Thursday, December 30, 2010

Moving to the convergence zone

The weather forecast called for a chance of lowland snow yesterday but Seattle didn't end up getting any. Most of it was in the convergence zone which is up by Everett. I am happy to find out that we are moving to the convergence zone so that means we might actually get a bit of snow every winter. Not much, but more than living in Seattle.

Today was phase III of the longest inspection ever. Of course, as time passes my imagination on all the myriad of expensive repairs we'll have to make grows bigger and bigger. I'm not good at waiting. I'm hoping that there will be some sort of resolution by this weekend. I've been trying to keep my mood light by joking that next a medium will have to come by to verify that there are no portals to demonic netherworlds in the house - and that we have the proper paperwork to back that up. The nice thing is, my lovely anal retentive husband actually has made sure we have saved all paperwork from all the work on the house. He makes my life easier in so many ways and his meticulous nature is only one of them.

At work today I was informed that it would be quite beneficial if I up my hours. That is probably a good thing because we'll need the money after doing whatever repairs we need to do post-inspection. But I also really need to learn to focus. When my boss and I are alone together it is a great recipe for non-focuseness. Today the distraction was getting the speakers on my computer to work so that I could see Double Rainbow Guy who somehow went viral on youtube. How do these things go viral? It's just bizarre to me. So, all I have to do is be a goofball on acid on youtube and I too will become rich and famous and asked to be on Oprah? Oh society. Sigh.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Sleep

Well, the hydrocodone worked a little and stopped my cough enough to get a little more sleep. I feel quite a bit better today thank goodness. I still have the cold but I'm not quite so sleep-deprived. Luckily, it did not set off a big arthritis flare-up because narcotics have a tendency to send me into a flare-up. They also trigger panic attacks. This is why I will never go back to the old junkie days. Drugs are not fun anymore when it involves severe joint pain and panic attacks. Ok, there's also the "life is great why ruin it" factor too.

We got the inspection results back and it reminds me why I should never try to sell an 85 year old house ever again. What a pain in the butt. Usually I am all about doing as much stuff myself as I can, but all this construction talk and foundation, settling and support beams talk is making my head hurt. I'm going to leave this to the menfolk - specifically my engineer husband. That is the most girly talk you're going to hear from me for awhile, I promise. I pride myself in being the wife whose husband says to the mechanics "Don't worry about the tune-up, my wife can do that." But I don't know a thing about framing or house construction and right now I am too tired to try to learn.

I've been having all sorts of weird dreams probably from hyperventilating from coughing and lack of sleep. Night before last I dreamt that Mike across the street was evil and had all these strange minions but he was evil in an entertaining Harry Potter sort of way. He was also completely white and partially transluscent, even his clothes. This morning I had a stress dream that I was working at the UW again (where I worked before my daughter was born) and I had gone into work with the pitbull, driving my old friend, Chris's old orange VW bus. When I got there I realized I had left my 6-year old daughter at home alone and started to panic. I actually thought in the dream, "I have had nightmares that I left her alone and now I actually have!" I said to my co-worker, "But if something bad happens the pitbull will protect her," and my co-worker pointed out, "But you brought the pitbull with you." And I was torn between leaving and losing my job and protecting my daughter (which in waking life I wouldn't care about losing my job if it meant protecting my daughter). Then I was freaking out because I was afraid I wouldn't get home before my husband and he'd find out I'd left her alone and then he'd leave and take her away to protect her from me and my awful negligent ways. Yikes!

And I'm going through horse withdrawal. I got to see my horse yesterday for about twenty minutes because I needed to deliver more supplements to her. And I convinced my dad that he should stay long enough to help me groom her (something he'd never done). He kept patting her and saying, "Good dog," in this dry sort of way (since he became a "dog person" after he retired). But with this awful cold I need to hold off riding until I can take a deep breath without wheezing or coughing. Bah. I need to be totally over this by next weekend because they're having a polo clinic at our stable and I really want to ride in it. Thanks to Shane showing up out of nowhere wanting to learn to ride so he could play polo then adopting two beautiful polo ponies from California, everyone has gotten the polo bug and wants to learn too. It's not my first choice like mounted shooting, but since I don't think I'll find anyone on this side of the mountains to teach me that, I'll give polo a go.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Tonight that we may sleep

For the past few nights I've had one of those coughs that doesn't bother me until I lie down, then it's like Chinese water torture. I am just about to doze off and I get that awful tickle in my throat that makes me need to cough. Then it spirals out of control from there and I can't seem to stop coughing. Ugh. I haven't been getting much sleep and my husband finally went and slept in my daughter's bottom bunk last night so he could try and get some sleep. Which meant she didn't get much sleep because she came in my room this morning to wake me up and announce, "Do you know how many times Daddy snorted and woke me up last night? Seven. I counted. He woke me up seven times."

