Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Bright Side of Surgery: Flowers!

Yes, I am almost done (for the third time) blogging about my surgery. Hey, at least I’m not showing you my stitches, or describing my pain on a scale of one to six. Nor am I sharing my digestive process, so let’s keep it in perspective, shall we?

Nope, I just wanted to share the beautiful side of the surgery with you. Didn’t think there was one, did you? Well, here it is, in the form of photos I waited a few days too long to take, but still… My kids sent these gorgeous flowers, and they did SO much to brighten my mood! Pink roses, white calla lilies and stunning foliage. Check it all out, and forgive me the sub-standard photography. I should have done better, but there you are. Blame it on the pain killers.

Now check out the card. Sweet, isn’t it?

Yeah, except for the fact that I’m not Lucy. And I haven’t had a Momma in twenty years, and there is no Dan. WTF?

So we called FTD, referenced the order number, and they verified that my order really WAS for pink roses and white calla lilies and they read me what MY card was supposed to say. Then they actually sent me the proper card. It was full of love and caring and get well wishes, and it was actually signed by people I gave birth to, the people they a)married and b) are engaged to and c) gave birth to!

Color me happy, and color me fortunate.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Six Word Saturday

Cate over at celebrates Six Word Saturdays.  Here's mine, with gratitude:

Dodged another bullet; snowfall: one inch.

Thanks, Cate.  Not for the snow, but for the concept and for your consistently cool bloggerinis!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

One-Word Answers

The lovely Nancy at "Blissed Out Grandma" recently posted an intriguing and revealing list of questions, each looking for a one-word answer.  I enjoyed reading her list, and decided to take her up on the invitation to join in.  Here's mine.  Perhaps you'd like to do the same?  I think we can learn a lot about each other this way!

1. Where is your cell phone? charger

2. Your hair? short

3. Your mother? Long-gone

4. Your father? ditto

5. Your favorite food? bread

6. Your dream last night? confusing

7. Your favorite drink? coffee

8. Your dream/goal? Poet

9. What room are you in? office

10. Your hobby? quilting

11. Your fear? failure

12. Where do you want to be in 6 years? healthy

13. Where were you last night? home

14. Something you aren’t? smug

15. Muffins? blueberry

16. Wish list item? Kindle

17. Where did you grow up? St. Louis

18. Last thing you did? Read

19. What are you wearing? jammies

20. Your TV? widescreen

21. Your pet? Dust bunny

22. Your friends? golden

23. Your life? changing

24. Your mood? quiet

25. Missing someone? always

26. Vehicle? Forester

27. Something you’re not wearing? earrings

28. Your favorite store? Borders

29. Your favorite color? green

30. When was the last time you laughed? today

31. Last time you cried? yesterday

32. Your best friend? secret

33. One place that I go over and over? library

34. One person who emails me regularly? Harriet

35. Favorite place to eat? kitchen

Here's what Nancy said, and it bears repeating:

Try it! If you do, help yourself to the Over the Top patch and link back to me, if you would. I'll be interested to see how you responded. 

Thanks, Nancy-- this was fun!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Nostril Damages (did Nostradamus predict this, too?)

All right, all right, I’m getting to it. I thought I could get away with NOT showing you what I looked like in the aftermath of the surgery. But astute reader, Mr. Richard Fader of Paterson, New Jersey*, wrote in to ask about the gory details.

First of all, I do not have two black eyes. I think that’s what happens to patients getting a rhinoplasty, aka nose job. At least it used to, back in the day. I had only a septoplasty, which doesn’t change the way your nose looks, it just removes the obstruction from one side of the internal chamber. Presumably, now (at least after a few more weeks of healing) I will be able to breathe like a normal person. And that will be ever-so-nice.

There wasn’t even much swelling on my face—perhaps if you were looking for it (and my husband, the Center of the Universe and I were looking for it) you could see a bit of puffiness in the cheeks and nose. But frankly, if you knew me, and didn’t know I had just had surgery, you would not have noticed anything different about me. Not even the day after the event. (The day OF the surgery I had a giant gauze-pad mustache taped across my upper lip to absorb blood, and wads of packing up my nose. It was pretty darn hard not to notice that.)

