Friday, August 29, 2008

You Matter

My father was one of the world’s greatest hypocrites. He brought me up to believe that every purchase we make is a decision to support one supplier versus another, giving our business to a particular store, a particular manufacturer, and a particular product. We would get in the car on the weekends and drive from our Albany Park neighborhood in Chicago, all the way to Lincolnwood to fill his gas tank up because gas was a few pennies cheaper there. Without regret, he admitted it probably didn’t save him any money when he considered how far the drive in weekend traffic was, but his belief was that it was more important to give his business to that gas station because their prices were the best, if only by 2¢. My parents did the same thing when grocery shopping. We would often go to two or three grocery stores to get all of our food for the week, chasing sale prices around the city, not to save the money, but to reward the stores with the best sales with our business. Perhaps it’s naïve to assume that a can of Del Monte corn bought for 5¢ less at Jewel could actually give Jewel the motivation to keep their sales kicking everyone else’s ass because they sold so many cans of corn at this price. Perhaps. My father believed that if he made conscientious purchases, he could actually impact the economy.

There are times when I think this is incredibly foolish, given the very contradictory way our economy runs and how faith-based everything is, but there was something hopeful in the way he shopped and the value he put on his spending habits. No matter how hard I try to be efficient and not let myself get carried away with buying into my dad’s philosophies, I find myself doing the exact same things he did, driving to the Wisconsin border to buy gas, shopping at four different grocery stores, and “rewarding” worthy businesses with my purchases.

Yet, despite how passionately my father felt about his power over the economy, he refused to register to vote. This was a point of contention between us for most of my life, and I never did get him to understand that he’d always been voting for things with each calculated purchase he made, but he wouldn’t vote for people who could actually make a bigger difference in our world. He refused to believe that voting mattered, and we would argue about it on the long drives we took to places he felt worthy of giving his business to. It drove me completely nuts. How could someone be so blind to all the voting we do every day, yet refuse to vote for people and issues that govern our lives?

Given that I’m a voter registrar through my job, it’s something I feel very strongly about, and I’m adding something very important to my sidebar for anyone who visits this blog. Rock the Vote offers an online voter registration process, where you can register for the first time, or reregister a change of address or a change of name, and you never even have to leave your house. (Except to mail the form.) It’s awesome! I give you the widget of your future!

Register to Vote: Rock the Vote, powered by Credo Mobile

I know that many of my readers vote, and perhaps one or two of you may register to vote this year because of the national election, and maybe this will be the first time for someone, too. If so, fabulous! I just hope as many people as possible get out and make their opinions count.

Once I accomplish that, perhaps we can work out carpools for people who do what I do, which is to buy my usual stuff at a co-op, my pasture-fed meats at Sunset Foods, my organic foods at Trader Joe’s, my produce and other locally grown items from farmers’ markets, and sale items at any grocery store kind enough to reduce their costs. My motivation is not always sales and best prices, clearly. It’s about quality goods, keeping my money fueling the local economy instead of sending the profits across the country or across the world, and trying to provide a steady stream of business to people and businesses that believe in higher standards. My free-range, omega-3 eggs are expensive, but I prefer knowing the chickens live better lives, eat a more natural diet, and provide me with a better product. That’s how I vote. It’s what my father taught me. It’s how I convince myself that I matter in this world.

I hope you feel like you matter too. Even if you don’t make an effort to vote with your dollars, vote with your head and make your opinion matter in the upcoming election.

< /soapbox speech >

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Opportune Opposum

I just had to share this story because, to me, it’s heartwarming. To you, probably not so much.

You may recall the story of Boyfriend Extraordinaire’s patio-dwelling pets, Possum Schwee, and Baby Possum Schwee. It proved to be a bit of a controversial post, but frankly, I don’t give a shit what people think about the possum situation, and look forward to daily possum updates.

Not all that long ago, Possum Schwee started spending more time away from the patio, and lately hasn’t been seen around. (The photos below were taken by Boyfriend Extraordinaire, while Possum Schwee was still living on the patio with Baby Possum Schwee.) We assumed s/he moved on to a new home, while Baby Possum Schwee continued living on B.E.’s patio, sharing the space with Kitty Schwee. Apparently, cats and possums get along in the wild, so those of you who were concerned about the possum hurting the cat, rest assured that they are both happy hanging out together.

About a month ago, Kitty Schwee’s owner, the man next door to B.E., reported one of the funniest updates so far about the Possum & Kitty Schwee adventures. Evidently this foolish man not only lets his housecat out all day long, where Kitty Schwee becomes so flea-bitten that he gets sick and sometimes has to be hospitalized for his anemic condition, but this man still leaves his back door open (not unlocked, but open) so that Kitty Schwee can come and go as he pleases. He’s a real winner.