I tried everything over the counter that we could come up with short of a humidifier (because the steam might potentially mess up the walls and today was our big inspection from the buyers). Finally in desperation this evening, I dug out some hydrocodone left over from my daughter's surgery last fall and am hoping that will finally suppress this dang cough. Aaargh.

I know, that was completely TMI for a public blog but I had to rant.

During the day I took my parents out to Woodinville to see our new house and drove my daughter by her new school. We went to lunch in downtown Woodinville and found the perfect restaurant in our new neighborhood to go when I don't feel like cooking or we just want to go out to eat as a family. So, I'm happy about that. It's good to have a local haunt in one's new neighborhood.

Despite that I swore I'd never live in the suburbs and I swore I'd never live on the Eastside, as our move date gets closer I'm feeling more and more like we've made the right choice. At first I was a little worried because it will all be so new and it's not how I pictured my idea of leaving the city, but the more I learn about our new neighborhood the more I feel a pull in my heart that this is the right decision for our family.

Plus, some stuff is changing here in the city in ways that don't work for me any more. Crime in our neighborhood has shot through the roof and now our newest addition is an establishment that sells "medical marijauna" and is a place for folks to hang out and smoke pot. In theory I don't really think pot is that much worse than alcohol and I figure more people probably abuse alcohol than pot, but at the same time, it is still illegal. I don't get this medical marijuana loophole. If THC were such a great medication then greedy pharmaceutical companies would be all over it. And the negative effects of smoking pot on the lungs is so huge. It seems like it would be a bad idea to be smoking anything when you're chronically or terminally ill. It just seems sketchy to me. It would be one thing if it were legal, but selling medical marijuana is still illegal in WA State I thought so it just doesn't strike me as a great business if they feel they are righteous enough to be above the law. It bugs me when rich Republicans do that and it bugs me when stoner hippies do that. If the law sucks, work to change it. But if everyone just didn't abide by laws that they thought were stupid then it would be anarchy - and that only works if you're a 14-year old punk rocker who lives in mom's basement.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Hex bugs and fatigue bugs

I've had a cold the last couple days which has left me very tired - probably because I don't sleep much because I keep coughing. It's frustrating because there is a lot I want to get done around the house before the potential buyers come in for the inspection tomorrow but I just can't seem to power up to do much of it. My sister-in-law was telling me about how she has had insomnia for the past couple years and I don't know how anybody can stand that. I've been able to power through chronic pain but I'm not good at powering through lack of sleep.

One of my daughter's Christmas presents was two pink hex bugs. They are little cockroach sized bug robots that scurry around the floor a lot like cockroaches. While she was building little courses for them to scurry through on the kitchen floor I was reminded of this old apartment (our building is the one on the left ... looking much different than when I lived there). I lived in down in San Francisco when I was twenty years old. I lived there with my boyfriend at the time and it was in the interior of an old building on Haight and Filmore that housed a Walgreen's and Erno's Tattoo Shop downstairs. Our apartment was on the inside of the building so our only two windows looked into an air shaft. Our neighbor's across the air shaft were members of the Rainbow Family and were very nice but never wore clothes unless they had to.

Our neighbor downstairs was a mystery though. Once I saw him sitting on the steps in front of the building smoking cigarettes and staring off into space. He was very overweight and had a blank look in his eyes. He would smoke a couple drags of a cigarette then stomp it out on the stairs and immediately light another one. When I said "hi" to him he didn't even recognize I was there. At night he would play loud classical music and make these strange whooping, screeching, growling noises and sometimes he'd howl "I'm going to kiiiiillll you!" Once early on I complained to the manager about it and he said it must have been his tv and don't worry about it. He didn't have a name on the mailbox for his apartment either. It was very odd.

