Thursday, December 3, 2009

Dumbest/Funnest Car Game Ever

I think by now you know that my sisters and I are completely insane and weird. But funny! Always funny. Well on our way to Thanksgiving with the extended family I was reminded of a game that we play in the car and I thought it would make a good blog post.

Now I know some people play car bingo, or the license plate game, or the alphabet game in the car, and don't get me wrong, those games definitely are fun...but they require some higher intellectual thinking and paying attention skills that you just don't want to have some drives. Enter "There's Your House."

I think Leslie and Hilary originally made this game up on a long drive to who knows where, but we've all joined in on the fun since then.

Here are the rules of the game:

1. Look out the window.
2. Find the ugliest/grossest/dumbest house/shack/chicken coop/barn you can find.
3. Say "[Name] there's your house."
4. Optional: add details about the house lest they confuse which hell hole you are talking about. E.g. "Hey Leslie, there's your house...the ugly green chicken coop that looks like it's about to collapse."
5. Giggle hysterically.
6. Repeat.

Bonus hint: If there are two hideous shacks near each other, you can automatically return the favor and say "Hmm....looks like you live in the same neighborhood because there's YOUR house...the smelly looking mini-barn with what looks like poop caked on the side!"

Best Places to Play:

Middle of nowhere Indiana. Trust me, there are a lot of crap houses/shacks/chicken coops along 65.
I haven't really played it anywhere else, but I'm sure any crappy areas with long stretches of road will do.

Now I understand if this game isn't for everyone. Some people might get bored after a while. Or you might not think it's as funny as we do. But give it a try. You just might be surprised at how entertaining it is. It's really funny if you don't see any houses for a while and start talking about other random things and then someone explodes in with a "There's your house..."


P.S. Leslie, there's your house on the left...the crappy little blue chicken coop. Hilary, yours is on the right...the crapster with the giant dog chained to it! ZING!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Things that make you pause...

Ange and I are going to Senegal & The Gambia over the holidays. I was invited back to the trip that I assisted on this summer with Emil and as part of my signing back on I was able to negotiate Ange coming with us. Sweet huh?

Now Ange has never been to Africa, or anywhere outside of the US besides the Bahamas, so she needed to get a long list of vaccines that are required for travel in most developing countries. That whole process is not as easy as it may sound. First there is finding out what vaccines you need. Then there is figuring out which ones may be covered by insurance (if you have it), then figuring out what doctor's offices or clinics have the vaccines you need, then you have to figure out how far in advance you need to get the vaccines (and if they are multi-series vaccines how many times you have to visit and how that factors into the timeline), then there is the budgeting for the tremendous amount of money you have to spend, and finally you make all of your appointments to the (likely) many places you need go to get said vaccines. So Ange did all that (with some assistance from her well traveled partner :)) and started making her rounds. She went to her primary care physician to get her first dose of HepA and meningitis. She had an appointment to see the travel doc and get her typhoid and yellow fever, but in the midst of that the H1N1 vaccine came out and Ange's employer was only giving out the nasal mist to its employees, which if you didn't know, is a live vaccine. Sometimes live vaccines can't be given in conjunction with other vaccines so I suggested she call the travel doc and check. I was correct and she had to reschedule the travel appointment for one month after the H1N1 mist.

That month finally rolls around last Wednesday (day before Thanksgiving--this is important) and because it is Thanksgiving week I am home from Bloomington so I decide to go with Ange to her appointment. One for moral support (I've been through it all and know the doc she was going to see--he's done all my travel stuff), and two, I actually love going to doctor's appointments because I'm attentive (and probably annoying) and I always learn something new and useful. When people ask me why I know so many random health things this is why.

So we get to the doctor's office and fill out some paperwork and whatnot and then go back to his office. Now this doctor is really and truly the best travel doc in Indy. He is the only specialist in his practice (but shares office space with another practice that has a different specialty) so it's very personal and one-on-one. He has a really cool office with a big comfy couch and a giant map of the world on one side. He schedules new patients for an hour long session to go over A to Z info with you, prepares a little info packet with a ton of info on the country/countries you are visiting and generally reminds me of an "old school" doctor that is now very rare. He answers any question you ask in a thoughtful and very explanatory way and generally makes you feel very prepared for your trip (from a health perspective anyway).

So we sit down and the doc starts doing a little health assessment questionnaire with Ange that covers basic health and limited health history. After all the standard questions about current health status comes the biggie question that I've learned to anticipate and take in stride, "Are there any other medical conditions that I haven't listed that are important?" I think I've mentioned before but Ange had leukemia as a child, and not just any leukemia, an extremely rare form of leukemia, rare as in there were only 3 people in the US that had the same kind when she was diagnosed. It was also a very aggressive cancer that had to be treated very aggressively. This question always makes the doctors pause for a minute, they sometimes ask a few more questions about it, but generally it is noted and not mentioned again.

This time was different.

Apparently cancer and vaccines aren't the best of friends. The doc was very hesitant about treating Ange with any live vaccine without the consent of her oncologist. For the adult polio booster she was also going to get, no biggie. It's a dead vaccine. For typhoid, we could get around that. Typhoid comes in a live vaccine (lasts longer) and a dead vaccine. So she could get the dead one. But for yellow fever there is only a live vaccine. And it's a pretty potent one apparently. The doc relays this info to us and tells us that even in people who have not had cancer in a very long time, there is some evidence that shows that their immune systems are not 100%. Under normal conditions you don't even know this. Your body just operates like normal and no one is the wiser. However, because the yellow fever vaccine is so potent he was afraid that if he immune system was not 100% it would not be able to fight off the live virus and she could either have some very gnarly side effects (like Encephalitis) or even get a full blown case of yellow fever. Another random health fact: there is no cure or treatment for yellow fever, and there is a 50% chance of dying if you get it. Yikes.

So the doc asks her how tied to this trip she is and would she consider not going. Um, no way. So we talk some more about the risks involved and related issues and decide that the best plan of action would be for her to call her oncologist and check out the situation. If they say no prob then great, if they say no way then she is going to go into a yellow fever endemic area basically unprotected. Yikes again. Now, yellow fever is spread through the mosquito. Luckily she can protect herself by using lots of bug spray. Secondly, there are not that many mosquitos in the areas we go. Finally, the doc pulled up some fancy data system and looked at the rates of yellow fever in Senegal and The Gambia and determined that the last outbreak of yellow fever in Senegal was 2005 and in the 1970's for The Gambia. We are spending nearly all of the time in The Gambia so that was good news. But the other thing that was concerning for us was that you have to show proof of yellow fever vaccination to enter most yellow fever endemic countries and to return to the US (technically). I have never had anyone ask me for my yellow fever card in my entire history of traveling, but knowing our luck, it will happen this time. You can get a waiver certificate and the doc would also provide a letter of support to say she couldn't get the vaccine but there is no guarantee that the countries we are entering would accept it. Sometimes, they don't. Just depends who is asking at the moment. SO, not the best case scenario.

The doc tells Ange to contact her oncologist and then follow up with him. Here's the major issue. Ange was diagnosed when she was 4, was treated for 18 months, went in to remission, received periodic appointments to make sure she was ok and hasn't seen an oncologist since she was 12. She's 28 now. So who the hell is she supposed to call? A random oncologist? Her oncologist, who we don't even know if he is still in practice? The doc suggested we start with a call to Riley (where she was treated) and see if they could make some recommendations. So we finished up there and went to lunch with a lot on our minds.

I swear when we got in the car I thought Ange was going to cry. The whole news was so overwhelming and unexpected I think we were both in shock. I mean, traveling to Senegal and The Gambia are no big deal. Really, there were so few mosquitos in comparison to Nigeria it was incredible. But Nigeria? Forget about it! There is no way that I would even allow Ange to come and visit me in Nigeria if she were unvaccinated. I mean, we talked about it and it came down to this: if it were something that were treatable and she just might get really sick then that's one thing. But the fact that it isn't treatable and there is a 50% chance she could DIE? That's nothing to mess around with. So of course that is problematic since I intend to work in Africa and most of Africa is yellow fever endemic. So that means either I will have to travel alone for a majority of my career or I'd have to change research locations. Both huge things.

