Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Difference...

Today, I had the pleasure of being interviewed for an article being written for the Los Angeles Times. I don't know if my ancedote will be published or not... the writer is interviewing many people. I'll let you know if my comment appears.

I am a writer of sorts myself. I've been published in newspapers and magazines, and even on internet sites. In all honesty, I've rarely had an idea turned down. On the other hand, I'd hardly call myself a professional. More of a dabbler. You see, when you submit an idea, you generally have to commit to a deadline months and months out and I never know what my health is going to be, so I'm afraid to pursue this career in a more agressive manner. I hate to fail.

However, being a writer, it is always interesting to be interviewed by another. It's funny how you can pick up on leading questions... knowing the answer the interviewer is looking for by the way he asks about various subjects. I'm not going to write about the meat of our conversation, but I do want to comment about a question he asked me... something that I am sure that he will not be using.

The question? Do I think that younger people of today are ruder... more insensitive than in the past. He used an example of "friends" of his; how rude they were to use electronic devices of varying types when they went out to dinner. Knowing my age and my intolerance for the subject of his article, I'm sure he was looking for a discourse about how awful "the youngin's" of today are. He got the wrong gal. But an honest answer.

Many years ago, I worked for a small fufillment company called 'Rightside Up.' I was the Director of Customer Service (a job that did not, coincidentally, fit my personality type all that well), and had quite a number of Call Center employees as well as young Managers of Customer Service reporting in to me. Most of their ages ran from around 18 years to maybe 25. The majority of them were male, college students or recent grads, and pretty full of themselves.

Just like my friends when I graduated college.

This was a time when the youth culture dictated massive tattooing (not that different from today) and also piercings. My company had a rule about piercings... specifically tongue piercings, but not tattoos. After all, we were a fufillment house. If we forbade tattoos, we'd never find a soul to work in the warehouse. Just as a sidebar, the reason that we forbade tongue piercings was that the ring would click on their teeth when they talked and that was bad for a phone job.

Anyway, I was in my early 40s at the time; my boss in his early 60s. He would rail against "my kids," talking about how awful the culture of the day was. And I'd laugh. "Go talk to them," I advised him. "Get to know them a little. You're judging them on cosmetics rather than who they are. We wore stuff to drive our parents crazy; they're just taking it to the next level to make us nuts."

And as Jim looked at me, disbelieving, I laughed harder. "Do you know who I feel sorry for?" I asked. "I feel sorry for those kids. Because what we wore and did to make our parents nuts was tame compared to what they do, but imagine what their kids are going to have to do to make them crazy!" And it's true. I figure most of them are in their early 30s now, and probably starting their own families. They're not old enough to have teenagers yet, but it's coming soon.

Anyway, having that job was probably one of the more profound experiences I've ever had. Not for the job itself, but for the influence I had on those young men. I look back upon it with pride. Because there I was, the same age as their parents, but telling them the truth instead of the parent line of bullshit.

"Think your parents didn't smoke dope?" I'd ask, and they all assured me that there was no way that THEIR parents ever did drugs. "Oh yeah? How many of them keep an old beat up insence holder around for sentimental value?

" Are you doing drugs yourself? Don't tell me the answer! But think about this. I'm not telling you to do them. In fact, I'm advising you against it. But if you think you need to experiment with drugs or alcohol or other contraband, or if you think you need to sew your wild oats, do it now. Do it while you are old enough to think of it, young enough to claim you didn't know better, and still in school so that if you get caught and in trouble, your parents will still act as your safety net." That bit of advice garnered me quite a bit of respect.

I started giving them significant work assignments rather than just limiting them to answering the phones. I had them writing white papers, creating new company policies and procedures. They claimed that the work was hard (it was), but they rose to every single challenge. And all of them florished. I lost every darned one of them because they became highly respected in the company and were stolen from me. Promoted.

Over time, I convinced them not to continue with the tattooing. "Think of it this way," I advised them. "I don't have a problem with your tattoos, but you don't know who you're going to apply for a job with next. Let me give you an example. I always say never ever wear perfume or cologne to a job interview. Why? Because you don't know who you're going to interview with! What if the person who is interviewing you is allergic to perfume? Wouldn't you hate to miss the perfect job because of something so avoidable? An interview cut short for an asthma attack?

"Tattoos are the same thing. What if you never get past HR because the person there is so stupid that they don't understand tattoos? Even if your potential boss couldn't care less? How awful would that be?"

And they thought about it, discussed it amongst themselves, continued piercing (which I encouraged... self experession and when you take the rings out, nobody knows) but stopped with the tattoos.

