Monday, June 30, 2008


Out of sheer not-inspiration, I hereby begin the ubiquitous 100 things post that everyone else with a blog has done. I hereby commence.

1) On the ring finger of my right hand, my finger nail hooks. It is the sort of thing you would never notice unless I pointed it out to you, but once you did notice, you'd think it was pretty gross. Why is my finger disfigured? Because when I was two and trying to get out of my high chair, I wiggled so vigorously that I tipped the chair over and the edge of the seat smashed off the tip of my finger. It had to be reattached at the hospital. Aren't you sorry you asked?

2) I worked for Borders Books and Music for almost two years - not because I needed the money, but because it was fun and interesting. How pitiful am I that I worked for basically free because it was sort of fun? Yeah. Exactly.

3) I have not been on a date in over two years, and I have no plans to ever date again. Most people find my way of life strange, at best. Some of my best friends secretly think I am a lesbian. I am not. I am just done experimenting with the idea of getting married and having kids - and dating in and of itself isn't fun enough to do for its own sake. So men are (romantically) invisible to me and life is good.

4) I keep my finger nails short and I don't paint them. When you rock climb, there is no point.

5) I hate hotels. A lot. I would rather sleep in my own bed - or barring that, in my sleeping bag in my own tent. Hotels - even nice ones - gross me out.

6) My bachelor's degree is in English with a writing concentration. My master's degree is also in English with a writing concentration. I am now working (mostly not) on getting my English PhD... with a writing concentration. I am a one trick pony, it seems. There is little else I can do with any effectiveness whatsoever.

7) Oh but I am good with kids. Sort of.

8) I taught myself to cook and I am pretty good at it. For some reason I got it into my head that I needed to know how to make matzo soup, and I have now perfected it. If you are Jewish and you want to challenge me to a matzo soup making contest, go ahead. But you'll lose. Mine is better.

9) I am Catholic. I hasten to add that I am not nearly as good at that as I am at making matzo soup. I make it to church (where I fidget and pick my cuticles) but I also swear a lot and I have a shabby sin-record. I find being Catholic difficult. I hear I am not the only one who has these kinds of difficulties, so I press on.

10) I am one of those annoying people who loves to work out. A day that I don't break a sweat is just not a good day. And by the way, I don't love to work out because I have this idea in my head that if I do it enough, I will look cute in a swimsuit. I do it just because I like it. (Do I look cute in a swimsuit? Probably not. But I could probably kick your ass if you said you didn't think so).

Have a great Monday.

Nina (who has no idea how her dad is because no one has called since Friday)

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Nina drinks a slushy

I have no reason for posting this picture except that I don't feel like reporting my crimes (as is my tradition). I also like this picture because I can remember that day. We were at the beach and it was the first time I went swimming by myself in the ocean. My dad stood on shore and watched me learn that to let the waves knock and tumble me over was fun so long as I held my breath. I have loved the ocean ever since.

Happy Sunday.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Go see Lisa

Well, you'll be seeing me if you go see Lisa. It will be basically the same thing as seeing me, since I am guest posting over there. One suggestion though - bring your wallet.

I'll post again later after I do my 2000 stairs.

Have an excellent Saturday.

Friday, June 27, 2008

You and me

Let me talk about us. You and me.

No, no. Stop wiggling and rolling your eyes. It's not that kind of talk.

When I think of you and me, I think of an old married couple, sitting in a good restaurant, calmly eating pasta and drinking red wine - without the need to fill the air-space with witty banter or even polite inquiries into how our day was. We are content to just eat out baked ziti and listen to the faint but beautiful music between us until the meal is over.

Reader, It is that kind of day in our beautiful internet relationship. Today, we nod, smile, eat a little dinner, high five, and go to bed without even making out.

That ok with you? I really hope so.

Oh! It turns out I do have one piece of relevant information to impart before I roll over and go to sleep: Tomorrow, I will be guest posting over at Lisa's because according to her treatment plan for a rare kind of stomach cancer, she is slated to feel terrible tomorrow as the chemo she just endured wreaks its special kind of havoc on her loveliness. Can you tell I have maybe just the tiniest little rage issue on the subject of cancer these days? Yes, I am aware of it. I am trying to work it out. On the internet. So hop over to Lisa's place tomorrow, where I will try not to totally embarrass myself (and her) by talking... stuff. (Hint: I am already pretty sure I am going to say something a little bit racist and definitely something blasphemous. I wonder if she'll ever forgive me).

Have an excellent Friday night. And thank you for reading.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Explanation and Plan

You must be so bored with this. If you are bored, just stare at this picture I took the other morning rather than reading the below explanation for my dad's condition / situation and the treatment plan.

Today my dad's blood work looks good tomorrow he will move to rehab. After about ten days, he will be discharged - kneeless - and go home to hang out in the cast and hang out on the walker for a couple of months. Then, provided that two months goes uneventfully, he will go back to Charlotte and get some new fake knee parts installed.

You might be wondering where the leukemia fits into any of this. It doesn't. And that is where it gets difficult to explain. His knee doctor has no interest in that part of my dad's issues. When he heard my dad's story of not dying nearly as many times as all the rest of the scientists predicted, the doctor said, "Eh," and contacted an oncology team to review my dad's file and consult with the nursing staff about blood work and medication. My dad has never met these people. So far they have stayed away, presumably because on the cancer front, things are quiet.

So is my dad in remission? We don't know. But for a guy who had full blown AML almost a year ago - and has had no treatment for that issue whatsoever - we almost have to assume that he has either a) been in remission at some point or b) that his leukemia is for some reason lazy and ineffective at doing its job (which is killing people, essentially).

