Monday, October 22, 2012

"Friend of the Groom"

As of this coming Sunday, both of my ex-fiances will be married. Now I'll impart why I'm not a fan of announcing one's engagement and impending marriage via social media: his intended (who is, incidentally, young enough to be his daughter) cheerfully posted it in his Facebook feed. It's really my fault for remaining friends with him, and no, I hadn't considered how I'd feel when this day came.

I found out with all the blunt force of being slammed into a wall at high speed.

Thirty-six hours later, after he had discussed this momentous announcement with my sister, he sheepishly messaged me, "I'm getting married in two weeks." I sat there staring at the screen thinking, "Aaaand, I really don't feel like congratulating you, because I found out along with your 2,000 random Facebook friends when I'm pretty sure your 'real friends' knew beforehand."

He used to give me these long-winded lectures about "Bros before Ho(s)", i.e., his 'friends' took precedence over me in the grand scheme of things. I'd told him repeatedly over the past several years since we broke up that I am now on the 'bro' side of the equation and I'd appreciate it if he treated me as such. That didn't seem to 'take'; however, I always seemed to hear from him when he was about to be evicted or his electricity was about to be disconnected...his other 'bros' were nowhere in evidence then.

The grand finale to all this came when I wearily told him (he's a state employee) that he needs to add her to his insurance policy. Our open enrollment ends two days before the wedding, so the 'qualifying event' will be his only chance until next year's open enrollment for 2014. It's my fault for posing the following hypothetical: "What if she were to get pregnant before you put her on your insurance?" Response: "We're waiting to start a family." That hit me harder than I want to admit- a lot harder. I waited ten years in vain to start a family with him, and then time passed me by. There will be no family for me now- my fault for not leaving him when I should've.

I thought I'd dealt with this a long time ago, but like so many things, I just stuck it in a dark little recess. Surprise, surprise. I didn't think it would bother me this much.

While I was on leave for my surgical recovery, I started reading a little bit more about my Aspergers, especially how it manifests in women. It seems we have a tendency to hold on to things beyond their expiration date, especially relationships of all kinds. We have trouble immediately discerning when things have fallen irreparably apart, and usually don't recognize it until it's far too late. We form few attachments, which makes it that much harder when we have to let someone go.

It's time. It's past time. If only I can follow through...

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Adventures in Gynecology: Squirrel Edition

The weirdest aspect of my recent medical crisis was sitting with the surgeon's scheduling assistant as he ran through a series of pre-op questions. My sister was with me in case I zoned out and didn't pay attention to something.

Justin zipped through some mundane stuff, such as, "Do you, or have you ever, smoked?" and "Do you have any allergies?" and then he got to the real humdinger: "I have to kind of collect myself for this one, and I know it's going to seem rude and possibly weird," he paused, and with a mostly straight face, inquired: "Do you eat squirrels?"

Crickets chirped outside the window as the next several seconds passed in stunned silence. Finally, my sister blurted out, "ARE YOU SERIOUS?"

"Yes, unfortunately, we ask all of our patients who live outside the Big City that question. There's something in their brains (it's called a prion, actually) that's very dangerous to our oncology patients and there's a terrible infection risk. So we ask everyone. I thought it was bizarre until one of our ladies called last week and asked if squirrel broth was okay since beef and chicken were on our list of pre-op foods. I know her and I just had this image in my mind of her sitting on her porch and chasing the squirrels when they came down in her yard."

We sat there for a moment, mulling this over, and then my sister said, "Well, that's not how you catch them."

"Right, you shoot them," responded our city-bred young man.

"No," my sister told him, her face a mask of dead calm, "you use a fishing rod, with bread or peanut butter as the bait, and then you cast up into the trees. You wait until you feel one take the bait, then you reel it in like a fish." She demonstrated the whole process of casting a line up into the branches and reeling in the line.

Justin's jaw was just about on the floor until she finally smiled and said, "I'm kidding. You do shoot them."

What had set both of us off was the assumption that only we hicks outside the city are prone to eating squirrels. Not too surprisingly, my sister told Justin that she thought it was a mistake to rule out city-dwelling squirrel-eaters, and while I was in the hospital recovering right there in the Big City, a man was arrested for killing squirrels out of season in the part of town my sister had suggested as squirrelmageddon to Justin.

I'm a reference librarian. I've been asked some damned strange stuff in my career, but Justin and his squirrel question win, hands down.

42 (the Meaning of Life?)

My sister has been bemoaning turning forty for the last several months, and the momentous occasion arrived last Thursday. Somehow, though, the import was dampened by the fact that things have been...errr...eventful for me since late July. We're having her family birthday dinner tonight. I didn't know if I would be here for it. I didn't know if I'd still be among the living...literally.

I'd had some "female troubles" during my annual camp event and they weren't improving. It finally became clear that the weren't going away, so I made an appointment with a new gynecologist, since they have a habit of leaving town after a few years when the malpractice insurance bills are issued for the coming year, and off I went. There was some thoughtful consideration of the symptoms I described, and I was shuttled off to the medical imaging center across town for a very uncomfortable examination.

After the ultrasound technician finished, the sixty-something radiologist came in and told me, apologetically, "I need to look at something again." Fifteen minutes later he was standing at the foot of the table, trying to gauge the size of something with his fingers. I was sitting there thinking, okay, it's bigger than a tennis ball...but smaller than a basketball...when he cleared his throat and announced, "Look, I'm sorry to tell you this, but there's a mass on your right ovary the size of a grapefruit. It looks like there's another one on the other ovary. The good news is that the viscosity and size give every indication of being benign."

Benign. As in, "malignant or benign" in, 'you probably don't have cancer, but you can't entirely rule it out'. Oh. Merde.

Long story short, at my current weight and body mass distribution, combined with the size of the mass, no general gynecologist wanted to yank the things. I asked an advanced-practice nurse whom I trust and a perinatological OB-GYN whose sister is a childhood friend, and got some names of oncologists. I recognized one-she's the granddaughter of a famous OB-GYN my parents had known when Dad was in med school.

My poor new gyno referred me on to the oncologist. The experience was surreal. I got there and realized as I sat in the waiting room that the door to the examining area was the gateway to heaven or hell- literally. This surgeon would determine whether or not I had cancer. I looked around; everyone around me was there facing similar news. I plastered what I hoped was a calm expression on my face and realized that I was gritting my teeth.

On August 27th, my right ovary, along with a very large grapefruit-sized mass, was removed by open incision, and a smaller mass was ruptured and suctioned out on the left. I kept that left ovary along with my uterus. For four days, I lay in the hospital and I'll let you in on a secret: if you ever have to have this done, you'll never be so enthused (or less embarrassed) about passing gas in your life, and the best news that I've ever gotten, besides, "You got tenure!", "You passed your qualifier", "You've won a full scholarship", and "Your mother is going to live", are:

"Congratulations, the pathology came back clean. You don't have cancer."

My first full public outing was my 25th class reunion. I deliberately scheduled my surgery so that I would be able to attend. I am no the only one of us to dance with potential death, just the closest to the reunion date. So now it's up to me, and to paraphrase one of my favorite movie quotations, it's time to get busy livin'.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

A Game of Chicken

Many bloggers have taken to the ether to vent about the Chick-fil-A controversy. Personally, Chick-fil-A is okay, but I don't really like my chicken with sugar on it. If you hadn't yet figured out that this is their "secret ingredient", well, ooops. That's why it's vaguely sweet. What I'll miss most is that they're the only place on Earth that did a diet fresh-squeezed lemonade made with Splenda; I'm phenylketoneuric, i.e., I can't have aspartame, and I also can't have carbonated drinks because of my LapBand. That makes finding something to drink in a food court an absolute nightmare, one that was mitigated by the Chick-fil-A lemonade. Oh, well, I guess I'll be getting unsweetened tea and putting in my own Splenda from now on.

Dan Cathy is entitled to his opinion, and so am I. Personally, I know we heteros have screwed up the "holy institution of marriage" so badly that over half of all of those holy institutions end in divorce. It's not so much that he went on record as being a "one man, one woman=marriage" guy, it's that his corporation gives money to things like conversion ministries. I know people who were horribly scarred because their parents shoved them into 'conversion' programs- they emerged just as non-hetero on the other side as they were when they went in, albeit angry and bitter at the people who put them there.

On the flipside, Constitutionally speaking, Boston and Chicago can't keep Chick-fil-A out of their respective cities just because they find Dan Cathy's religious beliefs offensive. The First Amendment guarantees us both free speech and freedom of religion, no matter how you slice it. As I've pointed out more than once, strident objection to Larry Flynt's values did nothing to stop the Hustler Store from opening in Lexington. That protection is there for Larry Flynt, Dan Cathy, and everybody in between. It was also pretty flabbergasting that the mayor of Boston waxed poetic on his city's role in the founding and framing of this country, when the thrust of his speech was the restriction of a business with whose owner's personal values he disagreed. That flies in the face of both democratic and capitalistic principals, two of the pillars of American society and culture. If you disagree with the man's values, don't buy his chicken, but don't think we have a right to keep him from doing business.

I'm in favor of LGBT marriage because I don't see it as a 'special right'- I see it as a fundamental legal right that's denied to a large segment of our population. "Marriage" is licensed by the state and does not require religious sanction; it's only a sacrament if that's part of one's personal belief system. We are not a theocracy, and the Founding Fathers absolutely didn't want that. I speak to this with some qualification- I'm a history professor- and the ramrodding of someone else's religious views down my throat is as bad as attempting to silence theirs in return. What makes a Christian theocracy better than an Islamic one? Historically, nothing; they're equally oppressive, each in their own sweet way.

