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frazzled and bedazzled
The Cold of Epic Longevity that I caught lo those many weeks ago continues to bring me down. What in the hell is this thing, anyway? I got some decent rest (finally!) on Saturday and actually felt pretty good yesterday. I was able to get some housework and some shopping done and was so happy in thinking I’d finally, FINALLY, beaten this thing. But no, I’m miserable again today and would have no problem taking a sick day and sleeping until tomorrow if not for the fact that approximately half of the staff is out at training today so the office is working on a skeleton crew even with me here. I look as terrible as I feel today – among other things, my right eye was shaping up to look just like Bob Costas’ for a little while this morning, but thankfully it calmed down a bit – and am glad that I don’t have any appointments with clients today. I’d probably scare them into moving their business if they could see me.

The same group of people will be out tomorrow and I’ll be in training myself for most of the day, so that’ll be interesting. I was telling my husband last night that, for once, I’m glad that my boss is a cheapskate when it comes to non-salespeople such as myself: if he weren’t, I’d have to be in Minneapolis for tomorrow’s training. It was recommended that people who will be using the system I’m training on take the training in person in Minneapolis, however, I’ll be doing it over the internet instead. It’s a weird thing to count as a blessing, but I am utterly overjoyed to not have to be in Minneapolis and facing the weather they are facing this winter. I don’t think I own enough layers to deal with that, to be honest. I’d love to go in, say, September, though. I’ll have to work on that somehow.

One possible factor in me feeling crappy today is that I fell asleep on the couch last night. I don’t recall sleeping badly and in fact remember one dream that involved me walking along a beach in Hawaii with the warm water lapping at my feet. But maybe the fact that my back wasn’t pleased to be on the couch instead of in bed worked its dark magic and counteracted the positive effects of sleeping and pleasant dreams. I fell asleep with the television on (usually I can’t stand talking or noise when going to sleep, so I think I “passed out” more than “fell asleep” last night) and around 4:30-5:00 this morning I began incorporating an infomercial into my dream. The infomercial was about a device for making Kreg joints. What I found strange when I awoke was that I knew what a Kreg joint is (I didn’t know that I knew that’s what those things were called) and correctly incorporated the use of Kreg joints in a construction project in my dream. My dream also involved the office moving to a space where we had to walk up a staircase, and due to some bad work by the contractors, there wasn’t enough space between the top stair and the office ceiling for me to actually get into the room (the entrance to the room approximately 6 inches high). Meanwhile, people who were larger than me somehow made it into the room. I don’t know what any of that was about. Sometimes when I have strange dreams I can figure out what my subconscious was chewing on, but in this case, I’ve got nothing.

I guess what I need right now is a big, fat glass of motivation. (“Motivation” sounds like a good name for a brand of coffee. Or possibly wine.) I scared myself last week when I realized I had spent hours doing something I didn't need to just because I was so tired that I forgot I'd already done it. I can do without a repeat of that kind of thing this week, though I'll be damned if I can think of a way to avoid it. Sometimes when I feel like this, a good bout of exercise can do the trick and turn things around. I think I feel too crappy for that to work today, and it’s not like I can do that anyway, so I’m kind of stumped on what I can try to feel less like a blob that was scraped off of someone’s shoe and more like a half-way intelligent being that can at least add 2 and 2.

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I'm staring down the barrel of math and accounting tasks today and it makes me feel like a kid throwing a fit about attending school on a nice, sunny day. "I don't wanna!" just about sums it up. It's bad enough that math and I really don't get along, but worse for me is that today's project is only the latest in a string of math projects that have sprung up over the course of the past week. Gah! Will this never end? It amazes me that people actually and purposefully make careers out of this stuff.

Far Side Math Phobic

This reminds me of something I saw somewhere on the internet recently (specific, I know) wherein a student was answering a test question and incorporated the logic that since many religions posit that if you don't believe in their religion you will go to hell, and for every religion there are non-believers, this means that basically we're all going to hell.

Anyway, for me, hell would include extreme cold, traffic, rude people, people chewing with their mouths open, people talking about boring topics in loud and unignorable voices, machines that take forever to do something they should do quickly, and math.

No more stalling, guess it's time for me to enter the breach. Wish me sanity!

