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Not Hear

My ears don’t work.

My hearing loss was probably inevitable, since the myriad doctors I’ve seen about this issue can’t seem to find any trauma or other physical explanation for why I cannot hear well. My current medical team seems to think that it’s neurological, and if that’s the case, then there’s not really anything I can do. I can wear hearing aids, but that’s about it.

And the hearing aids are not exactly the best solution. It’s not that they don’t do anything, but that they don’t do enough. Nothing I do will ever be “enough,” and that makes me angry because I used to be able to hear, so I remember what things sound like. In short, I know what I’m missing.

Hearing aids are an imperfect solution. The technology is improving all the time, but the fact remains that in order to function somewhat normally, I need to have tiny machines stuck into my head at all times. In some countries, I can be classified as a Cyborg, which is kind of fun.

Because they are machines, they can break down. My current set is currently “in the shop” because one side died and the other side was protesting something. I dropped them off at the doctor’s office yesterday and probably won’t get them back for a week or more.

I can’t hear.

I can hear SOME things. Loud noises, obviously, but unless What’s-His-Name is enunciating carefully (and… he does not ever do this), I can’t understand what he’s saying to me when he’s sitting four feet away. I have to ask Jillian to repeat herself all the time. If I’m watching TV, I can’t multi-task like I usually do because I miss all the words instead of just some of them. Closed-captioning only helps when you’re looking at it, after all. The radio in my car is turned up VERY LOUD, and I’m afraid I’ll blow the shitty, 10-year-old speakers in an effort to just hear music at a “normal” volume.

Right now, there is no such thing as background noise. For people who deal with a lot of sounds every day, not having background noise sounds like a great thing, right? It’s not. It’s unnatural and oppressive. All my other senses are on high alert to compensate for this missing one. Not having background noise, which our brains use as a way to orient ourselves in the world, is stressful. I have to be hyper-aware of my surroundings and THAT SHIT IS EXHAUSTING.

Not being able to hear is exhausting all the time. From explaining it to people I’ve just met, to having all my other senses going to 11, to dealing with the incredibly insensitive people trying to be funny… it’s tiring. And hard. And I hate it.

But let’s talk a minute about the “funny” ones, shall we? The most common reaction I get when I explain to people that I cannot hear well and would like for them to speak up is “What?”


“Aw, c’mon, I was making a joke.”


Really? If I told you I were epileptic, would you fall on the floor and flail around to be funny? No? Then why is it okay to say “…WHAT?” when I tell you I’m hearing-impaired? How is that okay? How?

And… it happens A LOT. A very lot. A lot a lot. It baffles me, every time. It’s exhausting and one of the main reasons why there are some people out there… well, I just don’t bother.

I wouldn’t wish this on anyone. It would have been better if I’d been born with this impairment, because then it would have been my version of normal. But I know what I’m missing out on and that’s a very real source of anger and sadness for me. The fancy new hearing aids I got last year help quite a bit, but a week without them is going to be hard.

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The Ginger Menace

The weather was extremely pleasant yesterday, so I turned off the air-conditioning (the rant I have about that is a post for another time) and opened up the front windows. One of the windows was being a bit stubborn, so I took the screen out and gave it a push. As I did that, I stepped in a puddle of sorts that had formed on the floor.

The dogs were acting like jerks so I thought maybe one of them had finally gotten angry enough to pee on the floor. That would have been incredibly out-of-character for both of them, however.  I got a paper towel and wiped it up.  It didn't appear to be pee (I smelled it), or anything but water, so I chalked it up to the random oddness of the universe and went over to fold laundry.

Carl loooooooves laundry. It's his 2nd-favorite thing, after sleeping. He likes to help, by sitting on whatever pile I'm about to fold and shedding on everything in the world. I tend to sit on the couch and use the ottoman as my folding table.  Carl was wandering around my folding enterprise and I noticed there were drops of water or something on the ottoman.

I immediately looked up at the light fixtures on the ceiling, since we'd had some leakage issues there over the winter, but it hadn't rained in a couple of days and there aren't any water pipes running through that bit of ceiling, so it couldn't be dripping from there. I spent a couple of minutes completely stumped until I looked at Carl and noticed he was drooling.

