Monday, February 28, 2011

Good Stuff

The good news is that I realized it this morning when I got up. My bones felt much much better. I stood at the top of the stairs moving experimentally. It has only been three days since I stopped taking the tamoxifen. In the hubbub about getting out the door in the snowstorm we were having, I'd forgotten to take it Friday morning, so Friday and Saturday and Sunday. I never imagined that I would see improvement quickly, but really, it's much, much better.

After yesterday's post, a lady from Pittsburgh wrote to commiserate with me. She remembered dropping her son off for a year in Japan. Pre-cell phones. Pre-skype. Pre-computer. She ducked behind a post and cried her eyes out at the airport. I would have too. How nice that someone would take her time to comfort someone she's never met. The world is full of nice people and I imagine that Cara will find them in Korea, too. I did, when I was stationed there in the military 30 years ago. I needed to be reminded of this.

I haven't heard from Cara yet, but she should be there by now. I am hopeful to have an e-mail soon.

I spent yesterday working on school work. I got 4 major projects done. For the first time, I found myself feeling 'ahead of the game'. I checked facebook, where we have an OT group. "What's the hand thing due tomorrow?" I blinked. 'Oh, yeah...' I wearily dragged my books back out and did that assignment too.

Let me get up from this chair and moving.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Cara takes off

This is Cara, and her friend Taylor. Taylor was driving Cara to Pittsburgh to catch her flight Sunday morning. We met them for dinner Saturday night, her last night in country. I think that she was getting a little nervous about her big adventure. I think that she was second guessing herself.

I have to tell you that I was a very wise mom. I told her that she would be very glad that she'd done this thing. I told her that looking ahead at a big adventure is far more nerve wracking than actually having the big adventure. I soothed her. "It will be okay," I said. We talked during the meal, and then, all too soon it was done. All too soon, the very practical mother was kissing her youngest daughter one last time. I said encouraging things yet again, and then Tim and I turned and walked back to our car in the dark.

She will have no cell phone after she boards Korean Airlines today. I am not sure when she will be in contact next (via skype). In between these two contacts there will be a journey half way across the world. Alone. Did I mention that she's my baby? Without warning, I burst into loud bawling, that sort of bawling that is embarrassing to both the cryer and anyone within earshot. Tim made comforting noises and led me to the car. Taylor and Cara drove by, waving and grinning like chimpanzees. (It had hurt her feelings that I'd been so brave...she expected tears, and was happy to see them...)

This is a picture of where she's going. It looks like a place where a young girl could adventure safely, doesn't it?
*Waits expectantly for encouraging words*

Friday, February 25, 2011

Trying Something New

Oy. What a horrible, awful snowy day. Wet. Slushy. I hate driving in that. Nothing was plowed. NOTHING. I got stuck. I decided halfway to school that I did not want to go to school, but decided that there was no sense in turning around at that point. I drove on, and I slid and I spun, and it was the scariest darn ride ever, let me tell you. I got to school 25 minutes late, but I was glad to get there at all. Everyone was surprised to see me. Most folks from Pennsylvania had not made it in.

At noon, I was done with school, and began the trip home. I was horrified to see that the roads were still not plowed. So I slid, and I spun, and I got myself back to my little town. Heading out the door to school this morning...definately not a good decision.

I had an appointment with the oncologist today. The tests were all good, as previously reported. I'm glad for that, don't get me wrong. It's just difficult to keep a positive attitude when you feel like crap. The bone pain is getting worse, and it's become a struggle. I worry about painkillers. I worry about the side effects. I cannot be dope-y. I cannot be drowsy. I drive every day. Today, for the first time, I felt as if we were on the same page, and that felt good. She seemed to understand that I was not trying to be difficult, that I have a lot of stuff on my plate right now, and I do not have the time to experiment with things.

She looked at me. I looked at her. She said, "Have you ever thought about stopping the tamoxifen, just to see if it makes a difference."

"Yes," I said. Every morning when I take the pill, but I didn't tell her that.

And so it was decided. I will stop taking tamoxifen for three weeks. "Could you keep a journal of the pain?" and I said yes. We have an appointment in three weeks to re-evaluate the situation. I walked out of that office, and I called Tim, and it surprised me how relieved I was. The possibility of being pain free...oh, gosh. I'm feeling good about this decision.

People have asked about my column. I think that this link should work.

Tractor Supply

Today, I was working away. It was a quiet evening, and so we were cleaning and putting things to rights. A man walked in with an envelope. He'd read my column last week. He was so moved that he sat down, wrote me a letter (wrote it!). How cool is that? Really? That someone took the time to read what I wrote, to process it, and then sit down and write a letter. That was very touching. "Say hello to Tim for me," he said as he left. Turns out that they'd gone to school together.

I stood there holding my envelope and watched him go. Some days, people just get a chance to feel like they've made a difference, and today, I guess, it was my turn.

I opened up the envelope.

"You have a gift," he'd written. He was right. A man had come in the store and given one to me.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

It happened on Eucalyptus Drive.

Pee your pants funny...

Getting into the Grandma Groove.

Yesterday, I stopped to pick up milk on the way home from the store. I found myself stopped dead in the middle of the store to look at children's books. When I saw "The Wind in the Willows" I could not NOT buy it. I remembered reading it to our children, everyone freshly washed and sprawled in the middle of our bed listening to the story before bedtime.

I do not know what the future holds for our William. I don't know what kind of a little boy he will turn into, but I do know that his grandma will give him the gift of words, the same gift that she gave to her own children.

