Thursday, March 31, 2005

Do you like Ann Coulter?

I have little experience with Ann Coulter. Yeah, I read Al Franken's book chapter, but I haven't read Coulter's books. And if I've actually ever seen her on TV, I must have changed the channel quickly. I just don't see any point in familiarizing myself with her oeuvre.

But others have stronger stomachs than I do. Why, Rob the Un-Apologetic Atheist even went to hear her speak! If you're like me and you've been sparing yourself any exposure to Coulter, go ahead and read Rob's report—and then resume your boycott of neocon hell. But don't read it before bedtime, because it may cause nightmares. (Or indigestion.)

Wednesday, March 30, 2005


The fabulous Barack Obama has just started a senatorial blog. So far, there's not much to it, but I'll be interested to see how it evolves. The first posts tout the issue of college financial aid and some legislation he's introducing to expand Pell grants.

I'm so lucky—I actually got to vote for Obama. Plus, we Illinoisans probably had cause to say and hear his name more than the rest of you. And it's so fun to say! Say it with me: Buh-ROCK o-BOMB-a!

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Is it the apocalypse?

Now that Social Security "reform" (read: destruction) is less likely to be foisted on America, Paul Krugman has freed himself up to discuss other important issues in his NYT column. Today, Krugman writes about the threat to democracy that is posed by "dangerous extremists," by which he means right-wing Christians like Tom DeLay and Randall Terry.

Governmental interference in the Terri Schiavo case, laws that allow pharmacists to refuse to dispense birth control, the attempts in Congress to eliminate the filibuster and so pack the bench with right-wing judges—all are part of the religious extremists' agenda, and moderates have got to defend our nation against these assaults.

And did you hear about this? Krugman writes, "There has been little national exposure for a Miami Herald report that Jeb Bush sent state law enforcement agents to seize Terri Schiavo from the hospice - a plan called off when local police said they would enforce the judge's order that she remain there." (!!! Jeb in 2008? I'll pass.) Must be the liberally biased media that squelched that story. The fundie crowd who shrieked about the sanctity of Terri Schiavo's life apparently is selective about their support of life—the judge in the Schiavo case, George Greer, needs armed bodyguards to protect his life.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Another chat about ovarian cancer

In the comments on the OC post below, emma goldman asked how it can be diagnosed earlier. I'm no expert, but I've heard that some cases that are caught early are discovered by accident—a woman is having surgery for some other reason, and while the surgeon's in there, he or she sees the cancer. And maybe some cases are picked up incidentally on ultrasound, CT, or MRI scans done for other reasons (although my aunt S. had an abdominal CT scan about a month before her diagnosis that didn't show the tumors that were EVERYWHERE in her abdomen, just as the earlier ultrasound also showed nothing much amiss).

The research that's going on now is aimed at finding some way to diagnose this terrible cancer earlier, when survival rates are much higher. My cousin L. is enrolled in an early-detection screening program (a research study). It involves annual transvaginal ultrasound exams (using what I like to call the cooter wand) and quarterly CA-125 tests. The study folks also draw blood for genetic testing.

When a mutation is present in the famous BRCA-1 or BRCA-2 gene, an individual may be at increased risk of breast or ovarian cancer. There's another genetic mutation that involves cancer of the ovaries and colon. Aunt S. tested negative for these known mutations, so even though her mother died of OC, S.'s case is officially considered "sporadic" rather than hereditary. However, who's to say that there aren't other genetic mutations that also predispose people to OC? While the known mutations aren't present in my cousin L., the genetic counselors didn't tell her she could relax—they told her to get into a screening program ASAP and get her ovaries out by 40.

One goal of the screening study L. is participating in is to identify other mutations or markers that are linked to OC. They draw blood and store it; when a suspicious mutation is discovered, they can check the blood samples and see if they confirm a link between OC and the mutation. Maybe in another decade, they'll have identified some more reliable markers of cancer risk. This aspect of the study provides no benefit at all to the participants, but it might help identify women at risk in the future.

The researchers are also trying to find a better way of using CA-125 screening (which misses most early cases and gives a lot of false-positives). They check levels every 3 months, which will allow them to monitor any changes in an individual woman's levels. In medical practice, generally the cutoff level for concern is 35 U/mL. If a study participant usually runs a CA-125 level of, say, 15, an increase to 25 would prompt a closer look. L. likes that aspect, but who knows if changes in low CA-125 levels mean anything? We just don't know yet.