Leaving the back door open hadn’t posed a problem before, but one night the man heard noises in his kitchen, and thinking it was Kitty Schwee, wandered in to see what his cat was up to. What he found instead was a disaster. The big bag of dry cat food was broken into, leaving cat food all over the kitchen counter, floor, etc. On top of the microwave sat Baby Possum Schwee, munching away on the mess of cat food he’d spread about the room.

What a dream come true for little Baby Possum Schwee, right? I mean, the house probably smelled like his buddy, Kitty Schwee, and maybe Kitty Schwee even led him into the treasure trove of free food. Who knows? But what a huge jackpot for a little, hungry possum! Yummy food, more than he could eat by himself, free for the taking!

The man totally wigged out. He didn’t want to hurt the possum, but he was terrified of this toothy rodent being in his house, so he did one of the few smart things I’ve ever heard of him doing, and he trapped Baby Possum Schwee by putting an empty garbage can on top of him, securing the little guy on top of the microwave. It was late that night and the man decided to go to sleep and figure out what to do with the possum in the morning.

The next day, the man slid a plate under the garbage can, as he scooted it off the top of the microwave, and Baby Possum Schwee just kind of went along with the weird adventure. Somehow he flipped the garbage can over and secured a lid over top, then drove Baby Possum Schwee a few miles away to a field, where he hoped Baby Possum Schwee would live a long and happy life, away from all the free food he kept unsecured in his open kitchen.

It was a bittersweet story to us because while I would miss Baby Possum Schwee tremendously, Boyfriend Extraordinaire was a bit relieved not to have to worry about neighbors complaining to his landlord about the possum living on his patio. And, Baby Possum Schwee would likely be living in an environment more suited to a possum.

So, the man actually did a good thing, much as I hate to admit it.

Then, last night Boyfriend Extraordinaire discovered something surprising: Baby Possum Schwee is back living on his patio again!

I cannot deny that I’m a bit ecstatic to know that he’s back. I so look forward to Baby Possum Schwee stories, and I think Boyfriend Extraordinaire realizes that this possum is not a threat in any way. They are not aggressive animals, despite their show of fangs.

That's a yawn.

I just cannot get enough of how cool their little hands are. They have opposable thumbs and their fingers/toes are all spread out, like a human hand. How cute is that?! They also have these wild whiskers that stick out of their face all over the place. It’s fabulous! And add to that the fact that Baby Possum Schwee is a marsupial – just knowing he’s got a little pocket on his belly tickles me.

I want a baby possum!

I <3 Baby Possum Schwee!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008


Marina and I were exchanging instant messages today while she was at the reference desk, and I was trying to help her help a patron who was requesting some unusual information. During the conversation, she was explaining something in the text and included a portion in parentheses, but she never ended it with the last parenthesis. She immediately apologized, which I thought was funny. There are some people who are far too conscientious about their typos, but I thought I’d give her a hard time anyway, telling her that parenthetical conversations that go on forever wear me out. So she gave me my “)” so I could relax.

This led to a series of complaints that far too often, people will use abbreviations, contractions or acronyms with things that deserve to be spelled out, but they will stick apostrophes in words where they are not needed. There seems to be a new version of the word your, which is either spelled UR, or you’re, for random reasons. HATE THIS! But the worst offender is the apostrophe-S. Plurals have apostrophes now. No, they’re not supposed to, but I’m finding no one even tries to be correct, and whenever there is an S on the end of a word, they just put an apostrophe before it.

There is a subdivision near my house, and they commissioned a huge stone with the name of the subdivision carved into it, which might have looked classy if it wasn’t proofread by a fucking moron. The finished boulder had read “Northern Pine’s of Illinois”. Duh. Carved, I should say again. It stayed that way for many months, and then someone recently came in and patched the apostrophe over with some similarly shaded putty. However, the big boulder now reads, “Northern Pine s of Illinois.” Lovely. It seems to me that this kind of crap didn’t happen so often before the proclivity of instant messages and texting, which makes me think that the world is forgetting how to use the language properly, even though they’re using written words more.

Being a gigantic bitch, I’ve decided to make fun of the idiots who know not where to put apostrophes, even though that’s elementary school subject matter. I’ve decided that every time there is an S in a word, it will automatically get an apostrophe first.

That’s a lot of ‘S’s, people.