Well, not so much drooling as "becoming a fountain."  I've never seen a cat drool quite like that!! It was rather alarming, so I broke the First Rule and went over to the Google.  A search for "my cat is drooling" led me to WebMD (of all things) that said, as it always does, the cat drooling could be a sign of anything from "your cat is a jerk" to "your cat's liver has failed."


I called the vet instead and they suggested I bring him in so they could have a look at him.  I managed to get him in the crate all right and by the time we got to the vet, he was drenched.  The doctor did an exam and decided to keep him for awhile so they could do fun things like x-rays and bloodwork.  She explained to me what they were going to do but all I could hear was "$$$, $$$ $$$$$$, $$$$$$$, $$."  Ugh. Poor cat.

It turns out that he's got SOMETHING blocking his small intestines, which was making him nauseated, which is what caused the drool. The x-rays weren't very clear as to what it might be.  Could be food, poop, a piece of something something something something, or something. SIGH.  Rather than have them keep him overnight or transfer him to a different vet where they could do ultrasound or similar, I elected to bring him home.  He's currently on a very bland diet, and I'm hoping he will poop at some point today so I can get on with my life and not have to consider taking out a second mortgage on the house to pay for his treatment. 

Oh, cats. 

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One of the major problems with publishing under my own name is that I feel the need to censor myself.  That's not the best thing, but it is good in many ways. Mostly because some of the more heinous thoughts I have about things/people don't see the [public] light of day.  I have a cadre of cronies who are privy to those particular thoughts, and they are the best friends/audience a girl could ask for.  It's very important for a writer (me) who attempts comedy (…uh, sure. That's what that is) to have a place where she can just let it go and be as inappropriate and terrible as it is possible for one human to be. 

I don't trust people who don't ever express the horrible things. We all have horrible thoughts, and anyone who says they don't is a fucking liar and you should never trust anything they say, ever.  EVERYONE has horrible thoughts sometimes. My horrible thoughts are generally far more terrible than the average bear's, but we all think them. Most people choose not to share such things, but I am not most people. However, I have found myself reluctant to share ANYTHING out of fear that it will be miscontrued and read out of context or… whatever the hell. 

This lesson, this idea that I need to um, tone it down a bit, is one that I learned the hard way. Looking back, I'm all "uh, duh," but when the shit initially hit the fan, I was, to paraphrase Rhett Butler, not sorry I got caught, but very very sorry I was being punished for it. And I deserved it.  Most of it, anyway.  There were (and still are) some repercussions from the Great Blog Explosion of 2008 that actually had nothing to do with me and everything to do with other people, but we're all still dealing with it.

Yes, five years later.

Yes, I'm being slightly oblique.  If you know the story, you likely have seen my entire presentation on it, complete with interpretive dance. If you don't know the story, the short version is this: I am an asshole with a big mouth and some people don't like that but none of the people involved ever said anything to me directly. Instead, they chose to involve a whole bunch of unrelated people in this drama that went on for years and years and is now slowly starting to heal, maybe. So.  I made my peace with all of it ages ago, and I've moved past the point where I need to address any of it (my own personal statute of limitations on dealing with personal drama came and went, twice). So that's all fine.  I have plenty of other things to write about (not that you'd be able to tell from this site. Oops). 

Anyway, I have been thinking about starting a new, anonymous-ish blog where I can complain about stuff (with all the proper pseudonyms and altered details to protect the innocent, the guilty, and the stupid) but this is the interwebses, and nothing stays anonymous for long. There is an itch that needs to be scratched, though.  I keep finding myself in ridiculous situations.

I have some parenting rants that I need to write about.  The problem is, OF COURSE someone who knows me will read it and OF COURSE they will think I am talking about them.  I probably AM talking about them, actually, but for the most part, the parents I know are all doing a kick-ass job and I don't want to have to preface every post with "I AM NOT TALKING ABOUT YOU, PERSONALLY (yes, I am)."

We'll see if I can make that work in a way that is satisfactory to me. In fact, this is one of the reasons why I am attempting to write fiction. You can say the most outrageous things and get away with it if people understand that it's fiction.  So that's an option that I am exploring.  