Walking out of the store with my two gallons of milk and my book, I thought happy thoughts. For his first Christmas, he will get a bookshelf for his room from his Grandma and Grandpa. And it will be full of books collected one at a time, through the year. Some of them will be old stories. Some of them will be new stories. But there will be lots of stories. And there just might come the day, when once again, I have a freshly bathed little boy sitting in the middle of my bed listening to a story before he is tucked into bed.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

I'm stuffed...

Oh, gosh. My head is so full it runneth over. Test in anatomy and physiology. I think I know it, but I'm terribly afraid to get over confident. It always seems that I do my worst performances when I'm confident that I know what I'm doing.

So instead, I will sit here with words like enzymes and proteins and zygomens and trypsin and pepsin and bile acids and leicithin running through my head.

I am very tired.

I don't think I should go to bed.

I'm afraid that if I lay down, those words currently running around my head will dribble out of my ears and be lost and gone forever.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

William, as Promised.

Little teeny tiny baby toes.

The only thing cuter is two little baby feet.

Little teeny tiny baby ears are cute.

Little teeny tiny baby cheeks.
Sleeping babies.
Cute. Cute. Ca-ute!
This is the long awaited William.
Born February 18th, at 00:51 AM.
8 pounds 13 oz.
21 inches long.
I don't know nuthin' about being no grandma, William.
But I will try my best.

Mother and aunt. Auntie is reminding William that she is the young and cool aunt. And that she will always have gum. And that he should not get too big to hold before she returns from Korea in August.
Mother telling William that Cara is not as cool as all that.
William trying to ignore the fuss.
Father and grandfather.
You may now comment on what a sweet and adorable grandbaby we have.
*waits expectantly*


Well, I guess that this all began well before Christmas. A certain lady from Oz managed to contact my Cara on facebook. It would have never occurred to me to use facebook for nefarious and underhanded dealings. Really. But some would. She did. And Cara, loving all things nefarious and underhanded got sucked in right away. And so the great New York City planning began.

So, Cara told Tim. That is why, at Christmas, out of the blue, I got a new car. He wanted very much for us to make this meeting, and in his mind, the only thing that would prove to be a major impediment would be the car. Our 'good' car has over 200,000 miles on it. Crap happens to cars with that many miles on it. Sometimes without warning. So I got a new car for Christmas. Never mind the fact that I was flummoxed by this. We'd not discussed it. It was not a new car, but it was new to us, low mileage, but still...we had not discussed it. Mostly, though, what I worried about was that I was driving the good car already. His car was worse, and he drove farther and at night too, so I made him drive the new car. In effect, I gave the car right back to him.

The story continues: As the post Christmas weeks went on, Cara decided that for her last weekend in country, what she wanted to do, more than anything, was for us all to go to Allentown to be with her brother and Brittani. She wanted to go in to New York City, once more before leaving. She wanted to have a memorable weekend. Seemed reasonable. So we began to plan. There was quite a bit of excitement when we figured out that this particular weekend also turned out to be a four day holiday for me. It was also a long weekend for Tim. And completely in the dark about it all, I smiled happily as plans were made.

Friday morning, a baby was born. That started the day out in a happy sort of way (pictures coming of time to download now, sorry, but take my word for it, he is really cute! Stay tuned. Tomorrow, okay?)

And then there was an amazing moment at school, where I found myself sitting nervously in a classroom waiting to give my presentation...uncertain...and as I listened to others, with growing amazement, I realized that not only had I done my presentation right, I had done it well. Very, very well. By the time I stood to give it, I was relieved and confident. Discovering that you are competant? Cool beans, my friends. Cool, cool beans.

Then I came home, snorfed down a bowl of soup, and the three of us headed out, first heading west to see young William for the first time. Did I mention how cute he is? He is. Really, really cute. If I had time to download those pictures, you'd see it too. Come back tomorrow, okay? Tomorrow there will be pictures of a very cute baby on this blog.

In any case, after heading west, we set out once again. Heading east this time. And we drove and drove and drove. Well. For 6 hours. That was a lot of driving for us. My Christmas present drove smoothly.

We got to Dylan's at about 9:30. Tim and I went to bed at a reasonable hour. The young fry went out.

Saturday morning, we woke up to gale winds. Oh, dear heavens. The winds. It was windy. The windows rattled. The door on the front of the building kept banging in the wind. Trees clunked against the side of the house. "Gees," I said to Tim. "This is not such a good day to go to New York. It will be FREEZING!" And Tim said, "They've got it all planned." In a very unsympathetic way.

So I got my shower, and got ready. Then I got the kids up. They blinked at me blearily from their respective sofas. "What time is it?" But they got up and began to get ready to go. I putzed around. "Dylan? Why is Cara throwing up?" He tried to look quizzical. He failed. "This is not a good day to go to New York City. It's cold and windy, and there is something wrong with Cara..." "She's fine," Dylan and Tim said almost in unison.

So we set out. The little jeep was buffeted by the wind. We drove to Hoboken to park the car and take the subway into the city. Cara barfed out the car door twice. Much to the horror of the people sitting in the vehicle next to us. "This is not a good day..." I started once again. "We can do this tomorrow," I said. But no. They would not be disuaded.

We got on the subway. I was a bit anxious about Cara and the subway, but there were no further incidents, although she did stop to get a drink and some pepto-bismol. She also said to her brother, "I told you I could not drink Southern Comfort..." and I smacked his arm. "What?" he said innocently. "She TOLD you she could not drink Southern Comfort..." and he grinned. "Mom," he said patiently. "It's what we do...we egg each other on..." I smacked him again.

