Monday, April 30, 2007

Ok. True Confession Time!

I am scared shitless about this surgery tomorrow. I've never been under general anesthesia, and no matter how many times everybody tells me it will be OK, I'm still terrified.

I'm petrified that my voice is going to end up weaker, not stronger. The vocal nerves are literally right next to the thyroid. The single biggest risk of this surgery is vocal damage. People have always complemented my reading voice. It has been getting progressively weaker, an I'm scared it will be gone all together.

I'm really scared of being alone. I have no family here, and the friend I would normally depend on is 8 1/2 months pregnant. I hate burdening people with my troubles, and I hate being a burden in general.

I have no idea what to expect after this surgery. The surgeon was really abrupt, and his nurse or assistant, or whatever didn't really answer any questions. The internet was no help, either.

I know there are lots of people all over praying for me. I know my parents are joining their own prayers in heaven. I know I just need to put it in God's hands and trust Him. But having that knowledge and doing something with it are two different things.

Well, if you happen across my blog, and you think about it tomorrow around 1 p.m. Central, send a few prayers toward the staff at Baton Rouge General Bluebonnet. It can't hurt.

Six Weird Things

So the latest meme I've seen floating around is Six Weird Things About Me. Thought I'd give y'all some levity before my possible demise tomorrow (shut up - being convinced I'm going to die is actually helping me, in a weird and twisted way).

  1. I absolutely cannot have fruit touching any other category of food in a meal. This is the last vestige of the "Oh my gosh, my corn juice is touching my mashed potatoes! I can't eat this!" phase of my youth. At one point in time, I wouldn't even eat mixed vegetables. But now, I just object to the use of fruit in salads, with meat, etc. I'll eat them at the same meal, but not mixed together in any way, shape, or form.
  2. I cannot seem to have a complete set of dishes last for more than a week. I always break something right off the bat.
  3. I don't have cable or satellite TV. Not terribly weird, I guess, but uncommon in this day and age.
  4. I tend to get injured in really weird ways. In elementary school, I broke my foot while practicing the Mexican hat dance in a doorway (don't ask). In college, I broke the same foot, same bone even, while walking down the KH men's wing steps after going up to view the quasi-pornographic pictures one of my housemates graced the chalkboard with (the artwork was actually quite good, if you ignored the nudity and all). Later on, while working at a camp, I ran over that same leg with a 15 passenger van. Then, after graduation, I was working night shift at a bank, got up to get a batch work, was returning to my seat, and a module divider fell on the back of my ankle, leaving me with bone chips and a partial tendon tear. And again, same leg.
  5. I am the Angel of Death for house plants. One touch from me and the shrivel and die. Seriously. I bought a rose plant for the office. It lasted nicely for a week, then I watered it on Friday and came back on Monday and it was dead. I've decided that it is cruel for me to buy them given that. Still, I do like them.
  6. I prefer odd numbers to even. In other words, I can't think of a number six.

Consider yourself tagged if interested.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

So, when you are facing the possibility of death in a few days (shut up - it's my blog and I'll be melodramatic if I want to.), you find yourself thinking about a lot of stuff. Here are some of those things.

