an artist I love, Rebecca (Becky) Kelly. On her website, Becky cites the Swedish artist Carl Larsson as an influence. I've seen his work at IKEA (of course, lol -- his artwork is on the gingersnap cookie tins I bought there) & liked it (maybe being 1/4 Swedish has something to do with it too). I also know that another artist I like, Tricia Romance, was heavily influenced by Larsson. I've been to her gallery in Niagara on the Lake (down the road from the Falls), one of my favourite places for a getaway, and my Mom gave me one of her plates, Star of Wonder:

Anyway, here is this year's card, by Rebecca Kelly:

Here's a link to the card on the Papyrus website, if you're curious & want a different view.

Here's a Becky Kelly design that was on my Christmas cards some years ago (but also post-Katie -- you can see in the right-hand corner that it's dated 2001). I'm sure you can see why it appealed to me. ; )

I didn't blog about my card last year but, if you're wondering, it was a picture of dh & me, taken with a self-timer on our 25th wedding anniversary. : )

2009 card
2008 card

Monday, November 21, 2011

Odds & ends

  • I now have 100 followers!! : ) I have to admit, I've never "followed" anyone myself (insert red-faced icon here) -- I read/follow my regular blogs through my Google Reader (where I have 224 (!!) subscribers)(is there some advantage to being a Blogger follower vs Google Reader subscriber?) -- but I really do appreciate my regular readers & commenters, through whatever medium. : )

  • Thanks to all of you who sympathized with my vent about Katie's due date and the anticipation of listening to baby shower talk from the weekend. As almost always happens, the anticipation was worse than the reality... the shower talk was not too horribly excessive (we're too busy at work these days to spend a lot of time standing around chit-chatting), & when it was, I found that rolling my eyes behind the sheltering walls of my cubicle while others talked was a great tension reliever. ; )

  • New definition of heartbreak: watching your husband as he wistfully looks on while his cousin's husband dances with their 10-year-old daughter at a recent banquet.

  • I got busy yesterday afternoon & didn't watch the Santa Claus Parade this year. Probably just as well, given my history with the parade in recent years. We had the radio on CBC news at noon, & a mere description of the massive crowds lining the route had the tears welling up in my eyes. (Then Stuart McLean finished me off with a story on the Vinyl Cafe, about Dave and the Big Narrows Centennial Baby, which ended with an an ode to community historians & memorykeepers -- something near & dear to my heart. I'd heard the story before, & I don't recall if I cried then too, but I was obviously in the mood.)

  • But for some reason, I was able to hit the mall later & shop for PNGD with gleeful abandon. The Children's Place, Baby Gap, Gymboree -- I hit them all (even just a few years ago, I would have avoided them like the plague) & had a blast. I even stopped off to watch the kids with Santa, and didn't even flinch. (Of course, tomorrow I could be a mess doing the same thing... but I'll take my small victories as they come...!)

  • I Lost a World stumbled onto a brilliant video this week, which she shares on her blog -- about Christmas cards, infertility, and how we define families. The kicker is that she realized it was done by someone she knew. I know this is an issue that many of us face at this time of year. Go have a look.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Recent reading

I've actually found time to read a couple of books lately! I've been trying to keep track of all the books I've read this year in my blog (16 so far, not counting the ones I'm writing about here -- not bad!! -- not as many as I would have read 10 or certainly 20 years ago, sadly, but not bad...). Here are the latest entries on the list:

I actually bought & started the hardcover of The Beatles by Bob Spitz when it first came out about five or six years ago. I'd read about 4/5 of the book before I put it down (around the point where Brian Epstein died), picked up something else... & never got back to it. It wasn't because it wasn't good -- on the contrary, it's a great book about a great band, one of my all-time essential favourite bands. I just seem to have developed a nasty habit of doing that over the past few years (insert red-faced icon here). I decided that has to change, and recently picked it up again to tackle what was left.