Anyway, we had a lot of cockroaches. At that time I cleaned mansions on Russian Hill to earn money and even they had cockroaches, although they also had fairly good exterminators unlike us. We'd get roach motels and they would fill up within a day. There was an ever-present moving black spot on the ceiling in the bathroom of cockroaches congregating together. I remember a few times we considered getting dayglo paint and splashing drops onto them and watch the patterns as they scurried around. If I still lived there now I would definitely do that.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Even if you don't celebrate Christmas I hope you're having a good day today. I love Christmas, especially now that I have a little girl to play Santa to and do up the whole tradition. I really like traditions and Christmas is one of the few that has been consistent my whole lifetime. There was a period in my life of ten years of not talking to my mom and almost twenty of not talking to my dad (until as adults they decided to ask me to go to therapy with them which honestly has been the dream of all my adult friends who have difficulty with their parents that their parents would even agree to go to therapy let alone instigate it - so how could I turn it down???) anyway ... it makes me so happy now that I can spend Christmas with them again. I'm also very grateful that any pain from mistakes they made in my childhood has healed enough that my time with them now is about enjoying each other's company instead of re-living old childhood wounds or acting out old patterns. That's a gift in life that I don't think many people get to enjoy so I am fully aware of how huge that is and how lucky I am.

So, big news for us. Yesterday we signed the contracts and if the inspection goes ok and the buyer's financials are ok we have essentially sold our house. Which is good because when I went to add another "Santa" present to the stash in the closet that I'd put away for my daughter on Christmas morning, I saw that they were gone. I called my realtor and my mom and asked my husband and no one had moved them. They were no where in the house and the only explanation was either at the open house or one of the thirty-some agents that came through when we weren't here - they got stolen. They weren't that hard to replace, it was just a punch in the stomach to think someone would steal a little girl's presents from Santa. But after my initial tantrum and complaining on social networking sites I realized that we have got so much and our life is so good that it really didn't make a dent in our life. But whoever took them has a pretty pathetic life and knows deep down (despite their justification that we are "rich" and they are "poor" so they deserve to steal from us) that they stole presents from a little kid and that is just a scumbag thing to do.

We went to a party across the street with some neighbors we are just now getting to know. I was a little apprehensive because I knew I wouldn't know any of their family and friends. It was neatly divided between a "hipster crowd" - folks who seemed perfectly nice, but were also very cool with fashionable clothes and lots of piercings and tattoos and were drinking a lot, and the family crowd - the host's siblings and their children. In the old days you would've seen me plopped right down in the hipster crowd because that is who I used to identify with the most, but last night I immediately gravitated toward the siblings and their families crowd and that was a great choice. I met one family who I spent the most time with who are the type of people I knew right away that we will be friends. And their daughter and my daughter totally hit it off.

One thing that came up - kind of a separating the wheat from the chaff as to whether or not I could relate to them - is how I fit in the picture. So, I explained I live across the street but we just bought a house in Woodinville. One couple wrinkles their noses and said, "Good luck with that!" and I asked why and they said, "It's outside the city limits. Why in the world would you ever live outside the city limits?" I said we were in the Woodinville city limits and they said, "Ugh! Not Seattle though!" And I figured they were nice enough but we were not going to have much in common.

I can't remember what I thought the magic of being "in the city" was when I was in my twenties. I did used to think that as long as I was in the city I was where I fit in and belonged. But as an adult I notice that no matter where I go there are people I relate to and people I don't relate to everywhere. And I'm not sure why I pushed away so many of my real interests like horses, gardening and nature because I wanted to be in the city where "my people" were. As though having piercings and tattoos and wearing all black were the main things to have in common. Sometimes I really regret my teens and how I gave up so much of my interests and who I really am to follow some nebulous idea of being "hip". But I guess that without that weird, shallow phase of mine I would not be who I am today.

I think it's easier now too. I think it's easier to be a girl with tattoos and "weird ideas" out in the country now than it was in the 80's when I was a teenager. Still, I wonder sometimes about the person I was for awhile there and how that person came to be and why she is so not me anymore (well, except for the tattoos and weird ideas part).

