Tag Archives: shameful secrets

Man for a day


So this morning was Monday.  It turned out to be Monday all day long.

First thing I decided to take the car in for a quick emissions check because the tags are expired.  One of the things I meant to do before we left for vacation, but you know how it goes.  Kinda didn’t think about the fact that the check engine light had been on for a while.  We’d had it looked at by our local shop and they told us that an oxygen sensor was out.  “But you have two,” they said, “So you can drive it like this without any problems.”

Neither I nor The Lovely Rhonda really connected this with emissions testing, but it turns out we should have.  The pimply faced teen at the emissions place smugly informed me that it failed because of the bad sensor.  I wanted to smack him and yell, BUT IT HAS TWO SENSORS AND THE OTHER ONE WORKS!  But, I held that in.  I just said it inside, where it counts.

I took it directly to our local shop, again, and dropped it off for repair.  How much for a new sensor, you ask?  I asked the same thing.  “Well, I won’t know until I look it up,” said Jack, “Could be a hundred dollars, could be six hundred.”  Yikes.

Pretty soon the sullen rental car agency guy came to get me.  “Sorry if I’m not all that talkative,” he eventually said.  “I’m operating on about one hour of sleep.”  Judging from his appearance and general demeanor, I’d say he must have spent the rest of the night smoking interesting things and playing PS3 games with his loser buddies, but I didn’t say that out loud either.  We drove on in companionable silence while I wondered which utility pole Mr. No Sleepy was going to slam us into.

We arrived at the agency in due time and I was taken out to the parking lot to choose my trusty steed.  Which ones are up for grabs?  “Oh,” said the perky young lady clerk, “Anything from those two rows.”  There was a few boring white sedans, a dark red Honda.  And then I saw it.  At the end.  The black one.

“Uh, okay, um, I guess I’ll take that one over there, that one on the end,” I said, nonchalantly wiping a small amount of drool from the corner of my mouth.

“Oh, the Charger!”  She turned to walk me back into the office.  “That one’s very popular with the younger male drivers.  Like, 24 to 29 years old age range.  They always ask for that one too!”

After the walk-around and the signing of the papers — she even had the slack-jawed lot jockeys wash it again, because it needed it — I drove off in all my rented glory.


Friend(s), I was Walter Mitty for a day.  I drove that thing like an extremely repressed boss.  I took off slightly faster than average at stoplights and careened around corners on 3.95 wheels.  I turned the Soft Rock Hits of the 80’s, 90’s and Today up rather louder than usual and enjoyed the deep bass, mainly because I couldn’t figure out how to turn it down.  I even went several miles above the speed limit at times.

I know.  I almost don’t know who I am anymore!

I posed a picture of the car on Facebook and TLR commented, “You’re the man.  That is the ugliest thing I’ve ever seen.”  She was in the minority though.  All the really cool people thought it was neat.

This evening we dropped the rental car off before going to get my trusty old Mazda back.  I dropped the keys into the key return thing at the rental car agency.  They clunked down into the hollow armored post with an air of finality.  I sighed and walked away to climb into the minivan.

Maybe someday.

(Hey, if she thinks it’s ugly maybe TLR won’t want to borrow it?)

Hygiene Issues


So recently we purchased some necessary items at MembershipWarehouseCo, where you can buy such things in bulk and also sample things on toothpicks while you load your cart up with lifetime supplies of toilet paper and hemorrhoid cream and the like.

These items we purchased were of a feminine nature.

Okay, they were pads.

They were what we used to call “maxi-pads.”

Back in the old days these were made out of a curiously non-absorbent material and were almost exactly the right size and shape for Barbie to sleep on whilst camping, but nowadays they are practically paper-thin and come all folded up in a swell little plastic wrapper with the cutest little teensy-weensy adhesive tab on it.  This is an improvement in so many ways that I can’t even list them all, but I’ll say for starters that at least if you go to the grocery store to buy them, you can now fit something else in the cart besides the ginormous box of pads.  And the chocolate, the box of wine, and your shame and humiliation.

