“Bitter The Apple”

Mom picked that title – “Bitter The Apple”.  From my earliest recollection, she always said that if she wrote the book of her life, that’s what she’d call it.

Even as a young child, i found it depressing.  I couldn’t figure out why her life was so awful?  We lived in a working-class suburb – owned our own house.  There was a gigantic farm field behind it, suitable for endless games of “capture the flag”.  And woods – where we used stolen construction supplies to build amazing tree forts.  The neighborhood was full of kids – we were never lonely and there were adventures to be had!

The family was quirky, mealtimes were loud, six of us were crammed into a smallish house, but we were all healthy and shared lots of laughs.  Dad had a good job – we didn’t see him much during the week, but he was always around on the weekends, working on projects, leading discussions on philosophy, music and life, or teaching us to throw a variety of balls at each other.  We went camping every summer – where bathing was entirely optional for a week!

Why was Mom so bitter?

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Plowed…

During the past two days, i’ve spent hours with a shovel, doing battle with the elements.  i have absolutely no idea why it is so important that i excavate my driveway – which is roughly the size of a basketball court.  Some degree of “fear of entrapment”, combined with my sense of homeowner responsibility.  Perhaps just a touch of “i don’t want to be skating on ice nuggets for the rest of the week when i walk out to get the mail” thrown in for good measure.

Yesterday, i managed to clear about 4″ of the heavy, wet stuff in just about an hour.  This morning, there was an additional foot of snow on the ground, so i bundled up and chipped away at it.  An hour and a half later, i’d made it a third of the way towards the as yet unplowed street.  Having no feeling left in my nose, it was time to regroup.

Midday, i finished round two – another 90 minutes of “woman against nature”.  First, i removed the extra 3″ that had fallen onto the previously cleared section, and then tackled the untouched portion – drifting to 2′ in spots.   i’d made it past mid-court, with about a third of the driveway left to go.   Regrouped yet again as i couldn’t feel my right hand…

i just finished round three – still not quite there, but only a few feet to go.  This time, i’m just worn out.  i’ll need to go out later anyway and remove the “plow turds” from the end of the driveway should the city trucks ever make it back this way… so i’ll just finish up then.

Although there is a general sense of futility when shoveling snow during a blizzard, there is some degree of satisfaction.  I felt strong, looking behind me and seeing progress.  Comfort, knowing that i’m self-sufficient and independent.  Thankfulness, knowing that i’m healthy enough to push a shovel.

…and total fucking annoyance at the sound of snowblowers.  Yuppie bastards.

Tomorrow, after the snow stops, i’ll head across the street to tackle Mrs. E’s driveway.   i hope to hell some of my yuppie bastard neighbors show up with those annoying snowblowers…  or maybe a couple of Boy Scouts?

It could be worse.  This is what Mr. Pickles encountered on the back deck as he attempted to relieve himself this morning.  Can’t imagine having to take a leak in snow up to the ol’ junk…  Brrr…

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Post-script:  the city plows came during the night, and i managed to clear my escape route driveway.  as i was finishing up, and preparing myself mentally to tackle Mrs. E’s driveway, her son arrived in his BubbyTruck, complete with the Mother of All Snow-Blowers…  Halle-fucking-lujah!  A hot shower, more coffee and the Sunday paper!

“Give me 12″ and make it hurt…”

“so i screwed her 3 times and bit her in the shoulder…”

[ba dum DUM]

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Snow.  Again / Still.   Actual blizzard conditions* out there…

This time, the prognosticators of icy death and destruction started early in the week, working themselves into a frothy frenzy of frozen fanaticism by this morning…

Me?  I’m grabbing a book and heading back to bed. 

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“There’s no place like home….”

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* The National Weather Service defines a blizzard as sustained 35 mph (56 km/h) winds which leads to blowing snow and causes visibilities of ¼ mile or less, lasting for at least 3 hours.  Check.

the glamour of motherhood…

Wandering the ether on a quiet evening, i stumbled upon this fun post from expensive mistakes and cheap thrills (a member of kyknoords South African Chick Posse*). 