What end’s up happening here i’s that word’s look foreign. It’s almo’st pretty. ‘So, I’m going to go with thi’s. At lea’st for the time being. Becau’se making fun of apo’strophe’s i’s almo’st a’s much fun a’s making fun of the people who have no idea what to do with them. It’s ‘shocking to me becau’se it’s not that difficult. And if we u’sed them correctly, we’d hardly u’se them at all. Particularly when you compare with u’sing them before each ‘S, which i’s getting a bit ridiculou’s. It make’s more ‘sen’se to ju’st not u’se them at all.

Thi’s make’s me wonder if apo’strophe-abu’ser’s would even notice.

And how ironic if they were to ‘speak up and point out the mi’su’se of the apo’strophe’s.

Then again, I think I might ju’st be ‘shooting my’self in the foot, wearing out my apo’strophe key on a point that can’t be under’stood by tho’se who need to under’stand it mo’st.

Sunday, August 24, 2008


In my life, I've been to a few churches, seen a number of traditional ceremonies, and been mostly unmoved by them all. I've never enjoyed the comfort of rituals nor have I found beauty in formal pageantry. Perhaps this is from a life bereft of religion, customs and heritage, being an atheist mutt.

Yet, there is one solitary tradition, completely alien to me, that I find so moving, so beautiful, and so deeply inspiring that it bears my sincerest, heart-felt awe, as no other has ever elicited from me. Just to be allowed to be a witness to these events is a highlight of my life, and as long as they'll let me in, I will always seek to go. This is as close as I get to having a religious experience. I just cannot say how absolutely beautiful the whole thing is to me.

Here are the photos I took at the Potawatomi Trails PowWow, held in Shiloh Park, in Zion, Illinois today.

Part of what appeals is the ancient traditions, the connection to nature, the gorgeous languages, and the fascinating people. At the end of the Grand Entry, an elder read aloud a prayer for good things to happen today, and as I listened to this foreign language, a swallowtail butterfly lazily floated right in front of my face. I turned to Ann and smiled, and she smiled back, as if this butterfly gave us both some peace and joy. Somehow, the sun felt better, the air felt cleaner, and my head felt clearer. I don't understand many of the meanings behind what we saw there, but it just felt good.

Sometimes, feeling good is enough.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Pissed Off

I want to know what the fuck is wrong with people!

Look, we’ve all heard the stories about what you can catch from a public toilet, and while most of that is far from true, what you can and do bring back from the public bathrooms is E. coli. But guess what: unless you ingest it, you should be okay. So will someone please tell me something? Why-oh-why are public toilet seats and the floor surrounding them so often doused in urine? If you’re so fucking afraid of getting anywhere near a public toilet seat, then go in the bushes, people, because a one-foot ring of pee around the floor of a toilet, and big, yellow splashes of it all over the seat tell me that you pretty much just dropped trou’, bent over slightly and pushed. Could you be more disgusting?

Sure you could. You could have dropped trou’, bent over slightly, and pushed out a big log of poo, too. I’m sure that happens more often than I wish to know.

What in the fucking fuck possesses people to pee all over the fucking place because they don’t want to touch anything and they can’t hold it? Just because you’re in a stall does not mean you can just pee up the fucking walls! Should we take the toilets out completely and just have a gaping pit of waste in each stall, so you can just lift one leg and give your guts a good squeeze, in the general direction of the hole in the earth? Would that give you more comfort? Because if it’s a fear of toilets you have, then let’s just leave you to the waste pit and restrict access to toilets to those of us who use them as they are intended.

Would it fucking kill you to raise the seat, if you’re not planning on using it anyway? Seriously, I’m a germ-o-phobe, but even I recognize that the seat is for sitting, and if I don’t want to sit on it, I should find a way not to make matters worse by pissing on the fucking seat. And the puddle on the floor – that just scares me. How fucking far away must you hover in order to pee all over the floor in front of the toilet? Are you even in the stall? Should we be checking you for stall-door concussions? Do you practice the hula while peeing? How did you not just fucking pee all over your dropped drawers? Or is it okay as long as it’s your own piss staining your clothing?

In the name of cleanliness, what vile soiling of the environment are we allowed to do before the irony pisses all over us?

Look, I know men have bad aim, and I know they seldom give a crap that they’ve just sprayed urine all around a toilet bowl, but I expect more from women. Not because they’re better or cleaner or more respectful, because they’re not, but because the plumbing does not favor distance peeing, and we should all fucking know this by now. How long have you been peeing? When was the last time you were able to piss your fucking name in the snow using an exact, fine-point spray? Fucking never, that’s when! So what in the fuck makes you think you should go into a bathroom that everyone shares and try to piss out a stream of pee into a hole when you’re facing away from it? Not that you’d have better results if you were facing the toilet and straddling it, but there is pretty much zero fucking chance of you hitting your target if you can’t even see where it’s going. Two quarts later, you stand up straight and see that you either didn’t go the distance, or you threw some curve into it, or what felt like a narrow stream turned into a wide-range sprinkler, and then what do you do? What does one do when they sully up something that isn’t theirs? They walk the fuck away and pretend like it never happened.

