Monday, November 20, 2006
Hello? Blogger?
So, this is quite strange. I recently upgraded this here blog to the new Beta version of Blogger. It worked fine for a day or two, but then completely shut me out. I can't log in to Blogger and can't access many of my favorite blogs. I suspect it has something to do with my shitty, craptastically old desktop, which has been causing all sorts of problems lately. So, Santa's coming early this year, and I'm finally getting a laptop! In the meantime, enjoy this dull, whiny message, posted off a friend's computer. That's a way to score lots of readers, right?


Tuesday, November 14, 2006
Bittersweet fall

I love fall. I love the leaves turning and the first cool day that finds me digging sweaters out of the back of the closet. I love knowing that the holidays are nearing. But, fall has also taken on a sadness for me. My dad loved the fall, it was his favorite time of year. His birthday is November 19th and Thanksgiving was his favorite holiday. My dad died last year, July 5, 2005.

He was sick for many years with a particularly cruel form of multiple sclerosis (MS) and his health had deteriorated significantly in the last several years. He was confined to a wheelchair and my mom had to feed him, bathe him, and help him use the bathroom. A difficult, sometimes sad life, but we were a very happy family. My mom cared for him everyday, our family and friends rallied around them, and Dad was the last person on earth to ask for sympathy. In fact, when anyone asked how he was, his patented response was "Doing well!" with an accompanying grin and a twinkle in his blue eyes. Then, fate kicked us in the ass yet again and he was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2004.

He actually responded quite well to treatment initially. But, in the end, the cancer was too much for his weakened body and he slipped very quickly from relative good health to his final days in the hospital. Though I knew he was sick and in the hospital yet again, it was a complete shock when I received a call early in the morning from my mom saying that I needed to get home as quickly as possible. I was in San Francisco with my husband where we were planning to celebrate our 2nd anniversary and my 30th birthday. I laid in bed in cried and cried while my husband made arrangements to get us there as soon as possible.

Our family spent Dad's last days together. He had to stay in the hospital, which still breaks my heart, but he needed too much to be comfortable at home. Family and friends came from far and near to say their goodbyes and we sat together, told stories and jokes, and shared pieces of chocolate cake (his favorite) brought from the best bakeries in town. He was aware of what was happening and we all acknowledged it with him, often in silence or through a look, a hug, a kiss. Luckily, everything important had already been said, or did not need to be said at all. We were a close-knit, happy family and he was the best of us all. He slipped into unconsciousness on July 4th and died the next morning surrounded by the women who loved him - my two grandmothers, my mom and myself. We were all touching him as we watched him take his last breath.

I did pretty well through that last week in the hospital and the days subsequent to his death. My family was together and we comforted each other and made it through with a mix of tears, stoicism, wine and inappropriate humor – our specialty. MS is not a fatal disease, but because of the unusual severity of his illness, I think we had all been preparing for some time to let go of Dad earlier than we wanted to. We realized that each of us had already done much of our mourning, over the last several years, as we came to grips with his MS and its devastating impact. I shed many tears that week, but was stronger than I could have imagined. Denial is a lovely thing.

After the shock began to wear off and we transitioned back to "normal" life, I felt my shell starting to crumble. You're not supposed to lose your dad at 30 years old. Though I was never much for, "Why me?" I found myself questioning how something so shitty could happen to such a kind, gentle man. He was a child psychiatrist who served the poorest and the sickest children. He was a very quiet man and often didn't have much to say, especially once the MS started to effect his swallowing and speaking. But he could always surprise you with a witty comment or a quick joke, just when you thought he wasn't following the conversation, and he was known for his grin and his extremely firm handshake, even when he was at his sickest.

Last year, I dreaded his birthday for weeks. It was the first big milestone after his death and I no longer had my denial to protect me. I made sure I was alone that day, even sending my husband to an out-of-town wedding, over his protests. I knew it would be hard and I wanted to be with my own thoughts and feelings. The holidays were sad, but we tried to tell as many great stories of him as we could think of and spending time with our family brought a lot of joy and laughter, even if it was mixed with tears. Over the next many months, I found myself gradually able to think about him without immediately tearing up. I remembered the good things, the funny stories, his voice and his smile.