We all generally agree that at least once in the last 12 months, spontaneous remission has occurred. The information out there about this phenomenon is spotty at best - so few people get this break that the data is not all that helpful. From what I can tell, it is:

1) rare

2) transient

3) always welcome

My dad is in a unique position, however. In September, his blood work and bone marrow confirmed full blown recurrent AML - and yet he just didn't die. When he showed up at the hospital six weeks ago - very much alive with his troublesome knee infection - they tested his blood again and said, "Gee, you still have leukemia." And then they refused to treat the knee on the theory that he has an expiration date of less than two months.

Except five weeks later when the infection was so gross that it appeared to be life-threatening, my dad simply rejected the idea of dying of a knee infection and went to another hospital, where the people were more receptive to the idea that my dad's life (and leg) were worth trying to save. So now six weeks and a major surgery later, aside from being seriously inconvenienced by his lack of a knee, my dad appears to be, um, just fine.

The official family approved explanation for this is: God (and Jesus) have the last word on when it is time to turn the lights out on my dad, and with so many people of all sorts praying for my dad's recovery, God (and Jesus) have been so busy listening to all that noise that they are simply too overwhelmed to hit the switch on the main generator with my dad's name on it.

Is there a medical explanation that works? Sort of. People who have AML and magically do not die are rare, but the people who get this special break usually have a few things in common. They are:

1) A strong primary relationship with a loving spouse.
2) History of staff infection - the uglier, the better
3) Strong faith and desire to live
4) Chronically depressed, ill-mannered, sarcastic, middle-aged children with bad hair and serious daddy issues.

My uncle is himself a scientist (as is my dad) and he has friends who study leukemia. Their opinion is that my dad's immune system has been stimulated by this knee infection and that the very busy life being led by the immune system is having an anti-leukemic affect. Way back when this Season of Badness started, my dad's oncologist did mention that a good wholloping mouthful of infectious disease is actually a good thing, so long as the patient survives it.

So there is our explanation. Jesus if you like, germs if you don't. But certainly your prayers - plus my poor mental health and my sarcasm - are doing their part as well.

Happy Thursday.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Point Free

I thought I was doing ok, what with the climbing 1500 stairs a day thing. I thought that was cool. But then last night I got a text message from Bibi saying she is doing 2000 a day. And then I remember that I was... dragging during our hike last weekend and then I think, who am I kidding, exactly? I am not in any kind of shape to climb Kili. Not. At. All.

But I will go on the trip and I will try and if I don't summit, well at least I can blame my butt for being so big. If the rest of the girls don't make it, they won't have that excuse because they don't weigh more than 100 pound apiece. I am pretty sure I could bench press Sri, and Mischa? She wears children's clothing.

So today I am will climb 2000 stairs rather than 1500 and I'll go to the climbing gym and OH! I didn't tell you! I finished a V1 route - which - calm down, I know it's not a big deal - I couldn't have done a month ago because I was sooo out of shape.

Oh wait I am still exactly that: out of shape. Just less out of shape.

Where was I going with this?

Oh right. My point was that it is a damned good thing that I lack the gene that causes jealousy and competitiveness. If I were a different sort of person I would feel like I needed to climb 2500 stairs a day just to make a point, and I would do the socially awkward thing where I try to lift my friends just to prove to them that they are puny, and I'd try buying my clothing in the toddlers' section at K-Mart just to fit in - which I would clearly never accomplish in any section of the store other than the Grown Up one. But as I said, I lack the drive to measure up (or down) and so I am sitting on self-satisfied, too big butt engaging in a caffeine related food crime - in my sweatpants. And I am pretty much ok with that.

Here is an unrelated (pointless) photo I took out the window the other night.

Happy Wednesday.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Sit n Spin

Remember when I had other interests besides my dad's medical... uniqueness?

Yeah. Me too.

My step-mother finally called my dad's twin brother, who lives just 20 minutes from the Charlotte, NC hospital where my dad is now hanging around knee-less. My dad's twin came and took care of my dad while my step-mother took a break. While the twin was there, the doctor stopped by and explained the treatment plan, which is:

1) Dad goes knee-less for about 6 weeks.

2) If the tissue looks good (it does right now, so they are hopeful) then a new knee goes in.

3) Meantime, my dad hobbles around with a walker, with his knee-less leg in a cast.

The orthopedist knows about leukemia, but he is not interested in it. As long as my dad's blood work behaves the same as any other person's blood work would behave, the orthopedist remains focused on the knee only. I did find out from my uncle that my dad's knee was black and necrotic by the time he reached Charlotte on Wednesday, and that after the surgery, the tissue recovered beautifully.

And that's all I know.

See you tomorrow.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Spin **updated**

** Seriously, what is wrong with me?? P is correct. It is because of the praying and drinking that everyone is doing. I can't thank you all enough for sticking by me and my internet diary all this time. You all have shown more faith and decency throughout this ordeal than I have. I will always be grateful to each and every one of you. (Now keep reading).

You know how I am always talking about how my dad has leukemia and he is dying and stuff?

Dial into that frequency for a minute.

My dad called yesterday from a hospital in Charlotte, NC. He went to Charlotte because the guy who did his original knee replacement surgery said he would work him into the schedule, even though my dad is supposed to die any time of leukemia. The knee guy looked at my dad's knee and said, "I don't much care if you have leukemia or not. The fake knee is coming out. Right now." My dad agreed to this plan, calling the doctors in his hometown hospital "a bunch of punks" for not having the sack to do the surgery a month ago.*

First thing the next morning, my dad had surgery to remove the bacterially gooed-up fake knee. In place of the knee, there is now nothing. Just a femur, a tibia and a fibula and some connective tissue... just hanging around not being connected to a knee.

Since the surgeon has never done a thing like that before, there was much celebrating this morning when they looked under the cast and saw that the wound had closed and clotted and that the area showed no sign of infection.

