30 July 2010

up and down

Good news!

Super Dad's case has been accepted to the Mayo! He will be scheduled next week! Absolutely wonderful news after a hellacious week. Something is finally on the upswing. Much needed after a downers morning of a draining week.

More later as I am utterly and completely exhausted.

27 July 2010

energizer bunny

Ways I re-charge:

* Happening on a practically free bargain on something I have been hunting for
* Sleeping for an entire weekend
* Getting my passport stamped

I recently made my 2010 holiday reservations. Two fall holidays as my original plans for a spring holiday and a fall holiday were killed by the life-sucking-vampire project. Under a use-it-or-lose-it holiday plan, use it I will indeed!

While I am excited about both locations, I continue to get exponential excited about my return to North Africa. I cannot wait to hear the call to prayer echo through the air. To see a way of life so completely different than my own. Feel the thrill that full communication via only a smile can bring. To re-charge my long dead batteries doing what I love - being a stranger in a strange land.

The countdown begins...

19 July 2010

the pain of super dad

I know what I am about to write is a conversation I need to have with Super Dad. But for some reason, I haven't been able to conduct this exchange yet. I suppose because I don't want it to be real but it is as it is impacted both Super Dad's life and therefore my life as well.

Super Dad is sick. You see, five or six years ago, Super Dad had prostrate cancer and it was removed via laparoscopic surgery. As a result of this surgery, Super Dad endured pain attacks because several nerve bundles were damaged - so much for state of the art. Around the office, people always stated Super Dad had a super pain tolerance as he was constantly in pain. I never inquired as to the details.

As our relationship evolved, Super Dad told me about the initial bout of prostrate cancer and the resulting pain. He shared that he'd had surgery at the Jacksonville Mayo Clinic about 1 1/2 years ago for the resulting pain and that did the trick.

Mid-June the radiating pain came back and it is back with a vengeance. He hasn't been able to work or find pills that work to dull the pain without knocking him out and rendering him useless. Two weeks ago, Super Dad finally shared with the depth of the situation - he has a minimum of one pain attach daily that lasts for approximately four hours. During that time, he cannot move, sit up - basically he cannot do anything but lay there and ride it out. I had no idea. The pain is 50% worse than it was pre-Jacksonville surgery.

So here I sit in Austin, while he is battling this alone in Georgia. He has told me he doesn't want me to see him like this but I do not like him being alone. The best doctors in Georgia cannot provide him any answers or relief. As a result, Super Dad has started the process to be seen at the big Mayo Clinic. I hope beyond hope that the Mayo's best and brightest have a plan because living a life eating oxycontin is not the answer.

I never thought Super Dad and I would have a conversation where he would tell me "the side effect of these pills are that they will take years off my life". I am having a hard enough time processing the pain issue but to add that there is no answer and the feeble options carry deadly consequences, I simply want to scream.

Before Super Dad moved off our account in May, he told me that he wished we would have gotten together soon, that he wouldn't have bothered with the woman he was seeing around Thanksgiving and I would have lost Bolt sooner, so we would have had that much more time together. At the time I told him I looked at it as better late than never. But now with him being incapacitated to some level, I think back on his statement often.

While he is 18 years my senior and has this serious health issue, I keep coming back to how much fun we had together for six months, adding in the way he makes me laugh, he understands me, genuinely cares and loves me. None of us make it out of this alive. I ask myself would I rather know ten years of bliss and pure happiness than never have that wonderment in my life? I think about Alexander - how cancer struck him at 32 years old and his fabulous boyfriend has stayed by his side unwavering about the 'what ifs'. I always come back to the things I love about Super Dad and the way I feel when I hear his voice. I don't believe that this wonderful, long-awaited man would have been sent to cross my path briefly.

I despise the feeling of helplessness that is permeating me. We are far apart and I hate that I cannot just pop in on him after work to check on him; I cannot take him to his doctor appointments; I cannot be there daily to simply be there with him so he doesn't have to endure this alone. I feel that I am letting him down.

Nothing in my life is ever simple and straightforward. However, this time - just this one time - I truly wish it would be. I am ready for the happily ever after.