What about prevention? Basically, anything you can do to reduce the amount of work your ovaries do. Having more babies and starting childbearing earlier on means less ovulation (you don't ovulate while you're pregnant). Breastfeeding tends to interfere with ovulation, and is associated with a reduced risk of ovarian cancer. Taking the the other OC—oral contraception, aka the pill—also prevents ovulation and cuts cancer risk. Getting your tubes tied also helps. I daresay it's a helluva lot easier to quit smoking to reduce your risk of lung cancer than it is to reverse the course of time and have children earlier to reduce your risk of ovarian cancer.

Ovarian cancer is so scary because it's like you're driving down the highway and there's a Mack truck bearing down on you, head on. Only it's invisible, so it's tough to veer out of its way. If it hits you, odds are the crash is going to be horrendous. And the only way to prevent the crash is not to have gotten in your car in the first place. It's not a fair fight. If we are ever going to get this truck off the road, we need to fund more research.

Friday, March 25, 2005

The wisdom of a child

Ben just came up to me, nodded his head vigorously, and asked, "Mommy, am I hearing my brain wiggle?"

I said he wasn't, but he doesn't buy that. He's convinced he can, indeed, hear his brain moving about in his cranium. Who am I to argue?

Remember Space Food Sticks?

From the 1970s? Chewy sticks of goodness, in must-have flavors like chocolate, peanut butter, chocolate mint, and butterscotch (if I recall correctly). Popular during the heyday of space-travel chic in the grocery store, a perfect counterpart to a glass of Tang.

There are places you can buy what purports to be genuine Space Food Sticks, manufactured freshly in the modern day. Word to the wise: Don't buy 'em. They suck. They're shaped wrong. And if the flavor is the same, then I had terrible taste in childhood. Resist the temptation.

Welcome to OC—it's a bitch

One year ago this month, my uncle's wife was diagnosed with stage IIIB (advanced) ovarian cancer.

As the daughter of a woman who died of OC in the 1960s, Aunt S. was especially vigilant about her health. While no screening test has been validated as an effective means of detecting OC, S. made it a point to undergo regular ultrasound examinations and has also had CA-125 blood tests (CA-125 levels often are elevated when OC has taken root). She had an ultrasound in January 2004 that showed nothing out of the ordinary; at that point, the cancer had probably been growing for a few months already. S. went from doctor to doctor, trying to find the cause of a variety of abdominal symptoms. In March, a doctor diagnosed gallbladder trouble, and sent her to the hospital. At that point, the cancer had caused so much fluid buildup in the abdomen (ascites) that the docs drained a couple liters of fluid—and found cancerous cells.

Within a couple weeks, S. had major surgery to remove the ovaries, uterus, gallbladder, a cancerous appendix, and a few other organs. The surgeon was unable to tackle the hundreds or thousands of cancerous nodules clinging to the abdominal cavity walls, the intestines, and who knows what else. The recovery was difficult and she spent three miserable weeks in the hospital.

S. has been receiving chemotherapy ever since, and the weekly chemo regimen she's on is wearying. The cancer has not grown appreciably, but it also hasn't gone away. It does seem to be present in the lungs now, and possibly has been there the whole year; this causes recurrent fluid buildup in the lungs, which has necessitated a couple hospital stays. The latest serious complication is a blood clot in the leg (deep vein thrombosis), arising as a result of the cancer itself or of the chemo port.

Ovarian cancer is a terrifying disease. So hard to detect, even with the best tests available today. So hard to treat, no matter how many different chemo drugs are tried.

My cousin L., of course, having a mother and grandmother with OC, faces a sharply increased risk herself. She's 38 and hasn't had any kids yet. She's already had one ovary removed (it had a benign tumor), and has been advised strongly to have the other one out by age 40. (Instant menopause! So much for having a baby.) Removing both ovaries drops her OC risk considerably, but OC is evil: Even after the ovaries are gone, OC can still arise in the peritoneal tissue.

L. is also one of my dearest friends. My son is probably closer to L. than to his grandparents. She is going to lose her mother soon—this is not in dispute. I don't want to lose my cousin, too.

Do you know what the total government funding is for ovarian cancer? It's something shamefully insignificant like $10 million a year. (Compare to various line items in the military budget and be outraged.) The only way we will ever be able to beat this fearsome disease is to put MUCH MORE MONEY into research and awareness.

