Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Happy Birthday Alexandra!

Chicago, January 29, was 15 days beyond your due date, and I had about given up on your ever arriving. In fact, in a bit of nesting instinct that only other mothers can probably truly understand, that afternoon I'd gone to Marshall Field's on State Street (the only location in those days) and bought some fabric, and that evening, I was sitting upstairs in our landlord's house on State Street (we were house sitting), sewing a new maternity dress. It seemed logical at the time!

But at a little after 10:00, my water broke...FINALLY, you were on your way! Dad and I were terrifically excited. Of course, I'd had my hospital bag packed for several weeks by then, complete with our LaMaze brown paper bag (to prevent hyperventilation during labor), lollipops (to provide a little sustenance during labor...ha!), pajamas (I intended to nurse), etc., etc.

Dad decided that it was terribly important that all the shoes he owned be polished, so he went over to the coach house (where we actually lived) and spent about an hour and a half polishing every pair of shoes he owned. That seemed perfectly reasonable to me. About every half hour, I'd have a contraction. That left lots of time to rest in between, but oh! those contractions! There was no doubt you were on your way. Before Dad left for the coach house (a hop, skip and a jump across the back yard) he told me to call the doctor.

"But it's after 10:00!" I said, shocked.

"Jude," he said, "That doesn't matter. He needs to know you're in labor."

Mortified, I called Dr. A, who inquired how far apart my contractions were and then said, sounding incredibly cheerful, that I should go to the hospital when they were 10 minutes apart.

I said OK, and tried to find things to do around the house. Labor was progressing slowly, but I was too excited to sleep. Eventually, Dad came back home and got a little sleep, while I browsed several books on childbirth.

Eventually, it was morning, and my contractions were about 12 minutes apart. At a little after 7:00 AM, Dad decided we'd waited long enough, and called a cab. It was bitterly cold outside, and icy. The cab driver took one look at me, and said helpfully, "Don't worry, I always carry cuticle scissors!"

I was ready to tell him to go on his way, and wait for another cab, but Dad assured me everything would be fine and we got into the cab and made it to Passavant, at Northwestern, without incident. At the hospital, Dr. A said he'd been about to call us, because he was getting worried, but he was happy to see that everything was progressing normally. Labor was becoming pretty intense then, but the hospital said they'd lost all our pre-registration papers, so Dad had to leave and spend almost an hour filling those out all over again. Eventually he returned, and we did LaMaze breathing during contractions and waited for you to make your appearance...which, eventually, after 17 hours of labor, at around 5:00 in the afternoon on January 30th, you finally did.

I will never forget the moment you were took a long, hard look around the delivery room...never believe that newborns can't see...and I was quite sure you were making a list (and checking it twice). Then you...ahem...had a big poop all over Dr. A's shoes...he thought that was quite funny...after which you were weighed (9 lbs., 1 oz) and swaddled before being handed over to me, and as soon as you were, you looked into my eyes, sighed, snuggled up and began, quite earnestly, to was the happiest of times...Happy Birthday Sweetheart!

Monday, January 28, 2008

To Sleep, Perchance to Dream...

Dunno if I’ll post this or not, but for sure I’m going to write it, “it” being my thoughts on sleep, or to be more accurate, on sleep apnea, with which we aging Boomers are being diagnosed more often than we were diagnosed as requiring tonsillectomies when we were kids, something I’d never have thought possible...

What the hell, I’m posting it.

DISCLAIMER: Please note, the pic is NOT of me. :)

I knew the definition of the word long before I could spell it, because I’ve had insomnia for as long as I can remember. When I was a kid, I discovered that blowing up balloons made me sleepy, and when I was about 10, desperate to get some decent sleep, I kept a cache of balloons beneath my bed. Midnight would find me sitting on the edge of my bed, shivering in the unheated upstairs of our house (we didn’t have central heating) in the icy Minnesota winter, blowing up balloons over and over, trying to get to sleep. It never seemed to quite do the trick, and the whole experiment ended suddenly one night when my older brother shouted from his room next door: “Jude! What the HELL are you doing?!?!?! No, never mind, don’t tell me ‘cause I don’t wanna know, but STOP RIGHT NOW!”

It’s a pain, being the younger sib.

