Thursday, December 29, 2005

Down and Dirty

There is nothing like a bout of stomach flu to reduce an otherwise confident adult into a sniffling child who wants her mommie. If you have a weak stomach or are eating right now, please skip this post.

Yesterday started out much like any other, with the jarring exception of me waking up at 3am having to go potty. You know, #2. Not a big deal, really. Got up, did the dirty duty, and went back to bed. Not ten minutes later, major #2 emergency sensations send me running back to the bathroom. Hmmm. I begin to ponder my previous day's meals. Five minutes later, I am still on the toilet, and feeling that special, shivery-cold far-away feeling I get right before I faint. I immediately call for back-up. I mean, who wants to pass out on the toilet at the same time as they're going #2??
"[Blue's name omitted for privacy]!!!"
Blue: "Uh?!" He wakes up groggily. I make piteous noises.
"I'm in the bathroom, and I feel faint." My hero rushes into the bathroom, holds my hand, and lets me lean against his tummy. By the way, if anyone ever doubted, I love the tummy. The tummy is MINE.
Anyways, Blue says comforting words and brings me cold water to drink and a damp cloth for my forehead. I continue to sit on the toilet and have diarrhea for another 30 minutes. This, I think, feels so awful. But then it's over, and we go back to bed, until the alarm goes off, which is not very much later. We discuss my work schedule for the day and decide 2 immodiums and toughing it out are my best options. I have unavoidable obligations at work, I say. So off I go. At work, I have three more miserable visits to the toilet before I discover, around 9am, that my unavoidable obligations are actually Thursday, not Wednesday. I promptly let my supervisor know I would like to go home, and he gladly sends me that direction. Except Blue's car is in the shop, and he has an off-site meeting that afternoon. So he needs my car. So I call and leave a message on his voice mail that I'm on my way, and head to the library. When I get there, as I knew he would be because he told me about it [good boy!] Blue was doing meet-and-greet duty with some volunteers. Only he wasn't quite done when he thought he would be, so I needed to wait for him a bit longer. But my gut said nooooo. Back to the bathroom I go. More diarrhea. I am beyond suspicion of my recent meals and have concluded I must have the stomach flu that's been going around my office. When I finish with that, I go back to the lobby. Still no Blue. I sit and wait. And fidget. And feel cold and shivery again. And get a nauseous feeling in my tummy. I have not vomited in years, I tell myself. I never vomit. I hate vomiting. There is no way I could possibly be about to vomit in the library. I wait. The feeling grows stronger. It is superceded by the time-to-go diarrhea feeling. I head for the bathroom. Enter the stall. The handicap one, since it's available, even though you're supposed to leave it open for possible handicapped people who happen by, I use it anyway cause it has more room. Which turned out to be my saving grace. Because when you're sitting on the toilet emitting diarrhea and suddenly begin to vomit, there's no where to put it. You're already on the toilet. I look around in desperation. No regular trash can, that would be too merciful. There is only a wall-mounted sanitary napkin trash bin with a tiny paper bag in it. I am desperate, what else can I do? So I grab the bag out of the sanitary napkin bin. And oh yes, it is not empty either. And I puke in it. If only that were the end of the story it would be bad enough. But no. The sanitary napkin bag is not big enough for my stomach contents. It quickly fills and I have no choice but to drop it and continue puking all over the floor next to the toilet. By now I am crying. I am humiliated, disgusted, and the sickest I have been in all my memory. My stomach muscles ache from the rigors of wretching. My hands shake so much I can barely manage to clean both ends of me and make my way to the sinks to wash. Then there is the walk of shame. I have to walk to the circulation desk and confess that I've been sick on the bathroom floor, request clean-up assistance, and humbly ask that my husband be paged to the front so I can finally leave. Then I return to the scene of the crime and try to put down some paper towels, but the mess is beyond my ability to tidy up. I have to leave it for the janitorial staff. I feel guilty as well as sick. At last, Blue rescues me and quickly walks me outside. I cry again, tell him what I did, he says it's okay and leads me to the car. Then my hero drives me home, takes me upstairs, helps me to bed, brings me ice water, a back-up glass of ice, the cordless phone, and a book. Lays down with me until I calm down and become sleepy. Promises, at my request, to apologize to the poor janitor who had to clean up my awful mess. Says he'll bring them doughnuts the next day. And heads back to work. I spend the entire rest of the day either in bed or on the toilet. I call my mommie, and tell her my horrible adventure. She comforts me, and wishes she were closer, as I do. I think no matter how old I am I will always wish for my mommie when I am sick. Mercifully, that public display of affliction was the only time I vomited yesterday, but the diarrhea was bad enough on its own. I did not eat again until supper time, when I sampled some lightly buttered toast, and on keeping that down, fixed myself a grilled cheese sandwich with chicken soup for dinner. And when I woke up this morning, I felt fine. It truly was only a 24-hour bug, but those 24 hours sure were bad! Today I am a humbler, and more grateful person, to say the least.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Out of The Mouths of Babes