That is why L. and I will be taking part in the Walk for the Whisper this May 7. The money raised will help the Illinois Division of the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition increase research funding and public awareness. I'd like to ask everyone reading this to sponsor me and L. in the Walk for the Whisper, but I realize that's difficult logistically.

What's much easier, though, is for you to go to the NOCC's donation site and give the gift of hope for a better future.

Every woman should know the early symptoms of OC. The scariest thing is that these symptoms don't shout "ovarian cancer" to most people: Bloating, gassiness; frequent or urgent urination; nausea, diarrhea, constipation, indigestion; menstrual disorders, pain during sex; fatigue, backaches. If you have any of these symptoms lasting for more than 2 or 3 weeks, see your doctor. Mention ovarian cancer to the doctor, and don't let the doctor pooh-pooh your concerns. Ovarian cancer is so deadly because it's so seldom diagnosed early. These vague and innocuous-sounding symptoms are often the only clue. Waiting until a tumor can be seen on ultrasound can mean waiting until the cancer has reached an advanced stage.

If you make a donation to the NOCC, would you please leave a comment or send me an e-mail so I can thank you personally? And all of you, would you please e-mail the warning-signs link to the women you care about? Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Bibles at school: Is it the apocalypse?

My sister runs the library at a small elementary school in a Bush-voting outer suburb. A man in town, with the support of a school board member, has approached the school about his interest in donating some bibles to the library. Because the school library has no bibles! (The horror!) The library also has no other religious books (no Talmud, Koran, etc.), but this fellow has no interest in donating anything but the bible. Fortunately, the superintendent agrees with my sister that the school library should steer clear of adding any such books to the collection, lest every other religious group insist on adding their books, too. (The bigger threat is, Invite the bible into the library, and then wait for this guy to ask about removing all references to evolution from the library collection. 'Cause you know that's the illogical next step.)

And the board member who is in cahoots with the wannabe bible donor? She's active in her church, and in past years, has had the teachers distribute flyers to all the students, inviting them to learn about the "real" meaning of Easter by coming to a session held IN THE SCHOOL BUILDING before school starts. Flyers sent home in every kid's backpack like any other school bulletin. Can you imagine being a Jewish kid, or a Muslim, or an atheist, or a [fill in the blank] and getting this flyer at your school? Until my sister and our cousin (who also lives in the town) mentioned it last year, it hadn't really occurred to anyone in charge that inviting every public-school kid to a church event on public-school premises might be, um, a tad inappropriate.

The upside here is that the school board election is next week, and my cousin's husband is running—as one of three candidates for four slots. He's a shoo-in, so I won't ask for your prayers that god usher him to an electoral victory.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005


Tomorrow afternoon, I'm going downtown to meet up with a photographer for a major metropolitan newspaper to Have. My. Picture. Taken. And what with journalistic standards and all, they don't intend to Photoshop out those blemishes. (I've been breaking out lately, and really, am I not too old for such dermatological nonsense?)

Omigodomigodomigodomigod whatamigoingtowear? I have to go shopping. Dammit! Why is this spring break week? Why are my daylight hours not kid-free this week? Between the play dates scheduled for today and tomorrow, I will scarcely have time to shop. Unless, of course, I actually take the kid with me to a store, or go shopping in the evening when I would prefer to wear pajamas. Gee, when you put it that way, it really doesn't sound like such a crisis after all.

But a portrait? For the newspaper? Gack!

(Tomorrow's hero prize goes to my mom, who's taking the afternoon off work to keep the boy busy while Mommy has her glamour-shot experience.)

Jem Gackert, Jiff Gunnon, or whatever name he's using now

Like the rest of you who read Deborah Solomon's interview with James Guckert (aka "Jeff Gannon") in the NYT magazine last Sunday, I found him disingenuous and felt he really explained nothing at all about the whole White House press credentials/gay hooker situation.

Who might explain this to us so that we can all understand it? Why, noted erotica writer/editor Susie Bright can! It's a long post, but you'll soak up every juicy word.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Learning to manipulate

Ben wanted my attention for an urgent Hot Wheels car issue (or something) while I was writing the last post. When calling out "Mommy" from across the room wasn't doing the trick, he switched to touching my shoulder and calling me "sweet Mommy" instead. Ooh, the boy can work it.