Yeeha! Right?

Right. Just go with it.

The doctor now has to figure out what to do next. Option one is to put in a spacer filled with anti-biotics just in case there are lingering bugs in the surrounding tissue. Option two is to let the knee portion of the leg be empty for a bit while IV anti-biotics kick the crap out of the remaining bugs. Then the knee guy would put in a new knee.

Are you following all this?

I am confused, too. But never mind.

The really fun bit of news is that my dad's blood work was all within normal range, which is pretty friggin' unusual for a guy who has leukemia.

Internet people, there is no amount of spin I can put on this that will improve your opinion of me. I know it looks like I lied to you three weeks ago when I said he would die any minute. I swear, I didn't. We have no idea what his bone marrow looks like. He could still have leukemia. But if he does, it's not hanging out in his blood, which is where it likes to hang out when it is busy killing people.

Executive Summary: my dad is light one knee, his blood work looks good, and we are waiting on a treatment plan.

I am going to get off the computer and be embarrassed now. Have a nice day.

* The part about "sack" is all me. My dad would never say a thing like that. He DID say punks, though.

Sunday, June 22, 2008


I got my ass handed to me by my friends yesterday, as predicted. Here are a few pictures I took just after the second hop of Breakneck Ridge.

I have news about my dad, but I need to absorb it for a bit before I post it. In the meantime, if you are reading this, please don't take this message as a sign of things going awry. If you would raise up a prayer or two - or a glass of something tasty (if you prefer) - that would be great.

Happy Sunday. (I'd post my usual sin of the week but I was sober, chaste, and modest all week. I don't think I even lied about anything).

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Two times in a week

I have lived here, in my one room apartment on the East River, for six years. In those six years, I have seen a rainbow out my window twice. Both times were last week.

Last night at the gym, Bibi, Sri, Mischa and I hatched a last minute plan to hike Breakneck Ridge, so in a few minutes I am off to the train. It should be an interesting day, considering I am the least fit of all of them - even with all the training I have been doing.

I will report back later.*

Have a good Saturday.

*Speaking of reporting back, I have not talked to my dad since Tuesday, and he is not returning my phone calls. I have no idea what that means, but I will let you know when I find out.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Another three things

Today, three things I love that the rest of the world has little or no use for.

1) Raw green beans.

Most people don't much like these cooked, but I will bring them home from the store, wash them and eat them right out of the bag like potato chips. I love them. I even loves them. I really do.

2) Emily Dickinson.

Forgive me, but does it get better than this? (Don't be a punk. Read the poem, if not for me, for the crunchy goodness of the last line).

Of Bronze—and Blaze—
The North—Tonight—
So adequate—it forms—
So preconcerted with itself—
So distant—to alarms—
And Unconcern so sovereign
To Universe, or me—
Infects my simple spirit
With Taints of Majesty—
Till I take vaster attitudes—
And strut upon my stem—
Disdaining Men, and Oxygen,
For Arrogance of them—

My Splendors, are Menagerie—
But their Completeless Show
Will entertain the Centuries
When I, am long ago,
An Island in dishonored Grass—
Whom none but Beetles—know.

(Please note: BEETLES, not BEATLES. I do not like The Beatles).

3) Yes.

Go ahead. Make fun. You are entitled. Yes is a band you either love or you hate. If you get why Yes is great, then you are have a lot of goodness for your listening pleasure. If you don't get it, well... you don't get it. And I am sorry for you.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Three things

There are three things in the world that everyone else likes and I don't. My dislike ranges from apathy to disgust, and I feel that I am all alone in the world when people start rhapsodizing over the greatness of the following:

1) Shakespeare.

That's right: horror of horrors, I don't like Shakespeare. The plays are good and the sonnets are nice, but I do not see what all the fuss is about. Good is good, but... come on. Is it really that good?? Is it really all that?? Nah. I don't think so, anyway.

2) The Beatles.

No, thanks. Hey Jude is kind of nice. But the song about holding your hand? Ugh... no mas, no mas! I don't like the Beatles. I get that they are good and I get why they are good, but I am not into the Beatles. At all.

3) The Beach Boys.

Wouldn't it be nice if they never, ever made that record? I hate it. Every bar of it. Oh wait! I think there is a bit of instrumental something or other that I don't hate. But good Lord, what is the fuss about? I am not even willing to concede that The Beach Boys are good, as in the case of Shakespeare and The Beatles. The Beach Boys are just not good. The End.

So tell me why I am wrong about these cultural phenomena.

Or tell me what everyone likes that you could do without.

Happy Thursday.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008



As a 1930s wife, I am

Take the test!

Seriously, could I possibly be this good a wife? In the 1930s? Just because I am good at being poor?


Monday, June 16, 2008

Iron Fist

I was over at Nightfly's place the other day and I filled out this super-hero quizlet. I don't know anything about comic books or super-heroes, so I am at a loss as to the relative coolness of this super-hero character.

Find out Which Marvel Superhero Are You at!

But I did recently discover a new blog by the name of Iron Fist recently, and I think you should discover it too. There is naked bike ride and some pirate ships over there right now, and those are interesting and fun.

Have a good Monday.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

As promised, part two

I am basically going to punk out on you, and it is just as well. I have typed and deleted a dozen great memories of my dad, all of which would demonstrate his perfectness. And I can't seem to publish them, so I am going to just go with one.

It is fall. Late at night. I am 25 and my dad and I have just split a bottle of champagne, but we are failing at being drunk. We are staring and the floor in silence when he sighs and says,

"Whatever your mom gave you, it's up to me, now. Clothes, boy troubles, hair problems, whatever it is. I need to hear about it."

I shift uncomfortably in my chair.

"Dad, you don't want to hear about my hair problems."