I know that my grief isn't over and done with, but I've arrived at a more comfortable place - past the denial and the numb, and past the deep and pervasive sadness. I was almost surprised this past summer to realize that, amidst the chaos of my husband's graduation and vacations with friends and family, the anniversary of his death was approaching. I monitored my emotions, almost from outside my own self, and was surprised to realize that I was not dreading the impending date as much as I had feared. We had a quiet July 4th at home - me, my husband, our dog and our new puppy. The next morning dawned with my husband wrapping his arms around me and squeezing me tightly, though we didn't speak of it. Honestly, I don't even remember what I did that day. All I know is that I thought of Dad often, smiled, spoke quietly to him, felt his love, and felt comfort.

Now, we are almost upon his birthday again. I think I will always dread these milestone dates, but this year I do not have the fear that I did last year. I still miss him, I still cry in the shower sometimes, and as we move closer to thinking about starting a family, I mourn the fact that my children will never know their grandpa, will never be on the receiving end of one of his magical smiles, never hear him read them a bedtime story, and never feel his patient hands showing them how to hold a baseball bat. But, I have pictures, and stories, and memories and they will absolutely know how special he was.

So, though November will always bring me sadness, I know he would want me to feel the joy of the changing seasons, the approaching holidays, and the chance to spend time with family. So, I do.


Monday, November 13, 2006
Reason #72 why working at home is cool
7:00 am: Husband's alarm clock goes off since he needs to be at his internship by 8:00 am. He tries to snuggle and instead gets "Argh...snort...#$**!@......I'm sleeeeeepy....zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz."

7:40 am: Husband comes to kiss me good bye, asks if I remembered to set my alarm, to which I respond, "Argh...snort...@#*&$.....zzzzzzzzzzzzzz." (I'm delightful in the morning.)

7:42 am: 150 lbs of Lab descends on the bed. Both start licking their butts. LOUDLY. I curse some more and put my pillow over my head.

8:18 am: My alarm goes off. Why did I ever think it was funny to program my cell alarm to play "Gold Digger"?! Hit snooze, quickly.

8:28 am: I hate you, Kanye! Turn alarm off, tell myself that I'm "totally awake." Dogs are now smushed on either side of me, like big, furry, blankets. Mmmmmm, maybe I'll just close my eyes for a few more minutes.

8:52: Woken up by neighbor's very loud Latin rap music, emitting from his stupid convertible Miata (just like EVERY OTHER morning). Shit, what time is it? Squirm out from under the dog that is laying across my shins. Stumble into the same comfy pants I've been wearing for 3 days in a row. Let dogs out. Make coffee.

9:02: I am sitting in front of my computer, with a steaming cup of coffee, answering emails, just like the rest of the working world (suckers).


Friday, November 10, 2006
You can call me Fuzz (for a reason)
So, um, I don't think I have any actual readers yet, but if I do, I'm guessing you know Amalah, right? She was one of the first blogs I read and is certainly one of the inspirations for this here blog. If you read her, you know she is the Queen of Everything, including the Advice Smackdown, answering all sorts of questions about hair, beauty, fashion, etc. for those of us who are, er, challenged in any or all of these areas. She recently asked her readers to let her know if they felt they had expertise in a particular area, to assist with those questions for which she has no personal experience. Well, I have toiled and sweated for years, doing my research, trying and failing, all to hone my expertise in an area that has caused me much angst since the 5th grade.

In my very first entry I explained the origin of the name of my blog. The hair, lo, how it is big and curly. It is certainly one of my defining features and I have finally grown to love it, but I had TERRIBLE hair for years. Very curly, dry and frizzy, too blonde and too chlorinated from years of swim team. This was during the days of bad perms as far as the eye could see - you would think that I would have fit right in, but sadly, no. I was a bit of a tomboy and had no idea how to manage it, much less fix it. I did everything wrong - I got the mushroom cut, I tried to grow "mall bangs," I used gel that could have doubled for spackle.

But, over many years, I have finally figured it out. Wise haircut decisions, finding the right product, leaving the '80's and early '90's behind - all of these factors helped immensely. So, I am very pleased that I can offer my hard-earned curly hair knowledge to you and yours. So, go! Ask some questions!