And PS, fried chicken is bad for you, regardless of the politics of whoever fried it. Sure, it tastes good, but when's the last time you had your cholesterol and triglycerides checked? Maybe you should just stay home and bake one instead- it's cheaper and easier on your digestion, and not having to prove a point about your beliefs by where you buy your dinner may just lower your blood pressure.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Bye-bye, Blackbird

Nothing will delineate the difference between friends and acquaintances better than a crisis. They sort themselves out, but that's not to say that the results won't be disappointing.

In the past week, I've found out I'm toting around a grapefruit-sized mass in my abdomen and that my uterus also needs to leave the building- and tra-la, tra-la, yesterday I was sent for a blood draw for cancer markers. I'm not too happy about any of it, but what can you do? Much like the dried-up sodium incident in high school, sudden knowledge does not exacerbate the situation at hand unless you choose to be melodramatic about it.

Here's the thing: if you don't know what to say, it's perfectly all right to say "I'm sorry." To say nothing is both rude and unkind.

Our illusions die hard, and seemingly, at the most inopportune time. We're relieved, I suppose, of the burden of them on our hearts, minds, and souls. It does, however, incinerate some of the better memories of childhood in a single, blinding flash, just when we might take a modicum of comfort in them.

The spell of banishment is simple: write the name of the person on a strip of paper, and burn it to ash. Take the ashes to a body of running water such as a stream or river, and dump them in, while speaking or thinking that the person be gone from one's life forever. Maybe I can put it off, until the words and pain are borne away by the 'mighty' Green River, but I'm not sure I have the time to wait.

Friday, July 27, 2012

We Are But Mortal

Everyone from my hometown knows the story of Jane Todd Crawford, the patient who survived the first successful ovariotomy in 1809. She was from my home county; our hospital is named for her. Ephraim McDowell thus joined the pantheon of the most celebrated surgeons in medical history after removing a basketball-sized ovarian tumor from Mrs. Crawford. Shockingly and unexpectedly, she lived through it, and McDowell introduced a non-lethal, lifesaving gynecological surgical procedure to the world.

Two days ago, I looked a radiologist in the eye and told him that I knew that the surgery I required had been successfully performed for over two hundred years and at least I had the benefit of anesthesia, whereas Jane Todd, as we affectionately call her back home, did not. He had just explained that there is a mass the size of a grapefruit on my right ovary. (Just FYI, the ovary is about the size of an almond- so try to visualize a grapefruit attached to that.) The mass is not vasculated and is fluid density, according to his reading of my ultrasound, so those are both great under the circumstances-but anything half that size and larger needs to come out. Soon.

So now I wait. I've called a few people who are close to me, but this is really the first time I've just laid it out there. Today, a plea went out from one of my closest childhood friends to the rest of our graduating class, asking if they would please RSVP for our twenty-fifth reunion. The restaurant will not close for under thirty people, and only ten have responded- I can't blame them, especially since our local fall festival, Cow Days, will be underway that weekend. It will lose them some foot traffic to shut down just for us.

There was a blinding moment during which I seriously considered emotional blackmail, i.e., "Hey guys, I just got some pretty depressing news a couple of days ago. Think you could show up for three hours, because I'm not sure I'll be around for the next one?"

My initial diagnosis is pretty good. I'm trying to keep a stiff upper lip and all that, but deep down, I am scared shitless. My health, despite my weight, has been fairly good most of my life. This is a big one. I haven't processed it completely yet. Of course, the timing sucks, since we're on the forward edge of the fall semester, we have a lot of big plans, I'm supervising a graduate project for our intern, et cetera, ad nauseum, and The Boyfriend is returning to school here to learn automotive repair, social work having been flooded with degrees by two area private colleges in recent years.

I have things to do. I have places to see. My elderly parents need me. 

I don't have time for this.

Does one ever, really? But these are the things that have no 'good time', that don't brook scheduling. In the end, I have to face it, deal with it, and go one, whatever that means. Time to take my own advice- i tan i epi tas- "with it, or on it".

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Leave It

My hatred for Baltimore, Maryland, is a classic case of displacement in the worst kind of way- and as I've written before, my Catholic ancestors arrived from Scotland and fanned out from Maryland toward Kentucky. Lord Baltimore's ambition to provide a safe haven in the New World for British Catholics brought them there, and for that I am grateful. It's just what happened during my senior year of high school that I'm not prepared to forgive...and for the record, I'm not entirely clear on the more sordid details. Some things, I think, are better left in the past.

Most of us have a locale of some kind embedded in memory that evokes something profoundly unpleasant, almost wrenchingly so. For me, it's Baltimore. Although I've flown over it many, many times aboard a plane, I will never willingly visit there if it can possibly be avoided- I've actually paid more for airline tickets to be routed elsewhere, rather than literally set foot in Baltimore. Perhaps I could tolerate the city, but believe me when I say that on pain of death I will not visit the campus of Johns Hopkins. Ever.

I really detest Johns Hopkins because of the negative association, although late last fall semester I swallowed that gall and prepared to correspond with their archivist for in order to obtain the physics course descriptions from their 1986 catalog. For one reason, and one alone, would I do it...because I'm on a mission to right the wrong, to repair the damage that was done by one arrogant boy delivering his farewell speech to a very foolish girl on a foggy, muggy morning in early June, 1986.

In short, I'd do it to mend my own heart.

Someone I know dropped a casual remark this week about not going to a certain city to dig up bones while he was in another state on business. I know the rest of the story...and I understood more of the backstory than was really good for my relationship with him back when we were an item. My reply this time was simple: "I feel the same way about Baltimore."

A couple of days later, he posted a nostalgic photo of himself with the lady in question. That's a rabbit hole from which it's impossible to emerge unscathed. Inasmuch as it would be clear to a blind person that he'll always be in love with her, it's also clear to me that he'll always torture himself with the 'coulda, shoulda, woulda' of it.

We had a lot in common, but the lingering personal relationship ghosts on both sides proved a bit of a wedge. There were other things, too, but I don't feel like beating him or me up about it. I just wish we'd both had enough sense to learn one of the first basic commands that I taught my female Airedale, Sister: leave it.

Sometimes you have to drop it on the ground and just leave it. Your sanity will thank you later.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Random Axe(s) of Unkindness

So, The Boyfriend hit the door last night having worked all weekend and then been asked to cover an additional three hours ( thus giving up the last bit of the holiday) so that "people who have children" could enjoy Memorial Day "with their families". That was bad enough, but you can imagine my surprise when he came through the door and informed me, "He was running through the woods, chasing me with an axe."

He was a little...upset...and you would be, too, if you'd just spent a couple of hours being chased around the woods in ninety-five degree heat by a hatchet-wielding mentally challenged man with whom you have to work one-on-one every day.

The Boyfriend works for a residential caregiving agency that deals with mentally challenged adults. This particular client's behavior has been ramping up for a couple of weeks, culminating in this horror-movie outtake in the woods of rural Kentucky. Basically, the client decided that he wanted to 'go hiking' and was armed with a small hatchet (I use a machete, myself) to clear underbrush as he hiked. An hour or so out in the middle of nowhere, he wheeled around on The Boyfriend, brandishing the hatchet, and announced that he knew that they were lost, The Boyfriend would do whatever he (the client) wanted, or ELSE.

Did I mention that The Boyfriend is a blackbelt? It was a deliberate attempt to provoke him into striking the client, who knows that this would result in criminal charges, not to mention termination. His life would've been immediately and permanently destroyed if he'd been forced to disarm the client.  This guy is a squirrel; he's ruined several lives and gotten a number of employees fired from this organization using these wiles. He's also toured almost all of these agencies in the state...he never stays long, because either he demands to leave or they kick him loose to spread the joy of his presence to other care agencies. He is not Mister Popularity. He's dangerous, not just in the physical sense.

The Boyfriend is also a social worker by trade and education, so his response to the threat was to say, "No," and walk away. When he got home, it was a different story: he was supposed to return to that client's residence for an overnight shift. He called his supervisor and told him,"You need to find somebody else. I am really too angry to discuss it right now, and I will explain when I turn in my timesheet tomorrow...but I am not working with that client tonight." Strangely, and fortunately, his boss did find someone else to take the shift. He was still sort of wound up when he finally went to bed a hot bath, dinner, and a couple of beers later.

They did have a little chat this morning about it, during which The Boyfriend brought up the matter of the hatchet. After his boss collected his jaw off the floor, plans were made to address the situation. I don't know about you all, but I'm relieved that the client didn't plant that hatchet in The Boyfriend's skull- especially since he's paid minimum wage without benefits to work for this outfit. It's making fast food look like a really great career choice by comparison.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Let's Get Physical (Or Not, If It Can Be Avoided)

So with enrollment at Western Kentucky University comes the physical education requirement.

Yes, that's right: you have to take PE. In my case, had my parents ever relented, I would've transferred and happily fulfilled that requirement with marching band. My sister passed Western's bowling class with flying colors. There's a wide variety of stuff that you can take to knock this out, but...most of these courses are not designed for middle-aged folk like me.

I've been doing a little armchair quarterbacking per Hopkins' enrollment down there and the latest thing is the PE class. I suggested, tongue-so-in-cheek that it was practically coming out my ear, that he take "organized drowning", a.k.a. swimming. Among the great many things that I know- and wish that I could forget in order to make room for important stuff- is that he can't swim. He reminded me of that, along with the fact that he found the prospect of donning swim apparel rather daunting, if not unkind to others who might be in that class (he said it, I didn't).

