Thursday, December 28, 2006

Aging sucks

My grandmother was a formidable woman in her time. She is a graduate of the University of Michigan, and was incredibly intelligent, always devouring one book or another. She was a radio DJ in New Orleans during World War II. She was an actress in professional and community theater. She was a business owner in an era when most women didn’t work. She started her own upscale bridal business after working for years in the fashion industry. I remember parading around her store as a little 5 year old, trying on veils and pestering the seamstresses and saleswomen, and then working in the store during my summer vacations when I was in my teens. She taught me about style and cooking, took me to the theater and the symphony, and provided a great role model for me as a strong, independent, smart, opinionated woman. We occasionally clashed – I think because we’re both so hard-headed – but I always respected her for her strength and her ability to give as good as she got.

Old age has not been kind to her. Her health has been bad for years – back problems, knee problems, staph infections, pneumonia, hypoglycemia, you name it. Basically, she’s felt shitty for one reason or another for about 20 years. And now her mind is going as well. Dementia began creeping in around two years ago, and it has advanced aggressively, particularly in the last 9 or 10 months. She's still physically able to get around and take care of herself (somewhat), but is more and more unwilling to do so, which means that my 90-year-old grandfather is doing everything -- cooking, cleaning, laundry, driving, bathing.

This past weekend my mom and I went up to see them. As always, it was a pleasure to spend time with my mother, but the trip on the whole was rough. My grandmother doesn't like to leave the house, often resists getting dressed, and won't get up to go to the bathroom, or maybe she doesn't realize she has to go, so she ends up wetting the bed or the furniture. Then my grandfather has to clean it up.

My mom and I tried to encourage my grandmother to put herself on a bathroom schedule, so that she would go every couple or few hours automatically, thereby reducing the likelihood of having an accident. But she insisted that she didn't have a problem and that we were being mean to her (just like my grandfather) in trying to get her to go to the bathroom. Or to get dressed. Or take her medication. Everything is a protracted battle, and it never ends.

As a result, my grandfather is angry and bitter. He's always been a sweet, good-natured guy, but now he raises his voice at his wife and snaps at her in a way he never has before. He nags her, and she gets her back up and resists his requests even more. This is how they spend their days, fighting and bitching at each other. It's incredibly depressing and wearisome.

I don't know what the solution is, or if there will be one. My mom and her siblings are trying to encourage their parents to avail themselves of some of the services offered by the local Jewish family organization, or to consider assisted living. My grandfather is showing some reluctant willingness to try it, so we'll see what happens. Meanwhile, I've been looking at old pictures taken when my grandparents took me to New York City when I was 8, or when they came to visit us in Israel and India when I was in my teens. I marvel at how strong and beautiful they both were, and I try to remember them like that, rather than think about what I witnessed this past weekend.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

New years' eve party shopping list

    • 1 bunch sage leaves
    • cloth dolls representing 2006
    • pins (to stick in 2006 cloth dolls)
    • various items representing shitty 2006 events to burn and/or destroy
    • lots and lots of booze

This past weekend, my Girls' Night crew held its seventh annual Dirty Santa party. Everyone brings a gift purchased for $15 or less, we draw numbers, and the numbers determine the order you pick a gift. Later numbers are good, because if you don't like the gift you choose, you can force earlier numbers to swap with you. (That's the "dirty" part. The first year, one of the girls thought that the presents had to be dirty, so I ended up taking home a bag of condoms and K-Y jelly.)

The gift part was fun and funny, as always -- gifts ranged from pajama bottoms to Christmas-themed cheese spreaders. I ended up with a tiny bamboo cutting board, two tiny bowls (for miniscule amounts of dip?), a pedicure set, and the above-mentioned cheese spreader.

But the evening was more cathartic than anything else. For the first time in a long time, all of the original group was back together (with the obvious exception of Kristin), and we spent hours ruminating on the events of the past 12 months. Which kinda sucked. In the past year, our various members have dealt with 3 miscarriages, a horribly unjust lawsuit and verdict, spousal infidelity, severe family trauma, and the suicide of one of our best friends. Particularly in the last half of the year, it feels like it's been an onslaught of one bad thing after another, to the point that we're feeling a bit superstitious. Some sort of exorcism or spiritual cleansing is in order.

So, for New Year's Eve, I'm having a party. We're going to jump on a moon bounce, blow shit up, drink lots of champagne, burn sage and poke voodoo dolls representing 2006 with pins. The bad mojo of 2006 will be cleared out, and we will face 2007 with hope and optimism. We have each other, our husbands, our families, our brains and our senses of humor. We will prevail.

Monday, December 04, 2006

I'll take "really aggressive" for $2000, Alex

My brother has an accountant who does his taxes. Upon being hired, the accountant asked him, "do you want to be aggressive, or really aggressive?" I like this approach in accountants and, now, realtors.

We've decided to hire a shark. The prospect of renting the house from the other side of the planet is becoming less and less palatable, the more I think about it. We'll be losing money and it will be a big pain in the ass. So, we decided to put the house back on the market, using a realtor recommended by a friend. I know people who have had dealings with this realtor, and they wholeheartedly recommend him while describing him as an insufferable, unethical jerk. "He's a scumbag, but he'll move your house," seems to be the consensus.

Works for me.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Resistance Is Futile

I come from a family of pickers and squeezers. We scratch each others' backs, pop each others' zits, tweeze each others' splinters (a favorite of mine), peel sunburned skin, and excavate each others' dermatological blemishes. I have never scratched my mother's back without having her ask, "is there anything to pick?" I'm sure this strikes most people as disgusting, but we think it's kind of awesome.

It's taking my husband some time to into this tendency, but he's slowly but surely learning to appreciate it. He's getting better at letting me poke and prod him with tweezers, needles, and my nails, and he's even reciprocated a couple of times. The only thing that he won't let me touch, much to my dismay, is his eyebrow hair.

Jason's hair is brown, and he has brownish-blonde eyebrows that are relatively normal except for this one, super-blonde, mutant hair that's about an inch long. It sticks out and curves back dramatically, and is noticable from every angle because it's so much lighter than the rest of his eyebrows. It's mezmerizing. And I'm going crazy from wanting to pluck it.

The Hair went away a few months ago -- perhaps in the shower or as part of the natural shedding process -- but it's back with a vengeance now and it's driving me mad. Last night we were sitting on the couch talking, and I couldn't stop staring at The Hair. Just sitting there, mocking me. And then Jason noticed that I'm staring, and he'll mess with me by brushing at his eyebrows so that The Hair sticks out even more than usual, and joke that he'll pull it out by himself and donate it to Locks of Love. It's torture.

But I'm determined to triumph. If I have to sleep with tweezers in my bedside table and pull it out in the middle of the night, I will.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006


The guy that was buying our house was selling a house in order to buy a new one, and his buyer backed out of the deal. So no house sale. Goddammit.

Monday, November 20, 2006

The Internets Can Be Strange

This past weekend I got an email from someone who had viewed some pictures I have up on Flickr. She had seen photos from the triathlon that I did in August, and wrote me that she had always wanted to do a triathlon, but was scared of having to put on a swim cap. So she wanted me to a) email her a description of how one puts on a swim cap, and b) take pictures of myself putting on a swim cap and send them to her. Yes, you read that right. I'm really hoping that she did it on a dare, like her friends bet her on whether she would get a response or something like that. Needless to say, I deleted the message. But honey, if you're reading this, just go to your local sporting goods store and ask the nice lady in the swimwear aisle. I'm sure she'll be happy to help you.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Unbelievable, Part 2. No, make that "completely insane."

The guy that looked at the house this week -- that had to convince me to let him because I had already delisted the house and was over the entire process -- wants to buy it. He's sending me an offer tomorrow. And he wants to close December 11, the same day Jason goes to Australia. This is totally blowing my mind (which is already halfway out of my head because I'm so nervous for tomorrow's Michican-Ohio State game that I can barely contain myself. Go Blue!)

Tuesday, November 14, 2006


I'm glad I appreciate irony, because if I didn't, this whole house-selling process would leave me discombobulated.