So what characterized the physical change in me? After the doc removed the packing, he instructed me to lean back in the bed for 15 minutes. The CoTU, seated bedside, remarked, “Wow—look at your nostrils!” I must say, the man has no survival instincts at all.

“What?” I wanted to know. “What about my nostrils???”

I pulled out the mirror in the bed-table and looked for myself. One was a rectangle, one was a circle.

“Yikes! I guess when I asked the doctor (when the decision was first made to have the surgery) about outcomes, I neglected to mention that I didn’t want my nostrils to change appreciably. Who knew I was supposed to specify that??”

“Well, they’ll probably go back to normal,” CoTU offered. “Eventually.”

“Unbelievable… Well, there is some good news in this little development,” I said.

“There is?” (What did I tell you about his instinct for survival?)

“Yes—you are 6’ 4”. If this happened to you, everyone would see your uneven, asymmetrical, raggedy-assed nostrils 24/7. I, being 5’ 1 ½”, am protected. The only people who will see my nostrils are the grandkids, and we can use this to teach ‘alike and different’.”

Here is an actual photograph of me in the recovery room after the surgery. Okay, it’s not an actual photograph, I just said that because you will think that with my drawing skills my full-time job is as a graphic artist. I know. I’m that good. Anyway, I wanted you to see how awful I looked with the oxygen mask across my nose and mouth. The starfish-y looking thing on top of it all is the very official blue vinyl glove they filled with crushed ice to serve as my hospital-issue ice pack. Can’t wait to see what they charge my insurance company for that.

*Honk if you remember him, and his contribution to our pop culture.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

The Nose Knows, Part II

Thought I was the first person in history to die on the table having a septoplasty? Not so much. The surgery, as it happens, was not bad. The recovery, on the other hand, not so good.

Actually, if I had not had an allergic reaction to the antibiotic I was given, I think I’d be feeling a whole lot better by now, but we never know, do we?

So my thanks go to a fine surgeon and a terrific O.R. and Recovery staff, and the ability of the human body to recover from the assaults we perform on it! I’m getting better, and despite my expectations to the contrary, I can clearly breathe better than I expected to five days post-op.

And since I’ve taken to pontificating on the virtues of good manners in the past, I believe this is my opportunity to address the topic as it applies to the hospital room. Thus, here comes:

Hospital Etiquette for the Hopelessly Dense Inpatient

1. When your guests come to visit, lower your voices so that I’m not overhearing your family drama. I now know who cheated on whom, how many times, and why. I’m honestly not interested, and I needed to sleep more than I needed the theater.

2. Phone calls that your son needs to make about his truck repairs could conceivably be made elsewhere. I’m just saying…

3. When you take a phone call, please mute your t.v. The soap operas to which you are apparently addicted are competing with your personal spectacle, and the plotlines of the two overlap and confuse me. I have enough trouble keeping my own life straight. Don’t inject yours into my head.

4. When you leave the room to ‘ambulate the halls’ as our dry-erase board so officially puts it, that’s also a good time to mute (or, heaven forfend!—turn off!) your t.v.

5. Thanks for sharing your theory that “You could meet someone in Vegas and get married the same day, and your chances of it working out are just as good as anyone else’s.” This may have been developed via the extensive and exhaustive study you’ve made of soap operas. I’m not sure you have the (real-life) statistics to back it up.

So, while I felt your pain, got the nurse for you (when I could), tried to help insofar as I was able, and hope you’re feeling lots better, I still feel justified in making these simple suggestions. I hope neither of us ever needs them again!

Meanwhile, may all your ailments be treated in the office, and may any future hospitalizations be conducted with a maximum of decorum and a minimum of drama.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Nose Knows

Today I’m going under the knife, as they say, to correct my severely deviated septum. This should fix my breathing problems, after the swelling subsides and the pain ebbs. If I live that long. Whatever. (The septum is a wall inside your nose that separates the nasal passages.  In cases like mine, instead of being straight, the septum veer to one side and screws up your breathing, partially blocking air flow.) By the way, this is not to be confused with a 'nose job', and there will be no changing of my outward appearance.  Damn! 

There are lots of photos of 'septoplasty' on the web, and even lots of videos of the actual surgery, but I'll spare you.