Don’t we all disguise them with other stuff?  “Oh, I had to come to the store to get these corn flakes that we desperately need at eleven p.m., and also some steel wool, and magazines and gum and oh I guess I can pick up some pads for when people visit us, they are not for me, I am genderless and have no embarrassing bodily functions.”  And then we pray to get the older lady checker with the big hairy mole on her face.

Last night The Lovely Rhonda finally cracked the seal on the box and took one out for inspection.  This was after we’d left them sitting on a bookcase in the living room for all the world to see for at least a couple of weeks.  Because we are (pick any two):  a) nurses, b) adults, c) completely clueless.  (Hint:  it’s c.)

She was behind the closed bathroom door but I could hear the zzzzzzip sound of the outer wrapper being peeled away, after which came the exclamation:  OH MY GOD, shouted TLR through the door, YOU HAVE TO SEE THESE THINGS, THEY ARE HUGE.

There followed an episode whereby I stood in the hall trying not to pee my pants laughing while we yelled things through the door to each other about the hugeness and absorbency of these new pads, i.e. “Does it go from your chin to the nape of your neck?”  and “Don’t leave one open near the toilet, it’ll suck all the water out of the bowl and swell up and smother you!”

This all reminded me of basic training, Fort Jackson, South Carolina, 1986.  Drill Sergeant Pringle sat on a stool, all us winsome young female recruits gathered around at his feet watching with rapt attention as he red-facedly tried to claim that he was “not embarrassed by all this, I’m married and have daughters” while he told us to carry a few such items in our packs, “one for you and one for your buddy.”  As if ONE would be doing anybody any good out in the field.  And also: “And keep it in a ziploc bag, because if it gets wet it’ll SWELL ALL UP and won’t be any good to anybody!”

At this point we died laughing to the point that he had to get up and leave.



So I’ve had this exchange recently with my mother via email.  It’s not the sort of thing I want to share on this blog, but an offshoot of it is that we ended up discussing the fact that I am a big weepy crybaby.

It’s true.  I am.  Do you hear that?  I’M COMING OUT AS A CRYBABY.

I cry at stuff all the time.  It waxes and wanes with The Hormones a bit, but the underlying baseline is that if it will make someone cry, I will cry at it.  If it won’t necessarily make someone cry but might, I will cry at it.  If it will make only the most inveterate of wussy crybabies cry, I will cry at it.

I’m not saying I cry every single day, but sometimes it’s a crapshoot.

An excerpt from the email exchange:

Mother: You’re my sweet little crybaby!

Me: Delia has inherited this from me.  You know what else makes me cry?  Live music!  WHY!!!

Mother: It’s all my fault. Did I not tell you stories of my tear-filled childhood?

Grandma would send me into the store in Wood Dale, a town of microscopic size where everyone knew everyone, with a list of items to buy and even then, insulated by the list, attended to by someone who knew me, no conversation required, I would STILL cry.

Live music evidently falls into the category!

So there you have it.

And?  It’s the holiday season.  There are HALLMARK COMMERCIALS.  I cannot  watch television for the next 22 days.

Crazy Cat Lady


So I have this extremely affectionate cat.  His name is Heals, or as I call him Healsie, and he’s a black and white tuxedo cat.  You’d think he’d be more dignified than he is since he’s wearing a tux all the time but he’s definitely the farthest thing from suave and debonair ever.

This morning he entered the bathroom where I stood in front of the mirror getting ready for work.  He’s one of those cats that hug, so pretty soon he was standing on the counter wrapping his front legs around my neck.  He especially enjoys doing this fresh from the great outdoors, but this morning at least he wasn’t wet and dirty.  His paws were pretty cold though.

So I’m petting him and he’s rubbing his face all over my face and it’s all just a giant love-fest, and then he climbs me like a ladder until I’m holding him like a baby in the crook of my arm.  He’s still got his front leg around my neck and he’s rubbing and purring.  Until I try to set him back on the counter, at which point he climbs as high as he can get.

This is when I text Rhonda, “Heals is wrapped around my head.  It’s really making it hard to put on mascara.”

