Thursday, December 1, 2011

A sentimental post

For those looking for snark and self-deprecation, you'll have to look elsewhere, because it just ain't happening here today.

My grandmother is ill.

And I really do mean the worst kind of ill.

She had severe abdominal pain and went into the urgent care center. They did an X-ray, thinking it would be gall stones or kidney stones or something similar. Instead, they found a large mass in her stomach. They sent her over to the hospital, where she was immediately admitted and tests were run.

By the end of her five day stay, they found cancer in her stomach, intestines, liver, gall bladder, colon and free-floating in her abdomen. When those test results were further investigated, they learned that these cancer cells were all breast cancer cells, not the colon cancer cells as originally thought.

My grandmother beat breast cancer in 1999. She had a full mastectomy just two years after she lost her husband. It's been in remission all this time, and it just is not fair that it came back like this.

After finding out it was breast cancer, they did a full body scan. The cancer is in her lungs, esophagus, bones (not yet in the marrow) and in her brain.

She also beat brain cancer in 2004. Again with the unfairness of this all.

Her oncologist has agreed to try the most aggressive form of chemo available. But there is only so much her bedraggled seventy four year old body can handle. She's been dealt a rough hand in the health department (in addition to the two bouts with cancer, she survived polio as a child as breathes with only one functioning lung as a result), and is severely overweight. She uses a walker to get everywhere, and that's on the good days when she can even get out of the house.

Chemo is not going to be kind to her, and I fear (well, we all fear) that it will do more harm than good. She is going wig shopping next week. The treatments start on the 14th of December. If she's going to try this, it has to be now; no waiting for the holidays to pass.

So far, the cancer is winning. She has lost the strength to walk, and goes days at a time without being able to eat or drink anything. The tumors in her brain are actually pressing on the back of her eye, causing severe drooping, and her vision is becoming impaired. She is drifting in and out of coherence, spending hours each day unable to form complete sentences and unaware of what she's doing.

Nobody who has beaten a disease twice should have to face it for a third time. And the disease should not get such a big head start the third time around.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Zumba: Pitting my self-esteem against reality

How I feel when I'm doing Zumba:

How I realize I look when I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror during Zumba class:

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

This is grad school, grow up.

In case you don't know this, I am in grad school. I have an undergraduate degree in Business and Human Resources Management, and this does me absolutely no good in being a homemaker, housewife, homeschooler, or however else you want to categorize me. So, this semester I went back to school for a Master's in Elementary Education and Childhood Development.

This is GRADUATE SCHOOL. At a well-ranked state school, to boot. I know it's not Harvard, but still. Everybody in this program has completed a bachelor's degree, and probably did pretty well. They took an entrance exam (either the GRE or the GMAT) which was no cake walk. Most people in this program are either working full-time and supporting themselves while doing this program, or they have taken a sabbatical from work in order to get this done. There's a lot on the line for most people. 

Why, then, are people not paying attention in class? Talking, dorking around on Facebook (not taking notes about the lecture, as they are pretending to do), texting, and just generally goofing off?

The girl sitting next to me last night actually laughed whenever somebody answered one of the professor's questions out loud.

She laughed at somebody who thought they knew the answer and was brave enough to say it out loud.

One group of people, who tend to sit together most weeks and I secretly refer to as "The Idiots," routinely roll their eyes any time somebody asks the professor a question. They press for him to wrap up class early, and to postpone exams. They mutter under their breath and complain about it "taking forever" to get through a lecture.

Remember, this is Tuesday night. The class is scheduled from 5:30 to 8:30 pm. What in the world are you needing to do on a Tuesday night that can't wait until 8:35?

Last night, we were covering information that will be on our exam next week. We were running a little long, and it was clear that we were going to keep working right up until 8:30. But there is an exam- worth one third of our grade- next week. This is fairly important. And it wasn't like he was just re-hashing the same stuff over again, some of this was actually brand new information. The Idiots actually stopped taking notes, packed up at 8:25 and sat there, talking at normal-conversation-volume until 8:30, when they left the room, not waiting for class to officially end.

Six people, just got up and left together, apparently not noticing that the professor was still talking.

He defined a key term less than thirty seconds later. Then he paused, and promised those of us still in the room that this key term would be tested heavily.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

How to be a jerkface at Disneyworld

I suppose this post could also be titled "How to be a jerkface at any theme park."

