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Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair

Below are the 25 most recent journal entries.

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  2008.04.07  13.25

Dear Allison,
The Faculty Honors Committee met on Friday to evaluate proposals for
Senior Thesis grants. I am pleased to tell you that yours was very well
received and so you will receive a grant from us. Because there were not
as many quality applications as we had funds and some students are
receiving Hilldale Awards, we decided to fund applications at a level of
$5,000 equal to the Hilldale, so this will cover all of your budget and
more. Formal letters will be sent later this week, but I wanted to give
you early notification.We will also need to have proof of your project's
approval by the IRB before we can give you the funds.

Best wishes,
Chuck Snowdon


  2008.01.22  21.59
The Second Marriage.

And so, it has begun. But, I resolve to not let this semester get to me as much as last semester did. After all, I was so burnt out by the end that I blew off my last exam and didn't get the grade I wanted. So, it didn't work out in the end. Plus, when I went to Body Worlds they had a stomach with gastritis that was thouroughly distressing. But seriously. I'm taking aerobics and ballet and only 13 credits so I will not stress. Will not.

The break came and went without great steaks. Although I enjoyed the endless loafing and copious amounts of butter in my diet, by the end it was getting to be too much. My grandpa Ry is not only old and sick but is also somewhat confused and unaware of what he's asking of other people. And grandpa J is sliding quickly down that road. And Jess...

Anyways, for the next three weeks (and counting) I have to wear this most attractive heart monitor. My mom has a life-threatening arrhythmia for which she takes many syllables worth of drugs, and I've had the same symptoms my whole life. Why they decided to monitor me now I'm not sure. Yes, I did have a monitor last year for 3 days, but that was a constant thing and this new one I can take on and off and it only records when I have an "incident" and I tell it to record. Many of you who read this perhaps have seen me suddenly pale and then squat with my head between knees because I cannot breathe...that would be one such incident. It's no big deal, really, but it's annoying that no matter what I wear my sensors show and I undoubtedly look like a medical oddity. Also, I had and ECHO done, and I have a slight valve malformation. It's pretty common in tall women (mitral valve prolapse, in case your interested) and all it does is cause skipped heart beats. Which does explain some things, but not all things.

I read "Everything is Illuminated" over break while sewing skirts and slipcovers for subwoofers (no kidding), and it is so extremely good. It's not like the movie, but it sort of is. Generally, amazing. I recommend it. I'm also re-reading (for the 2.5th time) "Jitterbug Perfume." Also, you know, amazing. For those of you who have read it, I'm getting "Erleichda!" tattooed on me soon, which is the word that Wren/Kudra writes in the dust of Alobar's mantle after Kudra dematerializes and goes to the New World (perhaps). The author suggests that the true meaning is beyond translation, but it is roughly equivalent to "Lighten up!" I'm going to get it on my right side, following the curve of my ribcage. And then, of course, on the left will be my sparrow.

I'm looking forward to the semester. Or, at least, I'm making myself think I'm looking forward to the semester. Once in the throes though...


  2007.10.28  19.45
The tutu boo-boo.

Yesterday was the day to be out and about. I had off for the football game (thank god), so we had a tailgate at our place before heading over there. I was pretty suspicious of Meg's gas grill, as every time I connected the tank to the grill, a stinky cloud of gas surrounded me. So, we modified the plan and plugged in the George Foreman on the porch, and grilled them outside that way. Hey, if you're not cute, you may as well be clever.

The game was a lot of fun and every time I go I get so sad that I have my alottment of one game per year. The night before I was in Milwaukee to see the Capitol Steps (utterly hilarious), so I was pretty tired from the early morning car ride into town. So, upon coming back I tried to get some reading done but really just collapsed into a pile and slept for nearly four hours. Then I got all my makeup on and transformed into the Black Swan and headed out to Laura's. We hung around her place for a while, and then Meg, Mark, and Mark's cousin Michael showed up on a way to a party, and Laura and I ended up going out with them, although we had originally planned to go to some party at the Viking House. (I apologize for that monstrously long sentence there. Sometimes these things need to be done.) So the five of us, a motley and nerdy crew consisting of: Mark as Luke Skywalker, Meg as a fetching Princess Leia, Laura as Kortana from Halo, and the Black Swan are wobbling down Langdon towards this party. One girl came up to me, fluffed my tutu, said I had a really great costume, and then, as she was walking away, turned to her friends and said, "I thought that was a guy."

Really? Did you miss the 34Ds?