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The weather is absolutely filthy, but it's hard to complain when you know that there are places like California that would absolutely love to have the pounding, sideways rain and there are places like the east coast that are dealing with tons of snow. This is typical Pacific Northwest winter weather - it just goes with the territory. While there are things I miss about a commute that includes lots of walking, on days like today it's utterly thrilling to be able to drive to work and make it from car to door in less than a minute.

All of the weeks of illness and sleeplessness caught up with me yesterday and I was completely buried under an avalanche of exhaustion. It was barely possible to do anything beyond staring out the window at the wet, windy fury. I was extremely thankful there was nowhere I had to be, no reason I had to go outside. Around noon I was falling asleep while reading a book, so decided it was best to give in and have a nap. I snuggled down in bed and read for about twenty minutes, then it was light's out. Around 1:10 pm I was awakened as my dog decided to join me on the bed and he joyfully leapt right onto my stomache before settling in beside me. Welp, so much for sleeping. I know that optimally naps should be less than an hour, but my body wasn't buying it. I was still submerged in tiredness. The day was completely wasted as I read and watched the rain and drowsed, but never really slept again. I was too tired to do anything, but not tired enough to actually sleep. So much for my bread and soup making plans.

Gah! I really hate my body sometimes. That in between state lasted until around 1:00 am when I finally fell back asleep again.

Needless to say, I'm kind of in a zomebie-esque state today.

The good news is that, because it's a holiday that a lot of places recognize, most other places are closed. On days when the rain is this bad, it can mean that the rush hour commutes can last approximately 4 times longer than usual. However, since hardly anyone is working today, the traffic isn't bad at all. The bad news is that my company is open today, so although I'd really love another crack at sleeping all day, that ain't gonna' happen.

The best news is that finally, FINALLY, the cough is dying down and I feel like I've turned a corner towards wellness. Hurrah! Mind you, I wouldn't turn down that whole Mexican rest cure thing should that opportunity present itself. I mean, I could actually get a lot of enjoyment out of it now, whereas before I suspect that 90% of my time would've been spent sleeping. But at least now I don't need it like I did just a few days ago and I'll consider that to be a victory.

All righty then...onwards. The climb may be as steep as ever, but at least I'm starting to feel up to the challenge again.
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Last week-end, during those whirlwind times of attempting to sleep, but mostly going sleepless thanks to a cough, my husband got up in the morning, saw me on the couch, and said, "You look awf----ully tired".

The "---" happened when he took notice of the expression on my face and decided the better part of valor would be to ditch saying "awful" and go with "awfully tired" instead.

I was reminded of that this morning when a colleague approached me to discuss a few things and opened the conversation with, "Wow! You look tired today!" Uh. Thanks?

I explained about the stupid stinkin' cough and how it's still keeping me up at night and he said, "You need to go spend a month just resting in Mexico or something." Yes! A rest cure! I could totally go for a rest cure! Why did those ever go out of style? Oh, right: work. Stupid work - it always seems to get in the way of the stuff that sounds really interesting. I'm sure rest cures were only ever a thing for rich people, anyway, and they probably still do exist for the uber-wealth, only now they just call them "winter in the tropics". "Winter in the tropics" doesn't quite have the same ring of high-strung, egoistical, class-consciously arrogant selfishness about it, though. Oh well, I guess I'm going to have to forego being high-strung, egoistical, arrogant and selfish this season (again!) and just keep putting one foot in front of the other. Maybe next winter it'll all work out for me.

Anyway, getting back to the cough, I decided to try Zumba again last night because the cough seems to have settled into a pattern of mostly bugging me at night or while singing and oy! it was hard. I'm pretty sure it seemed more difficult than usual because she snuck in a couple more of the extra-hard ones than we typically experience, but it could be that the two weeks without exercise and the illness factored into the equation as well.

After class I was done in and tried going to bed early-ish, but was foiled by the cough and our animals. As mentioned before, the cat and dog don't get along and the kitten has taken to tormenting the cat for amusement, so for about an hour we were dealing with the dog going after the cat, the cat hissing and scurrying away, the kitten discovering the location of the cat and purposefully getting into her personal zone and listening to her growl. My daughter took the dog out of the equation when she got home from work, so I awoke this morning pinned under the covers with the cat and kitten sleeping peacefully on opposite sides of me. This proves it's possible for them to work it out and get along, so why is it so hard to get them to do so? I'm kind of stumped on how to be an animal diplomat during the night - maybe get each of them a separate crate? I dunno, I don't like the thought of it, but we've got to figure something out before I take to chasing them around the house with a pillow at 2 am. Sheesh! My daughter wasn't this much trouble at night even when she was an infant!