We had the "Who do you want to marry when you grow up?" chat last night. He was not much perplexed by the fact that both Mommy and Daddy are already taken, and their current spouses do not wish to give them up. He would marry us anyway (me more so than Daddy).

Why he doesn't want to marry Becky is the big mystery. He talks about her all the time, and she's a major presence in his daily life. Do you think it's because she's imaginary? I should tell him not to be an anti-imaginary-friend bigot who discriminates against Becky. And Cindy, and Cinderella. And his imaginary sister, Lizzie. (Though I don't want to encourage him to marry Lizzie. Too Flowers in the Attic.) None of the imaginaries are boys; I do wonder why.

Meme the Second

The fabulous Dr. B. has passed the book-meme baton to me:

You're stuck inside Fahrenheit 451, which book do you want to be?

Damn, I read that way back in high school. I don’t understand this question. Do I have to get burnt in a pyre if I’m a book? Generically speaking, I want to be a fascinating nonfiction book that not only enlightens readers on some infectious disease/epidemiology topic, but also lands on the bestseller list or racks up major writing awards. Randy Shilts’ AIDS book, And the Band Played On, was one of the first such books I read. Abraham Verghese’s My Own Country: A Doctor’s Story is another.

Have you ever had a crush on a fictional character?

Oh, yeah. Tea Cake from Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God. A flawed man, to be sure, but hot Hot HOT. (The guy in the recent TV movie didn’t quite attain the level of hotness I hoped for.) And Loyd, the Native American hottie in Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal Dreams. It took the protagonist so long to fully appreciate his fineness and open herself up to him, I was shouting Springer-show style at her throughout the book. “Girl, get that man!” And Howard, Alice’s underappreciated husband in Jane Hamilton’s A Map of the World. I was actually glad when he started that affair because somebody needed to be good to this man. If not me, then fine. Another character in the book will do.

The last book you bought is:

Several kids’ books (my son’s birthday is coming up) and several tough crossword books. Do those count? And I just got a cool new reference book, Stephen Glazier’s Word Menu. Page 560 lists more than 100 terms in the “fusses and troubles” category. Callithump! Billingsgate! Shindy! Not to mention hullabaloo, rumpus, and whoop-de-doo. Love it! But the book was a prize, not a purchase.

The last book you read:

Hmm, possibly the last one I actually finished was Ann Leary’s An Innocent, a Broad. She’s married to comedian Denis Leary. This is her story of when they were just starting out and spent a weekend in London so he could do a show there. She was pregnant and ended up confined to a British hospital on bed rest, and had to deal with having a preemie while living in a foreign country, often alone. Great writer, funny and gripping story.

What are you currently reading?

I must deplore this meme’s pro-book bias. I spend much more time reading magazines (particularly the New Yorker, Entertainment Weekly, and Esquire). And while I’m deploring, let me deplore the New Yorker’s insistence on employing an assortment of British spellings. I find them disorienting.

That said, I’m also reading the very funny Calvin Trillin, Feeding a Yen. It’s one of his food books.

Five books you would take to a deserted island:

This one’s too hard. In the last decade, I haven’t read five books I’d want to take with me. I’d have to think back to high school and college, or pick books I haven’t read but really should. But who wants to add to their sense of obligation when they’re stuck on a deserted island, having to hunt and gather and construct shelter? Feh.

P.S. Shout-out to Charlie over at Shades of Grey for telling me how to include links in posts. Charlie, I finally stopped having to refer to your e-mail to remember how to do this.

If you're an atheist

You. Have. Got. To. Read. This: Natalie Angier's speech to the Center for Inquiry, with her take on atheism and raising a godless child.

One piece of advice she had: Live somewhere where you won't be an oddball because of your lack of religion. Big cities, blue states, university towns—hey! What do you know? I've got all three covered. Sweet!

(Thanks to Eric Zorn for linking to the transcript.)

Monday, March 21, 2005

Men and women and raising boys

A post at Welcome to the Nut House got me thinking. (Thanks to Dr. B. for sending folks over to the Nut House.)

The nut had this to say: "Mother's Day. There is all this great stuff for moms to do with their daughters, but nothing for moms and their sons. So I have decided to crash a tea party this year or something similar and see how it goes. It's kinda how there are matching outfits for moms and daughters, but nothing for moms and sons. It's almost as if it denies that there can be any real link between us because we are not of the same gender....or assumes that there is an ever-present father in these rapidly shrinking 'traditional families' so the son automatically wants to emulate the male gender."