After that blow to my self-esteem, we arrived at said party, which was small and nice and not obnoxious as Halloween parties in Madison often are. It was one of those where it was my roommates-boyfriends-cousins-friends-friends party, and oddly enough, it was hosted by a girl I used to work with before she (wisely) quit after her first football game. The hosts were generous with the liquor and Michael insisted that I do shots with them (my first), and then the watermelon vodka was flowing. The costume ended up being an excuse for my ridiculous dance style, because whenever I would get a weird look for backing-it-up-like-a-ballerina, the obvious explanation was that I WAS a ballerina. Laura broke out the West African Chicken on several occasions, a move only hightened in shock value by the purple spandex body suit she was wearing. I had designs on Michael's hot friend Matt, who dressed up as a hilariously convincing emo kid, but he apparently had the hots for the former-coworker, who was a slutty Viking. Although, said Viking was passed out in the bathroom when we left.

On the way home, we all stopped at Laura's so I could pick up my purse from her apartment. On the way, I think on Henry St, we ran into a gaggle of Storm Troopers hanging out on a porch, who immediately flocked to Meg's convincing Leia. It was an awkward moment, as these guys were obviously turned on by Meg's (hair) buns, as Luke Skywalker was blue balled on the sidewalk. Laura went tearing down the street (there was something about that body suit that made her move in the most surprising of ways), so I ran after her, flapping my arms in true Swan Lake fashion. The dressy black shoes I was wearing (pointe shoes would be a joke with all that walking) have bad traction in the best of conditions, so when I hit a pile of dead leaves, my left leg was no longer under me, and I fell in the street in a way that only dancers can. The Storm Troopers, meanwhile, were still chatting up Meg, and one of them broke away from the group to run over and see if I was okay. He was very hot and very concerned. Good Sir Storm Trooper, you had me at, "Seriously, are you sure you're okay?"

After Laura's, Luke, Leia, and the Lake walked home across the city. We stopped at Acropolis for shitty drinking food (delicious) and gawked at all the people who were significantly more drunk than we were. I slept like the death until almost noon, when Meg, sans buns, woke me up to cuddle and look at pictures from the night. My ass hurts from falling. And the sparkles on the bodice of my tutu were rough and scratched my chest and arms all to pieces.

So today I napped and watched shitty movies and occasionally roused the brain function necessary for reading psychological papers on response modulation deficits in psychopaths. Why can't all weekends be like this?


  2007.10.16  20.14

I've tried to make this work a few times, but obviously I am so technologically inept that I'll just have to do it this way:

Okay, look at Meg in this picture:


Okay, now look at Britney Spears in this picture:



  2007.09.30  10.22
I want to fuck it up.

For those of you who live in Madison, you know how much Charter blows.

For those of you who do not live in Madison, let me explain: Charter blows.

We were sharing Charter internet with the girls who live below us, until it randomly just stopped working for hours on end. Depending on who we talked to when we called, it was due either to a localized service outage, our router, or our computers. Either way, we left because they were assholes and switched to AT&T. They, however, are proving to be equal assholes. They failed to tell us that it would take a week for service to be turned on, and we'd be paying over twice what they quoted us.

Either way, I've been getting friendly with the flies at Union South while stealing UW internet.

Also, I have no hair. I cut it all off on Friday. I can't even get it all into a ponytail.

And I have psychophys testing for the lab today. This means I have to be tested on my EEG capping skills by one of the psych dept big wigs. I'm nervous. I think the only times I was being trained was when I was either hungover or sick. I think mostly sick, but I wouldn't rule out the hungover part.


  2007.09.26  13.43

At what point do you just give up and committ to failure?

I've had this mean sinus infection (or at least what I think is a sinus infection: stuffy nose that won't go away, awful headache, achey, tired, can't think straight) since Sunday, which I'm pretty sure I picked up while working at the game on Saturday (yet another reason why night games blow). And on top of this, I have a math exam tomorrow. I was thinking 210 would be really easy and a quick way to fill a requirement for my BS, but that's clearly not the case. My left brain has completely atrophied since I last took a math class five years ago, and I just don't get this shit. And the problem is, it's really simple stuff. I'm awful at simple math. Give me a trig circle or sines any day over a Venn diagram. I can get the theoretical stuff, but once it has an application, my understanding breaks down.

So, I'm trying to study things I don't get when I'm so hopped up on DayQuil that I don't think I could spell my name right if I tried. And if I didn't take the DayQuil I wouldn't be able to study because I would be blowing my nose so often I wouldn't be able to do anything else.

