Sunday, June 29, 2008

this hotel is too too

i can't even come up with an appropriate adjective here--this hotel is just too too. we are in washington d.c. right now for an ASOPRS conference and of course we piggy-backed it into a vacation. and it should be a relatively inexpensive vacation at that--the hotel is covered by rich's expense account (his meeting is actually here) and the plane tickets were part of our settlement with delta. i'm all about the savings, yo.

but this hotel is really, really over the top--it is the type of place the frugal abhor. we are at the mandarin oriental and i doubt i've ever seemed so low-class to a group of complete strangers in my life. my first faux pas was showing up here in a life is good t-shirt and nylon ripstop shorts with flip-flops. oops. the concierge was not impressed. my next big faux pas was asking the concierge where the nearest best buy was. i forgot the battery charger for my camera and i need to pick up a new one; he acted like i had asked him to throw out a dead cat for me or something. although i did have that life is good shirt on--maybe that was it.

later, when the kids were starving and i realized there was nowhere to eat but at the hotel, i was told that children were welcomed in one very small and well-defined part of the hotel for dining. in no sense would this ever be considered a child-friendly place--tiny, perfectly, feng-shui arranged things are everywhere at kid level; breakable decor precariously placed at every turn; $4 glasses of milk. yikes. so that was kind of bad. and of course my kids are oblivious to all this, but the sneers from the waiters are really unnecessary.

today i offended the allegedly-kid-friendly-restaurant manager by asking if we could please bypass the buffet ($65 per person!) and just get a to-go box of chicken tenders for the kids. again with the dead cat thing--perhaps it is part of their training? i got the one order of chicken tenders, and a tiny side of pasta with marinara (not fresh), and he handed me a bill for $25. at least we decided against the $4 glass of milk. if we had any other options for eating...i would so be there...

the most recent revelation about this hotel and how much i have to learn about how to function here is that i'm not allowed to get my own ice. there is an ice machine about 50 feet away from me, yet i am supposed to call the operator, who calls some underpayed, overtaxed servant to come to my room, get my ice bucket, walk 50 feet there and back and give me my ice. i am so confused. what if it melts before i can use it all and i want more? am i allowed to call more than once a day?

i'm off to best buy.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

sophie's favorite lullaby

hush little baby don't say a word,
momma's gonna buy you a mockingbird.

if that mockingbird don't sing,
momma's gonna buy you a diamond ring.

if that diamond ring don't shine,
momma's gonna buy you a porcupine.

if that porcupine gets gas,
momma's gonna buy you a looking glass.

if that looking glass gets broke,
momma's gonna buy you a billy goat.

if that billy goat won't eat,
momma's gonna buy you some shoes for your feet.

if those shoes for your feet get stinky,
momma's gonna buy you a day-old twinkie.

if that twinkie don't taste right,
momma's gonna buy you a satellite.

if that satellite don't spin,
momma's gonna buy you A BIG FAT HEN!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

what were you doing way back when?

i guess since i'm turning 40 in a couple of weeks i'm looking back on my life in terms of decades-ago. at the moment i am raising gus and sophie (or are they raising me?--i forget), not sleeping enough, watching rich slowly disintegrate from the stress of too many hours at work, and smelling a stinky dog while i pit cherries from our over-producing tree. i'm guessing this summer won't exactly stand out in my memory in the future, much like 30 years ago--when i was 10--and i can only assume i spent all my time at the pool at sugar creek country club, tried to avoid waking my brand-spanking new baby sister, and spent many nights with my grandmother (who had recently become widowed). ten years ago was a bit better--i was a curatorial assistant at the university of iowa museum of art and about to take my comprehensives for my ph.d.--so that was pretty good for 30.

half my life ago, at 20, i, like rich, was also working 80 hours a week in order to save every scintilla of income before i went to rome. i worked in the mornings at galin corporation as a receptionist (my dad's company--a job that 1. sucked and 2. which he ultimately had his secretary/accountant FIRE me from); at night and on weekends i was a waitress at the eponymous and now-shuttered pappamia's italian restaurant. pappamia's was a crash course in waitressing--not only did you have to wear the ironed, starched white shirt and apron thing but you had to attempt to carry those frickin' humongous trays of pasta over your head. the menu changed frequently so you had to remember what was on and off; patrons were paying more than middle-of-the-road dollar for less than middle-of-the road food (hence why it is shuttered), so they expected water, bread, and every goddamned extra coming to them as it was no bargain to eat there. the management did give us regular wine tastings, though, so we could suggest *cough expensive cough* alcohol knowledgeably. i was also living full-time with my beloved gammy, so that was golden (my mom having kicked me out of her house, temporarily, right before i left for italy).