So Ange is still upset and is feeling very overwhelmed. So she asks me to start with the calling. Now here is where the whole Thanksgiving this is important. Ange has to have the vaccine by December 20th at the very latest for it to be effective. Additionally, if there is a chance that it's going to make her really sick we want to make sure we are still near good medical care and not on a plane or halfway around the world. So with Thanksgiving falling late this year, we knew that if we had to wait until after the break things were going to get tight, especially if she needed to get tests and whatever else might come along with making sure your immune system is normal. So as we are driving to lunch I find the number for Riley's Pediatric Oncology Clinic and go through this long spiel of why I am calling. Luckily the lady in the clinic was SOOOO NICE! Which I should have expected from Riley, but you know, these days customer service generally blows so I'm just used to talking to idiots on the phone. She gets all the info and tells me that she'll call me back before the end of the day with an update. She knows she may not get a lot of info being that it's the day before Thanksgiving, but she wanted to get the ball rolling.

We go in and have a very morose lunch, drive home feeling more depressed, and try to do some internet research. The internet research was actually helpful to me, although not to Ange who really looked like she wanted to throw herself off a bridge for the rest of the day. I found out a lot of more reassuring info via the net, but unfortunately for every piece of good news, there still seemed to linger some bad news. For instance, since the 1970's only 9 unvaccinated travelers have gotten yellow fever in all of West Africa. That's pretty good, right? BUT, 8 out of those 9 DIED. Scary.

The lady from Riley did call us back a few hours later to let us know that she had tried to find Ange's file but since it was so long ago it had probably been archived and it would take a request to get it out of the archives which make take a few days. She had also emailed the Infectious Disease specialist at Riley as well as one of the pediatric oncologists. She told us she'd update us after the break. Swear, such a nice lady.

The rest of the break we tried not to dwell on the issue and did a good job of keeping out of the focus of our minds. Luckily Ange bounces back quickly so I didn't have to worry about her sanity. We decided to just keep the what ifs until later after we had a definitive decision.

Well wouldn't you know, our wonderful friend of Riley tracked down the right people and on Monday Ange got a call from a doc at Riley giving her the go-ahead for the vaccine! He actually said there was NO REASON to hesitate about it. We had already discussed the fact that we thought our travel doc was just being extra cautious and that since he wasn't an oncologist he could just be way off on the real danger. Turns out, we were right about that! This is not to say we are angry or upset by the whole fiasco. We think it's excellent that the doc was able to be informed (even if overly cautious) and really and truly had Ange's health as the focus. Luckily it was patched up very quickly, it just sucked that we had to worry over the holiday.

Anyway, Ange gets the vaccine tomorrow. Yay! So happy that my little love bug gets to travel the world with me and we don't have to worry about her dying from yellow fever! Just one more thing to be thankful for this holiday.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Turkey Day everyone! This year I thought it would be nice to reflect on all of the good things in my life.

I am thankful for:

1. Finding a caring wonderful partner to share my life with.
2. Our five silly and loving dogs.
3. My wonderful family and friends.
4. My overall generally good health.
5. A wonderful PhD program filled with fun and intelligent people.
6. Living a financially stable life.
7. Having the opportunity to travel often and to very cool places.
8. All of the good people who do selfless acts to help those in need, whether anyone recognizes them or not.
9. All of the little things I overlook on a daily basis that make my life as awesome as it is.

Don't forget to give your thanks today!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Something to chew on...

I've got some posts abrewin' about fat/weight/social commentary coming up, but until then and to start some thinking see this short message I got via the PostSecret community email this morning:

Hi Frank~

I attended your event in Kalamazoo, MI and I wanted to share a humbling story about that night. I was sitting fairly close and there was this overweight couple sitting in front of me that were hanging all over each other for most of the event. I was so distracted by all of their displays of affection I actually started to get annoyed. I think it was partly the displays themselves, and partly the fact that they were both on the heavy side and I was being judgmental.

When you asked for people to come up to the microphones, the woman stood up and was first in line. She said, "I have always had problems with confidence, but I have never felt more beautiful and confident than when I am with my husband." She then went back to her seat and sat beside him. He put his arm around here, whispered something in her ear and kissed her cheek.

Her secret resounded in my head, and at that moment, I wished I was her. I would trade my current 125 pound body with hers if it meant I could be as happy as she. I don`t know who she was and I will never see her again, but I want to thank her for teaching me a lesson that day.

Ponder that, and I'll get back to you soon.

Saturday, November 14, 2009


So I realize it's been a hot minute since I have done any real posting. Things have been crazy-crazbo lately and I literally have not had a moment to think, much less sit and write. I think that things will continue being crazy at least until the first of December. I was on such a roll, I had posted almost everyday for a month! Sad.

So to bring you up-to-date on the happenings of my life it will be best to do a bulleted update!
  • I've been working like MAD on dissertation funding applications. I recently turned in a Kinsey Institute research grant worth $750, and am plowing through my golden goose grant, Fulbright-Hays, which is due December 1st (see above for why I will not be posting much). The average award for the Fulbright-Hays is $43,000 so you can see why that is running my life at the moment. IU has a pretty good track record so I'm hoping that is good news.
  • We just got back from the APHA Annual Conference. It was crazy as usual and poor Ange got sick and stayed sick the entire time we were there. But it was still a fairly decent time.
  • This coming weekend is offical Ange is moving in day. She's been living here for about 2-3 months but still has stuff at her house on the eastside. Next weekend, it's all coming here.
  • School is blah. Lots of busy work to do and soooo little interest in doing it. It will be over soon.
  • Just found out that I get to teach Human Sexuality in the spring. Very, very good news. If I had to teach Personal Hell, I mean Personal Health, again I may have dropped dead.
  • My friend Phil-Phil and I signed up for a weekly yoga class. I find it very enjoyable and it gets me off my butt and away from grants and work for at least an hour a week.
Um, I guess that's not a TON, but believe me, it feels like it. Maybe it's because the first bullet point is CONSUMING MY ENTIRE BEING. I have to get some major funding. Have to, have to. If I don't, then my dissertation will either not happen the way I want it to, or majorly suck. So let's just keep our fingers crossed.

Monday, November 2, 2009

More on healthcare...

From my personal archives: an Op-Ed that never got published in our crappy paper. They'd rather publish insane amounts of coverage on the Colts and other asinine issues.

Here in the US the major arguments against drastic healthcare reform are that people refuse to wait for healthcare services and lose the complete freedom to choose a healthcare professional of their liking. This is laughable to someone who has witnessed the extreme poverty present in the majority of the rest of the world.

When we discuss our rationale against universal healthcare in the U.S, we often leave a major point unspoken. By refusing to compromise on the care we currently receive, we, who have health insurance, are saying that our own access to healthcare is more important than our neighbors’.

I have just returned from my fourth medical mission to Nigeria and I am amazed at the dialogue surrounding the topic of healthcare reform in the United States. In Nigeria the disparity between the wealthy elite and the majority of the population that is poor is most pronounced in the realm of healthcare.

There is no Nigerian national health insurance and this leads to morbidity and mortality among the poor that could easily be prevented if only affordable care were available. The poor Nigerians assume that the US, the richest country in the world, does not have to worry about such primitive medical disparities. There are some legitimate economic excuses for the many injustices that the average African faces, but how long can we American pretend that our healthcare system is a model of justice?

In the Nigerian clinic where we work people will wait an entire year for our arrival, and then wait in line in the sweltering sun and monsoon rains for five days just to be seen by our team of American doctors. If they are not able to see us during that five-day window they have to wait another year for their only chance at professional healthcare. In the U.S., we feel that our rights have been violated if we are asked to make an appointment that is more than a week out.

I have spent much time in countries where the value of a person’s life is determined by the amount of money he or she has. This is not a value I wish to affirm in my own country. When we accept that some lives are worth more than others and that certain people deserve healthcare more than others I am ashamed to see that we Americans have made the same choice as the privileged elite of Nigeria: if you can afford healthcare, life is good; if you cannot, do not bother me with your problems.

In the US we are quick to celebrate and laud the sacrifices of our men and women in the military. We talk about the selfless giving of their comforts and even their lives so that we as a country may live better lives. And yet, when asked to sacrifice some of our “rights” so that our fellow Americans can have access to healthcare, we are quick to say no. Apparently sacrifice is only required by Americans fighting terrorists.

Am I willing to sacrifice my on-demand healthcare and curtail my choice of providers? If it means that everyone in this country can have access to care without the worry of bankruptcy, ruined credit, loss of home or other negative consequences that many uninsured Americans face I know I am willing to make that sacrifice.

