Sunday, March 30, 2014

In Spike

I don't know why it is, but I really enjoy that when an orchid is getting ready to shoot out a stalk which will eventually get flowers on it, you can say that it is "spiking" or "in spike." As if there is something active, tumultuous, possibly almost violent, happening - which will eventually result in beauty.

Okay, so I'm not a botanist, or an orchid-ologist, or anything like that. Before I met Christopher I'd only had one other friend who had orchids. Otherwise, all the orchids I'd ever seen were in corsages. 

So I may be totally off on the actual terminology. 

But that is what, somewhere along the line, I seem to remember it being called. So that's what I call it. 

But that's all beside the point. 

My point is that when an orchid is getting ready to bloom, it first starts with this really innocuous looking little stalk. Sometimes it looks like just a twig. Sometimes it looks like it could be a weirdly-place root. But, eventually, it becomes a flower spike, and - if all goes well - in a few weeks (or so) there will be a flower. Hopefully, there will actually be multiple flowers at that point. 

We have an orchid which is sitting in a kitchen window and has just the very slightest little nub coming out from between two leaves. While the rest of our yard is still half covered in snow - and while we're not expecting anything green or flowery for a while - we've got the promise of something blooming in the kitchen. 

Yes, it's going to take weeks for it to bloom - by which time the yard might actually green up, and trees might leaf, and early flowers might break out - but for now it is the only growing thing we have. So you can bet that every morning I'll be looking at it, checking to see how much the spike has grown. 

Hopefully, by the time it flowers, the whole out-of-doors will be in spike, too. 

Friday, March 28, 2014

When the Ads are Full of Minuses

Is it just me, or are most of the TV ads this year really kind of wonky?

I keep seeing all these ads talking about getting out and enjoying the spring weather. While it's snowing.

I'm seeing ads for swimsuits, when the only water outside is frozen.

And now there are all sorts of gardening ads, when I still can't even get into the backyard because there is still a two-foot mound of snow between the back door and the planting beds.

Yes, I know that the ads are set out nationally, so they may apply in some places.

And, yes, I know that in some cases we're supposed to be planning ahead for the spring and summer (as in "start planning your garden now" or "plant your starter seeds now" or "buy the swimsuit and start losing weight so you can fit into it now").

But there are days when it kind of feels like the advertisers are mocking us all, complete with thumb to nose and tongue out.

I have heard a couple of ads, though, where reference is made to winter never leaving, and spring being late. And, you know, those are the companies I plan to shop at - at least for the next couple of weeks until the weather catches up to the rest of the ads.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Dream a Little Dream

I wish that, when I went to bed at night, I could be guaranteed that I could dream a little dream.

Which is not to say that I don't dream. In fact, it's kind of the opposite of that.

You see, when I'm sleeping, assuming that I have any memorable dreams at all, I tend to dream BIG dreams.

Whenever I tell people that, they always assume that I mean that I'm having nightmares. But I don't remember the last time I had an actual nightmare. I mean... I have some dreams where I'm in a strange situation and things are weird in unexpected ways, and I guess some people would probably say those are nightmares, but most of the time I just kind of wake up from those and they fade away and life is good.

Instead, though, I tend to have dreams that seem to go on for hours. They start out as one thing, then morph into something else, and end hours later with me waking up exhausted.

About three nights ago, I woke up with the memory of coloring coloring books and - once they were colored in - the lines were able to be used for a toy train set to drive along.

Seriously. That's what I woke up after. I mean... It was happy, and I woke up happy about it, but that was only the end of the dream and I know that there was a lot that came before it, and I was just pooped when I woke up and wanted a nap.

Two nights ago, there was a whole series of dreams about things like moving into a dorm and having to find the right place to put my clothes and - at some point - I think John Barrowman showed up, actually - there was a great big song and dance event. Not a staged number, but also not a party. Just a big, choreographed - yet totally spontaneous - dance number. With about 20 people. In the dormroom. You know. Like you do.

At which point my alarm went off. And then Christopher (who is almost always up before me during the week) asked me how I was feeling, and I said "exhausted," and he asked if I'd slept okay, and I said "I was having massive dreams again," and he just kind of looked at me and shook his head and I could tell the wheels were spinning debating whether or not to ask me about them. Because, you see, I've been having massive dreams forever, and over time he's gotten kind of used to me saying that.