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The great lie of Santa Claus

My daughter is in first grade now and this is the first year that an older kid has told her (with plenty of dripping pity for her) that there is no Santa Claus. That it's just your parents putting the presents under the tree, just like there is no tooth fairy and it's just your parents putting the money under your pillow. Since I happened to be there when said older kid was whispering this to her, I thought it was interesting to see her reaction. She stood there a moment looking perplexed and then said, "Oh. I see," then she scrunched up her face a little in thought, then she gave the older kid a look of her own utmost pity and said, "I think that's only what happens at your house."

Later she told me what the older kid had whispered to her and asked if it's me who plays Santa and the tooth fairy. I said that she was old enough now that she could choose what she wanted me to answer. Did she want me to tell her the truth or did she want me to tell her the fun version of the story and say it's not me. She said she wanted me to tell her it's not me, so I didn't say it's not me, but I said it was fine for her to continue believing in Santa and the tooth fairy if she wants. Then she said it was sad that the tooth fairy and Santa weren't allowed to exist at the older kid's house. I found the psychology of that whole interchange fascinating.

I am by far not an expert in psychology (having never gone to college except for a few classes ... the only three I ever actually attended and paid attention in being psychology, genetics and drama) but all the studies I've read on child psychology have said that play and imagination and fantasy are extremely important to developing brains. They help children learn cognitive skill needed for problem solving later in life.

The older child who is not allowed to believe in any of that stuff is our neighbor (same one who's mother thinks I'm stupid for believing in God, even though I'm more educated than she is) and from the get go her mother will not lie to her children about fantasy creatures. It did cross my mind when my daughter was a baby that saying that there is a Santa is essentially lying unless you really think about it. In our house it's all pretend play between the whole family. Said older child doesn't believe in Santa, God, or the tooth fairy but she does adamantly believe in fairy sprites - but I'm not supposed to tell her mom that. So, she is fulfilling that childhood need to fantasize behind her mother's back. And that to me is very sad. But there are a lot of parents now days who view fun stuff in childhood like Santa as a big lie and they will never lie to their children.

When did parenting become so weird? When did people start believing their children were so delicate that engaging in pretend play with them over long standing traditional icons would traumatize them? It seems to fall into the same category as saying no to their children will traumatize them and the idea that their children should never be unhappy so the parent must cater to them to the ends of the earth so they are never disappointed, bored or sad.

Maybe it's always been like this and I just never noticed because I was either a kid or a grown-up without kids. Maybe even in the days of settlers in the Wild West there were people who believed that telling their child about Santa would traumatize them by the big lie of it all ... or maybe because there were actual dangers back then like disease and starvation from crops failing and nature in general that folks realized their kids weren't these delicate little flowers that would wilt when you sneeze.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Real estate chaos

In a fit of whimsy, we put our house on the market two weeks before Christmas. It was one of those "What have we got to lose?" ideas that if it goes well will save us at least two months on carrying two mortgages when we buy our house in Woodinville and at worst will be a lot of work before Christmas, but mean much less work in Spring when the market picks up.

We expected to put our house on the market then have last week to be able to continue working on making the house perfect for the open house last weekend. But instead the phone was ringing off the hook with agents wanting to bring their clients through. So, every other hour I had to pack up and leave for awhile. Needless to say we didn't get that much done. But people poured through the house during the open house. I was so exhausted and brain dead by yesterday I was really glad that no agents called to show the house. I figure if no one makes an offer after that onslaught of half the city viewing our house then we deserved to have some peace and quiet the week before Christmas.

Apparently, a lot of people who looked at the house were excited about the chickens and wanted to know if they come with the house. A lot of people wanted our big orange cat, BuddyCat to come with the house. The funniest feedback we got was that many people commented on how well we've taken care of the house. But when I look around I see chipped paint everywhere and where my husband cleaned the tile in the new bathroom with some heavy-duty toxic tile cleaner and it bleached spots in the paint. I called my friend, Megan in a melt-down in line at Fred Meyer last week and said no one would ever want to buy our house because it's not nice enough and she said that I'm just a perfectionist and it will be my mental downfall. She might be right ... Of course, she also said that even though it's old our house is "cool" to which I exclaimed, "But no one cool can afford to buy our house!" Hopefully, that was just panic talking and not reality.