I consider it my patriotic duty to my fellow Americans. I want to believe that my country has a stronger sense of patriotism and justice than the impoverished countries I have visited. We are good at lecturing other countries about these principles, but it is time to live up to the standard of justice we claim to represent.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Reason #872 Why Health Insurance Needs Reform

Huffington Post recently posted this article about how health insurance companies are denying coverage to victims of sexual assault. Apparently taking care of yourself after being violated is enough to make you uninsurable in the future because of your "pre-existing condition" called rape (or sexual assault). I mean really, what a slap to the face. Not only are you dealing with something that could be very tragic for you personally, but now you have another major worry to think about in your life. Oh yes, and why do we care again if healthcare reform will put the insurance companies out of business? That's right, I don't. They've had their chance, they blew it up. Too bad, so sad (not really).

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Camping: The Summary

Overall: Camping went very well. I know everyone was waiting to see if I'd self implode, but I made it. I may be a city mouse, but I have observed and learned enough in this life to make sure I wasn't going to die this weekend. I packed enough clothes and blankets to make sure that we wouldn't freeze. Our new air mattress kept us off the ground and smushed together like two peas in a pod. And we had lots of yummy food and snacks to keep our bellies full.

Friday afternoon and evening I did the last minute shopping and packing of the car while Ange worked. We texted back and forth and pretty much got everything we needed together. Only forgot a few things but mostly because we hadn't been camping with the gang before. Ange got off work at 7, zipped home and showered and then we were on the road. We got to the camp a little after 9:30pm. Leslie & Betsy had put up our tent and the boys had the fire blazing. We sat down to chat and munch on some snacks while we waited for our new air mattress to fill up. Sadly I had bought Dollar Store batteries that turned out to be less than impressive in our pump and we blew through about 12 batteries and still didn't have the firmest mattress ever. We all hit the hay around 11:30 pm or so. Ange and I messed around with our air mattress some more and finally fell asleep around 12:30 am.

We woke up to a drizzly morning on Saturday. Mike and Clint made a big feast for us while we all tried to stay somewhat dry and warm. Ange didn't feel well but was trying to hang in there. We all decided to go for a walk and we got about half a mile away when Ange said she needed to stop. Some barfing, resting and a shower later she felt good as new! We took it easy and drove to Pioneer Village to explore and buy some corn meal for something yummy at home. We headed to the camp store to pick up some more wood and ran into Leslie & Betsy also buying wood. We headed back to camp where my lovie made me some lunch and we started drinking and chatting and sitting around the fire. The boys of course got drunk and acted like weirdos and then we ate dinner and fell into bed around 10pm.

I was awakened by coyotes and dogs fighting at some point in the night, woke up at 6:30 am to pee, and then again at 8 am for the day. We made some yummy breakfast and then broke down the camp. Ange drove while I snoozed for a bit and then we finally made it home. It only took us about an hour or so to unpack, tidy the house, and get laundry going.

All in all it was a fun trip. We hope that next year we can get to camp sooner than when it is freezing and maybe extend it a few days and we'll have a better time. But a good first time out!

Friday, October 23, 2009

And then Phil caused a scene...

So if you've spent any time around me at all, you know how I feel about people falling down. H I L A R I O U S. I know, I'm a mean cruel person but I can't help it! When people fall down it is sooo funny to me. I always, always check and see if they are ok first, but after I know you are, oh boy, I cannot help but laugh myself silly. I have a catalog of funny falls in my brain. I will remember someone falling for a long time, but if it is an over-the-top hilarious fall, it is burned into my cortex forever.

Now I am an equal opportunity laugher. If I fall down not only do I expect people to laugh at me, but if I fall down when no one is around I try and share the story with people so they know I'm not just a completely evil bitch. And believe me, I fall down a lot. So really, there is a good chance of someone I've laughed at to have a chance at revenge.

So last week my two best buds at school, Josh & Phil, and I decided to go out to lunch together. We settled on Pita Pit because the two gay boys could get their salads and stay slim and I could eat a falafel pita and continue to be a hefty lez. Pretty much anywhere we go we cause a scene although it's usually through overt actions rather than accident. Well on this day it was accidental.

Josh and I had sat down at the table to wait for our food to be ready when Josh got a phone call. He was chatting away on his iphone when Phil came to sit down. Phil was sitting there for a good minute when all of a sudden his chair was torpedoed backwards and he fell in a heap on the floor. I'm like "ohmygod are you ok?" while Josh gives him a dirty look and plugs his ear with his finger and continues with his phone call. To make matters worse, we were the only people sitting down, but there were about 6 people waiting in line right behind us. Everybody is staring at the commotion and the people at the counter are all "SIR ARE YOU OK???" and Phil's like "uh yeah (please stop staring at me)." Of course then I start to LOSE IT. I am about to giggle myself to death. So I say (through giggles) "What in thee helllllll just happened?" Phil said he was leaning forward just a little bit in his chair and it just shot out from underneath him. The floors did look freshly waxed so we think it was just the right amount of leaning combined with the slick floor that did him in. FINALLY Josh gets off the phone and looks at Phil and is like "Why are you being such a HOT MESS when I am on the phone???" And of course that just makes me laugh more and more.

So poor Phil. I've pretty much told (and even re-enacted) the entire scene to everyone at the Center. I've been trying to forget about it, or at least push it far back into my cortex, but I still keep giggling about it every other day. It really was quite hilarious. And I've fallen twice in the past month and I made sure to tell Phil about those so he could have something to hold on to. But since he wasn't there either time it's not quite the same. Oh well!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Fat Boy Slim

Well there was some dog drama at home yesterday. Actually it started Tuesday night. Ange had just shut down the house for the night and had just switched off the lights when she heard a thud, shrieking, and growling/barking. She knew it was Sammy crying and Duke responding. She switched on the lights only to see Sam having a nervous breakdown. From what she can surmise, Sammy tried to jump on the bed, didn't make it and somehow bumped Duke in the process. Sammy was crying and crying and crying for like 5 minutes. She finally got him calmed down but he was still acting like he was in serious pain and was limping pretty bad. She called me to give me the run down and told me she thought he really had hurt his leg. We discussed it a bit and I told her I thought we should just let him sleep it off and we could re-evaluate in the morning.

Sammy is the most dramatic dog in the world so it's kind of hard to know when he's seriously hurt or just being dramatic. He cries when you pet him too hard, and I am soooo not joking. Ange also has a tendency to be a bit dramatic especially when it comes to Sam or health issues. So other than taking him to the emergency vet and shelling out a bazillion dollars for something that might not be a big deal what else was there to do then let him sleep it off? Daisy has hurt herself several times in the past year and usually it's just a little R & R and she's fine.

So this morning Ange woke up and Sam was shaking and panting and still limping and shrieking every 5 minutes. So she gave me a call to see what I thought. I said definitely if he's acting like she says he is (again, I'm faaaaaar away and trying to decide where drama stops and reality begins) then she should try and get a vet appointment today. Then I ask her the critical question of "Do you think I should come home?"

Sidebar: A few months ago Ange hurt her back at work. She called me from the ER to let me know. I was in Bloomington and had just walked into Chili's with my family for dinner. I asked her if she wanted me to come home. She said, "No, finish dinner with your family, drop Leslie off (she had rode to B-ton with me) and then come to the ER. I'll probably be waiting her forever anyway." So I did like she said, even trying to rush us all through dinner a bit so I could get to her. When I got to the hospital she was like "GOD, I can't believe you didn't come right away!" Uhhhh, you told me not to?!?! But apparently she just thought I would. So we learned a valuable lesson that day. Ange learned that I do not come from a very sympathetic family, so if you really want me to be there and hold your hand, which I do not mind doing, then you need to tell me. And I learned that I really, really need to make sure she's not speaking in code and give her the bottom line.

So she's says "Well if you want to come home you can." Sigh, apparently the lesson was not quite learned on her end yet. So I say "Well, unless you tell me to come home I'm not. I'm going to stay here. But I really don't mind coming home if you think I need to." She had to go to class because of a test and couldn't stay home, and she also had a doctor appointment right after to get some of her vaccines for Africa. So Sam would have been home from 7:30-ish am until about 1:30 pm. So she said she was going to jump in the shower and think about it. She called me back a little later and said she thought I should come home. So I did. Apparently we did both learn.