I’m just saying, why didn’t someone fix this twenty years ago, when I was younger and healing was so much easier? Plus I would have had twenty more years of decent breathing. Breathing is not optional, I like to say. Although in this case it appears to be pretty much elective.

I’m going to see whether CoTU wants to bring his camera to the hospital and document the experience…Not the gory surgery stuff-- just the ugly swollen and bandaged me post-op.  It might make a good blog post later on. To paraphrase the great Gail Collins of the New York Times, I am not one of those people who believe everything happens for a reason, but I do believe that everything happens so I can blog about it.

Anyhoo, if I’m AWOL for a few days, I’m just wallowing in the pain. Or the drugs. Or the pain. You really won’t know which. Unless CoTU invades the blog and starts begging for a merciful end to MY suffering.

See you on the other side! --no, I’m not going to die, I mean the other side of the blogosphere. If I can find it. (And this is before the drugs.) 

Monday, January 18, 2010

Word (Nerd) of the Year

It may be kind of old news, but according to the New Oxford American Dictionary the 2009 Word of the Year (WOTY) is unfriend.

Whoops—spellcheck is not clued in, and has underlined unfriend in a very red-wavy-line unfriendly sort of way. Of course, it did the same thing to ‘spellcheck’, so I guess there’s a problem there of a different sort. Ah—who knew? It’s spell-check. Color me corrected.

I love this Word of the Year announcement. I mean, how nerdy do you have to be to get a kick out of this? I’m not one to toot my own horn, but I must be way over the top on the Nerd-o-Meter.

Every year these people track changes in the English language. New words are added to the lexicon as deemed necessary. A WOTY is selected to “reflect the ethos of the year and its lasting potential as a word of cultural significance and use.”

Huh? And they came up with ‘unfriend’?

"It has both currency and potential longevity," said Christine Lindberg, a language researcher for Oxford's U.S. dictionary program. "In the online social networking context, its meaning is understood, so its adoption as a modern verb form makes this an interesting choice for Word of the Year."

In case you’ve been living underground for the past couple of years, here’s the official Oxford definition of the word in question:

"To remove someone as a 'friend' on a social networking site such as Facebook."

Unfriend actually had serious competition for the title, you should know. Other finalists were ‘netbook’, ‘hashtag’ and ‘sexting’. That sound you hear is the clatter of every English teacher and lover of literature who ever lived collectively spinning in their graves. Yes. ‘Sexting’. It’s an official word. I know what it means, I hear it used in the media, but seriously—couldn’t we just keep it as a kind of off-the-record sort of thing? It’s just odd to make it a bona fide part of the language, isn’t it? I’m totally not a prude, but aren’t there just a zillion stories of teenagers messing up their lives by sexting (whoa, spell-check is SO out-of-date) photos of themselves that turn them (and their contacts) into registerable sex offenders for distributing child pornography? We are a messed up people.

I guess new words, of necessity, will be mostly technology-related. I got unfriended a couple of years ago by someone I considered a close friend. But she did it the old-fashioned way—in a hand-written letter. How very 2007 of her. I guess some people just can't keep up.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Two First Names

Back in the so-called “Swing Era” there was a terrific musician named Harry James. He was a trumpeter and a bandleader. In fact he was the first bandleader to feature a young singer named Frank Sinatra, but as they say, that’s not important right now. The thing about Harry James is, (and this may place me way up there in the ‘pull out the petty’ rankings) that in one of the movie musicals in which he was featured, some gorgeous singer tunefully introduced him as “the man with two first names: Harry James!”

I know, we have a world financial crisis, terrorists trying to attack us, and an earthquake of colossal destruction in Haiti, and I’m blogging about some musician from sixty years ago. I really know how to focus on what matters, don’t I?

And yet…

Why do I recall that line from a movie I must have watched on tv with my dad a zillion years ago? Um, partly because my dad, in some photos, bore a striking resemblance to Harry James. Partly because, I don’t know—I can’t remember what shoes I’m wearing if I can’t look at my feet. I just do.