Not your job, huh?

Well, I’d like to make a suggestion to all of you fucking hovering ho-bags who can’t pee anywhere near the fucking toilet.

Don’t bother peeing in the stall at all anymore! Got that? I mean it. Pee anywhere else, because if I’m walking down the grocery store aisle and there’s a puddle of pee, I’m walking the fuck around it and likely not cursing you as bad as I am if it’s the only stall in the public washroom that isn’t clogged, and you spread your blanket of pee all over the place. So, pee wherever you want EXCEPT in the stall! Pee in the parking lot. Pee in the grass. Pee in a fountain. Pee wherever you want to pee that I won’t be pulling my own pants down so I can pee after you do. Just do the seat-users this one little favor, would you? If you won’t use the toilet correctly, don’t use it at all.

You know what’s the worst of it all?

These are probably the exact same people who don’t wash their hands after they pee all over the place, too. You just LOVE to share as much of your pee with as many people as you can, don’t you? Is that the overall goal? Do you think your pee is so wonderful that the whole fucking world should experience it in as many ways as possible? I fucking hate you! You don’t deserve to have the ability to pee on anything. Your pee should be strictly regulated and accounted for. Your freedom to spread pee should be taken away and replaced with some kind of catheter that you have surgically implanted and can only be emptied by a licensed pee-dumper. You have abused your peeing power and it should be taken from you!

Okay, that’s my rant.

If you’re a sloppy pisser, piss somewhere else and leave the toilets alone. Fuckers.

Thursday, August 21, 2008


Lump. It’s sounds like a silly word, doesn’t it? You could say the word “lump” in front of a 4-year-old, who would waste no time repeating it, to test the effect of uttering the weird, new word, and only about three utterances would lead to it sounding completely nonsensical in your own ears. It just doesn’t add up to its meaning.

Now nodule sounds so much more compelling. It’s almost science-fiction-esque and requires much more effort to enunciate correctly, with your lips moving all over when you say it. It has a certain panache about it, above a layman’s term, but not so highbrow that you don’t use it when necessary. It befits its meaning.

Which is to say that having a nodule in my left breast is a little science-fiction-esque and requires effort to say aloud, but I can say it because it carries the appropriate weight.

We (my doctor and I) have comfortably accepted that it is likely a swollen lymph node or a cyst, but the diagnostic mammogram in two weeks will tell us more. There’s no history of breast cancer in my family and I’m much younger than any doctor would even start to test. This is compiled on top of the fact that it’s actually located about six inches down from the center of my armpit, technically on the side of my breast, and not only is it extremely painful to the touch, but it’s shaped like a soft grape. Each menstrual cycle sees a small increase in size and discomfort, which means it’s being effected by hormone levels. Yeah, well, what isn’t?

I’m not afraid of the nodule, but I am afraid of what they’re going to do with it.

First they’re going to stretch my tit across a plexiglass surface, compress it in a vice grip, and take fucked-up black and white pictures of it. If that doesn’t sound like some warped fetish shit, I don’t know what does. I have D-cups, and during certain days of the month, my D-cups runneth over. I have a feeling that this exercise in body contortion is not going to be pretty for me. My girls are not accustomed to this kind of abuse, and I fear for their recoverability.

According to the radiology center’s website, depending on what they see at the time of the mammogram, they could actually do a biopsy or aspiration right there, at the same time, if they felt it was prudent.


Grab a big, fat needle, shove it into this extremely tender growth in my boob, and suck stuff out. I’m thinking I’m going to take some of my Vicodin-ES pills leftover from my dental work while I’m in the waiting room.

Then what? What’s really scaring me here?

What I can’t seem to stop thinking about is if this has to be surgically removed, then I’ll have this painful stitching at the backside of my boob, where the side of my bra wraps around my ribs. What if they tell me I can’t wear a bra for a while? What if I am not allowed to use deodorant until it heals completely? What if I have to stop shaving my pits temporarily?

DEAR FLYING SPAGHETTI MONSTER, I will be just like one of my stinky, braless, hairy patrons!

*runs screaming around in circles*

At least I’ll fit in then.

Nodules: the great equilizers.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Trip In Our Brains

There’s probably little doubt that My Schwee and I have a hot and romantic relationship, rife with passionate, intelligent, stimulating conversations on more levels than a simpleton could possibly comprehend, right? Don’t hurt yourself laughing too hard at that. I think I’ve revealed enough of myself here that we all know I’m most entertained by stupidity and sarcasm.

