Wednesday, August 25, 2010

It's Different When You're Elderly Like Me

In my life so far, I have traveled a lot, and thus have received a ton of travel vaccinations. I've always done just fine. Sure, the first yellow fever shot left a small lesion, and the old Hep A preventative, gamma globulin, burned going into my hip*, but I was always just fine with shots. As a kid, I don't remember feeling funny at all after shots, and trust me, I would have remembered. I hated shots.**

So four years ago when I went in for a routine physical prior to starting a new nanny job, and the nurse asked if I needed a tetanus booster, I didn't hesitate to say yes, and assumed that it would be no big deal. The next day, I had very little range of motion in my arm, and it hurt to move it at all. It was not the easy procedure I remembered, where the worst part was the stick of the needle.

Still, walking into the travel doctor's office yesterday, I didn't really think much about the possibility of adverse effects of another shot I'd had as a child, the MMR. I mean, come on, that's a sissy shot! It probably won't even hurt! Well. I was wrong. Not only did the liquid (er, gel? It was thick...) sting and then burn as it went in, all too slowly, but later the injection site still hurt, and after I worked out (because of course I worked out--these are just simple vaccinations, right?), I couldn't move my arm enough to put my bag in the backseat of the car whilst sitting in the driver's seat. Around bedtime, I felt strangely cold. I fell into fitful sleep hugging the part of a heating pad that was not draped over the injection site. I woke up some time later so hot I would have joined the Polar Bear Club to get some relief. Instead, I threw the blankets off and finally admitted that I needed some medication. With ibuprofen down the hatch and a few crackers munched silently in the dark living room to soften the medicated punch, I fell asleep again, sort of. I woke up this morning determined to go to work. And there's where I go from kind of stupid to just plain delusional.

You see, my Wednesday job is to watch three children, one of whom is three, the second of whom is two-and-a-half, the third of whom is seventeen months old. I skipped the ibuprofen (you are shaking your head at me, I know), put on something cute but machine washable, and popped into Starbucks on my way to work. "Coffee will do it," I thought, "since the worst of it is over now." I'm not sure what kind of crack I was smoking, but I proceeded to plunge downhill fast as the cries of MINE and STOP IT! and MYTURN! IT'S MYTURN! became more and more shrill. It was a relief to put everyone in their own chair for lunch, but then a punch to the gut to realize that I had two more hours until everyone would be napping. I tried drawing out the meal. I attempted to take them outside for some fun. I only made things worse. Finally, I rifled through the medicine cabinet and swallowed some ibuprofen. The relief took longer than it took to clean up the play area and get everyone into bed. Idiocy strikes again. I was never so happy to be done with my workday.


I have also never been so happy to be sitting at home in my pajamas, waiting for sleep to come.

But first, I am going to take some ibuprofen because I am a girl who learns from her mistakes. But please remind me of that next time I decide to get a vaccination.

*Oh, come on, medical professionals, we all know that if I have to pull my pants down to get the injection, that is NOT my hip.
**I'm really not into anything painful. I can be a bit more stoic about it now, but as a child I was a Class A Wimp. See also: not playing volleyball because it hurts my delicate forearms and giving up on catching a baseball because it stung my palm through the mitt.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

This Tuesday with Old Lady Mary: And Also Last Friday, the Bedbug Edition

First, let's look at the way cute dress I got on clearance at Anthropologie, which Old Lady Mary loved. I was so worried that she'd think it was too short, as she has a thing for modesty, but she L O V E D it. Click on the photo for the whole story.

tuesday, august 24, 2010

And now for another story. One about which I am a little bit ashamed. And also a little bit afraid that someone will figure out who Old Lady Mary is and report her for something that is not her fault.

A few months ago, Mary heard a report on the news about bedbugs and immediately decided she had them. Mary is quite paranoid, and thus reacts this way to a lot of stories, so when she announced to me that she had bedbugs, I sort of...brushed her off. "Oh, Mary," I said, "I'm sure you just have some bug bites from all that walking you do. Do you want me to bring you something for the itching?" Being paranoid about medication, she declined, and insisted that she was sure she had bedbugs. I inwardly rolled my eyes. Because, great, one more thing she'd lie awake at night worrying about.

And she did.

Lie awake.

At night.


And also scratching bites and finding bugs.

Which she did not tell me about, exactly. She said that she was getting more bug bites, and she said that she thought she had bedbugs, but at that time she did not tell me that she'd found a bug on her person in the middle of the night. So I brushed her off again. Because I am a terrible person.

