30 August 2009


Yesterday was an anniversary of sorts for me.

It marked one year since my father had a massive stroke.

One year ago yesterday morning, he was driving me to the bank. One year ago yesterday afternoon, he would never drive me to the bank again.

He didn't die right away - he lived for another 11 days, first in the neuro ICU at St. Joseph's, then at a hospice in Mesa. But in my mind, he died on the 29th. That was the last day that he was himself. The last day that he was awake.

Yesterday I looked at the clock at 3:45, at 4:30, at 6:15, at 7:20. I could remember clearly what I had been doing a year ago at each time: balancing my checkbook, talking to my mother in hushed tones about what we should do for my dad's headache, calling an ambulance, sitting in the ER at Gilbert Mercy waiting for news.

My mother was waiting for news. I think part of me already knew what the news was. I knew when the paramedics called out his blood pressure - 60 over 40 - that he was gone.

Knowing didn't make it any easier on Monday morning when a doctor, one of my dad's neuro-oncologist's lackeys, told us my dad wasn't going to wake up or recover. Nothing in the world could have made it easier, because they were talking about my father, and telling me he was gone.

I miss him every day.

17 August 2009

Fat Pants

I went shopping recently for a pair of pants.

I had a baby on July 7th, so I’m not even sure why I thought I ought to go shopping for regular pants. It probably would have been more prudent to stick to maternity pants for a few more weeks at least. But I had it in my head that, dang it, I was going to wear pants that button and zip. So I went to the mall.

I went to a department store at first because for one reason or another, probably denial, I thought I had lost a lot of my baby weight. But after forty seconds in the dressing room at Dillard’s, it became abundantly clear that my beluga-sized hips needed a specialty store.

I went to Torrid, which is a store that caters to the not-slim young woman. I haven’t shopped there in years, because I didn’t need to, and because I wore neon the first time it was cool and I don’t see a need to repeat the trend. Neon aside, they do carry jeans in my size so I thought I’d give it a go.

The saleswoman that greeted me looked terribly out of place, because she was … oh, what’s the word … ah, yes. Skinny. I can’t imagine why a skinny woman would want to work in a fat girl’s store. I can only assume she feels some sense of moral superiority to all the pathetic fatties who can’t shop at Abercrombie like she can. Maybe it was my imagination, because of her size, but she seemed kind of condescending, which irked me. I was tempted to asked why she worked there. Torrid starts at a size 12, but if this woman was a size 12 I’ll eat my Spanx.


Skinny Suzy asked if I was looking for anything in particular, which struck me as an odd question because I was standing in front of a wall of jeans. I don’t like having salespeople shadow me while I shop, so I told her I was just looking. She said okay, and left me alone.

I found a few pairs of pants to try on and Skinny Suzy started a dressing room for me … and promptly disappeared. I tried on the pants, and I have to say it’s been a long time since I’ve been quite so offended by the sight of my own body. I dumped the pants on the appropriate rack and went in search of more. Lather, rinse, repeat – try on, make face, dump trousers. On my third trip to the dressing room, Skinny Suzy reappeared.

“How’s it going?” she asked, in the way that one might ask a small child his name.

I smiled tightly. “Not well at all!” I said. Suzy looked stunned.

“Oh. Sorry,” she said, but made no offers of assistance. She seemed surprised I hadn’t given a perfunctory “Great!” Well, if she didn’t want to be verbally abused by fat people, she chose the wrong line of work.

I finally found a single pair of jeans that fit and weren’t a foot too long. But, you know me. I can’t be happy with pants that fit. Because, apparently, at some point in the past few years, clothing manufacturers decided that it is no longer fashionable for a pair of jeans to be uniform in color. The butt looked worn out already and there were some strange light horizontal lines on the upper legs. My mother told me to ignore the irregular wash and buy the jeans, because they fit, and because they buttoned and zipped.

I bought them. Skinny Suzy seemed happy. Probably she was relieved that I wasn’t going to say anything else unexpected. I paid cash, which confused her a little. I don’t mean to malign her cash-handling skills. I don’t imagine she has to deal with paper money very often. When I worked at Horribly Managed Children’s Salon, I got cash so rarely I always had to stop for a moment to remember what to do with it.

Suzy spent a bit more time than one would think necessary to check the fifties I gave her for watermarks. She looked from me to the cash once or twice, as though she had some sort of x-ray vision that allowed her to spot counterfeiters. I’m used to that, because I have what I like to refer to as Dorian Gray syndrome, which is to say that I haven’t aged since 1997. Salespeople are naturally distrustful of teenagers. I can’t blame them. I don’t like teenagers either. I didn’t like teenagers when I was a teenager.

So, I have normal pants now, pants that zip and snap. They fit well, and although they are 4 inches too long (as are most pants labeled Size X Short), I do like them. I put them on out of the dryer this afternoon. And you know what?

I miss my maternity pants.

13 August 2009

It’s that time again, boys and girls!

It’s been well over a month since the last list, so here we are: things that are bothering me right now!

