Saturday, August 17, 2002

Wow! I've been gone a lone time, eh?

I've been simply overwhelmed with this house thing. I couldn't really afford much here in this area with a crazy market, so I ended up with a small duplex that needed LOTS of work. [Ten people from Peru had been living in it without any evidence of any use of cleaning product.] In fact, it needed more work than either the inspector, the seller, or I realized...much to my dismay.

My mother has been here for two weeks and leaves tomorrow morning. We have worked from 8 in the morning to 8 in the evening Wed. through Sunday of those two weeks. We are exhausted, we stink, and I've done more laundry in the past two weeks than I have in the past two months.

To date, I have a new roof, a repaired chimney, a new first floor ceiling, a new a/c, new toilet innards, new kitchen tile floor, 1 new window, 7 repaired windows, a new water heater, a new washing machine, a new laundry area beneath the basement stairs, the walls all scraped, sanded, floated, textured, & painted, and the framing and rough-in plumbing for the basement bath. The yard has been cleared out as well. Needless the say, the neighbors are none too happy with the brush, trash, appliances, and cabinets waiting by the curb for my special pick-up on Tuesday.

The basement bath and bedroom enlargement was supposed to be done before now, but the wall guy injured his arm. He was also the ceiling guy, the molding guy, and the kitchen cabinet guy. Trying to get someone to put up the main floor ceiling on short notice was nothing short of a nightmare.

Tomorrow I have to clean up all the contractors' trash & stuff to prepare for the floor guy on Monday who will take control of the house until next Friday with the exception of the kitchen. Monday evening, the kitchen cabinets will be installed.

The weather has been unbelievably hot and unbearable. I have been fighting nausea and weakness for two weeks, drinking gallons of water and gatorade each day. BOY WILL I BE GLAD WHEN THIS IS OVER!

So...what have you been up to lately?

Tuesday, July 30, 2002

It has been a while…

Logically, I would say that is because I got the house and had much to do in order to close in just three weeks. But it wouldn’t be the whole truth.

You see, three times lately, someone has asked and/or e-mailed to ask why I am keeping this log. The e-mail query I answered at length, but received no reply. The verbal reactions to my answer were not much better…and so…I think I’ve been self-conscious about writing for the first time.

But tonight I am too tired for self-doubt and thought it might be a good time to check in.

I am a homeowner. I am a homeowner of a duplex were 10 Peruvians were living in nothing short of squalor. Hence, I have much scrubbing and repairing to do. Saturday I worked for 11 hours and saw little change. Sunday I pulled down the main floor ceiling (an attempt to save money by prepping the ceiling for the sheetrock guy) for SIX hours.

At that point, I still had nearly half of the debris to bag up, but I could barely breathe inside even with my respirator mask. So I spent another three hours of back-breaking, blister-raising labor cutting up the three weed trees I had hacked down Saturday in a fit of anger against this window repair estimator who blew off my appointment and then said he didn’t want my business. While, the yard is in MUCH disrepair, I expect you would agree with me that I should channel my energy and time into making it livable before the 25th of August—MOVING DAY. Let the yard go till later, right? Well, that is all and good, but Saturday I left myself with tree debris from sidewalk to porch that had to be cut up and bagged as well. So I sweltered outside finishing that while the air cleared inside.

Yesterday and today, I spent three hours after work bagging up the rest of the ceiling debris. I now have 25 bags waiting for next Tuesday’s pick-up.

Just to give you an idea of the squalor, I spent nearly three hours scrubbing the grease off the back door in the kitchen. I am not finished.

But the roofer, plumber, electrician, a/c installer, window repairman, and floor refinisher all have their deposits and work orders…so we will see what happens between their expertise and my elbow grease.

I do have: wood floors, original hardware on the doors including one glass knob, a fenced yard, original black and white tiny tile in the windmill pattern on the upstairs bath floor, and am within walking distance to the Metro.

And it is mine…to paint at will! Well...once I figure out how to deal with FIVE layers of peeling paint on the plaster walls...

Tuesday, July 16, 2002

Copy editor wins bad writing award

"On reflection, Angela perceived that her relationship with Tom had always been rocky, not quite a roller-coaster ride but more like when the toilet paper roll gets a little squashed so it hangs crooked and every time you pull some off you can hear the rest going bumpity-bumpity in its holder until you go nuts and push it back into shape, a degree of annoyance that Angela had now almost attained."

I wish I had known about this bad writing award! Perhaps, I could have submitted a few entries! As explained in the article linked above...The contest, which seeks the worst beginning to an imaginary novel, is named for Edward George Bulwer-Lytton, a British writer whose 1830 book "Paul Clifford" begins with the oft-mocked cliche, 'It was a dark and stormy night ..."

There are literary contests on campuses, and they're often deadly serious and end up producing some terrible writing," Rice said. "I thought, why not be up front and honest about it and ask for bad writing from the get-go?"

Can you think of a beginning to an imaginary novel? If so, e-mail me and I'll post it!


Wednesday, July 10, 2002

Well, supposedly, Friday I will be given the key through a decorator's agreement. Saturday I am meeting four contractors at the duplex and next Tuesday I am spending the day there meeting six more. Contractors 11 and 12 are looking at their schedules for me. I have house insurance and gift letters and financial statements all lined up. I have a 2.5" binder filled with mortgage and contract information. I have a 1.5" binder filled with the home inspection results and plans for repairs. I have a 5"x7" spiral notebook filled with lists of repairs (and wish items) for each room of the house and then cross-listed by category of repair, i.e., plumbing, electricity. I have questions and worries and buyer's remorse oozing out my brain. is your week going?

Monday, July 08, 2002

Fancy is sleeping on my chest, her head tucked beneath my chin. She has garlic breath. She had pasta for dinner.

I birds in the wild ever have garlic breath?

Wednesday, July 03, 2002

I was talking with my sister while huffing and puffing on my stair-stepper. My trainer had suggested that I wear sweats as I did my cardio and I was sweltering and desperately wanting the 60 minute mark to come. I begged my sister to take my mind off the last seven minutes.

"Why did the chicken cross the road?" she asked.

"To get to the other side," I answered automatically.

Then, inspiration came. "Why did the chicken cross the road?" I asked her.

"I don't know," she responded.

"He saw some barbecue sauce and wanted to take a dip," I quipped.

While I was pleased that I came up with my own new joke, my sister groaned and suggested that I not give up my day job.

What do you think? Do I have a career as a stand-up comic in my future?

Monday, July 01, 2002

Last year for my birthday, my parents gave me two rather splendid Henckles knives. One was a boning knife. [Can you guess where I am going with this?]

Well, tonight, I was making a sandwich when I learned just why it is called a boning knife. I was (rather foolishly) using the knife to trim the end piece of some bread (I don't like end pieces, so I was trying to make it look like a middle piece) when the knife slipped off the frozen bread and sliced into my finger down to the bone.

I was stunned at how smoothly the knife cut through my finger. I went to the ER and had x-rays. The knife actually nicked the bone! But, alas, the cut was so smooth that there is nothing to stitch. I just have to be very careful of my throbbing finger for the next couple of weeks as it (hopefully) heals.

Perhaps I shouldn't be allow near knives, eh?

Sunday, June 30, 2002

I told the owners yes today.

D-day is July 4:00 PM...

Friday, June 28, 2002

My neice is in a residential care center under suicide watch.

I would covet your prayers.

It is so hard to watch someone in that much pain at 17...with her whole life in front of her...and be helpless to do anything but love her and pray for her.

Thursday, June 27, 2002

So....I now have a ratified contract. Wow!

Still, if the house doesn't pass the inspection, I will have to turn it down, because it is an "as is" property. My hope is that the inspector will just find a list of "small things" that are common to houses that are 55 years old.

It is difficult to sleep these days...

Tuesday, June 25, 2002

So.....the owners returned the contract with a couple of changes. I agreed to one and reworded another. If they accept my changes, the inspection is on Saturday.

Do you think that the sixth time was the charm? Or perhaps the name of the street was a portent of success: Victory Dr.?

I am still nervous...

Monday, June 24, 2002

I threw my hat into the ring on another duplex today. If I get it, two others will own a smidgen of my new home. It has beautiful wood floors... :)

I was up all last night thinking about the contract I was going to submit. I don't know why, since it wasn't a matter of not feeling peaceful about the decision. When I finally did sleep, I dreamt that I was at a camp where the campers went loco and set fire to all the cabins...perhaps Arizona and Colorado were on my mind beneath those wood floors.

Could you imagine watching your home go up in flames? What would you throw in your car if you had but a few minutes to pack and leave?

Friday, June 21, 2002

Excerpt from Shattered Memories, another story of mine...

Eileen peered into the mirror to inspect her face. Her warm breath fogged the mirror as she moved closer for a better look. The sore spot on her forehead had raised and turned red. Damn, not again! How long must I deal with this? Gingerly she touched the blemish and winced. For the hundredth time she wished she had bangs to hide her forehead, but Paul’s desire for her to keep her hair long had stayed the impulses she felt whenever near a salon. Even now. Even when she hadn’t felt his soft touch in over a year.

Staring in dismay at her collection of make-up, Eileen knew that nothing could truly hide the spot on her forehead. That her skin was porcelain white was an added difficulty. Touching the bump once more, she decided to leave it alone. Concentrating on the rest of her face, Eileen carefully finished applying her make-up and studied the results with grim satisfaction. At least the rest looks good.

Working at a design firm where all the staff were close friends had its perks, but it also meant that nearly anything was fodder for ribbing. Dates, vacations, dilemmas were all discussed, debated, and dissected over lunch, in the coffee room, or during breaks. Secrets never lasted long at Bateman, Bateman, & Watters. The office could probably pass for a soap opera or sitcom depending on which day it was.