After having the house on the market since July and getting no offers, we decided to take the house off the market and rent it. Last week I talked to my agent, and she pulled the listing on Friday, but it didn't get into the system until yesterday. We got 4 calls over the weekend from agents looking to show it, and then another one yesterday. I told them all that the house wasn't on the market anymore, but the guy from yesterday whined so much about how his client was reeeaaally interested and he reeeaaally wanted to sell it for me that I relented and let him show the house today. He called me this afternoon and told me that his client loved it, wants to come back tomorrow to see it, and is looking to make an offer this week -- he's deciding between my house and one other. Maybe it's reverse psychology, like people who only fall for people that blow them off. I just think it's hilarious that my best chance at selling the house has only come after I took it off the market.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Rest in peace, my friend

About six years ago, Kathleen and I were lamenting the fact that we didn't have a close group of women friends to hang out and kibbitz with. She had met a woman (Michelle) at a continuing legal education seminar -- they were both in the vegetarian line for lunch and began chatting -- and thought it would be cool to gather a group of fun, smart women to do regular "girls' night" outings. I'm not sure who had the idea originally (whether it was Michelle or Kathleen, or something they came up with together). So we did it. Kathleen brought me in, I invited my friend Karen, Michelle brought Kristin and Mindy, etc. I think our first event was bowling. Our second was a hockey game, which ended up being hilarious because Michelle, Kristin and I ended up participating in an on-ice competition during one of the intermissions in which we raced to win a $100 gift certificate for Sports Authority (I won).

Over the past six years, the group (there are 9 of us, by my count -- Kathleen, me, Karen, Michelle L., Michelle S., Michele H., Judy, Mindy and Kristin) has stuck together. We've been in each others' weddings, babysat each others' babies, watched each others' dogs, listened to each other bitch, held each others' hands, and dried each others' tears. We get together regularly for dinner, parties, movies, bike rides, and walks. We ran 10Ks, half-marathons, marathons and triathlons, cheering each other on and pulling each other along the whole way.

I've never had a support group like this. There is nothing that any of us goes through alone. Every one of us has gone through a time when we were held up by the others when we couldn't quite hold up on our own. This group of women is the single reason that I'm anything less that 100% psyched about moving to Hawaii. The prospect of life far away from them feels very lonely.

Yesterday, we lost one of our own. Our friend Kristin, who had recently moved up to New Jersey to be with her fiance, took her own life, for reasons that none of us can comprehend.

Kristin was one of the kindest, most generous people I ever knew. She was an immigration lawyer, and utterly devoted to helping her clients. She would do anything for a friend. If you needed a ride to the airport, a dog-sitter, a drinking buddy, whatever -- she was there. She and I were frequent movie and opera buddies and shared books all the time. She was one of the huppah-holders at my wedding. She and Michelle L. and I did the Chattanooga Half Marathon together this past spring, and when I had a horrid day in the race -- exhaustion, dehydration -- she and Michelle came back to find me after they had finished and ran the last mile in with me. The last time I saw her, she was in town to close on the sale of her house in September or October, and she and Jason and I went for ice cream and had a great time laughing and shooting the shit.

Of course, we are all heartbroken and shocked. I feel awful for her parents, with whom she was very close, for her fiance, who is a lovely guy, but mostly for her. It kills me that she felt that her problems were so bad that there was no other way out but to die.

The girls are all rallying together. We're going to try to get together soon and try to process this. It's so surreal. I don't know what to think or to say or to do.

Rest in peace, Kristin. We loved you and will cherish your memory.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Election Day

Please get out and vote. Unless you're a Republican, in which case, please stay home.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Stick it to me, Part 2

I just got back from the acupuncturist. It was, to say the least, an interesting experience.

The office is in a nondescript professional building in Sandy Springs, just off of 285. The waiting area is pretty low-rent looking, with a haggard looking receptionist and lots of pictures of flowers with Chinese calligraphy. But the treatment room was very clean and professional looking.

Dr. Li is a tiny little woman who looks about 35 but is probably closer to 50. Shiny black straight hair cut in a blunt bob with bangs. First she did an interview/evaluation in which she asked about my insomnia, my general health, eating habits, etc. She took my blood pressure, which was fine, as it always is. Then she asked to look at my tongue. So I opened my mouth and showed her my tongue. She said, "hmmm..." in a way that made me self-conscious, and wrote some notes in Chinese. Then she felt the inside of each wrist, as if she were taking my pulse, but pressing on a number of different spots.

After feeling my wrist, she looked at me suspiciously, as if I'd been holding out on her, and said, "how long you have lower back pain?" I admitted that I'd had problems with my lower back since I was about 14, but that I didn't bring it up because I didn't think it was relevant to my sleep problems. She nodded, and told me that my kidney and blood energy levels were both low. "Chi very low. Should not be so low. Perhaps add to sleep problems."

She gave me some recommendations to aid relaxation generally. Some breathing exercises I'm supposed to do at night, plus I was told to avoid spicy food ("food too spicy not good for sleep") and to add more broth-based soups into my diet, especially later in the day. "Soup good for digestion, help you relax more."

Then we got down to business. I took off my shoes and lay down on my back on the table. She put needles on the top of my head, at the bottom of each temple, on my forehead between my eyebrows, on the tops of my wrists, on my arms near the crook of my elbow, and in my sternum. It didn't hurt at all. With each needle insertion, she would press down on the skin, wipe it with an antiseptic cloth, and then gently tap the needle in place with her finger, like she was hammering in a nail. Then she attached wires to the needles in my temples and sent electrical current into them. It wasn't a hard shock -- more like a mild pulsing. She turned off the lights, covered me with a blanket, and told me to close my eyes and listen to the classical music that was playing. I lay there for about 20 minutes, feeling more and more relaxed as the time went on. After 20 minutes, she came back in, turned on the lights, pulled out the needles, and told me to come back once more this week. "Then we make more plan. May take 3 to 5 time for you to sleep better. Try be patient."

And that was it. I have no idea if it worked (I guess I'll see tonight), but I'm cautiously optimistic. I'll keep you posted. In the meantime, I had soup for lunch.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Stick it to me

I've mentioned more than a few times in this blog that I have insomnia. Lately I've taken the drastic measure of going off of all sleep medication entirely, because nothing was working. I've tried just about every sleep remedy on the market, and eventually they did nothing but make me feel stoned during the day. I don't really sleep any better or worse than before, so I guess I'm somewhat better off for getting all of those chemicals out of my system.

Now I've decided to try acupuncture. I read some articles about the use of acupunture to treat insomnia, so I figure I may as well give it a shot. I've got an appointment at noon this coming Monday. Wish me luck.

Baby talk

We had friends visit from out of town this past weekend -- an old buddy of Jason's and his wife. I'd met the wife once before and didn't think much of her, and having her in my house for 2 days reinforced 1) my initial opinion of her, and 2) my utter abhorence of baby talk. This woman never met a perfectly harmless sentence that she couldn't make unbearable by her sing-songy inflection, accompanied by a jutting lower lip and batted eyelashes. She doesn't need to make this kind of play -- she's an accomplished surgeon, well-educated, active, etc. But for some reason, she feels compelled to speak as if she were a helpless child, and her husband eats it up, much to my (and Jason's) chagrin.

My reaction (near-vomiting every time she spoke) reminded me of one of my parents' favorite stories about me as a tot. I don't remember this, but apparently when I was about 2, we were living in Caracas, Venezuela, and belonged to a swim club in our neighborhood. A woman who knew us came up to me and asked me in a very baby-talky way where my parents were. I fixed her with a cold look and told her to piss off (or something to that effect).

Now, don't get me wrong -- I don't condone young kids lipping off to adults or being disrespectful, and if a child of mine ever did something like that, there would be hell to pay. But a big part of me gives props to my two-year-old self for refusing to be talked to like a moron.

Monday, October 23, 2006

FOR RENT: 3BR/2BA, W/D, scrn prch, deck, det. garage, pets OK

It looks like we're going to go with renting the house. We won't make any money on it, but we'll be able take a killer tax deduction, so... Whatever. Jason needs to get out of here, and I'm ready to make a decision and have a timeline and all that. We'll keep it for sale simultaneously, so whatever works out first is what we'll do. Anyone looking to rent in Decatur?

Friday, October 20, 2006

Blee blah bloo

I haven't posted in awhile because there hasn't been much going on. The house is still on the market. We had some nibbles but they didn't pan out. We're considering renting the place for a year, instead, but that seems like such a colossal pain in the ass. The holidays are fast approaching and we've already got our travel plans for Thanksgiving and Christmas (Jason's going to Australia, I'm staying home), so it doesn't look like we'll be getting out of here until at least January or February. Meh.