This weekend was a particularly rich one for comical Little Bluisms. That little guy just has no end of bizarre or cute things to say. Some just make you shake your head in confusion and laugh. Like earlier today when he said, "Mommie, I talk to you." And then I did what a lot of parents seem to do in my situation, which is repeat what we think our toddler said by way of confirming whether we translated their babble correctly. "You want to talk to Mommie?" I smiled at him. With a perfectly straight face, he replied, "No." "Oh..." was all I could say in return, whilst Daddy Blue had a jolly good belly laugh over it.
Then there was dinner. We were having something homemade, what I would consider to be much better than fast food fare i.e. hamburgers and fries. I had made pork chops, delicately seasoned in a sweet/savory mixture of Chinese Five Spice and our favorite Santa Maria (garlic, salt, pepper, and parsley) blend. These were served up with some lemon peppered green beans and Stove Top stuffing. Blue and I thought it was delicious. Little Blue thought it needed several tablespoons of ketchup. There's just no accounting for taste!
But the crown jewel was our after-dinner, after-driving-around-to-see-if-Papa-Blue-was-stranded-on-the-side-of-the-road-and-discovering-he-was-safe-at-home-sleeping ice cream treat. Little Blue's chocolate custard is in one of our plastic cereal bowls. He eats it all by himself with a spoon. He's delighted. Until he finds a monster in it. We assure him there is no monster in the ice cream because monsters aren't real. He persists.
"No Mommie, monster! Monster real, Mommie! A real monster!" He points emphatically at the ice cream with his plastic spoon, which flings melted ice cream onto the table. I look closely in the bowl.
"There's no monster in there," I assure him. "I'll show you." I borrow his spoon and stir up all his ice cream, to remove any monster shapes from it's creamy structure.
"What doing?" he says with interest.
"I'm stirring your ice cream."
"To show you that there aren't any monsters in it."
"So you won't be afraid of it."
"Why?" Isn't anything obvious to this child??
"So you'll eat it," I reply with remarkable (for me) patience. I hand his spoon back to him. He half-heartedly pushes it through the ice cream to get a bite, and then drops the spoon in the bowl in alarm.
"There it is, there it is Mommie! Monster!" He pushes the bowl across the table toward me. "I don't wanna eat it Mommie, I don't wanna eatda monster."
I am completely baffled. "What monster??" He uses the spoon to point to it. It's none other than the bottom of his bowl, which curves upward and is showing through his ice cream in the very center of the bowl. Daddy Blue and I make what could have been a classic parenting mistake: we bust up laughing. Fortunately, Little Blue takes this abuse rather well, and is reassured when I tell him the monster is just the bottom of his bowl, so he finishes his ice cream like a champ.
Then we all troop upstairs to spend a few minutes in the bathroom while Little Blue sits buck naked on his very own potty chair for the first time. We read the potty book with the flushing toilet sound effects. Little Blue toots in the potty, which we consider to be a good start, and after waiting awhile to see if any actual pottying will occur, we pull up the real, cotton, big-boy underpants and put the little guy to bed, while visions of exciting potty milestones and messy potty accidents dance in our heads. It's a wonderful life. :)

Monday, November 07, 2005

Please allow me a girlish moment of romanticism...

It's easy to let the blog become a place of passive complaint. So let me break from that for a moment here, to express some good old fashioned sentimentality.

I still feel a swell of love every time I hear the song played that we danced to at our wedding. It's all I can do not to sing along whenever I hear the song I used to sing him on the phone before we were geographically together. I still have memorized how to play "our song" on the piano. Thinking about the two times he proposed to me brings a tear to my eyes. And I melt inside when he pays me one of his truly good compliments, like when he says I looked delicious in my Halloween outfit. He's still the best Sunday morning snuggler I know, even if now we have an extra body giggling between us and begging us to "Wake up! Wake up! I wan' go downstairs and play!" Whatever little quirks, whatever annoyances, or silly arguments, or dumb things we each get mad at, he's still the best partner I've ever had or imagined, in every way. We may have picked each other last, after trying other relationships first, but then again, life's little treasures are always in the last place you look, aren't they? ;)

So now you know that no matter how much I complain about anything, it's all just smoke and steam off the fire of a much deeper and more important emotion. 'Nuff said.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Wicked Witch of the Midwest