until i got a stalker in the form of a 40 year old weirdo who lived with his mom and came in every other day to sit in my station, it was a pretty good job. they creeped the living shit out of me when they started asking me if i ever wore my hair in a long braid and if i ever wanted to be rescued from such a demeaning job for such a pretty young woman...yuck. i also lost a ton of weight--between lifting those trays and not having a moment to eat--and made a lot of money in tips. an excellent summer job, but i doubt i could do it again. i think i'm too old, primarily, which definitely affects your income in a restaurant. although now i do have all this training in servitude...

so, why look back? good question. i don't know, and i try not to do it often. somehow i think it is getting forced on me by subconscious (unconscious?) and maybe wanting to escape the stinky dog smell. i could just buy shampoo.

Monday, June 23, 2008

cutaneous larva migrans

this past saturday night, my friend valerie and i went to go see david sedaris read from his new book, "when you are engulfed in flames" at barnes and noble. he was absolutely hilarious, as always. and, amazingly, he read my very favorite story of his called, "it's catching." i read it in the new yorker years back while waiting for something--rich, perhaps?--and i remember laughing so hard i almost peed my pants. the reason why is because he describes not only his battle with crabs (which i have not had the pleasure of contracting) but his boyfriend's mother's battle with a parasitic worm (which i have had the pleasure of contracting).

in 1994, between finishing my master's thesis, working temp jobs for lots of money, trying to comprehend being married to this man who worked 80 to 100 hours a week during medical school (that could be several blog posts in and of themselves), i thought it might be a good idea to give back to the cosmos. thus, i volunteered at a no-kill animal shelter (save-a-pet). it was around halloween and people around wabash avenue in houston had gone around and collected several all black kittens that they thought were at risk for abuse (black cats + halloween in houston = voodoo magic resulting in trauma for the kitties). so we had this whole area designated for the wabash kitties. the wabash kitties that i worked with were like 3 to 4 weeks old at best; i picked one of them up to snuggle with it and it stabbed me right on the side of my left breast with a tiny, hypodermic-needle-like claw, which hurt and itched like hell. damn cat.

skip forward to a week later...and i have a three-inch worm growing under my skin right along the inside to bottom curve of my boob. pretty! i went to a dermatologist in houston who was perplexed as to what it was but eventually figured it out and officially diagnosed me with cutaneous larva migrans. the only medicine that really works to kill this critter is topical and, at that time, was nowhere to be found in houston. so we had to wait a week for some to get shipped from miami, which meant that the worm had the opportunity to grow unabated around the boobie to about 6 or 8 inches total. it made a loving little serpentine around my breast and ran a little bit up my breastbone so you could see it when i wore a button-down shirt--so attractive! i went and showed the veternarians i was working with who a) were thrilled to be seeing a human female boobie and not a mangey, tick-ridden hide, and b) suggested that i cut a hole at one end, get a stick, and start wrapping the worm around it until it was pulled out. i passed on that.

this whole time rich was FREAKED out; i could especially unnerve him by pushing on it and making it move. then the dermatologist took pictures of me that i have convinced myself to believe were used for academic reasons. after about a week or two of the topical meds, the worm died; it was completely reabsorbed about a month later. and i hadn't thought about my worm at any great length until david sedaris brought it all back to me, 14 years later, on saturday night.

cutaneous larvae migrans (not me--my worm was fatter and much more beautifully positioned)

Sunday, June 22, 2008

the brooks family good-bye party!

marcus and louise

on friday night we hosted a going-away party for our dear family friends, marcus, louise, jack, george and archie (louise's close friends anne and gail helped out with the food and organization of everything). the brooks family is going back to england after three and a half years here in the states. marcus came here on a military exchange program to teach american air force pilots how to fly blackhawk helicopters. and now they are going back. george has been gus' best friend since the very first day of first grade--they were and are practically inseparable--and he will be sorely missed by us all. louise is lovely and has been a very good friend to me as well.