I have to go sit on the couch and hang out with him for a while in order to get him off me without getting scratched or snagged.    He curls up on my chest (because I’m sitting all slouchy) and pretty soon here comes Hermione, the Traditionally Built Cat, and after sniffing at Heals for a while she makes a huge point of laying across my legs while somehow keeping her back to me in disdain.

Then I realize that I’m sitting on the living room sofa covered in cats listening to holiday music, which I had turned on for company because I was feeling a little melancholy this morning.

At which point I’m all, “Oh, hey, whoa,” and get up and brush myself off like Noooo that wasn’t what it looked like at all.

And I backed away from the couch and turned the radio to Adult Alternative just in case.

Why I Cannot Clean The House Except Under Tremendous Pressure


So it’s Thanksgiving next week, and as always we are booked solid until Thursday morning.  The Lovely Rhonda is working her four-day stretch, ending on Tuesday, so she’ll be relatively useless on Wednesday.  I say that completely without rancor because her workdays are twelve hours long and sandwiched between forty minutes’ drive each way.  We jokingly call it Bathrobe Wednesday but it’s no joke; as far as I’m concerned she’s earned a day completely off.  She never gets one, but she has one coming to her.   About the time she’ll be feeling halfway human we’ll be off on an errand.  (I’d talk about what the errand is but it makes us sound all goody-goody.  We’re not.  We are fortunate and grateful and humble.)

So it’s up to me to clean the house for the holiday, and I accept that with my usual grace, i.e. wretchedly and with great reluctance.  It’s not that I don’t value cleanliness and as I stated above, it’s not because I don’t think I should have to.  I just don’t wanna.

Here’s part of why I don’t wanna:  It will take me bloody ages, because I am a perfectionist.  I figure, if I’m going to clean, I’m going to do it right.  So, I can’t just clean the kitchen counter off.  I have to rearrange the entire kitchen because it’s been irksome to me how crowded the canisters are.  I can’t just vacuum around the couch, I must also take a damp rag to the arms where the dog chews his rawhides and leaves gummy crusty patches, and I must remove the cushions and clean under them and vacuum the dog hair from them and take the rag to their spots also.  I cannot just shove into a drawer the various pencils I find all over the house now that all the children can write yet cannot put a pencil away under pain of death, I must sharpen them and put them in the pencil cup.

Now, if there is someone coming over in an hour or two I can do those things, but not when I have an entire day to clean.  So far today I have done the things described above as well as repaired a book’s torn/ragged cover, washed every blanket/afghan/item of clothing that I come across that might be minutely less than clean, and dusted a shitload of owls.

Oh, and blogged about it.


Here’s mud in your hair


So once upon a time I was an elderly nursing student and I met this hot younger woman and stole her from her entirely undeserving husband.

At that time I was not only elderly but experiencing a host of delightful changes related to not being young anymore, including night sweats and general curmudgeonliness.  I was so clueless about this process, which to give me some credit was both horrifying and mysterious, that I went to see the school’s nurse practitioner about the night sweats thinking I was having a urinary tract infection.  This wasn’t so far-fetched as I’d had exactly the same symptoms when I was pregnant.

Imagine my delight when the nurse practitioner informed me that I was starting the exciting journey into perimenopause.  As my ex so succinctly put it, “Oh, they just put the ‘peri-‘ on there to make you feel better!”

I’ll spare you any further details (you’re welcome) except to say that I’m also fortunate to come from a family whose hair goes grey prematurely.  My brother, who is a great guy with just a minor gun fetish, looks like if Santa was a fairly tall,  slim guy with a minor gun fetish.  And no butt.

My eyebrows started to turn white when I was about thirty, and it turns out that once they turn white they don’t really ever turn back.  And it just gets worse from there.  In about ten years I went from being a pasty-skinned, freckled redhead with dark eyebrows (sort of brownish) to a pasty-skinned freckled PERSON WHO USED TO HAVE RED HAIR, with white eyebrows.