So I called the vet on the way home and explained the situation. They got us in for a 10:15 appointment. I got home to size up the situation and found out that it was actually a lot worse than I thought. I examined Sammy and surmised that it was actually not his leg that was hurt but rather his lower back. Now hurt legs can still be serious but usually, worst case scenario is some kind of surgery to repair what was damaged. Hurt backs could lead to paralysis. As much as I would like a special needs dog, I did not want to turn Sammy into one. He was shaking and crying really bad so I thought I would just scoop him up and put him in the car (after I cleaned it out and made a little puffy bed for him with blankies) and see if they'd see us early if we got there.

We got there and I apologized for getting there early (it was about 9:45) but that it was actually his back and not his leg that was hurt and that he was in worse shape than I thought. It helped that Sammy was crying non-stop. So they zoomed us into a room, weighed Sam (who's gained 3.5 lbs. since he was last there) and Dr. G was soon in to see him. He confirmed that is was his back and said that since he was in so much pain and such a drama queen he'd need to put him under anesthesia and do the x-rays. He told me to call around 3:30 for an update.

We were worried but glad he was under the care of the vet. We went about our day and at 3:30 called to see what was up. After being put on hold the receptionist told Ange that Dr. G had cleared a 4:30 spot to come in and talk with him. And that was all. Seriously??? So then we both had stomachaches and were worried for the next hour. I am proud to report that Ange did not cry once during this whole ordeal, even though I thought she might for a moment after she hung up the phone. What a brave girl.

So we got to the vet's office and the girl at the desk said "Do you want to pay the bill before you go in and talk to Dr. G?" I took that as a sign that Sam was being discharged but to confirm I said "Does that mean he's coming home?" and she said yep! She gave us the bill and Ange nearly fainted when we saw it was $411!!! But of course, he's worth it, it was just a ginormous amount. After that we looked at the two prescriptions she gave us plus the itemized bill to see if we could hypothesize what the situation was. Between the two of us we were pretty accurate. Sam has some kind of disc injury between his 5th and 6th vertebrae. He was given a shot of cortisone to help reduce the swelling of the disc, a prescription for some cortisone (and instructions to buy some Pepcid to protect his tummy from the steroids) and a muscle relaxer. He was also put on doggy bed rest, which means, as little excitement and movement as possible, no jumping, and no steps.

So we're all went back home to convalesce and Sam is doing much better. He's pretty much been sleeping since we got home. We'll keep an eye on him for the next few days and hopefully he will be all better soon!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Skittle Tree

Growing up I was one of the youngest in my group of cousins for several years. And even after my cousin and sister were born they were still too little to play with the big kids so I spent many years as the youngest. My older cousins lived very close by and we hung out often. I lived in a duplex with my parents and we had a nice big backyard with a swing set and some great climbing trees.

One day my cousins and I were playing outside when my cousin Waeva told me that if I planted Skittles they would grow into a Skittle tree. Of course I believed her. Partially because I was a hopeful kid who believed her older cousin, but mostly because I was a gullible dolt. I watered my Skittle patch faithfully for several days just waiting to find a sprout. One day my dad saw me carrying my little watering can out to the yard and asked what I was doing. That's when he broke the news that I had been tricked by my cousin and there would be no Skittle tree growing in my yard and letting me taste the rainbow.

Sad story.

To this day I can't help but think about this story whenever I see a bag of Skittles.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


We're going camping this weekend. My sister and brother in law have a tradition of camping with their friends for the past few years and I've never been really a nature girl so I was never interested in attending. But in the past year or so I've been trying to develop my inner nature girl. It's not that I don't love nature-y things, but I like them from afar. I really just hate the bugs and uncomfortableness of the great outdoors. So camping has always been a bit of a stretch for me. I've been easing into it by hiking and doing day trips in nature. Last year Leslie invited me to go camping but for some reason it didn't work out...I was probably working or traveling...shocking I know.

So this year, Leslie really wanted to get Ange and I on the trip so we tried to shoot for a couple of weekends but nothing panned out all summer. Finally we scheduled a last chance trip for this weekend. I'm excited but also a bit nervous. It's late in the year which means it's probably going to be rather chilly and we know how well I deal with the cold. According to the forecast as of right now we're supposed to have rain Friday and Saturday and Saturday only has a high of 49. Yikes.

I'm going to be packing layers and layers of clothing and lots of blankets. Hopefully I will survive. We plan to make a big bonfire and hopefully that will help too. Ange and I bought a new air mattress to try and keep us comfy while we sleep. I'm hoping that the chilly temperature will keep the bugs to a minimum. I'm trying to remain hopeful. I'm sure we'll have lots of stories and pictures from the weekend so stay tuned!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Our little Veteran...I mean Veterinarian...

I've been meaning to blog about this for a while. I just kept forgetting to transfer the pics from my camera to my hard drive. So long overdue, but just as important this post is about moving Hilary to Michigan State University so she could go to school to become a veterinarian. I talked a little about Hilary's quest to become a veterinarian during her graduation post, but I think there are a few key things I did not mention.

1. Hilary had struggled with which vet school to attend. Yeah, which one. Because she got accepted into 3. Vet schools are notoriously hard to get accepted to, but dear Hilary got accepted to 3. I've got a smarty little sister. Her dream had always been to go to Purdue, but when she visited the schools, turns out she liked MSU better. It was a much more elaborate and semi-heart wrenching experience for her, but in the end that's what it came down to. So far she's very happy with her decision.

2. Hilary has always wanted to be a large animal vet. MSU has an excellent large animal vet program (actually large animals are called food animals but I don't like that so we'll stick to large animals) but they also have some cool exotic animal programs (like zoo animals and stuff) so she's thinking about that as well. This probably worked in her favor in terms of her competitiveness since the majority of students are females who want to do family/small pet vet stuff.

3. This actually has nothing to do with Hil's move to MSU directly, but once time, quite a while ago, my mom, sisters and I were walking through the mall during Veteran's Day and Leslie says "Speaking of you still want to be one?" and then quickly said "I mean, veterinarian." Which of course made us all crack up and also of course we have never let Leslie forget. So Hilary is off being a veteran at MSU. I mean, veterinarian.

When we went to move Hilary to school we also went by the Vet School to check it out. Only Leslie and my mom had been there to visit previously so it was my dad, Gail, Dale and my first time checking it out. I took charge of photo-documenting the trip.

As we pulled in we saw the first sign of excitement!

Ooooh, trucks and trailers! Must mean lots of big animals!

Yay! Animals! Look at the excitement! Home Alone style!

Big animal poop in the parking lot! Definitely in the right place!

Mom being a weirdo (which is normal). Hilary also being a weirdo...also normal.

Hilary and Dad posing awkwardly by a sick horse. Poses normal, sick horse was a new experience.

Insert lame joke about pegasus's and critical care as told by my father...king of corny jokes.

Here's Hilary posing as a Pegasus in front of the critical care center patron saint...or something.

Requisite posing in front of college sign.

Just in case you weren't sure what the Vet's Oath said. Very nice if I do say so myself.

Wooo! Public Health!!!

More awkward posing

Hilary had an awful pimple attacking her face. Like the wonderful and supportive older sister I am I told her it looked like she had a major herpes outbreak and I attempted to photo document it several times. This was the best shot of the bunch.

My mom was trying to give her support and be in solidarity with her.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Fun weekend!

This weekend was a total blast! We did some errands Saturday morning with Mercy, went to the Farmer's Market, came home and attempted a nap (I succeeded, Ange did not...dogs were driving her bonkers), got up and primped for our lovely double date, had SO MUCH FUN on our double date (including both Santorini's & Jillian's), crashed into bed, woke up Sunday and made our traditional Sunday brunch, did a few things around the house, met up with some of Ange's friends, ate a quick lunch, went on a nice hike/walk through Holliday Park, did some shopping at Target and Old Navy, stopped by to say hi to my dad, and went home to put away our goodies, do some cleaning, make homemade pizza and apple cobbler, watched Extreme Home Makeover and crash into bed! Whew!

The double date was definitely the highlight of the weekend. We really did have so much fun with Prem and NY. Aaaaand, I hesitate to report because I don't want to jinx anything, I think this matchmaker match is going well so far. Definitely better than the ManChild match.