On a happy note, I'm back in the (bike) saddle. Jason took me for my first-ever mountain bike ride, on actual trails with trees and rocks and shit. I was nervous about whether my shoulder would be up for it, but I was surprisingly pain free. It turned out to be my head that was the problem. I was so scared of crashing that I was overly hesitant, to the point that I was increasing my odds of crashing. But Jason gave me some helpful technical pointers, and I eventually got the hang of it and had a really great time. The hard part was shedding all of my road riding instincts, because it turns out that the techniques in mountain biking are polar opposites of those you use on the road. On the road, when I descend, I crouch down and lean forward to pick up speed, and when I climb, I pedal standing up. I learned the hard way that leaning back and standing on a trail climb produces a wheelie, and then a fall onto my butt. Luckily, I fell into a bush and didn't hurt myself at all (except for little matching bruises on each cheek). It was more startling than anything else. I also almost bit it when I followed Jason over a big rock, without realizing that it was going to send me airborne. So I ended up doing a bitchin' little hop, and somehow managed to stay upright. I felt very extreme, like the dudes in the X Games. We're going back on Saturday, weather-permitting.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Mental Health Day

When I was growing up, my parents let my brothers and me take one day per quarter (or maybe semester, I don't remember) to skip school as a mental health day. We weren't allowed to use it to get out of a test or anything like that, but if we just felt exhausted and like we needed a day off, we could take it.

I've decided to carry the tradition into my adult life (and to perpetuate it with my children, if we have some, god willing, *throws salt over shoulder*, ptooey ptooey ptooey), so yesterday I took a mental health day and stayed home from work. I am going through a terrible bout of insomnia. I maybe sleep for 2-3 hours a night, and even those are full of nightmares or anxiety dreams, and the rest of the time I'm either fully awake or in a semi-awake/dozing state that isn't restful at all. This has been going on for about 3 weeks, and I'm fried. Ambien, my old and true friend, has abandoned me. I guess I've built up a tolerance after all this time, and my body is finally saying, "yeah right, bitch, you can't fool me any more. You will not sleep!! Bwahahahaha." Or at least it feels that way. So yesterday, I slept all morning, got caught up on my TiVo'd shows, cleaned out my closet and all of my dresser drawers, took a couple of naps, exercised, and relaxed. It was lovely. I slept horribly again last night, but at least I'll always have October 12 (which is Addie Bowen's birthday -- happy birthday, sweetie!).

I recently read an article about the torture issue, or more specifically, whether "alternative" methods of questioning, such as sleep deprivation, constitute torture. Menachem Begin (former PM of Israel, and possibly a distant cousin of mine) was quoted in the article, talking about how he had been interrogated by the KGB using sleep deprivation, and that it unquestionably is torture. He states:

In the head of the interrogated prisoner, a haze begins to form. His spirit is wearied to death, his legs are unsteady, and he has one sole desire: to sleep... Anyone who has experienced this desire knows that not even hunger and thirst are comparable with it.

I came across prisoners who signed what they were ordered to sign, only to get what the interrogator promised them. He did not promise them their liberty; he did not promise them food to sate themselves. He promised them - if they signed - uninterrupted sleep! And, having signed, there was nothing in the world that could move them to risk again such nights and such days.

Amen, brother. There are nights when I feel like I would give anything -- confess to any crime, perform any task -- simply to be able to sleep soundly.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Watch your language

I've been working on a case involving a state school for the deaf and blind, and the student in question is deaf. I spent last week working with teachers and staff from the school, many of whom were totally deaf or hard of hearing, so we had a sign language translator much of the time. Some of the folks could speak, others used signing to communicate but included some vocalizations, and others did not communicate orally at all. Being exposed to signing was fascinating, and really got me thinking about language and how it works.

One of the teachers I was interviewing -- I'll call her "Dianne" -- was talking (via a sign language interpreter) about a student in the school who might be a good witness in the case. We were talking about whether the student would need an interpreter to testify, and whether she would benefit from real time transcription (an accommodation in which a court reporter takes down the testimony and it appears on a monitor in real time in front of the witness and the lawyers). Dianne said that the student was smart and could sign very well and was also "good at English." I was taken aback by this statement, because I hadn't really considered that she and I had been communicating in anything but English.

But of course, we weren't. I was using English, and the interpreter was taking concepts I expressed and relaying them in American Sign Language (ASL). Sign language isn't a translation of English, but a conceptual language all its own. One of the things that I noticed in reviewing the documents in this case was how rudimentary the written English was of the students and even the teachers. The grammar and conjugation was way off, and sentences would be reduced to their most basic subject-verb-object forms. "Why did you say you would do that" becomes "why you say do that," or "I am concerned that Joe will hurt himself" became "I worry Joe hurt self." Dianne made me realize that when a deaf person can sign and read or write English (or any other language), they're actually bilingual. Maybe she reads the word "mother" and "translates" it by imagining the sign for mother,* the way I read the Spanish word "madre" and translate it to English in my head.

Yet, for purposes of litigation, language must be very precise. The biggest and most important part of any trial or hearing is the transcript, but if we were going through an interpreter who translates our very specific choice of words with conceptual signs, or if we're dealing with a hearing impaired person who doesn't sign very well but also doesn't hear all that well, how do we make sure that our questions are understood and answered properly? How can we make sure that the transcript reflects what the witnesses actually intend to say? It reminded me of George Orwell's 1984, in which the government limits language in order to limit thought.

Anyway, the whole process gave me a newfound respect for the teachers that we were working with, and I now can't stop thinking about how the language we use influences our perception of the world and everything in it. And of course, now I'm obsessed with learning sign language.

*Hold your right hand up to your face with your thumb at your chin and wiggle your fingers. See for video demonstrations of different ASL signs.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Quality time with the family

This past weekend Jason and I went up to New York to visit Sam and Erica. My parents were up there, too, so we got to kill two birds with one stone. Got in late Thursday night, walked around the city a little bit Friday morning, and then drove up to Sam & Erica's country house in Kerhonkson, NY, in the Hudson River Valley. It's been very pleasant but still pretty warm in Atlanta, so it was a bit of a shock to be up north where it is most definitely Fall. The leaves were changing colors, the air was crisp -- it was beautiful.

Above: Sam and Erica's adorable country house.

And the weekend with the family was predictably hilarious. First, Jason was delighted to discovery that Sam, for some reason, owns a bull costume. I don't know if he and Erica get their kicks playing matador or what. Anyway, Jason found it in the basement and put it on, and then surprised Erica and my mom when they got came in from outside.

Then we went shopping to load up on groceries and other supplies. Since my mother and I are apparently genetically predisposed to spent at least $100 every time we walk into Target, we loaded up on candles, toilet paper, wine glasses, and of course, shoes. In fact, Erica and my mom and I each got a pair of adorable red suede flats, which we all wore out to dinner that night.

Below: the girls in their matching shoes

And the dinner was amazing. Erica made reservations at this cool place called the Dupuy Canal House Restaurant. The restaurant is in an old wooden house, and it's very cozy and quiet. The food was delicious, and we feasted and drank wine, talking about history and books and gossip.

But, being the freaks that we are, we couldn't just have a civilized meal and leave it at that. First we had a contest to see who could balance a spoon on their nose (Jason won). And who could make musical tones with their wine glass. And Sam balanced his scotch glass on his head for at least a minute. And my father lost his shit, laughing hysterically at the fact that Sam had made up a story, tried to pass it as historical fact on Wikipedia, and then was pissed when the moderators had the audacity to remove it. To Sam, the real insult came not from the fact that a fictitious entry was rightly removed from a website that is meant to be an encyclopedia, but rather that the reason it was removed was not its lack of accuracy but its lack of noteworthiness. This was too much for my father, who was laughing so hard that he was gasping for air and yelling, "I'm having a heart attack." I think we scared away the other patrons in our little dining section.

The next day we went hiking around a quarry before breakfast, and then later that afternoon went to a wine-tasting. We had notions that it would be like a scene in Sideways, with a beautiful farm house next to a stream, with a big, spacious wine bar inside and quiet, knowledgeable patrons commenting on finishes and hints of blackberry and "this wine has some serious legs." In reality, not so much. We went to the Riverdell Winery in New Paltz, which didn't have a lovely farmhouse on a stream so much as a shack on steroids. Sam drove up the driveway, observed the multitude of Toyota Camrys and New York Women's Rugby tour buses, and said, "I'm not so sure about the demographics of this place. Where are the Beamers and Mercedeses?" Inside, the patrons were less gracious and sophisticated than loud and abrasive. There were even women rugby players making out in the corner (with each other). The somalier was a loud fat woman who, when we asked what she recommended, literally yelled at my father, as if she had been too close to the speakers at the Bon Jovi concert the night before, "IT DEPENDS ON WHETHER YOU LIKE RED OR WHITE." Uh, no shit, lady. And thanks for your help.

That night we cooked dinner at home. Grilled chicken and portobellos, salad, and the most unbelievable corn I have ever had in my life. Seriously, when we started eating, everybody took a bite of corn and then all you could hear was gasps of pleasure -- it was like the corn equivalent of crack. More wine, more joking around, and then Michigan football. I couldn't ask for a nicer day.