Thursday, November 09, 2006
Fitness schmitness
I am so fucking out of shape. You may not know it to look at me. I'm a petite woman (read: midget-like) and have never really been overweight. Except maybe in college when I didn't seem to get that I could no longer drink a six-pack of Coke daily and live off of cheese fries and bad keg beer without consequences, since I was no longer playing sports year round. I even lost some weight recently due to some shitty things going on in my life. Who knew that emotional stress could curb my always ravenous appetite? Now that my world view is a little rosier, I have managed to keep the weight off and am actually quite happy with my size.

But, my God, other than walking our dogs, I don't get any exercise. I've always been athletic. Played soccer, volleyball, and swam when I was in high school. More soccer in college and I've even run two marathons, though let me issue a huge caveat here: I hate to run, I'm an incredibly slow runner, and the only reason I ran the damn things was to benefit the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Oh, and the fact that the first one was in Bermuda and the second was in Alaska. That definitely helped too. I think because I have a pretty solid history of being active, I figure that I have somehow magically retained some base level of fitness. But I was recently proven very, very wrong.

My husband (who has been an accomplished athlete all his life and is in sickeningly good shape, seemingly without trying - bastard) has been playing IM sports with his graduate program and asked me if I wanted to play indoor soccer with them. I was pretty excited, as I haven't played soccer in over a year and I love indoor. But, holee shit. I played for five minutes and thought I was going into cardiac arrest. Seriously, I came off the court and saw stars briefly. So, so sad.

Working at home does wierd things to your schedule. On one hand, you have more time. You can do laundry and run errands in between bursts of working. You can walk the dogs at 10:00, or 2:00 or 4:00. But, when you're like me (read: slightly ADD, with grand plans of all I will accomplish every day, only to be sorely disappointed when it's 5:00 pm, I've only done 3 hours of work, done NOTHING around the house and am still wearing my pajamas), it is hard to get in a real schedule. I've really been trying lately. Trying to fit in work, house stuff, time with my husband and my dogs, and staying at least a little bit organized. But, holy hell, I think it's time to add some freakin' exercise to the list. I strained a hamstring walking the dogs yesterday. People, that's pathetic. I'll keep you posted. If I've worked out once at the end of next week it will be a miracle. See? Expect the worst, hope for the best. My motto for life.


Wednesday, November 08, 2006
What month is this?
November? Shit. Not so good at the posting regularly thing for the last little bit. Here's a quick update:

1) Went to the reunion for my college singing group. Had a blast reliving my youth and my "rock star" days, that is, if "rock star" is the same thing as "dorky a cappella singer."

2) Finished my giant work paper. After writing for 12 straight hours the day of my deadline. Subsequently developed carpal tunnel syndrome.

3) Went to one of my best friend's super-fun wedding in Charleston. Side note: her wedding coordinator got so drunk that he ate off her parents' plates at the reception, wiped his mouth with the tablecloth, and when she demanded that he leave, he peeled out of the parking lot and hit a car. Instead of being devastated, she thought it was freakin' hilairous and proceeded to repeat the story to everyone at the reception. She canceled his check the next morning. This is why I love her.

4) Went to the mountains with all of our college friends (an annual event) where we live off of candy and nachos, get super-drunk and act like 21 year-olds for three days, deep in the woods where we can't bother anyone (or get ourselves arrested). Except, these days, the drinking and debauchery is interspersed with knitting, much gossip about the birth of the first baby of the group, and cries of "your flip cup game is leaving water rings on the table."God we're getting old and crotchety.

5) Spent a few blissfully quiet weekends at home watching movies, knitting, doing yardwork and cleaning out closets and YAAAAAAAAWN. I'm sorry, where was I?

6) Am currently driving myself insane trying to keep our two Labs "quiet" after our 3 year-old strained something in his hind leg and our puppy had surgery (he is no longer a "real" man, if you get my drift). Trying to keep two young, rambunctious, pent-up, bored Labs "quiet" is a complete joke.

I really wish I had some deeper thoughts, funnier stories, or political diatribes for you, but I don't, especially that last one since the Dems took back Congress. Woot!

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