And I'm not going to lie - I tend to enjoy most of them at this point.

I just sorta wish that I could have a couple of nights where I dreamt that I was having a good night's sleep.

Monday, March 24, 2014

...Or Not

Remember how, on Saturday, I commented that the cold temps weren't so bad, because it has been so sunny?

Today was not sunny.

In fact, when I took the pup out for her walk this morning, there were these amazing huge snowflakes, just kind of "one over here"... "one over there." It was kind of "Hollywood pretty" as a friend called it.

And it continued all the way to work. Then it snowed off and on all day.

The drive home was chilly, grey, and the wind was strong enough that there were huge swirls of snow coming off the new yards in the neighborhood.

Yes, when I drove to book club this evening, there was plenty of sun to make me have to put my visor down so I could see. But it didn't do anything for warmth - either in temperature or in spirit.

Tomorrow, it's not supposed to get out of the low 20s. (Average highs - upper 40s.)

I'm trying really hard to focus on the fact that the sun is supposed to be out tomorrow, and that will help. But... geez... I don't know how much more of this I can take.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Then There Was Light

It is not, as you may have heard, warm in Minneapolis this first weekend in spring. In fact, it's about 20 degrees colder than the averages indicate it "ought" to be.

Yet, the snow continues to melt - even on days when the high temperature is only in the mid-20s. Why? Because of the sunlight.

For the same reason, there are birds migrating north, and spring birds beginning to show up in the yard.

The trees have begun to swell. Not exactly budding, yet, but swelling, in anticipation of the warmer, brighter days.

I won't lie and say that the longer days are enough. I won't say that I can deal with the chill in the air just because the sun is higher in the sky.

And yet... Where there's light, there's hope.

And I'm ready to grab hold of that hope with both hands and hold on for dear life. Because after this winter, I think my life truly might depend on some warm, sunny days showing up soon.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

I Should Be Reading

Aside from working a job where I read manuscripts all day, I'm also in a book club.

So, every 6 weeks or so I need to read a book outside of work. Usually, this is not a problem. Sometimes it is.

At the moment, I'm about halfway through the book that needs to be completed for book club on Monday night.

Which means that I need to get off the computer and go do some reading.

Oh. Right. To do that I need to actually... you know... get off the computer.

I'll be back soon - hopefully after I get my homework done.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

If You Can't Say Something Nice...

A lot of news (or at least "Internet news") in the past few days has focused on the fact that Fred Phelps, the founder of the hatemongering Westboro Baptist Church may be dying.

There are basically two camps in the things I've seen.

There are the people who think that his funeral should be a place for joyful protest - lots of rainbows and glitter, and kind of a "nyah nyah, you're dead" party. (The irony of "Ding Dong the Witch is Dead" being sung outside the funeral seems like a fun idea on some level, I'm sure.)

There are also the people who think that we should kind of forgive and forget and pray for his soul to find peace of some kind, since he was obviously a tormented person to say and do the things he's espoused.

Sure, there are some people with other views. I saw a comment, recently, that said that we should all simply find peace in knowing that a just God will put him in the level of hell he most deserves for what he has done to people. And while I'm kind of in favor of that view, I also realize that finding peace without taking action can be hard.

It seems that we all kind of want resolution. We want the final moment on the screen when the two lovers are reunited in one final kiss. We want the bad guy to get his comeuppance and end up on the wrong end of a light saber. We want the catharsis that comes with taking one last parting shot, and getting in the last word.

Maybe it's an American thing. I mean... European movies are much more frequently ambiguous at the end. The hero and the heroine walk out the wrong doors and miss each other at the train station in French films. The bad guy gets away. The last word is swept away by a gust of wind and no one hears it. The only movies that end without resolution in the States tend to be horror movies which are left open-ended for the sake of sequels - which doesn't exactly lend the audience a sense of peace.

So I understand how we all want the death of Fred Phelps to be something we can point to and say "See? It's over. Done. The end."

But he wasn't alone. He was the head of a church with a full congregation. When he was out being crazy and picketing military funerals, there were lines of people with him. Sure, he was the head of it all, but there was also an "it all" that he was head of. And so this story - just like the horror movies - will continue. Without it's speaker it might be quieter, but this will not be the sudden end of the story. So we'll deal with someone else tomorrow. And the day after that. And the day after that. And we'll just hope that the voices of hatred eventually fade away.