The next day we went back to the city and headed home, but not before taking a walk in the country, looking at trees and funny scarecrows and old barns. I'm on the road again tonight, traveling for work, but still feeling the afterglow of this weekend. I love my husband and I love my family and I love that they love each other. Life is good.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Old age, and why I'm perhaps suffering the effects already...

Yesterday was my Grandma Anne's 90th birthday. My brothers and I sent her one of those big gourmet gift baskets full of yummy goodies. I talked to her yesterday afternoon, and she was having a wonderful day. Everybody had called and she was feeling loved. We chatted about what it was like for her to be 90 and to look back on all of the things that have happened in her life. The world has changed so much in 90 years, it must be like recounting a dream to think back on World War II or the civil rights movement or the emergence of rock and roll.

My Grandpa Leo is also 90, and my Grandma Ruth will be 87 next week. I had four great-grandparents until I was in high school. I've got good longevity genes is what I'm saying. Time seems to pass so quickly -- Jason and I will celebrate our first anniversary in two months (yoiks!) -- but given my lifestyle and genetic makeup, I should have a long time left to go. I hope I do something worthwhile with it.

In other news, I had to shower at the Y this morning because we had no water. Last night Jason and I were doing the dishes after dinner when we noticed that the water pressure was really low and getting worse. We went and talked to our neighbor across the street, investigated the water meter, scratched our heads thinking that maybe there was a water main break somewhere in town. It was a big mystery. Perhaps someone was playing a practical joke on us?

Turns out, I'm just a forgetful dork and I forgot to pay the water bill, so somebody from the county came by yesterday and turned it off. I looked through the pile of mail that I'm really bad about paying attention to unless it's an issue of Entertainment Weekly or Sports Illustrated, and found a notice from Dekalb County informing me that I owed them $55 and that my water would be cut off if I didn't pay the bill by September 21. Oops. Luckily, we had some gallon jugs of water that I keep in the laundry room in the event of a natural disaster (Jason laughs at me about this -- who's laughing now, smart guy?), so we had water to drink and brush our teeth. But since there was no water for flushing the toilet, when I had to pee at 3 in the morning, I went outside and did it in the back yard. Seriously. Anyway, I paid the bill online and it should be back on today, but I guess I've learned that I need to look at my mail more than once every two weeks.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Yet another thing that my husband and I have in common...

He thinks he may have a hairline fracture in his right arm as a result of this fall. Welcome to the gimp club, honey!

Friday, September 22, 2006

Happy New Year, but if your New Year isn't actually happy, I disclaim all liability

My dad sent this lovely New Year's blessing (happy 5767, everyone!) out to offer good wishes for Rosh Ha'Shana. To my great amusement, it included the standard confidentiality disclaimer and tax warnings that accompany all emails out of his office. Leave it to a Jew to wish you a happy new year, but with disclaimers.

May this New Year bring to you and yours all the blessings of Peace, Health, Happiness and Prosperity.

L’Shanah Tovah!

This communication, along with any documents, files or attachments, is intended only for the use of the addressee and may contain legally privileged and confidential information. If you are not the intended recipient, you are hereby notified that any dissemination, distribution or copying of any information contained in or attached to this communication is strictly prohibited. If you have received this message in error, please notify the sender immediately and destroy the original communication and its attachments without reading, printing or saving in any manner. Thank you.

Circular 230 Notice: Pursuant to regulations governing practice before the Internal Revenue Service, unless expressly stated otherwise, any tax advice contained herein or in any attachment hereto cannot be used, and is not intended to be used, by a taxpayer for (i) the purpose of avoiding tax penalties that may be imposed on the taxpayer under the Internal Revenue Code or (ii) the promotion or marketing of any tax-related matter or program.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

The Chicken and the Egg

A friend of mine who is going through a significant traumatic event suggested that she is so shattered by it that she doesn't know if she will be the same kind of person when it is over. I haven't been able to stop thinking about that -- the notion that certain experiences are so profound that they change who we are as a person. I've been looking back over my life and trying to analyze how I've changed from point to point, and why.

About 8 years ago I had my first depressive "break." Clinical depression runs in my family (on my dad's side -- my mother is the most nauseatingly sane person in the world), and it hit me hard when I was about 28. I was in a serious relationship with a guy that I really loved, but was overwhelmed with feelings of despair and worthlessness. It took me months to accept that I needed help (and, it turned out, medication), but in the meantime I made my boyfriend so miserable with my own miserableness that he dumped me. He didn't handle the breakup well, and many of my wonderful friends are still ready to string him up because of the way they think he treated me, but it wasn't his fault. I was broken, and he couldn't fix me, and I subtly punished him for it, and he couldn't take it anymore. That's the truth.

The depression was very intense. I kind of felt like a marine in boot camp, where they're supposed to break you down to your barest elements as a person so they can rebuild you as a soldier. I felt like a raw, exposed nerve ending all the time, I had suicidal ideations (never could or would act on them -- don't worry), I felt worthless and despondent and beyond salvation. But then I went to therapy and went on medication and got better. I've had relapses, but the difference now is that I recognize what's happening immediately and get help. Mostly it's just chemical. I feel fine on the meds, and I cycle downwards fairly dramatically when I'm not on them. The only side effect that I can't get rid of is insomnia (I'm writing this at 3 in the morning). I haven't slept through the night without the assistance of ambien or something similar in 9 years, and I've resigned myself to the fact that I probably never will.

So how did the depression and the breakup back in 1998 affect me? In a way, it made me determined to take control of my life to the extent I could, and not be a slave to my chemical makeup. I know I have tendencies to feel down, so I'm determined to not feel that way, to the extent I can control it. I feel like I have two choices: I can deal with whatever comes, and get on with my life, or not. "Not" is not an acceptable option. Life's too short to feel crappy about things, so a big part of my approach is to just not feel crappy.

Since 1998, my life has changed quite dramatically, and I did things I'm not sure I would have done before. I ran a half-marathon and then a marathon, though I had never been a runner. I bought a house and got a new job. I started playing bluegrass music in public. I made new friends. I joined tennis teams. I started a book club. Best of all, I married an Australian surfer that I met on vacation in Costa Rica.

Without the depression, I don't know that I would have ever done any of these things. On the other hand, maybe the outlook I have now was always in me, just waiting for an opportunity to emerge, like a butterfly in a cocoon. So the depression, in a way, provided me with the impetus to act. But the desire, the impulse to make a life, was there the whole time. And since then I've felt very strongly that I control not only my destiny but also how I'm going to feel about it and what I'm going to become. I'm relatively fearless about how my life is going to go. Marry an Aussie surfer/electrician? sure, I love him and he's fun and sweet and he makes me happy. Move to Hawaii? Why not, it's pretty and people will come visit. Have a kid soon? Hell, yeah. We're ready. Full steam ahead.

Yesterday my mother called me to tell me about an envelope of my old school records from when I was in first grade in Venezuela. The teachers loved me, I was cooperative, smart, eager to learn, a joy to have in class, blah blah blah. In the "needs improvement" section, the teacher said, "Wendy has a difficult time keeping her work space neat and organized." I would like to invite my teacher to my office to let her know that her observation would be as applicable now as then -- my desk looks like a filing cabinet was dumped out onto it, and it pretty much always looks that way. I try to clean it, but it doesn't really take. I guess that part of me has been encoded since the age of five, and it's never changed, and it's never going to.

I want my friend to know that her core as a person isn't something likely to be changed by anything. She's smart, principled, moral, ethical, and serious. I suspect that those qualifies may spur her to make some changes that she might not have otherwise made, or that she didn't realize she had the strength to make. But it will still be her. Some lessons learned, a little more circumspect, perhaps, but still wonderful her.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Depressing but true

My agent has tried calling the poop-stepper's agent, but no response. Not good. It's looking more and more like we may have to take the house off the market and try again in the spring. *sigh* I'm so bummed. We were so encouraged only a few days ago and now feel hopeless. On the plus side, we're going to the Falcons' home opener against the Bucs on Sunday (big grudge match), which should be really fun, especially because I scored good seats. And I've become addicted to Project Runway. So I've got that going for me.


It's a couple of hours later and I just got a good pep talk from my real estate agent. She told me to keep the faith, so that's what I'm going to do. I figure we'll ride it out for about a month, and if it hasn't sold at that point, we'll figure something out at that point. So I'm feeling a little better.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

You're shitting me, right?

This is so ridiculous I can't even believe it's true, but I swear I'm not making it up. The woman that expressed great interest in our house at the open house on Sunday came by to look at it again today. Which is great, except that apparently, for the first time since he was a puppy, Max took a dump in the house. Jason came home and found it, with a footprint across the middle of it, and then a series of shitty footprints leading across the carpet, through the laundry room, and out the back door. I'm praying that, as with getting hit by bird shit, having a prospective buyer step in dog shit while inspecting your house is good luck. Oy.