Any my bitchy TA won't meet with anyone today, the day before the exam. She said she has class today and she's not staying late. Tough shit.

And the class is bell-curved, so we were told to expect a C for a 92.

So I'm trying to meet my professor and perhaps he will have mercy on my confused and congested soul.
Or else I'm just giving up.


  2007.09.19  20.45

I've been thinking what an odd employment history I have. Really, what strange skills have I cultivated when half my resume has to deal with the brainwaves of clinically crazy people and the other half involves dealing with cranky people?

This morning I stared at brain waves. And then I learned about psychopaths. And then I had the same conversation about 75 times in the course of three hours. Beat that.


  2007.09.09  20.58
Like a candle in the wind.

No, seriously, there's a breeze in my room and it's making the candle on my desk flicker. Seriously.

Anyways, yesterday mom and I went to tea in Chicago, with mixed results. My dad and Jess paid for a car service there and back so neither of us had to drive around town (which would have been awful and scary), so we got picked up promptly at 11:30 to be taken down there in a nice Lincoln Town Car. We were too early for the tea reservation, so we walked up and down Michigan Ave and did a little window shopping. When we finally got to tea, they offered us champagne because they fucked up our reservation and it needed to be moved because they didn't tell us about this big party (yadda yadda yadda). So they bring out the champagne and pour my mom's glass and then they ask for my ID. I just tell them right away I'm not 21, but this is my mom and she says it's okay. Well, they still couldn't give me any, so they went and got some sparkling cider. Okay, that's fine, whatever. But then my mom offered me a sip of her champagne to try it, and the hostess storms over to our table and says she'll have to take the glass away if she sees us do that again blah blah blah like we're little kids who can't play nice together. It was sort of embarassing and pretty bitchy for her to say it in that manner. I'm sort of debating emailing them and telling them what bitches their waitstaff are.

But the rest of tea was nice. The usual fantastic desserts and fancy little sandwiches my unrefined palatte is incapable of appreciating. They kept asking me all these questions when I made (and later switched) the reservation, like if we were celebrating anything (my mom's birthday, belated) and how to spell her name, etc. I was sort of expecting something extra like a little cake or something, but it was nothing. Just a verbal assault over some champage.

But after that, we had a while until the car was coming back for us, so we just shopped. It was nice to see all the fancy things in Neiman Marcus and the windows of Cartier, but--especially after the inicident at tea--the prices just reinforced the fact that we were imposters to the world of luxury. Sure those Monolo satin flats were lovely and I'm sure quite well made, but $600? My mom and I shop sales. We don't really do full price.

Nevertheless, we came up for air with some purchases. We both got some nice (Nine West) flats, black for her and magenta for me. It's also come to be time that I cash in on the bet my mom and I made freshman year, whereby she would buy me a pair of 7 Jeans after I maintained a GPA of a certain high standing for 7 semesters. We went to Nordstrom's for those, and because they ended up being cheaper than she had expected (but still, by no means cheap), she got me a shirt to go with it. And I also picked out a fabulous, large, mint green leather bag that will be mine come Christmas.

Going back to Milwaukee the car company informed us we had gotten a "free upgrade" (which really means it was all they had at the time) and we'd be taken home in a white stretch limo. So there we were, two women out of place in front of the Hancock building, packing our sale items into the limo on Michigan Avenue. It was a nice ride. There was room for all the bags and we could stretch out our legs and take our shoes off. We ended the night with a sausage and mushroom pizza from the Pizza Palace on Forest Home, where they did not threaten to take away our pizza.

Today was jelly day. My dad went to the farm last weekend and brought home a box full of concord grapes, which by family law must be utilized in some capacity, because it's free produce. For those of you who have never made grape jelly, it's a long, hot, and messy proccess whereby the fruit must be separated from the stems, washed, crushed, boiled, put into a cheesecloth bag and hung/sqeezed to let the juice out, boiled, stirred, and packed into jars. But it's done. And then we had brats in celebration of our eight joyous jars.

I need to get knitting. The postdoc I work under in the Davidson lab got pregnant in my absence, and I have until November to get a yellow, cozy baby blanket done for her. Even though she technically grades me on my lab work, this isn't considered bribery, right?

Oh yes, and Claire gave Meg and me these soaps that her mom makes...they're called Safe Soap and it's a bar of clear soap with a condom inside. A bar of soap...with a condom inside.


