Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Back in the Saddle

For various reasons I haven't been on a horse since November 8. Today's lesson started out pretty shaky. It's frustrating and embarrassing, but I have trouble remembering all the steps and the correct order to tack up. I think part of this is because I am on different horses all the time and they all have their own tack. Some of them wear bell boots (protective covers over their hooves), some of them don't. Some of them wear a martingale, some don't. My trainer has started letting me tack up by myself, she says she forgets that I've only been riding a short while, and today that was definitely not a good idea.

First I put the pads on in the wrong order. It was supposed to be navajo blanket then saddle pad, I did them the other way. Then, while I put the girth on the correct side (with the elastic buckle on the left), I didn't cinch it enough, so when I had to get off so my trainer could fix the pads, the saddle slid off Angel's back and ended up on her side. If a horse could roll her eyes I'm sure she would have. I must have said, "I'm an idiot" about ten times today. Once I got on and started riding things got better. Willow told me not to worry, that at least I hadn't forgotten how to ride. And, I did tie the knot correctly in the halter rope while I was at the washing station. Seriously, there are so many things to learn. That'll teach me to go three weeks between lessons.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Somewhere in Time

D’s now been gone three weeks. Surprisingly, the time has gone quickly, but I think that’s more a function of my life in general. I can barely believe that we are almost to December already, but that’s what the calendar tells me.

I can’t speak for him, but remaining apart after going through emotional turmoil and discord helped me to process what happened in a pure sense, without having him here to add to the layers.

In a big picture sense, it’s very clear to me that we fell into one of many cliché crevices of a long-term relationship: we took each other for granted. We simultaneously underestimated the value of what we had while making the assumption that no matter what happened, the other would always be there. While this episode in no way threatened our marriage, it was a hard lesson learned.

We have a very complicated history. When we met I hadn’t even been married a year but was already miserable. Within six months he was in love with me and told me so, but it took me a long time to fall in love with him, instead of the idea of him. He was my knight in shining armor, the man who was going to save me from my circumstances; he was perfect. So perfect that I didn’t deserve him. We created a dynamic that was so intense that others were uncomfortable around us – it was as if we were giving off sparks. Every hour, every minute, every second that I could steal away to spend with him was magical. The highs were dizzying and the lows were debilitating. It was a classic forbidden love story.

We spoke of the depths of our feelings in grandiose ways; we had known each other forever, literally, we had been lovers in past lives, we wrote poetry. Our sexual connection was mythical. He would nearly cry as he gazed in wonder at my body, the sheer beauty almost too much for him to bear.

Then, after five long years – FIVE YEARS – I made it through to the other side and we could be together without restraint. After a year I moved in with him, to a city far from my comfort zone (and from our places of work), but I hardly noticed the five hours we spent commuting every day, I was beside him so I didn’t care where we were. Of course, the intensity could not and should not have been maintained, but there were still moments of “Somewhere in Time” now and again.

Now here we are, creeping up on 18 years since that fateful day we met.

Holy. 18 years.

We’ve been a legitimate couple for almost 13 years.

We’ve been married for 6½ years.

And I can count on one hand the number of times that we’ve spoken harshly to one another. I have a lot to be thankful for. If I could have bottled what we had back then, I would add just a drop now.

I can’t wait to see the new movie, The Fountain. The idea that love can survive through time and lifetimes is an old theme for us, and I think it will help us to hold each other’s hands just a little tighter.

Jim Croce -- Time In A Bottle mp3
(right click, Save Target As)

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Note to Self

Dear Donna:

Unless you want to suffer like you did last night and then again this morning, this is your official notice that you can no longer drink beer. Especially wheat beer. Dumbass.

Your Gastro Group

I had dinner with the lovely and getting-bigger-by-the-minute Statia last night. She is funny. Damn funny. So damn funny it's a bit of a struggle just to keep up and even be in the same ballpark when it comes to funny. If you ever talk to her, ask her to do her dogs' voices. The Chihuahua routine is fucking hilarious.

From reading her blog I knew that we felt the same way about a lot of things, but talking to her last night about her pregnancy and assvice on parenting made me realize how much we had in common. It was really cool to hear someone who is actually pregnant and is going to have a kid (in March!) spout off about the very same things I would have spouted off about if I had won the baby lottery. At least I know there will be a Mom on the planet yelling, "What the FUCK?" at the same things as I would have. And that's very comforting.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone. I'm thankful for all of you internets.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

The Fifth Horseman

Google is trading at over $500 per share today.

I don't even know what to say about that. Except: dammit, why wouldn't they hire me??

Sunday, November 19, 2006

More Bad News

There’s nothing like a loved one’s medical crisis to throw some cold water on a self-deprecating party.

D’s 86 year-old Mom is in the hospital again, this time she went into kidney failure. What’s even more upsetting is the way things were handled (or not) by the staff at the assisted living facility we moved her to earlier this year.

