Monthly Archives: September 2010

This Is Like AFRICA Hot.


I’m not sure I can stay here if it’s gonna be this hot.

…I mean, it’s not like it was 113 degrees today like it was in LA recently, but it’s muggy and horrible and I want it to rain again.

There, I said it.  Go ahead and hate on me.  I won’t be able to hear you over the air conditioner.


Everything Old Is New Again


So I’ve been working nights these past few months.  I don’t love working nights, although I love the job and the people I work with.  But my body has let me know in No Uncertain Terms that staying up all night is a no-no.  I have no trouble staying up all night, and rarely feel as if I’m risking it driving home, but I don’t sleep well the next day, and by the third day in a row of this I’m a bit of a wreck.

Ask The Lovely Rhonda, assuming she’s still speaking to me by this time.  She’ll fill you in on the general state of affairs, through clenched teeth.  Probably best to inquire after saucing her up a bit with a nice red wine and perhaps a bit of chocolate to smooth things along.

And then opportunity knocked, and who was I to thumb my nose at opportunity?  And so it came to pass that an Offer was made today, which was duly Accepted, and two weeks from now the only night shifts I’ll work will be of my own choosing as an on-call.

I’m both happy and sad about this because as I said, I do love my job at the detox and I love the people I work with.  They are all dedicated and professional and a lot of fun, and together we try to help a group of very broken people as best we can.  I’ve been very grateful to be a part of this place and I’m sorry to be leaving it (although I will stay on as an oncall).

But, to sleep in my own bed every night… to rejoin another group of dedicated individuals… and to have a full time gig.  These are things that I’m also grateful for.

The Lovely Rhonda is less than thrilled about certain aspects of this, mainly that she will be responsible for getting the Collective Spawn to their schools a couple of mornings a week, and we will not have some days off together that we’ve had.  But I’m hoping that my improved physical health and mood will make up for that.  Not to mention a little extra scratch coming in.

Thrift Store Piracy


Or, how to be your own pirate for about fifty bucks (less if you already have some wardrobe essentials)

So, we decided to attend the Portland Pirate Festival so we could take part in the attempt to reclaim the Guinness record for most costumed people talking like pirates or something.  We claimed the record last year, then some people in California bested us, then there was a British contingent that stole it.  Or something.  Who cares.  The point is, we needed pirate costumes, stat.

Stat is fancy nurse talk for RIGHT NOW OMG.

So we headed for the local Charity Thrift Store.  Now, I’m not a size 6 and I have Foot Issues, so I generally don’t shop for clothes or shoes at thrift stores, but I have bought a few things for the kids here and there (mostly coats and jeans) as well as books and other odds and ends.  But I wasn’t really thinking we’d find a lot, especially not at the first store we went to.  I was so pleasantly wrong!  (Ugh, that was almost perky.  Somebody stop me.)

But the question is, what does a basic, no-frills beginner pirate wear?

For starters, and because it was the closest section to the books, they wear something on their feet.  Usually boots.  Usually brown or black.  Again: Foot Issues.  Not really holding out much hope.  Plus, I have a pair of black lace-up boots in storage if I really felt like I had to go dig them out.  Across town.  In a friend’s basement.  Not near here.  But still.

But then there they were:

Ex. A: Black Pirate-y Boots.

And a mere twelve bucks or so.  Chuh!  How could I pass that up!  (The Lovely Rhonda found some suitable shoes as well.)

Moving on.  What else does a bargain hunting pirate wear?  Well, probably a white, flowing or frilly shirt, and maybe a vest.  We headed over to the shirts/blouses/things you wear on your torso department.  We picked through the racks, and the thrift store gods smiled on us once again with this one-two punch of piratey awesomeness:

Ex. B: Pirate-y Torso Ensemble.

In case you can’t see it up close, here is some detail.  The vest is truly ghastly taken as something one might wear to work, but as pirate garb it is spot-on.

Ex. B: Detail.

So, the next question becomes, what does a pirate wear to cover its buttocks?   The simplest answer is something black, and truly I had both trousers and a skirt that would work, but both are a bit dressy and not something I would want to get mud on (it did rain yesterday and I suspected there would be mud, and I was correct in this assumption) or in some other way risk ruining.  Plus we hit pay dirt once again with this swingy little number:

Ex. C: A Pirate-y Skirt.

This left just headwear and accessories.  For the Guinness record we’d need a hat or kerchief and an eyepatch.  The hat is a simple prefab affair that had a skull and crossbones sticker on it that I found to be a bit overkill so I peeled it off.  It’s made to look like a sort of kerchief anyway.  And the eyepatch was purchased at a party store for a couple of dollars.  The hat would have been ten dollars at the party store, but at the thrift store it was three bucks.  Cha-ching!

Ex. D: Hat and Eyepatch.

So, a few jewelry-type accessories and off we go.