My dad shifts too. Then he looks at me long and hard. I brace myself and prepare to cry.

"You're just saying that because you have no idea what your hair looks like right now."

Since my mom died, he has done an admirable job of being my dad in the customary way - but he has been equally patient with an avalanche of other issues most would consider beyond the fortitude of most men. Boy problems. Hair malfunctions. Shoe passions. Work intrigues. Friendship dramas. Further shoe manias. Ongoing hair unpleasantness. A continuous, multi-year boy conundrum, all laced through with fashion dilemmas that would make most women wish they had been smart enough not to breed. I could have ignored his suggestion that he be the target of all subjects rather than just the dad ones, but he asked about them all, every time I talked to him. "How's the boy conundrum? Are you having good hair? Did you buy the shoes? Can I help you with the work intrigue? Are your friends still catty and unfriendly? Did you choose the black slacks or the blue dress?"

And every year on Christmas morning, my sister and I have under the tree a new dress to wear that day. Not only are they good and pretty dresses, but they are also flattering and FIT properly, with no consultation whatsoever from US. To this day, we have no idea how he does this. No idea.

I have a lot of friends with no dads, shabby dads, crummy dads, or mean dads. I even have friends with average dads. And I am aware that it is shabby on some level to parade my excellent dad out onto the internet and brag about his perfecty goodness, but I can't help it. Excellent. Dad. I am telling you.

Happy Father's Day.

As promised

Two posts today, starting with background so that anyone who has wondered what the deal is with my dad has an idea. Later I will post excerpts from my childhood that demonstrate the perfectness of my dad.

But this part first.

For those unaware, here is a chronological run-down of my dad's medical issues over the last two years.

1) have bad knee
2) get knee replacement
3) get leukemia
4) get chemo
5) get staff infection
6) have staff infection "bond" to the titanium in the knee
7) lose short-lived chemo produced leukemia remission
8) get sent home to die
9) refuse to die and just keep being not dead for eight months
10) have all your teeth removed because the chemo destroyed them
11) find out the permanent knee infection is threatening to become systemic and that the leg may have to be amputated to save his life.
12) schedule knee surgery
13) have surgery canceled due to blood work indicating the presence of leukemia
14) get sent home to die - again (this bring us to three weeks ago)
15) feel good enough while dying to re-carpet his boat and build a bench for the lower deck while supposedly dying

This brings us to today, Father's Day, 2008. In a little while I will call my dad and say "Happy Father's Day," and we'll have a chat about what I am doing and what is happening around his house - and neither of us will mention the leukemia - which we now refer to as his "immune disorder" - if we refer to it at all - and we'll toss around the idea of me coming down to see him sometime before the Africa trip, but neither of us will commit.


Why wouldn't I run off down to South Carolina and throw my arms around my dad's knees and scream "No No No No! You must never leave me!!! NOOOOOOO!"

Isn't that what everyone does when the most beloved person on planet earth is dying?

In my case, no. I have reasons for not doing it, some of which I will now try to explain.

1) we were all royally punked the last time the scientists said my dad would die. We spent over six months doing absolutely nothing while waiting for the terrible phone call. When we were not waiting for the terrible phone call, we were running off to airports and buying plane tickets to see him for short visits during which we figuratively threw our arms around his knees and screamed "No No No No No! You must never leave me! NOOOOO." And you know what? It sucked and in the end we were just getting punked. Royally.

2) however royally we were getting punked, the six months of terrorism did have its usefulness; we got a lot of stuff said that needed saying. We made sure our dad "got" that he was so popular with all of us that he could start a cult and we would all be followers. Which is the same way of saying... my family is a little bit culty and my dad is its cherished leader. (If you ask my dad about this, he just says, "Well I think you are important, too.")

3) our whole family is pissed off. We are not pissed off at the scientists, and we are not pissed off at God, at least not anymore (in my case). We are pissed off at the cancer. It is annoying and mean and we are out of patience. The way we live now is sort of like people live when their block is a major target for car bombers: we know we are in grave danger every second of every day, but what the hell, might as well go to the end of the block and get a cup of coffee. If it happens, well, shit. If it doesn't, then we had coffee! And some laughs! And we are all intact! But we are all pretty well done with engaging in negotiations with the cancer. We hate it and we are bored with it and we don't even want to talk about it. We will play frisbee in the street and secretly give it the finger, but that's where the relationship ends.

4) Am I making any sense at all?

5) I love my dad. My dad loves me. We both know this. If I run off to SC - even just to hang out and drink beer on the deck - it really has to be a straightforward, social visit. Anything other than that would be engaging in a relationship with the cancer, rather than with my dad. And I have broken up with the cancer. I do not like it anymore.

6) I am not saying I won't run off to SC and have a few beers with my dad, but if I do, it won't be a hysterical nutshow. See above.

7) And so we are sticking to plan. The plan is for all of us - Buzz, Leta, Liam, my sister Naz and her husband Bling, and me - to go to SC for a two week visit as originally planned, in two months. If the whole block is busted up by then, well, dammit. If not, we will spend two weeks with my dad, as planned.

Here is a picture of my dad two months ago. He is sitting on the deck at my brother's house, drawing a diagram of the deck he wants to build for them once he is done with his own deck. He fully expects to execute this plan and will not deviate from that plan unless he finds himself not alive.

In comments, tell me something you like about your own dad - or tell me how handsome mine is. I'll post again later.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Your opinion, please

Yesterday's post was a ruse. Some people DO like sex more than other people and care about it more, too. I just don't see having a high sex drive a unusual or unique or important aspect of a person's being. Even if you do it every! single! day! How much of your time does that take, exactly? Yeah. Not much.

I am a less sexual person than most. Unless there is a marriage and a baby in it for me, I could happily go the rest of my life without ever seeing a naked man. How unfun am I?