In completely unrelated news, I realized the second I got to work this morning that I forgot my cell phone at home. Do I really need it while in the course of a normal work day? No. Still, I feel as if I'm missing a limb, and a tiny kernal of paranoia has me convinced that my family will need me for some emergency today and I won't be able to help because I forgot the freaking phone. Gah! I just knew this would happen way back when I was first deciding on whether or not to join the Borg get a cell phone. I depend on that feeling of security of having it with me at all times, which is a pretty stupid thing to do because it IS fallible, after all - but I do it anyway.

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You know that feeling when you've been battling something like the 'flu for a few days and the fever finally breaks and you feel limp and gross and tired and all you want to do is sleep? That's how I feel today. Ugh. This has been the strangest cold (if it's even been a cold) that I've ever had. I can't imagine anything in the world better than crawling back into my bed and sleeping, so it's a real disappointment to know that my day isn't going to feature that activity.

In other news, the snow is well on the way to being melted; it's now at that super-slippery stage that's approximately as hard to navigate as a layer of ice. My dog is totally over the whole snow experience and has no interest in it any more, which worked well for me this morning when I stepped out to walk him and realized I was wearing white pants and it'd be just like me to fall down because I'm wearing white pants. However, the dog decided not to futz around with the whole thing, did his business, then turned his nose towards home. So...I didn't fall down this morning. ::Knocks wood:: Here's hoping that I can complete the streak for the whole day.

Blergh, I dislike being sick.

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The snow and ice came and left their wintery mark, which mostly resulted in the city shutting down and its inhabitants staying home to play in the snow. It is normal behaviour for us to turn into recluses any time the snow exceeds approximately 1 inch in accumuluation and we don't care if everyone east of the Rockies scoffs at us: we LIKE taking time off from school and work for snow days and we don't care how ridiculous that makes us.

In my case, the snow days mostly resulted in me trying to sleep as much as possible. My cough kicked in to overdrive, leaving me unable to rest for more than 2 hours at a time, and that was with taking a prescription cough medicine. Consequently, the time from Thursday afternoon until this morning is mostly a blur of attempting to sleep, attempting to read, watching tv, venturing out with the dog for brief jaunts, attempting chores around the house, then attempting to sleep some more.

Of particular note on the tv watching front was:
1. Catching a couple of episodes of Sherlock, mostly leaving me with lots of WTF moments...I mean, I get that they are modernizing Sherlock, but it seems this season has also featured abrupt changes to his character plus strange choices with the over-all tone. I was left clutching my head shouting "Why?!?" to myself more often than not. I think I need to just move back to the source material and forget the show for awhile.
2. Watching Killing Bono with my family. This featured my husband and daughter asking me to to flesh out certain moments, like how the beginning of the story compressed approximately 5 years of time into a sequence that made it seem like only a couple of months had passed. On a personal note, I was kind of disappointed that Bono's checkered pants didn't make it into the story as their own character as I think we can all agree should have happened. It also lead to a discussion about Live Aid thanks to one of those moments that makes one feel absolutely ancient: my daughter had NO CLUE what Live Aid was. Gah! As respects the movie, I'm not certain how well it really holds up as a story without the ridiculous amount of useless U2-related information that is stuck in my head.
3. Watching the final episodes of the season of Sleepy Hollow, which seems to have made the choice to go further and further beyond the realms of reality and is subscribing to the story-telling philosophy of the No Time to Explain/let's just go with it variety. It's utterly ridiculous, but still fun, so I don't care that there's virtually nothing "true" about it.

On a sadder note, our office opened a little late today to give things a chance to melt and I got caught up in watching something about a true-life murder mystery this morning. Or, more accurately, a true-life case of an 18 year-old disappearing just after New Year's in 2000 who we can only assume is a victim of a murder after all this time. You see, I've watched a few of these over the years and they are satisfying because in 1 hour's time the audience is presented with the situation, some details about the murder, some details about the suspects, and the conclusion including the identity of the murderer plus how s/he was caught. Neat. Tidy. Appeals to one's sense of justice. But the case I watched this morning is unsolved, and I didn't figure out that they were going to leave us dangling until about 6 minutes before the conclusion, and now I can't get that case out of my head. I keep going over the suspects and some of the weird aspects of the case, trying to put together a narrative that makes some kind of sense. The best I can do is assume that someone who cared about the victim had some ancillary involvement in his disappearance, but though that person probably can answer a lot of questions, s/he obviously cares more about him/herself because he or she hasn't come forward to provide any information. I think those cases where the answer is never known must be the second hardest thing about being a police detective. For me, the worst aspect would be seeing the proof of all of the negative sides of human nature, in constant, overwhelming, disgusting and horrifying detail.