Then we talked about their futures. "What do you think about networking? It's important. And do you know what my personal biggest regret is? Never learning how to play golf. Because all the biggest Entertainment relationships are sealed on golf courses." The next thing I knew, those long haired, tattooed, pierced kids were turning up in the parking lot after hours with golf clubs, learning how to play and having a grand time of it.

They meant well; all they needed was somebody to be honest with them and explain "why" instead of just telling them what they should do.

"Well," you could respond. "That was then, and there's a whole new generation afoot. A ruder generation." I don't believe it.

I've had young people working for me in entry level positions all the way through the end of my professional career. I still interact with a lot of young people through my fiber arts guilds and such. Frankly, I'm amazed at this as I was young when I first started attending, and people my age were the "old folks." Who would ever have thought I'd survive to be considered old?

Anyway, the 20 somethings of today that I know are just as passionate and dedicated as anyone I've ever known. Of my artist friends, I see them trying out new techniques, inventing and embellishing on what we did in my generation. They are fabulous.

I look at the children of my friends; the ones who are coming of age now. I have one friend who's daughter is going to Gambia this summer to work with Physicians Without Borders. I have another who's troubled daughter is working hard to straighten herself out, and we see significant progress in everything she does. Yet another daughter has children of her own and lives a solid middle-class life.

Many of my friends started their families late and have youngsters to teenagers now. I see the angst that they are going through (both the parents and the kids) and it rings very familiar. Nothing new.

Every generation has it's character prototypes. There are the snobs. There are the cheerleaders. The dopers. The do-gooders. The freaks and geeks. The super-smart. The athletes. The pranksters. The nerds. And every generation has it's oldsters who are suspicious of the new generation only because they don't take the time to talk to them.

Think it's something new? Go and re-read "East of Eden." Specifically the chapter about the turn to the 20th century. How the old people bemoaned the youngsters of that day, and how it would never be as good as their youths were again.

Bullshit. Every generation has it's issues. Every generation has it's social norms, and often they offend the generation of before.

But how nice it is for me to close out 2008 on such an optimistic rant. Because I do have faith. The technology of today is different than the past, and the affect of the youth has changed to reflect it. But the truth is that people are people are people. And I know deep in my soul that most people are inherently good. Even those under 30.

Friday, December 26, 2008


I feel like I'm dying, body and soul.

Last week, I finally got a diagnosis, antibiotics, and hope. I also got a fully favorable decision on my Social Security Disability and Medicare.

But today, a full week after I started the antibiotic, I am desperately ill, with the fever to match. The medicine is not working yet, and the web says that only 50% recover from C Diff. My doctor - the Infectious Disease Guy - has not returned my call of this afternoon, at least so far.

I am hanging in suspense in the Cimzia Trial in that the new nursing agency assigned to me has not called, and the Cimplicity Program has not returned my call(s) about the lack-of-response from the agency either.

I don't know if it's just that everyone is out for the holiday, or it's me. My logical half says the former, but I'm just not sure...

My therapist, on Wednesday, said that I do not need to feel happy about the good things - the tangible things - that have resolved in the last week. That I am still too seriously ill to celebrate, and that my morose attitude is warranted. All that is reasonable to feel, right now, is relief. I guess in a sense I do, but in truth, it's hard to feel much of anything other than awful.

What I do feel is absolutely alone. My fever is out of control. My dogs went hungry for a good part of the day because I was too weak to get up and feed them. My brain has been on a slow short-circuit for the past couple of weeks, but it's now serious enough that I recognize it. I don't trust myself to reach out for help for fear of what I might say or do.

In fact, I am alone. I spent the whole day in bed and have not seen anybody.

I feel like I am dying, body and soul. When does the relief part happen?

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Festival of Lights

It's Hanukah time. In my country, Jews party to celebrate, but I was curious whether that was a world-wide custom or just a tradition in America. So I went on a search of the Internet and this is what I found:

When I watched this video, I thought of two things.

1.) They dance pretty-much exactly the same as my exercise class. And
2.) Funny... they don't look Jewish.

Happy Holidays!

Friday, December 19, 2008

A Year in Bed

Sounds heavenly, doesn't it? A whole year in bed? But in fact, that's how I spent all of 2008, and it ain't' what it's cracked up to be.

I started off the year with a knee damaged in a faint from 2007. Knee surgery early in February. That was quickly followed up by a Crohns Disease flare, and introduction onto Cimzia by summer.

I was still sick over summer with no specific cause, and it carried over into fall and all the way to present. Doctor after doctor, test after test. People doubting that I was even ill, and thinking I was maybe a little bit more than a hypochondriac.