12 July 2010

holding tight to the memories

Small children and animals have always had an affinity towards my father and me. Knowing this small tidbit, let's go back in time to early spring 1997. I was 21 years old, finished undergrad the previous spring and was living at home with my parents while in graduate school.

There was a family that lived on my parents' block that we referred to as "the garbage people". The meaning behind the name was two-fold as the father worked for a waste management company and their consistent appearance was quite dingy. Another distinctive characteristic of this family was that they like baby animals, they'd always have some kitten or puppy and once the pet grew up, they'd neglect it or get rid of it. Being an over-the-top animal lover, the garbage people's behavior always angered me.

Some time in November or December 1996, we began to notice a little gray cat roaming. We remembered the garbage people had a gray kitten earlier in the year and assumed that was a garbage cat. Winter turned into spring and my father noticed the little gray cat was living in a small crevice that was worn away under the next door neighbor's front cement steps. This little gray cat was thin, so my father bought cat food and started leaving a bit of the food out in front of our house. The little gray cat ate the food and began to slowly warm up to my father and me as we would stay outside and call it. It wasn't too long after the first nibbles of food that I remember vividly - in fact, it is one of my clearest memories, each moment and feeling forever burned into my mind - sitting on the front step and that little gray cat jumped into my lap and sat there, letting me pet her.

From that moment, she was our cat. I named her Alley Cat. When I took her to the vet, I learned she was 1 1/2 to 2 years old already and spayed to boot. Upon sighting the garbage people's gray cat, we knew this little girl was a stray. She was always very loving and we never could understand why her owners never looked for her. From the beginning, my parents made it abundantly clear that there were rules around our new family member; the most important being the condition that Alley was my cat and when I was done with grad school and settled, she would have to live with me; she was my cat. Alley quickly settled into life at my parents. She roamed the yard and the block; she was an outdoor cat. Even in the winter, Alley would enjoy spending her days outside in the sun, coming in only when she absolutely had to. Being on her own for those few months, Alley learned how to kill birds and mice to survive. We always joked that much like a vampire, she had acquired a taste for blood and fresh meat during that time and that instinct always remained with her. In fact, we always laughed that birds put out the message to stay clear of our yard or face certain death at the claws and jaws of Alley Cat because over the years, birds became non-existent in my parents' yard.

Then six years later, I was officially settled. I was married, bought a home, and had a job that only required minimal travel. The conditions were right for Alley Cat to come live with me, fulfilling the promise I made back in 1997 when Alley first jumped into my lap and into my heart. Well, as you can imagine, my parents would not give her to me. They fretted that she'd try walking back to their house and I'd forget to feed her; therefore, those two reasons were enough for my parents to refuse to hand over the cat. It was after that I ended up adopting my Lulu hound.

But Alley Cat always remembered me and would meow hello even though I had those two ghastly dogs in tow that loved to harass her but she'd always leave one of them, always Lulu, bleeding with a minor claw scratch.

This morning my dad called me to tell me that my little Alley Cat died. I am heartbroken. She was about 15 years old and had been sick. My Alley Cat died quietly on the front step, the exact place where she first entered my heart.

I think back to all the times when I cried in my room and she always came be comfort me, forcing my hand with her soft nose, resorting to her sandpaper licks if I was truly crushed. Alley is the only pet I have ever had that was so in tune and vocal when I was upset. Sometimes, she was more understanding than any other human. When I was home this spring, I could feel that she was losing weight but that never stopped her from meowing at me and spending lots of time on my lap.

Good bye, my girl, my Alley Cat.

08 July 2010

Balancing Act

Welcome to the world of introspection. 

Latest topic swirling around in my brain is balance. Not inner ear, vertigo balance. I am talking about work-life balance. Particularly the fact that I have none. All work. No life. Where is the balance in that?! 

Work and various other little health issues (to be discussed later) have meant that is has been six weeks since Super Dad and I have seen each other. My life centers around work these days and the drain is truly getting to me. 