So, from out of nowhere (I swear) a reputation for ill-temper seems to have been cultivated about me. Well okay it's not completely from nowhere. I think it might be connected to my lack of receptiveness to last minute social plans - and I use the word "plans" loosely - that are the preferred method of gathering for my dear inlaws. Leaving a message on the wrong person's cell phone a couple of hours before a dinner outing that specifies a location but not a precise time and no central rally point is the sort of "planning" they are fond of. These chaotic rendezvous make me crazy, partly because of my own neurotic needs such as always being early and not backtracking while driving to a destination, both of which rules are violated by the surprise change of location at the last minute or the lack of information about the correct time to arrive, etc. While I recognize that most people do not suffer from the need to conform to these guidelines the way that I do, I think the vast majority of us do at least prefer that some degree of forethought and communication precede family gatherings that involve multiple family units traveling to a single location via separate vehicles from different points of origin. I don't think it's terribly unreasonable to expect these two basics to be established in advance: time and place. I've certainly wasted enough hours keeping my schedule open for tentative last minute plans and waiting around for late family members to show up to have earned the right to be irritated. But my frustration over numerous poorly-executed meetings has somehow translated into a reputation for being a grumpy woman who never wants to get together with the family and always has to be coerced into attending and will instantly veto any suggestion involving spontaneous activities. This was painfully illustrated this weekend when several family members in attendance at a wedding celebration suggested going out to a relative's new restaurant in a town an hour away at the spur of the moment. When I immediately agreed to go along, I was met with several stunned looks and a fair degree of amazement. They seriously expected me to go off the deep end. And I have to say that Mr. Blue does absolutely nothing to dissuade his relatives of their conclusions about me. Not only does he repeatedly keep his mouth shut even when he agrees or is as frustrated as I am, making it look like I'm the only bad guy, he also reinforces my bad reputation by making pessimistic assumptions about my reaction to a suggestion. His family, who goes to him first as the conduit to me because I am so difficult to please, presents the idea to him, and he says, "Well I already know the answer but I'll ask her anyway." Why don't they tape a sign to my back that says "Beware of Bitch" and be done with it? And what am I to do to keep the peace? Shut up, go with the flow, and pretend not to be bothered by all the inconveniences I suppose. It's not as if we don't all enjoy each other when we finally all get to where we're supposed to be. We have lots of fun, and lots of affection for each other. It seems hopeless to think these events will ever be better planned. Even if I plan the whole thing myself and tell them to be there earlier than I actually want them to come, they will manage to be late. It runs in the blood, I see the tendencies in Mr. Blue and I'm sure they've been passed on to Little Blue, as it is clearly a dominant trait in this family. But I hate that being the only one raised with a different approach to organization makes me the bad apple. It's hard enough to mix families together without them all thinking you're impossible to get along with. And hard enough to be so far from my own family and our traditions without having to face these situations without any help from the one person among them who is supposed to be my teammate.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005


My pirate name is:
Captain Anne Cash
Even though there's no legal rank on a pirate ship, everyone recognizes you're the one in charge. You're musical, and you've got a certain style if not flair. You'll do just fine. Arr!
Get your own pirate name from

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Cat vs. Baby - The score is tied, I think...

Little Blue got a haircut yesterday. With his hair grown out a bit, he looks more babyish, I guess because of his adorable curls. But now, all trimmed up neat and tidy, he's still totally adorable but looks like a little boy, a child, instead of a toddler or baby. This is accentuated by the fact that he has lost much of his baby fat that rounded out his cheeks and chin. His slender face makes him look older, more grown up. I am at once charmed and dismayed by this transformation. His maturing is of course delightful, accompanied as it is by an expanded vocabulary, more refined sense of humor and of compassion, and more willingness to focus and play interactively with us. At the same time, though, these developments signal the end of his babyhood, and brings into sharp focus that should we decide not to have any more children, we will never see these precious days again. It's a choice that looms over us in the background, a shadowy corner in our bright happy days that we try not to think about, but the time to decide draws ever nearer. Every time we discuss it I seem to have changed sides in the debate.

