Archive for September, 2011

so, about school

Even though I am now an alumnus of my fine local community college, when it came ’round to registration time, I was still schlepping around to every building and standing in every line on campus on one of our 115-degree days.

i was hot.  sizzling like bacon really.

and the color of a lobster.


Due to no one’s fault but mine, somehow or another I read something wrong and missed FOUR classes that I have to have before I transfer to finish my second 25 years 2 years of college.   How I missed that I needed a Geology, a Geography and TWO Fundamental Math classes is beyond me, but I did.  To be honest, I wasn’t that concerned.  I’ll take the Geos online and do that fun fun math class where you learn to teach the children MATH FUN MATH MANIPULABLE GROUP WORK etc.

For that math class, the one where we would do group work with blocks and chips and colored wedges, I stopped biting my nails.  For the first time in my adult life I have healthy, STRONG nails that I couldn’t wait to use to pick up chips and wedges without cringing.

And on the first day of class she told us we wouldn’t be doing any of that.  NOOOO. This semester we’re going to do it a new way…

which apparently means the way where she doesn’t really teach us anything about teaching math and instead has us do these homework problems about two sand timers and how to steam vegetables with them…

rather than teach, what she is doing is just meandering about the book pages, randomly going back and forth, mentioning what could be on a test and what we might see again…and oh yes, Polya’s problem solving.  Know that.

I’m really disappointed…and not because i won’t be getting to use my fingernails to pick up flat things off of a flat surface, but because this semester is sucking the life out of me, and I love school.  I miss it when I’m not in it.

Sort of.

As it turns out, i also am hating the geology and geography.  all of it.  maybe i am tired.  maybe all the medical stuff just used up all my mojo.  maybe i am terrified that for the first time in my loooooooong academic career I won’t do well.  I certainly haven’t started off very well.  in fact, i think i turned in a paper yesterday that is going to be the worst paper I’ve ever written…in 600 words or less.

And this horrible semester is making me think I will be just fine with an associates degree and teaching sunday school.

i have given myself an out if i choose to take it…in the hopes that knowing that it is there, if I choose to take it, will make me feel less like I’m drowning and more like i’m having such a good time floundering around, splashing wildly in the water…with the floaty things right there if I need them.


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Yesterday was my Favorite Copywriter’s birthday.  She turned 24.  Before she was my favorite copywriter, she was my Favorite Longhorn.  She is such an amazing person…kind…compassionate…SO FUNNY.  When she went to college, she set a little life plan in action that I found to be pretty impressive since I’ve never really had one.

The other day she sent me a picture with the file name “Copywriter’s Headshot.”  It was gorgeous, of course, but I sort of totally missed the big clue.   A few days later we were talking and she mentioned that she’d just gotten back from “doing a show.”

click. snap. the puzzle pieces started going together.

I knew she’d been working with an improv group, but I didn’t really grasp the extent of it, but as it turns out, she’s about to be a full-fledged, picture-and-bio-located-under-the-“performers”-tab performer with Austin’s The New Movement Theater!

Isn’t that FUN?

I am

A little envious.




I have said many times that if you look at my children, you will see me in them, just in different stages of my life.

The Teacher is me when I was younger…very disciplined, unbending, obey the rules, all of them…

The Youngest Daughter, is the our Alter Ego…very undisciplined, free spirited, fun loving, careless…

The Boy is very much like me now…snarky, a little dark sometimes, always has a keyboard on his fingertips…

but the Copywriter is like all of me, at different places…it’s like she is exactly the right mix of all those things…disciplined but enjoys life, hard worker, but knows how to spend the day watching Project Runway…I’m glad she is like that.  I am glad that she has found balance.

Fact of the matter is, I live a little bit vicariously through all of the kids…watching them turn into these interesting adults has really been a gift…and truly my best work.



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so, here’s the deal.  you can be afraid to know something all you want, you can assume the worst, and you can worry yourself sick about the what ifs, but what does that get you?


i just got home from my colonoscopy that I was so freaked out about that at one point the cute little Asian anesthesiologist came close to calling the whole thing off because my blood pressure and pulse were so off the charts.