D’s sister was on the phone with her and asked her to find her doctor’s phone number. Mom put the phone down and never picked it up again, so his sister called the front desk and asked them to go check on Mom. When they went up to her room they found her sitting in her own waste in her chair, semi-conscious. They didn't even call D’s sister back, they just cleaned her up and left her there!!

After a couple of hours his sister called them back and heard the story so she drove to the facility. When she arrived she tried to get Mom to the bathroom but she was so sleepy she could barely stand, so she called a non-emergency ambulance to get her to the hospital. The EMTs were very concerned because her pulse and blood pressure were very low, so they ended up turning on the lights and getting her to the ER. They had her in the ICU overnight but moved her to a regular room this morning. Today she had a blood transfusion and her counts are normal enough that they aren’t going to do dialysis.

Later it came out that the staff did notice that she was a little sleepy the past few days and didn’t want to go to the dining room to eat, but noone alerted family or her doctors. I understand that when you work in a place like she lives you see a lot and probably nothing phases you, but the staff should know enough about each resident to know when something is out of the ordinary for them. What’s the point of living in an assisted living facility if all they do is bring you pills twice a day and make sure you take a shower?

Before all of this happened I had planned to go to a classical choral music concert to hear the lovely and talented Coloratura sing. It was glorious, and I was glad to be lifted by the beauty of the music, if only for a short time. She seemed genuinely touched that I came, and it was also good for me to make someone else’s day.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Dark & Twisty

Just like Meredith, I can’t pull off bright and shiny for long, but I’m very good at dark and twisty. (Incidentally, I don’t think she’s all that dark, but she is twisty.)

I think I’m quite easy to like, but I also think I’m very difficult to love. The more layers I let you see, you see how many more layers there are, and hardly any of them are pretty. Pretty on the outside only makes up for so much – more than it should, frankly.

I always have been and always will be a glass half-empty kind of gal; I have plenty of precedent for this position. Cut flowers and pets always die. I fully and completely expect the worst. I’m a fatalist, a catastrophist, a worse-case scenario proponent. The child’s shoe lying by the side of the freeway can only mean one thing. I’m depressed and anxious. I’m jealous and suspicious. My fragile self-esteem can be vaporized with the smallest slight, real or imagined. I care too much about what others think of me.

And yet, I have wonderful friends, a husband who adores me and the respect of my colleagues. How the hell did this happen?

The painting above is by Regina Lafay, part of a collection of art at the Survivor of Abuse and Trauma Art Gallery; this one is called Anxiety.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

The Unnerving

There have been a few Big Issues gathering steam in the background here in the Cage. I don’t do well when my stability is threatened; in fact, it takes very little to make me stumble and fall, especially when I’m compromised by stress.

The other day something happened with D that toppled me. I’m not going to go into specifics here, but it involved trust and secrets. A dynamic was created that was unnervingly similar to one that happened a lot in my first marriage. Not.a.good.thing.

Last night we talked through it as best we could, although the telephone and the 3 hour time difference made it exceedingly difficult. The wine made it a little less difficult (for me, at least). We both apologized for the hurt we’d caused each other and made compromises on a couple of battleground issues.

I’m deeply grateful that we have the kind of relationship that can bear this level of emotional turmoil, and while I’m not naïve enough to think that our marriage would be totally immune to difficulty, it still sucks.

Monday, November 13, 2006

One Down, Two to Go

It's been a week since D left for NYC. We've been apart before, we've even been this far apart before, but not for this long. Somehow the fact that he is on the other side of the country makes this worse. Perhaps it's because I know I can't just jump in the car and be with him in a few hours. I spent $80 on groceries today, and with the exception of bananas and grapes, almost everything else I bought was in a box or a bag. I'm trying not to eat junk, but I'll be damned if I'm going to make a big fuss just to feed myself.

Most days I get up, work at my home office in my sweats or get ready and drive to a client's office for the day, come home, eat in front of the TV and fall asleep on the couch. I wake up around 2:30 am and go upstairs to bed, where I read for a while to help me get back to sleep. Lather, rinse, repeat.

I've visited friends and gone out to eat, taken riding lessons and shopped. I would have done all of these things if D was here. But he isn't. And the house doesn't feel right. The bed doesn't feel right. I don't feel right.

Should I be embarrassed to admit this?

While I'm at home making permanent butt marks on our couch, my husband is far from home, hooking up with work colleagues, meeting online friends in person and taking martial arts classes.