First, though, we have to address the matter at hand: What to do when he dies.

As with any obituary, if and when I see his, I'll probably look to see where he came from, who his family was, who he leaves behind. And I'll feel sorry for them in their loss. I won't rend my garments and wail. I won't throw confetti. But I also know that I don't have it in me to forgive that much hatred all at once. Forget, though... With some time, that might be possible.

And can you imagine how much it must piss someone like that off to know that he might be forgotten? To know that all of the energy he put out into the world just dissipates into nothingness? When the loudest person in the room finds out that the quiet voice wins... that's gotta just be annoying as all hell.

So, personally, when I hear that he has died, I plan to do what I do every day. I plan to annoy the hell out of him and the people who are like him by quietly (well, relatively quietly) living my life. By sharing a home with Christopher. By doing my best to care for the people with whom I share this world. And by not giving him the satisfaction of being talked about except as a cautionary tale or the footnote to some answer in a trivia game.

(For the record, I'm happy to say that I spelled "comeuppance" right, even though I know it looks really weird.)

Sunday, March 16, 2014

About That Spoonful of Sugar

You know the saying "A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down"? Well, that's been exceedingly true for me the past few weeks.

With all of the antibiotics I've been taking, there's always the caveat of taking it after you've eaten something - or with milk. Well... As much as I like milk, I don't have any of it at work. So for the past few weeks, I've been having to find something to eat for breakfast... and lunch... and late in the evening.

Now, to be honest, the lunch one wasn't that difficult, because I do eat lunch every day - and because the latest antibiotics for my jaw weirdness haven't required a mid-day dose.

The breakfast one also wasn't too bad. The surgery follow-up person was very specific about how I needed to eat breakfast, first, then brush my teeth and swish around a mouth rinse, and then not eat or drink anything for at least half an hour. The pharmacist told me the same thing. I didn't have the heart to tell either of them that I don't eat breakfast until I'm at work, so the brushing and swishing would take place at home - easily at least half an hour before breakfast, which has been immediately followed by antibiotics.

The late-evening dose, though, always gives me trouble. Because, yes, I could just drink a glass of milk - and I often do have milk before bed - but sometimes that's just not enough in the stomach for the pill. So there needs to be some food. But most savory food just doesn't hit the spot at 9 at night. Which is where the spoonful of sugar comes into play. Not a literal spoonful of sugar, mind you, but... well... tonight it was a couple of chocolate chip cookies. Thursday night it was a leftover piece of pie.

As much as these antibiotics can really play havoc with your stomach, I suspect that if I don't get off of them soon the primary havoc they're going to cause will be with my waistline.

Friday, March 14, 2014

There Are Moments

There are moments when you stare at your work and think "Why am I doing this?" And, some weeks there are a lot of those. And, unfortunately, some months there are a lot of those weeks, as well.

And I wish I had something to add to that to turn it all around and say that things are amazing and I love my job and blah blah blah. But I don't. At least not today.

On the other hand, though, there are those moments when you see your friends doing something and, instead of getting hit with a jealous moment of "Why does my life suck so much when his is so grand?" you sit back and think "Holy crap. That's amazing. She's amazing. I'm so freakin' lucky to know her."

I'm very happy to say that I kind of try to cultivate those moments (the latter, not the former). I try to focus on the moments when something is going really well for my friends and point them out to myself and think "Life is good. Just look at that. That's proof that life does not suck."

I feel that way when I go to weddings. And I usually cry, as a result of the amount of "How cool is that?" that I feel.

And I try really hard to feel that way when I hear of people getting new jobs - even if there may be a part of me that is a little jealous (and frustrated because I haven't won the lottery, yet).

As someone who has spent a decent amount of his life in and around the Arts, though, I find myself really excited when someone does something artistic. I may not understand why or how it was done. I may not fully grasp the artistic expression I feel like I'm supposed to be seeing. But there is something oddly tactile about seeing something artistic come to fruition.

This is true of reading something a friend has written, or looking at a painting or photograph someone has created. And - I think because it envelopes so many senses - it's especially true when I watch a performance. Whether the person I know was backstage, or on stage, there is a rush of pride in knowing that I know that person.