I'm a married mom with a son who's almost 5. While we don't have matching outfits (and I daresay if I had a daughter, we'd be staying far, far away from the matchy-matchy thing), Ben does like to emulate me just about as much as Daddy. My boy has several purses (handy for putting Hot Wheels cars in), and he has about as much interest in makeup as I do (which is very little). He probably puts skirts on* more often than I do (which, again, is very seldom).

It's tough, though, because as the stay-at-home parent, I do get stuck with the bulk of the household work, and I don't want my son to grow up thinking that housework is women's work. As much as I'd love to delegate all the laundry to my husband, I'd much prefer that he spend his evenings and weekends interacting with Ben. At least Ben likes to be helpful and grown-up, and he enjoys helping out with household chores (except for cleaning up his toys, of course). He does an excellent job pouring the laundry detergent into the machine. So there is hope that he'll grow up knowing how to do these things and understanding that household responsibility is unisex.

Turning my attention to TV, do you watch "Arrested Development"? There's a close mother-son relationship on display there, between cold Lucille and dysfunctional Buster. Looking at the movies, there's Norman Bates and Mother. In Robert Munsch's** disturbing kids' book, Love You Forever, the mother totally invades her son's personal space while he's asleep. Enviable fictional mother-son relationships aren't coming readily to mind. Can you think of any? I want to remain close to Ben when he's grown, but I don't want it to involve matching sailor suits at the Motherboy dance (demonstrated to hilarious effect in "Arrested Development"). Where's something I can aspire to?
*The skirts are from the dress-up bin at school. My feminist credentials do not include having princess dresses and glittery shoes at home for Ben to play with. Is that a bad thing? Am I stifling him? Are princess dresses a feminist no-no for girls but a must for boys?

**Munsch's other books tend to be fantastic and funny, with a strong anti-authority streak. There's one story about a girl who colors her whole body with permanent markers. And a girl who invites all the kids from kindergarten through sixth grade to her birthday party and orders, like, 200 pizzas. A boy whose dad sleepwalks, so the boy finally devises the solution of chaining him up at night. The Amazon reviews of Munsch's books often include one by a teacher, parent, or librarian who is utterly appalled at the inappropriate messages put forth, plus a bunch more pointing out how much kids love these stories (they're smart enough to get the humor without copying the purportedly antisocial behavior). Munsch uses a lot of repetition of phrases, so his books are great for emerging readers. If you haven't seen these books and you have a kid aged 4 to 8, I encourage you to pick up a couple for your kids (and yourself).

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Out of the mouths of babes

[Setting: naptime.]
B: I have to go poop.
Me: Okay. Call me when you're done.
B: Mama, I have a confession to make.
[Edges close to me, whispers in my ear.]
B: It's too scary because the light is off.
[I accompany him to the john and flip on the light.]

[Two minutes later.]
B: I'm do-o-o-one.
[I enter the bathroom to find him undressed, seated on the toilet, holding his pants.]
B: Wait! Start over!
[I leave the bathroom and then announce my return. I enter the bathroom to find him still seated, this time with the pants over his head.]

First time I've heard the kid say "I have a confession to make." Maybe it's from a SpongeBob script?

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Weird Dream #2

I was just chilling out with my best buds, lounging around with our legs in a jumble because our friendship is that close. My best friends, of course, being Carrie, Charlotte, and Samantha. Meanwhile, I was obligated to be in another room down the hall, where second-string friend Miranda was giving birth. Alas, I missed the whole birth (it had been a fairly easy one), and by the time I entered the room, the baby was already sitting up. On a table. Too close to the edge. (Bad parents!)

Inherent meaning: Clearly, I watch too much TV. And subconsciously, I've always felt that Miranda didn't quite belong in that group. I'm not sure how I supplanted her, though, as "Sex and the City" wasn't too keen on married Midwesterners. At least I'm not having "CSI" dreams...

This boy

Originally uploaded by Orange Tangerine.
He's the sweetest, brightest, funniest kid on the planet. And also the most bothersome, when he puts his mind to it or when I'm feeling a tad worn out.

Today he tried to break my heart by having an extremely uncharacteristic crying jag when I took him to school. Oh, how he cried! Absolutely sobbed. Grabbed onto my neck for dear life. And hit me up with his most tragically beseeching gaze. The teachers shooed me out of the classroom, and of course Ben had a perfectly fine day at school. So WTF? I think it must have been that he didn't get enough sleep the night before.