Rule #1: Always assume that you are the only person who paid to be here. If you must admit that anybody else paid to be in this theme park, please remember that your money is far more important than theirs, and they all probably got discounts (whereas you paid full price, of course), and therefore the fact that you paid to be here is far more important than the fact that they paid to be here. In fact, their money is worthless compared to yours. You paid to be here, and you are entitled to get your money's worth, no matter what it takes.

If you can keep Rule #1 in mind, the rest of this will be much easier, I promise.

Rule #2: Get everything done as quickly as possible. This, of course, ensures that you will do as much as possible, thus "getting your money's worth" (see Rule #1). There are several sub-rules to accomplish this:

Rule #2a: Walk very quickly everywhere you go.
Rule #2b: Cut in front of people whenever possible.
Rule #2c: Pull your loved ones away from "time wasters" like games, street shows, scenic views or anything else you deem "boring," regardless of how much they seem to be enjoying it. Because face it, they don't know what they want, and they aren't the ones who paid to be here. (See Rule #1)
Rule #2d: Be sure you are holding a Fastpass for something at all times. Yes, you might have to run in a crazy zig-zag pattern all over the park all day long to do this, but remember, if you are moving quickly, then you are doing it right.

Rule #3: Push to the front. You want to make sure you are the first person in line for everything, regardless of its importance, or whether or not it matters. You want to see one of the cool 3-D shows? Get to the front of the line. Once the line lets you into the holding area, get to the front- as close to the doors as possible. I mean, sure, this means you get one of the worst seats in the house for the actual show, but, come on, I am sure you can think of a jackass way around that, too, right? (See Rule #4)

This also means that you need to push to the front when exiting places and rides, too. I mean, what is the point of paying to be here (See Rule #1) if you are not the first person out of the show, the first person off the ride?

Rule #4: Ignore Park Rules. When they say "Please move all the way across the row and make room for everyone." They don't mean YOU should do that. They mean EVERYBODY ELSE should do that. Everybody else should climb over you to get to their seats. Safety, schmafety. When they say "No Flash Photography" that obviously doesn't apply to you. Yes, it ruins the ride for everybody else, but you will get the perfect picture. And, after all, you paid to be here (see Rule #1), so you deserve a perfect picture of the inside of the Pirates of the Caribbean ride.

Rule #5: Assume that you know everything about the park. If somebody tries to "help" you, sneer at them and use your most condescending tone to let them know that you, in fact, have been here before (in 1986). Sure, the person trying to "help" you might be a Disney blogger (so they say), or a cast member on their day off (a likely story), or a local who has been here more than a hundred times in the last two years (*insert eye roll*), but they do not know this park as well as you do. Again, there are a few sub-rules to clarify this:

Rule #5a: Never accept directions from anybody. You have a map, dammit. It is colorful and all-knowing.
Rule #5b: There is no such thing as a "friendly tip." The bathrooms are all the same (none of them have shorter lines due to being in out-of-the-way locations), the food carts are all the same (none of them sell the coveted churros you are searching for), and there is no better place to take a picture or eat your lunch than in the exact same place that everybody else is. Duh. That's why everybody is here. It is the best (or only) place to eat or take a family photo.
Rule #5c: There is nothing "secret" or "special" about anything, ever. Different sized horses on the carousel for kids and adults? LIES. Ways you can earn all-day fastpasses? MYTH. Get exact recipes for the best dishes from Disney restaurants? FABRICATION. Places to meet the most popular characters with no line? FALSE. 

Rule #6: Forget that this is a family destination. Who cares what the original intent of the Disney parks was? You should say whatever you want, wear whatever you want and do whatever you want. It's not like this is a "school" or a "mall" where kids are supposed to be or anything. The F-bomb is perfectly acceptable in all its forms, no matter who is around you, and any conversation that wouldn't make your grandmother blush for its explicit content is a conversation wasted.

Rule #7: Get angry at as many cast members as possible. Your lunch at the super-packed quick-service restaurant didn't come out in less than thirty seconds (at noon)? Yell at the seventeen year old behind the counter. It is his fault, and the more you yell at him, the faster the service will be. (I know, it looks like he's having to stand there, not filling orders, while you yell at him, but I promise, the food will magically be cooked faster because you yelled at somebody)

The sign said "20 minute wait" but you waited 23 minutes? Yell at the guy telling you what row to sit in. It is his fault. He could have made there be fewer people between that sign and the front of the line if he wanted to.