We got off the subway and headed to a pizza place, John's pizza, a brick oven pizzeria in an old church. We had reservations for 1. I said, "but I'm not even hungry. We had a big breakfast..." but they ignored me. We went inside, and Cara said, "The rest of our party has not arrived yet," and I said, "What rest of the party?" and Cara said, "I told you we were meeting my friends...." I said, "No. No you didn't. I didn't even know about the reservations, for pete's sake," but she was headed for the door. I was getting a little impatient with her attitude. Dylan said, a couple of times, "So who are these people?" and I said, "I don't know. I thought you knew..." "No," he answered. "These young kids...and he shook his head. But he was also grinning." Next thing I know, I see Cara heading towards some people just coming in the door. People with kids. "Cara has grownup friends?" I thought. "What the heck?" I said. And here's the strange thing. I saw a familiar smile, but I did not pin a name to it. I knew that I knew it. But I recognized Mr. I. I'd seen his picture enough. Bush Babe does not have many pictures of herself on the blog. I was thinking 'that's Mr. I' in a confused sort of way even as I was staring at a very pretty woman in front of me who was laughing and saying "It's Amanda..." "Oh, my gosh," I said. And I looked down and there were Dash and Violet. I said, "If I'd have passed you on the street, I'd have recognized the children immediately. Gosh!" I understood 'gobsmacked'. I was gobsmacked. I was so astonished that I couldn't think of one thing to say. For quite some time. I was gobsmacked.
But there was wine. And there was a trip to FAO Swartz. And talking. And Starbucks. And hugging. These are truly very nice people.
All of them. Even mine. Despite the lying and the Southern Comfort.

More later!

Monday, February 21, 2011

In which I am lied to. Repeatedly. And it tickled me pink!

Ive got to go to work, but I just returned from one of the most astounding weekends of my life. It began with being notified that I was a grandma, at one AM Friday morning. I had a wonderful experience at school that did wonders for my confidence. I left school, got to visit my grandson, and then Tim and I and Cara headed for Dylan's for what was SUPPOSED to be her final hurrah in country. (She's leaving for Korea on Sunday. She wanted to see her brother. She wanted to go to New York City one last least that was what she said.)

What happened next was one of the most mind blowing experiences of my life.

Now I have to go to work. Dang it! Because I have so much to say, and pictures, too!

Friday, February 18, 2011


At 00:51 AM, William finally made his entrance into this world. He weighed 8 lbs 13 oz. Brianna sobbed, "Oh, mom, he's beautiful," and I thought, "Of course he is!" I remembered the first time that I saw her, and I was mesmerized. "He looks just like me!" Buddy wept. "Lots of hair, big, big hands and feet." Big lungs too, because he was screaming so hard the phone was distorting the noise.

The call was short, and they went back to admiring their new baby. Tim sighed in relief and said, "Well, at least that part of things is done..." and I said, "You're right about that, grandpa." He chuckled and scooted close. "Grandma!" he whispered.

We will head to Erie as soon as I get out of class. We will take tons of pictures. We will then head to Allentown, be back home in time for me to go to work at 4. I'll try to get those pictures posted as soon as I can.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

I got up early this morning and headed to school to meet with Shanae, a sweet girl from my class . We were going to do some homework on giving diagnostic tests, and we met before our Anatomy and Physiology, and then scooted over to the auditorium to listen to a rousing wind-up to the digestive system. I headed home and made a pot of soup to drop off at my friend's house. I sat down and nearly finished one paper on a case study. I wrote up a proposal for a position paper. I worked on the standardized test paper that I'd been working on. I wrote up a protocol for a preschool group activity (wrapping it around "I Wanna Iguana"...the theme is 'Pet Week'.) Then I went to work. It felt good to be so productive.

Tomorrow we head to Dylan's house. It will be Cara's last weekend home. She wants to go to New York City one last time before she goes. She wants to see her brother. She is referring to this as her 'Farewell to America' tour. I have a four day weekend from school, and I have taken the weekend off from work. We will return on Monday, dropping Cara off at her friend's house on the way. Her friends will take her to Pittsburgh to catch her flight.

Oh. And Brianna is in the hospital. Since they are giving her an epidural, I guess it's not false labor this time. Before we head to Allentown, we'll probably head to Erie to see this grandbaby we've been waiting on.

Busy times. Busy times.

Spring Fever

Yesterday, I was driving along, and I spied, with my little eye, a patch of bare ground. Bare ground. With grass. You are not going to get the import of that until you understand that I haven't thaw bare ground since end of November, first part of December. We usually get some sort of a warm up in there, and the snows goes partially, or even all the way, off. Not this year. It came, it stayed. I am about tired of winter, so that patch of bare ground was a beautiful thing to see.

Yesterday was the thirties (that's 1 or 2 degrees for you celcius people). It was sunny. Yesterday was a day of possibilities, a day when you could sense that the tides were turning, that something new and fresh was on the way.

At work yesterday, I said to my customers, "Wow! Wasn't today a beautiful day?" and they all said, "Yes!" and told me their little stories about their beautiful day. One of them smiled and said to me..."Today at Chapman Dam, I saw a robin!"

Ah~!!!! Sounds stupid doesn't it? But there is nothing so wonderful as watching winter slipping out as spring comes high stepping in! Flowers and rain and warmth and...

They call this spring fever, and I have it bad. Reeeeeeealllly bad!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Life Is Good

What an amazing day I've had!

And to finish it off with 'Letters from Juliet' and sangrias with is good, isn't it? Sometimes, I forget, but really, it is good.