Looping back to the week-end's entertainment, there was a scene in Killing Bono that includes people listening to I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For. The Joshua Tree was the album that caused their fame to completely explode and I have so many significant memories associated with it that sometimes all of the weight of time and memory makes me lose touch with the thing itself, you know? I can forget how good it is as a piece of art separate from all the stuff I've attached to it. I think the last time I listened to it from start to finish was last spring when I was in the desert near Joshua Tree National Park (there was no way I *wasn't* going to listen to it while there). So anyway, I simply *had* to listen to it again today, and yep, it still has a power for me that is so personal that trying to explain why would be akin to trying to explain all of the foods I love, or why I've loved certain people - things that can't be reduced to words, really, so there's no point trying.

I think it's an enduring mystery why some things so completely click to a person that it seems like those outside things of someone else's creation become so internalized that it's as if they grew out of one's own soul. Would we be fundamentally different people if we loved different music, books, pictures, people? I was telling my husband and daughter that I got around to reading The Catcher in the Rye too late in my development to appreciate it. In fact, I was so irritated by it that I couldn't even finish it. Would I be a different person if I loved it? It's impossible know, though I suppose I enjoy taking time to wonder about it.

And finally, getting back to the snow storm, I now bring you a gratuitous picture of our kitten in the snow, mostly because the pictures of our dog in the snow didn't really turn out:

Ripley in Snow

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We’re in the grip of another cold snap here and brrrr!, I’m feeling it! The weather channel says it “feels like” 7 degrees F – yep, that sounds about right. I’ve got the space heater cranked up and positioned approximately 3 inches away from my legs, a heavy sweater on top, a blankie tucked around me down below and I’m still stinking freezing. Do Not Like! Our office building doesn’t seem to handle temperature fluctuations very well; anything too far away from 60 degrees outside is really felt inside. When we went through this cold business a month or so ago the air was super dry and there didn’t seem to be enough moisturizer on earth to compensate. This time there are threats of snow, which this town does not handle with skill or grace of any kind (but at least there’d be some moisture in the air). Think Atlanta’s recent snowstorm and that’ll be about right as respects how we react to snow.

There was one time when I was in high school when they let us out around 11 or 12 am due to a snowstorm and it took me 8½ hours to get home. That day was memorable for a few reasons, not least of which was that I had a long stretch of time to read and I chose to use it on The Canterbury Tales since we were studying it for a project in my Humanities class. Not being all that fluent in Middle English, I really had to concentrate to understand it, so the hours passed more quickly for me than they did for the poor bus driver and the passengers with nothing to do but stare out the windows. This was well before the age of cell phones, so I had called home on a payphone when I started the journey to let my mom know I was on my way. Thereafter I was afraid to get off the bus to call home because the bus could move on without me and it seemed like it was the only one going my direction. Mom was pretty frantic by the time I came trudging down the road several hours later: my family practically erupted out of the front door and we were all amazed at how long it took to do a journey that usually lasted about 45 minutes. I was pretty frantic to be home for a different reason: it had been several hours since seeing a restroom and eating breakfast so I was pretty ready to get down to practical matters, shall we say.

In health news, the voice is about 75% back with intermittent moments of whispers, but mostly things have developed to a froggy croak-ish sound. Singing is still off the table. To make sure I don’t bounce right back and actually feel good, the cough that was sporadic before is pretty solidly sticking around now. I don’t understand why it worsens at night, but it *really* worsens at night. I’m up to an accumulated total of about 8 hours of sleep for the week and the fatigue is really getting to me. My eyes are practically swimming in and out of focus I’m so tired. Ugh! Yet another thing on my Do Not Like list.