The thing is, it comes to mind when I meet someone whose surname is a common first name. In fact one of my husband’s college friends fits this category, and he recently shared a story about how it created a near-crisis in his senior year in college. Let’s call him Simon Kelly. Because that’s his name. No, it’s really not. You don’t get into AEPi with a name like Kelly, but that’s not important right now either…

It was getting close to graduation time, and his guidance counselor called him in and told him he had only about half the number of credit hours he needed for his degree. Kelly went nuts, assured the guy he had been carrying a full course load for 3 ½ years, and had carefully been documenting his requirements.

After some fast and furious digging, they realized that nearly half his grades had been turned in under the name Kelly Simon, and the rest under Simon Kelly. Clearly, we went to college before everything was computerized, bar coded and automated. Lord, we actually stood in lines to sign up for the course and section we needed to get into! How primitive!

Anyhoo, just in the past week I’ve made note of some of the surnames I’ve read in the paper (yes, many from the obits—I’m weird like that) that are commonly thought of as first names. Here are a few:

Molly (not kidding)


Fred  (really!)


Roberta (I know!)
















So our pal, the so-called Simon Kelly recalls that he was so traumatized by the near-miss graduation that he deliberately named his two sons so that they would never experience a similar ‘mis-confusion’. They are Machine-Gun Kelly and Kelly Kelly. Mission accomplished.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Parlor Tricks

My first husband, He Who Shall Not Be Named, once described me in glowing terms to a friend of ours. I don’t recall his exact words, but suffice it to say that they caused me to stop, cock my head (and my imaginary Colt 45), and say, “I think the sum of my existence has just been condensed into ‘an incredible ability to solve anagrams.’” Oh well, if you have to be known for something…

Then there’s my pal Barbara who likes me to go along with her when she shops for fabric. Not only because I tend to love the same vintage prints for quilts, and the same colors and textures for home décor projects that she does, but also because I function as her personal calculator.

“So if my window is 60” long, and I want two panels…” she begins.

“You need four yards,” I offer, completing her sentence. “And that’s $104, less your 40% off coupon makes it $62.40.”

Barbara’s eyes have rolled so far up into their sockets that I think she’s going to faint, but then she cracks up laughing and tells me I’m a freak of nature. Duh. Tell me something I don’t know.

I’m sort of cursed with these odd little parlor tricks that no one except Will Shortz could possibly care about. I also know all the words to a million show tunes, and old songs from way before my time. I’m what you should probably call a throwback. It’s like a weirdness that I don’t even understand. Lastly, I have an uncanny ability to remember everyone’s birthday, wedding anniversary and date of their first communion or bar mitzvah, as the case may be. My step-daughter calls me Rainman for a reason.

Meanwhile, back at the fabric store…

“See, I’d love to ask you how you did that, but we both know I couldn’t possibly process that in a hundred years, so I’ll spare you the effort,” Barb says.

“But wouldn’t you rather know how to do it, too? I can tell you, it’s really easy. Besides, you have a very big brain and your capabilities far exceed mine in a zillion ways. Come on… it’ll be fun.”

“Fun? Have you totally lost your mind? Travel is fun. Movies are fun. Except for that awful movie with Mickey Roarke last year. (The opposite of fun.) Shopping for fabric is fun. Computing yardage, cost and discounts: decidedly not fun.”

I admit defeat. If Barbara doesn’t want to know, I can’t insist. Besides, now she’s dependent on me, and she needs me to go with her whenever she’s on a quest for just the right fabric. I’d say I’ve got it made.

Monday, January 11, 2010

A Kiss is Still a Kiss...

My favorite local radio station is currently getting sponsorship from a local law firm. Normally I would just say that I heard an ad on the radio, but when you’re talking about a local NPR affiliate, I guess they can’t call them ads. So their programs are underwritten by certain companies, and they get mentioned in return for that. No problem. Even public radio has bills to pay, and mouths to feed, so to speak.

But I heard one the other day that informed me (and thousands of other listeners) that this law firm offers domestic agreements, “such as marriage or dissolution.”

Dissolution? Newspeak for divorce? In this brave new world are we about to find that our census forms, job applications, and other membership papers will offer us the following:

• single

• married

• dissolute

I’m just asking!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Sticks and Stones...