Monday, September 11, 2006

We have a nibble

I don't want to say too much about it because I'm afraid of jinxing it, but there's a person who's very interested in the house. Fingers and toes crossed.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Help me out, people.

Yesterday I had a bit of a stomach bug and there wasn't much going on at the office, so I went home early. I had some unwatched Netflix movies, including Midnight Cowboy, which starred Jon Voigt and Dustin Hoffman and won the Best Picture Oscar(TM) in 1969 and is supposed to be this incredible classic. I had rented it because it was one of those venerated, hip movies that I had never gotten around to seeing. To my surprise and dismay, I found it to be boring, plodding and pointless, and was utterly unmoved by the characters or the acting. Now, I consider myself to be a relatively sophisticated consumer of culture, so I'm a bit unnerved by my reaction (though I also thought Crash sucked major ass and cannot for the life of me figure out why anyone liked that movie, so maybe I'm just out of touch and not as sophisticated as I think I am). Anyway, if someone can explain to me what it is about Midnight Cowboy that is so great, I would most appreciate it.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Hanging in there.

The house sale is officially frustrating as hell. The market completely sucks right now, to the point that every major news magazine/organization has a cover story about how shitty it is and how everyone trying to sell right now is going to lose their shirt. We just lowered the price -- again -- so maybe that will help the process along. I know that houses in my neighborhood and price range are selling, if somewhat more slowly, so I'm hoping it's just a matter of time. I keep having the same conversation with everyone I know.

"How's the sale of the house going? Any nibbles?"

"Not yet. We're still getting a fair amount of traffic through it, so we're encouraged, but you know how it is. The market is screwy right now."

"Yeah, I've heard that. Well, hang in there! It'll sell."

"I know. We're trying to be patient."

So, we're hanging in there. Not that we have a choice, but whatever.

As for what else is going on, we had a lovely Labor Day weekend. Friday night we had dinner with Kathleen and Addie and Lula, and after dinner Jason and I had the honor of taking Addie for ice cream by ourselves while Kathleen took Lula home to put her to bed. Good babysitting practice for when we have our own bambini.

What else? The rest of the weekend, I spent much time on the couch, watching tennis and napping. We were shocked by the freakish death of Steve Irwin. Jason took Max for a walk late Sunday night and lost him for 45 minutes when he let him run around off the leash for a few minutes. The poor dog is almost completely blind, especially at night, so he must have wandered away (bumping into things the whole time) and couldn't find his way back. Jason found him a half mile down the street, sitting in front of a car under a street light. Saturday night we went to the drive-in movie, which was very fun in an old school, kitschy kind of way. We saw a gloriously awful movie about hip-hop and street basketball called Crossover. It's the first movie I've ever seen that got a 0% -- yes, you read that right --rating on Not a single positive review. We loved it, so screw you, critic bitches. It was a beautiful, breezy night, and we sat in our little camp chairs drinking Australian shiraz and eating Fritos and Fiddle Faddle and had a grand time. We watched another bitchin movie on Sunday called Roll Bounce, an awesome 70s teen roller-skating movie. Interestingly (at least, it's interesting to me), both movies starred Wayne Brady (who I love) and some new kid named Wesley Jonathan, who can't act for shit but is quite cute and charismatic on-screen nonetheless. Anyway, as soon as my arm gets better, we're totally going roller skating.

Speaking of which, my arm is getting better. I have so much more range of motion than I did even just a few days ago, and I don't ever wear my sling or have to take heavy-duty pain meds (which is good, since I went through all 30 of the pills I had in a week). I figure I'll be back at full strength in another 2 weeks or so, so I'll have to find another triathlon to compete in, because I need the training. I'm feeling a little pudgy.

Friday, September 01, 2006

The Bestest Get Well Card in the World

Last night when I got home from work, there was a large envelope waiting for me in the mailbox. It was from my brother and sister-in-law, Sam and Erica. Erica has a jewelry business, so I figured it was something related to that, perhaps a new catalog that she had put together and wanted me to see. Instead, what I found was the most awesome get-well card ever.

Apparently, Erica gets catalogs from supply companies, including a fine establishment called Fine Mountain Gems. They have their astonishingly unphotogenic employees model jewelry designs. Erica had the idea to use the catalog to make an inspirational card. Sam helped her take it to the next level.

I'm not sure if this guy turned to Jesus for sodomy, or to sodomy for relief. Syntax, Sammy, syntax.

I think Chinless Lady is my favorite.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Apparently, youth is wasted on me, too

Last night my friend Andrea called from San Francisco to firm up plans for this weekend (she's coming to Atlanta for Labor Day). It was 8:47 p.m. when she called, and I had to get up and out of bed and turn the lights on to answer the phone. Another 10 minutes and she would have missed me, because I would have already been asleep.

At least Jason has an excuse. He's working crazy hours this week and is out of the house by 5 a.m., so he has to get up at 4:30. I get up with him to make him his lunch and coffee and get him out the door, because he is so not a morning person, it's scary. But then I go back to bed and sleep until 7. So I'm not sure why I'm ready to climb into bed and go to sleep before the sun is even down in the evening.

I think much of it is the injury. I've been trying to keep my arm out of the sling during the day, so by the time I'm done with work, I'm hurting. Most of the time I'm able to hold my arm in a way that doesn't tax my shoulder too much, but I frequently jostle it or try to pick up something a little too heavy, or I just get tired. So all I want to do when I get home is prop my arm on a pillow, take a couple of Lortabs, and veg out.

I am also quite a source of amusement to Jason, who finds nothing more hilarious than me, whining and feeling sorry for myself. Last night I was trying to change out of my work clothes and simply could not get my bra and shirt off, to the point that my bra was still hooked over my left shoulder but hanging out of the neck of my shirt, and I'm trying with one arm to lift my shirt over my head but can't quite reach, so I'm flailing around like a total spaz (and please, no emails about how insensitive that term is to the disabled -- it's funny, OK? Plus I work for the benefit of disabled kids, so I'm allowed to be an asshole from time to time). I'm hanging my head in frustration, and my lower lip is pushing further and further out as I commence pouting. Jason takes one look at me and starts laughing his ass off, the kind where he's laughing so hard he's not even making any noise, just silently wheezing. I was afraid he was going to bust something. (He did the same thing the last time we went to the movies, when one of those fake movie ads came on where there's this big action sequence and then you hear a baby start to cry and the words "silence is golden" come on the screen. I was totally faked out by it, and said, loudly, "Oh, come on," in an exasperated tone, thinking that some bonehead had brought an infant to see Talladega Nights. Jason was so hysterical with laughter he had tears in his eyes. Anyway.)

I finally managed to get my pajamas on and got into bed. We were lying there watching Whose Line is it Anyway? when I had a premonition that we would be doing the exact same thing -- having trouble dressing ourselves, watching corny tv shows, going to bed when the sun was still up -- when we're 80. That made me smile, because I'd like to still be with Jason, having fun and giggling about everything, when I'm 80. But I'm not quite ready to be 80 yet. So come on, shoulder. Heal!

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

File under "Curb, Kick His Ass To The"

I am all about giving love a chance. I really am. I'm the poster child for it, as anyone who knows anything about my relationship with Jason knows. If you've got that loving feeling, don't give up, etc. Blah blah. But there are limits. So this entry is a shout-out to my good friend E, who is hurting after giving The Boy a fourth chance, only to have him fuck it up again.

Girlfriend, it's time to move on. You're a beautiful, smart, engaging, talented, funny woman, and The Boy just isn't capable. He doesn't have it. I will say nothing disparaging about him because a) I like him and I don't think he's a bad guy, and b) it's not helpful, but he can't make you happy. I know you've had periods of happiness with him, but he always ends up kicking you in the gut (figuratively speaking, of course). You've given this relationship every chance to succeed, but, to use ER/Grey's Anatomy/House-speak, it's time to call it. "Time of death: August 2006."

Now let's go out and get drunk. I'll buy.

What the doctor said

I went to the Emory Orthopedic Clinic this morning to have them tell me the dealio with my shoulder. Nothing looks terribly out of place on the x-rays, which means it's a low-level sprain, nothing too awful. I might have a little bump on my shoulder when it heals, but I might not. The doc did a bunch of range-of-motion tests and asked me a bunch of questions, and then basically told me that it's going to hurt until it doesn't anymore. It should take about 3-4 weeks to heal (much better than the 6-8 I was originally told), and I should do what's comfortable, take whatever will ease the pain (and he gave me some primo shit ;)), do some exercises, don't do some exercises, wear the sling, don't wear the sling -- it really doesn't make a difference. Time will heal this wound, and there is really nothing I can do to speed the process up. Knowing that makes me feel much better, somehow.