Today we instant-messaged the following conversation:

Schwee: What you doing?

Me: Reading about a stabbing in the newspaper.

Schwee: Send link.

Me: [link to article about a man found stabbed in the chest]

Schwee: “An apparent homicide”?

Me: Right.

Schwee: Wonder what else it could be.

Me: Accidental death caused by flying knives. Maybe a circus stunt gone wrong.

Schwee: Ah, maybe!

Me: Tornado.

Schwee: A drive-by knifing.

Me: Yeah! Or a faulty dishwasher.

Schwee: I was just cleaning my knife and it went off.

Me: My chest itched.

Schwee: I was putting on makeup, making a ham sandwich, and the guy ahead of me slammed on his brakes.

Me: Wasn’t supposed to be loaded! Should’ve been blanks!

Schwee: I was taking a nap and the knife that’s been stuck in the ceiling since 1934 finally let loose.

Me: It might have been possessed.

Schwee: Devil knife!


Schwee: Playing on a teeter-totter with my pet knife and it tricked me.

Me: Could’ve been a thwarted terrorist attack on a plane.

Schwee: A nearsighted sandwich terrorist got him mixed up with a turkey loaf.

Me: Oh, the possibilities!

Schwee: I didn’t realize there were so many alternative explanations. I apologize for laughing at the “apparent” in the cop’s statement.

Me: Yeah, me too. We are so cynical sometimes. We need to trust the media a little more.

Schwee: Oh yeah.

Me: You know, I just went to the washroom and there were a bunch of dust bunnies on the toilet seat. Isn’t that disturbing?

Schwee: Why? Dust bunnies have to pee too.

Me: No, they’re bone dry. They have no pee. UNLESS! That’s why they’re so dry!

Schwee: See?!

Me: But isn’t it weird that someone would pull her pants down and leave dust bunnies behind? Does she so seldom pull her pants down that there are accumulations of dust and lint between her legs? Good thing it wasn’t spider webs.

Schwee: Eight legs straddling the toilet seat.

Me: No, not a peeing spider left behind. I mean someone who drops their drawers and spider webs are released.

Schwee: They’re catching flies.

Me: Ooooooooooooooooooooooooh! Nice one.

Schwee: Thanks.

Me: Urinary spiders. Gross.

Schwee: What about guys?

Me: Penile spiders? Urethral dust bunnies? Ick.

This is what it’s like to be alone with the two of us. This kind of nonsense is fairly constant.

I have no idea what I’d do without this type of banter in my life.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Bring On the Parodies!

If you're a reader of Cute Overload, or if you've been on the receiving end of my raving personal email demanding you watch this video and daring you not to sob like a baby, then the story of Christian the Lion is not unfamiliar to you. This video has seen a lot of play, but for anyone who hasn't seen it, here it is.

And for skeptics, it's a true story.

Now, I was okay with moving on with my life and keeping the sweet memory of a lovable lion in my heart, until I saw this on Neatorama yesterday, and again I was in tears, only this time they were tears of laughter. This is just priceless. And now I want to go to the Redwoods.

Humble apologies for making you listen to that terrible song twice in a row, but it is totally necessary to pull off the spoof.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Let the Games End!

I can’t wait until the Olympics are over.

When I was little, the movie that scared me the most was The Exorcist, which came out the same year I was born, so it seemed like my entire childhood was spent trying hard to avoid catching a glimpse of the movie when it aired on regular television late at night. The voice, her face, the stairway, the priest, they were all highly recognizable flashes of the movie that gave me nightmares for most of my early life. Sometimes just the brief sight of her green face would cause me to leap off my bed, slam the television off, and cry for what felt like hours, until I felt some peace again. It plagued me, and to this day, I’ve never watched the movie all the way through.

I’m having a similar reaction to the Olympics this year, minus the crying and nightmares. What doesn’t help is how late the coverage runs, and since I’m typically up until well after 1 a.m., I accidentally come across a lot of Olympic coverage as I’m flipping through the channels. It upsets me greatly and I will be so happy when the obsession has ended.

Part of why I hate the Olympics is I just don’t understand the competitive spirit. It’s both self-deprecating and self-centered, to extremes that make me ashamed to be part of the human race. Nothing turns me off more than competition. I grew up with a mother who always was comparing herself to me, always competing with me for the attention of others, and always taking turns putting herself down when she couldn’t beat me or putting me down when she could. I’ve had friends throughout my life who have done similar things, and those friendships never lasted long. Nothing will make me walk away from someone quicker than if they start playing games of competition. If there is a tie-in between competition and flattery, I don’t see it. I just wish people would strive to be the best they can be without having to have someone else to fight with to get there. Why do we so adore the idea coming out on top of something that leaves the most people behind in the dust? It’s not enough to be the best at something, but to fuck up someone else’s dream of being the best seems to fuel the fire, and to me that’s just despicable.