  • If I survive this arduous procedure, I really want to eat at Sammy's Bar and Grill. I drive past it a couple times a week at least, and it is always, always packed. People will wait hours to get in for dinner or Sunday brunch, which always features crab cakes (one of my favorite things). I really want to know what the fuss is about.
  • I heard a fantastic sermon this weekend. My pastor is studying in Germany for the next two weeks, and a retired pastor in the congregation is filling in for him. She talked about the environment in which John wrote Revelation (a good intro for some, a good reminder for the rest of us), and talked about how it was aimed at a very specific audience and a very specific situation in the past, and that it isn't meant to be read as some mystical insight into future events. Then she talked about places in the world where religious persecution is still taking place. It was just really interesting.
  • I also watched the teenagers in the congregation today, as I was sitting behind a group of the "cool" girls. There is one family that lets their daughters come to church dressed more like they should be hanging out on a street corner in a shady part of town. I'm sorry, but if you have to keep pulling your shorts down to keep your butt cheeks from showing, the are too short in general, and definitely too short for church. Anyway, their oldest was there (she's a freshman in high school) with two friends who don't belong to our church and probably don't go to church on a regular basis anywhere (didn't understand the hymnal, didn't understand the program of worship, and generally had that clueless look). Well, these three girls were absolutely smitten with out cantor who A) is too old for them - he's a senior in college, and B) would probably find their brother far more interesting, if you get my meaning. Meanwhile, one of the acolytes, a young guy who is part of one of the nicest families I've ever met, is making eyes at the three girls. Now, these girls not only didn't notice, they would never notice him because he has a little bit of the geek thing going on, and a lot of the nice guy thing going on. It was really a fascinting anthropological study on adolescent society and heirarchy.
  • You know what I miss most about home? Eat 'n' Park. There is nothing like that here at all. For those of you not from the Pennsylvania/Ohio/West Virginia area, Eat 'n' Park is a family restaurant, with good food and pretty good prices. It's basically a step up from IHOP and a step down from Applebees, just to put it on a continuum. The closest thing we have here is Picadilly, which is good, but it is a cafeteria-type place. And I miss Smiley cookies, even though they are actually kind of nasty.
  • I'd really like to go on a train trip someday. I know I've romanticized trains far beyond reality in my head, but still.
  • I don't know where this compulsive cleaning thing I'm doing is coming from. Generally speaking, mess and clutter doesn't bother me. It drove my parents nuts when I was younger that I could just step over something on the floor instead of picking it up. My principal didn't understand how I could stand to teach in a cluttered classroom. I just had bigger and better things on my mind than cleaning.
  • I also would like to see a kangaroo up close and personal.
  • My boss's partner is the sweetest guy ever. I'm jealous of him. Why am I always attracted to gay guys?
  • I got sunburned for the first time in a long time yesterday. I really need to get my AC in my car fixed. I learned why that is such a big deal here. My car windows are polarized, but that doesn't help if the windows are down.
  • Hormones suck. I just recover from having my period, and now I have those mid-cycle hormones to deal with. I had forgotten how miserable that is. (Sorry, gentlemen readers.)
  • I found a bra that I love. I had to buy a black bra because the big boss took our group out to lunch at the nicest restaurant in the city, and the sweater I wanted to wear had a fairly open knit. Any other time, I'd deal with the white showing through, but you just don'y do that when having lunch with the founder and CEO of the company at a four-star restaurant. Anyway, I was afraid the one I bought was going to be uncomfortable because the band size was smaller than I uually buy. But it fit perfectly, the cups were cotton-lined, and, if I may say, it made my chestal area look great.
  • Mirna, on The Amazing Race, is the single most annoying person I have ever seen on TV.
  • I wonder if I'll be able to wear 18-inch chains again now.
  • My biggest fear is something going wrong with the anesthesia on Tuesday. That's a lot of control for a closet control freak to give up.
  • My second biggest fear is that I won't be unconcious enough, and I'll be able to feel what they are doing.
  • My third biggest fear is that the surgeon will slip and accidentally damage my vocal nerves.
  • I think it is pretty cool that in the same prayer during the prayers of the people, we pray for the members of the military serving overseas and the suffering people of the countries they are serving in.
  • Christians on reality shows are either the worst representatives of the faith, or they get the worst edits possible. I can't decide which.
  • I don't think I would want to be on The Amazing Race, but it would be cool to get to do some of those once in a lifetime experiences.
  • Louisiana politics suck.
  • Sometimes I wonder why US territories like Puerto Rico and Guam and the Virgin Islands don't seem to want to become states. Then I hear things like this week's This American Life and I wonder if I can downgrade myself to territory. If you didn't hear it, download the podcast. It's worth a listen.
  • Speaking of which, I find it really funny that I seem to get stuck with all the miltary proposals we work on when I am essentially a pacifist.
  • The state of Louisiana legislature is going into session this week, and key on the agenda is how to spend all the unexpeced tax revenue from all the people buying building stuff following the hurricanes. The state has the worst public schools in the country, and there is actual debate about whether to increase funding for the schools.
  • OK. I'm going forward to continue my cleaning now. But I just want to say that if Charla and Mirna end up winning The Amazing Race, I may have to give away my TV forever. It makes me sad that the Beauty Queens are the least icky team left. I wish Danny and Oswald hadn't been eliminated this week. And if they aren't dating, then The Donald will be crowning me the next Miss Universe.