I'm proud of him for taking advantage of the opportunities that have presented themselves; but I have to admit that right now I'm feeling like I need him a lot more than he needs me.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Be Not Forgotten

I remember as a young girl in the suburbs of Vancouver, on November 11th we would all buy little plastic poppies and wear them on our lapels as we sat in silence for two minutes on the couch watching the Remembrance Day ceremony from the Victory Square Cenotaph. The unveiling ceremony in April 1924 included this timeless plea: “Those whose sacrifices this Cenotaph commemorates, were among the men who, at call of King and Country, left all that was dear, endured hardship, faced danger, and finally passed out of the sight of men by the path of duty, giving their own lives that others might live in freedom. Let those who come after see to it that their names be not forgotten."

We all memorized “In Flanders Fields”, a poem that to this day makes me teary. It was written by Canadian physician Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae on May 3, 1915 after spending 17 days treating men injured in the Ypres battle in Belgium.

In the nearby cemetery, McCrae could see the red poppies that flourished on the newly dug graves. He spent twenty minutes of precious rest time scribbling fifteen lines of verse in a notebook. Dissatisfied with it, McCrae tossed the poem away, but a fellow officer retrieved it and sent it to newspapers in England. The Spectator, in London, rejected it, but Punch published it on December 8, 1915. A portion of the poem is quoted on the Canadian $10 bill.

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Inspired by McCrae's poem, American Moina Michael wrote a poem in response in which she promised to wear a poppy to honor the war dead. She also began to sell poppies to raise money for disabled veterans. After meeting Moina Michael in 1920, French YWCA secretary Madame E. Guerin started selling handmade poppies to raise money for poor children who were living in the aftermath of the Great War. Soon thereafter Field-Marshall Earl Haig, the former British Commander-in-Chief, encouraged the selling of paper poppies to raise funds for veterans. This tradition spread to Canada and then to the United States.

I think one of the subtle but inherent differences between Canada and the US is the underlying military thread that runs through everyday life here. I knew that my grandfather and great-grandfather both served in the Army, but I never saw a commercial telling our young men to join the Armed Forces and knew very few people who were even in ROTC. I’m not inferring that Canadians aren’t proud of their soldiers and sailors, far from it, and they’ve been involved in every major conflict in every corner of the world since WWI. There just isn’t the same emphasis placed on military might.

Remembrance Day in Canada is historically a day to remember those who have fallen in the service of the country, and Veteran’s Day in the US is historically a day to remember those that survived the conflict in which they served. Either way, we have not forgotten, we will never forget, and we wish with all our hearts for the safe return of all the brave men and women still out there in the field.

Monday, November 6, 2006

Things I Didn't Know

Don't worry, I'm not going to list ALL the things I don't know, that would take up way too much space. I was watching VH1's 100 Greatest Songs of the 80s the other night and I was surprised at how little of the trivia I actually knew. Of course, that could be because I wasn't at home looking through books learning about the bands and the songs and what they meant, I was too busy shaking my ass on the speakers. Or, maybe those brain cells were eaten up by all the Long Island Ice Teas.

Anyway, did you know:

That Robert Palmer died in September 2003? I had no idea!

That Devo is from Ohio? And "Whip It" has nothing to do with sado_masochism? And that original band members are working with Disney on a project band called Devo 2.0, where child performers sing their hits?

That "Little Red Corvette" isn't about a car at all? (Prince is talking about her hoo-ha.)

That Berlin broke up because co-founder John Crawford hated the song "Take My Breath Away" (from Top Gun) so much he refused to play it in concert?

That's just off the top of my head, I'm sure there are many more things I don't know.

Sunday, November 5, 2006

More Sunday Ramblings

D left this morning for a business trip. He'll be outside NYC for almost 3 weeks, then he's stopping in Arizona on the way home to spend Thanksgiving with his Dad. I don't do well when he's not here, and the dogs have been moping around all day. The Red Dog refuses to leave the front door, he's waiting for Daddy to come home. The Yellow Dog (my therapy dog, in more ways than one) refuses to leave my side, following me from room to room and quietly laying down at my feet. I'm glad I have them to take care of and to take care of me.

It seems like every song that iTunes is playing tonight involves someone leaving or someone missing their loved one, I suppose it's one of the universal song themes, but damn, sometimes I wonder about the randomness of the music selections, don't you?

Here's a sample of some of the songs it played while I was surfing:
Universal Traveller by Air
I'll Fly Away by Alison Krauss
Where You Lead I Will Follow by Carole King
Leaving on a Jet Plane by Chantal Kreviazuk
My Lagan Love by The Corrs
Until You Come Back to Me by Cyndi Lauper
I Guess That's Why They Call it the Blues by Elton John
Missing by Everything But the Girl
If You Could Read my Mind by Gordon Lightfoot
I Want You Back by The Jackson 5
You're Gonna Make Me Lonesome by Madeleine Peyroux
The Way You Say Goodnight by The Magnetic Fields

We were discussing recently how it drives us crazy when medical shows on TV get medical stuff wrong. The good people at WebMD have a new blog called TV Checkup. It turns out that this week's Grey's got it right about the woman with two uteruses!