Monday, February 14, 2011


I can count the number of them that I've had since beginning work on just one hand. Today I had a horrible customer. Angry, rude, lashing out. It was my fault, really. I rang up his things, and did not notice the clearance tag. When he pointed it out, I corrected it immediately, apologizing. He glared. GLARED. Surprised, I looked back. He continued to glare. I apologized again, and he began to complain. I said, "You're not going to let me off the hook for this?" in a light sort of way, and he snarled "No. I am not. Every damn time I come in here, it's something. I always have a problem each and every time I come in here!" and he was very angry, very disgusted. I was amazed at the level of anger for a mistake that was corrected immediately. I said, "Well, that's the first I've ever heard a customer say that. Tractor Supply is noted for our customer service," and I met his gaze directly. He continued to complain. "You don't have any cold weather clothing." I said, "We are closing out our winter line, and bringing in the spring clothes." All stores do that here. I don't know why he was so surprised at that. He continued to complain hotly, and grabbed his bag, storming out of the store. "Wow," I thought, looking after him. He was one angry man. Why are people like that?

But before the night was done, I had a couple come in. "Happy Valentine's Day," I sang out. "Did you get the ring you wanted?" The wife was quite taken with a ring, and she stuck advertisements for that ring all over the place in the days preceding Valentine's Day (her husband rolled his eyes and said, "She even GLUED one inside my hat!") The wife laughed and extended her hand so that I could admire her ring. "Beautiful!" I said. "So did you go out for dinner?" And the wife said, "Oh, yes. We went out for dinner at the restaurant we went to for our first date, and we danced in the parking lot to 'our song'...almost froze our butts off!.... and then we sipped wine and fed each other chocolate in the car in the Tractor Supply, because once we were going to have a romantic weekend. We were headed to Erie, but we stopped into Tractor Supply and we ended up buying chickens instead. I don't know what possessed us, but we bought chickens and we went home." She sighed. "I love my chickens. I love my kids. I even love this husband of mine." And unabashedly, the husband looked down at his wife and said, "I'm a happy man. I finally found a woman who can put up with me." It really was delightful. "Well," I said, "it sure does seem like I'm talking to two of the luckiest people in this world." And they both said, "How funny! That's what we were telling each other in the car!"

Funny, isn't it? People are a real mixed bag...

Oh. And the bone scan came back clear.

Valentine's Day

The way to my heart is not paved with bling.
(...and I've never seen a bad marriage saved by good jewelry)
Watching expensive flower arrangements die makes me sad.

I received a pink cyclamen (which will bloom continuously) and a sweet card. I gave a card. We had dinner out, and got to visit with two other couples that we don't often have a chance to talk at length with. And at the end of the night, we wound up where we always wind up. Side by side, in our own cozy bed.

It works for us.

Happy Valentine's Day, everyone. I hope that each of you discover once again that where you are is where you fit best in the whole wide world.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Random Shots

Dylan and Brittany built a snowman.
Cara at her school.
Buddy and Brianna, waiting expectantly.


Yesterday was quite a day. I got up to go to work, and I did not bother to take a look out the window. After all, the weather man had only been calling for an inch, maybe two. I ambled around, getting ready, taking my good old sweet time, and finally got around to taking a quick look out the window. We'd gotten a lot of snow. At least five inches. I hied myself to work. Almost immediately, the weather got bad. So bad that at some points, you couldn't see across the parking lot to the gas station where I used to work. (shiver). Customers trickled in with stories of whiteouts and accidents. I was glad that I had nothing to do but stay right where I was, stocking the tractor belts and lawn mower blades. I worked in the quiet store, and enjoyed myself.

Until the great catastrophe, that is. A bottle of rabbit repellent was dropped on the floor, and broke open two aisles away from my register. I learned some interesting facts. Number one: anything that uses words like 'eggs', 'garlic', and 'putrescent' in describing its ingredients is nothing to be trifled with. Number two: when something reeks that badly, multiple moppings are a necessity. Number three: we sell a very effective deodorizer. It's actually intended for use in horse barns, but it can be used, in a pinch, to deodorize Tractor Supply Stores that have been mopped multiple times but still reek of rabbit repellent. Number four: A cashier can only put up with so much. Sometimes she has no choice but to cry uncle. And when a store stinks that badly, and the cashier says, "really, I don't want to be a big baby here, this is making me a little sick," and "I need my lunch break," nobody argues. You get your lunch break just like that. And so I left and breathed deeply in the cold, fresh air. Number five: when you've had said break and you return to the store, the smell seems even worse than it did when you left. Number six: Eventually, our ventilation system shall overcome. (Yay!) The final lesson of the day? The same thing that repels rabbits repels Debbys, amazingly enough.

I believe that the Tractor Supply is in no imminent danger of rabbits moving in and taking over. I'd never thought about it before yesterday, but it makes me feel safer to know that when I go to work now, I don't have to worry about bunnies leaping out from beneath shelves and rounders to attack my ankles in a gnawing bunny sort of way.


And here endeth the lessons.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Hard Lessons

Tim and I have always been careful spenders. We've had to be. Our thriftiness has worked out for us.

Sometimes, it seems like the younger generation does not get this. It seems as if they expect that with absolutely no effort on their part, life will work out magically. They will have everything. They don't need to count pennies. They don't need to be careful. I watch them, and I don't understand them.

