Friday, May 30, 2014

I'm This Many

There's no question about it. Yesterday was my birthday.

I had the day off of work (it's one of the strange perks that my company does). I opened presents and cards. Lots of people sent me nice messages via social media. Christopher took me out to dinner. There was cake.

If those things don't signify a birthday, I'm not sure what does.

And, really, I don't question that yesterday was my birthday. May 29th, thankfully, is a set date each year.

What I have problems with is the age thing. I'm not talking about having a problem with turning a year older. My problem is with remembering which year older I'm turning.

On the one hand, I spend my workdays surrounded by people who are in their 20s. I mean... I am old enough that I could have fathered about 90% of my co-workers. (Try not to think about that. Lord knows that I try not to.) But much of the time I just chalk it all up to "I'm older than them, but it's okay."

Still, that doesn't bring me to the bigger problem that I have about my age. For about the final 4 months of any given year, I already think of myself as having "turned."

I blame three of my best friends. We're all - for all intents and purposes - the same age. But the other three all turn before me. We start celebrating the change of the year in August. Then October. Then March. And by the time we get to me in May, I've been thinking about the next year for so long that I forget that I haven't actually gotten there, yet.

Christopher made a comment about my age, yesterday, and I honestly had to think about which year I was entering. It wasn't to lie and make myself younger, though. Instead, I - almost instinctively - tried to add an extra year on.

Maybe I need to start going by halves, instead, like we all used to do at about the same time that we were holding up fingers and saying "I'm THIS many!" If I include the halves, maybe I'll remember to keep the lower number in front of it.

Of course, my other option is to just stop counting. Maybe choose an age like 42 and just stick with it. I wonder how long it would take for people the age of my coworkers to figure that out...

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

A Black and White Issue

Have you noticed, lately, that people in their 20s wear black socks with shorts? Some of them are "crew" length. Some are over-the-calf. Some are little short inside-the-shoe socks. But, in all cases, black socks seem to be the current thing.

Christopher and I were out to dinner last night with a friend of ours and we were seated near a window so we could watch everyone going by. And we got into a discussion of the black sock look.

When I was growing up, the standard socks you wore with tennis shoes were calf-length white socks with colored stripes near the top. Yes, these are the same ones you see in the bad 70s/80s flashback shows where people are wearing short satiny shorts. But that was the norm.

Black socks were the socks worn by people who forgot that they had gym that day. Or they were worn by German tourists - with sandals.

Then people started wearing white athletic socks of the kind that come just up to the bottom of your calves. Not over the calf, but they stuck out of your shoes by four or five inches. And those became the norm.

Black socks, meanwhile, started to take a back seat to argyle or striped or polka-dot socks. But, still, they weren't for wearing with shorts.

Now, it seems that if you're going to wear white socks when you're wearing shorts they are often the kind that are barely ankle high and are only barely visible above top of your shoes.

I have been informed - not-so-subtly - that white socks that rise above the ankle are now "old guy" socks. And that I may need to invest in more short socks that don't rise above the tops of my shoes.

Either that, or some black athletic socks that come up to - or over - my calves.

Maybe it's not such a black-and-white issue after all.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Movie Monday - Captain America: The Winter Soldier

In the middle of the Memorial Day weekend, Christopher and I headed out to go to see a matinee of "Captain America: The Winter Soldier."

Let's go ahead and go straight to the point on this one.

As we were leaving, I turned to Christopher and said "Well, that was fun," and he replied "It helps that he's cute."

It is a fun movie. It gets a little into some ethical/moral dilemmas, but mainly it's all about the action and the fights and the CGI'd technology and the attractive people in tight clothes.

I'm glad we didn't see it in 3D, because it worked really well in 2D. Even so, I'm glad we saw it in a theater, because it would lose a little on a TV.

Overall score: A-. It was fun. He was cute. It just wasn't an A+.

Saturday, May 24, 2014


It never ceases to amaze me how much a garden changes when you put flowering plants in in the spring.