Off topic ramble about aging, more or lessCollapse )

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Thanks to bouts of coughing, I managed approximately three hours of sleep last night. This whatever-it-is has been so weird: I go through a spell of coughing for hours on end – even after taking cough suppressant, then there are hours of nothing – even with no cough suppressant. I go through periods of feeling utterly knackered, then almost normal. My voice is starting to make a comeback, with moments like when I read a client’s email and in utter disbelief exclaimed out loud, “You’ve got to be fucking kidding me!” (Oops! I wasn’t expecting that to be above a whisper!) Then a few minutes later when a colleague stopped by to discuss something, it was back to a whisper for one sentence and something like a frog just learning to croak the next. The pain is still there in the throat, though it does get broken up every so often with a tickle. I’m thinking positive and deciding this means I’m over the worst of it, though am dead certain I could sleep from now until about this time tomorrow if I didn’t have a pesky little thing called a job.

Speaking of which, my boss is working out of town for a while and the atmosphere in the office this morning was downright giddy. It was probably the most upbeat first-thing-on-a-Monday I’ve experienced outside of being on vacation. Since I’m so physically miserable just now, it was really nice to get that emotional lift. It’s amazing how one person can completely change the atmosphere in a room, isn’t it?

Despite the fact that a team from the Pacific Northwest was competing in the Super Bowl, I still couldn’t care less about the game yesterday so decided to go grocery shopping. I figured, correctly, that it would be about as quiet as it can be without the store being closed. There were even fewer men than usual doing the shopping – ha!, no surprise – but it did seem like more than the usual number of foreigners. On the drive home there was even less traffic on the road than on a major holiday. And more police. It was kind of eerie, like how movies portray cities on the day after the apocalypse.

Thinking of that drive home yesterday in turn reminds me of Saturday…I was out and about most of the day, with the evening/night spent with friends. We ended the festivities relatively early (for us) (I was home by 11:00 pm) and I headed home from a place I’d never been before. So there I was, Saturday night, in an area where I only vaguely know the streets, there’s road construction and little street lighting, I was winding down and getting tired after all the fun was over, and I felt like I was driving like a sailor who was still finding his land legs after months at sea. Or a drunkard. It was at the moment when that thought popped into my mind that I realized I had forgotten to transfer the proof of insurance card from my everyday wallet to the one I was using on Saturday. Gaaah! It’s generally *just* my luck to get caught out at such moments so I was extremely superstitious the rest of the drive home, but I made it home unscathed and without having to try to explain (in whispers) that, really, I’m very conscientious about these things, officer, I just forgot that one little time. Whew! That incident probably means I’ve used up my allotment of luck for the month of February, so I really need to mind myself now.

Speaking of always getting caught out at bad moments, things such as the tragic* manner of Philip Seymour Hoffman’s death do work to hold me back from doing certain ridiculous things. I literally will think to myself sometimes (for even silly things like not wearing matching underwear) that I don’t want my last and possibly most lingering impression on people to be this or that stupid thing. Because, sadly, the fact is that no matter how wonderful a person was in life, when he dies in such a way there is an everlasting post script appended to his name. It may not be the first thing others will think of when they hear that name, but it’ll definitely be there. I remember reading someone’s lament about a friend’s death (also a heroin-related case) and how she was angry that the thing every single person mentioned about her friend was her drug-related death. To her it seemed crazy that all of the years of living, every happy moment her friend brought to those around her, seemed to be completely overshadowed by the manner of her death. In a way I can agree, that does seem to be missing the forest for the trees – but still, that’s human nature, isn’t it? We can’t help but think of the end of the story. Humans have a fascination with death and with the idea that the manner of our death can define who we are as a person (I mean, jeez, there are religions built around the concept), so fair or not, like it or not, it’s a reality we have to accept. It just seems extra sad – and probably means it’s even more likely to stick in people’s minds – when such a death happens to someone who had so much promise. It seems kind of strange to say, but after a family friend died of alcoholism, the specifics of his death didn’t overshadow what came before because, for that person, the long years of alcoholism had already overshadowed the person he had been before it all took hold. In that case, people had already come to accept that the death would be alcohol-related. The surprise would have been him getting sober. The tragedy would’ve been him getting sober, then dying in a car crash a year later. So maybe there’s an element of whether the manner of death is a surprise or a foregone conclusion that’s in there, too, adding to whether it strikes us as sensational or mundane.