Friday, April 27, 2007

So, it's 5 a.m. and I've been up all night doing laundry and cleaning. Why, you ask? It seems that that is how I respond to stress. I think it's because it's something I can control.

I'm calmer now, but I'm still freaked (picked a bad week to go off the anxiety meds, huh?). I know the reason, and I know how my thought processes work, but it doesn't really make it any better.

See, I associate hospitals with declining health. My grandmother was fine and wonderful, then she went into the hospital and got worse and died. Granted, she was 82, but I was only 5, and those early impressions are powerful.

Then my mom was fine and wonderful and healthy until she went into the hospital when I was in high school. From there, she was in a constant decline. Granted, she brought it on herself by being a 2-pack a day smoker. But I know what I observed.

My dad had never been sick a day in my life before he went into the hospital when I was in ninth grade. After that, he seemed somehow smaller, and really declined until he died. Again, granted, he brought it on himself because he was an alcoholic and destroyed his liver. But again, that association was formed.

I hate going to visit people in hospitals. Hell, I hate going to doctor's offices. Really, I hate the whole healthcare industry.

But I really, really hate hospitals. In my mind, that is where people get worse, not better. I know it is completely illogical. I know that hospitals are also where babies are born, and people receive life-saving treatments. I know that people who work in healthcare are not really Satan incarnate. But there is a big difference between what I know intellectually and what I believe emotionally.


I know I said it before, but I really wish my mom were here. I mean, I profess every week (well, when I make it to church), that I believe in the communion of saints, and I do. I know my mom and dad are in the presence of God, and that they are praying for me and with me. And I feel them with me every day in little things. But it's not the same as a physical presence. I want someone to hug me and let me cry on their shoulder and to tell me its going to be OK. But I don't have that. And it sucks.

The fact of the matter is that I am scared, and lonely, and homesick, and worried. I can't sugar coat that or gloss over it. I know this is minor surgery, but it doesn't matter.

Maybe I wouldn't be so scared if I had had my tonsils or appendix out when I was a kid. The surgeon's nurse was shocked when I said I had never had surgery. She didn't seem to believe me at first.

But I haven't, and now I have to.

And I don't wanna.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Guess what I'm doing next Tuesday!

If you guessed something fun like Jazzfest, or getting my hair cut, or sleeping in, you would be wrong.

If you guessed having surgery, you would be right on the money.

Saw the surgeon today. I expected him to do another ultrasound, maybe a CT scan, and then make a decision. Nope. He can feel the thyroid pressing on my esophagus, and with my voice changes, he said the sooner the better.

Can I just tell you that I'm petrified? I have never had surgery before. Never stayed in the hospital overnight.

I know it is routine, and low risk. That doesn't change the fact that I'm sitting at my desk crying right now, and that I just want...I don't know what I want.

This is one of those times, though, when I really wish my mom were still around. There are certain things that you just need a Mum for.

Just wanted to share this video I happned upon while blog surfing to get away from all the military stuff I've been working on this week.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

So, went to the endocrinologist yesterday. Blood sugars are good, hormones are good. Everything is good.

Except my thyroid.

I asked her what I should be concerned about with the thyroid enlargement - because I knew that I have been having symptoms that I am concerned about (my voice gets weaker as the day goes on, it has been getting progressively weaker in general - I no longer would be confident about reading Scripture in church for instance, because I don't think my voice could get through a whole reading, stuff tends to get caught up when I swallow, I have a cough that gets worse after I talk, my neck hurts sometimes). So she told me, and I (foolishly) told her why I asked.

Well, she said that it sounds like the goiter is pressing on my larynx, and maybe my trachea. She said she has learned from experience to be agressive with that kind of thing, because she has seen patients wait to long and suffer from irreparable voice damage.

So, tomorrow I get to see a surgeon. Looks like my non-functional thyroid is coming out.

I've never had surgery before. I don't like that idea.

Who knows? I may get lucky and he'll disagree.


Monday, April 23, 2007

OK. It might be the hormones talking (that time came a little early this month), but this article made me cry.