Probably the other highlight of the weekend was our new coffee pot. This weekend was a bad weekend for coffee + Ange. On Saturday she managed to spill coffee on every shirt she was wearing, the car and me. Then on Sunday she broke our home coffee maker (for the 2nd time). So when we were out running around we check out coffee machines at Target. I spotted a stainless steel beaut that had the benefit of not only being visually stimulating but also being sturdy and therefore not being prone to breaking by my vigorously cleaning girlfriend. It also has a timer in case we want to set it to have a hot cup of Joe ready and waiting for us in the morning! Everybody wins!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Living with an Aries

I'm not all Miss Cleo, but I think there is a lot of truth in astrological signs. I think horoscopes and personality charts are fun to look at even if they aren't 100% true. I think that I highly personify the Aries sign. Every time I see anything that has to do with Aries I think "Yep, totally me."

I think one of the hardest things for Ange to deal with in being my partner and moving in with me is the fact that I'm messy. A lot of this has to do with my being an Aries. It's not that I hate cleaning and having the house clean, but I just don't have cleaning on my priority list. Not. At. All. Minimum cleaning is all I need. Like once a week and it's not even like a top to bottom clean nor is it like a ritual. If something better comes up I'm easily swayed away from my cleaning. I just have better things to do with my life than clean.

The other thing that Ange and I have been trying to work on is the schedule and routine of cleaning. When she comes home, if something is not to her liking she has to take care of it RIGHT THEN. I, on the other hand, would prefer to just not worry about it and take care of it when I feel like it. We're trying our best to compromise on this but it's still a little hard sometimes. I think one of the most frustrating things for me is that she seems to think that I'm just not doing it because I'm lazy. Sometimes I'm lazy for sure, but most of the time it's not that at all. I think people think that I just sit around all day being a "full time student" which means, I live a life of leisure. I wish that was how it was. I am always going, going, going and busy, busy even if it doesn't look like it. My brain works much harder than my body which is why I think people think I'm just being a bum. All day long my brain is churning through things which is physically exhausting. But it's hard to clean that or measure that. When Ange says "I worked 12 hours today!" how am I supposed to respond? Uh, I've thought about a lot of complex shit ever since my alarm clock went off? Hardly convincing, but tiring all the same.

By the time I finally make it home at night, I am usually sooo wiped out. And I usually have more things I need to take care of. The last thing I want to do is clean. In my thinking, that mess is going to be there tomorrow so why do I need to worry about it now? A messy table or a pile of stuff on my dresser does not impact my ability to lay on the couch and watch tv while working on my computer. I understand that she has a compulsive need to clean and that it will drive her insane if things are messy and that she can't rest if she doesn't clean. But I just don't think that means I have to do it. So we've been working on that. The best time for me to clean and do things is in the morning. When I get out of bed in the morning I have a renewed zest for life and I can knock out a bunch of crap 1, 2, 3. But at night? I just feel like death sometimes. I know she thinks I'm being a drama queen but there are literally times I feel like I may collapse if I have to stand up and do anything I'm that exhausted. But I've been trying to help out when I can. Luckily I have the ability to muster up some of my seemingly endless energy and power through some things for 15 minutes so I don't feel guilty that she came home from a day at work and is cooking me dinner. And she is getting better at giving me time when I tell her that I just need to rest for 10 minutes. She'll leave me alone until I feel like I have the energy to go back to our task.

All of this is to say, if you look at a lot of astrological sign stuff you'll see that Aries have high bursts of energy that they can sustain if they are interested in things, but as soon as their interests are not met, they really do shut down. Sadly so far in my life the only people who really believe this is other Aries. Everyone else just really thinks we are drama queens. Such is life.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Big Weekend Plans

Ange and I have got some big weekend plans scheduled. Thank God she is on first shift these days because that gives us time to be together. She's also working 12 hour shifts now so she has to work less days in a week and gets more weekends off! Perfecto!

This evening we'll probably keep it low key. She has to work 12 hours today so I think we'll probably just have something quick and easy for dinner and maybe catch up on some of our shows or maybe watch a movie.

Tomorrow we will be Farmer's Marketing as usual. I think Broad Ripple Farmer's Market is staying open through mid-November so that is a relief. The Indy Winter Farmer's Market starts in December so there may be a few weeks with no markets but we've frozen a lot of stuff so we should be ok between frozen goods and Trader Joe's.

Saturday night is the big double date night! Ange and I will be putting our match-making skills to the test for the second (and hopefully MUCH better) attempt. We're scheduled for a nice dinner at Santorini's followed by some fun at Jillian's. No matter how the love match turns out I think it will be a fun and enjoyable evening with some of my favorite people!

Sunday I am sure we will have our usual Sunday egg brunch. Yum, yum, triple yum. We then have plans to do lunch and go hiking with another couple (Ange's friend and her gf). Hopefully the weather is nice. Right now the forecast is sunny with a high of 53 which sounds good to me. I am the master of layers so as long as it isn't raining I should be ok.

So much for the stereotype of lesbian couples just wanting to stay home with their animals and be anti-social! We're busy bees!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Stank Foot

I seem to be full of confessions on this's another one: I have the grossest feet ever. My sisters, Mom & stepdad, and Ange can all vouch for me. Hideous feet. They are the least favorite part about me. If I could get a feet transplant I would.

Why My Feet are Sick-ola:
  1. They are crusty. Dry, cracked heels run in my family. Both my mom and my dad have cracked, dry heels, but mine are really the worst. They are the absolute worst in the summer when I've been wearing flip flops non-stop. The only way to reduce the cracks and disgustingness is to wear socks and shoes all the time, which I hate doing, because...
  2. My feet are soooo sweaty. If I wear socks and shoes all day, by the time I take off my shoes my socks are drenched and the bottom of my toes are all wrinkly like when you're in the bathtub for a long time. Even when I don't have socks and shoes on my feet are still sweating. My feet always feel wet. Like I've constantly just stepped out of the shower. The first time my stepdad noticed that my socks were literally wet after taking off my shoes I thought he was going to vom. And that was before he realized that...
  3. My feet smell hideous. Like I've slipped off my shoes before unbeknownst to anyone and suddenly someone across the room will be like "EW, what in THEE HELL is that smell?" And then I put my shoes back on and apparently the smell goes away. I sometimes gag at the smell of my feet. They really are THAT bad. I wash my feet much more often than the rest of my body.
  4. Much more minor, but my feet are are really, really wide. Like so wide that it's really hard to find many shoes that fit me. Even shoes that are marked "wide" are often too narrow for my feet. I always have to buy men's tennis shoes because they come in extra wide. I've never been able to buy a pair of cute, strappy sandals because my toes won't even fit halfway down the shoe. That's why clogs, Crocs and Ugg boots are my friend. Anything that my brick shaped feet will fit in is fair game, even if they are unpopular with current trends.
So there's my story. Stay away from my feet if at all possible. You've been warned.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Imagination Prompts: Brainstorm 10 Titles to Your Autobiography

My dear old friend Imagination Prompts provided me with a great prompt for today's post: Brainstorm 10 Titles to Your Autobiography. So here you go:

  1. My Life: It's all about Glitter and Sequins
  2. Jazz Hands: A Cheerful Life Lived
  3. I Hit My Nose and I Didn't Cry Forever: How to Suck it Up and Live Life to the Fullest
  4. Get Out of My Way, Fabulousness Coming Through
  5. Hi, My Name is Lindsay and I'm a Crazy Crazbo
  6. You're Not The Boss of Me
  7. I Do What I Want
  8. I'm NOT Bossy, I'm Just Strongly Opinionated
  9. Dancing Queen: Living Out My Own Personal Xanadu
  10. No Really, I Don't Care What You Think

My mom and Dale came up with some other good ones, but most of them were serious. I was leaning more towards the silly. Maybe someday I'll come up with some serious ones, but for today, just goofy.

I noticed two themes that emerged from my autobiographies. One, clearly my life in my head is way more exciting than it actually is. Two, I obviously do not have an inferiority complex. Maybe a superiority complex. What can I say, my life is splendid and I love it. Don't hate.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Dancing Queen!

If you've spent more than 5 minutes with me at a time you probably know that I LOVE dancing and I do it often. I'm know to bust out in a dance randomly for no apparent reason at all. Sometimes the spirit just moves me and I have to shake it. I hate when people are all like "I can't dance," and then refuse to dance. You don't have to be a ballerina or a jazz dancer (although jazz hands are extraordinarily fun to do) to be able to dance. People need to get over themselves and embrace the dance. It makes you feel good, and actually, the worse you are at dancing, the happier it makes everyone around you. People take themselves too seriously. Who cares if you look silly?