In related news, my boss let me hire a temp to help me during my period of gimpiness. He's a champ. So for the first time in my life, I have a personal secretary. It rocks.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Everybody knows everything about everything

I am, I freely admit, a know-it-all. But I also freely acknowledge that I am frequently full of shit and often don't know the answers to things. I try not to correct errors that are irrelevant to the story or to embarass people. And I am discovering how utterly annoying it is when everybody else has all the answers to all of your problems.

Take my shoulder, for instance. All of a sudden, huge numbers of people I know have suffered the same injury, or know someone who has, and they all have something to say about it.

"Keep your arm in the sling, or the ligaments won't heal."

"I dislocated my shoulder when I was 20 and it hasn't been the same since. It's going to bother you for the rest of your life."

"If you keep your arm in the sling the whole time, you'll lose your range of motion and develop arthritis."

"Make sure you do exercises where you bend and unbend your elbow, or it will permanently stiffen."

"Treat it with ice."

"Don't treat it with ice. Treat it with heat."

"Take tylenol."

"Take advil."

"Don't take anything."

I want to congratulate everyone on the medical degrees they apparently went out and got when I wasn't looking. And in response to whatever it is you suggested, you're right, and I'll do exactly as you say. Now stop talking. And I promise to do the same when the urge strikes me to comment on something I know nothing about.

P.S. I recognize how bitchy this sounds, and that's not my intention. I so appreciate how sweet and concerned and supportive everyone has been. It's just that the constant unsolicited (and often conflicting) medical advice doesn't help -- it increases my agitation.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

And just like that, no bike....

I'm such a dumbass. After going on and on about how much I'm into riding my bike and zen and blah blee bloo, I started to ride to work yesterday on my brand spankin' new bike, crashed 2 miles into it, and separated my shoulder. It was totally my fault. I didn't feel like waiting for the line of cars to get through a particular turn, so I tried to jump the curb to get on the dirt path next to the road, didn't angle my front wheel properly, and fell onto my right side. As soon as I fell, I felt and heard a *pop* in my right shoulder, and when I sat up and couldn't move my arm, I knew I was in trouble. Luckily, a bunch of people stopped and helped me out. My friend Karen came and picked me up (along with my bike,which is fine) and took me to the ER. Jason left work and met me there, and then took me home and took care of me the rest of the day.

To put it in the bluntest term possible, it hurt like a motherfucker. I was triaged in the ER and had to wait because of a couple of cases that were more serious than mine, so I sat holding my arm to my side for two hours before I got a sling or any pain medication. I'm not complaining about the medical treatment -- the other people needed to go first-- but it hurt so much. I tried to do Lamaze type breathing to get through the pain, but it didn't help much. Even after 2 shots of morphine, I was in serious discomfort. I took 5 percocets before the day was through, and never got rid of the pain altogether.

So now I'm out of commission for 6 weeks, at least. I can't do the triathlon, can't swim, can't hold a pen, can't put on a shirt (unless it's sleeveless) by myself. Because I was too impatient to wait for the cars to start moving, I've sidelined myself and I feel like a moron. I really need to learn to have more regard for my own physical safety. And, as Jason pointed out, to work on my bike-handling skills.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Zen and real estate, and bikes

I'm feeling much more mellow about the sale of the house and the move to Hawaii. Nothing has happened yet, though we did have a couple of agents show the house yesterday, so that's good. And as far as I can tell, the sellers of the Ala Wai place that I love didn't accept the other offer that they got, so that's good. But if I don't get the place that I want, we'll find another one, and if the house takes longer to sell than I'd like (which it's already doing), so be it. One of my good friends is going through a terribly rough time right now, and it's putting things into perspective. I've got no problems.

In other news, I feel like my life is consumed by bicycles. I now own three of them. A road/racing bike, a hybrid that's definitely seen better days, and my new mountain bike. I took the hybrid, which is my commuting bike, in for a tune-up, and quickly realized what a junker it is. It's heavy, the gear-shifting mechanism is awkward and temperamental, it's got bottom-of-the-barrel components, and the seat pole isn't completely stable so the seat moves a little bit when I pedal, causing me to lose power. The upside is that hauling that piece of crap up and down the hills of Buckhead and Decatur twice a day is making me much stronger on the racing bike.

So we went bike shopping, but had multiple objectives to fulfill. I wanted a bike that I could commute on comfortably, and Jason wanted me to get a bike on which I could go trail-riding, because he wants me to go with him. We found a really cool, reasonably priced Ironhorse, with disc brakes, easy shifters, and front shocks. It's as light as a mountain bike that doesn't cost $5000 can be expected to be, and it rides great. And I'm excited to ride with Jason -- he's a really good technical rider, he's a very patient teacher, and we always have fun together.

But last night I had a dream about bicycles. I didn't ride in today because I take Mondays off, but I'll probably ride to the Y to go swimming later on today, and I'll ride in the rest of the week, plus do a long training ride on Saturday or Sunday. I find myself obsessed with acquiring new gear that will reduce my transition times in a triathlon. My drain rack is full of water bottles.

On the other hand, I go to bed every day physically very tired from the exertion, and it helps me calm down about the other things in my life that I normally worry myself sick over. It keeps me zen.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

The world can be a chilly place

I rode my bike to work this morning, as I have been doing off and on this summer. I do it to stay in shape, to save gas, to train for races, and this morning, because one of our cars is in the shop. Given that Jason works about 55 miles away from home, whereas my office is only 8 miles away, it seemed more reasonable for him to take the car.

I felt a little tired when I first started out, but then I got my blood pumping and felt pretty good. Then, about half-way through the ride, a lady cut me off in traffic, forcing me to try to jump the curb to avoid her. I wasn't successful, and I crashed hard, cutting up my knee and elbow. A huge line of cars that had stopped for a light saw me go down, and it was not a delicate fall -- my water bottle went flying and I sort of bounced on the sidewalk. I got up and picked up my bike with blood streaming down my leg from the cut on my knee. I knew I wasn't badly hurt -- just a little scraped up -- but it was definitely bloody.

Amazingly, not a single person rolled down their window to ask me if I was OK. Not one. A whole line of people, sitting there gaping at me, and nobody said anything. I know Atlanta drivers are shitty to people on bikes, but jeez. That's really cold.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Our House in Israel

My brother Josh got an email from an old friend of his from 6th grade that we knew when we lived in Israel. Our school there just had a big reunion (I'm so sad I couldn't go) and she emailed some pictures. This is the house that we lived in at 15 Wingate Street in Herzeliya Petuach, a suburb of Tel Aviv. That huge wall around it was not there when we lived in it -- it was wide open to the street. Times have changed.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006


I'm so bummed. The Kailua place that I love was taken off the market. This process is so annoying.

Monday, August 14, 2006

We are ath-a-leets

Ever since I was little, I was a good athlete. My mom taught me to swim when I was barely 2 years old, and I was fearless in the water and on the diving board. I played youth soccer, a little 8-year-old dynamo running around the field with my Dorothy Hamill haircut. I was a competitive gymnast and then a competitive diver. I've played on softball teams, soccer teams, field hockey teams, tennis teams and ultimate frisbee teams.

I point this out not because I think I'm some sort of stud, but to provide some context. In January of 1999, I ran a half-marathon, and then did a full marathon 5 months later. It was too much for my L4-L5 disc to handle. The disc herniated and jammed up against the sciatic nerve in my left leg, causing excruciating pain down my leg and into my toes. For 3 months, I hobbled around at an angle, unable to walk fully upright because of the pain. I walked the dogs in the mornings and cried because it hurt so bad. It was one of the most humbling and frightening experiences of my life. I went from never questioning my own strength or physical ability to do anything, to wondering if I would ever be able to function again without pain.

So in October 1999, I had surgery on my back. What my surgeon lacked in bedside manner he made up for in skill, because within 4 months or so I was relatively pain-free. My back still stiffens up from time to time, and I can definitely tell when it's going to rain, but it's manageable. Since then, I vowed that I would do my best to keep my body strong and healthy and never take my physical health for granted. I've had good examples set for me. My father still rides his bike to work sometimes, and my mother gets up at 5 every morning to lift weights. My grandfather is 90 and still loves to dance. I've got good longevity genes, so barring getting hit by a bus, I'll probably live to be in my 90s (at least). If I don't take care of myself, I could spend alot of years feeling crappy and weak. Having already been there, I know how much it sucks, so no, thank you.