  2007.09.07  14.56
Notes from a snoot.

I had my first lab meeting for the Newman lab today, and I'm fairly certain everyone hates me. Today it was just an orientation for lab newbies, all of whom are either sophomores or juniors with no previous lab experience. It's fine and they're all very nice people, but I stick out as the one with previous psychophys experience, so I already know how to measure impedance or how to find a mastoid. I don't think I made any deal about it whatsoever everyone gives me that look that just screams, "Well, don't you just think you're all that and a neurotransmitter."

Meanwhile, this weekend I will be traveling to Chicago for high tea with my mom. Pretty excited.


  2007.08.30  16.53
Why do I have to be bored with being foolish and young?

Well, today I had a very important interview with Dr. Joseph P. Newman regarding doing a senior thesis in his lab next year, and probably doing some menial work these next two semesters for a little orientation.

I got it, more or less. He told me I should go home and think about it, but he basically said he had a place for me and I already have some experience in the area where he needs people, so I just need to email him about it. I'll be working one credit this semester, doing some training and lab meetings, and will be a full 3-credit RA next semester, doing some psychphys stuff. And for my thesis, I can do some basic work on the startle response in psychopathic patients, or I can do something ambitious tying together anxiety and psychopathy.

...And I am so not excited about it. When I got the job in Davidson's lab I was bouncing off the walls for days (until, of course, I met the person I would be working under and learned what I would be doing, and then, of course, I cried for many hours), but this is just sort of, eh, another job. I just really don't enjoy research, no matter how relevant to my field it is. I'm just not cut out for it, but it's the unfortunate dues I have to pay to get into a good grad program (coughcoughBostonUniversitycoughcough) I guess working with psychopaths will be interesting, in a way. But I'm still the geek on the other side of an electrode, working under a professor who only cares about his career in a field that too often reduces us to subcortical structures and dendrites.


  2007.08.26  17.26
You can't say I'm not trying.

I've been living in Madison for all of 24 hours and already I am wearing sweatpants.

I can now say that I am officially settled and unpacked and living in this fine apartment for good. Nothing broke in the numerous moves, surprisingly, but I am missing one piece of a set of salt and pepper shakers. So if you see a salty penguin wandering the streets of Madison (or perhaps in the backpack of a small child?) you know who to call.

Claire came up today to drop off some stuff, but went back to Racine soon after she came. She's nice enough (unfortunately built like a linebacker, though...Spongebob Clairepants, as Meg and I have donned her) and brought some nice stuff to share, so hopefully the year will go well and we three can stay here next year as well (the thought of having to move again just sends chills up my spine and an intense pain to the pit of my stomach). The more I hang around this area the more I like it (my yoga studio is like a block away!), and the apartment is just so cute.

Later this week I have an appointment with a professor I hope to do my senior thesis with next year. He belongs to the same subfield that I find most alluring, but his application is slightly different, which could be a good thing or not. He's interested in the cognitions and affect of psychopaths, while I'm more into the cognitions and affects of people with depression and anxiety. But I guess even psychopaths can get depressed. At the very least, I'll meet some interesting people.

I have a tour this week. Actually, two tours. One of Camp Randall and one of the Kohl Center. Who hasn't touched a tour script since, oh, last July? This girl. This girl.


  2007.08.05  16.58
Hey, what do you say, did we really turn out this way?

Yesterday was the annual excursion to the State Fair. We went early to try and stay out of the heat for the most part, and it wasn't a bad idea, with mini-doughnuts and funnel cakes for breakfast. We hit up all the animal barns and got the Kohl flavored milk. There was, of course, the token small child confused and shouting to her parents about a Clydesdale horse's emerging penis, to be followed only by an awkward moment when my mother commented on the "disproportionately large size of the animals' testicles...See?"

I may have gained a stone or two with all the cream puffs, brats, grilled cheeses, and Saz's fries I had. But it hurts so good.

Friday I went out with a bunch of work people which was...oddly fun but still overwhelmingly odd. There were four of us: Ken, 50-something security gaurd desperately looking for any semblence of companionship; Andre, 20-something security gaurd who's very friendly but very ghetto; and Sandy, who doesn't take shit from anyone. We all went to Mayfair to get random gifts for our boss's birthday. Apparently, it's tradition to get her suggestive items, and I personally picked out the Mr. Potato Head themed plastic penis toy. And then we went to bingo. It was one of those events where it's not exactly enjoyable, but it is interesting to be with such ecclectic people.