As I read it, I let out a quickly muffled whoop of laughter, because I know something y'all don't know: while I am pale, pasty, sunburns-immediately, descended-from-redheads fair, he makes me look like JLo by comparison. He's one of those brunettes whom Goths emulate with black hair dye and pale foundation. Anyone who gets within twenty yards of him at the pool will be summarily blinded by the glare. I'll give him credit; his self-deprecation and our combined sarcasm painted a Speedo joke that is never going to see the light of day.

Try to remember that this is someone about whom I care very deeply, but there are some things so obvious that you just can't give them a pass. Hopkins, quite frankly, glows in the dark.

So, swimming is out and we've been casting about for a class. The two that have really caught his eye are shockingly martial: archery, which is in conflict with a class offered at only one time and which he has to have for his major, and marksmanship. He grew up on a farm and although it has never been directly discussed, I'm fairly secure in the assumption that he's used a firearm before...although probably not a handgun. What evolved out of this was a little friendly competition: I was trained to use a handgun before my age reached double digits, and I have a concealed deadly weapons permit. I gathered from the roughly ten e-mails we exchanged on this score that he's certain that if I can learn to shoot, so can he. Anything you can do/I can do better/I can do anything/better than you...

The other thing that came out in the course of this is his sense of humor. His sister believes that he doesn't have one, but I've apparently witnessed a few things about him that others have missed (for example, I also know that he can and will, if motivated, sing). He imparted at one point that the only fencing at Western is in the Ag which I replied, "And we all know that you're not going within two hundred yards of the Ag department on pain of death." He was seriously over farming and livestock well before he was able to escape from it.

It'll be interesting to see what he chooses. He thought Tai Chi looked a bit interesting, but put the kibosh on it when he found out that it crosslisted as a theatre class. Anyway, there are all kinds of options- just not really very many that appeal to him. I guess if he can't make up his mind, there's always online walking!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Down to the Wire and Close to the Bone

Hopkins and I have been having a bit of a difference of opinion about the relevance of taking humanities and social sciences courses. Now that he's back in school, he seems to have a real fire under his butt about getting out as fast as possible- and in his milieu (programmers of the world, UNITE!) math is *it* and everything else is superfluous. Well, almost everything. He still reads space operas, something that I find oddly comforting after so many years...including a series that features a protagonist who, in his words, is a 'deadly librarian'. The resident deadly librarian appreciates that, but, nonetheless, I really wanted him to take a literature class. Or a history class. Or something, anything, that pushed him out of his comfort zone, and that he didn't necessarily know from rote.

Let me interject here that it also annoys me that he has such a disdain for the humanities and social sciences- particularly since yours truly has two history degrees and I'm preparing to work on a third. You can't make someone value things that they don't care about, in the same vein that you can't make somebody love you who doesn't; however, I find this mildly intractable attitude indicative of an education that is somewhat lacking. I've made the point that he is attending a university, albeit a regional state school and not the elite competitive East Coast school at which he originally matriculated, ergo there are expectations that he will take courses outside his major so that he emerges on the other side a more well-rounded (yes, dare I say it, educated) person. I've lost the argument thus far, and concluded my most recent statements in the matter with a threat that I'll come down there and personally kick his tail if he blows the Western Civ II CLEP.

The other side of this is that yes, at this juncture, time is rather of the essence. We are no longer as young as we once were...the whole 'earning a living' thing is sort of important. Be careful what you wish for, because this blew up as a nasty exchange over whose fault it was that he didn't have the credentials necessary to advance in his field (his, having been sent down in 1987). The faster he acquires the credentials, the faster he can get a better job, and in some ways, I think, feel a lot less insecure about a great many things. I don't begrudge him that and it's also partly my fault.

If his credit-by-examination plan succeeds, he will graduate this December. It's been a long and circuitous route, but at least he'll have his bachelors' degree. Whatever will I do when he finally flies the nest at last? Survive. Exist. I have done these many years in between. 

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Your Fifteen Minutes Have Expired

My mother finally remembered to tell me that the first guy to whom I was engaged recently appeared on Jeopardy!. The paper in the tiny Eastern Kentucky town where he lives did a puff piece on it, and mentioned his wife and six year-old son in passing. When I read it, a rather unkind thought flitted through my mind: "I wonder if he allowed her to go back and get an education degree now that the kid is old enough to be in school."

See, that was the point of departure between us. He informed me, did not ask, but informed, me during the fall semester of our sophomore year of college that I'd be dropping out after the spring semester so we could get married. I'd move in with his parents in Eastern Kentucky, have babies, and then get my elementary education degree at the local Presbyterian college when the children had all started school. We were both pre-law, and I had the larger scholarship...and that was the end of that.

My life was in disarray of the worst kind then; my younger sister had been in a near-fatal car accident two months before, and I was running my parents' household from a hundred miles away. On top of everything else, I had no car and was literally trapped at school. My parents were so afraid to leave my sister's side that I ended up begging our lawyer's son, who was in law school at the time, for a ride home for Thanksgiving. There weren't many people from my hometown going to college there, so I was pretty much trapped. Things didn't improve by spring, either, and I had to bum a ride with a distant cousin to my mother's hometown for Easter with my aunt and uncle. By the end of the year, I was simply grateful that my mother remembered to collect me in May.

Greg and I ran into each other once while I was in grad school and he was in law school. One of my classes was in a building near there, and he happened to be walking to lunch as I was leaving. He marched up and asked me to have lunch with him, which I declined; then he started telling me all about his new church. When he finished, I told him I was happy that he'd found a church that he liked, and then added, "I do hope that you aren't planning to jump up and witness about me." He went totally scarlet, and I knew that he already had. I didn't have lunch with him.

Yes, I've been the subject of a public confession in a Baptist church, not that there was a lot to confess. One of our friends recently floored me with the information that she, along with her husband and several of our college friends, were pretty sure I'd slept with Greg. I hadn't, although it somewhat clarified why another boy in our circle seemed upset that I wouldn't sleep with him when we dated two years later. Funny how you can get 'a reputation' when you never earned it, scarlet woman that I am...oh, and that's not taking into account the rumor started by Nemesis, one of my high school bullies who happened to be in school up there at the same time. Wow. Hot stuff. Pardon me for not laughing.

I still have the little engagement ring that Greg gave me, because he wouldn't take it back. It's in a closet at my house. I actually have both of my rings, and although I don't often look at them, they're a constant reminder that things don't always work out as we'd initially planned. Even though life sometimes takes us down a completely different path, we have to accept that it's frequently for the best. Greg wanted children and a stay-at-home wife, the latter I wouldn't provide and the former, as it turns out, I couldn't, although I didn't know that then. If he's happy, I'm happy for him. Our lives are what they are, and in the end, at least he had the arrogance or the guts (or both) to go on Jeopardy!. I know I don't.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Festive Flaming Upholstery

I'm a University of Kentucky alumna. I'm happy that we won the men's NCAA DI basketball championship. What I don't understand, though, is this need to overturn cars and set sofas (or anything that will burn, for that matter) on fire in celebration of our victory.

The semifinal against Louisville was personal. Rick Pitino bailed on Kentucky and ended up at Louisville after his failed seasons with the Boston Celtics- and ask anyone in the state, they'll tell you: that was his wife's idea, or at least everybody wants to blame her. To a degree, women forgive her a little teensy bit; after all, her youngest child died in Lexington, and that's enough to turn any mother bitter. (Just trust me, he is not a nice man, and that's from having personally witnessed his behavior a few times while I was a student.)

That's neither here nor there, except that even after we beat Louisville, Kentucky fans bared their behinds to the world by turning over a car and setting fire to numerous couches across Lexington. I guess that because fans couldn't burn Pitino in effigy, they just set the furniture on fire instead.

We didn't do that back in the day. They sure as hell didn't do that when my parents were up there- my mother says that in the House of Rupp, you didn't breathe funny during a game or Adolph Rupp himself would have you thrown out into the street. That held over until the Pitino Era, when he remarked on how quiet the fans were...the reason teams hated to play us at Rupp Arena was because the crowd would sit so perfectly still and utterly quiet (almost 25,000 people) that you could hear the shoes squeaking on the court. Pitino thought it showed a lack of support, and said so...thus began the Era of Loud Misbehavior by Kentucky Fans.

Most people know that upholstered furniture of recent vintage is constructed with flame-retardant materials. Ergo, it's kind of difficult to keep a couch burning after you set fire to it, so there's generally an accelerant involved somewhere in the equation. In other words, burning a couch in the street takes effort.

Why is it that people put so much effort into stupid things when they could be feeding the poor, or finding a cure for cancer? Why is it that they don't realize that the rest of the world had some very deep-seated negative stereotypes about Southerners in general, and Kentuckians in particular? "Whoo-hoo, lookit this here flaming couch I done set on fahr! YEE HAW!!!" should about cover what most of the world was thinking when our postgame revelries were broadcast on television.

Then again, this is an old, old stereotype to fight. Back when almost everybody who'd crossed the mountains to come here after the Revolutionary War was a squatter, Kentucky was legendary for its lawlessness and despotism. We've been trying to shake it off ever since, and this kind of behavior isn't helping. Leave the couch in the living room where it belongs, folks, and have your bonfires in trash barrels and fire pits like normal people...stop trying to prove we're as backward as the rest of the world already believes.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Smooth Operator

This is Quinn, or rather, was Quinn.