After my surgery, and when I felt reasonable recovered, my friend Kathleen and I decided to do a sprint triathlon, and we found one in August 2000 in Charleston. Whenever we talked about it, we proclaimed that we were "ath-a-leets" (if it doesn't have three syllables, you're not pronouncing it right). We trained hard and were in great shape. I was a little bit nervous about my back holding up, but it did, and we finished the race in a respectable time and crossed the finish line holding hands.

We are now 6 years older than when we did the Charleston tri. We both have husbands, and Kathleen has two children. But we are still doing races, so now we just have a bigger cheering section at the finish. We did a sprint triathlon yesterday (again holding hands at the finish -- we are such dorks), and we are doing another one in 4 weeks. We trained and competed with our buddy, Michelle, who regularly kicks both of our asses but who helps us train and never complains when we ask to stop to rest.

Eventually, we'll be in our 70's and finishing at the bottom of the pack. But we'll finish, because we are ath-a-leets.

We cross the finish line with big smiles. I think my turquoise tri suit is the other manmade object visible from space.

Weekend miscellany

We had a good open house yesterday -- about four groups came through in 2 hours, and a couple expressed serious interest. So that's good. On the down side, the Ala Wai condo sellers got another offer. I don't know what it was or whether it was accepted. Argh.

In other news, I did a triathlon yesterday. I felt pretty good about it. I need to work on my transitions and my running, but it was fun. Such an improvement from the Chattanooga half marathon, which was utterly f'ing miserable for me. Kathleen, Michelle LeGault and Julie Lewis did it as well, and Jason and Rich and the girls came up to cheer us on. Jason was so proud of me that he got a little choked up when I finished. So sweet.

I'm definitely pumped up to do another one soon -- there's a sprint up at Lake Lure in North Carolina in September. Kathleen and I are mulling over signing up.

Friday, August 11, 2006


The sellers won't accept the offer with the contingency. I wish I could afford to carry two mortgages at once, but I can't. I guess nothing to do but wait for the house to sell.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

My dad is fine, but he's a crazy adrenaline junkie

I just talked to my mother, who just talked to my father, who is fine. [*knocks wood, throws salt over shoulder*] But he's in the Golan Heights, near the Lebanese and Syrian borders in the north of Israel. He was talking to my mother from his balcony on the kibbutz where he's staying, and he's looking out on a beautiful night and watching the artillery fire from the Hezbollah rockets. He assured my mother that he would go to a bunker if the air raid siren sounded. Great. That's so reassuring!

Though now that I think of it, we lived in Israel when it went to war with Lebanon back in 1982. That same year, my parents took my brothers and me to a ski resort on Mt. Hermon -- from which you could spit and hit Syrian or Lebanese soil -- to go sledding. Our family motto has always been "suck it up," so maybe taking us to go play in a war zone was a way of teaching us to walk the walk.

It's out there...

I just sent Cy, the real estate agent, the signed offer. We had 7 different documents totalling 22 pages that Jason and I had to either sign or initial. Thankfully, Hawaii allows faxed or emailed signatures to function as originals, so we can do this all over the internet. I might not even have to be there to close, which would be great. I would love to have the deal finish, have Cy hook up all of our utilities, land in Honolulu, pick up the keys, and walk into our new place.

Fingers crossed that the seller will accept the offer. I really don't want to lose this place.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Three Little Birds

Poor Jason. I woke up with him this morning to make him his lunch for work, and promptly started to cry. I don't know why I'm feeling so weepy -- I think it's a combination of exhaustion and stress. He's a trouper, though. He always knows how to make me laugh, and particularly to laugh at myself, which I definitely need.

I also received this wonderful e-mail from a dear friend who I won't name because I don't want to plaster her name all over the web without her permission (but it rhymes with "Shmen Foocas"). I will also mention that she has been quite remiss in sending new pictures of her adorable baby.
you *should* be terrified wendy because that is a normal reaction when your life is so terrific. but most of the reason that your life is terrific has to do with being happy with yourself. since you'll be taking yourself with you to hawaii, i think you'll be all set. plus, being in a loving relationship will make it all worthwhile. missing family and friends will be balanced by the fun and adventure of getting settled in and exploring a new place. it will be really exciting. new friends are not the same as people who have known you forever, but new friends become old friends in not too long. i read somewhere that it takes a year to really get emotionally settled after a move to a new place. don't let the 30+ sets of visitors you'll have in that first year get in the way of you guys settling in :)

when you move you won't stop getting support and encouragement from all of us. i know it's not the same when there is an ocean between us, but many of your friends and family aren't in the same city anyway. but really, so normal to be scared. moving is a big deal. plus, getting married is a life-changing event. that's a lot of stress, even if it's good stress.
She's absolutely right. I will miss you all, but I will talk to you and email with you and you will visit me and I will visit you. And I will be experiencing it with my sweet, sweet husband. So it's all good.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

10:40 pm, and I'm all nerves

Jet lag sucks. I was so exhausted this morning that I slept like a dead person until about 7:30, which is way too late to get organized and be on time for work, then I'm exhausted again at around 4 in the afternoon, and now it's way past bedtime and I'm a bundle of anxiety and I can't sleep. Word to the wise: unless you can help it, don't take a trip in which your turnaround is less than the time you will require to get over the time difference. A good rule of thumb is 1 day per hour or hour and a half of time difference, i.e., assume that if you're going someplace where there's a 6 hour time difference, it'll take at about 4-6 days to get adjusted fully. Last year I did a trip to Australia, which is 14 hours ahead of the East Coast, that was only a week long. My body completely rebelled and I got horribly sick -- tonsillitis, if I remember correctly -- as soon as I got back. The Hawaii trip was 3 days, with a 6 hour time difference, and while I don't feel like I'm getting sick, my head hurts and I'm alternately tired and wired at the wrong times.

I'm also feeling very nervous. Excited about the move, but also terrified. I keep bursting into tears and then feeling stupid about it. I know it's going to be a grand adventure, but I'm going to miss my family and friends so much that it physically hurts sometimes, like a vise grip in my chest. Being in limbo is hard. What if the sellers of the Waikiki place don't accept the offer, or what if our house here doesn't sell in time? I crunched the numbers to try to figure out if we could float the mortgage on this place AND have Jason between jobs for awhile AND pay the mortgage, condo fees, etc. in Hawaii, and I just don't see that we could without ending up in the poor house or the funny farm. Which means that we have to wait for our house here to sell before we can do anything. I hate not knowing what's going to happen or where we're going to be, or when.

Plus my dad's in Israel right now until next week. I won't relax until his plane touches down on U.S. soil again, especially because, according to my mom, he may be going to Haifa. Which is being shelled by Hezbollah rockets. So there's that.

Sorry to be whining. This blog is functioning as my therapist right now, so I thank all of you for your patience and forebearance. I've received so many emails and other expressions of encouragement, and I appreciate your support and am flattered by your interest in my inane musings.

Oh, and Eleanor, I did finally get my Ipod to work. ;)

House hunting etiquette

I was gone over the weekend (as you all know), as was Jason. Apparently he and the boys had a big time camping and biking. Saturday night was spent sitting around the fire, shelling and eating peanuts and drinking beer. Every once and a while, someone would say, "good times," and the rest would nod, and then they'd go on staring at the fire. Boys are funny.

While we were gone, some people came through on Saturday to look at the house. We have a lock box on the front door, so realtors can show the house any time. At first it weirded me out knowing that people would be traipsing through the place whenever they wanted, but we got used to it, and now it's kind of nice to have the house spotlessly clean all the time.

So anyway, someone came through on Saturday, and TOOK A GIANT DUMP IN THE TOILET AND DIDN'T FLUSH. Yes, you read that right. Jason came home on Sunday night, lifted the toilet seat lid, and found a disgusting present waiting for him.

Who does this?? I'm still in total shock. My understanding of the general rules of house hunting is that one does not use the bathroom in a strange person's house. Of course, if you gotta go, you gotta go, so if there's an emergency, by all means, do the needful. But for God's sake, flush the fucking toilet. Seriously. Just flush. People amaze me, and not always in a good way.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Back in the ATL

took the redeye in from Honolulu last night. I managed to get some sleep, but the trip was one klutzy screw-up after another. Cy and I went to lunch yesterday to go over the contract before we formally make the offer, and as I was walking out to his car, a water bottle in my bag tipped over and poured itself all over the inside in my bag. Normally not too much of a big deal, except that for reasons that I have still not been able to figure out -- after considerable investigation, mind you -- everything in the bag turned green, dripped green water all over my jeans, Cy's car seats, my ipod, and my bottle of ambien, which had somehow come open in the bag. I've tried to find a green pen, green piece of cloth, anything that would account for the abundance of green water soaking everything, but could find nothing. I try to play my Ipod, but it's acting all buggy and the click wheel won't respond to touch. I've rebooted it or reset it or whatever you do to an Ipod about 50 times, but nothing. It wasn't until I was on the plane that I discovered that my ambiens were slowly disintegrating into a pile of soggy green mush, so I grabbed 2 that seemed relatively whole and ate them, and then slept until we landed. Right before landing, they served some cereal and coffee, and of course I spilled my coffee on my tray and it dripped down into my lap. After getting off the plane and getting my luggage, I rode the Marta into the office. There was condensation from the airconditioning unit on the roof of the train car, so every time the train jostled it dripped water all over everyone. The long and the short of it is, I feel like the kid in Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.
A classic children's book -- I highly recommend it -- and one that perfectly captures the way I'm feeling right now.