The third time someone asked me if I “used” to have red hair, which coincidentally was also the first time someone asked me if I was Delia’s grandmother, was the first time I considered coloring my hair.  Ever.  And when we went to cheer a friend on at a triathlon and that friend spent the evening ruining hotel towels with henna, I allowed myself to be talked into it.

Great googly moogly, that was some orange henna.  I was startlingly bright.  The Lovely Rhonda was pleased with it and so I have never looked back, although we did seek out a somewhat less shocking shade of henna.

For those of you unfamiliar with henna, it’s a plant that grows somewhere more interesting than here, probably India judging from the packaging, and they dry it and grind it up and ship it halfway around the world so perimenopausal women can feel less hopelessly antiquated.  You mix it with boiling water, stir it into a vaguely barnyardy-smelling mud the consistency of poo,  allow it to cool down until it’s still way too hot, and smear it in your hair.  Then you put a plastic bag on your head and play computer games for an hour, after which you take the longest shower ever because it’s the very devil to try to get this crap out of your hair.  And in the morning you look like Little Orphan Annie after a heroin bender.  At least I do, because my hair is long-ish and curly and henna tends to roughen it a little.  I’m told not as badly as harsh chemical dyes, but still.  I go through a lot more conditioner these days.

What amazes me is that every six weeks or so TLR smears mud in my hair, observes me with a muddy grocery bag on my head for an hour, and still claims to find me interesting and lovable.

Helga hates America some more


So I met with Helga this morning for a delightful half-hour of grunting and swearing.  It was an arms and upper body day so now my arms feel like noodly appendages, thus bringing me closer to FSM.  Totally backfiring, Helga!

After the torment had ended, I was directed to the DeathMaster for thirty more minutes of fun.  I set it to level 3, because once you’ve progressed  you can’t go back unless there is a good reason for it, like your if leg falls clean off or there is a sale at Penney’s.

At 13 minutes remaining I hit the pause button, and at 7 minutes remaining I hit it again.  But only for one minute each time.

I was distracted at the end of my session by Helga introducing another victim client to the DeathMaster.  Oh, how it pained me to watch her expression fill with horror and dread as he dragged her over and indicated that she should mount up and start marching.  Another innocent soul lost to the soul-sucking DeathMaster. She kept up a brave front but I knew how she felt on the inside.  Bemused, bewildered, betrayed.  Also, sweaty and tired.

A friend of mine joined this thing called the 100 Days Challenge put on by John Bingham, this average guy who decided to run when he was 43, an overweight couch potato with his mortality staring him in the face.  He’s gone on to run marathons, never as an elite runner but as a guy who really loves to run.

I can identify with this; I’m never going to be an elite anything (particularly anything athletic) but it turns out I like to be active.  I’m just really busy, really lazy and forget to plan, and this makes it hard to exercise.  But I read a quote a few months ago that hit home, from this guy who had lost a ton of weight, maybe from one of those “Biggest Loser” shows.  I rather wish I’d saved the quote somewhere but basically it said,  “You can do whatever you want, you have time to exercise; it’s just a case of making time for it.  I get up at 5:30 every morning to go to the gym.”  I know, it seems so obvious, right?  But for some reason it hit home: this won’t happen unless I make it happen, and if it means getting up early because that’s the only time that works for me and my family, well then it means getting up early.  You just have to WANT to do what you’re getting up early to do.

I mulled all this over for probably a month or two before one night the impulse just carried me away and I found myself making an appointment with a trainer.  And I really like Helga (despite what I post here, which is for comic relief) and he pushes me hard enough to work but not so hard that I can’t stand the thought of coming to the gym.

So when my friend posted that she was signing up for this challenge, which is free and is just an informal contract you make with yourself to be active for thirty minutes every day for a hundred days, I thought it sounded like fun.

Yesterday, Day 1, The Lovely Rhonda and I leashed up the dogfaces and strolled around the neighborhood for a half hour.  It wasn’t terribly taxing but the dogs enjoyed it, we got out into the air, and I got to check off a day on the chart.  Yay!

But don’t tell Helga.  He might get the idea that I like this stuff.