If you're a Beatles fan, this is an amazingly detailed look at the band, with lots of fresh material that will have you going "I never knew that..." The stuff about the early days of the band, in particular, was a treat to read. It also puts so many things in context. For example -- I'd heard & seen clips from the band's legendary performance at Shea Stadium, but not until I read this book did I realize its significance: the Beatles were the first band to EVER play a concert, not just at Shea Stadium but at ANY stadium, anywhere -- it had never been done before. So, among many other things, we have the Beatles to thank for arena rock shows. : ) Not for the first time, I wished I had been a teenager back then to experience Beatlemania firsthand. (As it was, and as I've written before -- here and here, for example -- the Beatles are among my first and most treasured pop culture memories as a preschooler.)

One of the many seldom-heard-from sources Spitz dug up for this book was Paul's Liverpool girlfriend, Dorothy (Dot) Rhone. Did you know she became pregnant by Paul, just as the Beatles were starting to hit it big, and had a miscarriage? She & Paul immediately got engaged -- his father was apparently delighted that he was going to be a grandfather -- but after the baby died, she could feel Paul slipping away from her, and they broke up. (It doesn't reflect very well on Paul -- but he WAS only, what 20 years old? & his life was rapidly changing at that point.) Heartbroken, Dot emigrated to Canada not long afterward, married & had other children (& grandchildren), worked for many years as a civil servant in southern Ontario (!), and is now retired. She & Paul have since seen each other backstage at some of his concerts over the years.

I've written before about my love of the most famous band to come out of my home province of Manitoba, the Guess Who, and its lead singer, Burton Cummings. Its guitarist, Randy Bachman, also went on to further fame with Bachman Turner Overdrive, and now hosts a weekly show on CBC Radio called Vinyl Tap, where he plays some of his favourite songs & tells stories about his personal encounters with the artists over the last 50 years.

Now, some of those stories have been collected in a new book called Vinyl Tap Stories. Randy wrote a memoir a few years back that I'd read, called Taking Care of Business, & some of the stories he tells here are familiar -- whether from that book or from interviews I've seen him give over the years, I'm not sure.

Still, there's no doubt that he has some great stories to tell and tells them well. As a Manitoban, of course, I get a huge kick out of his local references and his recollections about the Winnipeg of his childhood. Randy is closer to my mom's age than my own (he was born in 1943, just ahead of the first wave of post-war baby boomers), but when he talks about the Paddlewheel Restaurant, for example, I know exactly what he's talking about (although I had NO IDEA until I read this book that it was once THE place for Winnipeg teenagers & musicians to hang out!!).

(Incidentally, dh's former boss grew up kitty-corner from the Bachmans in the north end of Winnipeg in the 1960s. He told me once at a party that Randy & his brothers always had a band & always wound up playing at their school dances & hockey banquets. "Not the Bachmans again!" he & his friends would groan. Who knew?? lol)

I've always thought Jann Arden was a great singer, and over the years, she's also shown herself to be a funny and witty interview. She's been on the Rick Mercer Report several times, mostly in Calgary -- visiting the Calgary Zoo & luging at Olympic Park, ziplining, attending RoughStock and, most recently, doing the CN Tower EdgeWalk in Toronto, with hilarious results. Now she's written a memoir about her growing up years, Falling Backwards. (Sidenote: She was signing copies earlier this month at a bookstore in the office tower across the street from mine at lunchtime. Any other time of the year, that would have been perfect. Unfortunately, it's year end, and I had a mandatory meeting I had to attend around the same time -- so, sadly, my book is unsigned.)