Is it a bad thing when your social life starts to resemble a sociological field study?


  2007.08.02  06.34

I don't know if it has to do with all the Sturgis riders coming in, or if there's a full moon or what, but we've been having some doozies come into work.

Yesterday a woman asked, in all seriousness, "What time does the 10:40 tour start?" When one of the guides responded, "...10:40," she rolled her eyes as if she was told, "We'll start the 10:40 tour when the sun is 46.7 degrees above the eastern horizon."

Another woman took off her shoes and started walking around barefoot. When asked what in the hell she thought she was doing, she responded, "Well, if I can't go on the tour with sandals, I thought I'd just go barefoot." Yes, ma'am, we don't allow sandals on the tour because we don't want those razor sharp metal shavings scuffing up the leather. But bare feet are fine.

Other people have just started walking into the plant on their own accord, despite the large signs announcing the need for safety glasses and accompaniment by a tour guide.

What is with the dirth of common sense these days?

Work is wearing on me. I work with a few imbeciles who cannot count to seven in order to put the headsets back properly. And if I hear one more snarky comment disguised as a friendly correction from my boss, I'm gonna punch her in that awkwardly large head of hers.

Mrf. I woke up at 5:00am for reasons unknown both yesterday and today. AND I have to work at the zoo tonight for some Athletic Dept event. Happy camper.


  2007.07.27  19.03
Cream of the Crap.


I can hardly move.

I went out to dinner with my parents tonight; it was some English-style pub in St. Francis. What with the British (I have feelings about the British...) flag outside, I was pretty skeptical, but it was actually really good. They had things I haven't seen since Galway: curry chips, garlic mayonnaise, etc. Their beer selection was curious at best, though. First, a pint of Stella Artois (which is like the Natural Ice of Ireland) was highly recommended at $6.00/glass, and then the waitress pronounced Smithwick's "smith-wicks" instead of the proper "smiddicks". I was sort of craving a Hoegaarden, but when would my parents buy me a beer in public?

My not being 21 is coming to haunt me these days. Everyone from work is going out this weekend, and I would like to join them because my co-workers are for the most part quite enjoyable. But, of course, they are going out drinking and I am not invited, purely for legal reasons.

Work is going okay. My boss is a passive-aggressive asshole and we employ too many geriatric, senile tour guides, but it's not bad for the most part. Do you have any questions about transmission gears or assembly lines? I have your answer.

Meg and I are still looking for a third girl for fall...hopefully we'll know by this weekend???


  2007.07.06  19.59
Don't think twice, it's alright.

Finally, I think I'm over the hump.

That second round of vomiting was the worst. My scabs were just barely beginning to fall off when that started, which lead to me spitting up slimy wads of half-bloody scabs all night after each puke. Now, for the most part, my scabs are gone, and swelling is the only problem left. It is more uncomfortable than it is painful, so I can only wait until it goes down.

I started talking in complete sentences today, and I ate the most solid food I've had since the surgery (really doughy pizza) Which leads to the only gross thing that's still around, which is the clots of food that get stuck in the sockets...but that's taken care of with a toothpick.

But I took a shower! Standing up! And didn't pass out! I was so proud of myself.

I'm excited to get off my ass and stop taking codeine religiously every six hours. I think I'll probably go back to work Monday or Tuesday to learn the new tour route. I'm also excited about the STONE I've lost, letting me shimmy into pants that I haven't worn since I left for Galway.


  2007.07.03  13.59
Still my heart.

It never fucking stops.

I was doing really well yesterday, managed to get down a good bit of food, not a lot of pain, and was even considering talking. Until around 2am when I started puking again, this time causing my scabs to peel off in giant snot wads, both bloody and painful.

And to add insult to injury, the force of my wretching has caused blood vessels in my eyes to burst.

If I can't walk to Jackson Park tomorrow for the fireworks I'm gonna be mighty pissed. I already can't eat the early crop of raspberries.


  2007.07.01  18.40

Well, getting sick is traumatic enough. Especially if you get sick five times in a row, to the point that four of those sicks constitute nothing but some bile your stomach managed to hack up. But try doing that when half of your throat is missing.

Yesterday was a pretty shitty day. I was doing fine until about 1pm when the pukies started. It was either the antibiotics or the pain pills, but either way, I'm off the antibiotics and have new (much less effective) pain pills.