UPDATE: Salvation!! Jason played hooky from work and is coming to pick me up. I'll do some work at home, and also shower and get into some clean clothes. I love my husband!!

Sunday, August 06, 2006

We're making an offer

I just talked to Jason, who is riding with Chris back to Atlanta after their camping trip in Tsali. They had a great time, and it sounds like the tent and other camping gear we have is going to be perfect for our road trip across the country.

OK, sorry, I buried the lede. We're making an offer on the Waikiki place on Ala Wai. I'm meeting with Cy later today to go over comparables so we can decide on the specifics of the offer, but we're doing it. Now I have to figure out if we should get this show on the road and get a bridge loan to cover the Atlanta mortgage until the house sells and just move out here ASAP.

This is all moving very fast, but I'm really excited.

A day at Waikiki beach

The waves were about shoulder to head-high and perfect. There were so many surfers out there, good ones, really tearing it up. I read the paper and lounged in the water on a floatie that a lady from New Zealand gave me because her trip was ending and she wasn't going to schlep it back with her. And yes, Mom, I used plenty of sunscreen (30 spf) and wore a big straw hat, so I didn't get burned.

Statue of surfing legend Duke Kahanamoku at Kuhio Beach in Waikiki. Duke (he and I are on a first-name basis, dontcha know) was one of the first big wave riders in the world, an Olympic swimmer, and the first person inducted into the Surfing Hall of Fame.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Narrowing the field

I looked at 8 or 9 different places today, and I think I've got it narrowed down to a place in Waikiki and the place in Kailua. Nothing else even comes close. I saw a couple of places that were decent and in a good building and location, a place that was too shabby (with a weird layout), a place that was in a great location and building but was just too tiny, and then, the Waikiki condo that I really love. The thing that struck me was that as important as it is to walk through a place to get a sense of whether you like it, with both of the ones that I love, the walkthrough only confirmed what I already knew in my gut. With the Kailua place, I knew as soon as I saw the listing, a month and a half ago, that I would love it. Same with the Waikiki place. I don't know if the agents who prepared the listings really knew how to convey the feel of the properties or what, but I had a powerful sense that either of them could be the one.

So what's so great about it? First, it is in an unbelievable location. Right in Waikiki, blocks from the beach, walking distance to restaurants, shopping, recreational paths. On Ala Wai canal with a view of the mountains and great trade breezes to keep the place cool. It's got a terrific layout, and I already have an idea of how to open up the main living area even more. It's in move-in condition. It's got a lanai (Hawaiian for balcony) that wraps around the unit. The maintenance fee is a bit steep, but it covers every utility. It's got covered parking, and the location is so good that we could probably get away with having only one car. I can see myself entertaining guests and working there. In a word, it rocks.

view of Ala Wai Canal from the wraparound lanai

Above: the salt water fish tank/pond; view of the kitchen from the lanai

back corner of the living room. You can see the lanai on either side outside the windows.

The next step is to talk to Cy tomorrow and go over the contract process. When I get home, I'll sit down with Jason, go over all of the various listings and the 150 pictures I took, and make a decision. I think we'll place a contingency offer (contingent on the sale of our house) within a week.

And now, I'm going to the beach. I may even rent a surfboard and catch a couple of waves, but I'm kind of a pussy about surfing without Jason, so I'll probably just read and nap.

Saturday morning

I finally slept last night, with the assistance of 1 1/2 ambiens. I'm still jet lagged, so I was asleep by 7:30, and woke up at 5. Went down the street to a 24 hour coffee shop for breakfast and drank my weight in coffee. Kathleen called a little while ago -- it was so nice talking to her. She's still in Michigan with her family, while our husbands are biking and camping in North Carolina. That is going to be the hardest part about moving here -- making new friends and missing my Atlanta crew.

Cy is picking me up in about 20 minutes. We're going to look at in-town properties today. More later...

Cy Carnate, Coldwell Banker Properties, at your service

Salt Lake

Salt Lake a neighborhood in the metro Honolulu area, just north of the airport. It's very convenient to everything. It's an upper middle class area with decent public schools (a rarity for Hawaii), populated by military families and Honolulu professionals. It kind of looks like someone scattered condo seeds in a giant field, and lots of tall buildings grew very close to each other. The building I looked at (there are 3 identical units for sale) is within walking distance to a new shopping center, 5 minutes from the airport, close to downtown, beach, whereever. It's not as pretty as Kailua, but it's more centrally located.

The building is called Ala Ilima. It's not very pretty from the outside, but the elevators are well-maintained (Cy told me that you can tell how well a building is maintained by the quality of its elevators), it has a pool, exercise room, bbq area, sauna, and a bunch of other stuff. Both units I looked at had been recently renovated with granite counters in the kitchen, new cabinets, pergo floors. They have painted brick walls, which I'm not crazy about, but I can live with them. The layout of the condos is OK. I could live here. But I'd rather live in Kailua.

Above: kitchen and LR; the trapezoid shaped pool; the new public library across the street.


Ah, Kailua. What a place. I could easily see myself living here. It feels more like a beach town than Kaneohe does, for some reason. Kind of like living on the Outer Banks, but with more big city amenities, plus an actual big city 20 minutes away. The two properties I looked at here were both very nice, but one is $100,000 more than the other, so I ruled it out fairly quickly. The other one feels like home. The interior living space is about 1500 sf, which is close to what I'm living in now, plus a huge open lanai that is big enough to put a table on to have meals out there. The complex is beautiful -- landscaped gardens, a pool, a bbq area, just lovely. We would be a 15 minute walk or a 5 minute bike ride from the beach, and close to great shopping. I love love love this place. The only downside is the price. The mortgage wouldn't be bad, but it's a leasehold, which is an estate in land peculiar to Hawaii, in which the owner owns the improvements (i.e., the building) on the real estate, but the actual land is owned by someone else, so you pay monthly rent on the land. In alot of places in town, the monthly leasehold payment is low -- around $30 -- so it's not a big deal. But my Kailua place is leased at over $400 a month, plus a $700 monthly condo fee and $120 a month in taxes. So we're looking at over $1200 a month before we even get to the mortgage. I do love it, though. Right now, this is the front-runner.


I looked at 8 properties yesterday, accompanied by Cy, my trusty real estate agent. He's a really nice guy, and a former teacher and curriculum coordinator for public schools, so when he found out I did special ed law, we had lots to talk about other than the real estate, which still gave us plenty. His wife made us these home-baked energy bars that were yummy.

As it always is, looking at properties is weird. For every one, you have to imagine, could I live here? Do the neighbors look nice? Where would guests stay? Do I have room for my pots and pans? Where will I hang my artwork?

Two of the condos (they were almost identical because they are in the same building, pictured below) were just gross. They were in the town of Kaneohe, on the windward side. The prices out here blow my mind -- these places were listed at around $360K, and they're just dumpy. No effing way.

The first building we looked at. Looks like the projects. To the left is a busy road.

Note the olive green counters, linolium floors, carpet, and fake grass on the lanai. There is no air conditioning and nowhere to put ceiling fans. Yes, the trade winds are strong, but it was stuffy in there.

I love the chutzpah the agent for this place has, listing this as a lanai off the bedroom. You couldn't put anything out there. If you were having a "fat" day, closing the door behind your ass might even be a problem.

The next place was much better (I'm having a hard time uploading photos onto Blogger, so here is a link to the listing instead). Also in Kaneohe. I don't love Kaneohe as much as Kailua, but it's not bad. Beautiful mountains, close to hiking, beach, canoeing, good restaurants, and about 20 minutes to Honolulu. This place has a tennis court, but no pool. It's cute, nicely done up, and it had a downstairs area with another bathroom and two guest rooms. Both of which are tiny, but that's the nature of the beast around here. Either one could function very well as a nursery or an office. Jason could put in some nice lighting to pep it up, and we could take out the carpet that's down there and put in Pergo. This is a possibility, especially because the price is right.