Wednesday, August 31, 2011
Every year we went through the same exchange. She'd tell me what happened 15…20…24 years ago today. She'd tell me how becoming a mother gave her life meaning…and finally that I was born on the "hottest damn day of the year." I'm not sure how that last bit first came out, but it became tradition. My mom's words—all of them—were something I looked forward to every August 31st. She made me feel celebrated in a way only a mother can.
I am 30 years old today, and I hear echos of her still.
So, 30. I really don't know where the last 10 years went, and I certainly don't know where the next 10 are going. I can tell you one thing for sure though: I am going to appreciate everything. If I learned one thing in my 20s, it was how to go on…how to find the lightness even when everything is heavy. There's always some good going on somewhere if you open your eyes to it.
Life is going to go the way life is going to go no matter how I react to it…I might as well be happy.
Monday, August 29, 2011
Life is back to normal now. The last couple of weeks have been tense as we finished up the last few details for our party on Saturday. Someone told me that we could expect about 70% of our invited guests to attend. In the end, it was more like 93%—yet another reason why I don't gamble…because you just never know. I have to say that it was a wonderful day, and I felt very loved having so many people come out to celebrate with us.
But the tension—oh, the tension! Home life has been stressful.
I am a pretty chill chick. I haven't always been this way, but I've had a—shall we say, eventful?—past several years. I've lost people, lost some dreams, lost the assurance of immortality that young people are so blessed with…what I'm trying to say is that there are much bigger things out there to worry about than a little party with 50 extra people than you tallied in your head.
Nicholas, my Nicholas…not so chill. And we'll leave it at that.
But, when the day finally arrived, he was the sweet man I married again. Of course, he opened his first beer at 10:00 and didn't stop for four hours, but you do what you have to do. We ended up with a lot of leftover beer, but Nick is staunch in his belief that he did his part—alluding, I suppose, to the minimal adult beverage that I consumed. Really, he did his part and mine...it's teamwork you see.
The weather was perfect, the food was tasty, and the company was superb. It was a golden day in the record of my life.
I have mentioned before that I started falling in love with Nick and his obvious nervousness almost instantly. Well, a few weeks into our relationship he played a David Gray song for me. When the song ended, he looked at me meaningfully and said, "It's the most perfect song I have ever heard." I now get goosebumps whenever I hear Please Forgive Me. The song was an obvious choice when I put together the following slideshow of photos from the party. Thank you to everyone for sharing in our day!
Sunday, August 28, 2011
Yesterday, Nick and I hosted a picnic for our friends and family to celebrate our wedding almost eight months ago. Needless to say, the past couple of days have been full of little chores (and thinly veiled epithets at one another).
We both had Friday off, but I came home from work on Thursday and began one of my to-dos: pre-cutting the table coverings. I had a vision on how I wanted to spruce up a bunch of picnic tables. Earlier in the week, we stopped by the park to cut one of them so I would have a guide to cut the rest.
I realized while cutting the table coverings that I had no right to pick on Nick's meticulousness with the centerpieces. I knew the tables were 96 inches long and that I wanted six extra inches on each end. I measured and remeasured each of the 30-some sheets I needed to make sure they were all within a quarter-inch of 108 inches.
The main difference is that I make sure to close doors to bar all witnesses before I let my OCD loose.
I had two colors to cut: white and aquamarine. Negligently, we had left the aquamarine roll in the living room after cutting that first test sheet at the park shelter. As I set about creating a fail-safe process for myself to get the precise cutting done, I noticed that several feet of that color were unusable: Sophie had chewed through the first several layers.
I think Sophie has finally broken me in. My reaction to her destruction was not anger or frustration (both of which it had every right to be). No, my reaction upon seeing the holes was to laugh and quietly cheer, "Oh, Sophie!" while shaking my head in fond affection. It was in that moment that I realized that I was totally and completely whipped.
Friday, August 26, 2011
We are having a picnic for our family and friends tomorrow to celebrate our marriage on the first of the year. We knew we wanted to reserve a specific park a short walk from our home for this party, but the village would not take reservations prior to January 1st. Ideally, we would have liked to have the park some Saturday early in the warm season. However, we were a bit busy during the first bit of January, and by the time we called to get a reservation, there were only a couple of Saturdays in August left. One conflicted with other plans, so that left August 27th.
We both have off today to finish up the last minute items—including the less significant but fun ones like putting little glass beads in mason jars. This was actually an idea from my friend Heather…there are a couple dozen daisies waiting to be picked up today to be used with these as well. We had ribbon too, but Nick and I decided we liked them better without. It's more "us" this way (we're just not ribbon kind of people).
