Wednesday, September 27, 2006

I'm Ready for My Close-Up

I have another post brewing which I may post later today, but I wanted to get this up here before I lose my nerve...a few weeks ago D videotaped a riding lesson and I've managed to make a little music video out of it. The song is Lucinda Williams' "Can't Let Go", which I thought was most appropriate. There are a couple of times when my little horse Smoke is right with the beat. Instead of embedding the video from YouTube I'll just give you the link, I've heard that takes up a lot of bandwidth.

Donna's Riding Video

Please be kind, and remember that I was an absolute beginner when I started lessons in June, and that I've had about 15 one-hour lessons so far.

This week's lesson was on Angel, one of the two horses I like to call "steam engines", because once you get them going they just keep on going, and at every forward stride they make a snorting sound that sounds like a train. I was on a bareback pad with an equestrian vaulting surcingle (I'm sure there are a couple of you out there who know what that is), and Angel was on a longe line, so I didn't have to think about anything at the canter except my technique. Well, obviously my technique needs work, as I ended up with a blister right in the middle of my left palm. It burst, and now I look like I have stigmata. Also, a nice bruise on the inside of my right thigh from bumping up against the surcingle. Nobody can say I ain't tryin!

Friday, September 22, 2006

Picks & Pans

There’s nothing like two hours of Grey’s Anatomy to make a girl feel better. Lord help me, I do adore Patrick Dempsey. I don’t love him, that would be stupid to say, I’ve never met the man, but I do adore him -- he is so completely adorable. Patrick and his second wife Jillian have a daughter named Tallulah Fyfe, born in January 2002. On Live With Regis and Kelly the other day, he revealed that he and his wife are having twin boys. I am thankful that the next generation with have two McDreamy's to swoon over.

What are you watching on TV this new fall season? Not all the new shows have been on yet but I’ve caught several.

I’ve only seen the pilot of Vanished but I enjoyed that, I’ve got another on DVR to watch. I LOVED Studio 60! The team of Matthew Perry and Bradley Whitford is brilliant, the writing is quick and witty and I care about all the characters already. Definitely a must-watch. I was disappointed with Justice, I had high hopes for Victor Garber's new show. In the pilot it seemed like everyone was overacting, and seeing what really happened at the end of the show wasn't as dramatic as it should have been, since the lawyers had figured out it out EXACTLY. Standoff is OK, it might grow on me, and there aren’t any conflicts with watching it so I will probably continue. I’m a big Ray Liotta fan and was happy to see him on TV, the pilot of Smith was fast-paced and slick, I’ll be back for more of Ray. Last night I tried to watch Shark but after Grey’s Anatomy I couldn’t focus on it and I got bored and didn’t watch the ending. I’ll give it another shot.

What am I missing that I should be watching? These are just the new shows, I’m still watching Grey’s, MI-5, Nip/Tuck, NCIS, Bones, Lost, Criminal Minds, CSI (original & NY), Crossing Jordan, Las Vegas, Numbers, Amazing Race, Desperate Housewives and Without a Trace. Yes, I do have a life off my couch! I tape most things and watch them when there isn’t anything else on. D is out of town for a week so I have a lot of time on my hands.

When we were on the houseboat we watched both Underworld movies, which if you aren’t familiar, star Kate Beckinsale as a vampire who kills werewolves with kick-ass weapons while wearing a skin-tight patent leather cat-suit. Yeah, you get the idea. A little too much violence and not enough substance for me, but they were good escapism flicks. We also made the grave decision to watch Colin Ferrell’s The New World. JE-SUS - that was the slowest movie ever made. Three quarters of the way through they finally get to England and the story goes from unbearably to only excruciatingly slow. There was some terrific cinematography and we appreciated the attention to detail with the Indian tribe at the Jametown settlement, but it was told from a blade of grass’ perspective. Unless you are suffering from severe insomnia, do not rent this movie.

On to books. While on vacation I finished reading Brenda Rickman Vantrease’s The Illuminator. As with many books I’ve read, the story started out strong and I cared about the characters, but by the end the author had apparently run out of ideas and tries too hard to wrap things up too quickly. In the end I felt the book was about how shitty it was to live in the late 14th century in Europe, especially if you are a woman. If you’ve read The Birth of Venus, it reminded me a lot of that. I also read Jasper Fforde’s first Thursday Next novel, The Eyre Affair. The premise of this book intrigued me, and while there were several clever plot points, in the end it wasn’t meaty enough for my tastes. With characters named Braxton Hicks and Jack Schitt (I kid you not), it was hard to take anything that happened very seriously. But, if you are looking for a quick easy read with a literary twist, you might enjoy it. I also re-read Anita Shreve’s The Weight of Water. I didn’t realize that I had read it before until I started, but I didn’t remember the salient point (who dunnit) so I still enjoyed it. I just started Sarah Waters’ Affinity and I’m finding it hard to get into. This one, like Tipping the Velvet, which I read last year, is another Elizabethan lesbian novel, only this one takes place in a prison. I’ll do a full review once I’m done.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

The Diamonds On My Tiara

Jesus, I am such an asshole sometimes. Oh poor me, I wasn’t feeling very well during my vacation. On a houseboat. On a beautiful lake. With my best friends and my husband and my dogs. Oh poor fucking me. One of the diamonds on my tiara is loose, whatever is a girl to do?