Four polyps, none alarming looking, and I know because I saw pictures of them, snared and eradicated and gone.

The doctor didn’t seem concerned, though, of course, they are right this moment being sectioned and biopsied, and in a week or so I’ll go back to see him and chat about them.  He said I’ll probably need to have another one of these in 3 years, which is also when they recommend you start having them…at FIFTY.

Rob and I went and had a tasty lunch and he is now having a lovely nap.  I am going to work.

But I just wanted to say that, for future reference, this test that can literally save your life, is a whole lot less scary than it seems on the surface.  When it comes time for you to have one, don’t listen to all the stuff folks are going to tell you about how horrible ‘the prep’ is.  It’s just poop and you do that anyway.

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…so, anyway, when I finally made that big step to actually go to the doctor, to take charge of my well being and become an advocate for my breasts and my cervix, I began mentally preparing myself for every outcome.  My brain went from being solemnly called to the conference room with my family to being told everything was just dandy.

The one thing I was fairly certain of was that my blood pressure would be high.  I had all but convinced myself that those “spells” I was having were due to high blood pressure.   So, I was a little surprised when, after Brandy took my blood pressure and I inquired ‘well, is it awful?,” she said it was ‘a little high, but not horrible.’

WOOT.  The rest of this is going to be a piece of cake.

Then Tonya came in and did the lady stuff (1 test) and knowing it had been *coughalongtime* since I had had that particular procedure performed, she was explaining everything and how this was going to go and that was going to go, which is nice and all, but I’ve had four kids, so let’s face it…there isn’t a whole lot that can go on down there that is going to startle me.   In fact, as I was lying there, chatting away, this thought came to mind…

my gosh. none of this even bothers me. why in the world have I allowed myself to be in bondage all these years by an unfounded phobia?  doctor visits never, ever bothered me before i became a medical transcriptionist, yet almost  immediately upon becoming one I turned into a self-diagnosing, doctor-avoiding, borderline hypochondriac.  things are going to be different now.  no more fear.

And then, she moved north and did the breast exam and told me to get a mammogram (2 test).  I’m 47 and hadn’t had a baseline one, so I knew that was coming.  Then, she listened to my heart.  She listened here, there, down there, in the middle, under the boobage, to the side, on my back, on my neck…and my brain kicked in.

whoa. hang on.  no one has ever listened to my heart this long.  what.the.hell.

Turns out she heard a murmur, albeit one she said no one else would even hear because she had “supersonic hearing.”  Due to the “spells” I had been having, she’d already suggested we get an EKG (3 test) to check it out, but now that was upgraded to a visit with the cardiologist and an echocardiogram (4 test).

“This is more than what you were planning on, huh,” she said.

“Bring it,” I said, “I’m here, I’m vested.  Let’s just do ALL OF THE TESTS.

Though, interestingly enough, even though i have a family history, as little as I know of it, of women in my family keeling over of the brain aneurysms, testing for a brain aneurysm is out unless you are having symptoms…

oh, and there are rarely symptoms of that until it is bursting and you are dying.

Interesting right?

anyway.  So, then I was off to the lab (5 test) where they took 2 liters of my blood to test for all the regular things, plus my FSH (follicle-stimulating hormone) to check and see what stage of the menopause I was in.  Piece of cake.

Then my phone rang and it was Tanya’s office.  I missed the call since I put it on silent when I’m in doctor settings, but when I listened to the message, my gut sort of turned over and I got a little sweaty.  She wanted me to come by the office if I was still in the building, she “needed to talk to me about something.”

They put me in an exam room and I am running all the things through my head because I think if i can steel myself mentally, maybe I won’t make a scene when she comes in to tell me I’m dying, etc.  So, when she came in, i was braced.  It turns out that the fecal occult (not the sacrificing goats kind of occult, the kind of occult that means sneaky and hard to see) blood test they do when they do your yearly Pap smear had come back positive.

great. that’s the one thing I hadn’t given one thought to, blood in my fecal matter.  dadgum.  