so here we all are, all the brooks' friends and loved ones here at our house, wishing them bon voyage and happy trails and all that good stuff. i think everyone had a good time at the party. the brookses are here for a couple more weeks, and for that we are thankful. we are trying to organize a trip to go visit them in england, wherever they may be, next summer.

hasta la vista, marcus, louise, jack, george and archie! (we don't say adios, because we all hope to see them again)

happy hostess anne!

happy hostess gail!

happy hostesses and happy margarita man in the kitchen

sophie greeted everyone at the door with a diapered moon

the group photo, minus rich who was taking it

paige, taylor and david b.

marcus dives into that beautiful cake (jack has already devoured his)

gus and his best friend, george

Saturday, June 21, 2008

playing catch-up

we have been going going going over the past week. rich took the week off (we were supposed to go to lucerne, switzerland, but the weak dollar and the high swiss standard of living reacted badly with our frugality) and decided to stay close to home and relax, sort of.

to back up a bit, last week we adopted a dog:

meet paco

he is muy mellow, gentle, loves the kiddos, and doesn't bite. basically he is the polar opposite of every other dog we have ever owned. yay us! i really did trade him for a head of organic lettuce, and my friend julia really did find him living in a burrow of tumbleweeds absolutely covered in ticks and tines from the plants. he is one lucky puppy.

the week we adopted paco gus' camp-o-rama continued with the NMMNH (new mexico museum of natural history) "art adventures" camp. it was great--he went around to different places near albuquerque and did different art activities in plein air and got to run around a bit at nature/historical sites. he loved it. at the end he took me on a tour of the museum, which was mighty rewarding for me. rock on.

that weekend, which was last weekend, we went to the albuquerque gay pride parade with our friend terry and her son raffy--it was tremendously fun. gus raked in more candy and mardi gras beads than he could ever use and the spectacle was fantastic:

gus, raffy and terry at the end of the festivities (raffy's shirt reads: "got moms?" while terry's is self-explanatory)

so after that, gus had a sleepover birthday party at his friend max's house (and wished everyone a happy gay day--no one had a clue what he was talking about); we picked him up in the morning and headed to taos for rich's birthday. rich's goal was to ride the enchanted circle around taos, angel fire, eagle's nest red river and questa in one day for his 43rd. and he did it--but was fairly exhausted at the end of it all. the loop circles wheeler's peak and has some strenuous spots, like an almost 10,000 foot pass through the mountain, yet he did it. bully for him.

after we returned from taos, we got paco fixed, rich and i rewrote our wills and set up a trust, and then we all started madly cleaning the house for tomorrow's blog post...

Sunday, June 15, 2008


happy father's day today and...

...happy birthday tomorrow!

we love you so much and hope your days are exciting and happy. big, event-filled days are upon us! will chronicle it all when things slow down....

Friday, June 13, 2008

sophie's morning (or, taking a break from iowa city flooding)

have to take a break from flooding news. it is just too terrible. anyone needing relief in the form of polar opposite geography (i.e. the frickin' desert), give me a jingle (see the "call me" button).

so, this is sophie's morning today, june 13, 2008:
6:30 a.m. wakes, screaming "DOGGIE! DOGGIE! COCO!" mommy comes in and rescues the baby from the evil crib.
6:31 a.m. finds "coco," who is actually "paco." yes, we adopted a dog; no, i am not following my personal mantra of "a dog does not make for a perfect childhood..." i got him by trading him for a head of organic lettuce.
7:00 a.m. refuses first, second and third breakfast offered; holds out for chocolate milk instead. throws first of many screaming tantrums for unknown reasons.
7:30 a.m. demands that elmo is put on the tv IMMEDIATELY.
7:45 a.m. demands that blue's clues is put on the tv IMMEDIATELY.
7:50 a.m. demands that thomas the tank engine is put on the tv IMMEDIATELY.
7:52 a.m. demands that elmo is put on, again, IMMEDIATELY.
7:55 a.m. throws second tantrum when mommy refuses to change the dvd.
**plays in the playroom quietly for a bit, mainly entertaining herself by chasing paco around a table.**
9:00 a.m demands another chocolate milk; throws screaming tantrum when banana is offered instead.
9:15 a.m. goes into gus' room and throws all books within reach on the floor.
9:20 a.m. puts rubber duckies into paco's water dish; gets time out.
9:21-9:30 a.m. throws screaming tantrum in evil crib.
(9:21-9:30 a.m. mommy finally gets a chance to get dressed.)
9:45 a.m. goes outside with paco
10:15 a.m. comes inside with paco; turns over paco's water dish on purpose while wearing gus' shoes.
10:16 a.m. gets planted in front of elmo, again, while mommy washes gus' shoes.
10:45 a.m. sophie is offered originally-refused banana and gives it to paco instead; mommy tells sophie she is going back to work full-time.
11:00 a.m. we go to the co-op; have to force paco into the back of the car (apparently he's afraid of cars).
11:30 a.m. return from co-op; sophie scored an organic gala apple while there and thus refuses to eat lunch.
11:35 a.m. sophie gives paco rest of apple; paco has to stay outside afterwards.
12:00 p.m. sophie is in her evil crib for a nap that she refuses to take; chooses to spend time screaming "DOGGIE! DOOOOOGGGGGGIIIIEEEEE!!! COCO! COCO! CCCCOOOOCCCCOOOOOOO!"
12:30 p.m. mommy puts paco in sophie's room and closes door. silence.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