Buzz Lightyear needs to "recharge his batteries" for three minutes just when you get to the front of the line? Yell at the character escort. It is her fault. She could make Buzz Lightyear stand there all day in the Florida sun, with no breaks, if she wanted to. She is doing this just to piss. you. off. Remember, you paid to be here (see Rule #1) and you want a picture with Buzz.

There you have it, folks. Seven simple rules for being a jerkface at Disneyworld (or any theme park, or place that people gather in droves).

Did I miss anything?

Monday, October 31, 2011

NaNoWriMo

Any of my bloggy friends out there doing NaNoWriMo?

I'm looking for a support system for my first year doing the challenge (yay!)- find me here: Gina Denny on NaNo

Saturday, October 29, 2011

An open letter to all doctors

Dear doctors of the world,
I know that you are intelligent and highly trained in all kinds of things that I don't and will never understand.

But.

Would it be too hard for you to actually check the "fasting" or "not fasting" box on my lab order form?

Because when you don't check one of those boxes, I assume that it doesn't matter. Then I make an appointment for 2:30 in the afternoon, far too late in the day for one to be fasting. I arrange a babysitter and drive up the worst road in this city to get to the lab, I check in at the counter, I fill out a half dozen pages of insurance-related questions and I wait for twenty minutes before being told that I can't have my arm stabbed today because I ate a burrito already.

So, then I drive home, pay the babysitter, grump about it for a while and then realize that I have to change my follow up appointment also.

Oh, yeah, remember that? You told me to go get blood work done, and then come see you a week later?

Well, because I didn't get my blood work done today, I can't go see you in one week. I have to cancel that appointment and reschedule, also cancelling and rescheduling the babysitter I have for that day.

All because you wouldn't make a tiny check mark.

I hope you're happy.

Sincerely,
Your cranky, slowly-going-broke, but not hungry (cuz I didn't know I was supposed to be) patient.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Sarcasm Doesn't Travel Well Via Facebook... Apparently.

So, there's this guy that I knew in high school. For the sake of his anonymity, I will call him George.

George was never the sort of guy who you thought would do anything crazy like pay attention in class or finish his homework or come to school without weed in his back pocket. Seriously, they talked about random drug testing of an organization that we were in together and this kid just about lost his mind.

Anyway. That's the backstory, but high school was a really long time ago. He's now an adult and holds down what appears to be a pretty steady job. He didn't do the whole "college" thing, nor would I take him for one to be "reading" anything in his spare time.

Needless to say, the only way we stay in contact has been via Facebook- the land of all dubious friendships.

So, he posts something very politically driven the other day, but he does it in a very, very mean way.

(Note: I am not going to put what he said, nor am I going to go into details about his opinion, because I don't want the politics to get in the way of his stupidity, which is the star of this story. I actually agree with many of his sentiments, just not with the same venom.)

So he posts this really mean thing with its basis in current politics here in the US. He insults a few people specifically and a LOT of people generally. He makes a very sweeping comment about the intelligence level of an entire political party, an entire religion and everyone not of a particular race.

Lovely, this guy is.

Ignoring the most childish comments and focusing on what (I thought was) the point, I calmly- and without name calling or insulting- corrected one of his incorrect points. This point is actually incontrovertible fact, while the rest of his post was all opinion.

He comes back and says: "I knew it. Humor and sarcasm is something that you people just dont get... lol this was completely tongue in cheeck"

(Can I just put [sic] at the end of that whole quote? Because trying to isolate all the errors makes the whole thing pretty unreadable. More so, anyway.)


I want to be perfectly clear here, so please excuse the bullet points that follow, but I find them excruciatingly simple, and thus practically un-misunderstand-able:
  • You are allowed to have an opinion. 
  • That opinion can be widely different from mine. 
  • You are allowed to express that opinion- and even present it as fact- on every social media platform of your choosing. 
  • You are welcome to engage in a respectful, or at least semi-respectful, exchange of ideas surrounding that opinion. 
However.

I get really annoyed when people 1) are viciously insulting in presenting their opinions and 2) pretend they were "just joking" when somebody calls them on their BS. I mean, come on, my five year old pulls that. "I'm just joking!"