But I've just received the best holiday gift ever. As I've had an ever-increasing fever over the past six-to-eight weeks that reoccurred every single day, my doctors started looking more diligently. And we got a diagnosis!

I have a bacterial infection that could possibly have been fatal, but is treatable. It's symptoms closely mimic Crohns Disease which is why it was so hard to pinpoint. Everybody - including me - thought that the Crohns was flaring when, in fact, it was the other.

I have a mixture of emotions.

Relief of course, and happiness that we can do something constructive to get the problem under control.

Anger. At the people who doubted that I was ill; at the people who minimized what I was experiencing; at the people who made fun.

Frustration. A whole year wasted. I've looked and looked at my New Year's resolutions, agonizing that I have not completed a single one. But in truth, there just wasn't a chance. I was way too ill.

Joy. That I may be well on my way to recovery before 2008 rings out and 2009 rings in. For wouldn't it be a wonderful thing to start the new year on the real path to feeling well?

Here's to a productive 2009.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Preparing for Winter

Although the day dawned bright and clear this morning, there was a chill in the air that could not be ignored. The weather forecasters have been predicting a major cold front and rain storm for a few days now; in fact, it was supposed to start with "sporadic rain bursts" on Saturday morning, but here on Sunday, it's still clear with very little clouding in the sky. But there are signs that things are about to change.

The chill in the air. It's actually cold here, and it got down to freezing last night! And, in all honesty, any clouds in the sky at all are a cause for note, and you could see a few even early in the morning. But even more promising was the weather report saying that the system already presented itself in Oregon in conjunction with Janel from The Beebonnet Report posting pictures of Elissa's farm (where she is visiting) with snow on the ground. That was enough to make me a believer.

A change in the weather, of course, calls for drastic measures. First, I needed to make a batch of winter food. Crock Pot style. I started by slicing down some of the multi-colored potatoes
Add in an onion... in this case, a Mayan Sweet although any kind will do.
Broccoli & Red Bell Pepper go into the mix.
Carrots... after all, I want to get all the color of vegetables represented.
And then the liquids. Chicken Stock. White Wine. A little lemon infused olive oil (very little). Moondance Marinade. If you ask me how much of each, I will tell you "enough." There is little that is specific about crock pot cooking.
A couple of frozen chicken breasts top out the vegetables.
A trip to the rosemary bush in my garden...
followed by a visit to the sage.
Herbs, Salt, & Pepper to taste.
Cover, turn on pot, and ignore for hours and hours.
When the chicken was cooked through, I removed it from the pot, sliced it down, and added it back in again to be a formal stew. The vegetables - specifically the potatoes - needed more time to cook. That might not have been true if I had used red potatoes, or maybe russet, but my mix included Peruvian Purples & Yukon Gold which tend to be tough.

Of course, when it rains here, there are other preparations to be made. Living in a condo, I have to go outside to do laundry. I wanted to do so before the sky started falling. Unfortunately, most of my neighbors had the same idea and there was a log jam of major proportion in the laundry room. I started trying to get my laundry going around 11 am. I finally got a series of machines around 4 and finished up around 6.
The trash dumpsters are not so close to my front door either. So I gathered up what garbage I could in advance of the onslaught and took it out.
A trip to the post office - having been put of in deference to not feeling well - had to be made. If not, I was going to be late on bills.
And then a stop at the market for some staples that I could not live without.
The Red Barn had the dog food that I needed to supplement my dwindling supplies.
Neither dog realized how low we were getting, but I can assure you, neither of my boys enjoy the poem about Old Mother Hubbard.
They do enjoy the sight of a new bag of food in their market basket, though.
The final sign of winter impending. I changed my bed from it's summer quilt into my down comforter with my old, but well loved, flannel duvet cover.
Looks pretty comfortable and warm in there. I think it's time for bed. Good Night!

Writing up the Leftie

Although yesterday morning I started out with a normal temperature, it didn't take long for it to climb to 102.7 degrees. Indeed, that seems to be a daily process over the last six weeks. I've talked to doctors, I've visited doctors, I've complained - in person and via e-mail - at doctors, but nobody seems willing or able to give me a diagnosis at present.

But in addition to the persistent fever, I hit a point of dehydration in the afternoon that could no longer be ignored. Frankly, I knew I was approaching it for several days, but hoped it would go away. (I do that every time... stupid! as I hit myself upside the head.) Or that I could hold out until next week when I could make arrangements with Dr. V- for rehydration in Cedars Sinai's Procedure room rather than the alternative visit to ER. But I realized that it was not going to wait. I was experiencing the traditional short circuit of the brain along with other symptoms, and off I went.