Meanwhile, I am going through horse withdrawal because I have not gotten to see my horse in over a week and have not been able to ride her more than twice in the last two weeks. Luckily, the nice part of boarding one's horse at that some of my barn-friends have been nice enough to make time to ride her and give her some work to do instead of just lolligagging in the pasture with her boyfriend, Ziggy.

In other news, now Alina is molting which means there are white feathers everywhere. Right when we're trying to make our house and yard look "perfect". Oh well. We get up in the morning and there's a whole 'nother layer of white feathers flying around. Molting in winter is terrible timing. Janey molted right when the freezing weather started last month. Well, fun and charming as our chickens are they are still pretty dumb, I think. As my daughter says, holding up her fingers really close together "Teeeny tiny little brains!"

Sunday, December 12, 2010

What is a pineapple express?

There is a "pineapple express" coming through Seattle over the next couple days. That means warmer than usual temperatures and lots of rain and we've had some wind too. I hear that phrase being thrown around a lot this weekend but I wonder where it came from? I had assumed that it refered to pineapples growing in tropical regions and this being tropical-like weather. A quick look-up of the etymology shows that it is not just a random weather condition, but is specifically a jet stream coming up from the South Pacific to the West Coast. So, there ya go. I always wonder these things when I hear people throwing around phrases like that just because (in this case) Cliff Mass used it. And I wonder if they actually know specifically what it means. Or maybe I'm the only one who didn't know specifically what it meant until I looked it up? Sigh. There's always that.

I'm apparently one of the few adults left in Seattle who likes it when it dumps snow (but then I have a Subaru with all wheel drive and new tires so maybe that is part of it?) and I also really like these heavy downpours of rain. I like listening to the rain when I'm in bed, I like watching it pour over the windows like we're out at sea in a storm. I just like it. It's even better with thunder and lightening storms. Plus, we have the most hard-core waterproofing system in our basement that we don't need to worry about flooding. Our house could basically be surrounded by a river and our basement wouldn't flood. I feel like I have a right to gloat while my neighbors bail out their basements because we did have to drop a lot of money into getting that system put in and in case nobody has figured that out we are not wealthy by any means (despite the horse).

Speaking of which, I posted on an acquaintance's Facebook page something about my horse and someone else posted in a snotty response about "keeping their horse behind the butler's quarters". It never occurs to me that people might mistake us for being rich because I have a horse. We're fine, we can pay our bills and don't have to worry about buying food and making sure our utilities stay on. But we are not even remotely rich. We can't afford to take vacations to Hawaii or Europe, we have old cars and all our clothes are from outlets or when Old Navy has a sale. Our furniture is fairly-to-super old and we don't have any of those fancy tech things like iPhones or big screen tv's or even a stereo that isn't 18 years old. It's just my priority for myself is to have a horse over traveling and toys and that's what I spend my money on. If I didn't have a job and got to be a stay-at-home mom like the majority of our neighbors we couldn't afford for me to keep my horse. So, it always amazes me when people flippantly assume we're rich because of my horse. I want to point out to them that they spend far more on clothes and getting their hair done and dinners out at nice restaurants than I do on my horse. Plus, skiing is just as expensive a hobby. Nobody assumes because you go snowboarding you're rich.

I understand the atagonism toward people who are rich. I used to have that too, and it's hard not to in this country when there are bozos who run companies where they outsource their manufacturing to over seas sweat shops and outsource their customer service to third world countries just to make a profit for themselves while screwing workers in the U.S. But I've also befriended some really great people who are wealthy and it just makes me tired the judgments and stereotypes.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Bouldering! ... and other stuff

My daughter is taking rock climbing classes this month so on a whim I asked my co-worker who is really good at rock climbing if she would come with me to the gym during my daughter's class and climb with me. This is only the second time I've done that. Last time I was on the belay rope and this time we did bouldering. I am now hooked and want to learn and get good at bouldering. Bouldering is rock climbing without the belay rope and you don't go as high and it's all about climbing across a rock ... like a spider basically. Probably wasn't a good thing for me to try when I'm supposed to be cleaning and packing up our house because my hands and forearms are so incredibly sore today! If I had been using proper body mechanics I don't think they'd be *this* sore, but without the harness and belay rope I was gripping stuff really tightly out of nervousness. And I fell five out of six times I'd try, but they have really soft mats to fall on.