Today, a guy came into the store, nice kid. Early 3os, I'd guess. One of the things that he's buying is some spot weld epoxy. You cannot sell it to anyone under 18. Kids huff it. So I fixed him with a look and said, "You're not going to huff this are you?" and he laughed. "No," he said, "my gas tank leaks. I've been putting two gallons of gas in at a time for the last week." I winced. "What kind of a truck do you have?" and he answered "A Chevy pickup. Should replace the whole dang truck, probably, but I can't afford it." I looked at him, standing there. Hard working guy with dirty hands, tired face. "Were you able to get a gas tank for it?" and he said he got a used one, for $40. I said, "Well, if you need Chevy truck parts, you stop in and tell me what you need. My husband has a parts truck. We'll see what we can do for you." He said, "I don't have the money to do a lot right now. I just need to keep it running." I said, "You don't worry about that. You need help, you stop in. We'll see what we can do for you." He looked at me with such an odd look. "You know," he said. "My wife was always so stressed about the bills. I never got that. I thought she was being silly. I'm by myself now. My wife left me. I'm looking at these bills. The heat. The electric. I get it now. I understand why she was so afraid all the time. I keep thinking that if I am careful, and pay these bills down, maybe she'll come back to me." I looked at him, and really, he just looked so sad that I wanted to swing around the counter and hug him like he was one of my own. Money problems are hard, and they will make or break a couple. I don't think that he knew this until now. He gathered up his things. "I believe that she'll come back to me."

I watched him walk out the door with his poor broken heart, and I hoped with all my heart that his wife comes back to him.

Friday, February 11, 2011


Today at Tractor Supply, an elderly fellow said, "I'm so sick of being cold." I looked at him and said, "You and me both, friend." We talked about how miserable it has been lately. He said, "Ah well, it'll be 70 degrees by the end of the week." I looked at him and smiled. "From your lips to God's ear!" And he laughed and said, "It will be. I'm headed south." My response was to roll my eyes and say, "Don't tease me like that, pal. I swear, I'll come across this counter..."

He thought that I was darn funny stuff.


It wasn't a joke.


Big news of the day? The MRI in done in Pittsburgh came back clear. I called home before I went in to work. The relief and joy in Tim's voice made me aware once again, that this journey is not my journey; it is our journey. I felt our coupled-ness.

Last night, Cara began to think about her trip to Korea. "Why am I doing this?" she asked. "All my friends are here. My family. Were you scared when you went to Korea?" she asked. I thought back. I was older. 23, I think. "No," I said. She said, "Well, how did you manage without a cell phone? Or skype?" I thought again. "I wrote letters," I said. "But you didn't call your friends?" "No," I said, again. I saw her trying to imagine life in the olden days, back when I was young. She's having second thoughts about the thing. Last night, I was tired, and needed to go to bed, so I didn't have a lot to say. This morning though, we talked before we headed our separate ways. "Cara," I said. "The best advice that I can give you is that you cannot have your feet in two places at the same time. You have to choose." And I look at her. This is not our journey; it is her journey. I felt our separateness.

Brianna and Buddy are headed to the hospital. They think there's a grandbaby on the way. And that's the beginning of a whole new journey. For all of us.

Families are a strange and lovely thing, aren't they?

Wednesday, February 9, 2011


The trip to Pittsburgh went smoothly. In fact, we wound up getting there two hours early. Amazingly, they were delighted to see me so early ~ they had an opening. Because I was seen two hours early, I was even able to make my orientation for clinicals this afternoon, the one that I was so worried about missing. I arrived at that hospital grounds a scant five minutes before my class got there. My teacher was plenty surprised to see me. I was so glad that I made it.

You know, I had cancer. I'm comfortable with that perspective, the looking back one. Yesterday, in the Cancer Center, meeting the elderly woman who was so curious about why I was there made me defensive. I mean, I thought that everyone kind of understood that once you have cancer, you remain a patient at the cancer center long after treatment ends. She wanted to 'talk cancer'. I did not. I did not want to talk about it, or think about it, or hear about it. I'm a student, a wife, a worker, a mother, I'm a lot of things, but I AM NOT A CANCER PATIENT. That's the way I felt.

I left the cancer center, and I felt ashamed of my reaction. Was I curt? Was I rude? But then I got to school and went to lab to study. I had a test. In the hubbub of the last two days, I did not have a lot of time to study for it, so I set my little cup of pee on the table and began to study. Mary, the other 'mature' student in the class hailed me, and flopped down across from me. She is the widow in her late sixties who is studying to be a nurse. We'd talked the first week of class. Got each other's stories (the Reader's Digest version), talked about what brought us back into the classroom. I had said that I had cancer, and that experience caused me to view things much differently. She was lonely, and retired, and wanted to be useful. I think that she is lonely, because she's latched on to me as a kindred spirit, and I suppose we are. So she flopped down across from me, and began talking. "Were you snowed in this morning?" "No," I said, "I have an appointment in Pittsburgh tomorrow, and I needed to get my records. I decided that it was easier to miss my early class than the three hour lab. I sent an e-mail to the teacher." She said, "Why are you going to Pittsburgh?" and I said, "Just for some routine followups." She peered at me. "Do you have cancer again?" I said, "No. It's routine..." and she said, "Not to be a downer, but when my niece got it the second time, it killed her." Inside I thought, "Lord help us if she ever means to be a downer..." but all I said was, "Yes. Sometimes that happens," and continued on with my books. She began to talk about cancer stories, and I thought that I might shriek. Instead, I looked at her and said, as kindly as I could, "Gees, Mary, I hate to be rude, but I really have to study here," and she whispered, "I know! So do I." Bless her heart, she took the hint and began hitting her own books.