The other part of the Olympics that I hate is the force-fed national pride that is somehow attached to something as stupid and useless as being able to sweep your legs around a pummel horse. Oh, yay! That’s really something to be proud of as a nation! Are these athletes using their skills and grace fighting in our wars or champions of saving lives? Oh no. They’re on cereal boxes and commercials, promoting random products. Um, that’s awesome? That’s something to go to your grave holding high? I just don’t get it. But it’s not just a case of you picking your favorite athlete and cheering him/her on. It’s the epitome of patriotism, and you must support your country’s teams, because this competition means so much to the fate of the world. Right? Doesn’t it mean something? Like the country that has the most gold medals gets to rule the globe until the next Olympics, right? No? Seriously? So, we do realize that winning the Olympics doesn’t mean dick, but yet it’s expected that you’re going to watch it, encourage it, support it, and go there if at all possible, but mostly, perpetuate the myth that it actually matters, and make it all about your pride in the country you’re from.

Sports in general piss me off for many of the same reasons, but when you factor in the exorbitant salaries, the celebrity status of athletes, the steroid abuse, and human growth hormone use, what is actually left of the game? When did sports become less about playing and more about beating others?

When I was in high school, I probably played more baseball than my entire high school baseball team combined. However, I was not good. None of the kids I played with were good. And we ranged in age from 8 to 18, so the teams were lopsided and almost comical. But let me tell you how we played and why we loved it.

We would start out by collecting the neighborhood kids and their equipment. You must understand that my family was poor growing up, and most of my friends were in the same boat, so often there would be 20 kids on the field and only 5 baseball mitts, two bats, and makeshift bases that we would actually move around for each player, depending on their abilities. We would then divide the teams according to age and ability, trying to keep things as even as possible. Then we’d iron out the perimeter of our playing field, which was not a baseball diamond, but a grassy field next to my house. If the ball bounced into Mrs. Evans’ yard, it was a ground-rule double. If you hit the siding or roof of any of the outlying houses on the edge of the grassy area, it was an automatic homerun. Anything else was playable. Swearing or any kind of unsportsmanlike conduct was an automatic out for your team. A cussing spree or fighting would mean automatic three outs and changing of the team at bat. Do-overs were reasonable solutions to debates. Pitchers could pitch overhand or underhand, but you had to move in halfway whenever any of the little kids were up to bat, and lob the pitch at them. Often we would move the bases closer for the little ones as well. Some days we would play two games of 30 innings in a day, and on the hotter summer days we’d play maybe 4 innings and then quit. This was 7 days a week, and often on weekends you would see some of the dads on the field with us. And no matter what we never kept score. We only counted outs to know when to switch sides, and if one team was clobbering the other, we would trade players and reorganize so that everyone had a fair amount of time in the field and at bat. When we were too tired to play any more, we would pool all our pocket money, walk to 7-Eleven, and buy snacks for everyone.

It sounds unreal. It sounds like neighborhood behavior that existed many generations before my own, but when you don’t have much, the last thing you want to do is make others feel bad about it. I swear, poor kids are super special because they seem to get it more than anyone else that life isn’t fair, but it’s still worth living. Sure, there were fights, and often it resulted in black eyes, bloody noses, and times when some of our players would be grounded for weeks at a time for doing shit that their parents found out about, but by and large, we just wanted to play. It seems like a lost art these days.

I have nothing against playing games of the sporty type, but competition feels like the vicious murder of fun.

And so, the hype over the Olympics just makes me sick. First there is the battle over where it will be held. Then there is the investment of making that area suitable to the influx of such an event. Let’s not even consider the soulless commercial marketing of products that want to align themselves with the games to sell more of their crap. The ridiculous amount of media coverage is nauseating. Then we deify someone for doing something as pointless as diving into a pool with as little splash as possible. And even when it’s all over, there is the post-Olympic whoring of the winners to sell yet more stuff. It’s just disgusting to me and I can only be grateful that it doesn’t occur every year.

Why don’t we have competitions where people build homes for the homeless using donated goods and services? Why don’t we compete in games where we aren’t encouraged to crush someone else? Why aren’t there international events where our best minds get together and try to help other nations that need assistance? Why is it always about taking something futile, elevating it to an event of godlike magnitude, all just to defeat others?

We are not as civilized as we like to think.

Unless you spend a lot of time at TED, and then maybe there’s some hope for the human race.