Today hasn't been that bad. My ears and throat hurt more, but I'm not throwing up and I managed to get a few tablespoons of mashed potatoes down. AND my scabs have lost their appealing green color, and now look more like cottage cheese. Tasty ain't it?

I'm just bored now. I've finished watching all the Weeds episodes on OnDemand and ended up throwing up during all the good movies that were on TV. So come visit me. I still can't talk, but I probably can stay awake for the duration of a movie.


  2007.06.30  11.40
Codeine, codeine, you're the nicest girl I've seen.

I know you're dying for a graphic depiction of my tonsillectomy. And lucky for you, I'm just the type of person to give all the gory details.

But first, I should warn you, I recently took two of my Oxycodones, so this may not actually make any sense.

First of all, the happy stuff they give you before surgery is amazing. You just get really giddy and forget everything. So the next thing I know I was in recovery waking up, with my mouth tasting strongly of blood. Then I got back to my room and watch trashy TV with my dad. And for some reason they gave me a green popsicle to make sure I could keep food down, thus dying my tonsil sockets green. They're still green. My whole mouth is still green.

The back of my mouth is swollen as all hell and if I don't keep a steady stream of narcotics in my system, the pain is so bad I start crying. Because of my terribly swollen uvula (a word that sounds like it should be associated with the vagina, I always thought) I snore like a mother.

The tonsillectomy diet so far has consisted of a total of two popsicles and the rest is all just apple juice. It hurts terribly to swallow, but if you get dehydrated it's even worse.

And the funny thing is, other people have adopted my inability to talk. I wanted my dad to pour me some apple juice last night (we got the gallon jug, and I don't trust my strength to handle it), so I opened the fridge door and pointed, and instead of asking, "Is it the apple juice that you want?" he just pointed back and grunted.

And so that's that. Time to try and take a shower.


  2007.06.26  15.34
Nuit of the Living Dead

So we get a lot of foreigners in work going on cross-continent pilgrimages to all the Harley plants. Today we had a die-hard couple in from Luxembourg who were visiting friends in Indiana and came up to see the plant. They were really excited to be there (the woman had orange painted fingernails with black flames) and were really chatty. And then she started talking about the village they live in. But because of the accent, she said she lived in a little willage.

David Sedaris anyone? "Nuit of the Living Dead" accounts how he interacts with a foreigner who is looking for a willage, and tries to see how often he can get the guy to say willage.

I nearly died trying to hold in my laughter. And she didn't say it just the once. She talked about her willage, the neighboring willage, the willages they've been to in the States. There seem to be lots of willages between here and Indiana, according to her story. Lots and lots of little willages.


  2007.06.24  19.46
Life in the House of Death, and Other Stories.

My grandpa is out of the ICU from his surgery that removed 10" of his large intestine. I went to the hospital with my dad Friday, and the weird thing is how much more likeable he is in this state. Well, first you should understand the position my grandfather occupies in our family. He's the sort of relative that means well most of the time, but is so unwilling to take on another's perspective that, more often than not, he comes across as rude and extremely insensitive. It's not that we don't love him, it's just that we frequently can't stand him. But he's so much more forgiveable when you can chalk up the racist comments (directed towards his doctors and nurses) and sexist comments (directed to his granddaughter and daughter-in-law) to the morphine pump that whirs occasionally. It's as if it's saying, "Nevermind him. He's not usually like this." And it's nice to believe that for at least a little while.

Anyway, he's out of the ICU but I don't know how well he's doing. He apparently has "leakage" problems, which is not a phenomenon you want to know about in detail. He may or may not have to have chemo/radiation, depending on if the lab tests say the cancer has spread or not. The question that arises, if he does need chemo/radiation, that has arisen so many times in our family is "What's the point?" He's 84. He's had a long, good life and I know he really, really misses my grandma. But, because everyone in my family refuses to die at a sensible point in the downward decline, I'm fairly certain he'll take it if it's offered to him. And, without question, we will take care of him and refuse help until we are so worn down we practically beg him to kick the bucket.

Ha, you think I'm being morbid and insensitive, don't you? Clearly, you have not taken care of as many dying people as we have.

I know my dad isn't taking this well, because it was the recovery from colon surgery that killed my grandma. She had a bunch of strokes that were misdiagnosed post-op, and progressed until she just died. So he's spending all his free time at the hospital and refusing conversation or phone calls with the rest of us, which is annoying and frustrating. The four of us were supposed to go to lunch at 1 this afternoon, and although he said he would "be in contact," he wouldn't pick up his phone and we waited three hours until he finally came home and said he wouldn't go.