Shortly after that, Nicole, who was Old Lady Mary's first friend of all us girls, came into town from Chicago and made her usual visit to Mary. Mary complained about the bugs to Nicole, and Nicole (bless her courageous heart), actually inspected the couch that Mary sleeps (and, do I say this...leaks a bit on). And do you know what she found?



Mary was not just paranoid and exaggerating. There was an infestation. So we discussed what to do, and Nicole did some online research, and eventually Carrie and I coordinated our schedules so that we could show up and do what needed to be done, which was basically to cover the couch in a plastic tarp and seal it up. It seemed simple enough. I brought a giant trash bag to throw the old couch accoutrements and Mary's pillow into, gloves so we wouldn't have to touch any bedbugs directly, and a big roll of brown packing tape. When we moved the couch, we discovered a small pile of detritus underneath, and as I was taping and taping and taping the plastic tarp to make sure that there was no place any remaining bedbugs could exit, Carrie was picking up handfuls of that detritus and noticing that she was also picking up (get ready to cringe) HANDFULS OF LIVE BEDBUGS. I'm surprised Carrie didn't vomit on the spot. Instead, after picking up most of the trash, she made Mary get out some of her rubbing alcohol (which she uses for all sorts of things because she is very afraid of germs), and she began sprinkling it on the carpet where the couch had been. There were bedbugs everywhere, and the alcohol wasn't really doing anything. Carrie looked at me and said, "You know, I've been meaning to get a new vacuum. I think I am going to bring my vacuum up, vac up all these bedbugs, and then throw it away." I nodded and asked if she was sure. She nodded back. And so that's what happened. We covered the couch in plastic. We vacuumed up all the bedbugs we could see. We put the small rug that had been in front of Mary's couch into the garbage bag. We carried it all downstairs and put it in the dumpster.

And then I lint-rolled my entire self in the parking lot. People were watching. I didn't care. I was not bringing home any of those bastards with me.

Since then, Mary has had no more bedbug bites. She is sleeping again. Her bites are healing. And on the door of someone down the hall from her, there is a sign that reads, "BEWARE: This apartment may have bedbugs." For that, I am grateful. Not that someone else has an infestation, but that someone who is not paranoid is willing to report to the building managers that there are bedbugs in the building. Mary has lived there for eight years and only began getting bitten when they did renovation a couple of years ago; we are sure they were already somewhere in the building, possibly on the floor they moved her to when they renovated the apartment that used to be hers. But Mary is an odd duck, and though she is paranoid and, as she says, "germ-conscious," her housekeeping isn't fantastic. We are very afraid that the stigma attached to bedbugs will work against Mary, and they will evict her. So we have done all of this in secret, even though it's something the managers and social worker at this subsidized apartment building (for elderly and disabled folks) should take care of. We hope that someone else (who is friendly and not paranoid and bathes regularly) reporting the problem will allow it to be less stigmatized so we can get Mary the bedbug removal services she has deserved all along.

If you or someone you know suspects they may have a bedbug infestation, here is a link to a resource we found to be very helpful. I hope you never need that information.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

This Tuesday with Old Lady Mary

Is it silly that posting this week's photo was weighing on my mind so much that I couldn't sleep without getting it done? I also couldn't sleep without doing about twelve other things, thus the late (er, early?) hour. But this is it. The last task. Then it's just me and my cat-warmed pillow.*

I've worn this outfit before, but with different earrings. I'm running out of easy summer ensembles, and the brain space allotted to choosing outfits is terribly small these days. So here it is, the same dress and same shoes and same bracelet, with different earrings. Way to change it up, right? Can you even see those earrings? Click through to read details and to view it larger if you really want to get a gander at the cheapo danglies on my ears.

tuesday, august 17, 2010

I do love that dress.

I also love sleeping. And so, goodnight.

*I was noticing that our cats smell pretty good lately, and finally figured out that the aroma is similar to that of my conditioner. I don't know why I didn't figure that out before, as every single night I have to move a cat off the pillow to lie down, and usually wake up the next morning with a different cat curled up around my head. The remaining cat jumps to my shoulders after I shower to give my hair a little grooming, and so she, too, retains the smell of Say Yes to Carrots conditioner.

Saturday, August 14, 2010


Today I bought a plain sterling ring to wear as my wedding ring when I am in Ethiopia. It's not about being worried about losing it because it's expensive, not that I don't want to avoid being a target of petty thieves, but more about not wanting to be a rich American showoff. I also bought a pair of jeans so that I have two pairs that are not skinny jeans. I really wanted wide leg jeans, but these boot cuts were just $6.24, and I can't justify spending more based on personal preference. To be honest, we really can't afford to spend more anyway. Not now. Not for awhile. And so I have a wish list of things that I pretend someone will want to get me for Christmas or my birthday or just as a happy surprise (you know, because that happens so often). It helps me let go. You can laugh about that if you want. Here's what's on it:

This Starburst Necklace from Superhero Designs. Of all the things I want to carry to Ethiopia, joy is at the top of the list. This would be a meaningful reminder.