Eileen had only been employed there for four months, but the transition had been amazingly smooth. Now it was her colleagues whose company she sought while working out or going out. They were the ones who had invited her to dinner and had opened their lives to her. No one had seemed to notice that she in turn had yet to open hers. None of them knew about Paul. None of them knew about Maia. None of them knew.

Peering once more at her face, Eileen debated trying to squeeze the bump, but decided that she should just allow nature to take its course. The thought still made her shudder. She could still hear the doctor’s words. The human body has an amazing resilience if properly supported. The scars will fade, and the glass will works its way out of your body.

The first time Eileen had seen a piece of glass erupt from a reddened bump that had risen on her forehead, she had thrown up and sank in a shivering, sweaty heap on the bathroom floor.

Wednesday, June 19, 2002

You are reading a book about the Civil War and begin to hear muskets firing around you. As you read, you find your fear rising as you creep across the battlefield hoping that you will not be killed or be forced to kill. You are only sixteen and already realize the glory you thought you would find by running away, lying about your age, and joining the army was but a child's dream of excitement. You did not want the excitement of seeing your fellow soldiers killed right and left, hearing their dying screams of agony. Your body is covered with the sweat of fervently hoping you will not find yourself next to them before the battle is over. It is a few moments after you set the book down, that you discover, thankfully, you are back in the twentieth century.

Is it possible to experience the Civil War first hand over a century later?

Poulet would think so…for he wrote in his 1972 essay, Criticism and the Experience of Interiority (as found in Tompkins, J. (Ed.). (1980). Reader-Response Criticism: From Formalism to Post-Structuralism. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press.), the following:

A book is not shut in by its contours, is not walled-up as in a fortress. It asks nothing better than to exist outside itself, or to let you exist in it. In short, the extraordinary fact in the case of a book is the falling away of the barriers between you and it. You are inside it; it is inside you; there is no longer either outside or inside. Such is the initial phenomenon produced whenever I take up a book, and begin to read it. At the precise moment that I see, surging out of the object I hold open before me, a quantity of significations which my mind grasp, I realize that what I hold in my hands is no longer just an object, or even simply a living thing. I am aware of a rational being, of a consciousness; the consciousness of another, no different from the one I automatically assume in every human being I encounter, except that in this case the consciousness is open to me, welcomes me, lets me look deep inside itself, and even allows me, with unheard-of license, to think what it thinks and feel what it feels. (43)

As soon as I replace my direct perception of reality by the words of a book, I deliver myself, bound hand and foot, to the omnipotence of fiction. I say farewell to what is, in order to feign belief in what is not. I surround myself with fictitious beings; I become the prey of language. There is no escaping this takeover. (44)

Have you ever become lost in a book? Bound hand and foot?

Tuesday, June 18, 2002

Well, Friday, I learned, rather unexpectedly that someone had gotten my credit card and used it at on-line gambling places. This is quite an obstacle to getting a mortgage if something comes up right away because the investigation process with the credit card company is quite lengthy and the whole fiasco has dramatically increased my debt-to-income ratio.

AND......I forgot to take my arthritis medicine both Thursday and Friday and was quite miserable by Saturday.

So, I've been spending the past few days "recovering."

Then, this morning, I walked out to my car to leave for work only to discover my car had been broken into, vandalized, and things had been stolen...INCLUDING MY GYM BAG!

I stood in shock and disbelief looking at the mess until I could remember to call the police...only I was transferred to a voice mail message which instructed me to leave my problem, name, and number whereupon an officer would return my call and take a report. I still have not received that call. I called the apartment manager to report the break-in and damage and asked that she call me back and let me know if any other cars were hit last night. She still hasn't called me back.

On a postive note, a couple of people at work helped me to learn where I could get the lock in my car door replaced and one of the mothers from the mother/daughter book club followed me to the dealership and dropped me off at work. Another mother took me back to pick up my car.

I think the worst part was driving to the dealership and seeing some of the items from my gym bag strewn alongside the road. I kept stopping to pick them up. I know I should be quite thankful that I got both of my tennis shoes back since I got them only last fall after starting at the gym.

But...still...I am quite disconcerted.

Thursday, June 13, 2002

One of the women in the mother/daughter book club told me that she gave my website to one of the men in her bible study so that he could get "to know me a little bit."

AWK...I thought. Lately my entries have been... well... somewhat... blue.

House-hunting blues. Fancy's injured. My niece running away. A night terror poem. I'm tired. Light reading, eh?

I told her she should advise him to read through the archives!

On a frivolous note, I got a new cell phone a few days ago. Tonight, while working with my writing student, I kept hearing music. It would come and go. I'd listen and think, It's not the TV or the radio. It's not coming from outside or from the stairwell. It can't be coming from the one filling in my tooth because it's porcelain, not metal.

All that foolish thinking...and then it hit was my cell phone! The ringer plays music!! I guess I need to read the manual,eh?

You see, on Thursday nights, we log on to download her work from e-mail. We usually just leave the connection going so that we are not disturbed from phone calls. I do not get a lot of calls per week, but they all seem to come on Thursday nights. My friends and family who call are now greeted with "Writing Lesson" instead of "Hello." Needless to say, my terse greeting makes for an extremely brief call.

Anyway, I had suggested that the caller try my cell number since I did need some information from her tonight. Hence the puzzling music.

I know...I know... You're probably saying, "Welcome to the 21st Century," with regard to music instead of a ringer. That's okay...I'll take the ribbing.

Wednesday, June 12, 2002

I am tired. Perhaps from the MS. Perhaps from needing a break from work. Perhaps because I am so very heart sore. Still, what I am feeling is no match to what my sister must surely being going through.

My niece ran away on the 31st. She ran away from home and has left my sister dangling in the wind ever since.

Granted, my niece has called to say she is “okay” and stopped by for clothing after nine days. But still she is living from place to place and making increasingly self-destructive decisions for both her present and her future.

Suicide is arguably the most selfish decision a person can make with regard to his/her family and friends. I cannot help but wonder if running away comes in a close second.

My sister and her husband are worried and angry, fearful of her absence and relieved at the same time because her absence also means an absence of her hostility and anger. They are battling their feelings and struggling not to take her absence out on each other. They wait each day with the hope that she might return home, return to counseling, and face her own doubts and fears that have driven her away. They wait each day with the fear that the person knocking on the door will be a police officer instead of their daughter.

From the time she was about twelve, she has seen herself as plain, even ugly, with no real talent or worth. She is, however, quite arguably beautiful. Eyes that seem to shift from hazel to gray to blue, honey golden skin, a slender, curvy figure, and hair other girls would pay great sums for…blonde, thick, and curly…though she tends to wear it straight quite often. She is musical, athletic, smart, and impressive raw talent at writing. But she has rarely seen any of these things.

My sister has never pressured her to be anything other than a good student, honest, healthy and kind. It would not matter if she were a doctor or a musician or a teacher. Her step-father has treated her as if she were his own daughter, going to her soccer games, school events, shopping, and Taco Bell. All things her birth father has rarely, if ever, done.

Yet she has chosen to turn her back on the love, support, and help my sister and her husband have offered her. She has chosen to run away.

Why is she doing this? Why is she hurting those who love her most?

How can you love someone so much and be so incredibly angry with him/her at the same time?

Tuesday, June 11, 2002

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- United States Roman Catholic bishops' proposed rules for disciplining clergymen accused of sexually abusing children include recommended dismissal in certain cases.

"According to a draft report to be issued Tuesday, the recommendations include defrocking priests who abuse minors in the future as well as those who have molested more than one child previously.", 6-4-02

I read this article in absolute disbelief. No matter where you stand on the Catholic Church and what has happened, I would hope that you share my outrage that it appears that if a priest molested just one child, he would not be defrocked. How can anyone think that even one molestation is acceptable?

I also read today that the Catholic Church is searching for a PR firm to help them through this “difficult” time. Are you kidding me?

It seems that more contrition and accountability are in order rather than defense, deflection, and measured tolerance.

Wednesday, June 05, 2002

Made appointments to see three houses. All three sold the next day so I didn't even have an opportunity to see them. One went for cash and another sold sight unseen.


I want a home of my own!

Tuesday, June 04, 2002

another night
i lie down wondering
what the night will bring
i dream of captivity
and looking for escape
i know not why
i wake with a throat raw
from screaming
i remember not why
another morning

Monday, June 03, 2002

Happy Birthday to Me.
Happy Birthday to Me.
Happy Birthday dear Patricia.
Happy Birthday to Me!

Sunday, June 02, 2002

Fancy has gained two grams. Not much, but a start. She has more control of her foot, but still has a long way to go. At least her feathers have grown back, because her naked leg was quite a disturbing sight with it's bruises of green and yellow.

My new favorite sandwich: Bacon Turkey Bravo at Panera Bread. Delicious.

I found a cartoon of a guy sitting at a desk behind a computer. He is talking on the phone. The caption reads: But that's not what your computer told my computer!