"The exact name for this condition depends on what the woman has two of. Some women have double everything - uterus, cervix, and vagina. This is called uterus didelphys. Other women have two uteruses and cervix but only one vagina. This is called uterus duplex bicollis."

Now go to work tomorrow and impress your friends.

I was supposed to go to the last hunter/jumper horse show of the season today in Pebble Beach, but they cancelled it because it rained most of the week and the rings were too muddy and dangerous. I am seriously bummed, but at least I get to ride tomorrow.

My FIL emailed us this delightful photo the other day, you might have seen it since it's floating around the internet right now, but I thought I would share it anyway.

Friday, November 3, 2006

Slaying the Dragon

All of my life I've been afraid of going to the dentist. I'm quite sure the root of the problem lies in my childhood (what else is new). You might think that a child born and raised in Canada would have excellent dental coverage because, isn't it part of the whole universal health care system? Actually, no. And it still isn't, to my knowledge, I'm sure somebody out there will correct me if I'm wrong. Anyway, since we didn't have coverage, the only time any of us went to the dentist was when it was absolutely necessary, as in, emergency. As in, you're in so much pain you don't really remember much about the experience other than it was awful. Not being one to learn a lesson, as an adult I pretty much continued this trend. A decade or more would pass in between visits, and I am not exaggerating.

Nobody in my family has good teeth and I'm no exception. My Dad's teeth were rotting out of his head by his late teens and he had them all pulled in his early 20s and got false teeth. Seeing my Daddy's teeth in a little glass jar next to the bathroom sink was completely normal to me. I don't recall my Mom having any real issues with her teeth, but us kids obviously got our choppers from my Dad's side. I faired better than my other siblings, thankfully, there's always someone worse off than you, right?

When I started my life over at 30, getting my teeth taken care of was one of the things I wanted to change. When I finally went, pretty much the first thing he did was send me to a surgeon to have my wisdom teeth out. All four of them at once. This was not a pleasant experience. The surgeon was a total ass, telling me I should have had them out at 13, not 33, but at least they did IV sedation so I don't remember them wrenching the teeth out of my head. More than 10 years later I still have nerve damage in my lower left jaw, but I've come to terms with the fact that it will probably never feel completely normal.

When I asked D to marry me I decided I wanted to get my front teeth fixed for the wedding. They weren’t that bad, but the two middle teeth overlapped a bit and there wasn’t any way to fix them, so I had the middle four teeth capped. Despite being shocked when I found out he was going to file them down to stubs before putting on the new porcelain versions, I was very happy with the results. Then one of them abscessed. I’d never had this happen before so I didn’t understand what was going on. By the time I made it his office after a weekend of torture the right side of my face was swollen from my eye to my upper lip, my sinus cavity completely filled with infection. Not a pretty sight. This required a prolonged root canal, which of course is a two-step process. Then later that year another one abscessed and I went through the whole thing again, root canal and all.

After that I had what seemed like many more procedures done, and I became able to handle it OK. I wasn’t having panic attacks just calling to make appointments anymore. I thought I had slayed my dragon.

I was wrong.

I got tired of driving an hour to get to my trusted dentist’s office, and I got tired of paying the extra charges because I was being treated out of network, so I switched to a dentist close to home. In case you don’t remember, this happened last year, and now I can’t go back there anymore, and I haven't been to another dentist since. Yes, it's already been a year and a half.

I have two silver crowns on my lower molars that I’ve had since I was in junior high school. They need replacing, not just because they are silver, but because they don’t cover the teeth completely anymore and I have random pain. I’ve been putting this off because there was so many other dental things that were more pressing, but now I am to the point where I really, really need to take care of it. Before he tried to kill me, I had the local dentist request pre-authorization from insurance, which he got, but then I ran out of coverage for last year before he could do it, and then, like I said, he tried to kill me, so I fired him.

My anxiety level about my teeth has been growing. I haven’t said anything about it to D because what was he going to say, except, you need to make an appointment, which I already knew. The other night my anxiety ranneth over and I literally worried myself sick. After we went to bed I couldn’t stop thinking about my teeth. I couldn’t decide if I felt like I was going to pass out or throw up, but I could feel a swell of something and I woke up D to tell him I didn’t feel well. He asked me what was wrong and I completely lost it, sobbing into his chest about how scared I was and how worried I was about my teeth. He’s leaving on Sunday for 3 weeks and I kept thinking this situation was going to turn into an emergency while he was gone. As soon as I started crying and explaining what was really going on in my head, I felt better.

I’ve decided that I need to find a dentist that does oral sedation. Taking a little pill, falling asleep and waking up when everything’s all done seems like the best thing since sliced bread. Unfortunately not many in-network dentists offer it, but I am committed to finding one that does or to forking over the extra money to make it happen. Of course, I haven’t started calling dentists yet.

One step at a time.