Then there is the kitty issue. Guen, nicknamed Little Girl, has never had a very high opinion of our human offspring. In the beginning, he was like part of the furniture, just another warm, cuddly squishy thing in our laps to lay down on. A few scoops and swats that sent her flying soon disabused her of that misconception and firmly implanted its terrible replacement ideology: the human child was an evil usurper who robbed her of our affections and should be hunted down and maimed at any available opportunity. Forced separations, time outs, begging, scolding, and swatting have not been able to uproot her foul outlook. Little Girl has taken up the habit of coaxing the child to play, then suddenly springing up to bite him. Little Blue has, through his amazing observational powers, quickly learned the fine art of scolding. Once bitten, he alternates between his two favorite behavioral responses: run and tattle to get kitty in trouble, or shortcut to chasing kitty down and scolding her himself, shouting "No no! Bad ditty! NO BITE!" and pointing his righteous finger of accusation in her face. Which she, of course, bites. For most people it is obvious that the cat has got to go. She's misbehaving, resists rehabilitation and shows no signs of improving in the future. She has even resorted to spiteful acts of urination on occasion. But for us, who adopted her as a kitten in the aftermath of the heartwrenching proclamation that we would not be able to have children, Little Girl is more daughter than pet, and the prospect of giving her away even to the best of homes is almost unbearable. We feel responsible for her unhappiness and her bad behavior, and it's hard to tell whether letting her go would only be a worse punishment or a welcome relief for her.

And so we delay, in both cases. There is still a two or maybe as much as three year window of opportunity within which we could decide to have another baby. And the days with kitty just seem to slip by, and not all of them are marred by incidents of biting or bad behaviors. We tell ourselves to watch a little closer, and we tell Little Blue not to play with the grumpy kitty, and try to believe that if we can just get through these toddler years, Little Blue will be wiser to kitty's body language and less interested in her, too. Maybe then we won't have to think about giving her up at all.

Unless we have another baby...

Friday, August 19, 2005


Tuesday I lost my grandmother. When we are as old as our parents, or maybe older, we view death with a certain wisdom, a knowledge of the circle our lives must make to return us to whatever you believe our beginnings were, but as youths we're a bit too "in the moment" for that kind of transcendent acceptance, as I discovered this week.

In my arrogant forethought on the matter, I viewed my grandmother's progression toward death with a kind of detached logic. She had lived a good long life, aged gracefully, and seemed prepared for her imminent departure to the next world. I knew her death would be gentle, peaceful, not sudden, but soon. Knowing ahead meant I felt ready. That I would accept the news with dignity, in complete control of my feelings, which would be a mixture of appropriate sadness and delicate relief at her release from the tiredness and weakness of age. Labeling my emotions in advance made them fit easily into manageable portions. There would be no awkward scene, no blubbering. I was ready to let go of her, I was sure.

How utterly ridiculous of me.

I miss you, Phyllis Grace. Watch over my son, that he might know your love. Peace be with you. Peace be with us all.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Anger Management

When I am calm and tranquil, able to step outside the narrow realm of my own perspective and view myself and others somewhat objectively, I am fascinated with the study of this powerful emotion. Anger is such a fluid, versatile, and multi-faceted state of being. It can ebb and flow like a tide, or come crushing and terrible out of nowhere like an uncharted asteroid, fiery and disastrous. Then again sometimes it is slow and noisy, grumbling louder and louder until the breaking point like a summer storm.
"When I was a child...I thought as a child..." In childhood "angry" was almost like a bad word. I would only ever say I was "mad" and even that was a reluctant admission. As an adult, armed with my pink pamphlet's chapter on self-validation, I have no such inhibitions. I get angry, more easily than when I was a child even. But when I get angry, my mouth opens. I don't like to keep it inside, it's like hot gas expanding in an enclosed space - best to open things up before the explosion comes. Alone, amazingly colorful, sharp words and thoughts spring out of me, that I would have been shocked to hear anyone say fifteen years ago. But somehow they empower me, and take the pressure off the boiler, so to speak. After that, I still want to talk, but constructively about the problem, rather than just spitting out descriptive words that convey emotion without ideas. This confounds the Blue Pamphlet on soooo many levels. First, his number one instruction in that little manual of his is FIX IT. Whatever it is, whoever it is, FIX IT and move on. But Pinks don't like being fixed. We find fixing to be antagonistic and insulting. It implies we can't do it ourselves, and that someone else can do it better. It doesn't lend itself to the impression that genuine listening and validation is occurring in our interaction with Blue. Second problem, when FIXING fails, Blue Pamphlet's very next cardinal rule to follow is: SAY WHAT SHE WANTS TO HEAR. Maybe this works for some of you out there. If so, I congratulate you. Or pity you. I'm not sure which. But I can tell you this doesn't work for Blue and I, because we spent so much of our dating years talking, really truly talking, that we now see right through each other whenever we attempt any kind of half-assed smooth-over strategy instead of being genuine. So my poor Blue, who knows that telling me what I want to hear will never work, is left with nothing else to do but clam up and hope for the best. And despite all the terrific definitions and explanations in the Pink dictionary and the Chapter about "Teaching Guys How to Talk" I still can't seem to explain exactly what I'm looking for from him in those conversations. Some kind of mixture of listening, having an opinion, making suggestions but not overbearingly fixing the problem for me.... It's an ideal almost impossible to achieve. Then there's Blue's anger. He keeps that to himself better than his most private computer passwords, and for a geek that's saying something. Half the time I can't tell which of us he's ticked at, me or himself. Or both. Unfortunately it means most Pink and Blue arguments end either in silence until our moods improve or else we end up just laughing and agreeing that we just can't figure each other out on this one. Not very good for resolving the heart of the conflict, but at least we feel better sooner or later. And even though there are many things we can't seem to agree on, things we don't "get" about each other, I still think we know each other better than almost any other completely opposite beings could possibly know each other, and no matter how confused, we're pretty far ahead in the great game.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Credit where credit is due