In the course of an hour - or four, if you include shopping - our garden beds went from either just dirt (or dirt with greenery in some areas) to full of accent foliage and/or flowers. 

In the past, I've tried planting seeds and working to get them to grow inside, then putting them out in the garden and hoping that, eventually, they would grow and bud and bloom. It was mostly satisfying to see the results, in part because I'd started at the very beginning and the results were all mine to enjoy. 

A couple of years ago, though, I decided that I would give in and just spend the extra money at the garden store. I'm not going to lie - I was immediately hooked. 

I love watching the garden go from empty to blooming in the course of one day. By the time I was done, suddenly there was new color in the yard. Yellow and purple and pink and white flowers are now all visible from the house when you look into the backyard. When you walk out by the garage, you see small white flowers under pepper plants. And the front walk is bracketed by gorgeous purple grass and moss roses. 

Although I might feel bad that I didn't raise any of this stuff from seed, I'm taking credit for all of it since I may have given myself a slight case of heat stroke by doing multiple hours' worth of work in the sun without really having anything to eat or drink during that time. Sure, it wasn't a month of coaxing seedlings to grow, but I've decided to celebrate my not passing out as an achievement all of its own. 

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Bad Quote Quotient: The Fugure is Sometime

We work with a lot of clients on a daily basis who don't really know what is coming up for them. And this is completely understandable, since most of them are working with us for the first time. Even people who work here don't always know what our timeframes are like, so - really - it's totally understandable.

Even so, some of our clients want us to predict. To prognosticate. To tell them what the next few days/weeks/months will be like as they work with us.

When they ask, we tell them - to the best of our calendaring skills will allow - what to expect and when.

Some of them, well... there are those special few whom we suggest might want to expect an editor in the future. Like the one this week who posed the following query, of sorts:

"A guide to the fugure would be much appreciated."

On the one hand, you really can't disagree with that. After all, a timeline - or maybe a map? - would definitely be helpful to discern the fugure.

On the other hand, I'm not entirely certain I want to agree with it, either - at least until I fugure out what it means.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Digital Diagnosis

I crossed a new boundary today. I tried an online service, instead of going to Urgent Care to deal with my ongoing sinus issues.

I fully admit that I was a matter of practicality. In their ads they talk about it being quick and easy, and through my insurance provider it was also free. So I had the option of quick, easy, and free or the option of a long wait for $25, not including any ancillary testing.

And it was... relatively... quick and easy. Since it was my first time on the website I had to set up an account, which took a bit. But then it was a whole list of questions about my symptoms. Most of them were easy enough to answer. (After all "Have you been vomiting?" is pretty much a yes or no question.) But they kind of felt like they went on for days.

Then, when you're done with the "interview", you get to wait "approximately 30 minutes" for a nurse practitioner on the other end of the line to send you a link to your diagnosis, treatment plan, and other information.

When my email showed up, I found that there were some things that I had missed - because I hadn't had anywhere to mention them. Which - had I been in front of an actual, live, healthcare practitioner, I probably would have mentioned in conversation.

What kinds of things? Well, my treatment plan recommends that I irrigate my sinuses with a netipot or other means of flushing a ton of warm saline in and out of my sinuses. That's a lovely idea, except that I've tried it and, after that one unsuccessful attempt, now even the thought of it makes me sick to my stomach. I also didn't get to ask how ibuprofen - which on the bottle says is to be taken every 4 to 6 hours - is supposed to last 8 hours if I take a larger-than-usual dose.

The website, when all is said and done, offers you a chance for a follow-up phone consultation in 3 days if you're not feeling better. And it offers that - to everyone - for free. So far, I'm not sure if I'll be taking them up on that.

Here's the thing, though. Part of me wants to have that call on Friday just so that I can talk to a real, live person. I know that this saved me money and time, today, but I honestly think that in future I might just schedule the time and budget the money to be able to go in and talk to someone face-to-face. I want someone else to tell me whether my glands are the right level of squishy (since that's not something I've ever really studied). And I want that person to assure me - not just through an email template - that if I'm not feeling better in 3 days I should come back.