Please.

So, I call him on this, too (I know, I know).

I let him know that the post could not possibly have been "entirely tongue in cheek" because then I would have to assume that everything he said was also a joke. And while only the one piece was concrete fact, the rest is actually pretty well-accepted as truth and are all opinions he has voiced loudly and obnoxiously at other times as well. I also pointed out that I agree with all of his opinions in this particular post, but that lashing out irrationally and then backpeddling with the "J/K!" nonsense is childish and just plain stupid.

His response?

"Again, sarcasm doesn't travel well via facebook... lol... obviously"

Thursday, October 20, 2011

A few truths

Truth: There is nothing, absolutely nothing, cuter than a naked baby running full speed around your house, giggling, after bath time.

Truth: There is nothing, absolutely nothing, sadder than sick kids.

Truth: There is nothing, absolutely nothing, more annoying than your husband playing video games so loud that the kids can't hear their bedtime story.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Don't Talk To Me

There is just something about me that makes people not want to talk to me. I really, truly do not know what it is.

I have friends. I think most of them even like me (as opposed to being friends out of convenience... "hey, our kids are friends, I guess I'll talk to you at the playground."). I don't remember a time in my life when I was friendless.

But I also don't remember a time in my life when I was approachable.

Ever.

You know those people who will start up a conversation in the line to check out at the grocery store? Or in elevators? Or in classes?

I'm not one of those. And apparently this aura of "I don't want to talk to you" is so completely obvious that nobody talks to me, either.

Sometime back in high school, I remember looking around a crowded room that was very noisy. I noticed, in a somewhat detached manner, that I was the only person in the room not contributing to the noise.

Now, I'm not shy. Anybody who knows me in real life can attest to that, and even some who only know me via the internet. But I just wasn't a part of the noise.

Ever since that day, I find myself constantly noticing this. Large, noisy rooms, in which I am the only one not contributing. I am the only one not talking to somebody.

I am currently enrolled in a Masters program, and one of my classes in a real, live, traditional college class (the other is online, thank goodness. this kind of awkwardness isn't nearly as obvious from behind a screen). In this class, there are about a hundred students every week. When we go to break, everybody talks to somebody. And, inevitably, the person on either side of me will turn their backs to me and talk to the person on the other side of them. I overhear conversations of introduction, or small talk between people who obviously don't know each other.

I'm just not sure what it is about me that screams, "DON'T TALK TO ME!"

And it is obviously in all-caps, because that's what screaming is. Duh.

But seriously. Does anybody else experience this?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Framed Wedding Song

I did something kinda crafty!!! OK, so it barely fits the loosest definition of the word "crafty," but it's a start. I mean, I made it, right?
This was inspired (obviously) by a couple of different things I saw on Pinterest this week. Nothing was exactly what I was looking for, so I sort of just flew by the seat of my pants doing this. I think it turned out pretty cute :)

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Pinterest

My Pinterest account is schizophrenic. It is alternately trying to motivate me to lose weight and get in shape:

and eat stuff like this:
I won't tell you right now which part is winning... but if you look at my "Recipes" board and my "Inspirational Junk" board... you might be able to figure that out for yourself.


Sunday, October 9, 2011

The Saga of My Hair

For most of my life, my hair has looked something like this:

But then, in January I made a drastic change and it looked like this:

Then I added some red to it and made it more of a dark auburn color. I had a hard time finding a picture of me with auburn hair, but here's one:
While I love that hair color, it is really difficult to maintain. My hair is naturally kind of light, so when the roots grew in, they looked greenish-gray, and it was not attractive. Plus the red fades really fast. Between the gross roots and the fading, I was coloring my hair more and more often, resulting in more and more damage, making me more and more unhappy with my hair. 

So, about two months ago, I decided I was going to go back to blonde. My plan was simple:

Step 1: Go dark to cover the red
Step 2: Lighten the brown just a few shades at a time until it was to a point where I could go to a dark blonde
Step 3: Color it dark blonde
Step 4: Finish it off by lightening the blonde completely.

I figured it would take awhile, but I was ready to be patient.

I went dark, covering the red. It made my hair look really blah, and my skin looked sallow in comparison. It was not a good look, but it felt like a necessary step on the way to recovery. Step 1, complete.