Today, in Pittsburgh, I was getting dressed and I listened to the voices of two women sitting in the waiting room. One was an elderly woman, in her seventies, I imagine. She was metatastic. The other woman was younger, probably late forties. She had just completed her first half of chemo. She was having her lumpectomy next week. I listened to the two of them talk, and found myself thinking, "Oh dear God! That poor thing does not need to hear about metatastic breast cancer right now!" and so when I stepped out of the room and threw my robes into the bin, I stopped. The elderly woman was saying, "I did not have chemo. I was afraid of getting sick." The younger woman said, "I haven't been sick at all." I said, "Neither was I." The elderly woman said, "I should have had the chemo. I was afraid." I said, "You know, we all try to make the best decisions for ourselves that we can. It's a confusing time." And we all agreed on that. The young woman peppered me with questions: "When was your cancer?" and "What treatment did you have?" and "Does cancer get easier to deal with as time goe on?" I looked at her tired face, with enormous swollen bags beneath her eyes, and I thought to myself: "This woman has cried today." And just that quickly, I remembered how much crying I'd done in the beginning of this journey. So I told her, "Yes. Yes, it does." And we talked for a few minutes, the three of us creating a little triangle. I was very conscious of my positioning between the newly diagnosed cancer patient and the metatastic cancer patient.

I didn't lie. It does get easier. It's the truth really. I'm far more matter of fact about things that I was 2 and a half years ago. Sometimes I don't want to talk about cancer at all. Other times, like in that waiting room in Pittsburgh, I step into the role of comforter and adviser, and it feels natural. Sometimes, I need to talk about cancer, because not to talk about it would be cruel. And when I do need to talk about cancer these days, I very seldom cry.

Well, POOP!

Ramping it up a notch on the grump-0-meter~ The dryer has pooped out. So on a day when it is 4 degrees out (and don't point out that's considered 'balmy' in Alaska, Bill. It wouldn't make matters better...) someone does not have dry underwear.

Making it worse, Tim went down to check on this tragedy. "NO DRY UNDERWEAR!" and returned clutching a tee shirt and dry underwear. I gave him a look. He said, "My clothes were dry." (Like Bill pointing out that 4 is balmy in Alaska ~ and I can assure you that our bearded buddy is stubbornly sitting in front of his computer in Alaska, and thinking this because he can ~ Tim's cheerful 'I got dry underwear!' was no more comforting than Bill's '7 degrees?!!!! By golly, let me get out the surf board!!!! Cowabunga!) Tim had dry underwear because I washed that load a couple days ago (before the dryer decided to poop out), and just to add fuel to the fires of injustice, allow me to point out that he's got about three times the amount of underwear that I do! I gave him a look. Had I KNOWN the dryer was going to poop out, I could have hung the clothes in the basement, and had dry underwear. But, noooo. I went to bed after turning on the dryer and slept the sleep of the innocent. Well. Actually I slept the sleep of the too tired to stay up another minute, but it's kind of the same don't you think?

*walks off complaining to self*

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Still a grumpy butt...

I am going to Pittsburgh tomorrow to have some tests done. Anyone who has had cancer before understands 'scanxiety'. You just dread the scans. You are a little fearful of what they could tell you. The news was bad once, and so you live waiting for the other shoe to drop even as you hope that the shoe is not going to drop at all. It's a strange place to be at.

The Cancer Center tracked me down at work last night to tell me that the appointment was set up. (Me: "What?!! Wednesday? The day after tomorrow Wednesday? That one?) Still, it was nice of them to track me down. Otherwise, I'd have not been able to notify any of my instructors, or to call Tim at work to see if he would go.

I'm pissed because I will miss the orientation for clinicals at school and I don't know whether I can make that up. If I can't, I'm screwed. I keep telling myself that I am certain that this is not the first time the college has dealt with something like it, so even though I don't know what to do, I'll bet they know what to do. But I don't know. I surely cannot ask anyone. At this point, I'd look like an over reactive ninny.

Everything is aggravating me, I am ashamed to say. I had to miss a class this morning to go pick up records to take to Pittsburgh with us. I saw a lady there. She's a regular at the cancer center, and she will be a regular for as long as she lives. She is a nice person, sweet as she can be, but she loves medical stories. She wants to tell you hers. She wants to hear yours. She once asked me how chemo was going, and I said, "Good. Really good," and she looked at me, cocked her little head and said, "You're lying to me. I can tell..." and gave me a big smile. I never knew what to say to her after that. So when I walked in and saw her at the receptionist's desk, and inside, I thought words that I will not type. She looked at me in surprise. I said, "Hello." She said, "Hello." I asked how she were doing. She said, "Good." I started to say something about how winter sucks. She said, "I hope you're not here as a patient." Me, mind working furiously to avoid talking about something when I don't have a clue what's going on yet, said, "Well, once you're a patient here, they just hang on to you awhile, seems like..." and she said, "Well, they're so sweet here, you don't mind coming back..." I looked square at her. "No," I said. "I mind coming back. It doesn't matter how nice they are here, I'd just rather take a miss on the whole thing." And the receptionist laughed. It's true, though. I got my paperwork, and I went to the hospital for my imaging records. They were copied and waiting for me. Everything is not always that efficient, so that was very nice.

I drove to school in a virtual whiteout, and I thought grumpy thoughts about tomorrow. I thought grumpy thoughts about cancer. I thought grumpy thoughts about school and making classes up. I thought grumpy thoughts about the stinking weather. I thought grumpy thoughts about pain. I thought grumpy thoughts about carrying my own little container of pee around for the stupid urinalysis that we were doing in lab, and for stupid loudmouthed boys who can't shut up if their lives depend on it. ("I'll drink my pee for $20," he said, over and over again, and the fifth time I heard it, and about his thought that it would make a good audition for "The Jackass" movies, I was tempted to give him $20 just to shut him up.) The lab was confusing and chaotic and noisy, and I got so irritated that I simply walked out a half hour early. I left. I'll figure it out at home where it is quiet, and where I can think.