Friday, May 31, 2002

Society’s Mirror

reflections of self not true
distorted by Barbie and Ken
ideals clouding reality send us
chasing illusions wrapping the image
of self around the image of the physical
forgetting the image of the heart

         “Mirror, mirror on the wall
         who’s the fairest of us all?”

we chant

         Tell me who the fairest is
         and then I’ll make myself to be
         the image of he, of she!

fleeting images flash before our eyes
changing reflections blur our vision
oh society’s fickle heart
and still we stare into the mirror
never seeing who is really there

Thursday, May 30, 2002

The passage below is from a Christian historical fiction novel I am working on these days. It is a passage I particularly like because of how well it fits with the rest...especially the "perfectly fine" part that makes me smile when I read it. You won't smile because you haven't read of the other two times Megan has insisted she was "fine" to Graham. And the whole of how well it fits won't be clear because you haven't read the first few dozen pages. Still...I like the passage and wanted to share it...

excerpt from Until the Mountains Drip Sweet Wine:

Megan felt panic rise to her chest as she watched Ruth step away from her. Megan’s own stony silence had not dampened Ruth’s growing enthusiasm for the visit to Wortham’s. How can she be so happy to be here? In her own nervousness, she had forgotten that Ruth helped run her parents’ store. All Megan could focus on was the women shopping before her. Mildred Potter, Annalise Cooper, and Sylvia Brownstone. Women who surely knew what had happened to her. Can they tell? Do they see the difference I feel? What if I am right about…

Watching Ruth take a step in Annalise’s direction, Megan gave way to her panic and hurried to the nearest bolt of fabric, where she could busy herself looking at the patterns and cloths available. She couldn’t see the colors clearly. All she could think about was what those women must be thinking. Shame filled her heart and bile rose to her throat. Running outside, she bent over the railing and spewed her breakfast over the side railing.

When a damp handkerchief appeared just in her view, she reached out for it. However, the hand that held it was much larger than Ruth’s. Startled, she turned her head and found herself looking up into the eyes of her neighbor. “What are you doing here?” she blurted out.

“I could ask you the same question, but the answer to both our questions is rather obvious, don’t you think, Mrs. Garrity?”

When Megan looked puzzled at his answer, Graham took the opportunity to press the proffered handkerchief in to her hands. But she stood looking at it as if she had never seen one before. So Graham, moving slowly as possible, took his handkerchief and wiped Megan’s mouth for her. He then folded it over twice and wiped the beads of perspiration off of her pale brow. He chided her softly as he worked to repair her appearance for her.

“I’m here because my pantry is quite bare. Which is probably the same reason why you and Ruth are here. I saw the two of you drive by a little while ago. And I assume you’re out here rather than inside because of your condition.”

The last word shocked Megan and what little color she had left drained away. Graham, fearing she might faint again, reached out to steady her, but Megan jerked herself away from his light grasp. Trembling, she backed up until she felt the relative safety of the store wall behind her. How can he tell? How could he possibly know? I’m not even sure myself. “What…what do you mean by that?”

Fearing he had done more damage to a soul already in turmoil, Graham was ready to go hide under a bush somewhere. He cursed his own stupidity and wished again that he had grown up with sisters. What he knew about women was precious little. Trying to reassure her, he forced a laugh as he replied, “Why your tender stomach. I gather Ruth’s still learning her way around a stove?”

“No.” Megan blurted out.

“Yes, I am. She’s being too kind. Megan, what’s wrong?” Ruth had come outside just in time to hear Graham’s attempt at levity. One look at Megan’s pale face and his concerned one told her he was not attacking her domestic abilities.

“Nothing. I’m fine.”

“Perfectly, I’m sure.” Interjected Graham. “Tell me, Miss Dimmock, do many young women who are ‘perfectly fine’ go around fainting, spewing up their meals, and turning whiter than snow?” He stepped back away as Ruth moved into to take his place.

Directing her comments to Graham, she none the less looked Megan straight in the face, eyes searching for some clue as to her companion’s distress. “No, Mr. Miller, not many ‘perfectly fine’ young women go around engaging in those activities. However, I do venture that you have already seen how Megan believes she knows what’s best for her. If she says she’s fine, then I believe her.

“Are you all right, Megan?”

Megan studied Ruth’s face as intently as the other women was studying her own. Slowly she nodded her head, keeping her eyes locked on Ruth.

“Well, then, shall we finish our shopping?”

Megan nodded again and turned to go back into the store. Graham reached out and caught Ruth’s arm as she passed. “That woman is not fine, by any stretch of the word. What do you think you’re doing? Aren’t you supposed to be helping her?”

“Graham, you just admitted that Megan is a woman, not a child, and a women knows her own mind. Megan is still frightened and confused and I will not force her to do anything she doesn’t want to do just now.”

“Except for shopping?” He countered, remembering Megan’s face as the two woman had driven by earlier.

At that Ruth flushed, but all she did was join Megan inside. Graham remained where he was with one hand on the rail as if to hold himself up. Surely men are justified in their belief that women are the most vexing creatures on earth! He thought. Finally he turned to the hotel. Perhaps a meal would be in order as he waited for his neighbors to finish their business at the mercantile. For now, he’d rather avoid any other encounters with Megan. At least until he figured out why her well-being bothered him so.

Wednesday, May 29, 2002

I lost the bid on the HUD home. I did, however, predict to the exact dollar, what the winning bid would be (an amount I just don't have). I've learned that I am fairly good at guessing what a home will go for...but that's not much help when I have a lower ceiling of bargaining power than in needed in this crazy market in which I live.

After learning that I lost the bid, someone said that I could find a home to afford if only I had fewer restrictions on the properties I was looking at, specifically that the property be two minutes from where I work. I was hurt at the remark. Quite so. You see, the home I was bidding on needed approximately $25,000.00 of repair to make it livable. I am flexible on things not needing to be perfect. And while I am certainly willing to live more than 2 minutes commute from my current job, I have ruled out all properties over a 20-25 minute commute.

It's that perception thing again. No matter how many times I've said that I am not strong enough to work full time and spend an additional hour or more in the car, she doesn't listen. She just sees the person who is torturing herself at the gym three days a week and with cardio workouts five days a week.

Yes, I've gotten stronger (even if my weight actually INCREASED and I'm not back in any of my pre-Prednisone clothes). Yes, I've started to get some slight definition in the muscles in my arms and legs. And, yes, I am healthier just now than when I needed a cane for much of the time. But I am still battling a disease that makes working full time and taking care of all of life's needs (car, vet, groceries, etc.) all by myself quite difficult.

I get so I want to scream (or drown my sorrows in at least a six pack of Dr. Pepper) when I hear comments like hers. She thinks living in another suburb would be fine. She thinks a 45-minute commute should be no problem when many of the people in this area might find that to be a short commute. She thinks I'll just get used to it. She thinks it's all in my head. That I've talked myself out of being able to sit in a car (often with the clutch pushed in), with control of my legs, for a long commute.

I know that she didn't mean to be hurtful in her admonishing remark. I know that. But it doesn't help with my frustration that people look at me without a cane or wheelchair or obvious problem and think that I am doing fine and capable of doing at least as much as they are.

Tuesday, May 28, 2002

Imagine trying to get .02 ml of aspirin into a small bird's beak...successfully...

I haven't yet done so in the past eight attempts.

Fancy is better, but still exhibiting rather worrisome problems with control of her toes. At least her limping is less; it was quite pitiful to watch.

I put another bid in on a house. The only good thing about this endeavor is that it is a HUD bid and I will know in 48 hours. Everything else feels like Russian roulette between the crazy market and being just 10 to 15K short in what I need to get into a home here.

I have birds and bids on my brain...

Friday, May 24, 2002

Fancy broke a tail feather tonight. She sees the vet tomorrow. She still has poor control of her foot, but she is moving her leg more.

After the vet appointment and before the mother/daughter book club meeting, I am going to look at another duplex. It is a HUD foreclosure, so the bid is open and it needs major work, but I see it as an opportunity to get into a home here.

My writing student wrote a brief piece about foreign languages last week. This week, we worked on putting it into another form.

Sometimes I overhear foreigners
speaking to each other
in their native language
at the grocery store
or museum or park..
Voices jabbering away,
100 miles a minute,
unintelligible nonsense to me.
What possible sense is made?
I wonder
how can there be any
distinguishable words
amidst their
torrent of strange sounds?

But what, I wonder,
does English sound like to them?
Can they understand my language?
Or does it sound like
meaningless gibberish to them
as their language does to me?

I marvel that babies
pick up any language
just by hearing it
no matter how difficult
I think it is.
Russian or Chinese as easily as English.
I wonder, do they “customize” their mouth
to pronounce with ease
the unintelligible nonsense,
that torrent of strange sounds they hear?

Sounds specific to their language
which I simply cannot pronounce
the way a native speaker does,
no matter how hard I try.
The “ch” in Bach, (German obviously),
the “¸” in garcon (French).
I know, not wonder,
because I’m learning French
(or trying to, at least)!
Ah...the mysteries of language.

Personally, I marvel at how easily my writing student manipulates English in her journal entries, novels, and non-fiction pieces she's worked on in the past six months! At thirteen-years-old!!

Wednesday, May 22, 2002

Fancy's about the same. Her leg is now this disturbing shade of yellow with hints of green showing up. She limps. I wince. This stinks.

After my torture session at the gym, I took Kashi and Fancy for a mile long walk. When we got back to the apartment, Kashi dugs his heels in and refuse to take another step. I looked down at him and asked him what he needed. All he did at first was look at me. Sometimes when he does this, he then pulls me to do some more "business" or to investigate something intriguing he spotted. But this time he merely stared at me.

Knowing that one of his most favorite activities is lying on a sunlit floor, I walked to the nearest spot of sunlit grass and plucked myself down. He then came and stood beside me. I started rubbing the back of his neck and playing with his ears and tail. Slowly, he lowered himself next to me, snuggling as close as he does at night in bed. Fancy walked down my hair to my shoulder and then settled herself beneath my chin for a nap.

We sat that way, the three of us basking in the evening sun, for nearly an hour.