normandy drive mandatory evacuations

this is so not good. this morning the city of iowa city declared that all residents of normandy drive must evacuate. go here for more information. and the gazette is now reporting that I-80 through iowa city and surrounding towns will close tomorrow.

i am so sorry for my old neighbors--and many of them are, in fact, elderly. i wish we were still there in our last house in manville heights, up high on woolf ave., so we could give some of y'all a place to evacuate to. what a mess in iowa right now.

for more information regarding the flood in iowa city, particularly as it applies to the university of iowa campus, there is a new website being updated regularly by the ui news service:

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

too much water... coming down the iowa river. it sounds like there was some bad flooding north of iowa city and the water is now making its way south through the state. if the flood of 1993 was a 100-year flood, then this will be a 500-year flood. info about the "water bubble" to come is here; the water should tumble just over the top of the coralville dam tomorrow around noon according to this.

this is the coralville dam, as of this morning

the water should crest by monday (which is also rich's birthday, and, as always, he expects gifts) according to most weather sources.

the daily iowan has a sweet photo exhibit of some iowa city flooding, all of which was shot right next to our old house: click here to see the little league fields, which were in our backyard, underwater. also, there's this:

if you follow the semi-circle directly beneath the tennis courts, just beneath that, if the picture continued, would be our backyard

if you are in iowa city, please go fill a sandbag for us! click here for info from the city of iowa city about where volunteers are needed.

***update*** the water went over the coralville dam at 8:30 p.m. iowa city time, according to this. i am so sorry to hear that. this is the second time, ever, that the water has gone over the dam. yikes.

Monday, June 9, 2008

has it been 100 years already?

we are very much thinking of our friends in iowa right now.

in 1993, iowa city had massive flooding that lasted for weeks. that flood was described as a 100-year flood (see this site for more info on the 1993 flood). now, it looks like history is about to repeat itself in a very bad way. i found all kinds of photos and videos shot on our old street, normandy drive, on the internet. it looks as though many people volunteered to fill sandbags, and i feel incredibly guilty for not being there to help. i even found an image of our former postman filling sandbags on normandy. anyway, if anyone in iowa city is reading this: we're thinking of you!

(all of the following images were shot on normandy drive by matthew holst of the press-citizen and brian ray of the gazette)

(this is bill, our former postman)

and i also found these videos of what is going on there, also shot on normandy drive:

Sunday, June 8, 2008

coffee 101

the good news is that this is how you would order them in italy, too (except "flat white"--i have never heard of that before, and i'm pretty sure you'd get a surly response from any self-respecting italian barista for ordering such). the bad news, of course, is that we're not in italy. damnit. add "caffe freddo" for an iced sweet coffee to make the list complete (and please let me know if i am forgetting any others). also, no cappuccinos after breakfast in italy--it is molto bad form. i am off to pretend i am in rome and overcaffeinate myself.