I know... I know... I'm old-fashioned. But there's something to be said for the human touch from time to time. And I think I'd rather have a medical exam where the "digits" are fingers attached to a human being instead of pixels on a screen.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Perhaps Not the Best Idea

Remember how, a couple of days ago, I was talking about my sinuses and my allergies?

Well, they're still acting up. But it was a pretty nice weekend this weekend, and so I found myself, today, deciding to go out to the garden stores to buy some things to work on our planting beds.

I made sure to take a Benadryl before going, and headed out. I was doing pretty well, I thought, but as I was wandering around the third store (I was on a quest for a specific item which I couldn't find anywhere), I realized that my eyes were getting a little sore.

By the time I got home, I was back to being itchy and sore. So nothing I purchased was put into the ground, today.

At the rate I'm going - and considering what the weather has been like - I suspect my allergies will clear up and I'll get things taken care of sometime in August.

Or maybe I'll just start wearing a surgical mask every time I go outside.

Though that may not be the best idea, either.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Hazy Can Be Good

I've been told that this year's allergy season is the worst in years. I assume it's because the winter was so cold that everything - trees, grasses, etc. - is throwing off pollen at the same time.

So while my sinuses are unhappy due to the weather, my allergies are also going wonky. Have I mentioned, lately, that Sudafed makes me kind of drowsy? Sure, it dries out my nose, but sometimes that is a difficult trade-off for being a little fuzzy around the edges. And it does nothing for my allergies.

For my allergies, I go for Benadryl. Which also makes be drowsy. So for the same reason that I can't take two Sudafed at the same time, I also can't take Sudafed and a Benadryl both at the same time. Leaving me with the dilemma of having to choose between sneezing and itchy eyes OR sinus pain and pressure.

Except, of course, if it's almost time for bed. When I can take both and not worry about nodding off.

Have I mentioned that I'm writing this post at almost 10:30 at night? Yeah... I think we'll work on a longer, more interesting post next time.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Marriage Equality - One Year Later

There's been a lot of news this week (or at least a lot of postings by friends of mine on social media), that this is the one-year anniversary of Minnesota's Marriage Equality law being passed.

It's appropriate, then, that in the past few weeks Christopher and I have been to two different weddings, each of which had two grooms. Christopher likened this to the way that all of our straight friends got married in their twenties - because they could - so now our gay friends are doing the same.

But the two weddings were truly different from each other. The first was for a couple who have been together for 14 years. The ceremony and reception took place at a downtown hotel, and it was all kind of laid back, yet a little slick (in a good way). The ceremony was kind of non-traditional, with some laughs amidst the seriousness, and it was followed by a cocktail hour, then dinner and dancing. The crowd was probably about 60-80% gay men (I'm guessing on the higher end, really), and it was very fun.

The second wedding - also very fun - was much more traditional. The service took place in a church, then photos were taken before everyone piled into cars to drive to a hotel in downtown St. Paul where the reception took place. Once at the hotel, there was a cocktail hour, also followed by dinner and dancing. This time, however, the crowd was about 95% straight. Which made it feel even more "traditional" than the one the week before.

There's no question about it - the weddings matched the personalities of the couples. After all, no one ever said that gay men were all the same, so why should their weddings be? And, for that matter, there's nothing that says that all gay or lesbian couples have to have a wedding, either. Although, the fact that they can added a really fun aspect to the first wedding: meeting a bunch of men who were identifying their significant others as "husbands" - which couldn't have happened a year ago.

Which is where things got a little funny at the second wedding reception. I was sitting next to a very fun couple, and after the husband found out that I'm in a relationship with Christopher, he asked when we were going to get married. He might have said "if", but I'm pretty sure it was "when" - and it felt like "WHEN????" Mind you, this is someone I had just met. Nice enough guy. Charming wife. Aside from that, I didn't know him from Adam.