I basically picked up my little non-existent Colorado life over three years ago and planted myself in Austin. All prompted by my job, seeking a land of opportunity. While things have been super peachy in the job realm, my personal life has suffered since the fall. Prior to and since coming down here, I have not had a proper relationship with a man. There was the delusion of The Southern Gentleman for awhile. But I haven't met anyone down here. 

Then enter Super Dad stage right. Because of our profession, work related travel is a necessary evil. But with that understanding, that I am on the road, how do I have a "normal" relationship? How do I have a relationship that is not long distance? And no, the answer is not 'find a new job'. 

I sit here realizing I have and continue to give my whole self to a company. That is pretty messed up. I need to start reclaiming my life without sacrificing my hard earned success. And that is the hard part - tempering my drive for success without paying for it with my blood and little pieces of my soul. 

I don't know to accomplish this; it is a road I've never traveled on. But there is more to me than the life sucking vampire project. I would love to see if Super Dad and I could make a go of it. I would love to be able to come home to him and ask "how was your day?" - in person and not over the mobile phone. 

Maybe this means I am finally ready to settle down and be a touch domesticated. Or maybe it is just the random musings of a physically, emotionally, and mentally exhausted girl. I just know there has to be more to life than work - sleep - repeat. I need to remember what balance looks like and find it again.

07 July 2010


I needed this reminder today... and thought maybe you could too...

Maya Angelou's Phenomenal Woman

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I'm not cute or built to suit a fashion model's size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I'm telling lies.
I say,
It's in the reach of my arms
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I'm a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.
I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.
I say,
It's the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I'm a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can't touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them
They say they still can't see.
I say,
It's in the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I'm a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.
Now you understand
Just why my head's not bowed.
I don't shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing
It ought to make you proud.
I say,
It's in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
the palm of my hand,
The need of my care,
'Cause I'm a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

02 July 2010

Book Review: My Sister's Voice

Thanks to my day job, I am slightly overdue to share my book review on Mary Carter's latest novel, My Sister's Voice.

From marycarterbooks.com: What do you do when you discover your whole life was a lie? In Mary Carter’s unforgettable new novel, one woman is about to find out. . .

At twenty-eight, Lacey Gears is exactly where she wants to be. An up-and-coming, proudly Deaf artist in Philadelphia, she’s in a relationship with a wonderful man and rarely thinks about her difficult childhood in a home for disabled orphans. That is, until Lacey receives a letter that begins, “You have a sister. A twin to be exact…”

Learning her identical, hearing twin, Monica, experienced the normal childhood she was denied resurrects all of Lacey’s grief, and she angrily sets out to find Monica and her biological parents. But the truth about Monica’s life, their brief shared past, and the reason for the twins’ separation is far from simple. And for every one of Lacey’s questions that’s answered, others are raised, more baffling and profound.

Mary weaves a fascinating story that quickly drew me into the lives of Lacey Gears and her twin, Monica Bowman. The mere thought of learning of an unknown adult sibling's existence, let alone an identical twin felt so real through each sister's perspective. A Deaf sister, a hearing sister and the processing of that vast difference in conjunction with being raised so different - abandoned versus privileged.

While each sister grew up separated, Mary did an excellent job of joining the puzzle pieces of Lacey and Monica’s long forgotten memories of a brief childhood together. Lacey’s front half of the blue horse toy served as a puzzle piece that haunted her throughout her life and only until Monica entered her life was Lacey then able to understand the true significance behind that haunting blue image.

I found it fascinating that Lacey’s biological truly were the rich, loaded parents that who abandoned their young daughter. However, the plot twists lead to even more exciting discoveries of what happens behind the closed doors of the influential Bowman family.

Each character stands on her own and made me want to learn about her past shaped her present and influenced her future. The real life feel that even after being separated for more than twenty years, old patterns and feelings established as children can immediately return. Beyond the bonds of sisters, the underlying twin psychology was captivating, especially as twins run on both sides of my family. These sisters explored their bond through the good and the bad and Mary beautifully conveyed both sides of that bond such at I truly felt like I knew Lacey and Monica; I was invested in wanting to see their relationship evolve.

My Sister’s Voice is definitely a good read that you won’t want to put down.