Quinn passed away largely due to the ravages of old age on March 29, 2012. He was the most recent in a long line of Fox Terriers, six Smooths and a Wire, owned by my family. Dad chose him from a profile that I printed out from Petfinder after my Smooth, Ozzie, succumbed to cancer in 2005. Quinn joined the family sometime in the spring of 2006.

At the time, Pedigree employees were rescuing and placing dogs retired from the brand's tasting program in Missouri. They assured us that Quinn had never been mistreated, that the dogs were regularly exercised and socialized, and that he was in excellent health. He was nine years old. That program has since evolved into the Pedigree Adopt-a-Stray campaign. This has a lot to do with why I was a little pissed when the AKC decided to dump Pedigree's sponsorship this year in favor of the prestige brand makes me wonder what happens to Eukanuba's lab dogs when they retire. Quinn kept working all his life, too, picking out the flavors he didn't like and setting them on the floor beside his dish. (Pansy, the Basset, would clean those up for him.)

We figured out several things as soon as we got him home: he had never spent any time on grass, and he wasn't housebroken. He was timid, which is extremely uncharacteristic for the breed, and he was terrified of men. The latter was problematic, because we'd gotten him primarily for my dad. He didn't like being picked up and held, although he loved to sleep in my mother's lap- that was hard on me, because I used to haul the Foxies around in my arms like babies.

I loved Quinn, despite his odd personality. He was a dear little old man. For almost three years, we thought he'd been de-barked, which isn't unheard of with Fox Terriers because of their shrill vocal pitch. One day, he opened his mouth and cut loose with a sharp bark, startling my parents because he'd never made a peep before. Once he found his voice, he never lost it. It took him that long to figure out that he wouldn't be punished for saying something and to trust us enough to try.

When my mother went into the hospital last year, he skittered in circuits around the house searching for her. He wasn't able to sleep, and stood at the foot of the stairs howling each night until my father came down and carried him up to the bedroom. He'd still stand bolt-upright on the bed for an hour or two, panting, unable to relax, before his anxiety gave way to exhaustion.

I'll miss him rushing to the gate, barking gaily, whenever I drove up. I'll miss that pointy little face pushing into my hand, begging me to rub his snout. I'll miss the inquisitive 'terrier tilt' when we spoke to him or he heard sounds that he didn't quite recognize. I'll miss my mother's Papillon tugging at his collar after he became deaf in his last two years of life, telling him it was time to 'go potty' outside.

My sister and I used to chant to him, "Quinnie, Quinnie, Quinnie," in a sing-song voice. He'd tilt his head and dance from side to side, his toenails clicking on the hard floor like little tap shoes.

A few months ago, I took him to my parents' vet, who had also treated my Smooths during their final illnesses. Dr. Smith and I went to high school together, and he said to me, "It's up to your parents, but the blood work shows that the old fella may have a tumor of some kind. At his age, the surgery would probably kill him." I'd already had The Talk with my folks, so I replied, "Mike, we've discussed it. Let's just make the old guy as comfortable as possible until the time comes." When I went out to the reception desk to pay, the undertaker who cremates pets for the practice was standing there with two small crematory urns. He looked at me, then down at Quinn, and said, "I took care of a couple of little dogs like that for your family several years ago." I choked up a little and said, "Those were my dogs, Ozzie and Jane. You may have to take care of this one before too awfully long."

Dad mentioned to his best friend's son that Quinn was dying, so William arrived at the house yesterday morning with a shovel to dig the grave. He told my father to call when it was time, and he'd come back to fill it in. Quinn passed away from what Dad thinks was probably a stroke shortly thereafter. He joined Oliver, their first Smooth, Sherman, my childhood Wire, our Old English Sheepdog, Strawberry, my original cat, Mr. Cat, and Mom's first Papillon, Didi, out by the fence on the lee side of the house. It's a tiny pet graveyard out there. Oliver has a granite headstone cut by a monument company and there's a persimmon tree growing from his grave. Several of our other dogs were cremated; their urns are lined up along the bar in the family room with photos, forming a kind of shrine to departed pets.

Late last night, American Fox Terrier Rescue got a pleading e-mail from a young widow who needed to find a home for her two Wires. I know a show breeder who has two injured, retired Smooths that he wants to place in a Fox Terrier-experienced home. It's really too soon, and my mother doesn't want another dog...but I worry about my father. He's lost both of his closest friends, and now he's buried his last terrier. He needs a friend.

Quinn was the last small terrier in the family. Even with my two Airedales, whom I love with all my heart, having Quinn as a touchstone eased the pain of not having my own Smooth. Airedales are a little hard to carry around in your arms, you see. Smooths dance lightly on their little 'cat feet', and spring into the air with alacrity. I'll really miss that.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Dog Show *clap,clap* Dog Show *clap,clap*

Every year just before St. Patrick's Day, one of the largest dog shows in the country blows into Louisville, Kentucky. It's four days and several different breed and kennel clubs' worth of canine madness. My Airedale rescue, Airedale Terrier Rescue and Adoption, always has a booth in the foyer where the public buys tickets to observe the event. We rarely earn much money for the group, but the point is really to increase awareness. We are almost always flanked by Brittany Spaniel rescue and Golden Retriever rescue, and the last couple of years, No-Kill Louisville has been directly across from us.

I've been at this show since I was a child, and I've handled a couple of dogs here as a favor to someone who was jammed up scheduling-wise with her contract dogs. By way of explanation, a contract dog is a dog a handler is paid to show by someone else; frequently, these folks have their own dogs and stagger the ring schedules in order to make sure that they get shown as well. The contract dogs, however, are a professional handler's bread and butter, so if the show is running behind schedule and things start to overlap (which is common), their personal dogs don't always make it into the ring. Because this happened a couple of times while I was in college and the handler in question knew me and knew that I knew how to show a Smooth Fox Terrier, she grabbed me as I passed her in the grooming area and begged me to take her dog in for her while she showed a contract dog in another ring.

I loved this dog. His call name was "Decker". Decker was a beautiful little black-and-white Smooth Fox from amazing lines, but he did, if we're being honest, have a slight 'Roman nose', a small bump on the facial plane following his sinuses about halfway from his nose to his eyes. It wasn't too bad, though, and he was otherwise a very nicely put-together dog. He had come to know me when I attended a very small show in Lexington where I ended up helping out by taking him into the ring. Louisville, however, is a totally different ball of wax.

Because it's a huge show and follows closely after Westminster on the show circuit, there are some pretty high-profile handlers and dogs in attendance. The competition is fierce. With Decker trotting gaily along in front of me, I went into the ring against two legendary handlers, one of whom is probably the single most-famous owner/breeder/handler in the history of Smooth Foxes (at eighty-plus, she will be in Louisville handling her own dogs this weekend)- and I was scared. to. death. The great thing about show dogs, though, is that they know what they're doing even if you don't. He did his thing, we got clobbered, and that was that. At least he wasn't a Lakeland, because Bill Cosby (yes, that Bill Cosby) owns the most successful string of Lakelands ever and they are shown at Louisville. They are rarely defeated in the ring.

If you've never seen the movie Best In Show, you should watch it. It captures the zeitgeist of the fancy quite accurately, and with a great deal of insightful, wry humor. The quirks portrayed in the movie are exactly why I wasn't interested in continuing training as a handler. I love dogs, but I'm a pure hobbyist. I can't take the cattiness and pressure, and frankly, a lot of people are either aloof or crappy in how they treat their dogs.

So anyway, if you'll be in Louisville on Saturday or Sunday, head over to the Fair and Exposition Center and stop by the booth. We'll be right out front between the popcorn guy and the ticket window!

Monday, March 12, 2012

She Drives Me Crazy and Nowhere Else

When one's aging parents reach a certain point, it becomes necessary to take away their car keys. My father (who is the elder by five years) took my mother's keys away a little while back because no matter how close it came to killing her each time, or how many bald-faced lies she could tell about it, she was driving to the drive-thru cigarette store to get her smokes. When she was too sick and weak to drive herself, she began giving the housekeeper money to go buy them for her- this stopped when my father had a little chat with the housekeeper about Mom's eminent demise from smoking.

Somewhere along the line, Mom had decided that Dad had smelled cigarette smoke in her car, and her blind was that my sister was smoking while she ran their errands in it (I don't smoke, so she couldn't pin it on me). Thing was, Dad hadn't smelled it in the car. He smelled it in the house, on her clothes, and in her hair. Did I mention that she's on oxygen, by the way?

We'd walk past the downstairs half-bath and smell it, as the fumes seeped out from under the edge of the door. Cigarettes have that metallic odor that is unique to smoking tobacco- it's unmistakable, and nothing else smells exactly like it, but she'd lie like a rug when we confronted her. The last time she had a cardiac incident, just after her first cousin died, I was summoned home from the family wake following the funeral because Mom needed to go to the hospital again. I practically broke the sound barrier crossing the eighty miles from her hometown to mine; still, she sat there with a perfectly straight face and lied to us.

While she was in the hospital that time, my father and sister scoured every corner of the house and her car to find all of her cigarette hidey-holes. Dad collected all of the sets of keys to her car and hid them. After several months of non-driving and total non-smoking, Mom was released from care by her cardiologist. She's got a one-year follow-up, but she has no arrhythmia, her lungs are clear, and her congestive failure has eased up. The next day, she cranked up about her car keys. Again.

