Sunday, March 27, 2011

Upside Down

This is probably a bad idea, but at the moment I'm feeling "inspired" to write of frown-inducers rather than smiles.  Meh - if it's a terrible downer, I can always delete it.  My apologies in advance to anyone hoping for a more smiley sort of entry:
  • Head's been pounding most of the day
  • Have a bad case of writer's block
  • Spent way too much time noodling around on line today
  • House is only semi-clean
  • Pasta I fixed tonight was quite mediocre
  • Back to work tomorrow, with much to do
  • Received the EOB from my late night St. Mary's run for chin stitches:  $700 more I'll be responsible for when the bill is issued -- gotta meet that deductible!
  • Miss my girl

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Tuesday and Its Smiles

It's been awhile since I've blog-o-smiled.  Not that there haven't been smiles in recent weeks.  There have.  They were just temporarily eclipsed by the worry wrinkles furrowing my brow.  The past couple of days have allowed me to catch my breath and relax a bit, though, so I suppose some smile acknowledgment is now in order:
  • It's Spring
  • My bedroom window is open
  • I'm quite comfortable barefoot and in shorts
  • My toes are painted the most Easter Eggy shade of blue
  • I ran this morning
  • Received several unexpected compliments on my writing today
  • Went back and read some of my old political blogs and realized I do sometimes have something to say
  • My Twitter and Facebook are now consistently on speaking terms
  • Josh Flagg, Grandma Edith and Mama Elsa -- Bravo's got it goin' on
  • Walking to get dinner tonight with Riley, and listening to her recount her adventures from earlier today
  • The fact that my child may be the only one on the planet who's ever asked, "When can we go to the dentist?"
  • I get to go to Chicago with three of my favorite people in the world
  • And then Austin in another two weeks

Monday, March 21, 2011

Striking a Chord

It's one of those beautiful graces life sometimes affords us:  A melody that tickles the eardrums; lyrics that resonate somewhere between head and heart.  Happened for me this evening.  As I drove home from dinner with my family, I gave myself the semi-rare treat of tunes on the radio.  (Most often while driving, I'm chatting on the phone, or listening to talk or sports radio.)   The DJ briefly mentioned she'd soon be playing the latest from Sara Bareilles, and that the video was worth a watch.  Then we went to commercial.  I flipped around, mildly annoyed at the propensity of all music stations to air their commercials at exactly the same time.  (Really, would staggered advertisements be that much to ask?!)

Eventually, my flipping led me back to the original station, just as Sara sang, "Jump start my kaleidoscope heart; I love to watch the colors fade.  They may not make sense, but they sure as hell made me."  I'm not certain I can really explain the why of it, but they grabbed me.  As did the tune itself.  Upbeat and catchy, even while the lyrics are rather haunting and melancholy.   One look at the video, and it became a "must share."  Interesting; different; quirky. 

And, thanks to my good friend T's suggestion, "Uncharted" just became a "must download and run with" selection, as well.  This is the kind of tune I want buzzing in my ear when I hit Mile 12, or so.  Someday.  When I'm back in much better running form again.  For now, it'll be great even at Mile .75.  And also when I'm singing loudly in the shower.  Don't tell anyone that last bit, though. 

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Follow Me

It may be stress.  It may be boredom.  Whatever the cause, I've found myself somewhat addicted to Twitter of late.  It's such an odd, yet interesting, phenomenon -- this ability to "follow" all sorts of folks (and other entities).  Suddenly, there's this (perhaps false) sense of intimacy, as one peruses the various and sundry tweets issuing from the keyboards of celebrities, quasi-celebrities, journalists, humorists, and assorted "regular" people.  It's a bit like low-dose Reality TV. some aspects, more real.  I imagine certain high profile tweeters have publicists and such overseeing their Twitterverse output.  And clearly, for those whose livelihoods (or egos) are heavily dependent on public perception and interest, there's a necessary degree of calculation as to what they are "broadcasting."  But, for the most part, it serves as a relatively un-filtered peephole into the lives and minds of others.  Which is kind of creepy in some respects.  But I guess if they're putting their stuff out there intentionally, it's a little less so.

I've accumulated an eclectic assortment of followees, ranging from BravoTV "stars," to AI contestants, to political pundits, to newsies.  It makes for an interesting feed, that's for certain.  Fukushima followed by filming of the latest Ford/Idol commercial, followed by Operation Odyssey Dawn, followed by Giggy the Pom's latest trots down the red carpet. 

I've also invested far too much energy into learning how to integrate Twitter and Facebook and my iPhone. Presently, I have 4 or 5 different apps warring with one another to assist in that endeavor.  I don't know that my inner tech-geek will ever be fully sated.  Although, I'm thinking the one that keeps sending me random textvertisements needs to get the boot.