Of course, I also cried at a picture of a cute puppy, because I a webpage wouldn't load fast enough, and because I couldn't find a parking place at Wal-Mart, so take it how you will.

Still, this guy deserves some recognition.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

  • This is a test
  • to see if the bullets work
  • on this template
  • since the didn't on the old one.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

OK. I was going to regale you with tales of my trip to Wal-Mart last night, which I'm sure would have entertained you.

But instead, I'm going to have a little meltdown for the whole internet to see.

Last week, I had a proposal due. It had to be shipped by 7 p.m. on Tuesday. Tuesday afternoon, parts of it were still being written, and I kept getting changes to stuff I already edited. Plus, I was still getting new graphics to insert. Now this wouldn't be a big deal, but the technical lead on the proposal is a non-native English speaker. Now, he is an extremely smart guy, and pretty well-spoken, but his written English is...interesting. He doesn't use articles, for instance. Ever. And he tries to turn every sentence into a compound/complex sentence.

Now, if I had had more time, this wouldn't be a problem. But I literally spent 36 hours straight editing it between Monday morning and Tuesday when we shipped. I worked all day Saturday on it, and I didn't even make it to church on Sunday (Easter) because I was just too tired (I had put in about 50 hours the week prior as well) and I had to go into the office anyway. I poured my heart and soul into that proposal. It isn't my fault that the technical lead didn't agree witht he schedule I proposed for writing and reviews, knowing that there was a holiday in there and knowing that there would be a ton of editing involved on my end. I did everything I could to convince him. After the first review, 5 days before it was due, almost the whole thing had to be rewritten. We got it off in time, though, and it wasn't too horrible.

Well, after sleeping the sleep of the dead for 16 hours, I came into work the next day. I had an e-mail from the technical lead. Some of the cross references to captions on graphics came back with error messages. Now, I had someone double check me the night before to make sure there was nothing like that in the proposal - I was so tired that I didn't trust myself at that point. He didn't find anything, so we printed and shipped. I have no idea where the error messages came from. If I inserted new graphics, the cross reference should have automatically updated. Frankly, it was only two cross references, and it really shouldn't be that big of a deal.

Well, today the boss says to me right before he leaves that sometime when we both have a few minutes tomorrow, he wants to talk to me a little about the proposal. I asked him if I did something wrong, and he said it was no big deal.

Now, I know I should take that at face value, but I am currently in a state of controlled panic. I really wish, even if I had screwed the whole thing up, that he would have just grabbed me tomorrow and reamed me out with no notice. Instead, I have all night to worry about it.

That is a really cruel thing to do to someone with an anxiety disorder, I have to say. Of course, he doesn't know that I have an anxiety disorder, and that the little voice in my head that tells me I'm just a complete screw-up just got activated. He doesn't know that I am currently scared to death that I'm not going to have a job after tomorrow.

Sigh. Maybe going off the anxiety meds is a bad idea.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Oh, and if you love me, you'll send me chocolate!

Yes, I am craving it like mad.

On to happier things.

My favorite show on the radio is Hootenanny Power. What is, Hootenany Power, you ask? And how did they get radio capability into the backwoods to broadcast it?

That second question was on I asked when I first heard of the show. Then I finally heard the show itself, and was impressed.

Hootenany Power (yes, I am enjoying typing that phrase) is a show produced by our local NPR station. It plays...well, their playlist is really hard to describe. In any given week, they might play "classic" folk music, early rockabilly, Gospel, country, Cajun, and something the host found on some coffeehouse musician's website. It is really eclectic, fun, and totally unlike anything you would hear anywhere else.

The link above takes you to the show's website (which is kind of hard to navigate), and near the top is a link that takes you to the WRKF podcast of the show. I highly recommend the show from April 7th. The theme that night was (obviously) Easter, and the host had a lot of really interesting songs that night.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Oh, and I know there are a few clergy members or other full-time church types who read this blog. What would you do if a parishoner brought such a letter to your attention? Just curious...

First, thanks for the well wishes, Tim. It took over an hour, but I eventually did stop bleeding (after staining a t-shirt - the first white thing I could grab - completely red). Now, you can barely see the cut (though the skin does split without being held together with a bandaid).