Somehow Kashi knew we all needed a spate of peace and quite, to be warmed by the sun, to savor the moment.

He's getting wise in his old age! Sunday was his seventh birthday. I thankful for all the companionship of this most stubborn of puppy dogs has given me.

Tuesday, May 21, 2002

I haven't really written because I spend most of my time at home holding Fancy. The vet wants me to keep her in her carry cage for at least a week to limit her moment, but I prefer to hold her in order to accomplish the same.

Her leg has started to turn green, but that is expected. What worries me is that her right back toe seems to not be functioning very well. I hope that she gains more control soon...worrying is exhausting.

The squirrels still have one up on me, but I bought two different kinds of pepper at the store today. I figured a triple attack might be just the thing to discourage their rather ungrateful digging. Ungrateful because there is plenty of food out there even after the birds gorge themselves.

Saturday I did take six kids (two of them 13-ish) to Chuck E Cheese's so that the parents of five of them could have a date. People think I'm crazy for enjoying that place and near certifiable to actually volunteer to take six kids with me. But I have this theory about Chuck E. Cheese's:

Everyone needs a bit of chaos in his/her life to help maintain perspective about life. If you think your life is crazy...spend a few hours in Chuck E. Cheese's with a passal of kids...

At Chuck E. Cheese's, the kids get to run wild (and sleep quite well after visiting the restaurant). And the parents get the opportunity to realize that, compared to the overwhelming cacophony at Chuck E. Cheese's, their home is not quite so bad as they might think, even with kids running in and out all summer long. It is undeniably a place of chaos. It is a absolute relief to exit the restaurant to the veritable silence of the parking lot.

After three and a half hours, I was glad to leave, but I did have a good time. And I dare say the kids did too.

I hope Fancy gets better soon...

Wednesday, May 15, 2002

Fancy has "severe soft tissue damage." The vet said in some ways this is worse than a break. In any case, I'm somehow supposed to keep her quiet for two weeks. Impossible.

Still, to see her limp and shake her leg in pain is heart wrenching to watch.

Tally's (the African Ring-Neck Parakeet) come to visit while his "parents" are away. I'm hoping he will cheer Fancy up with his presence and funny talk!

On a separate note: the benignity I've shown the squirrels around my balcony has come to an end. They actually have the audacity to dig up the flowers I bought for the bargain basement price of $1.09 to add a punch of color (Trading Spaces talk) to the plants and garden decorations I have on my balcony.

I've heard that pepper can discourage their spread some of the "hot hot" pepper I brought back from Liberia, Africa.

Take that, you diggers of plants!

Monday, May 13, 2002

Fancy hurt her leg on Saturday. She was eating some angel hair pasta on the counter like she's done dozens of time when she fell off the counter and hurt her leg.

The emergency vet was hoping for a strained muscle from doing what equates to the splits, but time has shown that she is not getting better like she would if it is a strain. That means she most likely fractured or broke her leg. She's going to her regular vet in the morning where she will be put to sleep and x-rayed. Depending on what the vet finds, I will know if her injury can be repaired.

Saturday she was so bad, she couldn't even sit on her perch. Her balance was off by the injured leg. I held her until we both fell asleep. Sunday she was a bit better, eating some, too. But while she will attempt to use her leg to get around, each time she truly bears weight on it, she shakes it in pain. It's rather horrible to watch.

We've spent the evening on the couch, her huddled beneath my chin and me hoping she will get better.

Gosh...I cannot believe how much I care about this bird!

Wednesday, May 08, 2002

Most Tuesdays I watch Gilmore Girls, The Guardian, and Judging Amy with a friend of mine. We watch tv together via Sprint PCS since we live several states apart. I've shared that with a few others and usually get strange looks or even disgust at the waste. But, as I talked about previously here in this very log, I find it quite worthwhile and part of what keeps our long distance friendship alive.

Well, today, I learned this man I know actually does much the same with his sister. Thursdays, they hang out on the phone, compliments of Verizon Wireless, and watch CSI and ER. Cool, eh? Their respective spouses and kids give a brother and sister time to stay in touch.

Perhaps...I'm not so strange after all!


Tuesday, May 07, 2002

If you're going to care about the fall of the sparrow you can't pick and choose who's going to be the sparrow. It's everybody, and you're stuck with it.
Madeleine L'Engle, The Arm of the Starfish

Last night the mother/daughter bookclub I run met. We usually meet on Saturdays, but none were available for April and the Monday evening we had chosen got moved into May. Still, I was glad we got to meet.

We read one of my favorite books last month, The Arm of the Starfish by Madeleine L'Engle. I think, perhaps, I love the book for the mere sake of the above quoted passage. Polly questions her father's decision to help the one who caused the death of a very dear friend of theirs. Polly would have preferred that Dr. O'Keefe refuse to render aide and allow Kali to face the consequences of her actions--both the death of Joshua and the fact that she swam in the ocean against the safety rules in effect due to the danger of sharks--and either die from her injuries or be horrible crippled.

But if you choose to care about the fall of the sparrow, the choice goes for all, not merely those about whom it is either convenient or comfortable to care.

That truth is one I've wrestled with over the years. There are those people that come into our lives (for many of us) we simply do not like, we do not care for, we would rather them be elsewhere. Yet even they should be valued simply because they are human beings.

It's come up on ER, this sparrow thing, though not in the so many words. When the man who stabbed Lucy and Carter came back into the hospital, many of the people in the ER did not want to help him. The same happened with the man who shot several people in a rage because social services had taken his son from his care. If you take the oath to do no harm, you do no harm, including the harm of not helping those we believe do not deserve it.

Such a hard truth to live...

Sunday, May 05, 2002

I went to see some other places today. They would all be settling for a place to own instead of buying a place where I wanted to live. Thus, I will keep looking...

Saturday, May 04, 2002

Well, I got the bad news phone call today.

What irks me about the whole process (other than the cake I've consumed with stress eating) is that I was $20,000.00 away from the winning bid, yet I was put off with specious excuses for a week. Why couldn't they have declined the contract straight off instead of stringing out my hopes? After all, $20,000.00 off is not a close number.


Off to try again.

I'm already cynical and jaded about my prospects...

Thursday, May 02, 2002

My realtor called and asked me how I would feel about waiting one more day.

Are you kidding! I wanted to scream. I was supposed to have an answer on Monday and now they've postponed a fourth time until Friday?

"That's fine," I answer.

I had my fourth piece of consolation cake today. I'm fairly sure finishing the cake before the sellers decide doesn't augur ill for my chances of actually having a reason to celebrate...

Wednesday, May 01, 2002

Fancy has a new skill: removing the bobby pins from my hair when I have it up in a twist or a bun. Systematically, she will walk around my head and pick them out one by one. Surprisingly, she grabs only the bobby pin and not my hair when she pulls with her beak.

I find it rather incongruous of her to do so since she does not like for me to have my hair down since her feet often gets caught in it. When that happens, she panics and pulls her foot and gets tangled more and panics more and screeches rather loudly right in my ear.

She is a funny bird…


Tuesday, April 30, 2002

The call that was supposed to come last night now is supposed to come tomorrow. This waiting around to see if I get the house stinks!

And if another person tells me that if I do not get the house (which I’ve about decided is my fate in this matter) it would only mean that another, better, house is waiting for me…I’ll scream!!!!!

Monday, April 29, 2002


I put in a contract offer on a house Saturday. The first one I went to see. It was perfect and the right price and a place I would enjoy living rather than just a place to buy so my money is no longer going down the black hole of rent.

I was supposed to hear tonight.

I haven’t heard a word.

I decided I needed a cake. I am rather famous for my box cakes, you see…and it could double as a congratulatory cake or a consolatory cake, I justified as I went to the store straight from the gym. I couldn’t decide which kind to make, so I got three mixes. After torturing my mother with my cake flavor quandary (she has to watch her diet because of her cholesterol), we settled on the butter cake with milk chocolate icing.

For the first time in the history of my cake making, I made a cake that simply fell apart once out of the pan. Is that an omen regarding the fate of my contract offer?

I consoled myself by eating a plate of crumbs smeared with icing.

Friday, April 26, 2002

A while ago, I saw a vanity license plate that fascinated me, HUNT4ME, and wrote a short-short story based on what might prompt a person to choose that message for his license plate.

Well, today I saw another striking message on a license plate. Although this time, I’m not so sure I want to write another story.

It read: BYBYENY…

In today’s climate, regardless of the message it was supposed to be, I saw “bye-bye New York.” I sat behind this car staring at that license plate, searching for some sign that the plate was new, some sort of tribute. But it was not. It was dirty and scratched and hardly looked brand new.

Perhaps it was someone who moved from New York and was missing his home. It is just hard not to jump to the wrong conclusion, to the negative, the drastic, the unthinkable...

Thursday, April 25, 2002

I worked a twelve-hour day today. I don't really have any brain cells left. If you have any to share, send some my way...

While we were working, we had Papa John's new specialty pizza, thin crust, white sauce, spinach pizza... Yum.....

I am through the pre-approval process for a mortgage and will be going out with a realtor on Saturday to visit several possible locations for my new domicile. Will I end the day still hopeful about finding a place to live in this area within my budget or will I be disheartened about ever owning my own home?

Here's to the former rather than the latter!

Wednesday, April 24, 2002

I was reading an article on the “airport sting” at Dulles and Regan National airports. Dozens of employees were arrested in a crackdown on security. According to, “Officials said that their security clearances gave them access to the most secure areas. ‘We were somewhat alarmed by the large number of people who lied on their applications for security badges,’ said Paul McNulty, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Va. ‘Holding these individuals accountable for their false statements has required an enormous organizational and operational effort.’” The article concluded with the following: “Officials said there is no evidence that any of the people arrested had any involvement in any kind of terrorist activity, but they said they wanted to make sure that anybody who lied had no place in an airport.”