The reason I bring it up is because my darling made me a wonderful CD last week that I have been listening to NON-STOP since she made it. It is the awesomest CD ever. All dance songs, all the time. I do so much car dancing it's pretty much OOC (out of control for those of you NOT in the know). It's so fantastic that I feel like I need to share the playlist with you just in case you want to replicate it (legally of course) so you too can be lord (or high priestess) of the dance.

I Don't Feel Like Dancing--Scissor Sisters
Womanizer--Britney Spears
Music is the Victim--Scissor Sisters
All for You--Janet Jackson
Say Hey I Love You--Michael Franti
Fire Burning on the Dance Floor--Sean Kingston
Dance for Me--Justin Timberlake
Poker Face--Lady Gaga
Just Dance--Lady Gaga
I Got a Feeling--Black Eyed Peas
Down--Jay Sean ft. Lil Wayne
My Lips Like Suga--Flo Rida
Dancing Queen--ABBA
Shake It--Metro Station
Cry For You--September

It's so good in fact that I am willing to offer a limited time money-back guarantee that this CD will make you happy and possibly even dance. So of course since this blog is free, you will get $0 back, but still, it's totally worth it. Just trust me.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Honey Dew, I'm Proud of You

I just wanted to write a short little post about how proud I am of my partner Ange. Ange has been working like hell to try and finish her Associate's Degree from Ivy Tech. She had some bumps and detours along the way but she is within reach of being done. She has only 4 more classes to take and she will be dunzo. She re-enrolled this semester after a little bit of an absence. She is kicking butt in her sociology class and is getting ready to take two classes online. She's a little nervous about taking all three classes at the same time in addition to working and you know, a personal life. I know she is going to do well because she is very smart and works really hard; she just doesn't give herself enough credit sometimes. She's a first generation college student and has never had a good support system to help encourage her along. I have been fortunate to always have a strong support system and I come from a family with a long history of higher education so I hope that I (and the rest of my family and our friends) can now provide the encouragement and support she needs to keep moving along. She's already applied to IUPUI for next fall so I think she's on the right track! Keep up the great work baby love and just remember how proud I am of you and will continue to be the support you need!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The Story of the Greatest Dog That Ever Lived

It's been a little over a year since one of my best friends died. Yeah, one of my best friends was a dog. But if you ever spent some quality time with Dusty, you'll probably agree, he was hands down the greatest dog that ever lived. Not that I don't love my current slate of dogs with every ounce of my body, but Dusty was more than a dog. Really, trust me on this one.

Dusty wasn't only my best friend, but he was the best friend of everyone in our household. He had a special bond with each of us in the family and we were all devastated when he died last summer. Even though we knew he was ancient (19 years old!) and that he was in a lot of pain, it was still shocking to see him vanish from our lives. For months after he died I would expect him to come trotting up to me when I'd go and visit my dad. And every time it was painful to remember that he wasn't there anymore.

Dusty lived a really remarkable life. I guess when you live to be as old as him you really have a chance to experience a lot, even though I think he experienced some things that were highly unusual.

Dusty started out his life on the wrong foot. Our old neighborhood was a nice and quiet neighborhood except for this white trash disgusting family that lived caddy-corner to the back of our house. The Franks were like a family you'd see portrayed in a sit-com, but worse. Wild kids, trashy house with crap all over the place and a witchy mom and always drunk dad screaming out the door. They were dreadful. They also had a habit of collecting and neglecting animals. Right after we first moved in one of their dogs got into some poision and ended up crying in pain right outside of our back next door neighbor's bedroom. They rushed the poor thing to the emergency vet but it was too late and the dog died. They soon replaced it with a beautiful golden haired pup that they decided to shelter from poisioning by locking up in a travel crate 24 hours a day with little food or water and leaving him to sit in his own shit and pee for days at a time.

I don't remember who's idea it was to steal the golden pup but we did. Snatched him right up out of there, brought him home gave him a bath, were horrified at how sickly skinny he was, fed him lots of nom noms, loved him and named him Dusty. For the next month or so we covertly brought him outside to pee by sneaking him around the side of the house where the Franks couldn't see. Yep, Dusty was a stolen dog and we were all complicit in covering up our crime.

Well one day when we were at school Mrs. Frank caught my mom red-handed. They apparently got into a bit of a tiff, but my mom didn't want it to turn into some huge redneck screaming fest so she handed Dusty over and nervously waited to see what would happen. Luckily, probably for the first time in her life, Mrs. Frank had a change of heart. About an hour later she came back over and threw Dusty over the fence at my mom and told her we could keep him because her kids didn't like him anyway. Yay, no more hiding! Dusty was legitimately ours and we didn't have to hide anymore. We could run and play with him in the yard all we wanted! The Franks moved away shortly there after. Thank God for that.

We always had so much fun with Dusty (or Dustball as we sometimes liked to call him). He let us do makeovers on him, dress him up, lay on him, chase him, tickle him, hug him, kiss him, play hide and go seek with him, just about anything we could think up we could get him to do. He loved following us around and we loved having him around.

Dusty was a bit of a playboy. He figured out ways to get out of the yard just as fast as we could try and block them. He loved to roam the neighborhood looking for the ladies. Sadly, it was his escaping that got him into one of the worst situations in his life.

One day we were hanging around the house doing not much of anything when we heard a knock at the door. The little girl from about 5 houses down was standing there and said "I think there's something wrong with Dusty. He was laying in my yard and wouldn't get up. But I got him to walk down here." I went out in the yard and and he was laying in the grass near the end of the driveway. I said "Hey buddy, what's the matter?" and he barely even looked at me. When I got to him I could see blood all over his underbelly. My mom was right behind me and we both were like "Uh oh, this is NOT good." I thought maybe he'd been hit by a car or something. So I scooped him up in my arms (at his heaviest he probably weighed between 35-40 lbs.) and brought him inside. When I put him down in the kitchen my shirt was covered in blood. I ran and grabbed some towels while my mom called the vet's office to see if they were open. I came out and wrapped him up good and we jumped in the car with Hilary to rush him to the emergency vet. After many x-rays and waiting the doctor brought us back to talk. Apparently someone had shot Dusty in the leg with a high caliber rifle and it had shattered his leg from hip to knee. The x-ray was a disaster. There were a few large bone pieces, but most just bone and bullet shards left. They had him sedated and were running an IV on him and trying to stop the bleeding. They said we'd have to leave him overnight and then we could make some decisions in the morning if he made it. We went home and cried and cried. The vet finally called that evening with some news. Dusty was doing better but he was going to need some major surgery to be really better. There are two dog orthopedic surgeons in the state and one could take Dusty in two days but it was going to cost about $1200. The other option would be to put him to sleep, or try and amputate the leg and see if he made it. We begged our parents to help our dog live. And even if they couldn't really afford it, they agreed to visit the specialist and spend the money.

The orthopedic surgeon was able to piece together his bones with a metal plate and lots of wiring and Dusty was able to keep his leg. This is how he became the Bionic Dog. After it healed you would hardly know he had a bionic leg. He walked pretty normally, maybe a shade of a limp, but you couldn't really tell unless you knew about it. And when he ran he just pulled that leg up like a kick-stand and tri-poded it. He got so good at the tripod running that he was eventually able to figure out how to run down the slope in our backyard and the point that he needed to jump in order to hit the top of the fence and go over. All with three working legs! Of course as he got older he got really bad arthritis, but when you're 133 in dog years everything gets a little stiff. I don't think he really minded that much.

In 2002 we moved from our childhood home where we'd lived for 13 years to a brand new house that my dad and stepmom built. Although we can't say for sure we think that all the new carpet must have had some reaction on Dusty. There is a lot of formaldehyde in carpet and I think it must have reacted in his poor little head. From the time we moved into that house until he died he had terrible sinus issues that first started as a really runny gross nose to eventually caving in part of his eye socket (sick I know). Through it all he was still as happy as could be. We brought him to the doctor and even a specialist but they couldn't really say what exactly was going on in his head and therefore couldn't really recommend anything that would help. He just putzed along like normal. In the past year or so of his life his arthritis got really bad. We knew it would happen in his bionic leg, but in addition the rest of his body just started getting really stiff. First he couldn't jump on the couch anymore, then he couldn't get up the stairs very well, although until the very end he would hobble up the steps to the second floor, mostly because that is where my sister's room was and as she was the only girl left he had become her shadow.