For a Saturday night, the ER was not bad. My wait to be seen was only a little over an hour, and I actually got an honest-to-gawd room. A conference with the ER doc, and I was quickly hooked up to the first of two bags of fluid which I would be given.

I slept pretty-much through the first bag and the first half of the 2nd bag. Then, as is typical when I am receiving much-needed fluids, I suddenly woke up, brain engaged. Took a good look around the room. And noticed this:

Be Sure You Have
The Five Rights (of patient care)


Well, it was a good idea. Really it was. But what was wrong with this picture is that the five rights are written on a left hand!

When 'Omar' came in to check on me, he knew immediately that I was improving becuase I pointed out the issue to him. He was quite amused, even as I protested that surely I wasn't the first to have noticed. (I have a feeling that maybe I was, or at least the first to mention it.) He managed to twist his right hand around against the picture in a contorted manner with a big grin on his face to prove that they had the hand correct, but I then pointed out to him that it was clearly a handprint on the page and no, it was a left hand for sure.

Well, I asked and received permission to take a picture of that sign and make fun of it. And so I did. But on the trip home from the hospital, I realized one fact that was bigger than the issue of righty or lefty.

Cedars Sinai is a Jewish Hospital. In keeping with the tradition, the five rights had been written correctly. They read from right to left. Even as they used the wrong hand to illustrate their point, the got the bigger picture right.

* * * * *
And now, the conclusion of the Brownie Dilema.

Out of four responses, I received two actionable requests for where those brownies should go. Janel wanted them to go to Russell's Mom who is well deserving indeed.

Adele wanted me to send them to Diane and Grace who recently lost their home to the fires in Northern Los Angeles. Also very deserving.

Well, because I was in the hospital last night instead of attending the party that I was supposed to go to, the original brownies are still in the back of Eric's car. And so there is not even a choice to be made.

I will send the new box out to Russell's Mom as soon as I get shipping information from Janel. I will send the original box (only a few days old) on to Diane and Grace as soon as I find out from Adele where their temporary living location is at.

And I will do my best to keep my commitment to Claudia to eat mostly healthy this trying month of December. At this point, the only real party I was scheduled to attend has passed, and there's only Christmas Day (and maybe New Year's Eve) to worry about. Since I intend to make a lasagna for Christmas in advance and freeze it in deference to the Cimzia Injections that I will be getting on December 24, Christmas should not be a problem. (I'll ask Eric's family to provide a salad, and maybe get Mom to do dessert.) Nothing is yet planned for New Years, so I'll just see how it goes.

Yes, I gained weight as a result of the fluids received yesterday. And also the Hershey Bar they brought me when I complained that I had been there for hours and hours and was getting hungry. Sorry Claudia. It was all they had to offer me in ER and I was really REALLY hungry. It was 310 calories in all. And when did a Hershey Bar turn into such positively awful chocolate? O.M.G! I will go hungry the next time rather than accept it.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

The Power of Cake

The thing is, my blog has received more commentary (directly on the blog... I've always received a lot of e-mail from you-all privately) in the last couple of days than it has in it's history. I've talked about many things here, and I know that there is a moderate amount of traffic coming by, but food contraband seems to have hit a sympathetic note in all of us.

That being said, you should know that Mom got a new car about 10 days ago. And a Duncan Hines Lemon Cake played a significant role in the negotiations.

We negotiated and bought Mom's new car on Eric's Birthday; he played a significant role in the process. In fact, on "test drive" day, two days before Thanksgiving, Mom happily announced to Reuben - our supurb sales associate - that Eric was in charge of making the turkey. When Reuben professed genuine surprise, Eric countered by saying "I'm practicing on the turkey, then I'm coming back for you!" Everyone laughed.

In deference to Eric's birthday, I made him a birthday cake the night before. Duncan Hines Lemon with Cream Cheese frosting. I carried the cake to the negotiation; picking up Mom enroute. It sat proudly in the back seat complete with candles, matches, paper plates, & silverware. Arriving at Honda at the same time as Eric, Reuben our salesman was there to greet us. I got out of the car, then pulled the cake out of it's container. I walked into the dealership with it uncovered.

You wouldn't believe it, but getting a piece of that cake became one of the prime negotiation points of the deal! Yes, having the cake there started out a joke(and I brought it along to eat there because we had a busy day ahead of us and I didn't know when else we would have a chance to sit down and celebrate), but Eric made it very clear that only people that pleased him would be allowed a slice. It got to a point that when Reuben disappeared into the sales manager's office for a little while, Eric followed him and announced that his birthday wish - for when he blew out the candles - was that Reuben and the dealership to make him look good in front of his girlfriend and his girlfriend's Mom.