She told me even though i was 3 years shy of the 50-year colonoscopy, that I was going to have a colonoscopy (6 test).

And again she was all “i know this isn’t what you were planning on.”

Sooooooo, today is the day before my big procedure and at 8 a.m. I ingested this delicious little magnesium citrate cocktail that is a ‘pasteurized sparking saline laxative,’ which is a must for folks who simply must have laxatives that fizz.

Disgusting stuff.

Anyway, I will spend a bit of time dealing with that this morning, but the real fun comes this afternoon when I begin ingesting Visicol tablets by the 4’s every 15 minutes for 2 hours.

FUN FUN FUN times.

Whatever, I can deal with drinking tons of water and taking tons of pills…I just knew I couldn’t drink a gallon of that stuff they call GoLYTEly, which from what I understand makes you go anything but lightly.

To put it mildly, my phobia about the doctor?  It’s gone.  Completely beaten into submission by 10 doctor appointments in 1 month after 3 doctor appointments in 15 years.  I know that the folks at Humana are going


In fact, that follicle stimulating hormone blood test?  They declined payment for that one.  Apparently, my menopausal state…not that important (I sort of agree with them there really).

Through this whole thing, I haven’t been able to stop thinking about the folks who go to the doctor and their doctor hears a heart murmur and thinks they need an echocardiogram or mammogram or colonoscopy, but they can’t get one because they don’t have insurance OR a million dollars…

and that thought right there is what has made me try not to be a big puss about all this.  heck, at least I am able to get all this stuff done and hopefully after tomorrow be able to rest easy, knowing that the big 4 (breasts, cervix, heart and colon) are all A-okay…a lot of folks don’t have that luxury.

**edited to add:

I went on to have the mammogram, which came back abnormal on the right, then had to have a followup sonogram and the abnormal finding turned out to be a benign lymph node right about where my underwire digs in.

I went on to visit with the cardiologist, a dear man named Dr. Miller, who patted me and told me that there wasn’t a thing wrong with my heart but my blood pressure was so high it was causing what they call a “flow murmur,” what with the high-pressure WHOOSHING IN AND OUT OF THE VALVES.  He gave me blood pressure medicine and I feel very grown up every morning when I take it.

and…my Pap smear came back just fine.

In that period between the office visit and when the specialist visits started, I have to tell you that my mind was going insane and my fingers with the googling all the possible outcomes of this or that…but then, one Sunday in church, our pastor talked about faith and it was just one of those sermons you know God planned just for you.

After that, i stopped the googling and started praying that I handle whatever comes with grace…

which I am glad to say that I have been able to do.  I pray for that again tomorrow.

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13 years ago today…

I was looking at this

and I was worried to death about that little furrow in his brow, which he had continuously.  Against everything I knew to be medically true, I was worried that my horribly stressful pregnancy had caused me to birth a perpetually worried, anxious, unhappy baby.

Turns out he was just worried when the dinners were going to fill his belly.

The frown would disappear soon after he realized that he wasn’t going to starve to death and he became this smiling, laughing little creature.

Good gracious, I spent hours holding that baby…and not only just because he was always eating eating eating, but because I could.  There was nothing that was more important to me than holding that baby.  He was the first baby I ever had that I had that luxury.  With the girls, there was always something I had to clean or wash or an errand or dishes or dinner to fix and I didn’t get to fully revel in them the way I should have.  Also, I was older when I had the boy, just a few months shy of 35 and had been a parent for 15 years, so was more given to contributing to the butt crater on the couch than cleaning the baseboards.  Also, I had a husband who also felt it was more important to hold a baby than clean.