Anyway, since I am being gross this weekend, I thought I would solicit your opinion about something that I am a bit __________ about. I might be __________ about it because of my above-revealed unusualness, but never mind.

Behold the conversation I had with my three-year old nephew Liam on Wednesday as I was strapping him into his car seat.

Nina: Please hold still. I can't find the leg strap thing.

Liam: It is under my butt. (Here he arches and extracts it for me).

Nina: Hold still, please. I can't get these untwisted.

Liam: OK. (Here he holds perfectly still and observes me not succeeding and fastening the straps).

Nina: This one here... it's just... (Here Liam helpfully secures the button in the proper position and "click" - he is in).

Liam: Yay!

Nina: Whew! That belly strap was a struggle, huh?

Liam: Actually that strap is close to my penis. (Here he points helpfully to the securing mechanism, which is, in fact, pretty close to the region he specified).

Nina: Yes, I see. Ok, hands and feet in. I am going to close the door.

So then I shut the door and reflected: had my brother and his wife done this right when they decided to refer to all body parts by their clinical names and to attach no special importance at all parts that will be necessary for future reproduction? Their intentions were good: they didn't want their kid to have body/shame issues and they didn't want his manparts to be any more important in his emotional register than any other parts.

But the kid, at three, will mention is stuff (albeit, if there is a reason) any old time without thinking twice.

I am leaning toward saying: eh, this is fine. He is totally innocent. He exhibits no weirdness except for having a big vocabulary and a lack of... here is where I get unclear - awareness that most people don't mention their stuff to other people, even if there is a reason. Or do they? Damn. I don't even know.

Also, he is three. He gets a break for not understanding social nuances until he is at least ten. Or maybe much older. Hell, I still don't get most of those nuances myself.

Your opinion please. Will Liam turn out to be

a) inappropriate and sexually awkward

b) fine

c) something else

Gracias. Oh and to all of you showing up wanting an update on my dad: he still feels fine. He is still (maybe, probably, who knows) very sick. Tomorrow, being father's day and all, I will post about him and his status at greater length.

Friday, June 13, 2008

This doesn't matter

For no particular reason, I have been thinking about the statement many people make regarding their sexual selves. The statement is:

"I am a very sexual person."

People the world over say this very thing - usually to someone they wish to engage in reproductive behavior with - all the time. The implication is that the speaker is relating something about him or herself that is unique and special - different - worth pointing out, when in fact, any human being possessing reproductive gear labors under constant hormonal signals to breed. It is part of the human situation.

So if you say to me that you are a sexual person in a manner suggesting that you are letting me in on some very important and one of a kind fact about yourself, I am going to call you out on that bullshit. Instantly. Especially if you are a man trying to convince me to remove my underwear and your "I am a very sexual person" bit is supposed to let me know that your really very unique and refined and one of a kind sexual drives and desires are my problem. Bull. Shit.

Your turn: what thing can a person say that will automatically irritate you?

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Strongly scotch marshmallow (with baby)

Tuesday I went to NJ to watch Liam for the afternoon. My plan was to stay long enough to get Liam into bed and say hi to my brother when he got home from work - and then head back into the city. It turned out my brother had a compulsory work related beer to drink and he would be catching the late train. All fine. I got the toddler bathed and read him his books and played the word game and saw him close his shiny blue eyes. There was lightning in the distance, and I like lightning, so I took my book out to the front porch. Leta was in busying around in the kitchen and our familial situation was good in every way (except for the one where my dad might be dying, but that is the new normal).

About nine o'clock, the undersides of the leaves had started to turn up in the breeze, which means thunderstorm. I read one more sentence. Then I heard a sound I have never heard before - a roar like a train was coming up the back yard. Then I heard Leta scream and I stood up and saw the the rain was coming UP from the ground and the trees were bent sideways. I heard several cracks and then lightning struck a tree in the golf course about a hundred yard from me. Then the wind blew me back against the house and I had to fight to get in. When I got in Leta was standing at the sliding glass doors watching the deck furniture get tossed around the yard. I pulled her away from the window.

We then had the dumbest conversation we have ever had. Ever. And we have had some stupid ones.

"I am really scared. Is this a hurricane?" said Leta. She tried to go back by the window. A tree hit the driveway.

"No. It's probably some kind of thundernado," I said. "Get away from the window and let's get the baby into the basement."

"Oh, a thundernado," said Leta. "Do you really think we should get the baby into the basement?"

The power was out by the time I reached the top of the stairs. Leta was behind me and by this time she was crying. A tree in the front yard had split and the power lines were dangling.

I picked up Liam and we made our way down the steps in the dark. Leta focused on not screaming, and I focused on not stumbling and dropping the sleeping three year old. In the basement, we fired up the generator and watched through the window. We saw two trees come down and several transformers hit by lightning.

Can we have an intermission?

It has been a strongly bad three or four years running. (You can read about the gist of it here.) During the most recent Lent/Easter season, I tried being a re-good Catholic, and the result was poor. I ended up screaming at God like a spoiled child and saying, "I don't like you," and "You suck," and "So what about your bad day with the nails and stuff?"


So it was there in the basement of my brother's house, with the sleeping toddler on one side of me and my sobbing sister in law on the other, that I realized that the entire thundernado event was about me.

(See how skillfully I did that? Made an entire meteorological whirl - and the destruction of other people's home and property - about me? Do NOT try this at home. Years of training, I tell you. Years. Oh and by the way, this here thing that I am doing is called narcissism and it's a bad thing, actually, even though the results are {sometimes} funny).