On the plus side, I’ve never required much sleep. 5 or 6 hours out of 24, and I was always good to go...and go and go. Like the Energizer Bunny, I’ve always been a high energy woman, and I’ve always been able to (and still can, if the situation requires it) pull an all nighter without much trouble. Now that I’m old, though, I find that it takes me a lot longer to recover from pulling an all-nighter than it did when I was young.

Last spring when Alex got married, Katharine spent a week crashing on the chaise lounge in the corner of my bedroom. When the week was up, she said, “Mom, sometimes you snore, and you stop breathing so much when you sleep that it’s scary.” She made me promise to get evaluated for sleep apnea, and since there’s a strong family history, and since, more and more in the past couple of years, I’ve been so tired when I wake up that I can’t believe I’ve actually slept, I agreed to go get evaluated.

Which I did, a couple of weeks ago. And no big surprise, it turns out I have sleep apnea. Which means that there are two reasons that I’m so tired in the morning when I get up: first, I’m not sleeping at night, and second...for more time than I care to think about, it turns out I'm not breathing either. And I sort of like breathing, sooooooooooo...tonight I’m going back to the sleep lab to get hooked up to what my friend Ked (who has sleep apnea) calls his “Stayin’ Alive” machine...

Whether you’re a brother or whether you’re a mother,
You’re stayin’ alive, stayin’ alive.

Feel the city breakin’ and everybody shakin’,

And we're stayin’ alive, stayin’ alive.

Ah, ha, ha, ha, stayin’ alive, stayin’ alive.
Ah, ha, ha, ha, stayin’ alive....

by the Bee Gees


Sunday, January 27, 2008

What I Did Today - Sunday, January 27, 2008

1. I cleaned up my kitchen, which needed it.
2. I went to see Atonement, and in spite of all the hype, I didn't like it at all. Keira Knightley is gorgeous, but except for Bend It Like Beckham (an excellent film, made moreso by Parminder Nagra's terrific performance) I haven't seen evidence that Knightley can act, and this was no exception. As for the highly hyped, so called chemistry between her and James McAvoy...well, they're both great to look at, but I never had the sense that there was anything more than an attempt at acting going on between them. A more interesting film (although also dissatisfying, for different reasons) is There Will Be Blood, which I saw on Saturday. The movie is based on Upton Sinclair's 1927 novel, Oil! Daniel Day-Lewis gives an incredible performance, as does Paul Dano (the brother in another good film, Little Miss Sunshine) and the musical score by Radiohead guitarist Johnny Greenwood is amazing, reminiscent of Philip Glass (whom I first thought had composed it, but I was wrong). Interesting bit of trivia about this film: Paul Dano was originally cast as Paul Sunday, and a different actor was cast as Eli Sunday. That actor (unnamed on IMDB) left, and with less than a week's time to prepare for it, Paul Dano stepped into the role of Eli, and the storyline was changed to say that they were identical twins. Too bad these terrific actors didn't have a decent script to work with. These could have been fascinating characters, but there was absolutely no character development in the film, and I found that incredibly disappointing and frustrating.
3. I stopped by Target, where I had the unpleasant experience of witnessing a woman paddling her two-year old because the child was crying. The logic escapes me and the act disgusts me, but no, I didn't intervene, beyond loudly voicing my disapproval with two other women ("Where's the number for CPS when you need it?") which seemed to have some effect, although heaven only knows what happened once the child was outside the store. If one adult were to haul off and hit another in the middle of Target, people would be alarmed. Why do people still think it's OK to hit a child?

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Black Ice

I worked late tonight. Thursday, I left early (3:45) to go to the symphony, so I had planned to stay a little late tonight, but as often happens when everyone has left and I’m there pretty much alone, I ended up working later than I’d intended. It was 9:15 when I finally logged off and made my way to the elevators. As I walked out, I noticed that even the guy a few cubes down, who works the same crazy hours I do, had left, so I was surprised and a little annoyed when the elevator stopped at the second floor (I work on the third floor), delaying me perhaps 10 seconds or so before it moved on to the lobby, where I exited and headed for my car.

In my car, as I drove out to the street, I devoured a handful of cherry tomatoes that I’d brought for a snack and somehow never gotten around to eating today. I was happy to be driving home on a Friday night. I was looking forward to a quiet evening by myself. I noticed that thanks to the late hour, there was no traffic waiting to get onto I-35, backed up by the ubiquitous construction that's been going on for a good 6 months in front of the complex where I work.

