Archive for November, 2009

Weekend recap.

The one thing I was grinding my teeth about for the weekend — Thanksgiving dinner with the inlaws, two hours away — was effectively voided when Spawn began throwing up on Thanksgiving morning.  Yay stomach virus. 

When you make plans to drive two hours away for a meal, you tend to not have a whole lot in the way of groceries in the house.  Our Thanksgiving was something of a catch-as-catch-can affair, and frankly that suited me just fine.  I found a box of stuffing in the pantry, my husband had already deep-fried a turkey to take with us on our trip, and I made jello for Spawn — it was a definite downmarket holiday this year.  I seized the opportunity of a rainy cold day, a kid sacked out in front of the TV in jammies, and a grinchy mood to tackle the front closet.  Items deemed of no further use were kicked out, some destined for the consignment shop and others set aside for St. Vincent de Paul. 

What was I thankful for this Thanksgiving?  The unexpected gift of a day more or less to myself. 

By Friday Spawn was for all intents and purposes back to normal, and agitating for Christmas decorating to begin.  Ordinarily I am something of a mutterer when it comes to a full-scale attack on Christmas decor when the turkey is barely cold, but I bought a new tree this year and was anxious to get it assembled.  Nothing like a new toy, you know.  Our old tree had suffered the slings and arrows of cats climbing its branches and the rough handling of a spouse squashing it unceremoniously into a storage space, and quite frankly I was tired of having to wire the thing back together every year.  This year I also purchased a storage bag that (supposedly) takes some of the angst out of storing an assembled tree, which we will see if the claim holds after the holidays are over. 

I went nowhere near a shopping center the entire weekend.  I do not love a bargain so much as to fight that maddening crowd. 

Sunday was something of a banner as I, my husband, and my mother (among others) were treated to the Rite of Acceptance into the Catholic church.  Just the knowledge that my father and other various assembled family members were somewhat teary-eyed over the sight was enough for me.  The journey has had some moments of profound rightness for me thus far.  I’m still sorting things out, though.  I haven’t mentioned much of it here because it’s been so intensely personal and private that I can’t articulate it well.  Suffice it to say that it’s been a long time coming. 

After four days of sleeping as late as I liked, this morning was pretty shrill.  I suppose I should continue to be thankful to have a job (such as it is) and that the job I have has been easy on the nerves today. 


— Mox

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I think that possibly the worst thing you can do is the thing that you know better than to do. 

For those of you scratching your head at the above sentence, let me explain. 

I have Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease, or GERD.  I’ve had it for 20 years or better, with my first attack coming my senior year of college.  Over the years I’ve been able to treat it with over-the-counter medications and lots of Tums.  But since I hit that magic age of 40 I’ve had to go for the big guns — prescription meds. 

I am not a good medicine-taker.  I absolutely hate the fact that I have to swallow a pill every day in order for my body to work as it is designed to do.  Oh, I know, boo hoo hoo, you poor dear thing.  You have to take ONE pill.  How do you ever survive it?   And I’m not so stupid as to not realize that there are people out there who have to take fistfuls of pills just to remain vertical and I am just being a big fat baby about this.  It feels a little bit like weakness to me, that I can’t just muscle past it. 

I don’t think I would make a very good addict.  I don’t like being dependent on a substance. 

The next logical step, and one that has already been suggested to me by my doctor, is that I change my diet. 

Which would look like this:   

Food Group Foods To Avoid
Fruit • Orange juice
• Lemon
• Lemonade
• Grapefruit juice
• Cranberry juice
• Tomato
Vegetables • Mashed potatoes
• French fries
• Onion, raw
Meat • Ground beef, chuck
• Marbled sirloin
• Chicken nuggets
• Buffalo wings
Dairy • Sour cream
• Milk shake
• Ice cream
• Cottage cheese, regular
Grains • Macaroni and cheese
• Spaghetti with sauce
Beverages • Liquor
• Wine
• Coffee, decaffeinated or regular
• Tea, decaffeinated or regular
Fats / Oils • Salad dressing, creamy
• Salad dressing, oil & vinegar
Sweets / Desserts • Butter cookie, high-fat
• Brownie
• Chocolate
• Doughnut
• Corn chips
• Potato chips, regular

Folks, that’s pretty much my entire diet.  That’s the stuff I like. 