First, I have to apologize to the Blond Family. What the fuck do I know about a kindergarten boy? Nada, zip, zero. Yes, he can be exasperating, but I’m pretty sure that’s pretty normal. What right do I have to wish they didn’t have to have him there for the entire vacation? None. What a selfish bitch I can be. If we had a kid OF COURSE we would have brought them. We brought our dogs without asking them.

Where is all this self-loathing and acid coming from? I’m mad at the world.

In the last couple of days we gleefully sent out a link to our vacation pictures to all our friends and family. This morning I got a message from our dear friends in the UK – they lost their new baby over the weekend and promised to be back online after the funeral next week. I am crushed. Obviously I could not have known what they were going through when I sent the pictures (I didn’t even know they were expecting) but I can’t lose this bile in my throat.

I am so very lucky, and I need to stop taking that for granted.

Alison Krauss -- The Scarlet Tide mp3 -- from Cold Mountain

Monday, September 18, 2006

On the Lake

The houseboat trip went well. It could have been better. Boats are fickle beasts, and we had our share of issues with the runabout and one of the skis, but by the end of the week everything was working properly. One of the two fridges on the boat didn't work very well. The weather was really beautiful the first few days, then one really hot day, then it started to cool off and get really windy by the end of the week. Of course, on Saturday as we were docking the houseboat and getting all our stuff out to go home, it was again perfect.

I wasn’t feeling 100% the entire week. Part of this was not getting enough sleep. Between the cries of a 5 year-old in the middle of the night and dogs barking early in the morning and the constant noises associated with being on a boat, I felt tired most of the time. Daily naps helped but I’m sure I still ended the week with a sleep debt. We decided to bring our dogs at the last minute instead of paying $350 for a pet-sitter. They have a great time and we were glad we brought them.

My hormones continue to wreak havoc on my emotions and my physical well-being, and vacation didn’t stop this phenomenon. Wonder Boy with cast who couldn’t get wet didn’t have a good week. Or maybe he did, I'm not a good judge of that. I'm sure like any little boy, he can be annoying and manipulative and a plain brat, but he can also be loving and funny and smart. You would have thought by the fourth day of non-stop 5 year-old boy that I would be thinking, Geez, maybe it’s a good thing we didn’t have a baby after all. Yeah, that would have made some sense. Instead, I had a meltdown and sobbed. I’m riding my ski and crying, hoping that nobody will notice, but I had to stop and wipe the tears away so I could see where I was going. Wonder Boy is out skiing with his Mom and makes her pull close to me to ask if I am OK, which just makes me cry even more. D stops on his ski and I ask him how much longer I am going to be sad about this. He tells me we are getting there. This wound will never heal completely, I suppose.

All week long I am struck by the fact that the Blond Family is just that, a family. I watch the three of them on one ski, their symmetry and likenesses undeniable. D and I are a couple. Which isn’t necessarily a lesser thing, it’s just different.

Anyway, I had never been to Shasta and was pleasantly surprised at how clean the water was, how beautiful the scenery and how much wildlife there was. We saw a golden eagle, blue herons, tons of bats, blacktail deer and fish jump. We saw black bear tracks but thankfully didn’t run into any live ones.

We live in a densely wooded area and I found being out in the open very satisfying. As the day wears on the sun throws different colored paths of glitter onto the water: white in the morning, gold in the afternoon and pink or orange in the early evening. In spots the water was so clear and calm the reflection of the clouds on the surface made it seem like I was flying instead of skiing. Here are some pictures for your viewing pleasure.

Thursday, September 7, 2006

Better Days

This has not been a good week. I won't bore you with the gory details, suffice it to say my car is in the shop (again) and one of our dogs had to make a trip to the emergency vet (again).

I've been driving a rental since Tuesday but I should be able to pick up my car tomorrow. I picked up over $250 worth of dog medicine today, and that was after D shelled out over twice that at the vet's yesterday. Ka-ching.

The dog is going to be fine. My car is going to be fine. I am going to be fine. Deep breath.

Saturday morning we leave for a long-planned weeks' vacation on a houseboat on Lake Shasta. This will be our third houseboat trip but my first time to this location. We're sharing the boat with our best friends and Wonder Boy, who has a cast on his right arm and therefore cannot go in the water. What a huge bummer, being 5, on a houseboat for a week and not being able to get wet. D's son and grandson are hoping to join us for a day or two, so at least Wonder Boy will have a small playmate for part of the time.