I write all the time. I am just way too picky about what sees the light of day and I need to stop being like that.

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Facebook testing la la la connecting all the dots la la la have to be very much a Jedi when it comes to coding beepboopbeep…

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I am a test.

Blah blah blah, blah blah blah blah.  Blahblahblah!

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I finally got over myself and started working with a swimming coach. I *can* swim, but I’m incredibly inefficient in the pool and need to fix that. Now I have a coach helping me and after just one hour, I have made huge gains. I swam today and I can already see improvement in my stamina, so yay for that.

The goal is to swim at least three days a week and get comfortable enough that I can maaaaybe join the Masters program in a few months. We shall see.

I still have a bit of a mental block about running. I do a lot of walking and I know that I am able to run and I’m not likely to break my foot again, but I just can’t seem to get past the fear! Maybe once the weather improves I will give it a shot but until then… I walk. Ugh.

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After 5 weeks of physical therapy, I am not exactly cured. Instead, I have tools and options to manage my knee pain, which I will likely always have. I have pain-free days, which are magical, but since it’s arthritis up in there, it’s not going away anytime soon, or at all.

Which means: no running. My PT said he reallyreallyREALLY does not recommend running, since that will hurt and cause further damage to my poor knees. Walking, biking, elliptical… all that stuff is fine, but running would be too much.

And that’s a bummer. It means I need to rejigger my Ironman goal – I might yet be able to finish one, but I don’t think it’s going to happen before I turn 40. Perhaps I can push it back to 50, which gives me 13 years to train.

Stranger things have happened, though. As I work on my weight loss and keep up with my physical therapy exercises and weight training, my knees might be able to withstand some running. If I could run/walk a marathon in a reasonable time, I might be able to give a triathlon a shot. I could try, anyway.

I’m being good and doing what I’m supposed to do but not running. 80 pounds from now, we’ll re-assess.

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Slacker Mom

There has been a whole bunch of yelling on the Internet this week, ever since Time magazine posted a very provocative cover asking “Are You Mom Enough?”

To that, I say: Fuck you and the horse you rode in on, Time magazine.

Am I “mom enough?” FUCK YEAH I AM MOM ENOUGH.

I’m not a researcher when it comes to Life Things. I trust myself, is what it boils down to. I have instincts and intuition and whatever else you want to call it, but I generally trust myself to make the right decision when it comes to Life Things. Well, I do NOW. 20 years ago, not so much.

But that’s kind of it – I made all the wrong decisions when I was younger. ALL of them. I frequently went against my own instincts and my own hunches and listened to the wrong people about what was best for me. To put it mildly, that did not work well.

So, over the years I learned to trust myself. I’m pretty smart, despite all appearances. I still make mistakes, but I do okay most of the time.

When it came time to think about maybe having a baby, I didn’t do jack shit as far as research goes. I didn’t have time, actually. We went from “maaaybe this isn’t a bad idea” to “oh, look: two lines means positive” in two weeks. I mean that absolutely literally. We had JUST started talking about maybe thinking about perhaps considering pulling the goalie. FIRST TRY! It’s the only time in my whole life I’ve been an over-achiever.

While I was pregnant, I used exactly ONE book as my advice-giver. Freddie had purchased a copy of What To Expect When You’re Expecting and I got SO ANNOYED by the tone in which it is written that I threw it across the room. That book is a piece of shit. Ask me about it sometime – I have a good 5-minute stand-up routine about how awful it is.

Instead, I used The Pregnancy Book, by Dr. Sears. This is, surprisingly, my kind of book. It was clear, no-nonsense advice and information about what was happening inside my body. It reminded me to stop drinking (I did), eat better (if you count buffalo chicken and Ben & Jerry’s Vermonty Python as health food, that is) and take my vitamins (I… failed at that).

Since I was so happy with The Pregnancy Book, I got a copy of The Baby Book and spent a few afternoons reading through it in hopes that SOME of the information would sink in before the monster arrived. It’s being touted as the “Attachment Parenting Bible” and whatnot, which… it is, and it isn’t.

