Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Haikus For My Own Private Waterloo

I suck as a mom,
not for the obvious, but
for the stupid stuff.

I make them eat their
vegetables and drink their milk
And do their homework.

Their wails make me smile
as I set the course; mixing
Athens with Sparta.

But then I get a plan.
Something to make them smile,
Glad I am their mom.

Good in it's way, but
then I get cocky and make
promises. I'm doomed.

Like just this Sunday:
"Hey, Colin, let's have your friend
to play in the pool!"

What pool? Well you ask.
Really more a plan as it's
still stuck in its box.

See, after years of
inflatable pools that
die and go to ground,

this year we made a
change and got a Slip 'n Slide
for their summer fun.

But it was no pool.
Nope. It was a little fun,
but it was no pool.

So, "Fuck it," I said.
Life's too short to not have a
pool in your backyard.

The problem is it
kills the grass as it sits there,
for more than a week.

But, wait! We've a slab
of vacant concrete poured by
the prior owners.

It's flat! It's grass-free!
It's level (I think it is).
The place for a pool.

Off we go, to Toys
R Us, Where pools are on sale!
(Who needs measurements!?!)

So, after breakfast,
and laundry. And dinner prep.
And my exercise,

I head out to the
Midwest backyard, where its now
90* in the shade.

Colin's friend arrives
with flip-flops, swimsuit and towel,
ready for a dip.

Alas, the pool is
still theoretical and
laughing at me.

See, it's a full yard
(a meter) too big for the
handy cement pad.

The pad, I might add,
is only mostly level,
for all it's grass free.

Two options there are:
Charles says let it go and get
another, smaller pool.

Me? I say let's do
the more miserable way
and build up the slope.

Thar's rock a-plenty
in the fire pit. I can
build a pool rampart.

Pictures for you

Yeah. Good plan, that. Hot
and humid. The sweat burns with
the dirt in my eyes.

I forgot the bush
I had to transplant so the
pool wouldn't crush it.

(Colin and his friend
went down to the basement and
played video games.)

Charles, always wise,
remained exiled on Elba;
he had to study.

Hours later, I
Once again filled the bastard
and prayed for success.

Let's define 'success',
shall we? It holds some water
and is sort of round.

Maybe it is less
than half its expected depth
and shaped like a "D"

Pictures for you

And there's a sort of
waterfall at one place as
one side collapses.

Pictures for you

On a side note, I
noted a water beetle
made the pool its home.

This was only a half
hour from starting to fill the
cursed fucking pool.

(How a water bug
got in that fast? I'm flummoxed.
Call her 'Harriet'.)

Pictures for you

So, there we are kids.
I tried, I really did, but
I suck as a mom.

Tomorrow, you can
splash in your puddle and make
friends with Harriet.

Maybe now you'll find that
the poor Slip 'n Slide is not
such a wretched deal.

The following day,
my own private Waterloo
sinks to sad, new depths.

Pictures for you

Hell with it. I'll clean
it and donate it to some
poor sap at Goodwill.

The rock, of course, will
all have to be schlepped back to
the fire pit site.

The transplanted bush?
There it stays. I'll plant a spare
in its former spot.

I want it noted that
I was just transiently
thwarted in my quest.

The next day I found
Another pool, smaller, less
tricky to put up.

Napoleon has
nothing on me for stubborn

*34 degrees C for the civilized world.

Anyone want a minimally used pool with filter-pump (complete with O rings lubricated) and ladder assembled? You need a 13 foot (4+ meter) scrupulously level spot of yard or you will rue the day and regret the loss of your sanity. Actually, I've been using the ladder in my multi-month window-washing quest, so at least the ladder has been pressed into honest service.

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Monday, July 14, 2008

Call of the Sirens (Part VII)

And so, we come back to our continuing saga of a goof attempting to become a physician. We've seen her go through the first two years of unrelenting butt work and are now in the spring of her discontented third year, having finished everything but pediatrics, something she already knew she didn't want anything to do with.

Which, of course, led her to just relax and have some fun and be told she should really go into pediatrics by lots of misguided people. But nonono. She knew better, she did. She could never see the tinytiny eardrums of those tinytiny infants, brought in by their terrified parents worried that they had ear infections. She also knew that she just couldn't take a life of constantly reassuring those worriedworried parents. But most of all, she knew if she went into peds, she'd have ended up in prison for having messily and publicly murdered the first person she came across to abuse a child. Either that or she'd have offed herself after the first time she made a mistake that endangered a child.