Ex. E: Pirate Bling.

Then of course once we were there we found the perfect addition:  the spangled bellydancer’s scarf.  We each bought one.  Yay!

Ex. F: The Spangled Bellydancer's Scarf.

Let’s see how it all goes together, shall we?

Ex. G: The Finished Pirate.

Hiding behind me is my Coach purse, which isn’t all that piratey but I did have to carry around Girlish Essentials like a wallet and camera and sunglasses and lip balm and stuff.

So there it is.  About fifty bucks.  My Halloween costume for years to come.

Symphony Notes


So we went to a fundraiser for the Oregon Symphony Orchestra tonight.  They have been invited to play at Carnegie Hall, which the director (or conductor or whatever) pointed out means that they don’t have to pay to rent the hall as most symphonies do.  And it ain’t a cheap hall neither.

Still, there is the considerable expense of packing up one’s symphony and sending it to New York, as well as housing and feeding it whilst there, so a certain amount of shilling for funds is necessary.  To entice one into forking over the dough, they imported a few friendly faces: Thomas Lauderdale, Storm Large, and some big gal in a dress such as would make Liberace weep like a lonely angel: Darcelle XV.

It turns out that Ravel’s Bolero is really interesting to watch live, and also that Thomas Lauderdale cannot sit still.  Good to know.

But what made me laugh was watching the guys in the very back, the percussionists, some of whom have so little to do.  Not that it isn’t important, nor am I making fun of it, but I was watching a couple of guys playing tambourines.  A couple of times in one of the pieces they each thwacked their tambourines, very skillfully I might add, but only for a couple of measures a couple of times.  So say four brief episodes of tambourine-thwacking.  Maybe thirty seconds of thwackage.  I leaned over and whispered in Rhonda’s ear: Those guys are being paid a living wage to thwack those tambourines. We busted up.

A bit later in the same piece a guy next to them picked up a lovely pair of brass cymbals and, at the appointed times, clashed them deftly.  I imagined his sheet music:  Not yet…. Not yet…. Not yet…. Aaaaaaaalmost there…. NOW!  (Repeat).

Perhaps this sort of low-brow cogitation on the nature of playing in a symphony is only funny to non-musical ignorami such as myself, but there it is.

Now, the director of the symphony is this great guy named Carlos Something Ethnic Or Another.  He’s just what you want in a conductor: tall, thin, lithe, exotic, and funny.  He has what I think may be the three things you really must have to be a conductor I enjoy watching: poofy hair, a charming, muddled accent (he was born in Uruguay to Austrian parents, how’s that for charmingly muddled), and some kind of spastic rhythm disorder.  My mind wandered over the contents of his personal journal:

Must call hairdresser re: hair not poofy enough.  Change conditioners??

Am told there is no “k” on the end of “-ing” suffix.  How can this be true?  Americans are so confusingk.

Don’t forget enroll for the Pilates class.  Must keep knees springky.

Is tuxedo long enough to cover butt?  Must not distract elderly ladies with wigglingk.

…All kidding aside, I greatly enjoyed this concert.  Stormy sang a few good ones and Darcelle never disappoints.  Not bad for a dame pushing 80.

True Story


So a few days ago I got up from some probably very unsatisfying, broken sleep after a night shift and trudged into the bathroom to take the obligatory shower.

I could not get the water to cooperate.  The shower was either blisteringly hot or mountain-runoff cold, and I was starting to get pretty frustrated.

Finally I turned the water off completely and got down real close to look at the knobs (being as I wasn’t wearing my glasses in the actual shower).

I remember lurching toward one of them with my big, groggy, nearsighted head and seeing a giant letter C float toward me.  I swung my head to the other side only to see a big letter H.

I was so tired that I had mentally reversed the taps.

After taking a moment to complain unreasonably about how THE STUPID KNOBS ARE ON THE WRONG &%$#ING SIDES OMG WTF, I successfully navigated the plumbing in the house where I’ve lived FOR A YEAR and took my shower.

That, my friends and neighbors, is tired.

An Open Letter to My Doctor’s Office


Specifically to the billing department:

Dear Useless Rude “Customer Service Representatives,”

I have this little thing called “health insurance.”  It pays a certain portion of my bills.

Each time I visit my doctor, you send me a statement in which the billing information is completely wrong.  Today, for instance, The Lovely Rhonda called you to inquire as to why you attempted to bill Medicare (for her bill) and Some Other Insurance Company (for mine).  Not surprisingly, both agencies had declined to pay up.

Just for the record, by the way, it may not be the best policy to inform your customers that you bill the insurance company “as a courtesy.”  This little “courtesy” is provided by virtually every medical office in the free world.  Getting all snappy about it when we become frustrated that you mess it up EVERY SINGLE TIME isn’t going to improve your track record, nor is it all that enticing for me as the customer.   Although there is something to be said for its entertainment value.