In a couple of minutes, I was on the highway. My speedometer, which works only intermittently (ah, the joys of VW ownership!), had worked this morning, which meant it was not working tonight, but I'd guess I was tooling down the road at perhaps 60 mph, driving along at the speed of all the cars around me. Although it had rained this morning and much of today, the roads were mostly dry tonight, but I couldn’t help but notice that the digital traffic warning signs posted at regular intervals along the highway by TDOT all flashed the same message: Warning! Bridges and overpasses may ice!

In 20 minutes, I was on Hwy 121, approximately one-third of the way home. Usually, I listen to the radio as I’m driving, but sometimes I just want quiet, and tonight was one of those nights. I was in the right lane of the three eastbound lanes of a divided highway, and I’d just gone over an overpass when I heard a sound, to my left but slightly behind me, accompanied by a loud, hoarse horn. Before I had time to react, out of the corner of my eye I saw an 18-wheeler in the left-most lane and then, to my horror, I saw a small, black car come tearing out of nowhere (except maybe the left shoulder of the highway?), right in front of the truck. The truck driver must have stood on his breaks, because although the truck kept barreling along, I heard tires squealing and it managed to slow just enough not to hit the car, which flew diagonally across the lane next to me, and then in the blink of an eye it was flying across my lane, directly in front of me, entirely too close to my car for me to do anything but watch dumbly as it flashed before me before crashing loudly into the start of the guardrail at the beginning of yet another overpass. The car hit the guardrail with a tremendous impact that fish-tailed it around, so that it was almost facing oncoming traffic. It all happened so fast; I don’t think I ever hit the breaks on my car, and so I and all the other cars around me were still shooting down the highway at 60 mph. I don’t know about the other drivers, but I was stunned. The engine of the crashed car was still running; as if in a dream, I noticed that it’s wheels were spinning on the gravel of the shoulder, making an audible crunching sound as they tried to gain purchase. For a moment, the car hovered, looking as if it would tear out into oncoming traffic...all I could think, and it seemed to me that I was thinking in slow motion...was no, no, no...what are you doing? And then, to my horror, there was an awful sound of metal on metal as the guard rail began to give way. The car hovered for a final, awful moment before, with nothing to hold it, it careened off the embankment, flipping upside down before dropping out of sight.

We were perhaps 20 feet above the road below, and I felt sick to think what I’d just witnessed. It was all over in the blink of an eye. Miraculously, none of the cars around me had stopped, or crashed into each other...and in a moment, the road behind me was swallowed up into the night, and I was still shooting down the highway, safe and warm in my car, with the taste of cherry tomatoes still sweet on my tongue...

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Heath Ledger

I have no particular interest in celebrities. Unless I’m in the dentist’s office or have a bad head cold and feel in need of mindless distraction, I don’t read People, or Us, and I don’t watch, or even know the names of, the television shows that track the stars. I don’t care about Brittany or that skinny blond chick...Paris Hilton?...I don’t care about their latest dramas, in fact, I don’t want to know about them. I don’t care who’s divorcing whom, who’s going to have a baby, who’s going into rehab. I’m so out of it, I haven’t even bothered to watch the Academy Awards for the past several years.

But, that said...I love movies, and I loved Brokeback Mountain, and Monster’s Ball, and part of what I loved in both those films was Heath Ledger’s amazing performance in each of them. As an actor, I found him interesting, and I looked forward to seeing him in other films. I didn’t know or care anything about his personal life. I didn’t know whom he’d hooked up with; I didn’t know he had a 2 year old daughter; I didn’t even know his age (28).

Until yesterday, at work, when I overheard two women saying he was dead. “Drugs,” one said. “Of course!” the other answered.

Well, yeah, maybe...but not necessarily in the way they and so much of the media seem to mean. Last I heard, toxicology results won’t be in for awhile, but in the meantime, people are speculating accidental overdose on prescription meds...which could happen to anyone...

Shoot. Maybe it’s because I have a daughter his age, and sons in their early 20' every pic I’ve seen of him in the past two days, each and every time I have the same impression: he just looks so young. And it sounds as if, in addition to being an interesting actor, he was an interesting, down to earth, genuine, really nice human being. One woman who worked in a toy store in his neighborhood said he'd come in regularly, with his daughter on his shoulders, and another woman who worked at a restaurant in his neighborhood said he used to come in alone, with a book, and he'd sit quietly reading while he ate...of course, an actor reading quietly while eating alone is hardly a news story. But it does make me believe that he was a genuinely nice and interesting guy, as well as one incredibly talented actor.