No. Peds it was not to be, fun as it was. She did learn how to give a good shot, though. How vaccinations would happen in the out patient clinic was someone would have a small child who needed several vaccines and the call would go out to all available nurses, nurse practitioners and me, the lone med stud. As soon as we had enough bodies, each armed with a syringe, we'd sidle on up to the tot, peacefully resting in the arms of a trusted adult. We'd each grab a limb, syringe firmly grasped in the other hand and, on the count of three, we would simultaneously stab the little angel, instantaneously transforming them into a howling, sobbing devil, complete with bright red complexion, banshee howls and visage of doom and destruction.

They said this was apparently less traumatic than giving each shot separately. Maybe they were right. I think there were studies quoted. There are always studies quoted in medical education. There seemed to be about the same amount of screaming this way as there was when my own two got their shots, one at a time, and there wasn't all the distressing repeat performance for the subsequent injections that happened with giving them in series.

The other thing I remember was that lunch and a show was provided each noon. Lunch was usually some sort of sandwich assortment and the show was usually something along the lines of "Pediatric Eczema and You" or "Meningococcemia: Know it. Fear it." Good times. The peds residents and attendings were also a happy, cheerful bunch, almost to a person.

I'm sure they were all heavily drugged or lobotomized. Perhaps both.

So that's that for the third year of med school. The rotation that was by far the most fun was the one I'd known from the start that I had no desire to pursue. I'm sure there's some sort of life lesson in that but I'm damned if I'm going to learn from it.

Now, the fourth year of med school is sort of like the third, but the rotations are usually smaller bites and you have to decide what the hell you want to go off and be an indentured servant for at the end of the year. You get to take ENT ("otorhinolaryngology" for those who crave big, multi-sylabic words) and learn to use the head mirror (that mirror thingy that olde-tyme docs wore strapped to their foreheads), which is actually really hard to use. At least it was for me. There's this trick to peering through the hole in the middle while focusing the light from the lamp across the room that reflects off the mirror and into the patient's throat, all while using an angled mirror (like the dentist uses) to see around the bend in the throat to examine the vocal chords, while NOT making the patient vomit all over you by inadvertantly bumping the back of their throat with the mirror. Of course, now-a-days, you'd just use a head lamp to see, or, even better, a fiberoptic laryngoscope, so you could actually see 'round the bend of the throat and not make everything thing up. ("Oh, yeah! I see it! That bitty nodule on the miniscule vocal chord. Really. I see it. Promise.")

You'd also do a week or two in ophthalmology (the eyeball guys), and get really skeezed out by all things horrible and eyebally. (The worst? The enucleation surgeries where they removed the whole damned eye for some sort of hellacious tumor or other. Heart rending and really gross. Yeah team.) Why the hell anyone would want to go into that was beyond me, but they did. It was a highly sought after residency. Blech. Two of my friends went into it. I'd always thought them sane, but I had to reconsider after that.


There were several electives, like dermatology (oozy and dull and all the rashes looked like all the other rashes) and ICU (terrifying but cool); and you also had to take neurology (oh, good GOD the damned neurologists and their 5+ hour attending rounds with nary a chair in sight; oh, how we all hated neurology with all their fiddly tests that never worked like the books said and their confounding and complicated tracts and cross-tracts. Like learning the wiring of an enormous 1910 house.)

And then, there was surgery. And the sirens called. Oh, yes they did.

But I am tired and there are children to be put to bed. So I will leave you here with images of eyeballs and rashes and a line of drooling, incontinent patients (and students) with horrible neurological diseases in your heads.

Because I'm not a pediatrician and, therefore, not nice like that.

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Wednesday, July 09, 2008


Pictures for you

20 years ago found the above starry-eyed, broke kids standing up in front of their nearest and dearest, dressed in meringue and tails, promising to care for, love and provide really good beer to for the rest of their lives. As neither of them could think of anything they'd rather not do more than stand up in front of a couple hundred people and be the center of attention, the whole damned ceremony, from bridesmaids slow-stepping down the aisle to Pachelbel's Canon in D, (I'd always loved the music and this was at least a year before I'd heard ANYONE else use it in their ceremony.) to the last of the bride's train disappearing out the door at the end, took 5 minutes. 10 minutes tops. For real.

Pictures for you

They then went off with those nearest and dearest and ate cake (which they did not smear on each other and the white-white dress and rented tails) and cold cuts (poor, we were) and drank good beer and cheap champagne.