My husband says he wasn't the first to come up with this whole pamphlet idea. He thinks he might have seen a comedian talk about it or something like that. Anyone who actually knows the truth about it is welcome to post it for the rest of us.
Speaking of the pamphlets, specifically the blue one... Today my husband and his father installed a trailer hitch with electrical wiring on our yuppiemobile (aka minivan). They got really dirty, and were pretty proud of themselves, spending quite a few minutes after they were finished with the installation describing how it went to me, accompanied by manly gestures, sports analogies ("We were fishing for the wire...") and, of course, grunt sounds. Fortunately, I know enough from the pink pamphlet to respond to this behavior correctly: I smiled appreciatively, said "Wow!" and "Really!" a few times, applauded along with our toddler, who loves to clap his hands, and indicated with my facial expressions and body language that my husband was now even more macho in my eyes after having completed this man-task for me. I think we both got what we wanted from that particular communication exchange.

Ever get that...not so fresh feeling? Keep it to yourself!

I can almost guarantee you will not want to talk about it, and no one else wants to hear about it either. Furthermore, we do not want to watch commercials about it, or any other awkward, embarrassing femmy product on the market. There ought to be laws against subjecting innocent civilians to this kind of thing! Just this evening my husband and I were enjoying a humorous evening of watching "Whose Line is it Anyway" when suddenly our delicate sensibilities were assaulted by a bizarre commercial featuring exotic flowers on a box of feminine....somethings. Honestly, we're not sure what the boxes contained, that wasn't really mentioned in the ad. But we know there were pretty flowers on the outside of the package, which seemed to be the star of the show. As these things go, it was a fairly low-blush factor commercial, and there are some that are far worse. You know the kind I'm talking about. The Blue Liquid line of feminine product commercials, guaranteed to bring you mental images of things you would rather not imagine. They have achieved what I hope is the pinnacle of their yucky powers in the creation of the "Sticky Feeling" commercial. They should show that thing to sexual predators in prison. After watching it, how could anyone want to go near a woman ever again?
Right up there with the girly product ads are the ones about certain bodily functions we will not mention here. Let's just say regularity is a topic best left to private examining rooms in doctors' offices, and not on national television. And I don't know any woman who would actually hand her husband a box of that product with the name showing in front of a plane full of gawking passengers. After all, there's a limited number of bathrooms and typically only one way to get back to your seat. Talk about a walk of shame. Folks, if you seriously find yourself wondering about these products, do us all a favor. Read the package labels in the store. Preferably alone. Consult with the pharmacist. But for pete's sake wait till I'm done paying for my uh... girly items. It's hard enough to bring them to the counter to buy without having you walk up right at that moment to ask about your....symptoms. Thanks.

Friday, July 08, 2005


First things first. I hate pink. But it is overwhelmingly associated with girlhood, so there you have it. The Pink Pamphlet is that mystical guidebook inherited by all women from their mothers, grandmothers, aunts, gal pals, etc. that imparts to them the secrets of all things feminine. It's how we know.... everything.
Confession time: I was not the first person to iconify this concept of universal female knowledge into a tidy little booklet idea. As far as I know, my husband was the inventor of the notion. For more on his side of the story, you can consult him at his own blog, which is of course, The Blue Pamphlet. But this one is for me. And it's not just for girls to read. Obviously, women are very good at sharing their feelings and experiences with each other. We're famous for it. No, the only ones who really stand to gain from an insider's peek into the female mind are guys. So read up, gentlemen. I promise to be brutally honest, girl scout's honor.

Incidentally, I did not last one entire year in the girl scout's. By the time I got started in it I was too far gone in my tomboyish ways to ever be recalled back to tiny pleated green skirts and baking cookies. But my promise is still good, don't worry.