Sometimes I think the hypocrisy of our society cannot get any worse and then a read an article such as this one. They lied on their applications and therefore must be hunted down like the criminals they are?

I agree that lying is wrong. And those employees should be held accountable for the choice they made to be deceptive.
But, really, it is ludicrous to respond as if this is such a horrible finding when the leaders of our own government lie. Should not our government also be swept clean of people who lie as was these two airports? Should not we equally have no place in our government for liars?

Face it. Today lying is perfectly acceptable behavior. Regardless of your own personal views on the matter, from children to adults, from servicemen to salesmen, and from professors to presidents people lie. They lie, and think nothing of their lies, even in the face of overwhelming evidence of their lies. After all, is it a lie if you believe it to be true?

Think of all those unnecessary repairs to cars, plumbing, electricity and HVAC units that go on each and every day. I’m sure you’ve fallen victim to one yourself. I have. And when you go to complain, you hear that that is just the way things work. With the exception of Saturn, buying successfully buying a car depends on being able to navigate the lies concerning price, fees, and/or the history of the car.

Children lie to parents. Parents lie to children. Spouses lie to each other. Politicians lie to their constituents. Clergy lie to their parishioners. Pedophiles, thieves, con artists, and insurance frauds exist on their lies. And they exist because we have no real standards against lying.

People lie.

If we are going to care about these airport employees lying, then we ought to care about the politicians, clergy, business partners, employees, vendors, friends, and family who lie. Until then, find another reason to publicly vilify those employees and claim that we should be worried about our national safety.

Perhaps we should be worried about our national soul.

Tuesday, April 23, 2002

Hum the tune to Gilligan's Island....

Got it in your head?

Okay, I started working on the following as alternative lyrics. I got stuck and thought you might like to work on some collaborative writing. If you have any suggestions for lines or things to sing about customer service on tech support calls, e-mail me (see link at the right of this screen).

Or just let me know what you think....

Sit right back and enjoy a tale,
A tale of a mighty trip,
That started with your first tech call,
And a three-hour hold,
A three-hour hold.

Well, the music started getting old;
Your eyes began to cross;
You wondered if you’d ever hear
Another human voice,
Another human voice

The hours passed one by one;
You’ve memorized those ads;
Then hope arrived, a human voice,
"How can I help you?
How can I help you?"

Alas, you have reached the one
Who solves computer ills;
You describe the problem step by step,
From install to reboot,
From install to reboot.

Once you’re through with your tale,
Much to your surprise,
You hear, "I’ll transfer you right now
To Tech Support,
To Tech Support."

Monday, April 22, 2002

So...Saturday, I went to my dad's house to visit, work on his computer, and to take my younger brother on a "date."

The visiting was good. The date was as well. We went to Taco Bell and ate for an hour and a half while we played UNO. A great date for a 12-year-old.

The computer troubleshooting was great. Great because I recognized two problems from past troubleshooting, one of which was a bad e-mail. They hadn't been getting e-mail. They had 43 e-mail messages behind the bad one. I got to show off my telneting skills. See...great because I was momentarily a computer guru hero!

So, Sunday I awoke early with a back spasm. Just Friday I was bragging to my trainer that I hadn't had one since December and attributed that fact to all the back work we've done at the gym. Since it was in the wee hours of the morning, I was able to affect a cure I had been wanting to try. Without worry about needing to work since it was Sunday, I took the muscle relaxer and the pain killer my doctor had prescribed for just this sort of occasion (medicine that knocks me loopy for at least 24 hours instead of the 4 hours each are supposed to have lasted) . I took it and then went to sleep with ice pack on my back and neck. I awoke every few hours and replaced the ice packs. I retook the medicine after six hours (and walked Kashi). In twenty-four hours, I was awake only 3 (much to the dismay of Kashi and Fancy). This morning, I awoke with a mere twinge left in my back.

But, the important thing is that many times the back spasms have laid me low for several days with pain lingering for about a week.

Call me crazy, but I even went to the gym today. I was very careful and concentrated on stretching much more than usual. And tonight I've been icing my back again aided by motrin.

Victory over computer snafus and back spasms. A good weekend, wouldn't you say?

Friday, April 19, 2002

I ate another carrot-less salad tonight.

I went to get some shredded carrots while I was making my nightly salad with chicken breast and discovered that the ones left in the bag were reduced to mush. The scary thing is that I ate carrots from that bag on last night's least I wasn't sick today...but how did I miss the ruined carrot slivers in the bottom of the bag?

Salads without carrots seem somewhat lacking.

I'm sleeping late tomorrow!

Thursday, April 18, 2002

Pink. Images of pink things flooded my mind. Flowers, cotton candy, baby blankets... those are all pink. None of the images that raced through my mind, however, were of hair.

I took a closer look at my grandmother's hair as I toweled it dry for her. Yes. It was pink all right.

This is the opening of the novel manuscript I thought would be the first full-length piece of writing that I've had published. I love this story. It's a great story. But it is the first manuscript (I have four others that are good stories, but are not crafted learning attempts) that was my "baby." Boy, was that a mistake.

I sent it out and got a prompt rejection. This was after a friend of mine who is an author had told me that she thought this was the first of my manuscripts that pulled together all of the best aspects of my writing and ought to be submitted. Buoyed by her encouragement, I did.

It was promptly rejected.

With no feedback other than I did not fulfill the editor's expectations for the relationship between Sadie and her grandmother.

I was crushed. I stuck the thing in a drawer and moved on. That was sort of stupid of me. Stupid, because I often share the fact that one of my favorite authors, Madeleine L'Engle, had a book rejected over 40 times before it was accepted. Then it won the Newbery Award for the year's most outstanding contribution to children's literature. What vindication she had.

Now, I'm not saying that the manuscript is Newbery material, but it was stupid to give up after just one try. It is just that this was the first time in all the things I've written that I was emotionally invested in it's reception. Too much so...

Anyway, all this is to say that someone chivvied me to get back to the two manuscripts I've been working on (Two? Yes, I'm a bit crazy at the attempt).

Why? Because when I write...I am most completely me. Forget about the blasted MS. Forget about the wretched asthma. Forget about the dastardly arthritis. Forget about work and not teaching just now and worries and fears and how clumsy I am at being a part of the human race at times. Forget...just create, craft, and discover what may come of it.

Tuesday, April 16, 2002

Years ago, I worked as a hospice volunteer. My first patient was an 87-year-old-man with aids. He got it through a transfusion. His wife, 81, was by his side except for the times I came to give her respite care. He had been a baker. Every time I went to visit him, his arms were constantly moving, going through the motions he had done baking goods for nearly all of his life.

I once asked his wife what she found hardest about his illness. She promptly replied no longer being able to sleep with her husband. Thinking I could help, I offered to arrange for a larger bed to be brought in. Imagine my embarrassment (at 20) when she replied, "No, honey, I mean I miss having sex with my husband." I blushed. I stammered. I thought, Aren't they too old for that?

The latter must have been written across my face because she blithely informed me that they had been enjoying each other's comfort until just a few months before when he became so ill...and her husband had only gotten better at it as the years went by!

It was all I could do not to flee from embarrassment!

Anyway, during that time, I started working on the following, as a way to process my conversations with his wife and what I was experiencing working with her husband. I never finished it, but I did show it to her. She told me she was never any good at writing, but perhaps she might give it a try. She asked to borrow the journal entries until she came up with some of her own because they so closely mirrored her heart.

She never finished them as she died only a few months later. She was not ill. She did not have an accident. She merely missed the man who had been her best friend, the father of her children, and her lover...for 63 years.

December 29th

Do you remember the Havershiems, Joseph? They called today. I wished you could have talked to them. They said to tell you “hello.” And, of course, they also called to say that they are great-grandparents! Imagine that. It seems like only yesterday that we were dancing at their wedding. Remember, Dearheart?

You made me practice with you for weeks because you thought your duties as the best man included dancing with all his female relatives. You didn’t want admit to him that you couldn’t dance. You were so stubborn, then. You still are...working so hard. You need to rest.

January 7th

Today I watched you work. It is strange to see you so. You worked so hard kneading the dough, shaping and twisting the breads and rolls. I missed not being able to work with you.

Another year has come. I never expected the changes this new year has brought. But I suppose you hadn’t either. I wonder what you are thinking now. As you work, do you remember all those years we spent together building our own business? Making Clancy a name on everyone’s tongue.

It’s been fifteen years since we closed the store and yet here you are working as hard as you ever did. I’m tired, Joseph. You need to rest.

January 13th

I’m not sure where the days go. I love you so much, Dearheart, but I cannot stand to see you this way. As tired as you must surely be you never let yourself rest. I want you to stop. I want you to finish your work so you can go.

Is that horrible, Joseph? Is it horrible that I want you to go? Sixty-three years of marriage. How can I live without you? But wouldn’t that be the best? For you and for me?

I don’t know. Perhaps it is wrong of me to want you to go. I can barely admit it myself. The children will never understand. They want you here as long as possible. They love you, too. How can people who love you want different things for you? I don’t understand what’s happening. I don’t know what to do.

January 15th

Remember the day you proposed to me, dressed up in your best suit, hair slicked back and eyes sparkling? I’m sure you thought you were the handsomest man in the whole county. At least I thought so. You were flustered, though. I admit that it was hard not to laugh when you kept dropping your hat as you searched for the nerve to ask me.