I loved this book. It is extremely well written -- hilarious, as one might expect, frank and also poignant. What I really love, though, is the feelings of deja vu that the book conjured up for me. Jann was born in 1962, and grew up in a small town in rural Alberta outside of Calgary in the late 1960s & early 1970s. I was born in Manitoba in 1961, and spent my childhood in small rural towns in the neighbouring Prairie provinces of Saskatchewan and Manitoba, in the same time frame. (Coincidentally, neither of us has children, either.) So, as you might expect, we share a lot of similar memories about similar things. For example:

* Jann claims her mom is "the cleanest person in Canada" (p.11) -- I always thought mine was. ; )
* she grew up in a classic baby boomer suburban neighbourhood where kids walked to school & people didn't lock their doors (so did I)(p. 12).
* Jann's dad cooked bacon & egg breakfasts on the weekends (p.15). My dad is great cook, but his weekend brunches are legendary in our family. Yum! (My mother is the potato lover in our family, though!)
* Milk was delivered by a milkman (p.15)(I remember that too, in my early childhood).
* Jann used a big fat HB pencil when she started school, as did I (p. 25).
* Old Dutch salt & vinegar chips (p. 26) -- ahhh, the memories...! I still think Old Dutch makes the best chips ever. We couldn't get them in Ontario for years, & they're still hard to find. Dh thinks they're awful. ; )
* Reading about Jann's teachers, Mrs. Hurst & Miss Humphreys, reminded me of my favourite teacher from fourth grade, Mrs. Dean. She was in her early 20s, had long blond hair & wore mini-skirts. She was beautiful and she sang like an angel, at school and in our church choir. (My mother told me a few years ago that her obituary was in the local paper, so I found it online. She was only in her mid-50s when she died... and the obituary mentioned her beautiful singing voice.)
* Jann's fascination with the globe (p. 29).
* Jann says Prairie people refer to underwear as "gonch" (p. 33). Where I lived, it was "gotch" (close enough, I guess). But I never called them that -- it made my ears hurt just to hear the words. I wonder how that term came into being??
* Dubble Bubble bubblegum (p. 43).
* Jann's parents' work ethic, & how it makes her feel lazy (p. 73)(boy, me too). "They are in their seventies now, and I swear they still don't sit down."
* Well cooked meat (p. 55).
* "Romper Room" & "The Friendly Giant" (p. 64).
* Walking for miles all over town at the age of 10 & nobody batting an eyelash about it ("I know I sound like I am a hundred years old, but the seventies were so much different from how things are today," p. 66).
* Playing outside all the time (p. 66).
* Gigantic pigs (p. 72 -- my uncle had some on his farm -- scared the crap out of me!).
* Slaughtering farm animals (p. 74). I was at my grandparents' farm when they were killing chickens once. My cousins all went out to watch -- they thought it was hilarious to watch the chickens run around with their heads cut off. I stayed in the house with my nose in a book & refused to even look out the window.
* Milking cows (p. 75) -- never did it myself, but I did used to watch my grandmother do it in the barn.
* Having only three TV channels (p. 88 -- we had just one, the CBC, until we moved closer to the border when I was 14 & got a rotary antenna, & then eventually cable).
* School lunches (p. 98) & open area classrooms (p. 103).
* Reading, Enid Blyton mysteries in particular (p. 104).
* Listening to a transistor radio under the covers at night (p. 105) -- late at night on the Prairies, especially after a thunderstorm, you could pull in radio stations from far-away, exotic places like KSTP Minneapolis & WLS Chicago. It was almost a competition to see who could pull in the radio station from furthest away.
* Listening to records & singing from mimeographed sheets in music class (p. 107).
* Anne Murray & "Snowbird" (p. 107).
* Casual dressing (p. 115)(Corduroy pants -- which we called "cords" -- were about as dressy as things got in the small Prairie towns I grew up in the the 1970s. And if I wanted to wear mine, I'd have to call up my friends & make sure that at least one of THEM was ALSO going to be wearing cords).
* Lonesome Charlie (!!) (p. 116).
* The Columbia Record Club (p. 157)
* The Carpenters (p. 158 & several other places in the book)
* home perms by mom (p. 168)
* Yahtzee (p. 181)
* finding out that you're short credits to graduate from high school (p. 183). This happened to me. I got called to the guidance counsellor's office in November of Grade 12 & was told I couldn't claim both Music 101 (band) AND 108 (for my private piano lessons & Royal Conservatory of Music exam) -- hence, I was short a course to graduate. After I'd finished crying, we went over my schedule & looked at the available classes that I could fit in. I wound up in History 301 -- comparative governments. I caught up very quickly & wound up with something like a 92 in the course. But I was kind of resentful all year long that it took them until November of my graduating year to figure this out.
Now, there's a lot that is different about our childhoods, of course. Jann's upbringing was, shall we say, a little more backwoodsy than mine, & she was a lot more adventurous than I ever was (I never killed gophers or was never chased by a bear, for example, or dove headfirst into a brick barbecue). I didn't have a troubled older brother who wound up serving a life sentence for murder, or an alcoholic father, and I was never molested by a relative when I was 10. But I knew people and places like the ones she describes -- I knew boys like her childhood buddies, Dale and Leonard, and places like the gas station with the cooler full of pop bottles.