This skirt from Boden. I usually order something in the fall, when they are offering 20% off and free shipping, plus I can use the credits I've gotten from giving them names and addresses of friends and loved ones. It's usually a skirt. Often, it's one of their fun skirts. So it's no surprise that I'm drawn to this one..

And finally, this light from Etsy. I was pretending that I wanted it for the nursery, but really I want it for the living room.

So there you have it. The wish list. It's possible, as with all wishes, that some will be fulfilled, but I'm not holding my breath. After all, my dearest wish has nothing to do with things I can purchase on the internet. I think you can guess what it is. It's the wish for which we give up all other wishes. And it's worth it.

She's worth it.

Friday, August 13, 2010

This Tuesday with Old Lady Mary

It's hot, isn't it? I would rather not be wearing clothes, but this isn't the Garden of Eden or a beach on the Riviera, so I just put on something that's as light as possible. I'm pretty sure Old Lady Mary thinks I'm a hussy. A fashionable hussy, but still. Click on the photo to read the details.

tuesday, august 10, 2010

Also, do you like how my bangs are saying, "Triiiiimmmmmm meeeeeeee"? Today they are saying, "I am in shock because you had me trimmed, and now I will look like straw."

I guess with bangs, you just can't win.

I am suffering in the heat. Not in a way that is anything other than a spoiled brat child of air conditioning way, but I am uncomfortable. My mom told me that she's reading a book about how bad air conditioning is and how we can learn to deal with the heat, and I said that I'd like to deal with it by moving somewhere that doesn't have ridiculous summers. Why did my ancestors settle here, anyway? We are a northern European people, and our genes dictate that we do not do well in heat. My ancestors weren't very bright. But I guess the land was cheap, and they were all farmers, so fine. You win, ancestors. Also, I'm moving. Take that, stubborn Germans. I'm going to go somewhere that doesn't have good sauerkraut, and you'll all turn in your graves.

For now, though, since we do own a home here and we do need to get some things done (like bringing home a daughter) before we entertain serious thoughts of elsewhere, I'm hanging out in the house in front of the air conditioning register and not wearing pants.* We try to do the kind thing and keep the thermostat higher than most Americans would consider reasonable, so this is all I can do to feel like I won't fall over dead. I think we can all agree that pants are unnecessary, and falling over dead wouldn't do either.

Of course it was on this day that our car was in the shop for repair, and I had a hair appointment across town. I figured it would be no big deal to ride my bike to the bus stop. After all, it's only a mile away. I failed to take into account that the route from here to there is uphill, and I also failed to notice that my bike tires were a bit low. Do you know how to get a more intense workout on your bicycle? Ride it with the tires a little low. Unfortunately, I wasn't looking for a more intense workout. Or any kind of workout. I was looking to make it to the bus stop without having coffee first. It was uncomfortable. I lived. And then I was early for my hair appointment, so I got a coffee and life was good again.

The end.

Except not really, because I still had to get home. You'll be happy to know that I did not pass out before I wheeled my bicycle up the driveway. You'll also be happy to know that I showered, quickly, in water that was cold and made me feel like I could live again, if only until I stepped into the outdoor oven one more time. It's a miracle.

*I'm wearing a skirt, if you must know. Stop imagining me in my underwear. You don't know what kind I wear anyway, so you're probably imagining it all wrong.

Thursday, August 12, 2010


Today we found out that there are some people who disapprove of our decision to fundraise for our adoption. I'm going to admit that this hurt my feelings deeply, that it made me angry, that I didn't know what to do or say. It's not like our motives are 100% pure--that's hard to come by as a human being--but we hope that our motives are at least good and inching toward noble. Frankly, we're going to have a beautiful daughter in our lives as a result of this endeavor, so it's not like we are giving up everything to get nothing in return. We're not giving up everything, period. But we are giving up a lot. And we feel like it's kind of rude to catalog everything, because sometimes it sounds a little self-righteous and snooty. But we're giving things up. We've been giving things up. We are taking on the lion's share of the expense, and we are asking for help because we believe that asking for help is better than just saying, "Well, we can't afford this all by ourselves, so we will just forget about it." How can we forget that so many children are parentless? How can we forget that some parents simply cannot provide for their children and want a better life for them? How can we forget the face of a girl who needs a family, who we are welcoming to be a member of ours?