I am not sure that you realized how close to instant blistering death you came as you spoke with The Lovely Rhonda today.  She is currently affected by The PMS.  Perhaps I should have warned you that I brought her a nice bottle of Coppola Rosso and some chocolate this morning in anticipation of how my very survival depended on it she’d need them both before the day was through (the chocolate by early afternoon, the wine after 5pm as is civilized).

So anyway, imagine our surprise when we contacted the insurance company and found that both bills had been paid.  The Lovely Rhonda duly phoned you back to inform you of this and provided you with the draft number, the date it was paid, and the date it cleared.  And your response?  “Oh, okay.  Call us back in two weeks to verify that the payment has been applied to your account.”

I am truly shocked that she did not actually reach through the phone and throttle you, as I might have done.  Instead, she oh so gently informed you that she had done more than her part and that if your company couldn’t track its own accounts receivable, it was none of her affair.

I so look forward to further interactions with you, O Inept, Unhelpful Billing Department!  Truly it is an education in how not to conduct business.


The Lovely Rhonda’s Handler

It’s Complicated


So Rhonda’s ex is unable to take care of the children during what is usually his time, at least for this week if not longer, due to some health problems.  Naturally this is the ONE weekend wherein I accepted some on-call shifts, resulting in a five-day death-march through the land of the night shift, so sleep deprivation was already my chosen lifestyle for the duration.

Since Rhonda can’t afford to take any more time off from work, ditto myself, we’re just having to patch together what arrangements we can for tomorrow and the next day.  Since naturally this is ALSO the Monday that I happen to have a job interview, it’s become a complicated affair with a cast of many players.  Ordinarily I’d just come home and sleep and wake up and get the youngest from the babysitter and then meet the bus for the older one, but instead I’ll be dashing off to the interview, a friend’s teenager will meet the bus, and I’ll grab the youngest on my way home.  Then I’ll pay off the teen, craft a delicious meal of take-n-bake pizza or similar, shovel the exhausted spawnlets into bed (since they will have been dropped off at the sitter’s at 530am by Rhonda on her way to work), and attempt to nap before leaving for work at 10pm.  Rhonda will arrive home at 830pm, shovel herself into bed (for our hour and a half of together time, probably spent talking about the events of the day and whining about not seeing one another since very early Saturday morning), and the cycle begins anew for Tuesday minus the teen and the dashing around to interviews.

I expect that by Thursday, when I get off work for the week, I will be gibbering, hysterical, and thoroughly unpleasant (I know, different from usual in what way?).  I will communicate in grunts, whistles, and clicking noises, and prod people into doing what I want via pointed stick.

But the night shift differential at the oncall place is twice what I expected, and we can really use the extra scratch, and it will all be over with in a few days.  Right?  Right?

The Obligatory 9/11 Post


Where were you when it happened?

I was lazing in bed, not feeling that great and dragging myself up late to go to work.  I ran a 7-bed group home for a mental health agency at the time.  My now-ex had gone out and gotten into her truck to drive to her work and came right back in, turning on the tv as she came to tell me that something had happened, somebody bombed the Pentagon or something.  Every tv and radio station was covering the Towers.

We sat for a horrified hour watching the Towers fall again and again, watching the planes disappear into the buildings, watching the flames bloom, the people running, the survivors wandering out of the dust in a daze.  The people in the buildings making the final decision of their lives, preferring to jump and hope for a miracle (or disoriented unconsciousness and instant death) to burning alive.  We turned to each other and said, over and over again, Nothing will ever be the same.  There will be war.

In the coming days we sat on the front porch in the evenings and marveled at the complete lack of aircraft in the air save military patrols.  The peace and quiet was oddly unsettling.  The coming weeks found me anxiously stocking my pantry, not hugely, but I just found myself buying extras of the usual stuff out of a need for some sense of security.  The future seemed so uncertain.

I had just gotten a new car and for a long time associated new car smell with disaster.

In a way nothing ever has been the same, and certainly there was war.  So many dead, so many maimed, for nothing.  I wish there was a no-warmongering section of the world to live in, like the no-smoking section of a restaurant (largely a thing of the past now, really), for those of us who think that the whole thing is stupid.  War is about control, terrorism is about control.  I want no part of it.  There must be a better way.

When your birthday is just another day


But somehow it’s still not just another day!

Normally would have slept as last as possible but Rhonda was forced to wake me for something fairly urgent (but all is going to be fine).  So I have a headache, and I have to go back to work tonight, but it’s still my birthday.  Enough people wished me well on Facebook to make me feel all special.  🙂

We’ll have a little party tomorrow night with the kids, because kids love parties, and then life will resume in a more normal pattern.

Meanwhile, here is a picture of some sunflowers I took over at Mom’s yesterday.  Yesterday it was sunny and bright.  Today it’s raining like mad.  So it goes!