What's a little odder is the random requests received from others to follow me.  Facebook is one thing -- there, interest is typically prompted by actually knowing (and presumably liking) the person whose status updates one chooses to browse.  Not so much in the Twittersphere.  I haven't yet decided how I feel about that.  On the one hand, I'd like to think that, from time to time, I actually have semi-interesting -- and, more importantly, humorous -- observations to share with the rest of the world.  On the other, why would anyone who doesn't know me from Boo give a rat's patootie what I think of the weather, geo-politics, or this year's crop of crooners on AI? 

In any event, Twitter's "following" concept has combined with the long-intended migration of my blog from its original racy URL to its new and improved (and more appopriately descriptive) locale and inspired this morning's edition.  Yes, folks, I've moved.  Not far.  But for those of you who became official followers of "Sex and the Septic Tank," the address has changed, and you'll have to re-follow the new one (if you so choose).  On the bright side, I figured out how to adjust the settings so that you don't have to register or "sign in" to post a comment (which never seemed to work very well). 

Lastly, all this thought and talk of following brought to mind an oldie but goodie I've decided to share on this fine Sunday morning:

Monday, March 14, 2011


I'm not quite certain how it's possible, but that's the number of years it's been since Riley Jayne made her grand entrance into this world.  It's funny...with each age, I've decided, "No this is my favorite."  As she's grown and matured, I've found something delightful in each stage of the process.  And even though I worry we might soon be reaching a point where that isn't so much the case (Dear Lord, she's almost a 'Tween!) there's been much this past year that has made me so very proud.

Riley began asking about getting her ears pierced a year or so ago.  Knowing her to be a true literalist and not one to forget anything, I carefully side-stepped committing to a specific time frame or age.  In a stroke of pure parental genius (or maybe just spectacularly good luck), I suggested that, before she could experience this rite of passage, she'd need to earn it by showing me that she was truly responsible enough to take care of her holey head herself.  This served multiple purposes: 1) it was a great stalling tactic; 2) it decreased the likelihood that her poor father or step-mother would someday be cursing me under their breath while trying to extract an embedded earring back from an inflamed ear; and 3) it motivated her to step up her maturity game.

Maybe I shouldn't have been, but I was surprised at how seriously she took this challenge.  Repeatedly, I'd find her taking on chores and responsibilities I hadn't even thought to suggest yet.  Typically followed, of course, with a pointed comment or question as to how well she was showing me she could be responsible.  Suddenly, I discovered I had a daughter who not only knew how to pick out her own clothes, but place them in the hamper when they were dirty.  Who could prepare and take a shower without assistance -- even if getting all the shampoo out was sometimes a little tricky.  Who could cook her own bacon and eggs and heat up her own slice of leftover pizza.  Who could open her own lemonade cans.  Who could feed the dog and train him.  Who could brush her own hair, and, sometimes, her teeth without prompting.  Who was slowly but surely easing away from the thumb sucking. 

And with the added assumption of responsibility has come an ever increasing air of independence and self-confidence.  The little girl who used to cling to my leg, sobbing, when I dropped her off for school, now hops on the bus in the morning without batting an eye.  The one who used to be petrified at the thought of removing the training wheels from her bike now rides off down the sidewalk on a mere two wheels, sporting a grin from ear to ear.  The kid who was often too scared to even swing the bat is now slugging softballs aggressively. 

Though I certainly can't take credit for all of the above, I do take a certain amount of pride in her progress.  And yet, there's a bittersweet note to all of it.  For with that sense of pride in the fact that my little girl is growing up, comes the realization that my little girl won't long be a little girl. 

But for now, she's just right.  She's nine.  And she has pierced ears!  Happy Birthday, Riley Jayne!  I love you and am so proud of you!!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Busting out the Channel Locks at 10 PM? Never a Good Sign

In the neverending saga of my adventures in home ownership, last night I discovered, much to my surprise, that there was something wonky going on with my pipes.  All I was trying to do was wash some dishes.  Then kitchen faucet suddenly became a hostile beast.  And the sound Riley's toilet made when I had the gall to flush it?  Dreadful.

My first call was to my Mom.  (This is not an uncommon thing - she is almost always the person I call first in a crisis, and I'm not ashamed to admit that.  More like grateful.)  My call prompted her to recall the work trucks she'd seen out front of my house, blocking the street, earlier in the day.  Suddenly the cordoned off area in my neighbor's yard across the street made sense.  Mom suggested I call the water company.  Well, yeah, I probably would have thought of that.  At some point. 