Pictures for you

All while making their very best friends dress in the height of wedding fashion of the late '80s: the tea length, off-the-shoulder dusty rose dress and the morning coat, with cravat. Amazingly, some of those friends still speak to us, although not the majority. If anyone wishes to step forward and identify themselves in the pictures, feel free, otherwise, I'll preserve anonymity. (Hi, Stacy!)

Pictures for you

There was no dancing (including no Chicken Dance), as Charles detested dancing, and the music was initially classical music, followed by a compilation of U2 at the end, on the cassette player of their boom box. (With some of their wedding loot, they bought the first CD player of their lives and a TV. Marvelous Charles was already starting down that long, slippery slope of home electronics obsession.)

Pictures for you

And everyone had their picture taken. A lot.

After that, the two kids, high on champagne, cake and love, went home to stop shaking, open the pile of loot in their skuzzy med school apartment and grin, falling into exhausted sleep. The friends all went to the campus grounds of the happy couple's alma mater, and celebrated more. (The ceremony had been held in the campus chapel and the reception in the law school library.) The friends all got very happy on the leftover champagne and food and some bushes were fertilized with minimally digested cold cuts. We have pictures of that, too, but are holding them in reserve for either a slow blogging day or the reciept of the appropriate blackmail funds.

The next day, the young pair left for a lovely week in Canada (Victoria and Vancouver), where it was very cold and rainy and they bought thick sweaters and their first few CDs for the CD player.

And how'd that all work out?

Swimmingly, thank you. Every morning, Marvelous Charles makes me a latte and asks me how I slept. If he gets up at night (because the dog, she has neeeeeeds, she does), he always shuts the door so the light and noise don't keep me awake. He tells me I'm pretty when I look disgusting. He brings me tea when I'm sick.

In short, much better than that other Charles and Diana. Besides, my Charles is way cuter.

So, happy anniversary to the disgustingly happy couple who still holds hands in public, just to annoy everyone else. We may be revolting, but at least we're revolting together.

Feel free to throw rock-filled rice balls now.

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Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Second Childhood

Pictures for you

It came as something of a surprise last night when I found myself, after work, stopping at the local Shopko and, after a serpeginous route that took me past the sunscreen, bug repellent and little girls' sundresses (sale! $3.99 a piece--to replace the ones that have shrunk in the wash to Hollywood starlet length) standing in front of the baseball mitts, my real reason for stopping.

Me. Baseball mitts. Me. The one who spent her school years dreading the hours spent in PE, where balls were frequently thrown. Balls combined with poor hand-eye coordination, thick glasses and jeering classmates rarely lead to happy, smiling outcomes, except in trite family-oriented movies. Rest assured, there were no game winning saves in my PE history, only years of scheming how to have the fewest times at-bat or at-serve or at-pummelling as possible:

  • For softball, you make sure you are last in line to bat and, as able, discretely trade places with the athletic kids in line behind you who want to move up in line. It goes without saying that you go waaaaaaaaaay out in left field when it's time to switch sides.
  • For volleyball, you place yourself at the front of the net in the spot you rotate to AFTER you serve (I think it's front left).
  • For basketball, you pass the ball as soon as you touch it and never make eye contact with the person with the ball, so they don't throw it at you.
  • For dodge ball (the worst!), you get yourself hit as soon as possible, sometimes even faking it so you can go to the sidelines and, again, swap places with those who want to get back in, making sure you basically stay toward the middle-end (but not conspicuously at the very end) of the line.

I actually liked soccer, but we rarely played it. This was the '70s, people. Soccer (OK, yes. 'Football' for the civilized world.) was not played by middle-class, red-blooded American children.

So, back to standing in the middle of the baseball mitt aisle. I then proceeded to spend 20 minutes trying on all the sizes and models, finally deciding on that particular glove, above, being suspiciously examined by Mad-Kitty.

My very own first baseball mitt, at the age of 42. After I got home, we all went outside and played catch, liberally covered in bug spray, until Sara got unbearably cranky and Charles got tired. After years of trying unsuccessfully to ignite a passion for soccer in the small ones, we find that baseball seems to be our family's game. It goes without saying that I now love playing it.

Go figure. I still can't throw to save my life and I am at a 2nd grade level when it comes to catching and batting, but I'm having fun! with a ball! and coordinating the hands and eyes!

Never too late to indulge yourself or continue your childhood. I will draw the line at dodge ball, though. Some scars run too deep.