I am so hugely grateful for the long, lazy days I got to spend with him when he was little.  He was forever being fiddled with by his sisters and spent hours watching them…learning them…










and playing in boxes with them…

Having older sisters, older enough that there was never any tormenting and mostly only fussing over, made him sweet.  You would be hard pressed to get me to recall a time when he was ornery really, but again, I attribute that mostly to the fact that I was so laid back and our house was so laid back…or it may just be that these past 13 years have softened the edges of the memories where he was a terroristic 2-year-old coloring all the windowsills with Sharpie markers.



Mostly, I remember him spending a lot of time reading.








Which he still does, only now it is facebook and gaming forums because now he is 13.  A teenager.

There are times I still wonder what in the world do I do with this boy.  Teenaged girls I am familiar with.  I have never had a teenage boy.  Sometimes my brain goes into panic mode thinking how ill prepared I am to deal with what is headed my direction in these next 5 years or so.   He is still amazingly funny, with a sense of humor that is very much like mine, he loves words, and he loves to make like he is very cooooooool and must maintain the utmost control of his composure…so often, when I take his picture these days, this is what I get





but I can still make him do this





so, happy birthday, Mr. Cool.  I’m glad I can still make you laugh.

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I think I mentioned last time, my dad had a little band when I was little.  On those band practice nights, I don’t know if they played music more or drank more, but I remember there was a looooot of drinking…and the distinct sound of the ice tinkling in the highball glass as I carried one cocktail after another to the boys in the band.  I got to stay up late on band practice nights, of course, since it is a little bit difficult to go to sleep when you are 5 and Dad and the CoolTones are trying to perfect The Zombies’ Time of the Season in the living room.

The thought occurred to me just now, after I typed that…was I really carrying drinks to folks at 5?  who do i know who is 5 who i would entrust with an alcoholic beverage and the big job of not spilling said beverage whilst delivering it and I get NONE.  Of course, I was a pretty solemn, trustworthy, and responsible 5-year-old not given to running in the living room and spilling daddy’s vodka tonic on the rug.

When i was 7, mother and i moved to Glen Rose after a rather steep and rapid decline of the happiness in my parents’ marriage.  Like a jet plane is how it went crashing down, in flames, and then, like magic, after a 20-hour plan ride on Pan-Am Airlines, where I got a nice little set of pilot’s wings, and a 3-hour taxi ride from the Dallas Airport, we landed smack dab in the middle of a town that would later be voted by Travel and Leisure magazine as one of the Top Ten Weekend Getaways IN AMERICA.  The day we arrived it was 134 degrees in the shade and a nice lady named Olene, who we knew not from Adam, was serving us ice cold watermelon on the porch of her little concrete abode, which we would call home for the next little bit.  I don’t know that I’d ever had watermelon to that point in my tender little life, but I will tell you that it was the best, coldest thing I’d ever tasted and to this day one of my favorite things to eat.

We get seedless watermelons now, because we are too lazy to spit the seeds out, I guess, but part of the fun of eating a huge wedge of icy cold melon was seeing how far you could spit the seeds…then later on getting to water the random watermelon vines that came up in your yard.

Glen Rose was good to my mom and I, probably mostly because of Olene.  I suspect that that dear Saint of the Lord did a fair amount of lobbying on mother’s part for the first job she ever got at the Hiway Cafe, washing dishes…back before there were automatic dishwashers and the way the dishes got washed were with hands, plunged over and over again into SCALDING HOT WATER because there was FIRE UNDER THE METAL BASIN.  I spent many an afternoon helping mother wash silverware, standing on a green pickle bucket and reaching down into that molten lava hot water.  I still hate to wash silverware.

Anyway, mother met tons of folks who were gracious enough to include our little shipwrecked family in theirs and invite us to their Christmas parties and New Years parties and Halloween parties.  It was always a very glamorous time for us kids when it was time for one of the parties because the grownups were getting sloshed in the den and we were in the kitchen mixing pretend drinks with 7-up and orange juice and walking around with the ice tinkling in our cocktail glasses.  We were just like our glamorous moms out there in their brightly colored polyester pants with their french twists and cigarettes, dancing around to Bobby Darin.  We could hardly WAIT to be old enough to REALLY DRINK…so most of us didn’t.