We are asking for help because we know that others believe like we do that children deserve families, but not everyone is equipped to adopt themselves. We are asking for help because there are 147 million orphans in the world, and to remove that title from as many children as possible is the best thing we can do in a horrible situation. We are asking because we know that there are people who believe it is good and right to be part of the solution to the problem, and to have those people as part of our daughter's story is an honor and a privilege.

In a perfect world, all families would be able to provide for their children, no parents would die, and the word orphan would be relegated to fiction. But our world isn't perfect. And adoption isn't a perfect solution, but it's one we hope will at least make things better. Not perfect, not all right all of the time, but better. Better than what life is like now for so many children, better for parents who cannot raise their children and still want a hopeful future for them, better for us because we are so lucky to be bringing home our daughter.

If you would like to partner with us to bring our daughter home, fundraising info is here. If you wouldn't, hey, we won't talk about you behind your back.


Monday, August 09, 2010

Autumn Weather, Please Come Early

It turns out that I own seventeen cardigans. Various weights, mind you, and sleeve lengths, and colors, but...seventeen. I also own a number of jackets. I am not revealing that number. Partly because I'm not sure what it is. But it's not seventeen; at least I don't think so. If it is, I have no excuses. I just love fall and winter and spring dressing. And I hate summer dressing. I hate it for numerous reasons, but mostly because I love to layer things up, and in summer the single layer I put on isn't comfortable. So BAH to summer. BAH I say.

And now a question: Anyone else out there tend to weigh more in the summer than in the winter? Or is it just me? The reason I know that I have so many cardigans is that I was going through my clothes, trying to thin out a few more items, and tried on some trousers that were more than a little snug. I was about to toss them into the giveaway pile when I recalled that every summer when I've done a wardrobe evaluation, I've run across trousers and skirts that are snug. And then by fall, they're usually fine. Do any of you experience this phenomenon? Or are you all on your bikini diets and your autumn wardrobe would practically fall right off of you?

For me, summer tends to have as many schedule disruptions as the holiday season, plus there's the added bonus of feeling so hot and wilted that I don't want to move my limbs. We're still in the thick of the heat, but I've decided to give at least two weeks of normal schedule and normal workouts before I declare any clothing too snug and send it off to Goodwill. I do love to donate, but keeping what I've got sure beats buying new. And besides, there's not much room in the budget for buying new. I have a feeling that even if they don't fit in the autumn, I won't replace them. I'll just wear the limited number of items I have and try not to spill as much stuff on my lap.

Or better yet, maybe I'll just refashion some of those cardigans.

Friday, August 06, 2010

I Have Some Things to Say

1. So apparently there's some brouhaha over Michelle Obama's trip to Spain, and my opinion is that the reason people are outraged is because she looks so fabulous. I'm not joking. Past first ladies have traveled, and likely their travels have cost as much or more and been charged to the American people, but they all looked sort of matronly. No one questioned cost because it looked so plain and boring, giving the impression of cheap, or at least modest, expenditures. But Michelle Obama is an African American Grace Kelly, and people don't know how to handle that. They assume that if she looks so good, this all must be incredibly expensive. And no matter that she is paying for it herself! We are all too jealous, and someone must complain. Loudly. On Fox News. (Ugh.)

2. I am sometimes in denial of how tired I am, and at these times I lie down for a quick nap and wake up three hours later. That happened today. Good-bye, entire morning! Or rather, hello, sleep that clearly I needed!

3. It took no less than five trips to Walgreen's to finally get the 8x10 enlargement of a new photo of Nola, and she is now staring out at us as we move about the house. Five trips: worth it! Going back to Walgreen's for photo printing: not a chance!

4. I visited Old Lady Mary this week on Wednesday, and there was no sense taking a photo of the outfit I donned before work with three toddlers, which was spilled on before I even left the house. Before I headed over, I spoke to Mary by phone to get her grocery list, and she asked, "How do you look so beautiful in heat like this?" "Mary," I replied, "you won't be asking that after you see the get-up I'm sporting today. It's nothing special." And what do you know, she had nothing to say about what I was wearing. She did, however, pat me soundly on the back for figuring out which cinnamon rolls she wanted me to get. But look, if you say "Best Choice in the red can," I'm going to buy you Best Choice in the red can, and there's no mystery to it. Still, it's nice of her to be so grateful for such small things.

5. There's good news from Ethiopia, and I can't really say much more about it. So if you know me in person, ask me in person. I will spill the beans.