You do a little research and find that a GERD-friendly diet consists of stuff like grilled skinless chicken breasts and mineral water.  Broccoli, cabbage, peas.  Perhaps I should start marking the days by scratching hashmarks into the wall. 

There is a dynamic in all of this that is easy to overlook, and that’s the brain-gut connection.  Most of us have experienced that stomach-churning feeling that comes with being nervous about something.  It’s the same connection that triggers my reflux — my brain starts spinning wildly over upsetting things and the next thing you know I’ve got heartburn and/or stomach cramps.  And I don’t know about you, but when I’m upset, I eat.  A lot of the wrong things. 

(And yes I understand the connection between all of this and the 17 pounds I have packed on in the past two years.) 

So what do I do about all this?  Hm?  Well, I guess for starters I could just calm down.  And I could probably suck it up and start eating better/less.  And going to the gym more. 

But first there is the small matter of turkey and dressing and pie. 


— Mox

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Spawn has been reading to a dog. 

This is not anything new in educational circles, using dogs as reading “teachers.”  It’s something that works with struggling readers because it helps to build their confidence, and from confidence comes competency. 

My best friend Eileen, she of the awesomeness, has such a dog.  A yellow Labrador showed up at her house in the country one day (as dogs are wont to do in the country) and became a member of her wolfpack.  Why people feel the need to dump animals in the country, I will never understand, but that’s another post for another day.  But the dog had an even temperament and a need to snuggle, and if you’ve ever snuggled with a large dog you know how that feels. 

I hit upon the idea of Spawn reading to an animal when I caught the kid reading to one of our cats.  Cats are not so good as therapy animals, at least from the standpoint of sitting still and listening.  I mentioned this to Eileen and she immediately thought of her yellow lab and offered his services to us.  So every Saturday morning Eileen brings the dog to my parents’ house (where there are no cats) and they sit and read together. 

Is it working?  I think so.  Spawn has been positively thrilled to get a little one-on-one fur time, and has been attempting more independent reading as of late.  I encourage this, of course, though I will miss the days where “read me a story” is part of our bedtime routine. 

This is something I would love to pursue further but I don’t know how it’s possible to make any money at it, and at this point I need to make some money. 


— Mox

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Part Deux?

I got word over the weekend that the girl who took over for me at my last job has decided to quit to be a stay-at-home mom. 

To which I say, “kudos!”  Not many women have that option.  Some (me) don’t want that option. 

And I had a moment of “hey my old job is open” but that moment quickly passed. 


If I could have stepped back in and not have had to deal with the one woman who made the entire experience a living hell for me, then I might have approached my old boss about it.  But it would have been like remarrying an ex-husband — whatever it was that caused the problem to start with would have come around again once the honeymoon was over. 

And honeymoons in those circumstances are particularly short-lived. 


As part of the application process to become an instructor at the local technical college, I’ve had to request my college transcripts.  Funny, I remember myself as being a better student than what they indicate.  I mean, I was a solid B student.  Even within my major I was a B student.  I don’t remember trying particularly hard to be anything more than that.  Does that mean the college will pass me over in favor of a higher-achieving student?  Hard to say.  But the positions I am applying for are titled “Remedial Instructor” so I’m hoping a B average will pass muster. 

And so it goes. 


— Mox

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After a morning spent unpleasantly being (wo)manhandled and manipulated and squished within an inch of my life, I am once again declared healthy of boob. 

So how come I don’t feel as if my load has been lightened? 

The possibility exists that my blahness is a result of not seeing the sun for the past three days.  Damn I hate winter in this part of the world. 

I tend to sink into a funk about this time every year.  I manage to recognize and participate in the things that bring me happiness, and those things are often as simple as playing a board game and eating warm chocolate chip cookies with Spawn.  While I don’t necessarily walk around with a black cloud hanging over me, I often feel as if I’m leapfrogging from one joyful moment to another, over a black abyss.  But this year it’s different, somehow. 

Even before my latest set of worries happened it felt different.  I can’t explain it other than it’s just “different.”  I feel like something is going to give, will have to give.  Just what, though, I don’t know. 

In the span of time between Monday night and this morning about 10am when I got the all clear, I’ve looked at things hard.  Obviously my job is a big issue, and my next step is a big issue.  Had I been staring down the barrel of physical illness, what would have I done about all of that? 