-What is the point of a heat advisory in the Phoenix area? It’s Phoenix. It’s hot. Don’t we all know that? But Jill, you might say (which would be stupid because I can’t hear you), sometimes it gets a bit hotter than normal, and people need to know to stay indoors. To which I say (or I would, if I’d heard you object), is 114* really that much more dangerous than 110? Do the risks of heat rise exponentially with every degree of heat over 109? And do people really need to be told to stay inside when it’s really, really hot? I think that if you don’t know that, that if you’re the sort of person who would cheerfully go for a run when it’s hot enough to fry eggs on the sidewalk, this is what’s known as natural selection. Survival of the smart-enough-to-avoid-heat-stroke.
-When someone admits to being an unapologetic (fill-in-the-blank), it tends to be the sort of thing for which they should probably consider apologizing.
-I’m never sure whether, when writing, I should use the passive voice or end a sentence with a preposition.
-Ninety-five percent of the American population wouldn’t know a preposition if it bit them in the collective arse.
-The difference between a perfectly browned grilled cheese sandwich and a blackened mess seems to be about ten seconds. Maybe it’s my stove. Maybe I’m too bloody stupid to make a grilled cheese sandwich. Either way, I’m irked.
-I want to smack the next person to speak or write the phrase “natural childbirth.” Ten times out of ten these people think that childbirth is only natural if it’s drug-free, and that the only admirable, good, acceptable birth is a natural one - otherwise, you have failed as a woman. I had an IV painkiller and an epidural and finally a C-section because my body didn’t want to birth a baby. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that and I’m sick of certain people judging me for not wanting to be in excruciating pain. They’ll say that drugs aren’t good for the baby. Well how the hell is my suffering and being exhausted any good for the baby? I got drugged and I got sliced and my baby was pink and healthy and aced her APGAR. I’ll probably blog about all this later because it really bothers me.
-I watched a few episodes of “Toddlers & Tiaras” last Saturday. The fact that this show exists at all just kills me. (In my defense, there wasn’t anything else on TV.)
-The media seem incapable of using the right words when discussing Twitter. The verb is “tweet,” not “twitter.”
-The fact that the preceding bothers me, bothers me.
-My neighbors’ dogs are at it again, which mystifies me. Doesn’t the barking at 3am bother them, too? Because it sure as heck bothers me. I need to replace the battery in my Dog Silencer Pro, and all will be right with the world again.
-A few days ago “Access Hollywood” named Madonna as one of the sexiest women over 40 in show business. They said she had the body of a woman half her age, or something like that. This makes me wonder if they have seen Madonna lately, because as near as I can tell she has the body of a med school skeleton.
-I had a funnier comparison than “med school skeleton” yesterday but I’ve forgotten what it was.
-I have the Stanley Steemer jingle stuck in my head.
-I’m not very funny anymore.

09 August 2009

Happy? Birthday.

Today is my dad's 53rd birthday.

I remember his 51st birthday. It is, in fact, seared into my memory more clearly than almost any other day of my life. That was the day we found out he had a brain tumor.

I remember his 52nd birthday as well, although not quite so clearly because it was a good day. My mom had made a banana-flavored cake and my dad had finally found a good pair of non-bulky cargo pants at Mervyn's. We talked about the year before and how this birthday - and every birthday after it - were, by default, better than the year before, because what's worse than a cancer diagnosis?

We found out the next day: a terminal cancer diagnosis. They gave him three months. He got three weeks. And suddenly my dad's 51st birthday seemed like a great day, because he had been alive. Now every birthday after his 52nd is, by default, worse, because it means that nearly a year has gone by without him, and there are days when that thought alone is almost too much to bear.

I hate that all these thoughts come up on his birthday. I hate that I can't just take this day to be happy that he was born, happy that I had him as long as I did. I know there are people worse off than I am, people whose fathers died younger and more tragically than did mine.

But he was my daddy, and he is gone, and I miss him, and today is his birthday. It's hard to think of anyone, and anything, else.

03 August 2009

Ripped pants and other occupational hazards

I have a confession to make.

I have been doing something lately that I am in no way proud of, and I'm not even sure I should admit to it.

I have been watching "SpongeBob SquarePants." A lot.

I used to hate SpongeBob. I first watched the show when I worked for the Horribly Managed Children's Salon. I had heard of SpongeBob but hadn't been subjected to the questionable humor and inane story lines. Then came HMCS and their DVD collection, which included one disc of SpongeBob. You'd think that only one DVD would be a godsend, but the fact is I'd have been happier with about twenty SpongeBob DVDs. The fact that there was only one meant I had to watch the same ten episodes over and over, and mostly I only saw the first one on the disc ("Ripped Pants," in case you were wondering) because every kid wanted to watch it from the beginning.

I began to loathe SpongeBob. I found myself suggesting other shows to children, hoping against hope that even one of them that I talked to would choose something that would offend my ears less, like, say, fingernails on a chalkboard. But I was never able to talk more than one child out of watching it in the nearly two years I spent at HMCS.

I was terribly relieved, therefore, when HMCS got another SpongeBob DVD. At last, I thought, new episodes to get sick of. I eagerly slid the disc into the DVD player, wondering what childish adventures awaited me. I'm sure you can guess what came on, though.

That's right. "Ripped Pants." It was the first episode on this DVD as well. I think a little part of me died that day. Incidentally, during the time I worked for HMCS, I did tune in to SpongeBob at home once. The episode that aired was "Ripped Pants."

So, how did I end up watching SpongeBob SquarePants voluntarily; purposely? Well, the problem is that if you don't watch Oprah or soap operas, daytime and afternoon TV is a scary, boring place. SpongeBob is one of the more sane, normal, entertaining programs on the air between 2 and 7 or so. When I channel-surfed last week, my best TV prospects were a fishing show, a Bruce Willis movie dubbed (poorly) into Spanish, a show about people who had things left in them after surgery, and (I wish I was making this up) a cartoon of the crucifixion. Yes, that crucifixion.

Can you blame me for taking refuge in Bikini Bottom? No, it's not the smartest show on TV. It isn't even *a* smart show. But things could be worse. I could still work at HMCS. Frankly, ripped pants were the least of my worries there. I was about as happy there as Squidward at the Krusty Krab.

Did I really just compare myself to Squidward? I think I've been thinking too much. I need a TV break. I think there's an episode of SpongeBob on ...

I still have all of "Ripped Pants" memorized, for the record.