When my co-worker gets up there and boulders it looks like she's doing ballet. She's so graceful and seems to know exactly where to put her hands and feet and she just glides along the rock. Near the end I let go with my right hand and swung my body to the right and my foot landed on a tiny little jutting rock and my hand landed on a small piece of boulder and I felt like I just went "whooooosh!" My co-worker said, "Excellent! That was beautiful!" But the reality was that my right hand cramped and slipped off the rock and I started to fall and caught myself. So, the best move I did the whole night was an accident!

My daughter's class was doing bouldering too, so when her class was over and my arms were too exhausted to try anymore we sat on the mats with my co-worker and her friends and watched them try to conquer the really hard walls. It was really fun to be doing something like that with my daughter. It's nice that we can share bouldering and horses as two sports we do together. Plus, the people I've met at the climbing gym are really nice and there seems to be a really nice, supportive community there without much competition. Strangers would praise my co-worker when she'd do well and she'd do the same. I talked to a couple guys who were waiting for their first beginner class to start and I instantly felt this excited commraderie with them and wished I was in their class too.

In other news, it seems like lots of people I know are having babies this Spring. My neighbor, two women from my church, and our friends who live off grid up north. My only concern is one of the couples is having a home birth and after my experience with my labor, where it all went awry, I had an emergency C-Section and if my daughter hadn't been right there to be put on a ventilator because she couldn't breathe on her own she would've died, it feels important to warn people. I had toyed with a birthing center and midwife and staying away from a "cold sterile hospital setting" because I'm just that kind of off-grid-thinkin', keep it natural type of girl. But then when one of the Hasidic rabbis came to me and all he said was, "My wife is a midwife and wants you to know she wishes you would give birth in a hospital because home births are dangerous," I decided to listen to him. Because in their temple at least, all babies are born at home and they are very cut-off from the rest of society. So for his wife to want me to know she thought it was safer to give birth in a hospital meant a lot to me. I didn't know why until my actual labor.

So, I felt like it was important for me to tell the couple who's planning the home birth what happened with me, and to warn them that it is safer to be at a hospital and something goes wrong. But they said they were fine and they trusted that the mother and baby would know what to do. So, I dropped it. But it makes me mad that there is a movement that pushes that kind of thinking. I mean, it sounds really good. It makes sense. Your body and your baby both know what to do basically. Our bodies know how to stay alive and fight infection too - but only to a certain degree. We are hardwired to die too and there are many complications in the world for our bodies. And our bodies don't know what to do if the baby is breech or the cord is wrapped around the baby's neck or many other issues. Well, our bodies do know what to do in those cases - the baby dies. That is natural too that the baby dies. But I didn't want to have THAT natural. So, I hope for my friends that they have a totally normal birth and no complications so that their natural experience is a happy one and not a sad one. In third world countries where there is no medical care during childbirth, the chance of a mother or baby dying during childbirth is three times higher than in countries where babies are born in hospitals with medical care available for an emergency. But many moms and babies do have safe labors and births and hopefully that will happen with my friends. I'd hate for them to be like me and plan on a natural childbirth, have things go terribly wrong, but in their case not have all the medical equipment and doctors on hand like I was lucky enough to.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Packing, little kids and vaccines, fur vs. hair, etc.

The question came up "What is the difference between fur and hair?" It turns out that chemically they are the same thing. But there are two types of fur/hair. There's the furry undercoat that animals like some dogs have, which is a different density and consistency than the primary hair and is used to control internal body temperature - that is called guard hair. And then there's the hair that grows over that and is what grows on human's heads which is called primary hair. Humans have it and horses and dogs like my pitbull who need to wear coats when it's below freezing because her fur is so thin. So there ya go. There is no difference, it's just a way for folks to differentiate between the two types of fur/hair. The furry undercoat is called fur and the primary layer is called hair. I bet if you ask most people something about a "horse's fur" and they interrupt you and say "It's hair not fur" they will not be able to tell you what the difference is.