My first call to the water company resulted in the nice lady on the other end determining that there must be air in the lines, and walking me through the steps to clear it out.  That didn't fully resolve the issue, but she opined that the remaining low-flow was due to sediment/calcium deposits that had broken loose in all the commotion, and were now clogging up the little screeny things that cap the ends of most faucets.  Okay, fair enough.  None of them wanted to budge, initially, but the trusty old rubber jar opener did the trick. 

Then Riley tried to take a shower, and had the same issue.  Thankfully, a bath sufficed.  But while she improvised with that, I noticed that the kitchen sink output had now diminished to a pitiful little trickle.  Even without any screen or fixture at the end.  Ruh-roh.

Call No. 2 to the water company resulted in Different Nice Lady expressing her puzzlement at my continued flow woes.  While First Nice Lady had checked and found no reported issues in the area, Second Nice Lady did acknowledge that there had been a break in the line across the street earlier that day.  (Really?  No!)  But the symptoms I described to her just didn't add up.  So, she opted to put in an emergency call for service for me.   I hung up, realized it was approaching 9:00 p.m., and wondered what the turn around time on such a call might be.

Half an hour later, Nice Lady No. 3 called me -- just to follow up and check on the issues I was still having.  She was stumped, too, but confirmed that someone would be out to check things out.  I inquired as to the expected time frame, and she laughed and said that would just involve checking out valves on the exterior of the house -- no need to wait up and leave the light on.

So, I didn't.  I headed to bed, got comfy, and began painting my nails.  Thus, the banging on the front door at 10:15 startled me.  And messed up my manicure.  There was Wally the Water Guy who introduced himself as "Water Company" and bounded through the door as soon as I opened it.  I was a little alarmed by this, but felt at least reasonably confident he was no vampire.  The orange reflective vest also helped lessen the threat perception.  (Sociopathic serial killers just don't strike me as the sort to sport safety vests.)

Wally wandered through the house and quickly concluded that my remaining issues -- including the shower head -- were all about those dang calcium deposits.  What a relief -- a relatively easy fix.  I ushered Wally out and returned to Riley's bathroom to remove the shower head and clean it out. budging.  At all.  Not even with the jar opener.  Holy hell.  It was time to bust out the channel locks.  Which is never really a happy occasion -- how can it be?

Alas, even the channel locks were no match for the super glue/cement/immovable adhesive welding shower head to pipe.  I wrestled with it for several minutes, while perched atop the tub and ducking down under the shower rod, all the while cursing and muttering under my breath.  Or maybe over it.

As of tonight, I've two bathroom faucets which work fine, a washing machine which works okay, a kitchen sink which remains reluctant, despite the removal, cleaning and replacement of the screeny thing, and a shower head which may require TNT to remove it.  On the bright side, I've discovered that it is possible to "shower" under the bathtub faucet.  You just have to be a bit flexible. 

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Chin Up

It seems silly not to blog about my Friday mis-adventure, and yet...somehow...self-absorbed to do so.  I'm not sure why that is.  I have a blog.  It's largely about me.  There's a certain degree of self-absorption that's undeniable there.  Maybe it's more a matter of embarassment.  Although...if I were that embarassed, I'd probably not have Facebooked about it from the ER. 

Maybe it's just hard to know where to begin.  The night had gone so well.  Inspite of the crazy storm raging outside, my sister's birthday party was a smashing success.  Lots of friends and family, great photos from long ago (and some more recent -- I'd totally forgotten that Obama joined us for the Wisconsin trip!), yummy food, good drinks.  Even my toast went well.  We had fun.  Most importantly, Julie had fun!  If only the night had ended on that note...

I can't honestly say whether I tripped on a riser, or slipped on the wet entry hall, as we entered her house, and I headed upstairs to go collect Riley.  All I know is that chin met wood, and it wasn't pretty.  After the jolt, I immediately put my hand up and felt the blood dripping down.  I scampered the rest of the way up the stairs and into the bathroom.  One quick glance told me all I needed to know.  Grabbed some tissues and started applying pressure, then made my way back downstairs to break the news to my sisters and Di. 

According to my brother-in-law, I managed all the above rather quietly.  And Karen, Julie and Di were so busy bringing stuff in from the car, they had no idea it had even happened.  So my announcement to them that we needed to head to the ER was met with no small amount of bewilderment.  They wanted to see my chin.  I told them no, they didn't!  Finally, it sank in, and Di and Karen shifted into EMS mode, while Julie graciously agreed to keep Riley for the night.