The sales & manager team wanted to cut that cake right away, but we refused. "Let's do business first, and we'll have cake to celebrate." OMG - LMAO! That cake sat on Reuben's desk right in the middle of all of us during all of the negotiations. Never once pushed to the side. The sugar smell permeated everything. And do you know when I knew that they were taking it seriously? We & V--, the sales manager, came to an impass on price and V-- declined to negotiate further. Eric said "Fine, then no cake for you. Reuben can have a slice as a consulation prize, but not you." For about three seconds, Victor's face actually cracked before he regained his composure!!!!!!! And Eric sat there grinning from ear to ear, satisfied that he had done his best impression of the Soup Nazi from Seinfeld.

Victor walked away, going back into the manager's office. We decided to cut the cake and eat it with Reuben. Stalling for time, obviously. The manager and his friends watched us from inside of the glass cage. We actually heard somebody in there saying to another "...and it's homemade too!"

Having eaten about 1/2 of our respective pieces, I looked at Reuben and asked how we could make it work. We just weren't that numerically far from each other, but we would absolutely leave for another dealership over the difference. Reuben knew that we meant it, too. He quietly advised us what our most favorable options were. All while he was chowing down and telling me how good the cake was.

In the end, we found a mutually agreeable middle ground for the price on which to settle. Do you know, though, that the final offer from Sales Manager Victor actually stipulated that he was to be given a piece of cake? In writing.

We all thought it was very funny, and decided to leave the remaining 1/2 cake at Miller for the staff to enjoy. After all, my own birthday was only two days into the future, and there would be more cake then. But the whole situation gave me pause for thought.

In fact, I truly believe that the presence of the cake - the permeating sugar smell - made a difference in the negotiations. It saved us money. Both Reuben and V-- were fit young men, and participants in one of the tougher industries to negotiate in. They were the last ones that I thought would have ever been affected by the temptation of sweets. But in fact, there it was. They were. There must be some kind of primeval wiring that we're all subject to that makes us respond to such stimuli.

And all this time, I thought that the overeating problem was just me. Well, maybe it is in that I gave into it when others have not, but the fact is that everyone at the Honda dealership wanted that cake. No joke.

And it was only later that Eric realized that he should have admonished them before we left that the car that Mom drove away in had better be a good one. That the only lemon of the day was to have been in the cake.

* * * *

And now for a quick sales pitch; if you know me at all, you know that my endorsement is not for sale.

If you're considering buying a Honda and are located in the San Fernando Valley area, Reuben at Miller Honda in Van Nuys was a supurb sales consultant and I would advise looking him up. Not only did he treat me with respect, listening to what I was concerned about during my first visit, but when we turned back up with Mom, he treated her with the respect that she deserved considering that she was the actual paying client. Talked directly to her; none of that age-or-sex-discrimination routine that I noticed at other dealerships. He was respectful during the sale, and has been available to answer her questions since the deal was closed. All in all, buying this car was a good experience and I would personally look Reuben and Miller back up again in the future. Of course, I might try bringing Devil's Food with Cream Cheese Frosting as my next cake offering...

* * * * *

Yoni Freedhoff - a physician specializing in matters of the Obese in Canada and author of the blog Weighty Matters - blogged today about obesity in our canine friends. I thank him for posting this link and hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Yes, Adele. I think the dog's name is Runty.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Brownies, Resolved

When I last left you, I was dying. There were brownies in the living room with my name stamped on each and every one of them. Oy. I wanted to eat those brownies, I knew that I wanted to eat those brownies, and I even almost did.

I received quite a bit of feedback (pun intended) on this subject; it was interesting not only for the varying opinions, but also who said what given each person's background and philosophy as I know it. Opinions ranged from freezing them or putting them in places I wouldn't go to (like that exists - lol!) to eating one and giving the rest away or giving them all away immediately, to dumping them in the garbage. In the end, though, I ended up going a different route.

I am still dealing with significant illness, some of it from my initial disease, and just as much because I am immune suppressed. I have been running fevers - high fevers - almost daily now, with a bunch of diffuse symptoms that seem to mostly go away when I take Tylenol. (The fever goes away too... Tylenol is magic!) The day after I did my post, I was suffering from one of those fevers, and rather than dealing with it right away, I forgot that there was Tylenol on my bedstand and put up with the symptoms for hours and hours. Sometimes I just forget in all of my misery. Without fail, I prefer crying to eating during these times, and the brownies were out of my mind.

I was so sick and upset that Eric volunteered to come over. He did, reminded me that I had Tylenol, and then proceeded to entertain himself on my computer while waiting for my attitude to improve. Part of his self-entertainment system includes e-bay, but he always stops by my blog.