Nick spent an inordinate amount of time measuring 9.3 ounces of beads for each jar using our food scale. I stared at him all the while, hoping my stern gaze would speed him along. If this is any indication what the rest of the preparations will be like, I think I might have to start drinking early.
Thursday, August 25, 2011
Yesterday I tried a high-dose anti-inflammatory medication (a steroid) that I've never tried before. I had to see a physician's assistant the day before since my regular doctor was not in. He told me that if I use it with my daily pain medication, it would probably make me feel a lot better…and I have to admit, my back did feel better on it—but at a cost.
It was a scary day for me. My heart was racing and I was sweaty, jumpy, and very anxiety-ridden. Then, at about 3:00 in the afternoon, all side effects vanished and my back pain was back full force. I got in touch with my regular doctor and we have it all straightened out now.
But getting back to last night…
We have a big party we're hosting on Saturday (a wedding celebration thing), so we've been tasky all week. I got home and changed out of my dress into a pair of shorts and a tee shirt. The shorts felt about two sizes too big. I looked at my legs and I had muscle definition back and everything—it felt like I was back in 2005! Ah, life before all this mess began. It seems like so long ago.
Still, as nice as it was to get a glimpse of old Laura, it's not worth feeling that awful to get the inflammation (and thus its swelling symptoms) down. Wouldn't that have been sweet though!?
Tuesday, August 23, 2011
The never-ending saga of my back…
Yesterday morning I actually whimpered trying to get myself out of bed. I haven't done that since 2009. I had a big day to get through with back-to-back meetings that day, and I could not take the time to think about it. I subconsciously held onto the notion that it would be gone the next day when I woke up.
Not the case.
So, I headed to the doctor today. Since all of the medical files are digitized nowadays, the drama of the last five years erupted out of the screen. This was good, because to see someone today, I had to see someone I had never seen before. He seemed a bit overwhelmed by the sheer volume of medical notes and shook his head after a few minutes and examined my back.
"Does it hurt here?"
"How about here?"
"If I press right here, do you feel the urge to get up and do the hokey pokey?"
You know, the standard questions.
After he was done poking me, he chewed his bottom lip as he walked back to the mess of notes on the screen.
"I could send you for X-Rays, but you don't seem to be in the condition to stand very long." His reaction was a furrowed brow and more head shaking; he clicked through a few more screens of my digitized file. "I could order an MRI, but I see here that resting on your back is painful." He looked at me and frowned. "I'd send you the PT, but you already have the exercises." I could envision him going through all the protocol of what a doctor normally does with a patient presenting back pain, trying to find something that I haven't done before.
After spending a couple years with the pain clinic and the doctors who treat chronic pain every day of their lives, I am always surprised when I go to a normal clinic and a doctor tries to fix me. Don't get me wrong, I'd love to be fixed! However, I know that's not realistic, and I need to accept that and be okay with it. Eventually, he came to that conclusion as well, and it seemed to defeat him, and that made me a little sad…I wanted to hug him and soothe, "It's not your fault, Doc!"
With a heaviness to his voice, he asked, "Do you tolerate high doses of medication well?" I nodded, and he prescribed a powerful, short-term medication for me. It reminds me briefly of my aunt Brenda who used to joke about all the amber bottles in the "drug drawer" for the three of us when I lived with them. Forget apps: there's a pill for that.
Sunday, August 21, 2011
Sophie defines the term scaredy-cat. I've never known such a jumpy feline before. Recently, we discovered that she's terrified of random lights: prism reflections, jewelry catching in the sun…and we can't forget the laser pointer, the device that almost makes her wet herself.
As soon as the offensive light appears, she sprints out of the room and up the stairs with her ears flat, making gurgled mewling sounds in her throat. I hear the heavy thud of her paws stop for awhile, and eventually she tip-toes back down. She acts all nonchalant and pretends that she didn't just compromise her street cred.
I can just imagine what happens while our high-anxiety cat is out of sight. In my mind, I see her running to a quiet corner, her front paws over her ears and eyes closed, and chanting to herself, "Calm blue ocean. Calm blue ocean."
Thursday, August 18, 2011
So, there are a few things that I am a little neurotic about. And you're all like, "Yeah, and the sky is blue…"
The one that I'm about to describe has followed me for as long as I can remember—I'm talking back to my preschool days. It was a little game I played every time I got in the shower…and get your mind out of the gutter. I'm talking about the shampoo to conditioner ratio, and my game was to see if I would reach the end of each bottle at the exact same time.
Over the years, I have become a little meticulous in the way I dispense the hair products, always looking for ways to achieve that perfect balance. I now buy them in the liter size (which can be rather pricey with salon products, but they last forever…or…months). I bought a set of pumps to use with them.