If things go as planned I will be doing plenty of nothing for a week. And by nothing I mean reading, listening to music, eating, drinking and playing on my jet ski. I will take lots of pictures to share with you all. In the meantime, here are a few of where we're going, where we're staying and what I'll be doing.

Yes, that is the actual boat we are renting, and yes, I am going very fast in this picture. Catch me if you can.

Sunday, September 3, 2006

When did THIS happen?

I’m still very involved in the lives of many friends who are still trying to have a baby. I wish them all success, but I have to say I am glad that I’m not living in that space anymore. In early 2005 we pushed forward with our last IUIs (our 15th and 16th) even though the injectible drugs had little effect on follicle production and my hormone levels weren’t near where they needed to be. In fact, based on my abysmal FSH level and the lack of response to the drugs, my doctor spoke these words I will never forget: I don’t think you’re ovulating anymore, it looks like you’ve entered perimenopause. Just a few months before he was still a cheerleader for our success, now he was basically saying I should hang it up. Which we did. Not easily and not without a lot of sadness, but since we had agreed up front we weren’t going to do IVF, this was the end of the road.

Since then and especially in the last 3 months or so, the symptoms have been piling up. Since September is Menopause Awareness Month (like we need to be more aware?) I started doing a little research on this, my latest albatross. According to experts, there are at least 35 known symptoms of menopause or perimenopause:

1. Hot flashes, flushes, night sweats and/or cold flashes, clammy feeling
2. Bouts of rapid heart beat
3. Irritability
4. Mood swings, sudden tears
5. Trouble sleeping through the night (with or without night sweats)
6. Irregular periods; shorter, lighter periods; heavier periods, flooding; phantom periods, shorter cycles, longer cycles
7. Loss of libido
8. Dry vagina
9. Crashing fatigue
10.Anxiety, feeling ill at ease
11.Feelings of dread, apprehension, doom
12.Difficulty concentrating, disorientation, mental confusion
13.Disturbing memory lapses and simple forgetfulness
14.Incontinence, especially upon sneezing or laughing; urge incontinence
15.Itchy, crawly skin
16.Aching, sore joints, muscles and tendons
17.Increased tension in muscles
18.Breast tenderness
19.Headache change: increase or decrease
20.Gastrointestinal distress, indigestion, flatulence, gas pain, nausea
21.Sudden bouts of bloat
23.Exacerbation of existing conditions
24.Increase in allergies
25.Weight gain
26.Hair loss or thinning, head, pubic, or whole body; increase in facial hair
27.Dizziness, light-headedness, episodes of loss of balance
28.Changes in body odor
29.Electric shock sensation under the skin and in the head
30.Tingling in the extremities
31.Gum problems, increased bleeding
32.Burning tongue, burning roof of mouth, bad taste in mouth, change in breath odor 33.Osteoporosis (after several years)
34.Changes in fingernails (or toenails): softer, crack or break easier
35.Tinnitus: ringing in ears, bells, 'whooshing' buzzing etc.

I have 25 of these. 25! I am only 42, how is that possible? I can’t look to family history for guidance, since my mother had a complete (and probably completely medically unnecessary) hysterectomy in her mid-30s. If I am going to be suffering all these slings and arrows I would like to request that my period just stop all together. It has been getting shorter and lighter, but even that feeds the evil endometriosis monster. Seriously, who do I talk to about this? Doctor Ruth?

Because this is such a fun topic and we all need to laugh at ourselves in a public forum, there is (of course), Menopause The Musical. In Canada it’s called Menopause Out Loud due to some copyright issue, I think it’s still playing in Toronto.

From the National Post: “The baby-boomer tuner features four characters named Earth Mother, Iowa Housewife, Soap Star and Power Woman (actresses Nicole Robert, Rose Ryan, Jayne Lewis and Cynthia Jones) singing and dancing about hot flashes and mood swings via re-lyricized pop tunes from the '60s, '70s and '80s. Stayin' Alive becomes Stayin' Awake. Puff the Magic Dragon becomes Puff, My God, I'm Dragging. And then there's Looking for Food in All the Wrong Places."

If I rolled my eyes any harder I would cause a migraine, so I am going to stop reading about it now.

I also ran across this article in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch about a book recently published called “The Female Brain” written by Dr. Louann Brizendine.

She says, “Women have these extra “antenna” almost sticking out the sides of their cheeks and ears for emotional details and emotional nuance, and their brains are always feeling for emotional information at a level that men can’t even perceive. Therefore, things she may think are very important, he misses completely. Also, there are new things [in the book] about the mature female brain, when a woman’s brain circuit becomes fired up with doing her own thing. Her antenna for emotional information about the needs of others wilts a little, and she forges ahead with her own life.”

If I’m reading this correctly, she is saying that estrogen = empathy. No wonder I just don’t care anymore and have become so focused on making sure me and my needs are taken care of. See, there’s that silver lining.

On a totally unrelated topic, I am very excited that the Nip/Tuck season premier is on Tuesday! Julian McMahon is near the top of my list. You know what I mean.