One of the saddest things I ever saw was the last year that she moved back to school before he died. He hadn't been upstairs in a while. He had fallen down the stairs a month or so back and he kind of took that as a sign to just be a downstairs dog. Hilary had just moved back to school after Christmas break and I had stopped by the house to see my dad. I was looking for Dusty and couldn't find him anywhere. I went upstairs and he was up there standing in her doorway just looking around like he wasn't quite sure where she was, but he was hoping maybe he would find her if he could just get up there and check. It was so sweet and heart-breaking all at the same time. I picked him up and carried him back downstairs and I don't think he ever went back up after that.

The last few months of his life were pretty rough on all of us. Frankly, he was getting pretty crusty and stinky. He was moving really slow, but dammit if that dog wasn't the happiest dog you've ever met. He never cried or whined, he just would slowly putz along and was always over the moon whenever he would see one of us. My dad spent many nights sleeping downstairs with him since he couldn't make it upstairs anymore and was having trouble making it through the night without going out to potty.

The rest of my family finally decided it was time for him to be put to sleep. We really thought that he would just keep going just because he loved us so much he didn't want to leave us, regardless of how much pain he really may have been in. The whole thing was just so painful for me I couldn't really handle participating in the whole thing. The day before he was scheduled to be put to sleep I went to visit him one last time. I hugged him and told him how much I loved him but I don't think I've ever cried so hard in my entire life. I literally was heaving with sobs. It was literally the saddest moment of my life. Luckily my sisters are both stronger than me and they took responsibility for making sure his last moments were comfortable. Leslie was going to pick him up from my dad's and take him to the vet (where Hilary was working) and the two of them were going to be with him through the end. At the last minute my dad decided to go, because like me, he was so devastated by the whole thing he didn't think he could make it through. He went to the vet's but had to step out of the room before the end because he was crying so hard and just was completely overwhelmed. Hilary and Leslie stayed with him through his last moments, for which I will be eternally grateful. I know when it comes time to say goodbye to my dogs that I have know I will have to do the same, but I just couldn't do it then. It was just too much for me and I knew that my sisters would be there. The first few times I went to my dad's after that I was brought to tears just knowing that Dusty wouldn't be there to greet me. It slowly got better but I still think about him sometimes when I'm there. We had Dusty cremated and his ashes sprinkled at a pet cemetery in Northern Indiana. We thought it would be nice and also not creepy having to keep his ashes. We loved him, but we didn't need some ashes to be toting around forever. His memory will always live on with us and I will always think of him as one of my best friends and definitely the greatest dog that ever lived.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Our *Insane* Shopping Trip!

So I am trying for attempt number two at playing matchmaker for NY Diva. So far it's going better than attempt number one so that's good. We have a double date lined up for next Saturday. Naturally, NY and I decided that we need to go shopping to see if we could find some new digs for her to show off her hottest self. So we decided Friday after work we'd grab dinner & drinks and hit the mall.I picked NY up at her apartment and we headed out in the rain. I have had a splitting headache since I got rear-ended yesterday (miraculously no car damage) since I think my brain bounced around in my head a bit so we stopped by CVS so I could get some rapid release Tylenol and some Gatorade. Then we stopped off at Payless and Fashion Bug because I had some things to return to The Bug and wanted to check out some boots at Payless. Then we spent about 45 minutes in traffic. Boo! By the time we made it to Castleton we decided we were hungry and needed food. Now, NY and I are both the worst at picking plans for dinner, etc. so we were really in a bind. I quickly claimed that since I drove she had to pick and she promptly screeched NO FAIR! But luckily we were able to quickly come to a decision of On The Border.

We both enjoyed some adult beverages and chips and queso before moving on to yummy entrees. We then headed to the mall. NY hates shopping and it causes her stress so she hoped the adult beverages would help her loosen up for the trip. It worked for a bit but we quickly went downhill. She shot down nearly eveything I held up before I could tell her why I liked it. She would get this quick flash of horror in her eye before shaking her head a silent no or trying to say something nice like "Um, that's just not quite my style" or something, but I know she was really thinking "Lady, that shirt is just INSANE." I tried my best to convince her that she would look awesome in so many of the gems I found, but sadly she did not agree. If I had her body, I would be broke because I think everything looks awesome on her, but she is much more selective than I am.

I do have to say, since we went to 851 stores, this year's fashion choices are horrible. Somehow lesbians must have invaded all the fashion houses because half of the stores are plastered with these crazy plaid get-ups that are just horrifying to the eye. Most of the rest of the stuff is either hideously insane floral prints or just plain ugly. We literally saw a full length corduroy jumpsuit at JCPenny. Come on people, you can't be serious.

I do have to say, there is one fashion trend I am ecstatic to see on the racks...wait for it...SEQUINS (insert jazz hands). OMG I am over the moon for sequins. I absolutely sequins! I tried my hardest to get NY to love them too, but she just couldn't get on the boat with me. For once, my stylish sequin wardrobe will be in style.

Sadly we didn't find anything that fit NY's tastes so we packed it in and headed home. On the way home I was able to entertain NY with a wonderful dance montage from the new cd my love made me. It's the best music cd ever. Not even kidding. Although we did not get a new outfit for the date, we had fun and hopefully all will go well on the date regardless. Keep your fingers crossed!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Happy Birthday to my Papa!

My sister and my dad's birthdays are a week apart. So even though my dad isn't going to read my blog I thought it would be unfair to dedicate a blog to my sister but not him.

I don't even really know where to start or what to say about my dad. I could go on for days and days about how much I love him and how goofy he is, or I could tell you about how we can make each other more mad than any other human being on this earth but we still love each other to death, but somehow it wouldn't be adequate. So I'll just saw few random things and we'll leave it at that.

My dad is one of the funniest people on the planet, intentionally and not. A lot of people wouldn't know that because he's pretty quiet and aloof until you get to know him. All throughout my school age years my friends would be like "Your dad hates me doesn't he?" But no, he never hated anyone. He is really just the "strong silent" type. When he gets to know you and gets comfortable with you he opens up and is hilarious. But overall he's just a really quiet guy. Communication is not his strong point. We once drove to Florida together (to visit a college) and in 18 hours the man only said "Are you hungry?" "Do you need to pee?" or "We need gas" the entire trip. Drove me crazy, but he didn't seem to notice. He was probably too busy reading a map.

Which leads me to another two points. One, the man is crazy smart. Between him and my mom I know where I got my smarts. The man knows everything (just about). He loves to fascinate people with his random bits of knowledge.

The second point, is that he will do just about anything for his children. He may not always be the most sensitive guy but he loves my sisters and me more than anything on the planet. And I have never once doubted that. Even if we were arguing or things weren't quite perfect I know that he loves me and would do anything I asked him to if it were in his power. When we're not around he misses us. He'll tell my sisters that he's mad at me if I don't come visit enough (and me, them). God forbid he comes and visits my house or calls me just to chat, but dammit he's hurt if I don't bounce my booty over there at least once a week to shoot the shit with him. He's always trying to think of ways to make me come over and visit and stay once I get there. The past few weekends when Ange has worked he'll pull up a movie on the DVR and say "Hey, I've been wanting to watch this movie...want to stay and watch it with me?" Even if I don't really care about the movie, I stay and watch it anyway. I know most people would say their parents love them, but sometimes I feel like my dad loves me (and my sisters) just a little bit more than any other dad loves a child. I can't explain it, I just know it.

But back to the goofiness. My dad is one of the goofiest dudes you've ever met. He cracks the lamest jokes and always laughs so hard at them, which makes you laugh too even if the jokes were lame. He does random funny things like bust out in air guitar when you least expect it. He will tell you when he had a really "cool" dream and then launch into some military/espionage story about how he was dreaming that he was a commando or something random. Of course, he usually only does these things when my sisters and I are around because he has to keep up his image with everyone else.

And even though he likes to pretend that we drive him crazy, he secretly loves the fact that he is surrounded by (and bossed around by) so many women. If you look at the two wives he chose they are similar in the fact that they are both very dominant and do/did their best to keep him in line. I think he knows he's secretly a push-over and that he'd just sit around in dirty underwear all the time if he didn't have all these women screetching at him all the time. So even when he likes to complain about our bossing, he does what we say.