Right now he's sound asleep, and what could be finer?


Here's a thingie I came across at unfogged—indicate the states you've been to in bold, underline where you've lived, and italicize your current home.

Alabama / Alaska / Arizona / Arkansas / California / Colorado / Connecticut / Delaware / Florida / Georgia / Hawaii / Idaho / Illinois / Indiana / Iowa / Kansas / Kentucky / Louisiana / Maine / Maryland / Massachusetts / Michigan / Minnesota / Mississippi / Missouri / Montana / Nebraska / Nevada / New Hampshire / New Jersey / New Mexico / New York / North Carolina / North Dakota / Ohio / Oklahoma / Oregon / Pennsylvania / Rhode Island / South Carolina / South Dakota / Tennessee / Texas / Utah / Vermont / Virginia / Washington / West Virginia / Wisconsin / Wyoming / Washington D.C.

Now, I merely passed through a bunch of the bold states, and had short business trips to others. I don't even know about Kansas. Did I pass through it on a childhood vacation? That one business trip to Kansas City—what state was I in, exactly? Poor Kansas.

Connecticut was...lovely. (My first time going to CT was this past weekend for the crossword tournament.) I was in a shuttle van or the hotel the entire time, except for that dinnertime trip to the mall across the street from the hotel. I've paid CT sales tax, but I can't really say I've been there, you know?

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

My Favorite Mistake (not by Sheryl Crow)

One of the crossword tournament judges, Matt Gaffney, has written an article about his experience in the American Prospect.

He says the judges bantered about the incorrect entries they encountered while they were scoring the completed puzzles. My one mistake all weekend came in puzzle 1 (the first and easiest). And it gets a shout-out! I swear I didn't mean to write "TOWAWAY ZOTE." I had written "REPLAT" instead "REPLAN" for the clue "map out again," and I never noticed the evil T. (As much as I like seeing my name in print, I'm okay with not being mentioned by name in Matt's article.)

Fortunately, the mistake was of little import. I could've had a couple hundred more points, but I would have moved up only a few notches in the standings.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

"Victory is mine!" saith the geek.

If you follow geek news, you probably heard about young whippersnapper Tyler Hinman's dramatic win at American Crossword Puzzle Tournament yesterday, in the division A finals. What didn't show up in most of the media coverage was the dramatic, come-from-behind, dark-horse, sneak-attack win in the lesser division B finals—by none other than yours truly. I won a whopping three trophies (pretty awesome, considering that I've won one other trophy in my life, and that was at a spelling bee 'cause I'm such a jock), capturing the Midwest region, top rookie, and B division finals titles. Plus a check for $200, signed by NYT crossword editor Will Shortz. I had to solve the final puzzle on a big board on stage before 500 people, with play-by-play commentary. (Thank god I lost that 8 pounds so I didn't have to wear fat jeans up there.)

A budding documentary filmmaker was there, hoping to spin the weekend's events into a movie along the lines of "Spellbound," the spelling-bee documentary from a couple years back. Man, I hope he edits the footage into a compelling movie (without placing me firmly on the cutting room floor) and lands a distribution deal so I can be in a movie.

A Chicago Tribune freelancer was also tailing the locals at the tournament and will be writing an article for an upcoming Sunday Trib magazine.

The weekend was really fun, if you consider meeting noted crossword constructors to be fun. (Hey! They're like rock stars in that microcosm. I'm totally serious.) I could have done without the tension headache, the broken-out complexion, and the scaly eyelid (brow-waxing mishap), but the puzzles were great, and the uninterrupted time for grown-up conversation—just imagine: no "Mom! Mom! Look how fast this car is going! Mom! Lookit!"—was welcome. Next year, I'll bring my dermatologist along. And buy a really cute jacket for chic layering.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Things to do while I'm gone

My cherished readers, I am leaving. On a jet plane (Friday). I do know when I'll be back again (Sunday). Wish me luck at the crossword tournament! (Yes, I am a geek. This is not news to anyone.)

Whatever will you do all weekend without my wit and wisdom to entertain and edify you? I have several suggestions.