The book ends with 30-year-old Jann on the brink of releasing her first record. Which leaves me hopeful that someday, there might be a sequel. : ) Fingers crossed!

To see or not to see

The New York Times columnist David Brooks had a thought-provoking piece today about the scandal at Penn State -- one that got me thinking about pregnancy loss, infertility and involuntary childlessness. (There's almost always a connection, if you look hard enough, lol.)

Brooks notes how so many people are (re)assuring themselves and others that, had they been in the shoes of those who discovered that children were being abused on the campus, they would have taken action (at least, more decisive action than was taken).

Brooks begs to differ, pointing out that history shows the opposite generally happens: "Many people do not intervene. Very often they see but they don’t see."

He continues:

Some people simply can’t process the horror in front of them. Some people suffer from what the psychologists call Normalcy Bias. When they find themselves in some unsettling circumstance, they shut down and pretend everything is normal.

Some people suffer from Motivated Blindness; they don’t see what is not in their interest to see. Some people don’t look at the things that make them uncomfortable...

As Daniel Goleman wrote in his book “Vital Lies, Simple Truths,” “In order to avoid looking, some element of the mind must have known first what the picture contained, so that it knew what to avoid. The mind somehow grasps what is going on and rushes a protective filter into place, thus steering awareness away from what threatens.”...

People are really good at self-deception. We attend to the facts we like and suppress the ones we don’t. We inflate our own virtues and predict we will behave more nobly than we actually do.

Those of us who have lost babies, or endured infertility, or faced a future without children when we always thought we would be parents someday, know what it's like to see people turn away -- mentally, emotionally, sometimes even physically -- when they are confronted by the reality that is our life.

We all like to think of ourselves as compassionate and caring people, particularly when it comes to our friends and family members. But the inability to conceive or carry a child to term is something that falls outside the realm of most people's personal experience or comfort level. They know it happens, of course -- just not to them, or to anyone they know or love. The radical idea that, yes, it can and does happen to you & yours can be overwhelming -- threatening, even, to one's sense of personal security, fairness and "happily ever after."

Are our friends and family members evil when they turn away or remain silent in the face of our pain? Evil is a strong word, & I'm not sure I want to apply that label here.

But do they cause us undue pain and suffering -- or add to the pain & suffering we are already feeling -- through their words &/or actions (or lack thereof)?

Most certainly.

What do you think?

(See also my post about the book I read earlier this year with a similar theme, Willful Blindness by Margaret Heffernan.)

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Bad mommy :(

I had almost forgotten. I'd been so busy, at work, with the (ahem) events of last weekend, a day off on Friday & cleaning house all day yesterday. Friday & Saturday were gloriously clear & sunny and mild, totally unlike November, which is always grey & dull & dreary in my mind.

But then we stopped off at the cemetery late yesterday afternoon, en route to dinner, as we often do on weekends. And as we got closer, it struck me anew: tomorrow (Monday, November 14th) is Katie's due date. The first one of several I was given, anyway, which is always the one I tend to think about.