Don’t even get me started about the whole wife/mother deal.  While my husband is a (mostly) fine father, he would suck big time at being a mother. 

Midlife crisis?  Hard to say. 



— Mox

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My father is one of those people who, when he gets an idea into his head, he can’t quit until he’s seen it to completion.  This is great once you get him started on a project, because his mind just goes and goes and goes until he’s worked out all the angles and anticipated all the problems and fixed all the boo-boos.  It’s not so great if you have another project that needs to get done anytime soon. 

This is a trait I get from him, this need to focus intensely on the subject at hand, until all is complete.  I can function, sure, doing other things, but uppermost in my mind is the thing that I am thinking about.  So the other things I do, while I am thinking about The Thing, are things that get done in some sort of somnambulent state. 

My father does not rest until he’s finished with a project.  For a man 74 years old, blind in one eye, he’s very productive out in the workshop.  Imagine my impatience with a husband who begins and abandons projects with alarming regularity. 

Ahem.  Anyway. 

Where my father’s focus tends to be on the physical projects at hand, my brain, true to my female nature, more often than not can obsess about intangibles. 

When I arrived home Monday evening from a particularly soul-sucking day at work, there was a message on our answering machine from the mammogram place, asking me to call them.  No reason why, just call at my earliest convenience.  Since it was after 5pm, that meant my imagination had free rein to run wild all night long.  I called on Tuesday morning and learned that my mammogram showed an “irregularity” and that I would have to come in and have it redone.  The doctor felt it was probably some fibrous tissue but wanted a second look. 

Yeah.  Guess where my brain has been ever since. 

I have not mentioned any of this to my mother or my husband, because at this point there is no reason to alarm anyone besides myself, though I did share this info with my best friend, who (true to her patience-of-Job form) advised me to “breathe.”  Oh, she knows me so well. 

The upside of this is that once I get this second mammogram done, I’ll be able to wait around for the doctor to reexamine it and tell me what he thinks.  Then I’ll know if I’m finished with this project or not. 



— Mox

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Do they even offer transcripts of TV shows anymore? 

This is a random thought, I realize, but back in the stone ages, when I had time to actually sit down and watch television, I remember at the end of some programs there would be an offer for transcripts if anyone wanted one.  I don’t know why anyone would want one. 

Anyway, the whole subject of transcripts is due to the fact that I just sent off a request for official transcripts from my university.  The initial reason is, there are some instructor positions at the local technical school that I intend to apply for, and part of the process is to supply a copy of transcripts with the interview.  This is assuming they would want to interview me for any of these positions, but considering the positions are continually open (and have been posted since 2007) and titled “Remedial Instructor” I figure I’d at least get someone to talk to me. 

What?  These jobs pay 28 bucks an hour.  Oh hell yes. 

If nothing comes of this then at least I’ll have official transcripts for my files, in case I need them for something else.  And truthfully, I’ve forgotten what my transcripts say.  I remember my grades were fairly good, though I wasn’t dean’s list material. 

Perhaps I could snag one of these remedial instructorships and determine from there if I want to pursue a master’s degree.  I’m still toying with the idea.  To earn a faculty position I’d have to have at least a master’s degree, anyway. 

I recently sat down and did what I call a “Ben Franklin” on my current job and my last job.  A “Ben Franklin” is where you list all the pros on one side of the paper and all the cons on the other, and judge what you should do by the length and quality of each list.  I don’t know how I came to call it a “Ben Franklin” though I seem to remember someone telling me once that it was a tactic that ol’ Ben himself employed when faced with a decision.  At any rate, that’s what I call it. 

One of the things I listed as a “like” in my last job was talking to tour groups.  I had the knowledge and I was able to impart it, extemporaneously, and with a great deal of enjoyment.  I knew what it was I needed to get accomplished in the span of time alloted to me before the group departed on a historic walking tour.  It’s also something that I’ve listed as a “like” on my current job, that imparting of knowledge for a specific purpose. 

Now, I am not a teacher, and this I know.  But I am pretty good at being bossy.  And I apparently enjoy telling people what I think they need to know.  So hey, a remedial position teaching English or Communications or Literature?  Bring it. 

Nothing may come of it but at least it’s a movement off dead center, no? 


— Mox

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