It brought back a very vivid memory from long ago…

During the early breeding phase, i took unpaid leave to stay home and care for the li’l critters.  After returning to work and abandoning them to the Charles Manson Family Day Care Center**, i became restless to find my own “groove”.  Fighting the “working mommy trap”, i wanted to make sure i wasn’t just a work drone, and didn’t want to get completely lost in day-to-day parental responsibilities…. so i became a volunteer at the local Planned Parenthood Affiliate.

This led to a position on the Board of Directors, which led to managing various advocacy and fund-raising events.  i was astonished at how easy it was to pick the pockets of the wealthy by simply hosting extravagant events and pouring liquor down their throats.  The return on investment for a bottle of good scotch?  Thousands of dollars in reproductive health care for women with limited options… 

After one particularly lavish party, hosted in one of the most decadent, collosal and ostentatious finest homes in the city, i came home in the wee hours of the morning, still floating a bit from the heady experience.  In my role as “dessert hostess”, i was decked out in a spectacular little black dress, hair piled romantically upon my head, and wearing my cheap, sparkly jewelery bought at the drug store finest accessories.  i was awed that i could fit in with this crowd – witty repartee with the local “who’s who”, holding my own with doctors, lawyers and perhaps even an indian chief… and they seemed to find me engaging***.  Me?  The Trailer Park Refugee?  Unexpected and encouraging!

As i returned home, moving quietly through the house to keep from waking my sleeping family, i was awash in the hope that i could balance all three aspects of my life: career, mother and self…

Crawling into bed, visions of champagne and fine chocolates still dancing in my head, i was surprised shortly thereafter by The Girl, standing at my bedside.  She was about 4 years old at the time.  Although the room was dark, i could tell she looked a bit green.  Before either of us could say a word, she barfed the entire contents of her digestive tract into my hair. 

Reality? Check.

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* seems as though they’re a bit like the gals from “Kill Bill” – without all the sharp objects and blood. 

** I was sold on the place when the sample “daily activities” list featured “fun with eating utensils” and “finger painting with kitten blood”. 

*** “engaging”?  i was surrounded by mostly sweet, partially-fossilized gentlemen who liked looking down the front of my dress.  unless they were sporting the “trophy wife” accessory package, i was certainly more “engaging” than the partially-fossilized spouse drinking too much gin and flirting with hired help in the kitchen…

Electrons and Voteons

The big day in Ohio… It is rare when Presidential candidates are not already selected by the time our primary election occurs.  This year, all eyes are watching to see whether Mr. Obama will continue his 11-state streak and knock Mrs. Clinton out of the race, or whether she’ll be the comeback kid, and hang on to fight another day.  

I’m very proud of The Girl, driving home late last night (with a ton of pre-final exam academic pain hanging over her head) so she could get up early and vote.  The Boy will be able to vote in the general election in November – and is jazzed about the opportunity.  i can relax, knowing that my offspring have internalized that ‘civic duty’ thing*….

For those who blame remember Ohio as the state that determined the outcome of the 2004 Presidential election, we went another round today with electronic touchscreen voting.  Although there are ridiculous, overblown conspiracy theories regarding what really happened in Ohio during the 2004 election, credible investigative journalists (most notably Greg Palast) provided a reasonable case to call into question the outcome of that election…

In short, it’s likely that the votes not counted in 2004 – “spoilage” ballots** – would have made the race much closer, if not given the win to Mr. Kerry. 

Being an uber-geek, i’ve been tracking this issue pretty closely – not just from a procedural, but from a technological point of view.  The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) – one of the largest, independent professional technical societies in the world – felt this issue was of sufficient concern to stimulate research interest in the area, with papers from several symposia captured and published in a book.  The intent was to pre-emptively tackle the standards and security issues and assure that the ‘chad backlash’ against paper ballots from the 2000 election did not lead to an equally flawed electronic approach.

In any case,  i think i voted today…

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* perhaps it’s been the past 7 years of me screaming at the television every time my Commander-In-Chief appears on the tube that has inspired their civic interests?  To keep me from stroking out?

** “spoilage” includes provisional ballots cast under the cloud of new identification requirements, and ballots cast in urban precincts, which encountered more cases of “irregularities” with the new voting contraptions than other precincts.