Reality check… A couple of days ago I heard the strangest thing on NPR. It was a report on a public vote in Israel to establish new Hebrew language names for the planets Neptune and Uranus. It seems that while the other planets have official Hebrew language names, these two had all along just been known as Planet One and Planet Other One. Okay, maybe not, but it’s hard not to get all cynical sometimes. Stay with me…


So a discussion ensued about how science teachers in Israel spearheaded the effort to involve the public in naming these planets, in part because of their dismay at the small percentage of students who could name all the planets. Fine. I get that, and I’m okay with that. Of course, my grandson, who just turned three, has known all the planets’ names for many months, because his Montessori daycare teaches the kids a song about the planets. Can’t they do that in Israel? I’m just saying…

So. The top vote-getting entries were revealed and meanings were explained, and so on and so forth.


Then. At the end. The host, Renee Montagne asks the reporter, Steve Estrin, if they can’t do something about the English name for the planet Uranus. (What? We’re all still 9-year olds on the playground and can’t say Uranus without a giggle or a titter??) He commiserates, and together they lament the name of the seventh rock from the sun, to coin a phrase. He signs off: Steve Estrin. HELLO?????? Estrin???? And you’re mocking the name of a planet named for the Greek god of the sky? You, my friend, should ask yourself why your grandfather, father, or you have not modified the name Estrin to make you sound a little less like Steve Ovarian-Output. Again—I’m just sayin’…


   ˈɛs troʊnShow Spelled Pronunciation [es-trohn] Show IPA


1. Biochemistry. an estrogenic hormone, C18H22O2, produced by the ovarian follicles and found during pregnancy in urine and placental tissue.

2. Pharmacology. a commercial form of this compound, obtained from the urine of pregnant women or synthesized from ergosterol, used in the treatment of estrogen deficiency and certain menopausal and postmenopausal conditions.

Also, estrin.

Attention, Steve:  Cast not the first stone!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Was It a Coincidence?

People say all the time that there’s no such thing as a coincidence. Like when things happen that seem to be linked, and we want to say, “What a coincidence!” their take on it is that some giant hand of fate manipulated events to occur in that way. “That was no accident—everything happens for a reason,” they suggest. Or insist.

So I was actually writing something Friday about the new year, and the Roman god Janus, for whom January is named. Janus had two faces, and he was able to look forward and backward at the same time. The Romans held him to be the god of beginnings and endings.

I love this not only because I was really smitten with Greek and Roman mythology in college, and took an elective course on the stuff, but also because, if you look at the banner on this blog, you’ll see I’m photographing myself in the rearview (yeah, I know: sideview) mirror of my car. Even my cute little blog business cards say (below Funny Is the New Young) “Moving Forward and Looking Back.” A little bit of Janus in me, I supposed.

I started this blog thinking that it marked a bit of a turning point for me between my former self (job- and family-focused), and my newer self with no job, and family grown and gone. I could self-define and self-direct and make new choices. No clueless pointy-haired boss to kiss up to (a la Dilbert), no commuting hassles, no dry cleaning debt, no alarm clock! Yowza!

I know, I know, what’s this got to do with the whole coincidence thing I started out on? I’m getting there.

Yes. Friday. I opened my newspaper (yay, there’s still a daily paper in St. Louis, and it still carries Ellen Goodman’s column) and found to my great dismay that the venerable (no, that is NOT a synonym for old) columnist from the Boston Globe is retiring. So I guess the Post-Dispatch doesn’t exactly carry her column any more, because she just extinguished it.

Sure, she’s entitled. I can’t exactly do it myself and then get all indignant when anyone else wants to end the career. Of course she hints that she’s not completely going away, and that she’ll still be writing, just not on the same schedule or in the same format. Good for her. I’ll look forward to reading her new stuff as time goes on. She’s been a beacon for readers for decades, and a role model for writers.

But here’s (I know—FINALLY!) the coincidence: Her opening paragraph is about Janus. She mentions beginnings and endings. She points out that he looked backward and forward at the same time. (Insert theme from The Twilight Zone, or that five-note riff from Close Encounters of the Third Kind here.) It totally freaked me out.

Goodman starts out with the observation that there is something fitting about writing her last column on the first day of a new year. As usual, she does a splendid job of sharing her journey with us. She notes that there’s a trick to moving on without moving out. Good for her. I’ll miss her columns, as I do those of the late, great Molly Ivins.

But Janus and I will be watching…