I was probably 14 when I stole my first beer out of an ice chest at a street dance downtown.  Back then, they’d have these big hoedowns on the square and everyone and their mothers and brothers and uncles would congregate around, bring their ice chests loaded down with beer and dance the night away to the Country Crooners…and while the mothers and brothers and uncles were dancing, we were snaking around sneaking beers and going around to the backside of the courthouse to drink them, out of sight of the grownups.  We did the same thing at rodeos.  It was Glen Rose in 1977 and life was great.  Truth be told, we didn’t have to sneak around that much, since my friend Loretta’s mother was buying us quarts when we were hardly 15 and taking us cruising around in the back of her Cadillac with James Taylor in the cassette player.  Don’t tell your mother, she’d say…and I didn’t.  

Back then, the legal age was 18 to drink…and the year we turned 18, they changed it they went and changed it to 21.  Damn the luck.  Of course, it didn’t much matter to us since most of us could, at any given Friday night, walk right into the Galvanized Palace and buy all the Malt Duck and Coors Light our pooled wrinkled dollars would cover…and then we got in cars and drove around and drank it, or went to the river and drank it, or out to ‘the drags’ and drank it.  Rich kids, poor kids, wild kids, church kids, cheerleaders, football players, 24-year-old people and some coaches…all came together for the parties, with the understanding, of course, that this never happened.

I never, ever remember drinking just one beer…or just a couple of beers.  Not when I was 13 at the street dance and not when I was 40.  There was this one time, when Loretta’s mom let us go riding around with Lewis in his big ol’ truck…he was probably about 23 then…and we were 15…and we were drinking quarts of Coors Light out of brown paper bags so no one could tell we were drinking quarts of beer as we drove in circles around Glen Rose, and then I had to go to the bathroom so bad.  How bad I had to go to the bathroom was only compounded by the fact that Loretta and I had poured me into a pair of her Turtle Bax jeans and they were squishing my innards and making every turn and bump in that big truck unbearable.  Now, the choices of potty spots were limited here.  I mean, we couldn’t go to the house and potty because clearly while it was fine for Loretta’s mother to ride us around and drink, she would  have frowned on Lewis doing so…so that was out.  Another popular potty place was the Red Barn, which was another fine establishment where alcohol was sold to minors…a lot, but it was out because he couldn’t very well dump 2 underage girls in Turtle Bax jeans to go tearing into the bathroom who had clearly been drinking quarts of beer.  So that left the public restroom on the square, which was little more than a glorified porta potty and absolutely the last choice on the list, largely because it was unlit and on the shady side of the courthouse and you never knew what sort of creepy crawly would come out of the thing when you opened the door.  But I was desperate.  So we stopped.  I poured myself out of the truck and went hauling across the court house lawn, but we’d poured me into those jeans so full that I couldn’t get the button undone and as I stood there in the dark, stinky bathroom on the courthouse square, I wet my pants.  Then had to go get back in Lewis’s truck, wet and mortified.  That wouldn’t be the last time that I’d utter the words…I am never drinking again.  

My dad was clearly an alcoholic.  His brother, my Uncle Ray, was clearly an alcoholic.  At least some of those folks in that smoky den dancing to Merle Haggard records when i was a kid, sipping my pretend beer that was really a root beer but had the word beer in it, were alcoholics.

I never really thought that I was…but it was definitely more of a tool for me than it was for other people.  For me, it was something that made me funnier, made me feel less awkward, prettier, wittier me talk to people I would never talk to otherwise and would certainly not talk to Monday when I sat across from them in Chemistry at school.  Thankfully, and even without this cautionary tale, my older girls had enough self-esteem and brains in their heads to never dabble much in the party party.  It helped that they ran with a crew that also didn’t dabble in the party.  My youngest daughter, I could tell from the get go, thought drinking was superglamtastic.  Her favorite flavor of sno cone?  Pina Colada.   I was livid when I learned that her stepmom had let her taste a real drink when she was 18, which happened to be the year I stopped drinking.   I got really real with her when she was 18 and I found out she was into the party…about how alcoholism is in our genes and about how you just don’t know when or if you’re going to be one that it becomes a problem for.