When my roots grew in, I went to Ulta and chose a lighter shade of brown. When I was finished, my roots were a medium brown and the rest of my hair was darker than before. I repeated this process two more times with progressively lighter shades of brown, expecting a different result, but getting nothing but really light brown roots and really dark brown hair. Step 2, massive failure.



By this time, my roots are nearly an inch long, and it's getting ridiculous. Abort plan, get new plan.

New Plane: Go pedal to the metal and buy one of those We-Swear-You-Need-One-Box-To-Go-From-Black-To-Platinum boxes of hair color. For the record, this is the shade you are promised to achieve after one, single 90 minute application:
I figured, even if it doesn't get that blonde, some blonde is better than no blonde, right?

Boy. Was I wrong.

This was last Sunday. I applied the color as I always do- and as the instructions directed me to do- at the roots first, then to the overall length. 90 minutes later, I rinsed and conditioned and looked in the mirror to find...

ORANGE.

And take note of the multi-tone quality.
Yes, white roots, yellow near the roots, orange over the length, darker orange in front, slightly lighter in the back.

It's lovely, yes?

So, I go to my sister, who has colored her hair into disaster more than once and she gives me some advice. I go to the internet for some more advice, because my hair was actually a whole lot worse than hers had been. I make a plan (because having a plan worked out so well for me and my hair already):

Step 1: Keep applying these pedal-to-the-metal hair lightening kits to the orange parts. According to the internet (where all wisdom and truth resides), the orange is a result of the color not being lifted entirely, so longer application is necessary.

Step 2: Apply an all over blond color to even everything out.

So, Monday, I apply another We-Swear-You-Need-One-Box-To-Go-From-Black-To-Platinum, avoiding my roots, which were already blonde enough ThankYouVeryMuch.

Still orange.

Tuesday, another box of We-Swear-You-Need-One-Box-To-Go-From-Black-To-Platinum.

Slightly lighter shade of orange.

Wednesday, yet one more box of We-Swear-You-Need-One-Box-To-Go-From-Black-To-Platinum.

The lightest shade of orange yet. By Wednesday evening, it's sort of pumpkin colored in front, and yellowy gold all over. I don't have pictures of this stage, because, frankly I was really too distracted by the actual hair coloring to worry about pictures. But, to give you an idea of how nice it looked, I went to pick up my friend, Elisabeth, for a meeting on Wednesday night, and she opens her door and says, simply, "Ah! Wow!"

It was still very, very awesome hair. All this time, I'm deep conditioning and washing and conditioning with de-brassing products and just trying to be so nice to my hair, because all this bleaching is NOT healthy.

So, I return to the internet and find out that girls who go Gwen Stefani-style blonde use a professional toner.

Thursday morning, I go to Sally Beauty Supply. I walk up to the counter and say to the woman working there, "I'm pretty sure you know what I'm going to ask you." and she replies, without blinking an eye, "You need toner. A purple one will get rid of all that orange for you." and leads me back to pick out what I need.

Toner goes on Thursday night, turning my hair a very alarming shade of purple, but giving me a result of:
Not orange... NOT ORANGE!!!

OK, so it's still not attractive (and these pictures were taken after the gym, so no judging the lack of makeup or the ponytail kinks), but at least it's not orange. Well... except for a few streaks in the back...

Friday I got sick and couldn't bear to do anything, so the hair did not get touched for a whole day.

Saturday, I finally applied the all-over blond color to even things out.
And it worked! It's not the most flattering shade, but it's even, and it's blonde, and it's not even a little bit orange.

The lesson learned here is that after I did the first We-Swear-You-Need-One-Box-To-Go-From-Black-To-Platinum treatment, I should have done a toner right away. I still might have needed another round of each, but it would have saved me time, money and a lot of damage.
Now, the plan is to keep using this shade to touch up my roots for a few months, because I just don't think my hair can handle any more damage to the lengths. I would like it to be a little brighter, but I'm not going to do that until I can cut it, and give it a chance to get healthy again.
Final tally for those who care:
7 days
4 boxes of We-Swear-You-Need-One-Box-To-Go-From-Black-To-Platinum
1 bottle of toner
1 bottle of developer (to make the toner work)
1 box of actual blonde dye
1/2 bottle of de-brassing shampoo
1/2 bottle of de-brassing conditioner
$68

But... I'm blonde again. And I feel so much more comfortable in my own skin this way.