Friday, June 6, 2008

the confidence killer

so, you're feeling pretty good about yourself, are you? you're thinking, "hey, i've got a ph.d., i've got two beautiful children, i live in a great house...i'm doing pretty good!" and you'd like to believe that the whole world can sense your good fortune through your visage. you'd like to think all that, but the truth is that people, on the whole, are neither kind nor respectful and they thoroughly do not give a shit about any of these things. they care about what you look like.

if you don't believe me, click here or here (it loaded twice).
or here.
or here (this one isn't too bad).
or check out rich's here.

then, if you're really feeling brave, upload a RECENT photo of yourself to and see what the world has to say about you. damn these kids are mean!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

coach ro

gus' coach at the steve alford camp is roman martinez, or coach ro as gus calls him. gus just had a coach roe in little league--nice continuity there. i can say with absolute certainty that this coach ro will be much missed by gus when camp ends tomorrow. we have heard so much about him every day that i finally introduced myself to him and found out that this kid is not only an outstanding basketball player, he is also a phenomenally nice guy.

i wonder if he babysits?

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

i might be boring...but rich may not exist

rich can't prove his identity to the great computer in the sky, therefore we can't get a home improvement loan. and it's starting to piss both of us off quite a lot. actually, i guess i should say it is pissing me off as rich does not have a spare second to try and fix this. allow me to explain...

in 2000, rich took what could have been a wonderful job at baylor college of medicine--it turned out to not be quite the right fit for him--but he had to go through two tons of paperwork to set up his insurances, licensing, 401k, etc. and all that required him to give out his social security number over and over again, so much so that he eventually started giving it out over the phone to anyone who said they were calling from some department at baylor. somewhere during this process some asshole took his info and literally went to town with it; the only reason we found out about it was because i got a very nasty response from my credit card company when i tried to get our limit increased.

so after a truckload of hours calling credit companies, cellphone providers, home improvement stores and a host of other places, i finally got most of rich's credit restored. it truly was like having a part-time job just trying to sort this crap out. then we moved to albuquerque (the second time), found an awesome mortgage broker who helped us clean up the rest, and everything was golden for a while.

around christmastime, we found out that our credit card numbers were being used by who knows who--someone posing as rich--so we closed all those accounts and contacted credit companies, again. it was probably someone different from the original thief but it was a red flag nonetheless and we had to go through the whole identity theft process again.

now we are trying to get a home improvement loan to put in our muy boring double-paned windows, and we can't prove rich's identity. apparently, there is yet a third person using rich's social security number not for credit but for identity. and in this realm, we are screwed because since no actual theft is occurring and he isn't monetarily being damaged by someone using his number for employment or whatever no one cares. and i discovered a frightening statistic--over $500 billion dollars in taxes have been paid since 1983 under duplicate/erroneous/fraudulent social security numbers so there is no reason in the world for the government to help us. records of these payments under duplicate numbers aren't collected on social security statements because somehow only the "primary" number holder gets their earnings collected on those.

SO, here we are. we can't prove who rich is, and even though we can prove who i am no one gives a shit because i don't have an income. but today i realized that the one place i can always get a loan is at toyota, since they do all their own financing, so i went back on the prius list today. yay me! now i am officially doubly boring, as i have elected to spend our money on a prius for me and possibly, if rich decides to exist again, double-paned windows for the house.

i am sick of being an adult.

Monday, June 2, 2008

camp-o-rama begins!

hoop-shootin' boy

today was day one of gus' great camp-o-rama adventure of 2008. he started at steve alford's lobo basketball camp for kids and he loved it. i was totally enthused to see him playing in the pit--it's legendary, after all! it was exciting to see him there and i have to say i don't know if it was his intonation or his attitude but basically i think all of the parents in observance of the camp would have gladly stood on one foot and clucked like a chicken if alford asked them to. he walked in there and basically had everyone in the room hanging on his every loudly-spoken-and-very-direct word. grown men were jumping at his command; the kids were pretty much cowed into silence.

and, of course, gus is head and shoulders above the other kids in his age group

you can just see gus' little white blonde head poking up in the back of this pack--although about two seconds after i shot this picture sophie screamed, alford glared in my direction, and i left. impressive.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

so there's this syringe in my fridge...

...that's been there for several days. it's botox, of course, but usually it's in the fridge in a vial and not actually filled in the syringe. and it's kinda freaking me out because i swear the volume has been reduced since it went into the ice box, yet rich swears he hasn't used it (yet). is he spiking my morning tea? should i be concerned about this? i know he's been reading my blog more often than not lately, which would readily explain the possible poisoning effort. he has always said that i could drink a vial of botox and not get sick, thus it was safe to keep in the fridge next to our tiny, helpless children's food.

any physicians reading this that may care to comment on my or my children's impending demise?