I don't get that rush when I see most "famous" people perform live. I'm not, typically, the groupie type for people I don't know (okay... John Barrowman book signing notwithstanding). But for people I do know, I can be a serious contender for Number Four Groupie. (I'd say "Number One Groupie", but unless Christopher is the one doing whatever it is, I'm probably not the first person on the list - I'm way too midwestern for that.)

So, when the moments come along when I get to see someone and point to him and say "I met him a few times, he's a friend of my friend - although he'd have no idea who I am" (as in the case of Andy Karl who is currently starring on Broadway in the musical adaptation of Rocky - yes, that Rocky), that kind of thing makes me happy.

When I can post on Facebook that people should really go see a local production of a show no one has ever heard of because someone I know - who also knows me - is involved, that makes me even happier. Or when, last summer for instance, I got to watch one of my best friends sing in a concert half a world away thanks to the miracles of the Internet - that's decidedly tear-worthy, even if it happens in the middle of the day at work.

And then there are moments like the one I had yesterday. When a friend of mine - who also knows me - showed up on Good Morning America to sing as part of the cast of the new Broadway revival of Les Miserables... and I got to watch that from halfway across the country and know that it was a good thing... those are good moments. (Oh... When you watch the Les Mis video - which you really should do - my friend is the brunette in the grey jacket and brown skirt who shows up behind the guy in the blue jacket when the whole cast rushes the stage at about 1m37s, and she's in the front row on the left of the screen toward the end of it - the sound quality isn't great on this, but it's the only version of it I could find that I could easily link to.)

Moments like that almost make the moments when I'm staring at my work and wondering what the heck I'm doing worthwhile. Or at least they make me start thinking more about what I need to work at to make my work feel more worthwhile. So that maybe, someday, I'll have my own Groupie Number 4.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Day 9 - Thai

I realized that I hadn't updated you on my jaw, lately. In part, I have to admit, because there's not much to update. It's rather annoyingly just... there.

I saw the oral surgeon on Monday, in what will - apparently - become a weekly "date" for the foreseeable future, and found out that I didn't have anything exotic going on at the back of my jaw. Just a chronic inflammation/infection which has apparently been going on for... well... no longer than 5 years, at least. (Who knew that was possible?)

Stitches are still there - and still itching, because that's what stitches do when you're healing. Still have to take all the antibiotics and use the weird mouth rinse. Still can only brush "the teeth and not the gums" up there, and - here's something you don't hear every day - shouldn't floss in that area at all.

Oh - and I'm still not allowed to blow my nose, use a straw, or sneeze until at least April.

But, thankfully, I am now able to eat pretty much anything I want. I mean... it's a good idea for me to stay away from seeds and nuts and things that could get stuck in my stitches, but I'm back on solid food. Christopher took me out for a burger on Monday night to celebrate. It was the best burger I've had in a really long time.

(I should also say - credit where credit is due - that after Christopher was out for a while on Sunday, he surprised me with a Shamrock Shake - and a spoon - because he knows that I've been feeling kind of down about all of this stuff. Yeah. He's a keeper.)

Tonight, with my folks in town, we went out for Thai food. Which was a little odd because I usually get Pad Thai, but that comes with ground peanuts on top, so I had to skip that. And I almost started to use my straw before I realized it. But the meal was good, even so.

And... hey... I'm almost halfway to my next check-up. Woo-hoo.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Bad Quote Quotient - Say It Ain't So

I'm... well... I'm not "in the middle" of the book I'm working on right now, but I'm about 15% of the way through it (it's REALLY long). 

It's taking me a lot of time to get through because of a few things: 1) the author writes in circles; 2) there are a LOT of names and it gets confusing and I have to keep going back to reference people; 3) I spent 3 full days just formatting the chapter headings; and, 4) it's REALLY FREAKIN' LONG. 

And, for the most part, there just haven't been any pieces in it that have offered themselves up as humor. But, today, I came across two things pretty much back-to-back, which both made me chuckle, and which seem to be important things for people to learn: 

a) "a step back" and "a step backwards" do not mean the same thing. So "let's take a step backwards to get a better look at this" isn't really what most people mean. 

b) there is a difference between a "y" and a "w." "Yielding great power" and "wielding great power" do not mean the same thing. 