She would have been 13 years old this month. In a more perfect universe, I would not have been lolling on the couch all long weekend long, reading my book & catching up on blogs. I would have been planning and hosting a birthday party. For my TEENAGER.

I rarely cry at the cemetery these days, but I shed some tears yesterday, and I've been feeling guilty ever since.

And I've been bracing myself. So far, November hasn't been too bad, but I know from past experience that that is likely to change, as the month wears on, the early darkness envelops me more, and the year-end frenzy continues at the office. I don't think I've missed an annual "I hate November" post yet. ; )

And also because I know what's coming tomorrow. My grandmother-to-be coworker was throwing a baby shower for her daughter this weekend -- took the last few days off to get ready (!). And not only that, but another coworker -- young (26), idealistic, unmarried -- was hosting a baby shower for her best friend on the same day. There's already been lots of shower talk -- what games to play, what decorations to make, etc., etc. -- and I know that will be the prime subject of conversation tomorrow morning.

And of course, it HAS to be TOMORROW morning. :p Such is my lot in life, it seem. :p I feel the first hint of the November blahs settling upon me...

Friday, November 11, 2011


(Who couldn't resist posting today, just to use that cool headline?)

Today is Remembrance Day, of course -- the day that fighting ceased in World War I, on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. I have the day off work (yay!) -- nothing special planned. A little cleaning & organizing, maybe; a lot of reading and blog hopping. ; )

I'm thinking about the veterans today, of course -- but I'm also thinking about a friend from first-year university (30+ years ago now, eeek), a neighbour who lived two doors over in my dorm. Her birthday was November 11th, & the number 11 loomed large in her life. She'd look at the clock and the time would invariably be 11 minutes after the hour, for example. It freaked her out.

She was bright and funny and sassy and friendly -- but she was horribly homesick for most of that year. She had a boyfriend back home (whose photos papered half her room) and an adorable baby niece (the other half). He came to visit her (nice guy), & she positively glowed while she was around him. Part-way through the year, they agreed they should try dating other people. She did, but it was obvious her heart wasn't in it. That summer, she called my roommate & told her she was back together with her boyfriend & wasn't coming back in the fall. She was going to live at home & attend the smaller, local university.

Sadly, it wasn't too long before we'd lost touch with her. (Back then, it was harder to keep tabs on people -- long distance was expensive, e-mail and Facebook were still decades away, so if you weren't a good letter writer -- good luck!) But I still think about her, and my old roommate & I still talk about her sometimes when we get together. I've tried Googling her a few times, and haven't found much -- her name is a fairly common one. But I recently tried her old boyfriend's name, & found a lot more -- including their names listed together as a couple in a relative'srecent obituary ("survived by..."). So they did get married, & I'm hoping they are living happily ever after. : )

Here's to you, K. I think of you whenever I look at my watch or a clock & it's 11 minutes past the hour.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Survived : )

I survived my colonoscopy, and all is well. : ) As most people said, the prep was the worst part, & I would agree -- although I rather suspect that Aunt Flo had a lot to do with making mine that way. Yes, as I suspected/feared -- Aunt Flo, with her impeccable sense of timing, decided to drop by to add to my misery. My one comfort is that, the next time I do this, five or 10 years from now, she should (should!!) be a non-issue.

I started out feeling not too bad & that, "Hey, I can do this!" However, as the long day worse on, I got hungrier, crampier, queasier and increasingly sick of the taste of Gatorade. :p I wound up spending part of the night before on the bathroom floor, worshipping the porcelain goddess, breaking into a cold sweat & feeling like I was about to pass out (poor dh wound up propping me up until I had the strength to crawl back into bed myself) -- and part of the morning at the clinic getting better acquainted with the bathroom THERE before my appointment too. :p Not fun. I actually have a purple mark under one of my eyes -- I think I broke a capillary from all the dry heaving -- eventually, my stomach was so empty there was nothing left to bring up. :(

Once they popped that needle in my hand, though, I was off in LaLa Land. The next thing I remember was waking up in the recovery area. They gave me a small dixie cup of water & some melba toast, & I almost immediately started to feel better. : ) At home, I had tea, toast & a nap, and aside from being very tired, felt almost entirely like myself again by late afternoon. I was back at work again today.