I've got a lot to be grateful for, I know it, but right now, I'm grumpy.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Grumpy Butt

How does someone misplace a three hole punch? A large three hole punch? I did. I've got a crap load of papers, and I can't find my stinking three hole punch. ARGGGGH!

Tim saw a Savage 99 crescent stock, refinished, that he wanted something awful, having an antique gun that needed it. He asked me to bid on it because he would be gone when the bidding ended, having plans to watch the Superbowl at a friend's house. He said, "I don't want to go much over $100 for it." I knew that he's been looking for something like this for some time, and so I came up with a plan. I was buying it. No matter what. He's got a birthday coming up. It's almost Valentine's Day. It was up to $157 when I looked at it, so I recklessly bid $210.99 on it, and was immediately outbid. I submitted a bid for $230.99...and was immediately outbid. I was in the process of entering $250. when the auction ended. Good thing probably. Tim would have killed me if I'd have won, I imagine. Darn you, 'y***g'! Who the heck would pay $232.49 for something like that? (And just you all never mind that I would have...) I know that it makes no sense whatsoever, but I'm very disappointed. We are not extravagant people, but just this once, I wanted to knock Tim's socks off, just once, I wanted to throw caution to the wind, and buy him a present that he'd never forget, not ever.

It's the Superbowl. Tim is watching the game at his friend's house. I stayed home to study. I'll have to chip in on pizza if the Steelers lose. And the stinking Steelers are losing. Natch.

I'm done studying. I'm going to bed with a heating pad for my neck and back.

I'm quite the little grumpy butt today. I oughta be ashamed.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Tractor Supply

Today, at the Tractor Supply, one of our regulars came in. He's a funny charactor, and talks to everyone, elderly fellow with a big white beard. Never saw him in a bad mood in my life. Anyways, he came in today, and I called out, "How's it going today?" and he walked over. He looked me square in the eye and said, "My house burnt down yesterday. We lost everything. I lost my two dogs." And he had tears in his eyes.

"Dear God!" I said. "You're the house up on Hatch Run? I drove home last night after work, and I could smell that there had been a fire. I did not see where it was. Tim said he'd driven off the hill early that morning, and the road was closed. He knew it was a bad fire. I'm so sorry. I didn't know it was you folks."

He said, "Yep. We were in bed. My daughter woke up. She said it felt like someone shook her awake. She thought it was her mother. She rolled over and there was no one there. She lay there a couple minutes puzzled, but finally got up to figure out what was going on, and she walked into the livingroom and the woodstove was on fire. If it was not for her screaming, I don't think we'd have gotten out in time. She can't get over that feeling that someone had shaken her awake."

I said, "I've no doubt that Someone did shake her awake." He grinned a little, very unlike himself, and headed to the back of the store. He needed dog food and a bowl for the one dog that he managed to save.

I paged the manager. "Mark," I said, "we got a guy in here that had a house fire. He lost everything. Can we help him out?" and Mark immediately said, "Is it Gary -------? I heard. I want to talk to him," and off he went. Mark gave him a gift card, and a discount, just like that.

I love that I work for a store that is so quick to take care of its customers. Really.

Saturday, February 5, 2011


There was a customer who came into the store. She was looking for peat pots for a project she was doing at the local nature center. Hopelessly, she said, "No place has them," and I interrupted and said, "But we do. We just set the stuff up last week," and I led her to where they were. She was much pleased. I headed back to my register, leaving her and her husband at the display.

I headed back to the register, stopping to blab with somebody else, and eventually I was ringing up peat pots for my original customers. She looked at me intently. "You're Debby _____, aren't you?" and I looked up. "Yes, I am." She extended her hands and said, "What are you doing working here? You're smart! You need some sort of important job." She explained to her husband that I was a writer in the paper, and that I'd worked for the county, etc. While she talked, I bagged her stuff. I wondered about that. I need an important job. I know that she meant to be kind. I know that she was paying me a compliment. But my job is important. It pays for college. It provides income to my family. I meet great people. I work with great people. My job is relaxing, strangely enough. They kindly work around my school schedule, and I know that's a pain in the butt. My job is important. It is me. And if I am doing that job right, my job is important to the people I meet as well. Lonely people. Busy people. People who like to laugh. I meet many people, many, many people, and I have just a few minutes to make a difference. I try to be mindful of that. I try to use my time wisely. To encourage, to watch, to inspire, or to be inspired. I look at this woman, and I tell her how lucky I am to have this job. She looks at me as if she doesn't believe me, not all the way, but she smiles and says, "If you are happy, I am happy for you."

I've been thinking about that. About importance. I've come to the same conclusion that I always have come to. We all are important. We all matter.Think about that today, people. Think about that as you go about your business today. Let your words and tone reflect that with every interaction.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Beavis and Butthead.

Perhaps I'm not remembering correctly, but when I was a young woman, I fell into the group disparagingly referred to as 'women's libbers'.

*Winces at how old that makes me sound*

I remember how outraged my father when he first discovered that I was a feminist. I sat there in my Army uniform and combat boots, and I was amazed that the news came as such a shock to him. Seems funny now, doesn't it, but he was really quite outraged about it. But seriously, there was something within me that would not let me back down. It has always been there. There was something in me that would not accept abuse or ugly words. I had to speak up. I couldn't be silent. Most every woman that I knew was like that. We did not back down.

In my A and P lab, there are two young boys. They are vulgar. Crude. Talk out loud about the girls in the classroom in the basest of ways. Every other word out of their mouth is 'f...' Anyways, it just kind of shocked me to hear a couple young boys talking openly discussing girls in the classroom in sexual terms.