And the other fronts? They're on their own declines, no changes there. Jess is getting harder and harder to understand and it takes her a while even to stand up. But at least she can still walk around the house and get herself to the bathroom and whatnot.


We finally had dinner at Cempazuchi tonight for one last hurrah of foods I will not be able to eat after my surgery. Spicy salsas, sharp chips, soda, lime juice... I think I've gained a few extra pounds, but really, it's okay because I won't be eating for the next few weeks.

And, in response, my tonsils have revolted and formed new pocks and hurt like a mother.

Oh dear.

Time to study my tour scripts.

Who can tell me what a chatter mark is? Ten bucks to the lucky winner.

Oh, and my toe hasn't fallen off yet, or in need of amputation. It actually looks...healthy.


  2007.06.19  18.24
Embarrassing moment of adulthood #1

I will be the first to admit that I am one of those preachy hippie liberals who hates WalMart for destroying small town business, supporting the Chinese economy at the sake of our own, killing babies, etc. And usually, the only exception to the rule of never shopping at WalMart is when we're in Shawano, where there is effectively nowhere else to go if you need, say, hand soap or a power nailer.

But today I found myself in the WalMart on 27th and Morgan. I'm in the midst of producing a large batch of pajama pants, and WalMart is just about the only place where you can get three yards of 1" elastic for only $1. So my first intentions are to just get the elastic and run, as anyone who has been to the WalMart on 27th and Morgan knows that the first thing you want to do when you get home from there is shower.

Seriously, I once nearly lost a flip flop when it became glued to the floor by a large grey stain.

But elastic evolved into post-op supplies, and calico for my mom, and then some hand towels. So as I am shamefully, hypocritically walking to the bank of registers hoping none of my leftist friends will see me as they pass on their way to Outpost for organic toilet paper, the weirdest thing happened. I don't know how exactly I managed to do it, but I effectively decapitated my right pinky toe. I must have been walking faster than I was pushing the cart or something when the next thing I know is I am in an incredible amount of pain and my toe is bleeding profusely. I think what happened is my toe hit the metal hood that's over the wheel on shopping carts and a chunk just got shaved off. Luckily, the skin wasn't removed all the way and was more like a flap, allowing blood to pool under it without running down my foot and all over the floor. So as I was hobbling to the first aid department for some band-aids, I started pondering life without my pinky toe, as such an injury in such a place as the WalMart on 27th and Morgan requires no less than immediate amputation.

Oh, but that isn't the worst of it.

I put antibiotic ointment and a bunch of band-aids on it and go about my day, until my mom gets home and I show her just what horrors a WalMart shopping cart can do. She is no less than horrified and as I wash it out again, I realize my already tiny, shriveled-looking pinky toenail has been cracked down the middle, with one half attached to my body by little more than a blood clot. Band-aids are feeble protection, so my mom sends me to Walgreens to get what are called "finger cots."

Finger cots, I've discovered, can also be used on toes. More or less they are singular fingers of latex gloves that you put over an injured toe or finger to protect the wound. No problem! Sounds like fun.

So I get them home and plop on a kitchen chair next to my mom to put one of these things over my knot of band-aids. But the weird and slightly creepy thing about finger cots is that they're rolled so they go on easier, effectively being tiny, Barbie-sized condoms (or should it be Ken-sized?)

After pulling and snapping the thing and squeezing my incredibly sensitive toe until I thought I'd pass out, I hand it to my mom.

And which point, she stretches the end of the finger cot, puts it on my now slightly shorter toe, and unrolls.

As if she has done this before.

Nearly as horrifying as that moment when you're little and you realize how you and your siblings came into existence.

Nearly. Maybe even a little worse.


  2007.06.17  16.03
When I was drinking, when I was with you, with nothing and no one to live up to.

We all went up to the farm this weekend for one last hurrah before my grandpa has his surgery to remove the giant tumor that has been living in his colon for the past half decade. Still, it was a little too much family time for me.

It was typical farm time, including sitting in the Wolf River, several trips to WalMart, dinner at the Chinese restaurant that is sooo good but never fails to give me a two-day headache, and mosquitos. I am by far the most bitten of the bunch, some of which have swelled to welts exactly the size of a two euro coin. We went to the flea market then this morning, where among the usual bowls and casseroles, we bought a dresser for my apartment. It wouldn't be worth mentioning except for the fact that it's a really fancy oak beast of a thing that somehow my dad and I managed to get onto the roof of the van and drive back home without losing it on 45. Needless to say, I had to scrape off the bodies of a hundred little flies when we got it home.