On a side note, there are ever increasing calls to action in the insurance industry about the rising addiction to opiates across the United States that got their start due to being prescribed heavy duty pain killers after accidents and injuries. I started seeing chatter about it a couple of years ago and the discussion is gaining ground. Of course the industry is concerned, in part, because it’s a factor in rising health care costs which in turn means higher insurance costs. On a personal level, it scares me a little for myself since I’m allergic to over the counter medicines, so I’m automatically at that higher level of pain killer when something major comes along. However, I’m also allergic to opiates, so at least I won’t have that specific (and apparently highly addictive) thing to contend with. Still, things like reading the details and chart notes from injury claims does make me realize that 1) it can happen to anyone (anyone! People who, before an injury, barely stooped to taking aspirin find themselves addicted to opiates) and 2) it seems like it’s time for the conversation about addiction to move on from a place of judgment and blame to one of empathy and forward-action – similar to how the conversation about AIDS evolved about 20 years ago. The conversation also needs to address how the rising acceptance of prescription drug use for adults has also lead to a decidedly weaker taboo about drugs in younger generations.


*…and I do mean “tragic” in that sense of knowing a path can only lead you down a dark road, but taking it anyway. I was thinking recently that maybe the people of my generation are now old enough to not die from heroin any more (they’ve either already died from overdoses or made their way to sobriety). How very depressing it is to have been so wrong.
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Am getting ever more frustrated with not having a voice.

Accompanying the lost voice is a cough that comes and goes, so I didn't exercise this week until last night. While exercising I was overcome with the belief that there was something about the increased heart rate and breathing that was going to rob me of even being able to whisper. Generally with not having a voice there's a bit of pain in my throat at all times, so there's probably some psychological connection I've made between this particular pain and losing my voice which means that I don't expect to be heard when I feel the pain. But when I exercised, that pain went away and somehow my mind interpreted that as losing the ability to even whisper. It seems far more logical for the brain to not feel the pain and instead think, "Oh good, my voice is back!", so I don't know what the hell was going on in my head. Anyway, class ended, I had a shower, then I hung out with friends for awhile - and eventually, the illogical thing I feared earlier came to pass for a different reason: I whispered so much that my throat went into complete revolt and for a couple of hours afterwards it was pretty much body language only for me.

The same thing is happening today. I attended a business lunch with a few people and it was so frustrating not being able to participate in the conversation. We were at a busy and relatively noisy restaurant (but delicious food, OMG, there are no words), so I knew my little whispers would be very hard to hear. I culled the menu carefully, looking for items that I wouldn't want to modify in any way (yes, I'm one of those people: no mayonnaise, no sour cream, no cream cheese, no Ranch dressing, and so on) so that I could indicate my order to the waitress by pointing at my choice.*

I did add a few sentences to the conversation, straining more than usual thanks to the ambient noise level, and now my whisper is back at half power again. Gaaah!

I have plans to go out with some friends tomorrow night at a place that will easily be twice as loud as the restaurant, so I am wondering if there's much point in me attending. On the one hand, I love hanging out with these people and even if I just listen, it will be fun. On the other hand, I just *know* I won't be able to resist saying at least a few things. I don't know if whispering and slightly straining makes things worse in relation to strength and/or length of recovery, but I know it doesn't make things better in the short term.

I think this is how a singer must feel when she's told she can't speak a word all day if she intends to sing that night, except in my case I don't even get to sing. Frustrating doesn't even begin to cover it. Yes, I know there are far worse things and I am keeping that in mind as much as possible. I just have to say that this stinks anyway.


___
*Completely unrelated aside: next to our table was a man and woman who didn't look to be contemporaries, age-wise, it was more along the lines of a mother-son kind of thing, yet they did seem to be relatively equal to one another in status as respects how they interacted. The man looked like your average, good-looking, late middle aged guy. She looked like Dame Edna only with lime green glasses and shirt, so the word "character" was practically advertised in neon above her head. Anyway, she made me feel better about my pickiness. Though I was participating as much as possible in my table's doings, I did observe a few things such as this:
Waiter sets food on table
She jerks away from the plate like a snake just reared at her and says, "I told the waitress no p-word!"
Waiter, "?"
"P-word! I told her no p-word! Pineapple! There's pineapple on my sandwich!"
Waiter picks plate up and departs.
"Did you say the word 'pineapple' to the waitress or did you say 'p-word'?"
"P-word. I guess she didn't know what that meant."
"I don't think anyone knows what that means!"
"OK. All right. I was wrong. You're right. I was wrong!"