Every time we talk to Mom now, the conversation veers to the dangerous subject of her car keys. The other day, I asked how she was feeling and she informed me that a fourth (?!?!?) filling had fallen out.  In the course of the conversation, I told her that I'd take a day off and come home to take her down to her dentist. She told me that Dad was too cheap to let her go, and that she'd get the housekeeper to take her (insert insane cackling laughter here) if Daddy would let her have the car keys. I told her that she sounded insane, and her response was, "Well, MAYBE I AM!" (More crazy laughter.)

My mother was never this manipulative when she was in her right mind. This is proof positive to me that nicotine is addicting at levels that people really fail to understand; she's a tobacco junkie who will resort to anything to get her fix. This includes forcing us to take her to WalMart in the hope that she'll convince us, through her obstreperousness and exaggerated lethargy, to leave her alone long enough to go buy cigarettes while we're distracted by the prospect of getting home before midnight.

I love my mother, but this is really getting on my last nerve. If her teeth hurt that much, you'd think she'd let me take her to the dentist, but no. Either she drives herself, or she doesn't go. I guess every tooth is going to rot out of her head, because my father's not giving her the keys.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Ms. Independent

Yesterday was the first time I've ever personally heard my mother be disingenuous about my having never married.

We were in the waiting room at her cardiologist's office in Louisville when she struck up a conversation with the wife of another patient. It turned out that they were from Smalltownland- we knew them, of course, but had not seen them in many years. They used to live next door to Dad's original medical partner, and the wife once drove an unfortunately-hued brown Mercedes that was quite the object of derision for a while. Society matrons tended to drive vehicles of the following colors: silver, banker's grey, pale metallic beige, black, navy blue, or maroon then, and the fashion-forward medium brown Mercedes was not well-regarded.

My mother and this lady had never been friends or moved in the same social circles, so the conversation was understandably confined to neutral topics, such as the sudden and tragic death of my father's best friend back at Christmas and my beloved childhood dentist's increasing dementia. In the course of the conversation, the lady asked my mother about my sister and whether she was married. The topic turned to the other doctor's daughter, who, like me, has never married and is very career-oriented. My mother said, lightly, "Oh, she's a lot like AiredaleGirl; too independent to even consider it, I think."

If you're unfamiliar with Southern conversational mores, that was shorthand for, "I know you're planning to go clucking to everyone you know about how my daughter never could find a husband, so I'm just going to cut you off at the pass." Mom had already mentioned my full professorship earlier in the conversation, but the fact that she felt the urge to qualify both mine and Michelle's (she's an MD in Manhattan, by the way) unmarried state really floored me. In some ways, it was a shot at the woman to whom she was speaking, who had a college education but had never aspired to more than being her husband's secretary and trophy wife, but the other edge of the sword was her obvious belief that I'm too flawed to find a husband.

My anxiety over this was serious enough that I had nightmares about it. I've been engaged twice; the first one wanted me to give up college to start having babies for him at nineteen. The second one was, shall we say, rather liberal with his attentions...and the day that I was confronted with the unequivocal truth of it, I clocked him in the head with a hundred-dollar Mason-Pearson hairbrush at twenty paces- and that's ten years of my life that I'll never get back. I was so far in denial that I should've applied for Egyptian citizenship, but his was the engagement ring I was sporting in the Smalltownland Pizza Hut on a certain fateful December night...I'd "made my bed, and had to lie in it". (I was not, however, prepared to share it; thus the end of the engagement.)

It's not the The Boyfriend doesn't want to marry me- in fact, he's more anxious to get married than I am. I just don't like uncertainty, and there's just a little too much of that floating around these days for my taste. It's not that I can't, or won't, get married- I've had a couple of bad experiences and I just haven't. Of course, at my sister's wedding reception, it was a tableful of my father's colleagues and their wives who came to my defense when Dad announced, "Thank God I'll never have to do this again," meaning 'participate in a wedding'. First, the orthopedic surgeon said, "You have another daughter," and then when Dad repeated himself for emphasis, his best friend added, "Who is standing directly behind you." My father probably doesn't remember it, but I certainly do.

A lot of my friends are married or have been married, past tense. That suits them perfectly fine, and I'm happy for them. I just wish my mother hadn't decided that at this late date that she needs to make excuses for why I'm not married.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Poisoned Pen Having Writ...

When I was in the fifth grade, my teacher taught our class how to write a business letter. We practiced again in the sixth, seventh, and eighth grades. In my freshman year of high school, we wrote model letters and notes of all types: casual correspondence, notes of thanks, letters of condolence, and business letters. We were taught the form and also the content. I can remember our teachers stressing to us throughout, at every level, that a business letter should always be professional in tone and that if you can't say something nice about someone in a letter of reference, you should say nothing at all, e.g.: "My personal familiarity with this individual is limited, so I cannot provide a reference," or simply, "I do not feel that I can evaluate this person".

Over the years, I have read everything from the aforementioned statements of inability to evaluate to "damned by faint praise" all the way up through "poison-pen letters". So often when one devolves to vitriol, the point is lost in subjectivity- in other words, the axe is being so thoroughly ground that the original purpose of the letter is altogether obscured by hatred and bad manners. Why can't the authors of the lattermost understand that?

If one gains a reputation for submitting nasty missives on a routine basis, it's not the person about whom the letter was written who will be questioned- it's the writer. People will wonder: "Is (s)he always so unprofessional? Can I trust him or her?" The answers to that are, in order, 'yes' and 'no'. You've got to wonder after a while why the writer is jealous, angry, or unhappy- these are the three things that typically engender this sort of elegiac hatred. Regard for them, and their opinions or expertise, becomes diminished.

Letters of reference should never furnish a canvas for one's polemics. They should not reflect a lack of professionalism, backbiting departmental politics, or childishness. Using them for this is tasteless, or in the finest Southern tradition, just plain tacky. Civility may be dying, but letters of reference are not a gladiatorial arena for its death.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Little Girls' Subversive Training Society

This is the centennial year of Girl Scouting.

It's amusing and really quite sickening to me that this is also the year that the Far Right has decided to attack and openly vilify Girl Scouting. This week brought the latest insane assault on a a really great, valuable program for girls and young women by an ignorant and ill-informed member of the Indiana state legislature, Bob Morris. He sent a letter to his Republican legislative brethren declaiming a resolution passing through the legislature to recognize the Girl Scout Centennial, calling the organization "radicalized" and claiming that GSUSA supports Planned Parenthood, promotes homosexuality, and encourages abortion.


Here is the Michiana Girl Scout Council's official response.

I was a Girl Scout up through Cadettes. My mother was our Service Unit Manager (sort of a head district leader) for Smalltownland and the surrounding county. When I returned to Smalltownland, for three of the five years that I worked for the Baptist college, I was first a leader and then became Service Unit Manager myself. At no time were we doing any of the aforementioned. I was more focused, as a Scout, on selling cookies, hanging out with my friends at meetings, whether my uniform met the standard, and earning my badges. As an adult Girl Scout, I was worried about recruitment, promoting the program's values, scheduling meetings, getting my cookies organized and distributed, and having interesting badge-earning activities every time we met...oh, yeah, and making sure that we had snacks for the meetings.

My absolutely least favorite job was enforcing the standards laid down in SafetyWise. Anybody who's ever been a leader, particularly at a management level, knows and just looooves that part of it. Ever tried telling a leader whose husband built a float for a parade that the girls have to be seatbelted to fixed stands or seated on the float? No? Good luck with that. You'll want to kill yourself later. Trust me. I was too busy trying to keep everybody else from strangling that particular leader (myself included, because it took ENORMOUS restraint) to worry about indoctrinating the girls into lesbianism. Besides, being straight, I'm not sure I'd know how...and I don't think it's covered in the handbooks. I'll have to dig those out and check.

The co-leader for my troop was a classmate of my sister's, and was a Brownie in my mom's troop. We were really excited when I found Mom's Girl Scout basket o'stuff and along with it, the pattern for the felt Christmas tree mitts that the Brownies wore every year as they walked in the local Christmas parade. Yes, we made the green felt tree mitts, and the girls wore them, proudly waving to the crowd- Tracy's and my hands were stained green and gummy with glue for weeks afterward, but we were SO happy. We'd loved those Christmas trees when we were little. We wanted our girls to have the same experience.

Girl Scouting, if you follow the rules and do it correctly from the adult end, is a lot of hard work. It's a great program. It's not about tea parties and learning to sew; it's about practical skills and common sense, being ready for the challenges of life and facing them calmly. My cousin Jessica is currently a Brownie leader in Indiana for her daughter Akasha's troop- I think it speaks volumes that so many girls were interested that they had to split the troop in half (which happens if you end up with a huge troop of thirty-plus and need extra adults to facilitate things and meet the adult-to-child ratios dictated by SafetyWise). Akasha has dutifully been out selling cookies with Jessica close on her heels, due again to safety concerns and regulations. She enjoys Scouting, and I'm proud that her mother represents another generation in my family who have chosen to take a leadership position to perpetuate the program and keep it available to girls and young women worldwide.

Meanwhile, the Speaker of the Indiana House of Representatives, Brian Bosma, purchased and distributed 278 cases of Girl Scout cookies to other members of the legislature in silent protest of Rep. Morris' attack on Girl Scouting.

Juliette Gordon Low did not found this organization to promote anything other than good sense and self-sufficiency for girls and women. It was not radical. It was not feminist. It was patriotic; it prepared girls to grow into capable, rational women, and still does. That's an admirable goal, especially in today's climate of uninformed demagoguery and empty-headed anti-intellectualism. What's the matter, Rep. Morris? Does that frighten you? It must, or you wouldn't be attacking us.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Cell Phone Follies, part deux

In an addendum to the SB135 issue, I tried to call my mother's cell phone this weekend and what I heard on her end sounded a lot like the demonic hexed-telephone voices in "Bell, Book, and Candle".