So I said that Christopher and I haven't really talked about it, which (because it's true) is our usual answer, and which usually gets people to say "oh" and then go on to something different. But he asked "Why not?" so I explained that there are a lot of financial implications for two people (of any orientation) who are in their forties and decide to get married. He obviously wanted a better answer.

So I explained: We're not fresh-out-of-college 20-somethings who are lovestruck and excited about the new freedom. We're not a together-for-40-years couple who are beginning to look at the serious healthcare and end-of-life decisions which can only be made by spouses. We're 40-somethings with financial baggage and responsibilities which we have to consider. And, at least for now, we've been together for 8.5 years and are happy the way things are - just like a number of our friends, both gay and straight.

Again, I'm used to people kind of letting that sink in and saying "That's cool. It's good to think those things through and not rush into anything just because you can." But he didn't say that. He looked me square in the eye and said "But that's why we fought so hard to push this through the legislature. It's why we spent all that time on the phone with people and did all that lobbying. We did all that work for people like you, so that you could get married." There was no mistaking the implication that he meant "so that you would get married" instead of "so you could get married."

I just kind of looked at him and shook my head and reiterated, "The option is incredible. But we just haven't really talked about it." I could tell he was crestfallen. It was like when you disappoint your favorite teacher and get a lower grade than you should have and you have to deal with that "You could have done better" look as your paper is handed to you. But at least the conversation ended. And for the rest of the night we were back to smalltalk and celebrating the couple of the evening.

And, while Christopher and I have totally spent a little time after each wedding saying things like "I don't ever want to do X" or "I really liked Y", we still aren't having any big conversations about it. And, yes, that's perfectly fine.

Which brings us to my book club this week. I was talking about the two weddings (we had read Bridget Jones's Diary, which talks about relationships and "smug married people," so it sort of fit in), and I told the story of the guy from the second wedding. Everyone at book club looked at me and said "But the law means that you can get married - not that you have to get married." And I realized two things, then and there:

1) In my book club - as in my life - I am surrounded by really smart, cool people.
2) Sometimes simply having a choice is the most important part of life, and I'm really glad to live in a state where I have one more than I did just a little over a year ago.

Want to know how I was feeling about all of this last year? Check out A Question I Never Really Expected and/or Newly Minted Possibilities

Monday, May 12, 2014

Movie Monday - R.I.P.D.

You know those times when someone you watch movies with says to you "I saw that. Don't waste your time on it." But you already have it at home from Netflix? That happened to us a couple of weeks ago.

We'd had "R.I.P.D." at home for a couple of months, actually, and just never gotten around to watching it. When some friends were over for dinner and a movie, we put that out as an option, and it was immediately panned. The actual description came down to "If you watch the first ten minutes and don't already hate it, then you might be okay."

So, this weekend, when Christopher and I were hanging out and trying to decide what to watch - but weren't sure how well we'd be able to pay attention, what with both of us feeling less than well - we pulled it out.

It's a fairly basic premise: Cop dies just after doing something bad. Gets sent to purgatory with a sentence of 100 years of service in exchange for a clean slate and a ticket "upstairs." Of course, he's paired with a crotchet-y partner and they don't get along well, and buddy-cop hilarity ensues.

I'll admit that I put it onto my Netflix queue because it stars Ryan Reynolds. And, yes, he looks pretty good in the movie. And it has a decent supporting cast, really cool special effects, and a premise which is very easy to follow (because, of course, we've seen most of it before).

Was it the best movie we've seen? God, no.

Was it worth watching on a weekend when we didn't have anything to do and wanted to watch something we didn't have to care about? Yes.

Was it a case of low expectations delivering a better outcome? Definitely.

Overall score? C. Really... It's a mediocre movie, but even mediocre movies have their time and place.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

When the To-Do List isn't To-Done

Today was an odd day, as far as my to-do list went.

Christopher - though still not up to par - went with me to a Matisse exhibit at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. And it was amazing. But it was also exhausting for him (his first time out of the house, really, since our trip to Urgent Care on Wednesday night). So after that I dropped him off at home and went about the rest of the days errands.