This happened shortly after we sat down, so OF COURSE I had to eavesdrop as much as possible thereafter and I wasn't disappointed. One of my favorite things came a bit later when she held up her martini glass and looked at the waitress imperiously. I thought that was only done in movies (or on Arrested Development)! When the drink came very soon thereafter, she poured the remainder of drink #1 into drink #2 - another thing I've never seen before. Have you ever tried pouring liquid out of a martini glass? It's nearly impossible to do with any accuracy. All I can assume is that she's had some practice at it because she didn't lose a drop in the transfer. Amazing!

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Relations between the three animals in our home remain in flux. The grumpy old lady cat, Natalie, continues to be surly and determined to reject any thought of creating a bond with either the dog or the kitten. Last night, for example, the family was eating dinner and Natalie let out a mournful “I’m so lonely, come at once” caterwaul from the bedroom. The kitten ran to her side, only to be rejected once again; he wasn’t good enough to sooth her loneliness. A little later he brought her one of his favorite toys as a gift, but no, Natalie wasn’t having any of that, either.

She has taken to sleeping near my head at night and is prepared to defend her position with all of the force of a French aristocrat (aristocat?) keeping the peasants beyond the castle gates. This means that I am treated to being in the crossfire whenever the kitten wants to hang out with either Natalie or me…all night long there are growls, hisses and attacks which are occasionally accompanied with one or both of them jumping around and knocking things over. Every once in a while the kitten decides he just can’t be subservient anymore and retaliates by playing with Natalie’s tail, which really sends her over-the-top with rage (it’s quite literally the domesticated cat version of “pulling the tiger’s tail”).

Natalie was so frustrated last night that she nipped me to get my attention, then ran off to her bed and turned her back on me. My husband tried to talk her round with some pets and kind words, but she was having none of it. However, after observing that her absence from my side meant the kitten could move there instead, she changed her tune and made her way over to me with an apologetic attitude.

While I’m awake, watching all of this interplay is fun and interesting and a little humorous. While trying to sleep, I’m not quite so amused. I’m a pretty deep sleeper, so for the two of them to wake me up means significant shenanigans must be afoot at night.

When we first found the kitten, and things were of a more filial nature between the kitten and the dog, the kitten slept in my daughter’s room with the dog. A few weeks ago the dog came home from the groomer, and best we can tell, the kitten didn’t recognize the dog so went on the attack. (I could almost swear the dog was embarrassed by the fur cut and felt he was being teased, but that’s probably just anthropomorphism on my part.) Anyway, the dog retaliated by chasing the kitten all over the house, and subsequently relations have cooled between those two. Things are getting better, but for several days the dog would bark at the kitten whenever he saw it, which meant it wasn’t really optimal to keep them together at night.

We’re kind of at an impasse now since Natalie is so territorial and jealous, Jack is so confused and jealous, and the kitten is so friendly and hungry for companionship. If we leave the kitten by himself at night, he cries and makes noise until he is around another animal or a person. If he’s in the room with the dog, the dog barks at him. If he’s in the room with the cat, the cat hisses at him. The poor little fella’ is the sweetest little kitten I’ve ever known and he’s definitely wormed his way into our hearts so we can’t stand the thought of giving him away, but obviously *something* has to happen because not sleeping at night doesn’t really work for my family.

Meanwhile, speaking of sleeplessness, I’ve picked up the winter crud. Part of it includes coughing and losing my voice (you know, when I was a kid, I actually thought it was kind of cool and exotic to lose your voice. Now that it’s happened to me a dozen or so times, I’m a lot less enamored with the whole thing). Last night, I took some cough medicine before bed and promptly broke out in hives all over my body. It’s been years since I’ve had an attack that bad. I was itchy and miserable and all I wanted to do was sleep, but I couldn’t sleep until the hives started to wane (which, while not exactly fun, is still better than going to the emergency room for a shot or an IV drip, I think). I ended up getting only a few hours’ sleep last night and today I’m still itchy, plus tired, dizzy, blurry-eyed, coughing and voiceless. The medicine I took last night – which of course I’ve taken many times before – had only two ingredients, dextromethorphan and some other thing I can’t remember, so the good news is that it should be relatively easy for me to figure out the new thing on my allergy list. The bad news is that the only way I can think of to determine what it was is to take medicines with those ingredients separately and see which one makes me break out in hives again. Oh, joy. Still, I guess this also means I have a 50/50 chance of hitting upon the answer without experiencing the itch torture, so it could be worse. My fingers are crossed that the culprit is not dextromethorphan because that seems to be in so many over-the-counter cough medicines and has been pretty effective for me in the past.

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