We're in the process of negotiation on the house we want to buy so all day today I've been packing up stuff to put in storage. We found a storage place down the street and put in our first load of boxes today. It still seems like there is a ton of work to be done to get our house ready to try and sell. It feels weird to packing up so much stuff and "staging" our house. We have to take down all our "personal touches" like family photos and everything and it's already feeling weird and impersonal.

Our house has been the house of plague this week. Early in the week I dragged my sad little butt to the doctor and they took a throat culture and tested me for mono because I was so fatigued, my glands were swollen and worst of all I had a horrible sore throat that had gotten worse over the last week. Both the quick strep test and the mono test came back negative, but they put me on antibiotics anyway and said they'd send the culture in for the 48 hour test for strep. After two doses of antibiotics the pain in my throat was completely gone and the next day I had a lot more energy so I deemed it Sir Alexander Fleming day.

Then yesterday I get a call from my doctor's office asking me if I was getting any better. I said I'd gotten a lot better so even if it wasn't strep it must've been bacterial. The nurse sounded a little hesitant and then told me that I didn't have strep, I had a staph infection, the same kind of staph infection as MRSA, so they were very concerned that I was getting better because if it was the MRSA strain it is drug-resistant. Eeek! I assured them I was almost 100% better after just two days so obviously it wasn't MRSA. But it wasn't really until today that it hit me what a close call that was. Geez. Of all the many things I worry about MRSA wasn't on my radar. But it's not that, it's a harmless staph bacteria that is going away so it's no big deal.

Yesterday my daughter woke up and threw up, so of course I had to call the doctor and make sure that wasn't a symptom of a staph infection. Which it is not. Then this morning she said she was itchy. Her dad didn't realize she'd had her vericella vaccine and was concerned she was coming down with chicken pox until I told him she'd had the vaccine and in fact had been exposed to it in preschool by one of the kids whose mother thought vaccines were evil so he brought chicken pox to preschool (you are contagious before the symptoms show ... and he did give one 2 year old chicken pox who then subsequently gave it to his 3 week old sister ... obviously vaccines are not worth it ... duh!). Anyway, my daughter asked me what a vaccine was.

I had to think fast to try and figure out how to explain passive-aquired immunity to a six year old. I didn't just want to say "It's a shot you get so you won't get sick," because she already knows that. She just got her flu shot week before last. So, I said that everytime you get sick, the cells in your immune system recognize the virus so they make a little team of cell warriors who will recognize that virus when you're exposed to it again and they will say, "Hark! We know you! We know how to defeat you!" Which is why you don't get the same virus twice, unless it has mutated enough to be considered a "new virus". When we get vaccines, it's like we're giving a map or description of the virus to our immune cells so that they can say, "Ok guys - this team is going to be on the look-out for this disease, we know what it looks like and how to fight it!" Then when she's exposed it her immune cell warriors will know how to defeat the virus without her getting sick. It got me thinking of making a little comic about viruses and little teams of warrior cells. Just like I used to imagine if we could create a Robo-Cell that could mutate but only on it's own volition without any interference from the HIV virus trying to make it mutate into more HIV viruses, then we'd be set. Of course, that is easier said (and drawn as a cartoon) than done obviously.

It's a simplistic explanation and probably not completely accurate as to how passive-aquired immunity works, but hopefully it's more on target than just saying, "You get a shot so you won't get sick." I try to go with my dad's example. When my daughter was three years old she asked her friend's uncle (who is a pilot) how planes fly and he said there were magic carpets in the wings. Then she asked my dad and he said, "Well, it's called the Bernoulli Principle ... here I'll draw you a picture of how it works." So, she was telling her friends, "Dat plane flies cuzza da benooly pincipal." I wonder if all kids would be in advanced learning classes if their parents answered their questions about the world with real answers? I once heard Richard Feynman say that he credits his dad for him becoming a scientist because his dad thought the way things work was so fascinating and was always questioning how the physical world worked and then searching for the answers.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Break time!

Luckily, I need to be busy this weekend because that is one thing that keeps my neurotic mind from spinning out of control when I'm stressed. I've already been fairly busy today so even though it's only 2pm I am taking a coffee break.