The boy turns 13 tomorrow.  I won’t wait until he is 18 to talk to him about it because he will need to be extra careful since it isn’t just the genes on my side he will have to contend with…but also on his dad’s side.   He’s a funny one, the boy.  He’s always been such a little law abider.  Once, when he was 4, our neighbors had this crate of fireworks pyrotechnics for the 4th of July and it was sitting out on the deck.  The boy was 4, but he could read, and it said CLEARLY on the box that it was illegal to discharge the fireworks inside the city limits, and the second they lit that box, he ran screaming into the house because he was quite sure we were all going to get arrested.  He has always paid attention to how fast I am driving and once nearly had a stroke in his carseat because the highway patrol came speeding past because he thought we were going to get arrested.  

I wish I had been more like that.

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Did y’all watch Friday Night Lights?

If you didn’t, do yourselves a favor and Netflix it or go to Target and buy all the seasons.  There were five brilliant seasons of this hugely underappreciated series and you will devour each episode like a large cone from the Alamo Freeze.

You’ll get that reference later.  After you watch.

Okay, so anyway, to properly acknowledge and celebrate the brilliance of FNL, my sisterfriend Karen and I decided that we would watch the final season in real time, on a real TV, on Friday night.  My poor husband, who had not watched a single episode before we devised this plan, was forced to sit through episode after episode enjoyed each episode of Season 5 because we were kind enough to offer commentary during commercial breaks about who that was and what they did in season 2.

It was a good time.

But when it was over, we were left with Friday nights devoid of lights.

But then, a strange thing started happening around our town, which for years now has had a football program that has struggled, to put it kindly…and by that, what I really mean is that week after week in our newspaper the head coach’s head is requested on a platter with a side of fries so that they can dig up the old BETTER coach and let him do the job BETTER than THIS coach WHO IS THE WORST COACH EVER.

Anyway, the businesses around town started flying big ol’ C flags and the team got themselves some pretty new uniforms and a new helmets (with Mrs. Johnson’s paycheck probably since she got fired last fall) and by golly, looky here, C-town was getting some of that old team spirit back.

One day as i was driving around by the bank and the gym and the insurance place and looking at all the flags, it occurred to me that we should become full-fledged Jacket backers and go watch FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS LIVE!

Which we did last night and it was fun and thank the LOWARD not 118 degrees.  In fact, I am hot sitting here, but last night there was a nice breeze and my neck didn’t even get sweaty.

It was like God himself was rewarding me for backing the Jackets.

So, because we haven’t really been Jacket backers before this need to fill my high school football tv show void, we don’t have regular seats or season passes or a press box.  We get general admission seats and generally wind up sitting with the students…

who, parents, you should know, act like idiots and get in girl fights and use the F word and generally act like hooligans…just so you know.

Anyway, so we were sitting there enjoying the football game and this kid came and sat on the row in front of us…and by this kid, I mean this kid who was a dead ringer for Taylor Laughtner, the guy who plays the werewolf in the Twilight movies aka the one I don’t love as much as Edward Cullen.

OH MAHGAWD KAREN LOOK, I said, pointing with my eyes over and over insanely so as not to have to point with my finger.  LOOK IT IS TAYLOR LAUGHTNER.

and then i sort of took a very obtuse, obliquely angled picture with my cell phone in the least creepy way EVER because i was going to tweet it because it would be too creepy to like, put it on facebook and let everyone know that I was taking pictures of boys at the football game who look like boys in that movie Twilight.

then, of course, my big butterfingers accidentally hit the wrong button and I……


you can’t take me anywhere.

p.s. when i got home and to a real computer, said photo was eradicated.

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