Putting this all together, we can either "Take a step backwards and look at how it feels to yield great power to someone else," or "Take a step back to see how it feels to wield great power over someone else."

One of the fun things about editing? 

I get to ask the authors to take a step back and yield control over the manuscripts. At least from time to time. 

Whether they realize it or not.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Springing Ahead, Yet Not

You know those times when you look around and it feels like deja vu? 

But not the kind of deja vu where you feel like you walked into the same room before, even though it's in a country you've never been to. The kind where you look around and think "Wow. That looks almost identical to what was going on 25 years ago when I was that age."

Christopher and I were out tonight at a birthday party for his younger sister, and the bar we were in - a very loud, kind of not-so-high-class place - was full of a bunch of people who... well... they were mostly of the 25-years-younger-than-me range. 

While I was people watching, I found myself creating stories for each of them. Plotting out personalities for each of them. Guessing at the lives they're each now living, as well as what might be coming next. 

It's amazing how many of them fit into categories that matched people I knew in college and the years after that. 

The guy who was trying way too hard to be the one having a really good time. 

The guy who was dancing with himself, obviously trying to impress the women at the table in front of him. 

The guy who had apparently had too much to drink, now just standing in one place and kind of swaying as the world moved around him. 

The guy who was standing off to the side, baseball cap on backward, who probably would be fine in a few years, but was too shy for his own good, tonight. 

I watched them all and thought about my friends and the days when we were the ones who were out in the bars trying to impress the girls - and each other. And, yeah, I wondered which ones in the group would find out eventually that they were more interested in impressing each other than in impressing the girls. 

We left the bar before most of them did, so we'll never know how their stories play out. Although, if history truly does repeat itself, I have some pretty good ideas. 

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Day 3 - Pizza

So today is kind of day 4, but also kind of day 3 after my minor oral surgery. Since it happened on Monday afternoon, that means that the 3rd full day ended this afternoon. I was warned that the swelling would be at its worst at about the 72-hour mark, and since I've made it past that, I'm pretty happy.

I almost sneezed this morning just after I woke up, but I got it to stop. And I really wanted to blow my nose after walking the dog yesterday afternoon, but I didn't do that, either.

And tonight, since it was more than 3 days after surgery, we had pizza for dinner.

Even though I was told on Monday that the definition of "soft food" was anything that you could cut with the side of a fork, I've been trying to be really cautious. I've eaten a bunch of yogurt and ice cream this week. (Good thing I don't have issues with dairy!) And for lunch I've had a couple of different tortilla wraps (yesterday's was filled with mushed-up avocado).

But, aside form a foray into some blue box Mac & Cheese on Tuesday night, and some mashed potatoes for lunch, pretty much all of the soft foods I've been able to find have been on the sweet side. Think about it for a moment. What kinds of soft foods can you think of that aren't sweet?

After you get past pasta and mashed potatoes - oh, and eggs, but Christopher and I kind of had an egg fest last week/weekend, so I really wasn't looking for more of those this week - there's not much soft savory food. There's ice cream and pudding and Jell-o and applesauce and oatmeal and Cream of Wheat and bananas and yoghurt. Not a savory in the bunch.

Which means that by today, the first day when I could try less-soft food and not worry as much about the stitches in my jaw, I was really craving something with spices, and not just sugars. So we ordered pizza.

I cut really small pieces with the side of my fork. I stuck to the pieces that weren't too crunchy. I chewed almost exclusively on the right side of my mouth. And it was good.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Slice 'n' Dice

Remember my post from last week about needing to plan for soft foods?

Well, dinner last night was ice cream.

Lunch today was yogurt and mashed potatoes.

Dinner tonight was mac and cheese, because I was told that "soft" foods are "anything you can cut with the side of a fork."

Of course, that was followed by some sinus meds and some pain meds.

Here are some things that you kind of take for granted which I'm not supposed to do for at least the next two weeks, but probably the next month:

 - No using straws

 - No blowing my nose

 - No sneezing - and if I do, I should do it with my mouth open.

I'm also dealing with a "no seeds, nuts, grains" issue for the next week, as well as no alcohol due to the antibiotics and pain meds.

Do I know how to live, or what?