Granted, some of it seemed a little extreme, such as the fairly obnoxious hanmmering home of the point that breastfeeding is the bestest bestest bestest thing ever and don’t even CONSIDER formula unless your boobs literally fall off of your body. It’s been awhile and I have long since passed that book along so the details are a bit fuzzy, but… there is a whole section about how Mrs Dr Sears managed to breast-feed their adopted daughter.

That’s… that’s hardcore, y’all.

I agree that breastfeeding is the absolute best thing you can do for a baby. That’s what boobs are FOR, after all. It’s what my body is designed to do. And holy shit, breastfeeding is the best thing EVER for a Slacker Mom such as myself. No mixing of bottles, heating up bottles, washing and sterilizing bottles! Just whip out Right and stick the kid on it! SLACKER MOM FTW.

The other Big Thing that Dr Sears loves is the co-sleeping. I knew from Day 1 that THAT wasn’t happening. On the surface, you’d think the Slacker Mom would looooove the co-sleeping. That, for me, was not the case. You have to make sure the kid is positioned correctly, either with a co-sleeping dingus that attaches to or rolls right up against your bed, or maybe have a bassinet in your room or… whatever. I knew I wasn’t going to be doing that so I didn’t pay attention. At first, it was because Freddie still had to get up and go to work every day and he is grumpy as fuck if he doesn’t get enough sleep. Having a baby in the room would disrupt ALL of us, not just me. So it was easier all around to put her in her crib in her own room and hook up the baby monitor.

I won’t lie – that arrangement sucked balls, especially the first 6-8 weeks. IT SUCKED MY BALLS because I was recovering from a c-section and found myself having to get up 35 times a night to stick a boob into the gaping maw of the Screamy Thing.

Things improved when I made Freddie buy me a TV for the baby’s room. Conan O’Brien became my late-night boyfriend and I watched my Monty Python collection during the day. It’s not surprising to me that when Jillian first started talking, she had a bit of a British accent.

The third Attachment Parenting Tent Pole is “babywearing.” Now… this is kind of not my thing at all. We had a Baby Bjorn and some other wacky sling thing, and the kid hated both of them to the point that she would punch HERSELF in the face in order to get out of it.

Granted, that kid hated a lot of things. But the babywearing never really worked for me. The c-section fucked up my core strength (and six years down the road, I am FINALLY making progress in that area) and standing for long periods of time with a very active tiny Tae-Bo enthusiast was not on. She didn’t mind being carried around, but the minute we tried to wrap her up in something, she would turn into a cat. Have you ever tried to put a cat in a box? Yeah, that.

Out of the Three Major Biggies in AP, I managed to half-assedly do exactly one of them. And even then, I didn’t quite make it to the 1-year “recommended” mark for breastfeeding, much less the extended breastfeeding that Dr Sears really likes to go on about. I made it to 8.5 months, and then she bit me with her wee chompers and that was pretty much THAT. Do I feel “guilty” because I didn’t reach this arbitrary one-year benchmark? No, not at all. I was ready to have my body back. I wanted to be a ME again, instead of a WE. I was ready to be a person again, not just a food source. Ending our nursing relationship was a conscious choice I made, and I felt fine about it then, and I feel fine about it now.

Unfortunately, because I wasn’t working and had no reason to pump or build up a stash of breastmilk (too much effort for a Slacker Mom), once Jillian stopped nursing, my milk production ended and we did switch her to formula for the rest of that first year. What a pain in my ass THAT was. There is so much out there about correctly cleaning and sanitizing and boiling the water first and all that shit when it comes to formula or YOUR BABY WILL DIE. Um. We live in a fairly advanced society – the warnings are a little over-the-top, are they not? I washed baby bottles in the dishwasher (or by hand, if it was too much work to empty the clean dishes out of the dishwasher first. What? IT HAPPENS), used lukewarm tap water, and mixed up formula that way. I don’t think I ever heated up a bottle, which probably accounts for Jillian’s preference for lukewarm food.

NEWSFLASH: Jillian lived!

My friend Avi posted about how Attachment Parenting is the “lazy mom’s” best friend. I agree with her on most points, except for the cloth diapering thing. Disposable diapers, friends. That is the Slacker Mom’s best friend. Cloth diapers are cute and good for the environment (unless they’re not because of the water used and extra laundry blahblahblah – as with co-sleeping, I knew right away that I wasn’t doing cloth diapers), but the laundry. THE LAUNDRY.