Off to St. Mary's we went.  Was our lucky night, I suppose - midnight on a Friday night, I'd expect the ER to be packed.  But it was a ghost town.  They took my info and vitals, and got me into an exam room in just a few minutes.  Took a closer look, cleaned out the wound, gave me the option of calling in a plastic surgeon (with the caveat that it'd make for a looooooonnnnggg wait.)  Given the location (just on the underside of my chin), I decided to chance it and just settle for good old fashioned stitches.  I'm not entirely sure why a tetanus shot was necessary, but apparently, it was. 

Took a little while for my seamstress to arrive, but eventually, she did.  I missed this at the time -- probably because my face was draped with a lovely blue veil for the procedure -- but, according to Karen, her hands shook like she was on an espresso bender.  If that impacted her stitching, I'm sure my Frankenchin will attest to it.  One thing I learned that night:  Diane is hardcore.  She stood behind the doc and watched all seven stitches go in.  Bleh.  I love my friends, but I've no desire for visuals like that!

Speaking of visuals...forgive me for the pic.  It didn't seem right to blab about it all and not save a glamour shot of the whiskers for posterity.  (You'd think in this day and age, they'd offer you more than just basic black for stitches -- I could've rocked hot pink threads!)  In any event, the stitches are slated to be yanked tomorrow.  Hopefully, all that will remain is a thin red line.  On the chin, anyway.  My arm still feels like I got kicked by a horse, compliments of the tetanus shot.  And there's a lovely bruise the size of a small orange on my left thigh.  (Those stairs pulled no punches!) 

A $200 co-pay is a rather stiff price to pay for a blog topic. could have been much worse.  I broke no teeth; didn't bite my tongue.  And someday, in the not-too-distant future, will have only a minor scar to show for it all.  Still, I'm not sure I'll ever hear "chin up!" and think of it quite the same way ever again. 

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Spin Cycle

As I was loading the washer tonight, "spin cycle" suddenly seemed like an appropriate metaphor for my mind's current setting.  So appopriate, in fact, that I've now forgotten how I intended to weave it into this entry.  Nevertheless, here goes:

I need a manager.  Either that or one hell-uv-an app.  I'm teetering on the brink of complete chaos and epic fail.  In 19 -- check that, more like 18 -- days, I'm set to start trial on a monster of a case.  I could literally spend all of my waking hours between now and then preparing for it, and still not be confident I'm fully ready for it.  Meanwhile, below are snapshots of my calendar from the next 5 days.  And it'll be filling up to look like that from here on out through early April. 

In a strange way, I'm excited to meet this challenge.  If I can hang on and keep my head over the next 5 weeks, I may be able to place it firmly in the "great experience" file when all is said and done.  It's just...that's a huge "if" on the front of that previous sentence.  And, let's be honest, headless isn't a flattering look for anyone.

I've been trying of late to make the most of the technology I have at my disposal -- to get myself somewhat organized so that I can keep myself somewhat organized, and not spin utterly out of control with all of this.  But I suspect much of that is really more about avoidance than order.  It's amazing, the things one can find to occupy one's time when the alternative is dragon slaying. 

Regular readers will recall that I took a slightly different approach to my New Year's resolutions this year.  I chose 5 fairly simple concepts to try and follow.  I wrote about them here, printed them out and stuck them on my refrigerator at home and above my computer monitor at the office.  And, surprisingly, it seems to be working.  So far.  In anticipation of the approaching Armageddon, I decided to try a similar approach.  My new mantra is a 3-stepper:
  • Simplify
  • Focus
  • Progress
Printed that out and slapped it up on the wall next to the resolutions.  Simplify.  Focus.  Progress. It's either that, or run away screaming like a ninny.  So, if you happen to see me wandering around in the next few weeks, muttering those three words under my breath, don't be alarmed.  Just...point me in the direction of my iPhone or my laptop.  And maybe say a little prayer that my head doesn't go AWOL.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Sunday-Monday-Tuesday Smiles

Just a smattering here and there, but I'll take them where I can get them!
  • Hurricane and Stormy as Twinkies.
  • Finally succeeding and bending Microsoft Outlook to my will.  Sort of.
  • Being reminded of what true friendship means.
  • Lunch with my co-workers today -- where else can you discuss severed digits, the appearance of genitalia as evidence of God's sense of humor, the making of God in one's own image and then declaring who He hates, all before the food even arrives?
  • Making progress with trial preparation -- slowly, but surely.
  • J-Lo on Lowenstern: "All that hair tossing is more than me and Beyonce put together in the past 10 years!"
  • James Durbin, Jacob Lusk...amazing talent in the AI guys this season.
  • Lea Black laying the smackdown on Christy Rice on WWHL.  (That will make zero sense to anyone who's not a Bravo/Real Housewives addict like I've become, but dang that was a thing of beauty! Who crashes a charity event?)