I should be working on a proposal that is due tomorrow. And, as this is the Joyful Easter Season (tm) I should be ponficating on the Grace Jesus's death and ressurection bestowed upon all of us. I should at least be telling all of you to download Hootenany Power's podcast from this past week, which was awesome. Or perhaps I should be telling you what Hootenany Power is.

Instead, I shall rant about politics and Church.

You have been warned.

This past week, I received a letter from a parishioner at St. Al's CCC (Church and Country Club, for the unitiated). Now, even though I don't consider myself Roman Catholic any more, I'm still on their rolls. I don't know why I haven't asked to be taken off, but I haven't. But that's a topic for another time.

Anyhow, this parishoner is running for state representative in our district. In the letter, he states something along the lines of "As a fellow parishoner of [insert actual parish name here], I'm sure you must be concerned about the same issues I am." He goes on to talk about things that have been said in sermons in recent weeks, and just generally talk about the fact that we should all vote for him because he is a good Catholic.

This is the second such letter I have gotten in the past few months. The first was from some woman running for judge (and I have a whole 'nother rant in me about why judge should not be an elected office, but I won't inflict that on you tonight).

Now, both of these people are good people. I know them and their families. They would probably be good in the respective positions they desire, despite the fact that they are Republicans. However, I didn't vote for the woman running for judge, and I won't vote for this guy.

I have a real issue with someone sending out election materials based on religious parish rolls (as opposed to civil parish - I live in Louisiana, so I need to make that distinction). Whether they handtyped the data from the parish directory, or received it electronically from the church office, it is wrong.

I am a firm believer in separation of church and state. I believe the state should keep it's nose out of what churches are doing (as long as they are not harming people, animals, etc., or breaking civil law), and churches should keep their noses out of politics.

Now that doesn't mean that religious leaders shouldn't speak out against things like discrimination, poverty, etc. Those are human rights issues, and all people (religious or not) have a moral obligation to speak out agaist them.

But it does mean that I don't want this country turned into a theocracy controlled by the religious right. I read to day that the Bush administration employs over 155 graduates of Regent University School of Law. That is the law school founded by Pat Robertson, with a stated intent of Christianizing the country.

And it does mean that I don't want people to assume they know what I think or that they will have my vote just because we belong to the same church. I know that the guy I just got the letter from is about as far to the right as a Catholic can be. I am pretty darned far to the left. He doesn't know that I agree with him on issues that face the state such as abortion, discrimination based on sexual orientation (which is a big issue in state government here - it is technically still legal), the death penalty, stem cell research (LSU has lots of biomedical research going on), or even taxation.

Now, that doesn't mean that people of faith who serve in public office need to compartmentalize themselves, either. Spirituality (Christian or otherwise) is a vital part of the make up of an individual. Of course your religion is going to impact your views, as is your age, marital status, whether or not you are a parent, your economic bracket, etc.

But tell me what you are going to do to make our state a better place. Tell me what you think we should do to quicken rebuilding in New Orleans, or improve the infrastructure in Baton Rouge, or improve the pitiful state of our public schools statewide.

Don't tell me that I should vote for you simply because we share a religion and a church. That is a surefire way to tick me off and to get me to not vote for you.

There was more to this rant, but my brain is fried from working on this damned proposal all weekend.

So I now return you to your regularly scheduled, boring, non-controversial blog.

Have a nice day.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

You know how I said that I usually use scissors when I cook because I can't be trusted with knives?


I was chopping carrots for beef stew tomorrow (odd choice for Easter, I know. But I don't like ham and I have to work tomorrow). My finger got too close to the knife, and I put a nice little slice through it. It isn't bad enough to go to the ER, but bad enough that it won't stop bleeding. The urgent care doesn't open until 9 a.m. tomorrow.

This is why I should never cook.

Oh, Happy Easter!

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

This is one of the saddest things I have read in a long time.

I have a long and involved rant planned about the state of child welfare and education in the United States. I don't have time to type it now because I'm working on deadline (I'm in the hurry-up-and-wait phase of proposal development right now). But stay tuned, because I will be getting as political and controversial as I am likely to get. You won't want to miss that.