There was some shopping in need of being done at the grocery store. And a coupon to use at Sur la Table. And some yard stuff we needed from our neighborhood Ace Hardware (because we try to shop at Ace more than Home Depot whenever possible). And I came home and checked in and then sent Christopher off to a nap.

While he did that, I put down the crab grass preventer/yard fertilizer and put the "cages" around our peonies. And then drove to one of the nearby garden centers to see if they had the things we want for our summer plantings. (They didn't. Well... they had one thing out of about five. So there will be more shopping in the next few weeks.)

Did I get my book read for Monday night's book club? No.
Did I get any of the baking done (two different items, both needing to be done by Monday)? No. (Although I did haul everything up from the basement in preparation for it.)
Did I write letters or catch up on email or any kind of correspondence? No.

But I did get quite a list of things done. On top of the errands, I also washed dishes and made dinner and walked the dog in a not-quite-shower. So I know I did things. I can tell by looking around. So why do I feel like I got so little done?

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Tales from Triage

Christopher and I spent a couple of hours at Urgent Care last night, making sure that the sinus/cold thing that is hanging out in the house wasn't anything more than that. (Happily, it's not. I mean... it's nasty, but at least it's just nasty and not worse.) We checked the wait times before we left home, so we knew it was going to be at least an hour, but that didn't really prepare us for the waiting room. Or the almost 2-hour wait.

You see, the waiting room at Urgent Care is used for triage - you take a number, get checked in, and then if you're not urgently urgent, you take a seat and wait your turn. I've only ever seen one person get sent to the front of the line, and I'm pretty sure he had an almost-severed finger.

So, last night, while Christopher was being forced to wear a facemask to keep his coughs in check, I was reading a book and watching the triaged crowd around the room.

The most obviously intriguing person was the guy who was probably in his 20s and seemed to be there with his mom. He had one foot up on the bench seat next to him and one of his toes was wrapped in tissue. (The other foot was in a Croc clog, but I can't fault him for that given the circumstances.) We heard from the doctor, later, that there may have been an issue with a speaker and "fireworks," which resulted in that toe's visit to Urgent Care.

There were a couple of small kids who were kind of hilarious - probably about 1 and 2 years old - very chatty and wanting to walk around and look at everything. I cannot imagine what it must be like to keep two little kids occupied in a hospital waiting room.

I have to admit that I was a little freaked out by the older woman who was brought in on a borrowed wheelchair because of a fall in her home. She had a scrape on her forehead, but the major issue was her knee - which she pointed out to the nurse was an artificial knee - which she had obviously done some serious damage to, because it was swelling and all sorts of purple. Oddly, though, the thing that most bugged me about her was her husband (I assume), who kept basically wanting to just leave her to deal with everything on her own.

But my favorite person in the room - from the point of having someone to watch - was the woman who stood up, walked over to a guy simply holding his cellphone in his hand, and told him that she wanted him to stop filming her. He looked up and said "I'm not doing that... This phone doesn't even have a camera..." (From where I was sitting, I'm pretty sure it didn't. It looked like it had less tech than my flip phone.) But that wasn't good enough for her. She proceeded to report him to the nurses on duty, who - I'm guessing due to some kind of duty - found someone else to come check out what was going on by walking stealthily by and stealing glances at the guy and his phone. The paranoid woman walked over and sat down on the other side of the room, with people between them, but kept looking at the guy. Then she paced. Then she sat down on his side of the room, again (which I really don't understand), before storming off to sit in the waiting room that is closer to the exam rooms. At which point the guy just kind of shrugged and kept on about his own business while kind of watching American Idol.

Eventually, Christopher got seen by a doctor. And by the time we walked out the Urgent Care doors were closed and there were just a few people left in the room. Obviously, we couldn't ask what happened to any of our co-waiters. I have to admit, though, that I kind of want to know what happened to each of the other people.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Fighting the Mediocre Fight

Someone in the house (who is not me or the dog) is currently dealing with a massive sinus/cold illness. The kind of thing that results in coughing jags and a stuffed up head and full body aching.