Even when I am saying things that are not meant to be funny, he seems to get a chuckle out of them. He was quietly laughing when I asked him "What?! What's so funny?" Apparently my frank admission that I had other official motives for ordering those brownies, but what I really wanted was to eat them tickled his funny bone. Then he turned to me and said "You know, brownies just don't do much for me at all. I can put them in the trunk of my car until Saturday when we go to that party where you intended to use them as a hostess gift."

My internal reaction was ambivilent. Yippee! They will be out of my house, and the dilema will be solved. Oy! They will be out of my house and the option of eating them will be removed.

I countered by asking him if it was really fair to expose them to him for that amount of time. Eric struggles with weight as I do. But he assured me that if they were potato chips, it would be one matter, but brownies were nothing that he was interested in. 'Come on!" he said. "It takes care of all your problems at once, and I'm going to drive us to the party on Saturday anyway." And so I reluctantly agreed.

When he left a couple of hours later, my heart was in my throat. I was hoping that he might forget. After all, once the brownies were removed from the scene, the option of eating them was also removed. But No. He remembered. He stopped by my coffee table in the living room (the one where I could not fail but to see them whenever I went into the kitchen, walked down my hall, used the guest bathroom, walked in and out of the condo), packed them into their shipping carton again, and tucked them under his arm. I feigned gratitude and happiness. "Thank goodness that you're taking them out of here." I whispered with love in my eyes and a giant ice cube encasing my heart.

As he closed the front door, exited my patio (it was cold that day so I didn't go to the gate to kiss him goodbye), I was thinking "Damn you! Damn you to hell!" Because I knew that the brownies were gone and I was going to have no choice now but to use them for the altruistic purpose that I originally purported to want them for.

Of course, since 48 hours have passed, now I am extremely grateful to him. I did not need those extra calories; I did not need the diabetic response that I would certainly have had in response to eating them. I did need a hostess gift for Saturday. And my cravings for them are 100% gone. But I have another issue.

When sent the first box of brownies, I was also awarded enough points to receive a second box. Sherrie stipulated that they were for me to send to a friend, not to bring into my own home. (I'm sure that has to do with advertising for her Send Out Cardswebsite, which is a dandy one indeed!) OF course I"m pretty sure that if I ordered them for my home with some kind of story that I'm going to give them away, she would be fine with that, but if I order them for here, I will be setting myself up to want to eat them again, and damn! It was hard enough to resist them the first time. Trust me, they were amazing. I can still smell them in the window of my mind. No way would I even admit their arrival, let alone their demise, the second time around.

So that brings me to you. Would anybody like a box of brownies delivered to their front door? Or their office? Or to a friend? Anywhere you would like them to go, I can have them sent.

If so, please leave your comment after this post. Like contests in other blogs before this one, if there is more than one response, I will award them (on Sunday) via random number generator. I will place my order to be shipped directly to wherever you would like them received. (A friend? An enemy?) Of course that means that I have to be able to reach you via e-mail or you need to watch this blog enough to respond if announce you as the winner.

If nobody wants the brownies, I will then order them for Mom. But frankly, her home is already a cornicopia for sweet stuff, so if they can go elsewhere, it's better.

I think that the ordering house stipulates continental US only, so please nothing out of the lower 48.

Thank you. Looking forward to seeing who responds.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Brownie Dilema

In November, I signed up for Nablopomo, aka National Blog Posting Month, a challenge where I was expected to post each and every day in the month of November. Thirty posts in thirty days, weekends included. I don't know why I signed up, except to see if I could do it. After all, this year has not been what I would have wanted for reasons of health, and to complete any challenge set forth would be a good thing.

I was successful, learning a little more about my blog service, encouraging my regular readers to check in a little more frequently, and even improving my writing skills just a little. It was a good month.

When I signed up for Nablopomo, I looked at one of the rewards of the challenge with a slight sense of disbelief. They offered prizes for some of us who were successful in their endeavours. Individuals and small businesses donated, and there were around 50 in all. Books, jewelry, soaps... the offerings ran the gambit. But I did not relate; after all, except for a very brief winning streak in the early 90s, I have rarely-to-never brought home a prize. And I can also say in all honesty that I took on the challenge simply to see if it could be done. It could.

At the end of the month, I quickly gave the prize page of the Nablopomo web site another quick perusal, more out of curiosity than anything else. It seemed that somewhere around 90% of the people who signed up were successful in posting. The prizes would be doled out via a random number generator. You can accept the prize awarded to you or turn it down, but you could not convert it into another prize. OK then.