I start work at Harley on Friday, doing tours. I have a week of training, then two weeks off for my surgery, and then I work until whenever I go back to Madison. It seems to be a flexible sort of thing. And until I start, I have some apron patterns to tend to.


  2007.06.12  19.32

You know it's summer when Alverno starts its bagpipe camp. For the next few days the wind will carry what seem to be the only two songs ever written for the bagpipes: Amazing Grace, and that one other song that everyone knows but no one knows the name of.

Other signs of summer, at least in our house are:
-the purchase of alcohol
-another elderly family member diagnosed with another terminal illness
-my own admittance into a hospital (third summer in a row since freshman year)
-shitty movies
-sewing in the basement because it's the only cool place in the house
-my father bitching about my choice in swimwear

In other, equally depressing news, I hit the garage yesterday. My dad pounded out the track for the door, so that's okay. Just the front of his bumper has a big white streak on it.

Sometimes I feel like the original title of Running with Scisors was The Life of the Lakes.

Ooo! But I got an interview for a job. Finally.

And everyone must read this.


Everyone. There's two pages, so make sure you go to the next one.


  2007.06.08  11.40
Bring out your meds!!

The big storm we were supposed to get last night fizzled out into a half hour thunderstorm after a hot and windy day. For those of you not in the greater Milwaukee area, they were saying that conditions were perfect for a fantastic supercell storm, leading to a mild panic throughout the city. In Brookfield where my dad works, they set up an emergency plan for if/when the tornadoes hit, and they cancelled court for that night.

Seeing as the emergency plan in our house is to mosey down to the basement when awakened by the sirens and try not to drink the entire stash of booze, I decided to get into the overreacting spirit and put together a little stash in the closet under the basement stairs should anything happen. It consisted of two mini-flashlights (batteries half-dead in both), two rolls of paper towels, and and eight-pack of Sprite. And because my entire family is balancing on the edge of death, a plastic grocery bag filled with all of our meds. And, perhaps coincidentally, that closet is where my mom hides the good booze from my dad, so there was also some Guinness and Jack Daniels in there. It actually could have been really fun if something had happened...

Jess got her wisdom teeth out today, and she seems to be doing pretty well. She only has half a set, and those had already errupted (such an odd term), which I guess is less traumatic than having to pull them out of the gums, which is what I had done. It was all under local anesthesia since general can cause complications with the seizure meds she's on and she didn't get any narcotics for the same reason, but she seems to be doing fine. My dad took the day off to take her there and watch her, which, not surprisingly, has turned into him eating sandwiches and mowing the lawn while I sit in the den with her, looking up from my book every now and then to make sure she's still breathing. She passed out immediately after coming home, and has been conscious for no more than 10 total minutes in the past few hours.

And speaking of the den, the absurdly large TV my dad bought himself, oh, six months ago has stopped working. He has it wired some way so that the audio can be on without the picture being on, which is all Jess needs anyways, so I've listened to Mythbusters and a few episodes of How It's Made while I've been sitting with her. She's like the rest of the family in that the moment I turn the TV off she'll be wide awake and asking why I turned it off in the first place. It's weird to watch shows revolving around the workings of complicated machinery without being able to see said machinery. I actually would have liked to see how pasta is made.

And now Miss Chipmunk Cheeks is awake!!


  2007.06.04  19.20
But still this emptiness persists--perhaps this is as good as it gets.

One week stateside...Can I go back now?

Yesterday I went to Manitowoc with my mom for the wedding shower for my cousin's fiance. She's a nice girl and all, but wedding showers make me shiver in horror. It's the first one I've been to, and it was at a pizza place, so I just figured we'd go in, eat some food, watch her open presents, and leave. First of all, no men are allowed at showers, so you sit around in a room packed with WAY too much estrogen, dabbing your pizza and asking for the Diet Coke. And then about an hour of stupid stupid shower games, e.g. who makes the best wedding gown out of toilet paper, with crappy prizes for the winners like cheap candles and pictures of sleeping puppies. And despite the fact that Brenda is an otherwise considerate and friendly girl, for some unknown reason she's allowed, nay, expected to walk all over the guests.

Sweet divine, I'm never, never getting married.

Went to my ENT today, and lo and behold, these fine, oozing tonsils must be removed. June 29th, 8am.


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