 

The Dog Log…

It was worth a try, but time to regroup.  It turns out, an empty nester with a neurotic and dysfunctional highly affectionate dog cannot in good conscience abandon him to the kennel when business travel beckons…

It was working the first few times, dropping off my confused, but generally happy, pup at the kennel before roadtrips.  He’s a bit ADHD and confused, and it seemed i was retrieving him before he even noticed i was gone. 

Things didn’t go so well last time.  While i was drinking and whoring networking in California, Mr. Pickles was on a hunger strike at the kennel.  By the time i picked him up (after 4 days) he was a wreck – fur coming out in chunks, a hint of his ribcage peeking out at me… and he was barely able to bark, offering a raspy, pathetic and guilt-inducing substitute instead…

Evaluating options, i found the name of a highly recommended pet sitting service.  Having just completed the initial interview*, i think this is going to work out pretty well…  The price is right, the sitter will bring in the mail and newspaper, and the mutt doesn’t have to leave the couch.  She even offered to bring over a ‘doggie play buddy’ to keep him company!

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Now, if i could just stop referring to him as that “Little Brown Hole of Need”…

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* I spent almost an hour straightening my house before the interview, putting away dishes, cleaning dog bowls, digging suitable pet toys from under the sofa.  Seriously, why do i care?  Must i really prove my ‘dog mother worthiness’ to hired dog-sitters?

If the Raisin Ranch is Rockin’…

This post is dedicated to the lovely nursemyra – an inspiration to all in her devotion to historical (and hysterical) medical research… 

On my recent visit to The Park i learned a most fascinating medical fact from the brilliant and pharmaceutically savvy Dr. M.

The last echocardiogram done on Mom showed potential signs of secondary pulmonary hypertension.  In short, her lifestyle choices* have not only destroyed the cardiac plumbing systems, but are starting to affect her ventilation system as well…

While we were discussing diagnostic options – to include heart catheterization in a couple weeks – i asked exactly what Dr. M was hoping to discover through the testing.  She explained – using the cutest little heart puzzle thingie i’ve ever seen – that she wants to know whether Mom’s misery is coming from the heart trouble or the lung dysfunction.  By determining the source, she can make a better decison about treatment options.

Knowing this was a possibility i’d done some surfing on the topic before the visit.  It was my understanding that there’s not much that can be done to treat secondary pulmonary hypertension.  Thanks to Dr. M’s diligence in staying on top of the latest research, i was delighted to have her correct me.

There are pharmaceutical approaches for treating pulmonary hypertension – depending mostly on the reason for increased pressure in the lung plumbing.  Among other drugs, Viagra has been shown** to effectively treat some forms of pulmonary hypertension.

Mom: You mean you might put me on Viagra?

Dr. M: I’ve got several ladies using it…

daisyfae: Good grief, she’s already a demon!  The men at church are terrorized! At least give me time to get a warning out on the church ‘prayer chain’!

Dr. M: Don’t worry – women don’t have the same reaction as men, so there wouldn’t be much effect on sex drive.

Mom: damn…

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* maybe i’m being a bit judgmental here, but it seems that smoking 3 packs of cigarettes a day for 65 years will do a little something to your health…  add in the salt/lard/bacon-based diet and take away any form of exercise and you’ve got the equation for stroke, emphysema or heart-attack… or just a multiple-organ mutiny saying “we’re mad as hell and we’re not going to take it any longer…”

** Dr. M went on to explain that Viagra was first developed to treat pulmonary hypertension.  When the clinical trials were over, the men involved begged to keep taking it…

duality clarified

The primary reason i’m hacking up morsels of my memory banks out here in the blogosphere is to sort out the duality of my nature…

Raised in The Park.  Comfortable in The Park.  Understand The Park.  Appreciative of Earthiness of The Park.  Know that my heritage lies in The Park.  Amused by The Park.

versus

Disgusted by behavior in The Park.  Struggling to run from The Park.  Embarassed by my connection to The Park.  Confused as to how i emerged from The Park.  Frightened by the potential impact of The Park on my children.

and then it hit me…

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oh fuck.  i’m a human mullet. 

“business” in the front, and “party” in the back…