Yes. A word that has kept us together for sixty-three years. A word that has been our stronghold in times of trouble. When Timmy died. Oh, Joseph, my arms still ache for him so. Such a wee soul he was. And the spitting image of you. Those big blue eyes.

It is your eyes that hurt me the most now.

January 18th

It’s snowing! I went outside and lay in the snow to make angels. Remember when you first showed me how to do that? And when we taught each of our children?

Oh, Joseph. How could you leave me in this situation? How could you leave me to do all of the explaining? There are so many decisions to make. I wish you would at least tell me what you want me to do. What you think is best for all of us. We never talked about these things... Why didn’t we?

Sometimes I get so angry at you I could just shake you. And then I see you lying in that bed working with your hands and staring at some scene I am not allowed to see. I ache to see you lying there so helpless. And I feel guilty for even getting angry in the first place.

January 19th

I have been thinking about my anger. You wouldn’t even recognize me now, Joseph. I snap at the children and grandchildren for absolutely no reason. Yesterday I even threw a bowl of spaghetti at the kitchen wall. It made a fine mess and didn’t help to resolve anything.

I am ashamed. It’s all seems so futile and so confusing. I’m drowning in my anger and anguish and love all at once.

When you asked me to marry you, you said that you couldn’t offer me any promises. You said that life with a hemophiliac would never be certain, but that you would always love me and always care for me. Now I am the one caring for you. I am the one having to be strong when you were the one who held us together all those years.

Who can I shout at? What am I supposed to be angry at? The disease? AIDS doesn’t seem enough to me. It is cruel that we will never know which transfusion it was that brought you to this place. I want a person. I want someone I can specifically blame and say, “This is all your fault!” I want to scream and cry and, yes, throw things.

Yet here I am sitting beside you. Watching. Waiting. Jealous that I cannot join you in your work. Guilty because I want for all of this to be over, for you to die. In anguish because you are all I ever wanted in a friend, in a father, in a lover.

January 22nd

I talked with the children. I finally got up the nerve to let them know that I thought it was time to say good-bye. Is my desire for them to know it is time to let you go for you or for me?

I love you so much…

Friday, April 12, 2002

One workout at the gym and no fainting episodes. I drank plenty of water before, during, and after and I drank some orange juice just before. Although I am tired from my session since the trainer increased the weights on three exercises, I was glad to arrive home in one piece and conscious. [Yeah!]

The makers of Celebrex are my new best friends...

I took my first step on getting pre-approved for a mortgage.

All in all, today was a good day!

Thursday, April 11, 2002

Well, I started some arthritis medicine and have had a fairly night and day experience. The stiffness and pain have been nearly muted. The medicine is supposed to last 24 hours, but by the evening it has worn off and I resort back to using Motrin. Still, such a noticeable relief is quite welcome.

I do not mean to be so very medicinal lately, but I shall also speak of my latest puzzlement:

Monday, I keeled over at the gym right in the middle of doing my bicep curls (about an hour into my workout). When sanity returned, I thought perhaps my blood sugar had dropped (another nagging problem I have--ought not I to get a refund on my warranty...surely not-quite-thirty-five is too young to turn so geriatric with my multi-system illnesses). My trainer ran and got me some orange juice (I keep juice boxes in my car, at work, in my gym bag, and in my satchel) and a few minutes later, I was stupidly (I thought bravely) finishing those curls. I abandoned the last part of my work-out and went home.

I didn't think too much of it other than perhaps it was time for yet another inconclusive blood sugar test. And I decided I ought to take a pre-emptive strike by drinking some orange juice before I start my workout.

Yet, yesterday, I fainted in the parking lot on the way home from the gym.

Now, you may be thinking...STOP GOING TO THE GYM. But I've been plugging away at this exercise thing for six months and have gotten quite a bit stronger even thought "svelte" is not yet an adjective you could apply to my figure. I don't want to stop working out. I just want to stop fainting.

I figure I will see how tomorrow goes since I will be with my trainer again. This time I will drink some juice before and after I work out.

Perhaps I could get a doctor's appointment sometime right after I finish at the gym? Perhaps get a blood-pressure and blood sugar tests then? But how do I ask the doctor to come in all sweaty and tomato-faced?

I am tired of thinking about medical stuff...

Tuesday, April 09, 2002

Why is it that people find it necessary to announce the death of people they know with MS? When people find out I have it, I usually hear about some parent, grandparant, aunt/uncle, cousin or friend who had MS. Had...never has... If I make the mistake of asking how the person is, not clueing in on the past tense, I hear how he/she is now dead.

What do you say to that?

Does anyone have any relatives, friends or acquaintances with multiple sclerosis who are not dead?

Alas, I know there are...but sometimes it frustrates me when all I hear about are the dead ones. Again, how do you respond to someone who tells your her uncle had MS, but died a few years ago...when he was 46!


Monday, April 08, 2002

What do you think about when you cannot sleep?

Sunday, April 07, 2002

I keep a flowerbed right outside the front door to my apartment building. I enjoy working in it, but the experience has been rather negative because I have had bushes stolen, flowers smashed, flowers dug up and left on the sidewalk, and the rocks bordering the flowerbed taken. Still, I persist in trying to create a small place of beauty for myself and others to enjoy.

This past year the apartment complex actually mulched the bed for me. This was a pleasant surprise because I didn't have to spend my own money doing so. But last time, they used those chunky bark chips that just wash away with strong rain and make a mess. So, when the apartment complex had a team of gardeners collect all those bark chips a few weeks ago, I was glad. I bought a bag of mulch and planned to spread it out on my flowerbed.

However, I got sick.

I spent this afternoon pulling a few weeds and spreading the mulch that has been riding around in the trunk of my car for three weeks. I enjoy gardening. Something about it distills the moment of all else but the soil and plants from my mind. I think of nothing. I worry about nothing. I just am.

Today, though, I listened to the children playing on the playground while I work. I was saddened to hear their pretend talk consisted primarily of cops and jail and bail and hostages and time-served and three strikes... Somehow it didn't seem like children playing. It seems as if they were speaking of the life they believed was before them.

Saturday, April 06, 2002

Not to belabor a point, but I am sitting here with chills because the temperature in my apartment seems rather frigid. I got up to look at the thermostat. It read 75 degrees...

I would normally go blanch myself in the shower to warm up, but I tried a tanning bed yesterday and I'm not sure it was such a good idea.

Funny about that 75 degrees. Normally, that's enough to trigger symptoms of weakness and disorientation. Right now...I'm cold.

How's that work?

Thursday, April 04, 2002

What is it about 75 degrees?

At work, 75 degrees is too warm for me. I am uncomfortable and sweaty and think too much about the temperature in the room. At my father's house it is the same.

But at my house...sometimes 75 degrees is too warm, and I start to grow shaky and weak...yet sometimes it is too cold, and I feel chilled and end up turning on the heat (I know...that sounds crazy).

75 degrees doesn't seem to be a consistent temperature. How can that be? I mean, 75 degrees is always 75 degrees. It is 75 degrees whether at work or home or on vacation someplace. 75 degrees is not cool one time and warm another. 75 degrees is merely 75 degrees.

Given that I am NOT going through the change of life--a decade too soon for that at least!--how can 75 degrees be too cool, then too warm, only to be too cool again?

What's up with 75 degrees?

Wednesday, April 03, 2002

My friend sent me this e-mail a while back and I meant to post it straight off as she also did on her blog...but my memory and then that blasted flu thing got in the here it is...something quite important to me...

Hi Everyone!
I wanted to let you all know that I'm riding my bike to raise money for Multiple Sclerosis this spring just like I did last fall.

This trip is also 150 miles round trip - 75 each way each day for 2 days. Its called the MS 150 Spring Bike Tour - Wheels to Weeki Wachee and it occurs April 20, 2002 - April 21, 2002 and is sponsored by the Mid-Florida Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

I need to raise just $175 dollars to participate in this event. Last fall I was flabbergasted when I discovered my friends and family had contributed $475 towards MS through my participation in this event. I hope you can each contribute again.

One of my dear friends has MS. Its because of her that I am compelled to participate in events like this one. She used to ride bikes, but can't anymore. Knowing her reminds me how blessed I am to have strong legs, strong arms, strong lungs and an enormous amount of will power. I think of my friend with MS every time I struggle to pedal to the top of a hill, or whenever my thighs burn from hours of pedaling. I am reminded how lucky I am to be physically able to ride my bike 75 miles a day for 2 days.

There are no third party promoters or organizers in this event. All the money raised goes to MS - some stays locally in Central Florida, some contributes to national programs.

Its really easy to make a pledge. Just click the link below and fill out the form. It only takes a minute.

You can also help out by joining in and participating in this event. Join my team by visiting this link:

The team code is: 6412.

While signing up, be sure to enter the coupon code TEAM when asked on the online

Thanks for your support and contributions!

Bj Price

Tuesday, April 02, 2002

I came home and slept for two hours. I thought I would stop by here before I go back to sleep.

I realized that I didn't explain how it is that I know Fancy wants angel hair pasta when we are in the kitchen...

Whenever she is on my shoulder as I walk into the kitchen, she hops off and flaps her stubby wings over to the cutting board (the first place I gave her the pasta). If I don't plops some done in front of her, she starts squawking as she hops around the board, pecking at the empty wood. If I try to put her back on my shoulder, she will hop and flap her way back to the cutting board. This is often repeated several times unless I give in straight away. [I've been keeping spare pasta in the refrigerator for her--she'll even eat it cold!]

What amazes me besides her single-mindedness on getting her pasta is that once I've fed her some for the day, she is content to stay on my shoulder when we go back into the kitchen at a later time.