Two days prior, I had been reflecting that for a 38 year old woman, I have little to show for myself. I have no husband and no children. My career (read: job) and my performance at it is unremarkable. I own nothing. No house, no car, and no real assets aside from an unimpressive retirement account. I have student loan debt to pay off from a degree I have no plans to finish. With grim satisfaction, I thought, "Gee. Everything I was ever afraid of happening actually did happen. I have nothing left to be afraid of." And then the one thing I have left to be afraid of came rushing into the room like a pack of rabid dogs: something terrible could happen to Buzz, Leta, and Liam. (Note: this is called self pity. Don't do this either, as it is so unattractive as to be toxic and will interfere with your ability to engage in even moderate narcissism.

And of course, as I was cowering in the basement Tuesday night, the sky opened up and Jesus stepped out of the firmament, wearing, as usual, a couture track suit and visor. He brought me a bag of marshmallows and a lighter. He handed them over and said,

"Nina, for a smart person, you are surely stupid in the ways of all things me. Consider this storm and its results a reminder - of the unsubtle kind - that there is still plenty of strongly bad material I can give you to make misery with - if you continue with your obstinate refusal to see anything good about anything. I'll visit with you again soon. Meantime, keep your eye on the baby and reassure Leta that all her gardening has not been in vain. Gracias. Oh and P.S. don't sweat that stuff with your dad I am on that. Adios."

Then he stepped back into the firmament and I think I might have seen my mother and her parents dealing him into a card game, but I wasn't quite sure. That my mother was wearing a velour pants suit - well, that I could see in high-def.

Thank you for the intermission. I will now continue telling the story in a normal way.

The roaring continued for fifteen minutes or so, and in that time the neighborhood lost 25 trees, two cars, a garage, and two houses (if you count having trees in them as "losing" which we kind of do since they will have to be rebuilt. After a half an hour, we thought it safe enough to go upstairs and feel around in the liquor cabinet for something to make mischief with. We found some scotch. We dared not open the freezer for ice. Upon returning to the basement, we found a lighter and in the deep recesses of the emergency food storage, a bag of marshmallows.

What a good time that was.

OK, not really.

We were still terrified, but scotch and marshmallows helped and they seemed a fitting repast as we discussed whether it might be okay to put the toddler back to bed. We decided not to try that until my brother got home, which he did, at about 11pm. The trains were not running, and he was lucky to get a taxi - but even then, it had to drop him off half a mile from home because the roads were impassable.

So he got home and we told our story and he took a flashlight outside to see if the house was okay enough to consider permitting the toddler to sleep in his bed. He decided it was, so we put the child back to bed, poured my brother a big glass of scotch and we all proceeded to freak out.

People, I am normally down for stuff like this. In general, I think it's cool when nature kicks up an interesting weather event. Nature's fury and all.

But this was not cool. It felt as if a hole had been punched in the atmosphere and everyone I had left in the world was going to get sucked out. I did not like it at all.

As promised, Jesus did stop by to discuss a general cease-fire/amnesty deal, which I will describe tomorrow. Today, I have to make phone call number four to my landlord about the 100 degree heat in my apartment. It sort of reminds me of hell, which.... never mind.

Have a good Thursday.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


Yesterday's events included

1) a train ride
2) a trip to the barber shop
3) two Richard Scarry books
4) a good talk with my dad (who is fine)
5) intermittent shrieking
6) carrying a sleeping three year old to the basement
7) in a dark house
8) listening to AM radio on the generator
9) toasting marshmallows over tea lights
10) scotch with no ice (at least we think that's what it was)

Jesus just arrived at my apartment and he brought me a bottle of liquor and some cheese. He wants to talk about a cease fire and since I am sure he is bored and sweaty, sitting over the by my broken air conditioner in the 100 degree heat, I should probably break out some shot glasses and get to talking.

Does one negotiate terms in cases such as this? Or does a person like me just take what she is offered? I think it's the last one.

I'll tell the whole story tomorrow.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


Here's a first: last night, I slept with the DOOR to my apartment wide open. Why would anyone do such a thing? I did it because my air conditioner has been broken since last summer and I never bothered to get it fixed. When I went to bed last night, it was 98 degrees in my apartment, and I was flattened like a blade of grass. And I was sweating. And my persian cat, who is basically a wiggling fur coat, wanted to sleep on my neck.

So in a city of 8,200,000 people, I propped my door open with a box of cereal and opened my windows - and went to sleep - right there for all the 8 million to see. The cross breeze was worth possible rape, torture and dismemberment. I was sort of hoping someone would abduct my cat and steal a few computers. To reduce the clutter, you know?

Today, I am going to the gym (to the gym!) and then I am going to NJ to watch Liam all day so that Leta can take a nap and read a book in peace. Poor girl has a tough time with all that parenting and I want to help her out. Plus, their yard is just luscious, and I want to be among flowers.

Have I said yet how great it is not to be working three jobs? I mean, being broke sucks and all, but damn it's nice to spend the day with Liam just because I feel like it.

Have a good Tuesday.

Monday, June 9, 2008

You gotta be kidding me

I answered the questions on this quizlet truthfully. I really did. And yet I think we all know the results are just flat wrong.

You Are a Positive Person

No one would accuse you of being too negative!

You're a naturally upbeat and optimistic person.

Like everyone else, you come across things you can't stand every day.

But unlike everyone else, you ignore what annoys you and focus on what uplifts you.

Oh and by the way, good morning. It is 5am. I have been awake since 1am because I have no A/C and it is a sweat box in here. Not that I am complaining or anything... keeping it positive it who I am, after all.

Thanks to Cajunvegan for posting this first.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Beach test

By way of Liz, the Beach Quiz.

What the Beach Test Says About You

You tend to be a very social person. You live for your friends and family. You can get social burnout occasionally though. You aren't a total extrovert.

You have cold feet when it comes to love. You have a lot of uncertainty until you convince yourself to dive right in.

You are a passionate person. You are free wheeling, fun loving, and ruled by your emotions.