He is going to be missed.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Divine Music and Sexadactyl Saints...

Things I Did Today: Sunday, 20 January 2008.

1. I had a delicious lunch at Hattie's in Oak Cliff.
2. I went to hear James Richman play Bach's Goldberg Variations, all 30 of them, on a harpsichord brought into Christ Episcopal Church in Oak Cliff for the occasion. It was an absolutely beautiful concert.
3. Looking at the stained glass windows in the church after the performance, I enjoyed discovering that the artist of one window depicted St. Matthew as having Hexadactyly (aka Sexadactyly - note 6 toes on his foot). The story is that the artist who created this window had hexadactyly himself, and that wherever he worked, figures with six toes have been discovered. If that's true, I love it! Vive la difference!
4. On this cold winter night, I came home and made chicken with 40 cloves of garlic for dinner.
Xander came into the kitchen shortly before dinner was ready, grinned up at me, and said, "Judi, my Mom wants to know what smells so delicious!"
"Tell your Mom I'm making chicken with 40 gloves of garlic for dinner,"
I answered.
"OK," he said, after which he ran from the kitchen and shouted upstairs, "Mom! Judi is making chicken with 40 guards of clovelic for dinner!"

40 guards of clovelic...I like that...ah, yes, from the mouths of babes...

Saturday, January 19, 2008

this 'n that...

I have the winter doldrums. Dunno why, as winter in Dallas in no way resembles winter in the frozen north, either in Minnesota, where I grew up, or in Chicago, where I lived after that...and yet it's so. I have pots of beautiful blooming pansies on my patio, that I covered last night with towels to protect them from the freeze...and for the most part, the days are sunny even when cold...but I'm lethargic, and find my days consumed by working, commuting, eating and sleeping, with little time or interest for anything else. I need to snap out of it.

On a brighter note...I'm going to hear James Richman of the Dallas Bach Society play the Goldberg Variations at a small church in Oak Cliff on Sunday afternoon, and since I'll be in Oak Cliff anyway...maybe I'll have lunch first, at Hattie's...
just thinking about fried green tomatoes or Prosciutto wrapped black mission figs , with bleu cheese & walnut stuffing, cheers me up!

Monday, January 14, 2008

life is a tale, told by an IDIOT...

So I was finally contacted by the freight company to schedule delivery for the marble countertop & sinks for the master bath. I ordered (and paid for) this item on December 2, at which time I was told it should be delivered by December 16. With Christmas, I figured that date was a fantasy, but if I'd known I'd have to wait 6 weeks, I could have spent a lot less and gotten the same product from a local vendor. Anyway, I was given a choice of Monday or Wednesday of this week for delivery. I chose Monday, because I'm in meetings all day Wednesday, and the freight company confirmed delivery for Monday, between 9AM and 1PM.

This was at about 5:30 on Friday, so I took my laptop home and e-mailed my boss that I'd be working from home today because my bathroom countertop was finally going to be delivered (she's aware of the ongoing remodeling saga, and is sympathetic because she's undergoing a remodeling saga of her own).

I've been working on my laptop all day, but at a few minutes after 1:00, I stopped and called the freight company to ask about my order, and how late they were running. I was told they weren't running late at all, because delivery was scheduled for anytime between 9 & 5. I said that I'd been told delivery would occur between 9 & 1. "Oh, we just tell you that for your convenience!" the clerk said cheerfully, "Actual delivery time is anytime between 9 & 5."


Friday, January 11, 2008

A Bit of Sunshine on a Winter Day...

I was in The Container Store last Sunday afternoon, to pick up more of the nifty little (actually, they’re not so little) bags that they sell for storing Christmas decorations. I just discovered them this year, and I especially like these bags because like the Shakers, I am fond of hanging things up to store them, e.g., on a wall or ceiling, and these bags, having handles, enable me to do just that, in my attic and garage.

Anyway, there I was, specifically perusing the Christmas Tree bags, when suddenly a very attractive guy maybe in his late 40's hurried up to the same display. I glanced up at him and said, “What do you think? Do they work?”

His face broke into a grin, and he said, “Well, I bought one last year...”

“Ah, and how was it?” I asked.