When I did finally get her on the landline, my phone (AT&T, fewest dropped calls, my hind leg!~) kept cutting in and out. In the end, I had to borrow The Boyfriend's little prepaid phone, that uses AT&T and T-Mobile networks, to call her back. This issue with my service is ongoing.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, The Boyfriend's mother was hospitalized with pneumonia last week and we didn't know about it until after she was released and back home...because her gentleman friend is functionally illiterate (not entirely uncommon in their generation in Kentucky) and cannot manage dialing a long-distance telephone call. In light of this information, I sat down, made a list of what needed to be addressed, since I've been through this situation repeatedly with my own mother, and packed The Boyfriend off to the Holler with instructions to program his mother's cellphone speed-dial to contact him. He has also contacted his aunt and left the numbers with her.

My mother's heart attack followed a bout of pneumonia four and a half years ago. The medical issues that we've experienced with her are subsequent to and a product of that 'cardiac event'. I know where this road leads; I've lost someone in my direct supervision at work to a pulmonary embolus, and my best friend's mother died very suddenly last spring due to cor pulmonale, or catastrophic failure of the right side of the heart brought on by pulmonary issues. I've had pneumonia twice myself, been in respiratory failure, and had a couple of rounds of bronchitis that were not a whole lot of fun in elementary and high school. Don't kid yourself, folks; pneumonia can kill you. If your lungs go, it's a trip up the bridle path to heart failure...

The Boyfriend was kind of okay until it hit him a day later how serious the situation had been, and nobody had contacted him. Did I mention that he's an only child, too? I had no choice but to sit there and watch him crumple as the gravity of it sank in. She'd been hospitalized once before for a fall the previous year, to similar result- he didn't know about it until the crisis had passed. Given the history of cell service spottiness in the Holler, I'm not sure the cellphone was the best choice, but it's his family and none of my business. It's better than nothing, though, and surely his aunt will call us if nothing else. One can hope.

At the end of the day, unless you're living in an urban setting where there's a tower or transmitter every ten feet and the cell phone signal is absolutely stable (there is no such thing; 'as stable as possible' perhaps?), landline phones are a must. That said, I need to call AT&T and take them to task over their specious "fewest dropped calls" claim...

Friday, February 17, 2012

The Cell Phone Follies

When you have elderly parents, you learn the importance of maintaining your landline. There are going to be periods of time when your cell phone is not receiving signal, and when the parental health is spotty, it's good to have a fallback.

The Chez sits on a high cliff overlooking the Smalltownland city park. It's a beautiful view clean to the next county on a clear day, but it presents some technological issues. My parents' ISP insists that they can't provide their ultra high-speed DSL service in that exact spot in the county because of signal problems. Seriously? Cell signal goes in and out; the house overlooks the timeline between the Central and Eastern time zones, and it truly depends on where you are at any given moment which one registers on a phone that adjusts based on location. Oh, and I have AT&T, so if I'm in the driveway and the wind is blowing the correct direction, I have a digital signal. If I'm inside on one end of the house, I have analog signal. If I'm on the other end of the house, I have, you guessed it, NO SIGNAL.

The brain surgeons in our state legislature have introduced a bill to completely deregulate landline service so that the carriers can effectively strand the areas that aren't profitable. These carriers have gone so far as to suggest that cellular and Internet service will pick up the slack. Well, that's just fine and damn dandy, but what about occluded hollers where snow stays on well into May because the hills shade it so effectively? What about the house in the middle of my home county where my best friend's grandparents lived and she got NO service while visiting? Well, it's a business, certain of our elected officials tell us, and we shouldn't infringe on their right to run it as they see fit.

If I'm not getting signal with an iPhone, you'd better believe that there are a lot of people back home who aren't getting any signal with a cell phone. Far be it from the telecom companies to take into consideration the elderly and sick who rely on the stability of landlines to reach police, firefighters, emergency medical services, and their relatives when something goes awry. The irony of this is that we're from the center of the state, where it's neither too hilly nor too flat, but rather something kind of median. If it's that bad in the middle, what's it like at the extremes?

After spending all this money on 9-1-1 enhancements, too, how many times have you called from a cell phone and heard, "9-1-1, what city or county please?" because your cell signal is deflecting off God knows how many towers before it reaches a 9-1-1 operator? That doesn't happen with a landline, especially in an area that has enhanced 9-1-1- the address is pinpointed, even if the caller can't speak. Emergency services are dispatched to the address. What happens if residents in an area are stuck with relying only on cellular service? In short, people will die. I'm paying taxes on my cellular bill to fund this. Hmmm.

I thought about discontinuing my landline service several times over the last few years, but after being unable to reach my sister (who only has cellular service) at critical moments, I've scratched that idea until now. This is a turf war waged by an industry that's upset because its slice of the pie is ever-decreasing in size- and they can take it somewhere else. These are my parents; these are my friends, their parents, grandparents, and children. They shouldn't be dismissed as insignificant.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Baby Banshees

Last night, The Boyfriend and I were having dinner at the local Pizza Hut. Yes, on Valentine's Day, we were dining at Pizza Hut- largely because I was too tired to cook and because my paycheck doesn't post until around midnight. That $10 large pizza was calling my name when I got out of work.

Unfortunately, they'd been swamped. There were only two servers working, one of whom had been there since they opened and was in none too good of a mood (keep in mind that I put myself through grad school while waiting tables). Ahead of us, waiting to be seated, was a family of six, including a toddler- whose mother I recognized as one of our library dilletantes. We ended up in a booth right behind them.

About ten seconds later, a straw wrapper ended up in my hair. The toddler, a child of about two, gurgled happily to signify how pleased she was with herself. None of the adults apologized for the projectile or corrected the child for throwing it.

I am not one of those who believes that young children should be kept at home all the time. I also recognize that they are human beings and therefore prone to random behavioral 'moments' for which young children should be excused. I don't have children so I don't have to experience this firsthand from the parental perspective and I'm a pretty reasonable person, but this flew all over me because nobody bothered to apologize. Nobody said to the little girl, "It's not nice to throw things at people." They all laughed and chattered about how "cute" it was that she'd lobbed a wad of paper into a stranger's hair.

It's not cute. It's not funny. It shouldn't be encouraged. That's what a small child perceives when you laugh at that kind of behavior. I'm not advocating snapping her out of the high chair and busting her behind, but saying, "You shouldn't do that," and not effectively praising that behavior would be nice. She's learning that it's okay to be disrespectful of others. Just because you might behave like a redneck heathen doesn't mean that your relatively pretty little daughter should, too. It just makes all of you look like a bunch of boors.

The Boyfriend began timing the intervals in the child's screaming bouts. He's a social worker, so he observes behavior pretty closely; at one point, he leaned over and asked me for the time, then predicted that she'd go off again in about ten minutes. He'd discovered that whenever the adults at the table turned their attention to their own conversation and away from doting on the child, the toddler would begin to pound the table and shriek. Sure enough, nine minutes later, the wailing resumed.

I'd had a long day, and her shrill cries cut through my brain like a knife. The mother finally got tired of it herself and bribed the child into silence with soda crackers. By then, I was about to claw my eyes out. Have you ever knocked the alarm clock off in the floor and had to listen to the piercing sound of it for far too long? It was that kind of sound.

Parents, I know that you love your little child. I know that children will be children. When your child deliberately engages in attention-seeking behavior that disrupts everyone else's experience in a public space, though, would it be so hard to make an effort to quiet and/or correct him or her? Please. Pretty, pretty please...

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Save the Airedales- Vote in the Shelter Challenge!

Folks in Airedale Rescue are geared up and voting for North Carolina Airedale Rescue (NCAR). If you have a few minutes to visit the Animal Rescue Site, we'd appreciate your vote. The prize money goes toward rehabilitation and veterinary expenses associated with rescuing Airedales across the southeastern United States. I'm with another regional Airedale group that previously won a Shelter Challenge grant, so we're trying to help out our sister Airedale rescues by voting so they can also receive the Shelter Challenge grant.

To vote, please go to The Animal Rescue Site Shelter Challenge Page and vote for NCAR. If the form doesn't automatically populate using that link, search "Airedale" in shelter name with North Carolina for the state. Each vote helps, and you can vote daily. If you have access to multiple devices using different IP addresses, you can also vote from each device daily.

Thanks for being an AireSupporter!

Captain Quirk

It seems that Hopkins is scorching all the little darlings in his classes at the moment. Old and decrepit, my butt...which has always been my take on it. He just needs a little WD-40 on the hinges and the rest will take care of itself.

I'm happy about this, primarily because I knew he could do it and I also like being right about this kind of stuff.

The one thing that's bugging him is something I'd forgotten until he raised the point; our old frenemy Nemesis used it against him with relish. On math homework and tests, he always made one minor mistake, just enough to cost a point or two, keeping him from perfect math scores. Nemesis would slither up and hiss in his ear, "I see that you missed the third step on the fourth problem...", et cetera. He'd shoot her a dirty look and try to formulate a retort as she slithered off down the hall. I'd silently plot her death, then show him the ink-bloodied mess that was my math homework to draw out the venom of the barb.