1. Watch more TV.
2. Read other blogs and say to yourself, "Wow, these folks have a lot more to offer than that Orange character."
3. Curl up on the couch under a blanket and weep softly until my return to the blogosphere.
4. Go shopping for a really cute spring wardrobe. For me. I'd especially like some tops, size large. Stay away from reds and yellows, and eschew Lycra. I could probably use some new shorts, too, but it's snowing right now so there's no hurry.
5. Find some small children to be irked by on my behalf, as I will be sans child for the weekend. Vomiting children a plus.
6. Have some Nibs, and pick up a pack for me while you're at it. My corner store doesn't carry Nibs.

Enjoy the weekend, and the Nibs!

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

The Flash

Originally uploaded by Orange Tangerine.
People do comment that he's an "active" kid...

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Ten Things I’ve Done That You Probably Haven’t

(My first blogger meme!)

1. Got a scholarship by winning a spelling bee.
2. Been pregnant for seven months but no longer.
3. Placed a latex glove filled with ice on my burning loins.
4. Edited a paper on biological weapons.
5. Snorkeled on Christmas Day.
6. Thrown up on someone else’s feet.
7. Found my (future) husband across the hall in my co-ed dorm.
8. Attended the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament.*
9. Heard pathologists make derogatory jokes about heart surgeons.
10. Seen a picture of a 47-pound scrotal tumor.

*Okay, I haven’t done this yet—but I’m going this weekend.

Note to self

The readers love the vomit tales! (Good to know that other kids like to stuff their mouths so full of food that their bodies reject it violently.)

When Ben was sick recently, he puked four times in two weeks (this was shortly before the McNugget/Twizzler incident). Twice, it was the standard little-kid puke-on-the-floor variety. And what parent doesn't love scooping up putrid muck, spot-cleaning rugs and slipcovers, and copious room-deodorizer spraying?

The other two incidents had almost a transcendent beauty to them. The kid ain't even five years old yet, and he got up, walked to a wastebasket, and hurled directly into it. No spills! No stains! No splashing! Okay, so maybe I retched when transferring the wastebasket contents into a plastic bag (like matryoshka, those Russian nesting dolls—the puke was sealed within four or five nested bags). But compared with the typical, age-appropriate technicolor puddle, no muss, no fuss.

I've never been so proud of Ben.

Birthday greetings to my one and only

Happy Birthday, Mr. Tangerine!

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Though I prefer Nibs, Twizzlers have their use

Cherry Nibs are delicious little chewy nubbins. They kick the ass of all Twizzler-named products, even any that are bite-sized or cherry-flavored. O Nib! Rustic in form, the essence of simplicity. Not overwrought and twisty like that pretender to the red-licorice throne, the Twizzler. Nor ridiculous, like stringy licorice rope.

That said, I must give mad props to Twizzlers for helping me out today. Ben was so keen on getting to play in the McDonalds "tubes," he gathered up too much masticated McNugget in his mouth without swallowing. "Ew," you say. Exactly! So he puked on us (mostly on him, and the seat, and the floor—though somehow my glasses were spattered). Imagine my delight when the puke was reminiscent of the Twizzlers that had been contained in his stomach. Fruity and sweet, not putrid and vomitaceous. Thank you, Twizzlers!

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Weird Dream #1

I tend to have vivid dreams that involve a handful of the same recurrent themes. I’ve never gone to therapy so I have little idea what they mean. But they can be so bizarre, it’s got to be funny to read about some of them. Here’s one I recall from a few years back. The details have grown a little fuzzy, but the gist of it is still fresh in my mind.


I went over to Oprah Winfrey’s house. It was a good-sized frame house on a cozy residential street in Chicago. We were hanging out, just having a friendly visit, as was our wont.

Oprah can be a target for all kinds of wackos because of her fame and money. While I was at her house, a couple guys broke in through the front door—standard bad guys from old-time central casting. Burly, unshaven, wearing nondescript clothes, dark jackets, knit hats. They wanted to harm my friend Oprah and me, and I’ll be damned if I’m going to let that happen.

I don’t precisely remember whether it was a broomstick, a baseball bat, or another object well-suited to bludgeoning work. And bludgeon I did—I went totally medieval on those bad guys. Blows to the head, pounding the kidneys, jabbing the fleshy belly, going for the eye sockets. Hard hard hard. Eventually we fought the bad guys off, got them out of the house, locked the doors, and collapsed with relief and exhaustion.


Back on earth, Oprah’s best friend is Gayle King. You think Gayle would have Oprah’s back like I did? I’m just sayin’.

(Thanks to Sergei over at The Lowland Seed for the nutty-dream concept.)