Unfortunately, it's the kind of thing brought on by: springtime allergies, stress, not enough sleep, and/or proximity to others with the same ailment.

I might just happen to have some chronic seasonal allergies. I might also, possibly, be a little down on the amount of sleep I've been getting lately - which in my world occasionally causes stress. And... umm... if one of us is already sick, and we live in the same house, there's a good chance that that "proximity" thing might be a possibility as well.

So I am taking extra Vitamin C. And yesterday for lunch I went out and got myself a fairly healthy (for me, at least) wrap with actual vitamin-carrying vegetables in it.

But I also want to try to help someone else in the house feel better, so that proximity issue keeps getting in the way of being really healthy.

Here's hoping that my wall o' defenses - and a positive attitude - can keep me healthy enough so that the proximity alarms don't start going off.

If you don't hear from me in a couple of days, please send chicken soup, Halls honey-lemon cough drops, and a note to my work explaining that I can't come in because I'm on the couch wrapped in a big comfy robe watching cartoons.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Go Out and Do... Something

You might, possibly, have heard me mention recently that the weather has been a little crappy around here. Granted, we haven't been dealing with major flooding or landslides or any of the really horrible things that have been going on around the country (and world), but it has been a pretty nasty spring.

It's been so cold that I haven't even worn shorts yet. At all. Not even around the house. And it rained so much last week that we didn't see the sun for almost 5 days.

Even so, I've been starting to get excited about getting out in the yard. The lilac bush is starting to bud. The peonies we planted last year are pushing up around the house. Everything is delayed, but it's starting.

And, after last week's rain, we finally got sun this weekend. This is what we needed to get things moving. It was perfectly timed to get me out in the yard to start thinking about plantings and maybe do the first round of yard preparation.

Except that we spent most of the weekend at some friends' wedding. Last week, I fully admit, I was looking at the forecasts and thinking "If only it can be sunny for their wedding day..." and - happily - it was. The sun was out and the rain stopped, and people were able to get in and out of the church without umbrellas. Photos were taken on the church steps. People arrived at the reception a tad windblown, but dry. It was great.

But when we got home I really wanted to go play in the yard. I wanted to plant something. I walked around to see what was coming up and what I might need to replace. Pasque flowers? check. Poppies? check. Clematis? check - maybe. Plant pots at the front of the walk? Oh... right... we decided last week that we should paint those.

Finally. An outside task!

I'm happy to say that along with putting a coat of paint on the planting pots, I also spent time sweeping out the garage, taking the winter cover off of the air conditioner, and setting out the hoses. All-in-all, it was probably a good hour's worth of outdoor work - even without any actual planting. Luckily, next weekend we've got some free time. If the weather cooperates, the yard might start to look like spring, yet - maybe even before summer.

Friday, May 2, 2014

When You Care Enough... or Whatever

Over the past two days, I've spent at least three and a half hours at my job making sure that the hyphens and en-dashes were used correctly. Or, if not exactly correctly, at least consistently.

Last year, while visiting friends in Dallas, I actually had a discussion about this very topic with a friend of mine. We agreed that although... yes... the two types of punctuation are definitely different, and... yes... they do have their purposes, we've never really cared that much about them.

Mainly, I don't care much about the en-dash. I'd rather just uses hyphens. (I'd show you the differences, but you can't put en-dashes into blog posts - which kinda goes toward my point of most people not caring.)

But there are people in the world - especially in the editing/proofreading world - where the distinction is important and not to be mucked about with. And I realized, on page 996 of the book I'm working on at my job, that I hadn't been paying appropriate attention to them at the start of the manuscript.

So I started searching for mis-used hyphens and en-dashes. And searching. And correcting the ones that were wrong. And searching some more. For three and a half hours.

Yes, this is my job. Yes, I know that it's important to some people. Yes, I know I should really care. But, mainly, I was doing the re-work to make sure that the author wouldn't complain and make me go back through it again later. Which I guess is a kind of caring.

But I wouldn't send myself a Hallmark card for it.