Cloth diaper people claim that it’s not that much more laundry. Maybe it isn’t, but I do not enjoy the laundry. Right now I am looking at three hampers and a basket, all overflowing with clean laundry that needs to be folded and put away. They’ve been sitting there since Thursday and will likely still be there on Monday. Keep in mind that I am a stay-at-home mom with only one child. There is no reason why I can’t get the laundry folded except for the fact that I DO NOT LIKE TO DO IT. I knew this about myself when I was pregnant, so I knew cloth diapers were not for me.

So, back to that Time magazine cover. Pardon my French, but that cover photo is FUCKING RETARDED. Yes, we’re not supposed to use the R-word but it really does fit here. It’s retarded in that it is SLOWING PROGRESS. It’s a step back. It is unnecessarily inflammatory and exists solely to sell a shitty magazine that hasn’t been relevant in years. Whoever came up with the idea for it is a fucking genius, though. When was the last time you looked at or gave a shit about Time magazine?

It’s a slap in the face, honestly. It’s a slap in the face and a big “fuck you” to every mom who is just doing her very best. Moms get shit on from all sides, and this photo does not help. My first reaction to seeing it was dismay. DISMAY. I may have even groaned because ugh, SO UNNECESSARY. I hate it. I hate everything about it. Mostly, I hate it because it exploits something that is basically NORMAL. Extended breastfeeding wasn’t for me, but it’s not weird or gross or abnormal or something to giggle at or whatever the hell reaction people are having to that photo (Jason Good puts the discomfort into very smart words). It makes the job of moms who are DOING THEIR BEST just that much harder. It’s a step back. It’s retarded.

Attachment Parenting isn’t for everyone. In fact, I have huge issues with this need to label one’s parenting style. I mean, what the fuck is that about? It’s a kid. Pay attention to it. Common sense will tell you what you need to know about keeping it alive. Done and done. I’d write a book about it but it really does boil down to “pay attention to your kid and trust your instincts.”

Do women do this? Not as much as one might think. There are scads of books and websites out there chock-full of information about what is “right.” Not necessarily what is “best” but what is RIGHT. BZZZT. Wrong answer. There’s not a lot of “right” and “wrong” when it comes to babies. I mean, there are obvious things, like don’t stick it in the washing machine and feed it occasionally (the common sense stuff), but the breast vs bottle debate (for example)? IS BULLSHIT. Do what is best for your baby. YOUR BABY. Not my baby, not the baby down the street, but YOUR BABY. Done and done, no discussion needed.

See what I did there? No discussion needed. I could end the “mommy wars” with this revolutionary knowledge.

We should have more Slacker Moms. More Lazy Moms. More moms who don’t give a fuck what other people think about their parenting and just get on with it. More moms who pay attention to their kids and become adept at reading the kid’s cues and signals to divine what the baby needs (ooh, ATTACHMENT PARENTING STRIVES FOR THIS VERY GOAL OH MY GOD THE UNIVERSE IS A CIRCLE). We should have more moms who can RELAX and chill the fuck out and hand the baby over to Daddy or whatever you choose to call your co-parent, if you have one.

Now that The Jillian is about to turn six, my parenting challenges have mutated. I’m still as much of a Slacker Mom as ever, and I’m sure I will continue to be. The social requirements of a school-aged kid are my biggest obstacle to really slacking as much as I’d like to. I come in contact with all sorts of different moms with different parenting styles than my own, and while I roll my eyes at some of them (I have a 10-minute stand-up routing about the ones who are fanatical about the hand sanitizer gel, for instance), most of them are doing pretty okay. I always ask “do you hang out on any ‘parenting websites’ or do you read any particular parenting books?” And the answer is generally “I don’t have time for that.”

Exactly. I’m busy enough hanging out with my kid to read about the 400 different ways I’m likely fucking up her life for her. We don’t over-think it. We don’t do much research here. We are Slackers.

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Hate the technology.

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AH HA!! Take that, stupid brain!

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