So I considered briefly taking on the challenge once again in December, but decided that my time this month was too precious and I didn't want to make the commitment. So I left Nablopomo behind me, figuring I'd think about it again for January. Then, lo and behold, an e-mail came to my in box. It seems that I was lucky prize winner # 37! Home made brownies, generously donated by Sherrie at Send Out Oy!

Well, anyone who has lost a great deal of weight knows that the struggle is really intense, and it never ends. I thought about turning the prize down. I knew that it would be a bad thing to have sweets delivered to my home. Yet I couldn't bring myself to do it. I'd say that it was because it was MY prize, and indeed, that's one of the things I told myself when I answered the e-mail to set the delivery up. But that is a lie. Brownies were being put into my line of sight and I know that deep down, my motivation was that I wanted to eat them.

The e-mail interaction with Sherrie was very pleasant, the transaction at Send Out Cards was as easy as pie, and last night, the brownies were delivered to my doorstep by UPS. Oy.

Now, I had discussed those brownies with Eric before they arrived. "What was I thinking?" I asked him! "Am I an idiot, bringing them into my home?" And I admit that reading Claudia's Blog and seeing that she's written over several days now how she's honoring our conversation of last week and eating healthy in December (damn that conversation!) is making the situation so much harder. I told Eric that I can't eat the stupid things. That we were going to attend a holiday party this weekend and they would make the perfect hostess gift, and it would be a great way for me to divest myself of the contraband.

Of course, when the brownies showed up, I had to open the box. Inside was not what I imagined. I don't know what I was thinking, but I assumed that they would be loose brownies like those that I make, cut up, and put on a plate for pot lucks that I've gone to in the past. What I found were four giant brownies, individually wrapped, and set side-by-side on their sides. The smell, even through the wrappings, was delicious.

To torture myself more, I took one of the brownies out of the gift box. Lovingly raised it to my nose and took a long whiff. Oy. Did it smell amazing.

And then I turned it over to review the nutrition information. 440 calories for one. 200 calories of which came from fat.

My mind immediately went to work. "Well," I thought. "I can cut each of them into quarters, then I'd only be getting 105 calories at a time. But who am I kidding? I'm not going to eat 1/4 of the brownie and then leave the rest for another day! And even if I did, the bottom line is that the total calories for the box (1760) is the total calories for the box, and whether I ate them in one sitting or spread out over time, it would still amount to weight gained.

I'm still struggling with the weight that I allowed myself to gain last holiday season. I swear that if I had known what was in store for me, I would never have eaten what I did that lead to the gain. But of course, that would have meant that I am psychic, and I"m just not going there. The bottom line is that I am eight pounds over what I was at the beginning of last holiday season right now, seven of which could be accounted for on January 1. And I don't seem to have the capacity to lose them.

So here's the quandary. Do I try to hold onto these brownies until this Saturday when I will pawn them off onto somebody else? Do I just eat them now? After all, last Saturday was my birthday and I didn't go to Sprinkles in Beverly Hills to celebrate as I had planned for over a month prior. Around the same calorie commitment, I would think. Do I put them into the garbage dumpsters right this very minute and waste not only the brownies, but the kindness and shipping dollars of Sherrie? I don't know!

What I do know is that this has been a devastating year. I've been terribly sick, which has prevented me from doing very much physical activity. I've been terrified at gaining weight, and while things are slightly better here at the end of 2008, the key word is slightly. I'm not up to a whole lot.

Additionally, I've watched friends, both near-and-dear to me and those not so close, gain a tremendous amount of the weight that they've lost in the past over the course of the last 12 months. 30 pounds, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80... the general theme of all of them is that "it doesn't matter" or "I'm still a good person" or "I don't know why I"m gaining since I don't eat that much." Of the three statements, the second is universally true. The others? Bullshit. It DOES matter. And even if we may be in denial, deep down we know why we are gaining that much weight. Because we're bringing food into our lives like the brownies and we don't let them go.

I'm scared. I don't know what I'm going to do.

My inclination is to go with the 'give-them-as-a-hostess-gift' plan and if I can be successful at keeping them through Saturday, I know I can give them away. But there's the quandary. Can I not eat them for that long?

But the perpetual question that is already answered is also on the table. Can I live with myself if I gain over 200 pounds back? Can I, knowing what I know now about both myself and how the world works, deal with it? The answer is unequivocally NO!

I wonder how you-all would handle this?
* * * * *
I could survive for 28 seconds chained to a bunk bed with a velociraptor

Created by Bunk

On a different subject, I could survive for 28 seconds chained to a bunk bed with a velociraptor. How long could you survive?