Your sense of humor is goofy and silly. You are good at making almost anyone laugh.

Sin of the Week, 6/08/08, in which in reveal my hatred of Jaw

There is a person I will call Jaw. She is a good, nice, friendly, well-intentioned person. I don't like her even a tiny little bit. The reason I don't like her is that when I am leaving to go somewhere, I have typically budgeted enough time to get to my destination on time, but not much more. Jaw, because she lives in my neighborhood and has a seemingly endless assortment subjects to discuss with me, never lets me get out of the neighborhood without wasting a good fifteen minutes of my time with her insipid prattle. Some notable Jaw sidewalk subjects include:

1) describing her child's habit of sticking her tongue out while doing her homework.

2) explaining why it's for the best that I never got married because some people are just supposed to be alone.

3) explaining (over and over) why even though her mother almost became a nun, she is raising her daughter Jewish because it just feels right.

4) describing the vasectomy scars on her husband's manparts and exclaiming with joy that they can now do it whenever they want!

5) has she mentioned lately how glad she is that I never got married? Because it is just so obvious that I am one of those people who is meant to be alone?

6) reminiscing over the time when she thought she might be pregnant, but whew! what a thrill to find out it was just a viscous fluid filled cyst on her left ovary and that they could drain it with a big long needle. Through her vagina.

7) telling me how her child is in the gifted and talented program at school and how that's probably because she was breast-fed for three years.

8) not that I would be able to relate to anything having to do with having a family, or anything.

9) how I should definitely finish my PhD because my career will continue to go nowhere until I do (please note that Jaw herself never finished her Master's degree).

And now to the sin.

Most of the time when I am obstructed by Jaw, I cross the street and wave. It's rude, but to even say hello to Jaw means fifteen minutes of conversation at a minimum- and I can be pretty sure the conversation will piss me off. When I do find myself confronted by Jaw and there is no way out, I smile, say hi, oh, I am fine, how are you, how is your husband's vasectomy treating you, gosh you were right all those times when you said I was so defective that I didn't deserve a man and a child in my life, I am so glad I spend every day of my life in unrelenting loneliness and despair, that was definitely meant to be, you are a genius, how's your daughter's tongue, OH, I am going to be late for my unfulfilling job, so I have to go, bye bye.

Yesterday, I did 16 minutes of time with Jaw, and I was not able to perform gracefully. Here's a transcript of our conversation:

Jaw: Hi! I am so glad I ran into you!

Nina: Hi! I really don't have time to talk because I have to run stairs.

Jaw: Did I tell you that ________ won first place in her school art contest?

Nina: Nope. Not until now.

Jaw: She did! I am so proud! She makes drawings!

Nina: (awkward pause during which Nina says nothing).

Jaw: How is your dad?

Nina: Dying.

Jaw: Really? Well, you know you have to keep your chin up!

Nina: I disagree.

Jaw: Well, yeah, but you can't do anything about it, so you might as well just be happy. Focus on the good!

Nina: Well, Jaw, you sometimes forget that I have an dead-end job, no husband, no children, and no money, which means my list of good* things to focus on is rather short. If I did have any of those good things to focus on, maybe I'd keep my chin up. But I don't, so I can't, and I am muddling along as best I can.

Jaw: that's the spirit! You were really not cut out to be married anyway, and you do have a job, so that's better than being unemployed.

Nina: Yep! Well, I have to go now.

Jaw: Oh, I wish you could stay and talk! Bob got a raise and we are going to buy new furniture and it would be great if I could tell you all about it!

Nina: I have to go now.

Jaw: We are getting a settee!

Nina: I am late.

Jaw: We might get watered silk wallpaper!

Nina: I am going now.

Jaw: Come up for tea when you get back! I'll show you the decorator's swatches!

Nina: Doubt I will have time.

Jaw: How can you possibly be so busy all the time? It's not like you have kids. I never get to visit with you anymore!

Nina: Goodbye.

Jaw: Call me when your dad dies! I will bake you a pie!

And... then I turned my back on her and went to the stairs and went up and down them and was pissed off the whole time that God put this person on the earth just to torment me.

Reader, I hate this woman. I really do. She means well, but I just despise her.

Help me. What can I do?

* So that I do not leave you all with the impression that I really believe everything about my life is bad, here is a short list of good things that I still count on the credit side:

1) I am sort of healthy.
2) I have a computer full of invisible friends who are so nice to me that my faith in basic goodness, decency, etc. has improved dramatically.
3) I have visible friends, good ones.
4) I have, for the time being, one living dad, two living siblings, a sister in law who is as good as a real sister, a brother in law that prevents my real sister from being a complete jackass, and a nephew who will build a rabbit ranch out of blocks with me any time I say that sounds like fun.
5) My step mother, despite her insanity, does the best she can.
6) Julie still puts up with me.
7) I am unencumbered by the kind of drama, intrigue, and misery that is inevitably caused by dating (this is where Jaw, that crazy _____, has a point).
8) I have no known allergies.
9) I have both my legs.
10) My teeth are good.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Where we at?

Forgive my omission of the linking verb. I am a little light on class and grammatical fortitude today.

Here is where we at:

My dad got out of the hospital two weeks ago yesterday. Since then, his life has been, from what I hear, mostly normal. He has had to take some IV antibiotics, but since they know how to get that done at home, that has been non-event. He is eating, sleeping, playing in the yard, watching movies, and eating fried chicken. If he feels any anxiety regarding his predicted demise, he does not show it.

When I talked to my step mother the other day, she told me a strange thing, but in order for me to relate the strange thing I have to give you two sentence of background: before my dad had leukemia, he had some trifling, non aggressive (but annoying) bladder cancer. He has continued to have that situation monitored despite the fact that he has been supposedly terminal for the last, oh, nine months.