It always bothered me immensely that he was hung up on something between one and five points in math. It bothered me because I knew a) the source of the anxiety and b) the penalty for one to five points and didn't dare contemplate what would happen should the average descend below that. In that regard, our lives were agonizingly similar...

He's still doing it, albeit with a whole lot more self-awareness these days. I swear that I could hear a little good-natured self-mockery in the tone of that e-mail, and I'm starting to think that Success May Spoil Rock Hunter. He was an academic star in our day. That's not my imagination, or exaggeration on my part. He was- and it's been my contention in this little debate that he still is. This was always his comfort zone, and he just needed to prove to himself that he could still do it.
Dean's list? Maybe. Success? Definitely. Failure? Not an option. Not then, not now, not ever.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Blue Roses

Any theatre nerd will get that one right off the bat- it's a Tennessee Williams reference from The Glass Menagerie. Laura, poor, pathetic little Laura, has no life, her existence centering around her collection of glass animal figurines. Her brother sets her up on a fake date with one of his coworkers, a boy who used to know her in school, and they genuinely seem to hit it off for a bit. In the end, though, Laura is betrayed, and left utterly alone with her shrewish mother. I always identified a little with Laura.

I ran into my bully yesterday while I was out shopping with my mother. Perfect timing...because the girl made Valentine's Day of our senior year an absolute miserable hell for me. I saw her from behind and balked, refusing to follow my mother to the charging station for power scooters. Despite the many years over which I've consistently received roses or other cut flowers for Valentine's Day, it can't remove the permanent stain on the holiday made by that one fateful February 14th. Roomsful of roses can't erase it- and I've received dozens of beautiful ones since: red, chrome orange (with purple statice, very striking), mixed pinks with red and white, sunny yellow...but I would've sold my soul to Satan to have had just one crummy, motheaten little rose that day in 1987.

My sister, who is still widely considered one of the most beautiful girls to ever attend our high school, was literally swamped with flowers that day; such was the extent that our mother had to come and fetch us in the car and there almost wasn't room for me in the back seat. I would've been okay- since my boyfriend at the time attended a school sixty miles away and I knew he was sending me something in the mail- if my bully hadn't pulled me to the side and rammed the knife home. "Those are your sister's, and those, and those, oh, and aren't those hers, too?" she pointed out the various cards with her name on them. "Isn't your 'boyfriend' going to send you anything? Are you even still dating? What about Hopkins? Oh, wait, you never hear anything from him, do you? So sad." She cackled and slithered off toward the band room, leaving me standing there in front of the Altar to Popular Girls, mortified. Normally I didn't let her get to me like that, but something in my mind just clicked, and...I was just devastated.

I did the only logical thing that a brokenhearted seventeen year-old girl can do when confronted with this grim reality: I ran to the pay phone and called my mother.

By the end of the day, a small, weedy bouquet of carnations arrived bearing my name. They were pretty enough and I was sort of grateful, but my suspicions were aroused when I read the card: "from your secret admirer". I knew then in my heart-of-hearts that my parents had taken pity on me, but I would have rather died than admitted it. The Bully wasn't finished with me, though. "Oh, some carnations. Isn't that sweet. Are those from your parents?" I rounded on her and spat: "They're not signed, and personally, I think that they might be from Hopkins," I lied. I knew better.

Later that night, as my sister smirked and preened, fluffing the greenery and baby's breath in her various bouquets, she said casually, "You know Mom and Dad sent you those carnations, right?" Stubbornly, I repeated the lie I'd used on the Bully. She smiled sadly and patted my arm, adding, patronizingly, "Well, you just keep telling yourself that." I went down to the garage and for a single moment contemplated taking my father's pruning shears to her little rose parade.

Of course, they were both correct. My father's secretaries routinely opened his mail before sending it home with him, and when a bill arrived from the florist a few days later, I wasn't too surprised to learn that yes, our parents had sent me the carnations. Besides, if I'd really been dying to know, I temped for the florist in delivery from time to time. I could've checked the file while I was working Valentine's evening.

I know that it's a fake commercial holiday promoted by restaurants, and card, candy, and floral companies, but I also know what it's like to be let down on it and annually embarrassed in front of everybody you know. From the day that you first realize that yours is the only empty Valentine collection box in the third grade right up to being stood up from a Valentine's dance in high school, you learn to hate it. A lifetime of reparations can't make that bitterness ever go completely away.

Friday, February 10, 2012

I'm Getting Older, Too

My sister has scheduled a cardiologist's appointment for our mother a hundred and fifty miles away from me, on day when I was supposed to teach two library classes. As it now stands, I'm doing the early class and leaving immediately to pick Mom up for the appointment. I'll be driving for three hours, pretty much straight through.

Over the last year and a half, I've neglected my own health. My LapBand fill was evacuated a little over a year ago because I'd developed a small hiatal hernia, and as a result, I've regained about fifty pounds. There's been some fallout. I'm not sleeping well, and the dark purple in my nailbeds suggests that I'm not oxygenating well enough in my sleep, i.e., my apneas have probably returned. I'm tired all the time. My clothes don't fit, and...well...the newest developments are the most disturbing.

I need to see the cardiologist myself. I finally told my sister and boyfriend last night. A while back, I noticed a weird, occasional little flip-flop by my heart. By forcibly regulating my breathing and slowing my pulse, I can bring myself back into rhythm; it doesn't happen often, but it's happened more than a few times. The scary part was one night about a week ago when I felt the arteries in my neck begin rapidly fluttering. It's exactly the type of arrhythmia that put my mother in the hospital last year- problem is, I'm thirty-three years younger than Mom.

Ever since my teens, I've largely internalized my stress. This results in a few obvious things: by the time I was sixteen, I suffered from peptic ulcers (which return for a little visit every few years), I get nosebleeds and stress acne, and I had a nervous breakdown while I was in college. Now it's evolving into more serious issues.

I remember my P.E. teacher, Miss Rose, as rather a sage person. I spent some time in her office- the ever-open office door- because she was the first to clue into the problems I was having at home. Unfortunately, it was she who realized that my aunt, who was staying with us while my mother was tending my sick grandmother, had given me 'homemade cough syrup' and sent me to school drunk as a skunk. She discreetly summoned the vice principal, Ivan, who called my aunt and then drove me home.

She also cornered me after I started putting on extra weight around my sophomore year and said, "Your heart won't be able to take all that strain forever. I'm not saying this because of looks. I am worried about your health." Be assured your sins will find you out...however, she's a patient with Mom's cardiologist, too. It would be pretty embarrassing to run into her there.

My father's best friend, who died on Christmas Eve, was my primary care physician. That leaves me sort of 'without country' at the moment, so without anyone who can refer me. The cardiologist did the EKG and echocardiogram for my lapband surgery, but that's the only time I've ever seen him as a patient. It's been so long ago that I doubt they'd still take me without a referral. In the meantime, I just hope nothing goes seriously wrong.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow

One of the worst things a woman can do when she's upset is radically change her hairstyle. I think Britney Spears' little head-shaving episode is an excellent case-in-point; it takes a while to recover from that kind of spur of the moment decision. With the exception of the time that my friends and I decided that Sun-In was the band camp accessory of choice, leaving many of us with a headful of fried Ronald McDonald-hued hair for several months, the haircolors-not-found-in-nature period of my adolescence was fueled largely by temporary and washable coloring agents.

This kind of popped into my mind a minute or two ago because my "dignified greys" and I are about to have a showdown. I color my own hair and have done so for approximately twelve years, although I've been going grey pretty much since I was sixteen; such is the nature of being a brunette. In the last year or so, though, the grey has proliferated and I feel as if I'm having to color more often. Since my hair has been donated to Locks of Love twice in the last five years, I haven't had professional color, highlights, or lowlights for a while. It's also been stick straight and long. Now we're back up to the shoulder and I've been wondering if I ought to try anything different...well, I'm not as adventurous as I used to be about this kind of thing. Pink, blue, green, etc., and strong reds require double processing to come out correctly, and I don't want to go Harlow platinum in order to overdye with a strong color. I'm really afraid that I'd end up bald.

My best friend decided to go dark back before Christmas, and it's been an adjustment. She's a natural light redhead; over the years, like both her mother and mine, her hair gradually took on more blonde and lost the majority of its red hue. The base color that she chose was darker than mine, with a strong auburn tone. I think if I saw it on a regular basis (she lives almost five hundred miles away in another state), I'd be more used to it, but it's a source of cognitive dissonance for me. We've known each other since I was about thirteen, so almost thirty years...I caught myself not being able to find her in stores over the holidays because I wasn't looking for the new haircolor. Her color, unlike mine, is professionally done, and she is blessed with incredibly thick, strong hair.

It's not an entirely irrational fear, this concern that I may go bald. My paternal grandmother, a former Miss Arizona, believed in chemical intervention back in the days when permanent waves involved electricity and color involved a lot of ammonia. She was also always on some kind of crazy weight-loss plan, which probably contributed to her follicular challenges. By the time I was a child, she'd lost most of her hair and constantly wore a wig. While wigs give one the option of radically changing looks from day to day (one of my favorites was a Lucille Ball-red beehive affair), they're hot, uncomfortable, and can fall off at the worst possible moment. As they wheeled her into the operating room near the end of her life, the orderly tried to remove her wig- she snatched it back and told him she was not going to meet Jesus without her hair. True story. (Granny was born in Texas; ask any lady from Texas if she'd go out in public without her face on and her hair done, and she'd tell you she'd just as soon march into church naked.)