Monday, August 11, 2008

The Steroid Diet

Someone needs to break into my house and make sure there are no crumbs of junk food, no cookies, no cake mixes, no brownie mixes, no pie crusts, and no chocolate at all. I feel tremendously guilty for the amount of food I'm eating, but as long as it's fruit, veggies, and healthier choices, I feel a little less guilty. Here's a sneak peak at today.

1 banana
2 toasted whole grain English muffins with light jelly
½ can of Coke

1 banana

1 orange

1 thin cut, grilled pork chop
1 cup of applesauce
1 bowl of peas
1 huge tumbler of ice water

1 banana

1 bison hot dog on a whole wheat bun, with chopped red onions, pickles and mustard
1 ear of corn
1 can of Coke

1 banana

5 teaspoons of peanut butter
1 large glass of milk

Midnight Snack
1 handful of walnuts
1 bowl of pineapples

HELP! Who eats 4 bananas a day? I'm not even hungry and my brain is telling me I am. When I question my stomach, it simply says, "Dude, I'm worn out. If you send any more food down here, I'm going to return it to sender."

And then I reach for another snack anyway.

I think about poor Bernie Mac, who had sarcoidosis like me, and how he died of pneumonia, even though he was in remission. This disease does a real job on your lungs, let me tell you, so even if he was in remission, I would be guessing it still played a big role. I think about that and take my next dose of steroids, to stave off my current spell of the disease, and hope I don't run into anyone with a contagious respiratory condition. Or with a chocolate cupcake. Because I'll walk away with both, no doubt.

We better hope I run out of friut and other food, or there could be a case of spontaneous human explosion here, and all they'll find is post-digested banana sticking to the walls. Or maybe I'm better off with the bananas, oranges and pineapples, because it could be chocolate bars and French fries instead. And that would smell bad if I exploded.

Please, someone sneak into my kitchen and make sure there is only good food around. And take the bananas away. Five bowel movements in one day is a bit excessive.

And this doesn't even touch on the mood swings and insomnia. Crying fits and being awake 21 hours a day just seem to make me more hungry. Why is that?

The good news is that the swelling in my feet is almost gone, the pain is but a memory, and now all I have to deal with is bruised muscles, my swollen ankles stubbornly hanging onto the fluid, and the hideous scarring all up and down my legs and feet, making me look like my legs got run over by a truck. It will probably take about six months to a year for the tissue scarring to go away completly, but at least I can walk again. Which makes walking to the kitchen easier.

Dammit, now I want another banana!

Friday, August 8, 2008

Take Cover!

Let the ‘roid rage begin! Again!

The day after I called an ambulance to the house because my mom was dying of an overdose, I woke up with some big, red spots on my legs. I figured they were bug bites, even though they didn’t itch. That was the end of June. They never went away, but grew in size and became more and more painful.

Something else terribly personal and tragic happened in the beginning of July, and as it was happening, as I was sitting there, awash in emotions I couldn’t even begin to deal with, I noticed more red spots erupting on the tops of my feet. I remember thinking, “Fucking spiders,.” even though I never saw one. However, these bumps never itched either, but became quite painful the next day, and they also have not gone away.

I remember sitting at work and researching spider bites between helping patrons, and for some reason, I was still convinced it could be a brown recluse trying to kill me with multiple bites. I was in denial.

In the end of July, another insane crisis blindsided me, and the following day, I woke up with more red bumps on the soles of my feet, right in the arches, and my feet and ankles became so swollen that I had to forego socks and most of my shoes. I’m down to having only three pairs of shoes I can stretch over my feet. That was when I realized this was no spiteful, venomous spider.

The sarcoidosis has flared up something awful, giving me hideous erythema nodosum all over my legs, and it’s starting on my arms now. Today, I found myself in my doctor’s office, crying my eyes out and begging for help because I can’t sleep from the pain, and I can hardly bend my feet at the ankles anymore. Help, for me, comes in the form of 40 mg of prednisone daily, which means I’m about to embark on some fun times of mood swings, food binges, and insomnia, the likes of which could lead to me disowning my friends and family (which I have done before), redecorating my room at 3 a.m., or spending all my spare change on chocolate bars, only to eat them all in one gluttonous sitting. We shall see how this episode unfolds.

Meet my left foot.

You know it’s serious when your favorite doctor, who has been treating you for 12 years and is the only one you trust to help you in this time of need, brings in his partners to gawk at girl with this rare and severe case of E. nodosum. And what did they all say?

“Oh, I’m so sorry for your condition. Is your hair BLUE? WOW!”