So, I know this was kind of all over the place and not nearly as coherent as my sister's birthday ode, but like I said, there is so much I could write about my dad I really don't know how to do him justice. So I'll just leave it like this. I love my dad more than words can describe so Happy Birthday Papa!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

A Short Rant About Lateness

I hate when people are late. More specifically, I hate when people are late and other people are waiting on them. It irritates me to no end.

I have had some friends at different points in my life that were chronically late. I'm talking 10 minutes (or sometimes more) nearly every time we would meet. And of course, not wanting to rude and inconsiderate of their time I couldn't bring myself to factor in an extra 10 minutes knowing they would be late because what if they weren't and they were waiting on me??? And every time they would be late there would be some lame excuse and "omg, it totally wasn't my fault." Right, it never is.

Here's the bottom line when people are late: when you are late (particularly chronically) you are basically saying to the person/people waiting on you that your time is more important than their time and obviously you had nothing better to do than wait on them.

Whether it's 10 minutes or a freaking half an hour (seriously, I've had some people who are consistently 30 MINUTES LATE) I think, you know...I could have used that extra time to sleep in, work on homework, finish doing something, or hell, just lay on the couch and relax! But instead I'm sitting here waiting on YOU. Luckily I'm pretty prepared and usually have a book in my purse or something creative I can come up with to do, but the point is, I shouldn't have to! Whatever you are doing is NOT more important than what I was doing when I budgeted my time wisely so I could meet you at the appointed time!

So people, please remember this when you are planning on meeting up with someone in the future. Not everyone likes to wait on you.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The Apple Thief

So after the Farmer's Market on Saturday we came home, unloaded our goods and took the dogs out like normal. Stone didn't want to go out but he has been having good days and bad days (he's dying of cancer) so we just let him do whatever and didn't think anything of it. Brian came out after a few minutes and was like "uhhh, did you give Stone an apple?" So we're like "NO! Why would we give him an apple???" and he tells us that he definitely is eating an apple in the living room.

So I open up the door and call his name and sure enough he comes trotting out with an apple in his mouth. WTF???

We didn't buy any apples at the Farmer's Market and Brian didn't think he had any apples so we're staring at Stone munching happily on his apple wondering where the hell it came from. Brian suddenly remembered that his sister had brought him a fruit & veggie delivery the day before and she'd thrown in a few apples (she works at a fresh fruit & veggie company). But we still didn't know how he got the apple. Either he snuck his big nose into the fridge when we weren't looking or one rolled out and he snatched it before we noticed. Either way, he loved the apple. And Caramel was also intensely interested in the apple eating and snagged a few chunks that flew off the apple while Stone was eating. After all, have you every tried to eat an apple without using your hands and only chewing with your incisors? Not an easy or neat task. But apparently all this time Stone has been secretly harboring a love of apples. Who knew?

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

True Story: I cut off my sister's finger...

On ACCIDENT of course. If you've ever hung out with my family and there are small children around you'll notice there are no slamming doors and if someone closes a door in some sort of "game" like play, they'll hear a chorus of voices lecturing that doors are not toys. This is all thanks to me and Hilary.

When Hilary was about 9 months old, my mom one day had ordered Leslie and I to clean up our room (we all shared a room when we lived in our little house in CA) because we have always been messy even when we were little. So Leslie and I were trying to clean while Hilary was doing her best to try and eat some crayons that were on the floor. I picked her up and put her down on the floor just outside the room and started to close the door so she couldn't get back in. As the door slid closed I heard the most awful shriek I have ever heard. I opened up the door to see blood gushing from her tiny little pinkie finger and a pool of blood forming on the ground. Of course my mom had come running and was shocked when she picked up her infant and went running to the kitchen to see the top of Hilary's finger dangling by just a small strip of skin. Apparently Hilary had reached her hand up to the door and put her hand on the lower hinge right at the moment I had closed it. Pinch-a-roo and the top of her finger was neatly lopped almost all the way off.

What happened next is very foggy in my memory. I remember a trail of blood down the hallway, crying hysterically as I kneeled on the floor of the car holding a dishrag to Hilary's finger shrieking "I CUT OFF HER FINGER!!!" while my mom trying to reassure me that I didn't cut off her finger while she drove wildly to my grandma's house (just around the block) to drop us off and pick up my uncle who accompanied her to the ER, and the long, long wait to find out if I'd really cut off my sister's finger for good.

When my parents finally returned to my grandma's house Hilary was exhausted and had a giant club hand that was wrapped up tightly with gauze and medical tape. After hours spent in the ER with a hand specialist & plastic surgeon they were able to run a metal rod down her pinkie finger and reattach the top of her finger with many tiny little stitches and now it was just a matter of waiting to see how her hand would heal. Since she was so little they weren't sure how it would go...would she lose all feeling in her finger, would she lose her fingernail permanently, would she be able to bend her finger appropriately...only time would tell.

I am happy to report that Hilary's finger healed nicely and you can barely tell that anything happened. If you look reallllllly closely you can see a little line all the way around her finger right near her first knuckle where the stitches went all the way around and although her fingernail is a little wonky you probably wouldn't notice unless you knew what had happened and looked at it closely. And Hilary also has the upside of permanently being able to hold it over my head that I cut off her finger, thereby trumping nearly anything she could possibly ever do to me.

Definitely not my best moment of childhood, but glad that it worked out ok for the finger in the end and that future generations of Briggs kids will know the dangers of closing doors.

Monday, October 5, 2009

The most valuable lesson I've learned (so far)...

So I went back over to Imagination Prompts to find something new to write about and after clicking through a few dumb ones, I got this question: What is the most valuable lesson you've learned in your life?

Immediately I had an answer, and even better, an answer I think is important for people to learn and consider and it's not something that's always apparent and it's often hard to do. My biggest life lesson is this: Never burn your bridges. Now we've heard that saying a million times I'm sure, but what does it really mean? I think there is the obvious, but then there are some nuances that you have to remember.

Overall Message 1: Don't be a jerk to anyone that you've had some sort of personal or professional relationship with in the past.

You never, ever will know when your paths will cross with that person again. Whether it's for a job recommendation or opportunity in the future or something else, you just never know. Even if someone has been a beast to work with or for and you really feel like saying something mean and nasty on your way out the door, it's just a better idea to be pleasant and cordial. It might feel great in the moment, but what other benefit do you get by "telling someone off?" Uh, probably nothing. If they really were a jerk, I'm willing to bet that they don't care what you think and it isn't going to change their attitude. But it will change their opinion of you. And should your name ever, ever come up you don't want the last thing they remember was how you yelled at them or said something mean/immature/spiteful. Although it's particularly important in professional relationships, I think the same can be said about personal relationships as well.

So 30 seconds on ranting might feel good for those 30 seconds (and maybe a little longer) but the ramifications can last much longer and be much more powerful than "it feels good." In my experience people who handle difficult situations well are usually admired more because they handle things gracefully. Be classy, not trashy. You don't want to be someone's "OMG, this one time" story. Usually when someone looks back in time, they don't remember the minor things, but they will remember a huge blow up. So if someone is asked about you and you haven't given them a big blow out they'll usually say something nice.

Overall Message 2: Even if it isn't a split that is dramatic make an effort to stay in touch because you'll never know when someone will be useful to you.

There are a ton of people I've met in my life that in the grand scheme of things don't matter much to my daily life. But on more than one occasion I've had something fruitful come my way because I kept in touch with, or minimally would make small talk at events with, people in my life that I pretty much thought I was "done" with. You never know when someone you thought was inconsequential has a great connection to someone you do think is consequential in your life. If you've maintained some kind of contact (email updates, small talk at social events, etc.) they will have better things to say about you and will be more willing to go that extra step for you. Again, people will remember you for the pleasant things unless you give them a reason to really remember the awful things. And it's always better for them to say "I think she's been working on X, Y, and Z," rather than "I haven't talked to her for 5 years." As much as I hate networking and schmoozing, it is one of the most valuable skills I've ever learned.

It's also helpful to really keep people up-to-date on your life in case an unknown opportunity arises. When someone is thinking "Who could I offer this to or let know about this great opportunity?" if you are salient in their mind they are more likely to call you and let you know about the great opportunity. If you haven't talked to someone in eons they may not know what you are currently doing, much less remember who you are.

Anyway, that is one of the most important things that I've learned in my life so far. Just one more pearl of wisdom to add to your stack of Lindsay's Life Lessons.