The pumps were a happy accident. I bought them because I had vivid thoughts of slippery, soapy hands losing grip on heavy bottles and equally vivid thoughts of bruised toes. It turns out, they are also a much easier way to measure how much I use! When I had long hair, it was two and a half pumps each. With my shorter coif, it's an easy single pump. This is a very scientific part of my day, you'll understand.
When my husband started asking questions about my shampoo, I didn't think much of it. I stopped trying to figure out how his mind worked years ago. Eventually, he spit out that he's been using it. Nick doesn't use conditioner. I was going to get to the end of my shampoo before I was at the end of my conditioner, and life might just end. I was devastated. He, not realizing just how big of a deal this was, was taken aback. However, his uncontrollable laughter came along shortly.
To compensate, I've been using a 1:2 shampoo:conditioner ratio. Even then, I have no way of knowing how long he's been dipping into my supply, or how many pumps he uses. In nearly 30 years, I have never known such a breech in my unspoken code. My chi is decidedly off-kilter.
Tuesday, August 16, 2011
Several weeks ago, I bought myself a Kindle. It was a controversial buy for me because I like books—you know, like the kind with pages that you have to turn? But, during those long days after my hysterectomy when I was stranded on the couch (which might as well have been an island in the middle of nowhere), understanding dawned.
My brain was alive and well, leaping through fields of new wildflowers and shouting with rapture to be so aware of everything. And then there was my body that was looking and feeling a little worse for wear. So I had a ravenous mind trapped inside a vehicle that just didn't want to move.
I quickly devoured the majority of the unread books I had on the bookshelf. Then what? I was in no condition to be on my feet very long much less take myself anywhere. I was tortured by the idea that if I just had some sort of e-reader, I could have all the words money could buy right at my fingertips. The intense desire made me feel cheap.
So, when I had a little post-surgery scare and was feeling very down, I gave in to the urge because I was tired of fighting it. I felt like I needed to hide the box under my shirt as I walked from the big box store; I felt like I was selling out.
The Kindle has been within arm's reach ever since coming to live with us. I have read about 15 books on it now, and it does serve its purpose well (though I still think real books have their place). However, I have noticed some odd behavior from my condo-mates. Both of them have been coquettishly pawing all over me—you know, more than usual. Granted, one of my condo-mates is a cat, and she acts all jealous and bids for my attention whenever I seem to be occupied with something that isn't her. But the behavior of the taller, more human one surprised me.
The other night he snuggled up to me, resting his head on my shoulder. "Whatcha reading?" He stayed there for about a minute reading with me before mumbling something about boney shoulders and got all huffy as he turned away. Another time, he kissed me just as I was pulling out the Kindle. And he continued to kiss me before growling against my lips, "You're still holding the Kindle."
So, I realize that I'll have to become a little less transparent with my Kindle time. I'll have to figure out when I'll have the condo to myself do all my Kindling then. I'll have to wait until he falls asleep at night before stoking the Kindle fires. Somehow, the sneaking around makes my relationship with the Kindle feel a little tawdry—but not tawdry enough to end it, obviously.
Sunday, August 14, 2011
Mom would have been 54 today. I go through this every year, the "I can't believe it's been X years…" bit. It baffles me every year when I hit a date that forces me to look back…baffled because life went on after she died when I was certain that it couldn't possibly. This is now the sixth August 14th that I've greeted without her, but none have been as hard as that first one.
I only wrote to her for the first two because it tore me in two both times. Even reading them now, the rawness returns. Is it healthy to have such a trunk of vivid memory perfectly preserved? Probably not…but I'm very responsible when it comes to prying open the lid.
Ah, her smile. There are times I forget just how completely she could fill a moment with light. She enchanted everyone in her world with her humor, her compassion, and her love. She showered us with optimism, often leaving none for the quiet moments she kept to herself…particularly during those last years when Cancer came to live with us. People often didn't realize that she was sick…dying. Shouldn't a dying person be replete with sadness, after all? As Mom would probably say, that's a pretty ungrateful way to spend borrowed time.
She was two weeks into 24 when I was born…how young. How was she so wise and full of love to give already by 24? I was a self-consuming mess at 24! I suppose she was always on borrowed time, on loan to me from a generous benefactor. I'm very lucky that I could know her for the time that I did. Would I trade her and the short time I knew her for someone else who is still here? Not on your life.
Happy birthday, Mom. I miss you, and it still hurts that you're not here…but I promise that I won't let it leaden my days. That's a pretty ungrateful way to spend this beautiful life that you helped me see.
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