Anyways, 'Beavis' and 'Butthead' walked into class on Wednesday, and they started in right away. One of them is quite attracted to 'M', a basket ball player, blond, beautiful, and a very nice girl. In any case, Beavis said, "So how many times are you going to stuff it tonight?" and leered, as Butthead sniggered to himself. She looked at him. "What?" and he repeated himself but this time he said at the end of it: "Basketball. I was talking about basketball. How many times are you going to stuff it in the basket? What did you think I was talking about?" and he leered again, as Butthead sniggered to himself. M said "I play defense. I don't make baskets." Beavis and Butthead continued talking between themselves and I made up my mind. When the teacher came in, and we were getting our supplies, I spoke to her. I told her that I was apologizing in advance, because when it came up the next time, I was going to take a stand. The teacher listened, shocked. "No, you won't," she said, "because I'm putting a stop to that right now," and in the blink of an eye, she had them in the hall to let them know that if she heard one more complaint of that nature, they'd be gone from her class.

The boys came back in, sullen, and glaring at me. Even though I am sure that the teacher was not tactless enough to pin my name to the complaint, it's not hard to figure out that a woman had complained, and I am one of two at our table. I ignored their glares. I don't care what they think. Who believes that you can talk like that in a professional setting? They've got some learning to do that has nothing to do with Lab.

It will be interesting to see how this turns out. They are certainly not behaving any better. Mary, the other elderly woman in our class, walked out in the hall after our lab exam that day. I stayed in the lab, so I didn't hear it with my own ears, but as Mary stepped into the hall, Beavis said, "Ha-aaaaaaay, Gorgeous!" and Mary looked square at him and said, "F--- off." and went on her way. Undeterred, Beavis said, "Why do you have to be mean to me?" and Mary said, "When you get to be my age, you don't have to be nice to a--h---s.

The first day of class I listened to the two young men and was shocked. I didn't believe that it was the sort of conversation that would have been tolerated 'in my day'.

*winces again at how old that makes me sound*

But I was right.

I think about me. I think about Mary and I think about the teacher. We are all women of approximately the same generation...and not one of us tolerated it.

Ground Hog Day

This morning, I got stuck in the driveway. I had to drive the car Tim bought me for Christmas that I immediately turned back over to him. My Intrigue with 200,000+ miles on it shows no sign of stopping, so it eases my mind to know that he's driving the better car. His drive is longer and takes him through far more remote country than I travel, and in the dark, too. Anyhow, I was very encouraged as I drove the 'good' car down off the hill (a hair raising trip that involved a lot of fervent prayers...) to hear the radio reporting the news from Punxsutawny, Pennsylvania. You see, I am fortunate enough to live in a state that is known for Punxsutawny Phil, the prognosticating ground hog who pops out on February 2nd (Ground Hog Day, coincidently enough) to tell a breathless world (or maybe it's just an American thing...)whether spring is on its way or whether winter will be sticking around. So Phil stuck his head out of his hole and did not see his shadow, which means we will have an early spring. (good news because I'm just about sick of winter...) I also read that this is Phil's 125th year of predicting the weather. 125 years. Dang. I did not know that ground hogs lived that long. (I don't imagine that something that old would be worth cooking...)

Interesting trivia: How much wood could a wood chuck chuck if a wood chuck could chuck wood? Dunno. But a wood chuck and a ground hog? Same critter. You might also hear them called a whistle pig.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011


Sometimes, with all the school stuff, I get overwhelmed, and I find that I lose sight of the 'big picture'. I can't see the forest for the trees, I guess. And that is the way that it has been lately. A lot of stuff going on, both in and out of the classroom. School work has become one more thing on a long list of things that I have to do. Today, though, a cool thing happened. In our pediatrics class, we've been studying reflexes and critical competancies. A lot of memorization. We've been studying the paperwork, and the process. But today, all of it came together. The teacher stood before us with a doll. She began to say things like "Say that our little who-zit cannot lift her head from the prone position. What would you do?" And we looked at all the bolsters and the wedges, the equipment, the slant boards, the slo-mo balls, and we began to come up with therapies. All those pieces began to fit together, and I began to see the big picture, once again. I caught a glimpse of the vision that I had last fall, but lost in all the work and the insecurity and the holidays, all know how it can get. And seeing the big picture, once again, I got the idea that I'm headed where I'm going to 'fit', where I can be useful, and I found myself breathing big and thinking, "Oh, thank God."

This afternoon, we had speakers. One of them was a social working pastor who'd over come his own post war PTSD issues, his own drug abuse issues, to become a counselor to others. His bustling clinic assists 400+ people a month. His stories were exciting, and I hope to be a volunteer there. I'd like to learn how to help the mentally ill. Again, I found myself sitting in my seat and listening, and feeling excited at the possibilities.

I drove home and I was glad, so grateful, for a day when it all 'clicked'. Of course, I then discovered that I'd lost one of my favorite dangly earrings. That sucked.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Where was I?

For the proper security clearances, I had to list complete addresses for 28 years. Most of the kids in my class aren't even 28 years old, bless their little cotton socks. Me, however, I am 28 years old. Plus a year or two. Three, maybe, tops. So I went through my mind banks and filled in what I could. I went through old paperwork, and was able to fill in a few more. I found myself going through old pictures, squinting, trying to see house numbers. I 'googled' earth. Finally, I'm done. I have just one lone address that I do not have, but that house on Knight St, Ft. Belvoir, no longer exists. I provided my address at the MEDDAC.

Where was I 28 years ago? I was living at 239-P Craig Rd, Honolulu, HI.

Yes. I made copies. The teacher says we'll fill this sort of paperwork out again and again. I don't need to be trying to do this from memory each time.