So, even though I have what looks like elephantiasis of the lower legs, my blue hair is still what people see. I guess that’s good. Let’s just hope that’s not how I’m identified in security footage at a local convenience store after throwing a steroid-induced tantrum over a lack of Nestle Crunches one night.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008


Christi and I had a conversation about children recently that bears repeating.

Me: Don’t you think you’ve had enough experience with poo that when you have kids, they’ll be born without colons or something, so they produce absolutely no poo?

Christi: Yeah, you’d think I was owed that, right?

Me: Or maybe you can even out the justice in the universe by taking your kids to the local library to poo on the carpet there.

Christi: Oh yeah! 'Mahhhh-ahhhm, I gotta go pahhhhh-teeeeee.' “Okay, everybody in the car. We’re going to the library! Okay, go ahead, honey. Take a crap right there. I’ll cover you. Go!”

Me (laughing): “And no wiping! This is a library, after all!”

Christi: “No, just wipe yourself on the floor. That’s what it’s there for.”

“Got dingleberries? Just scrape them on the shelf over there.”

Christi: Yup, someone left me crap on a shelf on my first day of work. I should have known that was a bad omen.

Me: That shit was going to follow you everywhere after that?

Christi: Uh-huh. And it has.

Okay, maybe this wasn’t appropriate conversation in a crowded Olive Garden, but I laughed so hard it hurt.

Not that long ago, Christi and her boyfriend signed a lease and they’ll be moving in together. This is a move that makes her a little nervous, and one day her boyfriend was a upset and wounded that she didn’t seem to be as excited about the upcoming cohabitation as he was. I giggled and suggested she should take her enthusiasm and crank it up to 110%, only she should start raving and gushing about how excited she is to have her own place finally, and how long she’s waited to decorate the entire thing in pink, with glitter, unicorns and rainbows everywhere. I told her to really crank up the cheese factor and juvenile dreams of pastels and gumdrops all over so that he’d panic and wish for her to be a little less enthusiastic. It could work!

Recently, she did just this. They were searching for home décor items and walked into a Target, where Christi promptly started squealing and giggling, and then skipped around in place, wanting to know where the glitter department was. Her boyfriend quickly asked her what the hell she was talking about and she explained that she really wanted to put glitter on all the walls and decorate with big, pretty unicorns. He started freaking out. She pushed it more and began searching for glitter paint and the unicorn aisle in Target, really taking it to the next level and talking about where she wanted what unicorn, and where the big rainbow would go. He was horrified. HORRIFIED!

Christi is vindicated.

She may get stuck with an unfair amount of poo in this world, but occasionally she comes out of a struggle on top. It’s true she is the recipient of much shit, but when she dishes it out, it’s almost beautiful.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

What's Your Theme?

Not all that long ago, a portion of the Kool Kids were out, enjoying one another’s company and dining on restaurant food, which is quite a common scene for us.

At some point, a truly terrible song from the 80s started blaring from the bar area, and Ann began swaying and singing along. I shook my head in mock disbelief, as if horrified by her taste in music, and then she asked if any of us had a theme song.

Nope. None of us did. Long ago I did, but nothing in recent years.

This was when she gave us an assignment to find our personal theme song.

I’ve been thinking about it for a while, and I’ve completely moved on from my old theme song, which was “Better Man” by Pearl Jam. I had identified so strongly with that song long ago, not with that abusive undertone of the subject, but just because I so often found myself in relationships that were not right, trying to convince myself it was love because I was more afraid to be alone than with the wrong guy. It was a dark period and I had to bottom out without an ounce of self-esteem left before I would move on and find that loneliness was often more devastating when you’re with someone you don’t love than when you’re actually alone. The song hit home, and even after I found my Schwee, it was still a reminder of who I once was, and made me appreciate him all the more. Before “Better Man” there was “Rescue Me” by Y&T, but those were my weird, teen years. But I still love Dave Meniketti!

However, that was a lifetime ago. And I needed a new theme song.

It could be fairly obvious that my favorite band is Shinedown and my favorite album of all time is Operation: Mindcrime, by Queensryche, but none of their songs have spoken to me as a theme song.

As more and more stressors and tragedies seem to be heaped upon me, with chronic suffering, death, dying and suicide being things constantly on my mind, I did discover not too long ago that one of my favorite songs was written for a brother who killed himself. Though it’s steeped in darkness, there is such hope to the song that I feel empowered by it. Thus, I have decided that the current theme song of my life is “Rise Above This” by Seether.

Does anyone else have a theme song? It doesn’t matter how corny, how depressing, how popular, how obscure or how unlikely it might seem if it speaks your thoughts and emotions. If you have a theme song, or if you think about it and decide to declare one for yourself, please share it in the comments. I’d love to know.