Last night we sat down with our real estate agent and made an offer (our third one this year!) on another house in Woodinville. The difference is with this house is that it is not a short sale so we will hear by the end of the day if the seller's will accept our offer. And if they do then done deal. We are buying the house whether we panic or not! If they accept our offer as contingent (like we'd like) that means we need to put our house on the market within 10 days. So, this weekend is going to be the crazy mad rush to get it ready to be shown. That means number one thing: storage space! I need to find a good one in our neighborhood big enough to put half our shit ... I mean half of our treasured items. We're also going to need to make one big hefty dump run and my third Goodwill run in three weeks.

For someone who has such aspirations to live a simpler life we sure do have a lot of stuff. Most of it is memorabilia that I'm not totally sure we need but at the same time reminds me of important things in my life of which there have been many in the last four decades. For example, I still have a target with bullet holes in it from the very first time I ever shot a gun in 2001 - a 40 caliber Smith & Wesson semi-automatic. Do I really need to keep that? Probably not, but I want to. Do I really need to keep a box of my favorite of my daughter's baby clothes and toys and books? Probably not, but once again I want to. At least it's in a box. I think if we put everything in boxes it will not look as disturbing as the piles currently look to me. My husband has similiar stuff but in his case it's more tickets to rock concerts and posters from college all rolled up and stored away. I bet when our daughter's a teenager that stuff will be retro and cool though. The target with bullet holes will probably just be creepy.

On top of that I woke up at 7:20am (which is good because I had to get up ten minutes after that) to screaming and my poor daughter was throwing up into the waste basket next to her bed. Since I was about ten years old I've had a phobia of throwing up. It's gotten better and I can be with her and comfort her when she pukes and clean it up and really not show any sign of external discomfort. But inside I feel like the whole world is falling apart and coming to an end. I used to be embarrassed and think I was a freak for my phobia but I'm learning as I get older it's not that uncommon. That and it's no more freaky or something to be ashamed of than say a phobia of needles, which many of my friends have. So, now my anxiety scenario is that my husband and I will both come down with it at the same time this weekend and not be able to care for our daughter and not be able to get the house ready to put on the market and so then it won't sell and then we'll be massively in debt with two mortgages and we'll have screwed up our entire lives to the point where we end up living in shelters and never getting back on our feet and destroying my daughter's life ... yes, I know. I should write books instead of freaking myself out.

The reality is, even if we do get sick, it appears to not be a very bad virus. My husband never gets very sick and can power through just about anything. If we can't care for our daughter for a day or two we have plenty of friends who will help. And the house will sell. It will be ok. Geez. Needless to say, reality is much nicer than my head.

So, even though this is good change, it is big change and it makes me feel discombobulated. I'm excited though to finally be leaving the city and I'm excited to be right down the street from where I keep my horse and out in a beautiful part of our region. But that doesn't mean I won't miss our neighbors or our house we lived in for ten years. I still remember how excited I was when we moved in to have our very own house and our very own yard to do whatever we wanted. It will be hard to say good-bye to this place that we worked so hard on to make it so nice. And we really did luck out and end up in a wonderful neighborhood. I hope that our new neighborhood will be as nice. But as I'm writing this I know it is also my attitude. If I wanted to focus on the bad stuff in our neighborhood I could say it's an awful neighborhood. So, the next one will be different but the same dynamic - good and bad. And if I focus on the good of it, it will seem like a great place. Unless of course a serial killer lives next door. Ok, I will stop.

And my last stressful thing of the day - I took the pitbull into the vet this morning because she's been having hives and these itchy bumps that she scratches and then they get bigger and scab over (a lot like chicken pox). And one of the lumps behind her ear is really swollen. So that big lump behind her ear is infected and the infection has spread inside her ear so I've got to start her on antibiotics and a topical steroid. Then if that doesn't resolve the issue - especially the lump behind her ear - within 7 days they will have to remove the lump because it could be a mast cell tumor, which is very aggressive and can spread quickly and that's a really horrible place for it to be. I'm really hoping that is not the case! It's been exactly two years since my dog, Boone, died (or will be on Dec. 23rd) and I am not at all ready for Willow to die, especially because she is only four years old. But I'm going to hope for the best!