I thought birdbrain was an insult?

She seems pretty smart if you ask me...

Monday, April 01, 2002

I went into work today. Coughing, aching, and so incredibly tired. I worked six hours straight trying to catch up and find a stopping place since I was invited to work a few half days to make sure I continue to get better instead of relapsing back into the horror of the past ten days.

I got home at 2:48 pm and fell asleep. Now, at 10:02 pm, I am back awake and taking a moment to eat, check in here, and walk Kashi before I go back to bed. Kashi deserves some sort of award for self-control because I took Fancy out of her cage to nuzzle her for a few moments and ended up sleeping on the couch with her. Somehow, Kashi managed not to eat her while we were sleeping.

Fancy, by the way, has decided that she should have angel hair pasta each time we enter the kitchen. You see, I couldn’t really go to the grocery store the past week and a half and pretty much all that was left to eat in my apartment was some beans, some tomato soup (that tastes too metallic for me to eat), and four boxes of angel hair pasta. While the antibiotics have really messed with my digestive system, I have tried to keep eating. With a cooking time of 4 minutes, the pasta won out. Fancy has had her share, but she now thinks visits to the kitchen should mean angel hair pasta for her the way visits to the bathroom mean Keebler honey graham crackers.

Such a wretchedly long illness this has been…


Friday, March 29, 2002

I thought perhaps I would check in for just a moment. I’m still in the land of the living, though uncomfortably so.

I’m still coughing. I still cannot breath through my nose even with my Breathe Right strips. I am still incredibly weak. And to top is all off, the 1,750 mg of antibiotic I am taking daily is wreaking havoc on my system.

I’ve blown right through my sick days for the entire year and am now eating into my vacation days.

And the three people who have come in contact with me this week are now sick as well.

I could start to feel sorry for myself if I weren’t so darned tired. Tired of sleeping. Tired of television. Tired of reading. And tired of being ill.

But, alas, you who are reading this certainly did not stop by to join a pity party, so I will impart a bit of wisdom to you: Check freshness dates on the items you buy at the store.

I dragged myself to the store because I have no food and really should start eating more than malt-o-meal. The milk, the salad mix, and the cheese I chose all were expired food goods. I didn’t notice that until I was already hunched over my cart in line to check out. Bothered to no end by the lack of attention to the goods in the store, I actually had the manager go and fetch fresh replacements for the food in my cart.

After I got back home, I had to take a nap to recover from the strenuous one-mile trek to the store.

Now I am here to say, “Hello!” And to remind you to check the expiration/best-if-used-by dates on your food purchases.

Monday, March 25, 2002

My misery has reached new heights. It feels as if some tiny demons are stabbing the back of my throat with sharp knives. Today I have gone through half a bottle of chloroseptic spray, sucked on an entire packet of Hall's throat lozenges, and sucked on two trays of ice-cubes (nearly choking myself in the process).

This afternoon, in desperation, I braved my dizziness to venture to the doctor's ...only to find that they have lost my chart. After waiting for an hour while the office staff conducted a fruitless search, my doctor just saw me, swabbed my throat, and sent me off clutching a prescription for a super-antibiotic.

On the way home, after waiting another hour at the pharmacy (where my blood pressure was 98 over 61), I stopped by 7-11 (where I surely spread my germs) for some cherry vanilla Haagen-Dazs ice cream and Dr. Pepper.

I have returned to my green chair and my heating pad and am praying it is bacteria not a virus attacking my body so that the antibiotics will work. was your day????

Sunday, March 24, 2002

So...the soured milk smell has finally left my car. And...the hall closet is cleaned out.

But...I have been visited by fever and chills and aches and pains and dizziness and weakness and coughs and sneezes and overwhelming malaise...otherwise known as the flu.

Rats! Being upright long enough to post here is a bit much, so I will return to my green chair and blanket and heating pad...


Friday, March 22, 2002

I spent an hour cleaning out and organizing my toolbox. I have been wanting a new one since part of my is held together with a pushpin. The one I want is less than $10.00, so I am not sure why I’ve been intent on “saving money” by keeping my old one.

I spent an hour organizing my toolbox. I spent an hour doing so because I am avoiding the closet where the toolbox is kept. I’m fairly good about keeping things organized, but this closet has somehow gotten out of control. Each time I look at it and determine that I am going to do something about it, I end up just shutting the door.

So, if, as I’ve already pointed out, I tend to organize because I am upset about something chaotic or out-of-my-control in my life, then what does it mean that I am deliberately avoiding organizing something that is bothering me with its messy state?

Thursday, March 21, 2002

I have a partial hearing loss from the MS. I found out about that April 11, 2000. That was another bad day for me.

I sort of went into an emotional tailspin because I thought: No! Absolutely not! I cannot handle one more physical problem that will need to be monitored. If I can remember correctly (and we know what a long-shot that is), it was nearly three months before I came to the conclusion that I couldn’t do anything about my hearing loss, and, thus, the funk I was in was simply not worth it. Now I just explain (rather unapologetically) to anyone who is going to watch tv or a movie with me that the volume might be a bit loud for them, and I keep the volume cranked up on my phones.

Anyway, from time to time I find myself hearing high pitches from machinery around me. The copier at work is one example. I can hear this tone the entire time it is on (which is all day). I’ve learned to ignore that one, but right now I can hear a tone from my modem that I’ve never heard before. I know it is the modem because I logged off and back on three times. I could only hear the noise while I was connected to the internet.

I will also have times when suddenly all the sounds around me become muted, and I start hearing a high-pitched tone. The tone does not last long, and then the sound around me returns. This does not hurt, but it is strange…especially when it is the general cacophony of the gym that has suddenly become muted.

That it is strange is why I’m even writing about this. Strange things are a constant of having MS. Now I am not saying the tones are due to the MS-related hearing loss since I have put off this year’s visit to the audiologist because I simply do not want to see the comparison graphs between where my hearing was a year ago and where it is now. I’m choosing blissful ignorance for the time being. But I would like to know what might be the cause of these tones. When I’ve asked others around me if they hear high-pitched tones, they look at me as if I am crazy.

Crazy and strange. My MS companions. You notice strange things. You ask about them. You get funny looks (even from a doctor) and then usually a long, frustrating time later you meet or read about someone (and usually many “someones”) who’ve been having the same strange, crazy experience as you. Perhaps another MS companion would be “Ah-hah.” The companion I often quite have as I read the National Multiple Sclerosis Magazine or people-with-MS websites.

It’s funny. You get this strange (that word again) sort of relief when you find out that you are not crazy; you are, in fact, just having another symptom of a particularly pernicious disease.

I think, perhaps, a key to living with this disease is accepting the strange and the crazy and take comfort knowing that the “Ah-hah” will eventually follow.

Wednesday, March 20, 2002

Kashi tried to eat a battery yesterday. He has this rather fundamental belief that all things are edible (as previously discussed in my musings that he might really be a goat). Have I mentioned that one thing he tried to eat was one of my inhalers? He actually managed to puncture the canister of medicine, which, rather violently I might add, shot across the room and put a dent in the wall. Those canisters are not meant to be punctured.

Fancy is developing her own eating preferences as well. I believe I’ve mentioned that each morning she sits on my shoulder in the bathroom as I get ready for work. Ever since Ben (her avian husband) died, she’s become quite clingy--understandable, after all, as I am her only flock left. Getting ready with her generally ensures that she doesn’t squawk the entire morning. Anyway, most mornings I eat a graham cracker with a glass of milk as I get ready (mostly to get rid of the taste of the protein shake that starts my day). Well, a few weeks ago, she hopped off my shoulder and made her way down my arm to my hand. One bite of that Keebler Golden Graham, and she was hooked.

Now, when I get ready in the bathroom and she is with me, Fancy will sit on my hand until I give her a quarter part of graham cracker to eat. If I try to ignore her and continue with applying makeup, she will merely flap her wings to keep from falling off as I raise and lower my hand. Any attempt to return her to my shoulder ends with her back on my hand before I can pick up my makeup again. In fact, if she’s on my shoulder and I enter the bathroom to put away a towel or something, she promptly hops to my hand and waits for her treat.

Have I mentioned that she’s a stubborn bird?

Tuesday, March 19, 2002

I think one of the worst smells in the world is sour milk in a car. I think this because for the fourth time, I am greeted with that fetid miasma each time I get into my car.

Now the other three times, I knew what had happened. One time a kid spilled his milk from McDonalds as we were driving to the park. Foolishly I thought the three-year-old could handle a straw. After all, the park was mere moments from the restaurant. The second and third time, I spilled my own milk. I like to bring a container of chocolate milk to work for an afternoon snack. Both times, I dropped the container and both times it hit the door frame and bounced into the car instead of out, popping off the top as the milk spilled. Even after cleaning the spot, each time I had to live with the smell (mixed with cleaning fluid) until it finally went away.

This time, I have nary a clue as to what happened.

I know I bought milk last Thursday. I know it must have spilled with the noisome fumes. But I do not know where it spilled. These brain cells of mine, you know. I cannot remember where in the car I put my groceries. It could have been in the front seat. In the back seat. In the trunk.

I've tried to sniff for the the apartment parking lot, in the gym parking lot, in the Walmart parking lot, in the bank parking lot. Each time I was interrupted by someone staring at me while I was sniffing the carpet and/or seat upholstery. As you can imagine, I stopped sniffing.

Needless to say, I still don't know where the milk spill is in my car...but each time I open the door, I am reminded anew what a horrible smell sour milk can be trapped within a car.