He grimaced. “Not really big enough,” he said, and continued, “the tag says for an artificial tree up to 10'”

“Well, yes,” I interrupted him, “and I have a 10' tree, but I was thinking of getting two bags...because the tree is in 3 sections...”

He grinned again, chuckled, and said, “Well, you see, that’s the difference between you and me. You’re civilized! I tried to cram a 10' tree into one of these things...not the best idea...and then the’s too heavy...they tend to tear off...”

God, he was a handsome man! And with a great smile...he reminded me a bit of Obama...

“Two it is then,” I said, as I picked up two of the Christmas Tree bags and made my way to the checkout...

Most of the time these days, I enjoy being on my own. Most of the time, like Garbo, I vant to be alone...

But then there are moments like that...and I admit, I found myself thinking about his smile all the way home...

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

What I Did Today - Wednesday, January 2, 2008

1. After a glorious week off, I awoke at 5:30, before the alarm went off, on this, my first day back at work.
2. I made myself a terrific breakfast: a toasted sesame bagel with chive cream cheese, lox, red onion and caper, washed down with freshly squeezed orange juice;
3. I worked 10 straight hours, but when I left tonight, all my cases were current;
4. I came home and warmed up the last of the beef bourguignon which I enjoyed while watching Law & Order and vegging out in the gameroom;
5. I did a little online research on the newly popular for aging baby boomers (of which I'm one) oral bisphosphonates for prevention of osteoporosis. Bisphosphonates have a fascinating history; they were discovered in the middle of the 19th century and have been used industrially since that time as water softeners, due to their ability to inhibit calcium carbonate formation. I have more than a passing interest in this nerdy topic because last week my doctor prescribed a bisphosphonate for me, and this in spite of the fact that I don't have osteoporosis. Sally Field is currently touting one of these drugs on television, but despite her sunny demeanor, these are powerful drugs that no one should consider taking without doing your homework. For example, the reason the dosing is just once a month is that although bisphosphonates leave the blood in several hours, their half-life in the skeleton is estimated to be at the very least, years, and perhaps lifelong, information I gleaned from a manufacturer's website, where I also learned that 20 to 50 percent of any given dose is taken up by the skeleton. FYI, the biological half-life of a drug is the time required for half of that drug to leave your body by either a physical or a chemical process. So in plain English, if a drug has a half-life of many years in your skeleton, that means that for all practical purposes, whatever percentage of the drug is absorbed by your skeleton just stays there, and the amount is increased with each subsequent dose. No one knows the long term effects of taking these drugs orally, but coincidentally, they're are also the class of drugs associated with osteonecrosis of the jaw, a rare but incurable condition in which the jaw bone dies. Needless to say, I have decided this is yet another prescription that I'll do without. And I'll be doctor hunting soon, because I'm getting more than a little tired of Dr. Polypharmacy blithely writing yet another script each time I so much as yawn in her office...

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Happy New Year!

I can't believe it's 2008. Happy New Year everyone! I've made some resolutions, one of which is to write more in 2008, sooooooooo...with that in mind...

I ended the old year and began the new in the best way possible, surrounded by friends and family. At 7:30 on New Year's Eve, Mike and his friend Brooke, who is visiting from Arizona, attended a Dallas Bach Society concert with me. I love baroque music, and have no qualms about subjecting my children and their guests to it. The Bach Society concerts are always beautiful, and last night was no exception, however, the Bach Society performed a medley of Bach works rather than the traditional New Year's Eve concert of the 6 Brandenburg concertos, and I admit I missed hearing those performed live (although I had the pleasure of listening to all 6 on the radio in the afternoon). After the concert, Mike & Brooke went to a party hosted by Chris & Stephanie; Katharine went out with a friend; A was in Las Vegas with friends; so I came home and was quite content to curl up in the gameroom with Mia asleep on the couch beside me as I ate beef bourguignon and watched Fred & Ginger, as 2007 became 2008.

Today, I went to see Charlie Wilson's War with Mike, Brooke, Chris and Stephanie after which Mike, Brooke, Chris, Katharine and Jon, in town for Christmas break from Indiana, came to my house for dinner. After wine and cheese and crackers in front of the fireplace, I served a dinner of Hoppin' John, a concoction made with black eyed peas, traditionally served in the south on New Year's Day for good luck in the coming year; veal meat loaf; a tossed salad, and orange poppy seed cake for dessert. Here's to a happy and healthy 2008.