Ok so here is the strange thing: he went in to have the bladder cancer monitored this week and they wanted to do a biopsy on something or other in there. (This truly is a who cares type situation since the bladder cancer is such complete bullshit compared to the blood cancer). So they ran some preliminary blood work just to make sure it was sort of marginally safe to do the procedure. And the strange thing is that, uh, the blood work looked pretty good. Obviously, they didn't test for leukemia, since you need to run a leukemia scan to get a reliable result for that issue. However, WHAT? Apparently my dad's platelet and red cell counts were within normal ranges on Wednesday of this last week.

Can someone, anyone, in the medical community propose a scenario that explains any of this - from a scientific point of view?

If you can't, just say some stuff about whatever is on your mind today, and have a fun weekend.

Friday, June 6, 2008

54 stories

You all know that when Mike Reardon died, it bothered me a whole lot. I love climbing and climbers and all things related. But now this morning, I see headlines from The Post and The Daily News that confuse me.

On the one hand, any time someone starts on the sidewalk in front of The Times Building, applies his (or her) hands to the building, and makes it to the top, the climber in me is delirious with excitement and happiness because climbing stuff is the best thing ever. Plus that climb is a good one to pick if you are in the market for a free climb in NYC. I have observed the climb-ability of that building many times, and though I have never considered applying myself to it, the building is not tricky in terms of the hand and foot holds (plentiful and chunky). The only down side is that it is a long damned climb. The second guy who completed it collapsed from exhaustion when he got to the top.

But of course there is another hand to consider. Much as I love the sport and much as I love bravado and good clean fun - and as much as I am ok with other people making decisions to endanger their own lives as long as that's what they want to do, it's never cool to endanger the safety of other people, and unfortunately, free-climbing a manhattan skyscraper with no permit, no security, and no safety equipment causes people to gather on the sidewalk, spill into the street and block traffic and then it causes several units of police, and at least one ambulance to watch your skinny ass wiggle up the side of a building for several hours. Now, if you don't care about traffic and you don't think the police have other things to do, so far so good. The commuters will probably forgive you, too, as long as you don't slip and land on their cars.

But you have to consider (yes, you do) what would happen if you fell. You would die, but that's cool because you already accepted that risk. What wouldn't be cool is that your fall may or may not be broken by the bystanders who may or may not be themselves killed. And what happens when a body falls from that far up is also the opposite of cool; the people who witnessed the projectile disintegration of your skinny ass would be fortunate if they got out of the scene with no more than post traumatic stress disorder. Then there are the police officers and paramedics who have to clean up the mess that was you and inform your family.

Here's a picture, courtesy of The Daily News, of Alain Robert unfurling his banner protesting global warming on his way up.

Here's another of climber two, Ray Clark, near the top.

What do you all think?

Thursday, June 5, 2008

5000 bites

This morning, my dentist said, "These are some good lookin' teeth. Perfect architecture. Straight and even. Tough enamel. Good color. But you, despite the gift of good genes and some good looking teeth, don't floss but once a week and you grind them so bad the ligaments in your face are spreading." (Yes, he really did say these things). (We are pals).

Then he told me that since I have a little bit of metal in my mouth from back when I was about 10, I need to get the fillings out and replaced with porcelain. Uh, ok. At $2500 a filling. Ok.

So I asked him how long I could wait to do this and do you know what that old wise-ass said?

"You got about 5000 bites left in these fillings."

"And how long is that?"

"Well I don't know, but if you lay off the nachos, better than a year."

I didn't bother to tell him that I have been laying off the nachos for quite some time. Odd thing is, I am just as chubby as ever, which means it is time for desperate measures, such as the crazy.

I will let you know how it goes.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Nightdress, day two

Aside from the part where I worked out for three hours, I have spent the entirety of the last forty eight hours in my nightgown. Yes, in my nightgown. Why? Because I am working from home this summer (only! one! job!) and I can laze around in my enormous white cotton brocade nightdress, with my hair in braids, and offend no one.

Oh wait. Maybe I just offended you. Did I offend you?

Sorry if I did.

Some smart person once (or twice) said that you should get dressed and put mascara on every single day, whether you will be interfacing with other humans or not.

So you tell me: if I work from home, is it scuzzy and slatternly to do my job in my nightgown? With my hair in braids? With not a lick of make-up on?

Tuesday, June 3, 2008


All my extra-curricular torture is over and I am now working, for the first time in three years, only one job.

It is noon, and I am in my pajamas. I am watching movies will I return emails and answer the phone. At 3pm, I get to do laundry. After that I can go to the gym and work out and climb - with nothing on my mind other than my dad's health (which I have sworn not to fret about) and whether to paint my toenails tonight after I get home from the gym.

Is this how the rest of the world lives? Is having only one job really this easy? Because if so, I may just pay the minimums and hope for the best forever.

This. Is. Awesome.

Happy Monday.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Hell, yeah

Here's the best news I have had in a long time:

How evil are you?

Apparently, I am not evil. Hooray!

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Sin of the Week, 6/01/08

I don't want to say exactly how careless I was about calculating grades this week because if I explained it in any detail, you would be disappointed in me. A lot.

Let's just say that tomorrow morning, I have to do grade changes for two people I calculated completely wrong for. That's what happens when I am furiously running a calculator half an hour before grades are due. Dammit.

Other noteworthy bad behavior: I forgot Sri's birthday (horror) and instead of going out with my friends last night, like any good, well-adjusted person would do, I stayed home and ordered gear for the trip - gear I can't afford for a trip I very likely will never take. Is that sin? Or just stupidity?

I worked out like a crazy person both yesterday and today, so I am going to recline and eat peanut butter for the rest of the afternoon.

Have a good Sunday.