Helga, Helga, Helga.


So today’s torture session commenced with a few minutes of DeathMastering for warmup.  Then we moved on to some horrible machine, then another one, then pushups with the bar yet LOWER.  Helga tried some Jedi mind tricks on me but I didn’t just climb out of the trash compactor yesterday.  I could tell it was lower.

A lot of what we do seems to involve squatting, which is a posture that I try never to assume in public.  What does this mean?

Then when the torment had finally come to an end I was encouraged (at gunpoint, natch) to continue the agony once again by engaging in yet more of this horrific “cardio” on the DeathMaster or similar.

I told Helga how I had completely bonked at 8 minutes last time I had tried to do this “cardio” after a session.   He merely laughed at my weakness and taunted me mercilessly.

Okay, so that’s totally untrue, but it would be funnier if it was.

This time I complied with his demented request to do 15 minutes.  I did pause once at I think 13 minutes?  For the one whole minute that it lets you do.   I was panting like Lamaze class and sweating like a pig.  The gym makes me feel so pretty!

I’m sure I could push the pause button again for another minute if one minute was just not enough, but, and I am totally not making this up, the first time that I wrote about this?  I was so dismayed by the whole thing that that honestly never occurred to me.


Stickin’ it to The Man


So I had these two high-interest rate credit cards.  They were leftover from a time when I was a) young, b) poor, and c) desperate.  I had not used either of them in years and we’d been paying them down faithfully but they had swollen to the point that it was impossible to get ahead.  And they charge such a small monthly payment that — and I so very much wish I was kidding about this — one of them would have taken SEVENTY SEVEN YEARS to pay off had we made only the minimum payment.  They are required to post this kind of information on your statement nowadays so that you understand exactly how screwed you are.  I think that’s awesome and wish it had been the case years ago when I was uninformed and ignorant and had hope for the future and stuff.

At any rate, we’d tried to negotiate for a lower interest rate but no dice.  You’d think that In This Economy they might have been more motivated to keep me as a customer, but no.  They all but laughed in our faces.

So, yesterday we went to the credit union and applied for a loan to pay them off.  At way less than half the interest rate.  In four years we will be free of them forever.  And there will be no more credit cards in our futures, except decent ones used for traveling only — it’s much easier to rent hotel rooms and rental cars with credit cards, and I do like to think that someday we’ll get to travel.  Right?

Today we’ll stop in and sign the papers, including letters authorizing the credit union to close the accounts when they pay off the balances.   And so the credit card companies can just f*ck straight off.

It’s oddly satisfying, and will be even more so when we pay that last payment.

Full Circle


So today I got to call some reference checks in on a guy I’m trying to hire for one of the facilities.

He went to the same nursing school as I did and so two of his references are instructors that I also had classes with.

One of those classes was mental health.

Now, I’ve worked in mental health forever, and when I took that quarter I thought, “Oh, this will be a cakewalk, I can just practically phone this one in.”  I mean seriously.  I’ve worked in residential mental health forever.  How hard could it be?

Then I went to clinicals, and something unexpected happened.  Being in an acute care environment, which I chose because I had so much experience in the outpatient world, pushed my buttons like nobody’s business.  I wanted nothing more than to get the hell out of there from the minute I walked onto the unit every day.  I half-assed my assignments and skated through the whole thing like a bad dream, which it kind of was.

Out of respect for the involved party I won’t go into why it was so difficult for me.  At the time I was so mired in it that I couldn’t see what was happening, but afterward when I had got some distance from it, it became apparent just how hard it had been.  I was ashamed and wanted to contact the instructor, apologize to her, explain why I hadn’t been a very good student.

Then I thought that maybe that would look even more pathetic, so I just left it where it was.

So guess who I got to call today.


That instructor.

Over the course of the reference check it came out that I had attended that college, been in her class.  She remembered me.  She remembered thinking that I was not performing up to my potential.  I told her why, and that I had regretted it and had wanted to tell her so ever since.

Leave it behind you, she said.  You’re where you are for a reason.  I’m glad to know you’re doing well.