I've had a pretty stressful week so far, so I should probably just go with the root touch-up color kit that matches my natural haircolor for now. If I were to do something that accurately reflected my week so far, I'd probably come out looking like either Rhianna or Pink- or possibly Sinead O'Connor. Since I'm not young or thin or a performing artist, that would be bad. Very bad.

Pyrrhic Victories

I'm good at this sort of thing...winning the battle and then spectacularly losing the's been one of those weeks, and I think I'll just blame the full moon. That's convenient, anyway.

We got off to a great start when I received the daily crime report from the state police post back home on Monday morning- there was a murder, and I recognized the victim's name. He was one of exactly six boys who ever openly expressed any interest in me, five of them prior to high school (before they were promptly shamed out of it by the arbiters of taste, a.k.a the popular clique). By the time we were older, he'd moved to the neighboring county and fallen in with a bad crowd; I was told very emphatically by his relatives to avoid him. In discussing this with his cousin after I realized it was he who was killed, I found out that he'd been spiraling ever-downward pretty much from that day to this. It was depressing.

The next fun moment came on Tuesday when I dared weigh in on a discussion regarding an animal hoarding situation in which I'm tangentially involved. Some man down in Knoxville decided that my last name was Guantanamo, as in waterboarding and illegal detainment- although he later mentioned, very much further down the thread, that his phone's spellcheck had done that. I don't quite think that's the truth, but I spent most of the day being righteously indignant about it. Riight. My father's near-death experience in a Navy seaplane going out to Guantanamo Bay to pick up his NROTC cruise in 1950 is my only association with Gitmo- except for the plethora of Marines in my family.

Later that evening, my cell phone rang. It caller-ID'd as one of the other Airedale rescue coordinators in Kentucky. I thought it was probably something routine, so I answered it. It was not routine. A dog that I'd placed- a healthy, young dog- had literally dropped dead at his adopters' feet while playing ball with them just a few minutes earlier.

I've been in rescue for six years. NONE of my dogs, including the ones infested with heartworm and mange, practically dead from starvation and abuse, or who developed chronic diseases like diabetes, have ever died. Aside from a few intestinal parasites from outdoor living, his health was excellent. Until we receive the results of the necroscopy (that's what an autopsy is called when the subject is not human) I can't say much more. Basically, I've been crying off and on since about five-thirty last night. I keep fighting the urge to lean over and vomit in my office wastebasket; our associate dean is out until Friday, so I have to keep a stiff upper lip and soldier on until she comes back. I'd really just like to go hide somewhere instead.

Meanwhile, one of my friends is undergoing radioactive iodine therapy for thyroid cancer, my first cousin is facing particularly gruesome cancer surgery, and I've got this Airedale mix who was involved in the aforementioned hoarding situation to get healed up from hernia repair and shipped off to rescue in Pennsylvania. There are things in this world that are so much infinitely worse, I suppose, but I'm already pretty low.

It's only Wednesday. My tolerance for BS and nonsense is absolute zero at the moment. Stay out of my way, people, I'm a librarian with attitude, and I am not afraid to shelve your bad self.

Monday, February 6, 2012

The "L-word"

Now, I don't think it's going to be any of the words most people are expecting...the L-word for today is "library".

I'm on the local faculty senate. We meet a couple of weeks before the faculty meeting to set the agenda; elections are coming up, so there will be a faculty meeting in February. I'm next-to-last on the agenda because alphabetically, that's where our unit falls...right behind the Humanities, Fine Arts, and Social Sciences division, abbreviated as "HFASS". Pronounce that quietly to yourselves.

We representatives get dinged about once a year by those whom we serve with the admonition that 'you are not filters', i.e., read our complaints verbatim. Don't interpret- let them fly, regardless. In case you're wondering, I've been consigned to this gulag for eleven and a half years. I am the silverback, and I have an excellent memory. The same five things are destined to return, like the swallows to Capistrano, every single freaking year. I have a hit list of things about which I don't want to hear, parking and smoking being at the very top.

The reports were going fine of the HFASS reps prefaced his division's concerns by warning me that he was not a filter- translation: this is going to be a hit on the Learning Commons, as indeed it was.

Long story short, it was a florid, overblown work of passive-aggressive prosidy that mentioned not only the Great Library of Alexandria, it called upon the imagery of the Bodleian and the other great academic libraries of yore- and went on to imply that we had somehow damaged the academic integrity of the institution by changing the name of our functional unit to Learning Commons. We were accused of embracing fads, simple trendiness, and that they, the faculty, should've been asked permission before we thus damaged the college's reputation by dropping the term 'library'.

My initial response is unprintable. My official response began with, "First of all, the building in which we are housed is called a learning resource center, which embraces a fad current in about 1960. The library was a functional unit housed in the learning resource center. The library is a smaller functional unit within the Learning Commons, and may I also reinforce that libraries are not and have not been, for a great many years, about dusty tomes on the shelves. Furthermore, let me point out that in getting our minds around this evolution, that the University of Kentucky has a Learning Commons housed in the building called the W.T. Young Library; also, the Johns Hopkins University went completely virtual with its medical libraries this year, i.e., no books on the shelves, and Harvard just fired its entire library staff to break their union. The word "library" no longer means what it once did. Schools which train librarians are also dropping the word library, as Michigan did a number of years ago- it is now the School of Information Studies. The name change predates Margo (my current boss), but feel free to take the issue up with her- it occurred, however, during Shelley's time (my previous boss). There are still library people doing library things, but we are only one small unit within the Learning Commons, which includes tutoring and IT, and eventually other things if Bruce (my dean) keeps going."

I was a little. bit. pissed. After all, it took them THREE years to figure it out and I don't appreciate the patronizing overture that led into the actual statement. I'm the one with two history degrees and archival training, so if you don't think I'm extraordinarily conversant about the Alexandrian library or any other historical library and its contents, think twice (I have viewed the Domesday BookMagna Carta and the Lindisfarne Gospel for the experience of assessing their relative condition). When they tried to defuse me with a joke about papyrus, I deadpanned, "Papyrus is an excellent storage medium in drier climates, however, we have a humdity problem in our building. The scrolls would separate from the damp." Don't screw with me, kids, I'm a repressed archivist and I will beat you to death with my arcane knowledge of preservation...

At the end of the day, it's semantics, and the charge that we have damaged the reputation or credibility of the school is ludicrous. By the way, it's a community college...I wasn't aware that we had such an august academic reputation to damage-and it puts me in mind of my father's favorite shaggy dog story:

A young man from Kentucky was admitted to Harvard. One day as he's strolling across the Quad, he asks a fellow student, "Where's the library at?" The other student replies frostily, "My good fellow, at Harvard we don't end our sentences with prepositions," to which the Kentuckian responds, "Oh, sorry. Where's the library at, a$$h***?"

I'll tell you where it is- part of the Learning Commons, inside the Learning Resource Center...a$$h***.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The Gods Must Be Crazy

Last night, The Boyfriend called me at work to let me know that my cousin Lucifer, he of the jail and prison stays (he's been exonerated, but I look for it to catch up someday) and substance abuse issues, had turned up on my front porch. The bad part is that The Boyfriend let him in. Lucifer is kind of like a vampire in that once he gets across the threshold, he's not leaving until he's ready to go. In this case, it was 8:45 this morning. He was so blotto that he hardly knew where he was or who he was, yet by sheer instinct, he ended up at my house. The local police have poured him out into my custody more than once, too, when they didn't want him driving the thirty-five miles to his parents' home.

Lucifer doesn't pop up as much as he once did. Apparently he's recently lost his engineering job with a company manufacturing diesel engine components, and his stepfather (who raised him) is dying. His grandmother has been steadily losing her mind over the past few years, and his mother is confined to a wheelchair, having had a stroke while driving. She crashed her car into a tree; the combination left her paralyzed, and his stepfather and grandmother providing her care. He's an only child and now facing a lot of tough days ahead. His solution? Drink himself stupid and crash on AiredaleGirl's couch!

The best part is that he usually gets up about three a.m. and decides that he's sober enough to trail on home...flinging the front door open and not paying an iota of attention to my dogs. Given how drunk he was last night (which was VERY drunk, even by his standards), we couldn't pry him up off the couch and we also wouldn't go to sleep for fear of his releasing my Airedales in the middle of the night. So here I am, with a meeting in a few minutes and promotion folders to read afterward, and el zilcho sleep.


Oh, and an Airedale mix for whom I was arranging rescue from deepest, darkest Appalachia was "placed" by a "local rescue". She was found two hundred miles away near my hometown a few days ago, with her spay sutures still in place and a hernia, probably from a popped stitch...she was spayed on January 7th. It's definitely the same dog- found in the county where HSUS and the Animal Legal Defense Fund are investigating the local shelter for heinous abuse and murder of animals in their care, including animals from my home county, which contracts to them for shelter services. I was e-mailing both of those organizations yesterday, and have been on the phone several times with the SPCA volunteer back home who has the dog in her custody.

In addition, a problem patron spoke to our new twentysomething year-old cataloger, Mrs. Expectant Young Wife and Mother, as if she is a very dense three year-old (I remember the days of being mistaken for a student and dressing like a sixty year-old church lady to try to make myself a little more 'official-looking'). She is young, but she's not a teenager, and this mean older lady is not a student, i.e., if she can't exhibit better manners, she's free to head on over to the very lovely public library...provided her sunny self has not already been banned. She waited until right after I left work to pull this nice stunt. How charming.

Yes, yesterday was a strange day. This one has just been hectic. Ah, well, onward to the meeting and then the folders await. Yuck.