Thursday, March 14, 2002

Tonight, after our writing lesson, my student and I played Scrabble. I won. But was it really a victory? She doesn't play much and was not in the practice of looking to play letters to make a word both vertically and horizontally, neither was she in the habit of using the letter "s" in just this manner. So, perhaps we should play a few more games before I declare my first Scrabble Victory (remember my friend chastened me in the other "first" victory saying I cheated by rigging the game when I did not let the crossword puzzle guru play with the rest of us).

I am birdsitting this weekend. The ring-necked African Parakeet arrived this evening. I really enjoy having him since he talks and is quite affectionate. Fancy has yet to decide if she likes him. Sometimes when they are each on one of my shoulders, one or the other will amble over to the other bird's shoulder. They will then prance about a bit before either the first bird retreats or the second bird does. They have yet to bite or snip or charge each other, so I let them be together a bit. I think Fancy at least enjoys his company during the day when I am gone as they can see each other from their respective cages.

I cannot wait until Saturday...I need to sleep!

Tuesday, March 12, 2002

I had an epiphany Sunday night. At least one for me. And I’ve been thinking on it ever since…

Sunday, my father woke me up when he called at 11:15 in the morning. He woke me up because I am not sleeping well since my joints hurt so much. But I didn’t mind because he was calling for a date. Lunch at Fuddruckers!

I got out of bed and hobbled to the bathroom. [It takes me a while to get going in the morning.] I then took Kashi outside, but I didn’t walk him far enough to do his business other than raising the water table in our area a bit because I was still so stiff.

So when my father arrived, I was just setting out to walk Kashi again. I asked Dad if he wanted to wait inside or join me, and he chose the latter. It was as we were walking back up the short incline to my apartment door that he commented on my state. I was quite short of breath and literally heaving myself up the stairs in the hallway using my arms on the handrail. He asked if I was always this short of breath just taking Kashi out. I replied in the affirmative with some blithe comment about having asthma and MS tends to do that to a person, but did not think much more about it until later.

At Fuddruckers, I chose a booth that was really for about six people because it had a cushioned seat and a handy brass post that ran from floor to ceiling on one side of the circular booth. I knew I would need help getting in and out of the booth, especially by the time lunch was over. The first half of the meal, I got up twice to get drinks just to move around a bit, but I was enjoying our conversation so much in the second half of our lunch that I didn’t move around. Consequently, I had to pant my way through the pain of rising up and stand still for a few moments before I could straighten my body enough to walk.

Later, I broke a glass when I dropped it. I dropped it because I had been sitting on the couch with my legs resting on the coffee table. If you were to stick your legs out just now, you would notice that the angle of your foot changes as your toes drop forward. So when I tried to stand, forgetting to do so slowly, the pain of moving my ankles to a right angle for walking was more than I could bear. I grabbed at the arm of my couch to keep myself from falling and dropped the glass I was holding.

Still, the confluence of thought did not come until even later. Just before I went to bed. I was outside, walking Kashi, huffing and puffing my way back up the small hill when it hit me. I thought about Dad’s comment. I thought about how difficult something as simple as even having lunch out has become. I thought about how whether this new problem really is arthritis or actually an exacerbation of the multiple sclerosis…it did not matter. Both reasons cause pain and both reasons are not going away. And I thought about how I having been living with far more pain that I thought I would have been able to deal with as prosaically as I have been.

Suddenly it hit me. My epiphany: barring medical breakthrough or miracle healing…I will be sick the rest of my life.

I’ve thought about my future at times. I’m trying to make financial decisions based on the understanding that I most likely will not be able to work fulltime until the standard age of retirement. I quickly flip through all those advertisements for wheelchairs in the National Multiple Sclerosis Society Magazine when I am reading the articles. But I don’t ignore them. I know what my future may very well hold as far as physical and mental breakdown due to MS. But I have never really thought about the fact that I could very well spend the rest of my life ill.

This realization is quite unsettling, as you might imagine. One that I am only beginning to swallow.

What does one do with that sort of knowledge…with this sort of epiphany?

Sunday, March 10, 2002

Long time no write????

I haven't been feeling well and thought that the involuntary evacuation of my stomach was not the reading material you might seek here.

Now I am on my way to bed having spent the evening troubleshooting a computer long-distance with my folks. I genuinely wish I knew enough to connect to their computer and just work on it. Blind troubleshooting is rather difficult. I might even have a smidgen of compassion the next time I call tech support.

Two highpoints of my day:

My dad called and asked me for a lunch date. We ate at Fuddruckers. :)

When I was walking this morning Kashi, another tenant here told me I was lucky I could have my dog with me. You see, the apartment complex changed its pet policy to exclude dogs. I am grandfathered in since I had a lease before the policy was changed. I am fortunate to have Kashi. I would even say I was blessed. Company of any kind is always nice, but especially so when you are not feeling well.

Tuesday, February 26, 2002

John Parker sat in his car a defeated man. Twenty-five years on the force. Five times decorated for heroism in the line of duty. Having never fired his gun. A man who seemingly had everything. But nine years ago, he had stumbled into a convenience store robbery. He had stumbled into Blake.

One sunny afternoon he had stopped into a 7-11 to get some ice for his son’s soccer game. Normally his wife handled the snack time when it was their turn, but she was home ill with the flu. That left John with the task of bringing juice boxes, oatmeal cookies, and orange slices to the game.

That same sunny afternoon, James Lee Blake had decided he needed quick cash and chose the convenient method. Dash in and dash out without much trouble. However, his dash was broken mid-stride by John’s son Scott.

The ice machine was located in the farthest corner from the cash register; so John had been helpless to do much beside try to memorize the robber’s face. On soccer days, John left his service revolver, beeper, and phone at home. Those few hours with his son were a sanctuary from the rather seedy world in which he spent most of his days as a detective. John waited, muscles straining with the effort not to interfere in a helpless situation. While his training and instincts told him he would only make things worse if he tried to do something without so much as a nightstick for defense, he fervently prayed the store cameras were working and that the counterman cooperated. While the former was unknown to John, the latter unfolded before his eyes. The young man dropped some money as he stuffed the paper bag, but the robber simply motioned with his gun for him to pick it up. Scott had jumped out of the car to remind his father not to forget the Gatorade he liked, Riptide. Scott pushed the door into robber just as he tried to leave with his loot. In a flash, Blake slammed the barrel of his weapon against Scott’s temple and made his escape.

Scott died in intensive care three weeks later. A small body rarely wins against cold steel. John never had the chance to say good-bye to his son.

Chasing Blake became his life. His first quick search through his city’s database resulted in sheets from eight arrests for petty larceny. A few favors to Juvenile showed a record of crime that began with shoplifting in the third grade for Blake. He faxed the still shots pulled from the store’s video camera to every law enforcement office he could find. Months went by and inquiries made to other states came up with descriptions that fit Blake, but not names. Every lead led him to more crimes. Small stuff, really, until Scott. Blake just seemed to take what he needed instead of working. Several social security numbers, all from dead children, were tied to his activities in seven states.

After four years, John’s wife left him. Evenings spent with cold cups of coffee in front of the computer or phone or archives left little time for his wife. And he couldn’t let go. He couldn’t say good-bye to Scott the way she had. She loved their son no less, but she knew that he would not want all their lives ruined that day.

Nine years of hurting and searching led to this day. To this time. And all John Parker could do was sit in his car because he couldn’t face the unbelievable. He had found Blake. Nine years of sacrifice had brought him to a small house on the outskirts of Boston. In the driveway was a 1997 Honda Accord. A car with license plates that read “HUNT4ME.”

The arrogance of Blake. The senseless loss of Scott. A life of wronging others blazoned across a sheet of metal overwhelmed John. To Blake Scott had merely been a vanity plate.

While the hunter had found his prey, the final capture of Blake was cold comfort for the void still left in John’s heart. Seeing those plates told him he’d have no answers for Scott’s death. No pleas of remorse.

Fingers trembling, he dialed 9-1-1 . . . and waited.

Monday, February 25, 2002

When I walked into the woman's dressing room at the gym today, I saw a strange sight. This woman was standing in her underwear on the scale. Not so strange, I know, but what she did afterwards was.

The whole time I was changing my clothes, she would put on one article of clothing and then re-weigh herself. I couldn't figure out why she kept at it since she could simply weigh twice to get the weight of her clothes. But maybe she was trying to get to a particular weight and needed to know which clothing to wear to achieve that target weight. But then why try to add to your weight?

By the time I had finished changing into the workout clothing, she was gone, so I popped on the scale myself. After all, it has been two weeks since I last weighed. Having only gained weight over four months of sweating and straining at the gym, I'm not that eager to get on the scale.

Imagine my surprise when I saw the numbers...they read that I had lost 3.2 pounds! Yippee!!!!!!!!

Thursday, February 21, 2002

Three days without having to telnet in order to receive my e-mail. Such a pleasure... In case you are interested, you can forward any unsolicited commercial e-mail (e-mails selling services and merchandise) directly to

My apartment complex left a "new" addendum to my lease on my door yesterday, along with a letter saying that the changes would be enforced March 1st. What change did I notice? Somehow it is my responsibility to install wall-to-wall carpeting and padding at my expense.

Can you believe that? I'm torn between ignoring the changes since I have a lease with them until December and certainly do not agree to these changes and challenging them on their authority to make such changes in the middle of a lease.

In case you're wondering...the maintenance men never came back to prime and paint the two squirrel holes they patched. I would paint, but I'm not about to spend any more of my own money improving this apartment (I built shelves in the pantry closet, had ceiling light fixtures wired and hung in three rooms, and have been maintaining the flowerbed outside my apartment).

Last neighbor informed me that he now has a squirrel running around in his ceiling...