Thanks for all the advice & well wishes!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

And how's YOUR weekend shaping up??

(Warning: this post may contain slightly TMI.)

Sunday morning, I will wake up. I will eat nothing solid all day. I will drink lots of Gatorade and clear fluids, and maybe eat some Jello.

Mid-afternoon, I will take a few tablets. Awhile later, I'll mix a packet of crystals into some water & drink it. And expect to spend some time hanging out in the bathroom with some reading material. Repeat procedure until there's no reason to spend time in the bathroom anymore.

When I wake up early on Monday morning, I will take my blood pressure pill as usual, but with only a small sip of water -- no more. No food, no drink at all. Dh & I will leave the house around the usual time, but instead of driving to the commuter train station, we'll drive into the city.

Monday morning, I'm having a colonsocopy. My first. Woohoo!!

I hasten to write that there is nothing wrong with me that has prompted this procedure (& I am hoping very much that things stay that way, knock wood). The only thing "wrong" with me is that I turned 50 earlier this year, & my family dr generally sends all his patients for their first colonoscopy at this age (unless they have a family history of problems, in which case, you go earlier). If I get a clear bill of health, I won't have to have another one for five years.

Dh had his first colonsocopy a few years ago, & points out, "If I can do it, you can certainly do it!" True -- dh & drs are not a very happy combination. He frets endlessly before each appointment (which I have no doubt made for him) & then until he gets the results. His colonoscopy & even his prep were relatively uneventful -- except for the fact that he didn't react well to the sedative they gave him -- got up before he was supposed to & came out to where I was waiting, then had to make a hasty retreat to the bathroom where he was promptly sick, and spent the next two hours in the recovery area, dozing on & off. He has a note in his file to use a different sedative the next time!

Several of my friends have had them & similarly assure me it's nothing & the prep is the worst part. And a few friends, who have had several procedures over the years, also assure me that even the prep is a lot easier than it was 10-15 years ago.

The last time that a nurse popped a needle into my arm (my wrist, actually) & started the flow of drugs that would lull me into blessed stupification, was August 7, 1998, as I laboured to deliver my small, silent daughter. Demerol, I think it was. I was similarly sedated when I had my wisdom teeth out about 20 years ago, & I was put totally under several times when I was a kid & being checked out for kidney & ureter issues (which thankfully have not been an issue for me as an adult -- but which I now know are very likely co-related to the bicornuate uterus I was diagnosed with during my pregnancy). Maybe that's why I have the slightest case of the jitters as the weekend approaches.

Or maybe I'm just dreading the thought of going through an entire day without food, lol. I can get pretty cranky when I haven't been fed. To add to the fun, Aunt Flo is scheduled to show up sometime within the next several days -- and with her always impeccable sense of timing, you just KNOW it's probably gonna be Sunday night or Monday morning. (The nurse at the clinic assured me that they can still do the colonscopy regardless.) And asprin (including ibuprofen, my usual security blanket that gets me through one of Aunt Flo's visits) is verboten the week before a colonoscopy. Tylenol, maybe??

The silver lining, in my mind? I don't have to go to work! -- at a very busy time of year, lol. (You know I HAVE to be pretty busy & stressed at work to be looking forward to a colonoscopy as an excuse to get out of the office, lol.) Friday (11-11-11) is also Remembrance Day here & a holiday for me, so I will only have a three-day work week. Yay!

I realize that most of you are younger than me & probably haven't reached an age where a colonscopy is part of your regular medical routine -- but have you ever had one? Stories, advice to share?