Wednesday, December 3, 2008


I am a frequent flier when it comes to the bathrooms at Slimmons. In all honesty, I am tied to the bathrooms wherever I go, but because of the accessibility of the Slimmons bathrooms, I'm able to participate there much more often than I would in a different venue; if I had to walk (run) a long way for them. Or wait in a line once I got there.

Richard has two bathrooms located in the back of his dressing room at Slimmons. Although recently redecorated, the predominant theme of each remains true to their former selves. Bathroom # 1 (on the left as you face them) is the more sane bathroom. That is, until you wash your hands. (You do wash your hands after going, right? Don't tell me if you don't. And never shake my hand again!) Wash your hands, dry them off with the paper towels, then use the foot lever to raise the lid of the trash can. BAM!!!! The lid of the can hits the wall! And the mirror. With my facility for breaking things, I'm sure that I'm going to either knock a hole in the wall or break the mirror before I'm done. Ergo, I don't use that bathroom.

No. I use the other one. On the right. Bathroom # 2; the "watch yourself pee" bathroom. For if you are sitting down, there is a floor-to-ceiling mirror in front of you for you to contemplate your physique. If you're of the stand-up-to-pee persuasion, don't despair. There is a thigh-high-to-ceiling mirror behind the toilet too. No matter what direction you do your business in, you get a full-length view of yourself. But because of the positioning of the toilet, the sink, and the trash can, there's little chance that I can damage anything in that particular room.

Actually, the bathroom on the right is the celebrity choice anyway. When
Richard spent the day with Jimmy Kimmel, working on Jimmy's health, that is the bathroom that Jimmy found the hamburger in.

I know. It doesn't look much like the same bathroom anymore, but it is. And every time I'm in there, I look for the speaker to order my own hamburger. I haven't found it as of yet, but that's just a matter of time...

Anyway, you're probably wondering why I wax on about bathrooms. Other than them being the most important room in my life, that is. Well, it has a lot to do with Dana. And the Exit signs.

You might recall a few weeks ago, an Exit Sign fell on Dana's head during exercise class.

A couple of weeks later, the sign was replaced, and Dana was so convinced that her string of bad luck had resolved, that she stood under a ladder. All appeared to be well for Dana. No bad luck. But then again, I wonder if bad luck can be transferred...

For tonight after the um-tee nth time going to the bathroom, I noticed it. The Exit sign leading out of the dressing room and back into the club. It was empty.

Furthermore, the skeleton in which it used to reside had a burnt out bulb!
I quickly ran back into the exercise-class-in-progress and queried Dana. Did she know about this turn of events?

She did! She was not surprised at all. And there, and then, I knew the title of today's post. Exit-us. Because I'll bet that the sign in the classroom leading to the lobby was not a new sign at all. The signs are migrating from one point to another within the club. They're taking on a life of their own. They must be Jewish and they're looking for their homeland. Amazing. They don't look Jewish. And the one that clunked Dana on the head? It must have been trying to make a connecting flight.

Well, I suggested this theory to Dana. She acted as if she was shocked. Or maybe she over-acted, that is. I think she knows that I'm on to something.

Poor Richard. It's true. Bad luck can be transferred. It's his bad luck that I not only noticed the sign, but that I can't resist posting about it.

I know funny when I see it.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Down for the Count? Or Just Counting Down?

Last week it was Cimzia. The side effects were worse than usual. Or were they? I'm not really sure.

The thing is that I went into the Cimzia shot very fatigued. Way more so than normal. And the day after I got the shot was Thanksgiving, which meant that I was required to be social, even as I declined participation in the preparation.

On Saturday, I made an attempt to go to Exercise Class. Mistake. X 10. We had only been up for a few minutes when I became so weak and my heart rate so elevated that I had to go lay down in the back for a while, and then leave. Apparently I looked bad enough to get the attention of some of the students-staff there too, but rather than stop and explain what was going on, I was kind of brusque, my primary need being to get out of there before I went down and paramedics were involved.

I spent the next 24 hours in bed, only getting out to run to the bathroom. Literally. And the 24 hours after that, I spent the better amount of time in bed yet again. By yesterday evening, I was starting to emerge, and today, while my body is weakened, my brain is engaged.

So I'm not exactly sure where to take this. Do I report this to the Cimzia people or my doctor? If I do, do I risk being removed from the program? And if I'm removed, would that be a bad thing or a good? I'm really not sure.

I'm not sure about much of anything these days. I used to be able to tell what was happening with my body, but not so much anymore. My symptoms are evolving, and I don't know what the source of the evolution is.

Is the medication knocking me out? Or am I on a countdown to getting better?


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