Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Adventures in Anesthesia

It's that time of year again! Time for the Green Family's annual Christmas surgery!  Any time one of us needs surgery, which is more frequently than it should be if you ask me, it always ends up being around Christmas time.  This is due in part to the fact that we want to squeeze every dollar we can out of our insurance deductible before it starts over on January 1.  It's just the sensible thing to do.

I have a fantastic doctor who has explained the procedure to me better than any other doctor has ever explained any other procedure.  In fact, I could probably do it myself if I had to.  It's all about having the right tools.  Being the visual person that I am, I have a very clear mental image of how this thing is going to go down and I thought you might like to see it too.  Don't worry, there are no gross pictures, I can't go there.  But I do make up for it with gross words.

Some Klingons have taken up residency in my uterus and my left ovary and are causing me to slowly bleed to death.  Obviously, they must be evicted.  This will take place on Friday when I'm scheduled to have a D & C with a hysteroscopy and a laparoscopy.  It's a common procedure for those of us with lady parts. 

D and C stands for dilation and curettage.  "Dilation" is obvious, they have to get in there somehow.  "Curettage" is for the curette tool they use to scrape out the uterus.  On the left side of the page I've included a picture of a curette to help you cringe appropriately.  On the right side of the page I've included a picture of a cantaloupe being scraped out with a melon baller...which is how I view this whole procedure.  Somehow that seems more pleasant to me.  In fact, it's almost refreshing.

For the next procedure they begin by inflating my abdomen with air so that they can see what they're doing and move stuff out of the way.  We all know how that's done...a little needle adaptor and a hand pump, right?  Then they will start the hysteroscopy part of the procedure where they make a little incision in my belly button, which is an inny in case you were wondering.  Then they poke around in my lower abdomen with a little camera on a stick to see what's going on with that left ovary.  There is definitely a small foreign body attached to it but it's impossible to tell from the ultrasound if the attachment is on the outside or buried inside.

Once the doctor gets a good view of the ovary, it's time for the laparoscopy part.  She makes 3 more little incisions on my tummy...one for the little probe that she uses to move stuff around, one for a clamp to hold on to the ovary when she finds it, and one for the little knife or scissors or whatever it is that will whack off the offending growth.  I picture that tool as looking like the tiny little scissors on a Swiss army knife.  Ideally, she will cut open the ovary, remove the foreign body, zip it back up and we're done.  If the little thing is embedded too deep in the tissue, then she has my permission to pull a Morticia Addams and just snip that sucker off.  I've been done with my ovaries for quite some time so if it has to be sacrificed for the greater good, I'm okay with that.  I will squeeze all the hormones I can out of the remaining ovary to hold off the chest hair for as long as possible.

Since this isn't my first, I'm not the least bit worried or concerned about the surgery.  I've never had any problems with them in the past.  But the recovery...that's another story.  I have never had a surgery where I didn't have some kind of complication during the recovery process.  It's never anything major, just an infection or an allergic reaction of some kind.  But it sure can make an unpleasant process even more miserable.  I'm coping with this by staying focused on the positive, which is the promise of some excellent pain pills in my future.

NaNoWriMo RIP

NaNoWriMo has come to an end (or it will at midnight) and I ended up with a word count of 20022.  That is far short of the 50K word goal, but that was never my goal anyway.  I'm very pleased with my word count since I thought I would never be able to top 10K.  But I did.  Yay me.

Our little local NaNoWriMo group is still grinding it out right now at the library but I have chosen not to join them since I'm still sick and possibly infectious.  I could continue to add to my word count here at home but one thing I discovered during this process is that I can't write at home.  Well, I can't write stuff that I have to think about at home.  I can write a blog post cuz we all know I don't put much thought into those.

I even stopped my novel mid-sentence, which is strange for me and triggers my OCD tendencies if I think about it too much.  But those same tendencies tell me that if I go in and finish that sentence my word count will change and I will lose the lovely number 20022.  It's not exactly symmetrical, but there's a certain roundness to it...a visually pleasing quality...it makes sense.  I'm keeping it.

From the beginning I ditched the official NaNoWriMo goal of 50K words in 30 days and made up my own goals.  I thought this would be a win/win situation because even if I didn't "win" by reaching 50K, I could still win by reaching my own goals.

I never considered the fact that I might not reach my own goals.  And I didn't.  Which made the whole thing a fail/fail situation.  Which is par for my course so I'm good with that.

One of my goals for this past month was to see if I could write fiction.  I know I can write non-fiction, essays, stream of consciousness type stuff but I've never even tried to write fiction.  I discovered that it's not as easy as I thought it would be.  I thought that all I would need is a story with a beginning, a middle and an end.  Once I had that in my head, I could start writing and the details would just flesh themselves out.

Yeah, not so much.  It's those dang details that had me wanting to gouge my eyes out.  They were necessary details, not just filler, but I got bored with them.  Having to build a character and describe a scene was like trying to cut down an oak tree with dental instruments.  I already knew how the story would end and I just wanted to get to there. 

At about 10K words I thought about giving up because I was bored to death with the story and really wanted to just kill off all of my characters to put them out of my misery.  Instead, I turned the hero into the bad guy, but of course my main character did not realize that her hero had gone bad and it was a little exciting to know something that she didn't.

Eventually even that got boring until I discovered the secret to keeping myself from losing interest.  Every time the story got dull, someone had to have sex.  That little literary tool worked like a charm for the next 10K words.

My other goal for this past month was to see if I could write consistently.  I knew that writing 1667 words every single day was not going to happen.  I had hoped that I would write at least something every day, even if it was just a paragraph, but that didn't happen either.  A few times I had reasonable, understandable excuses for not writing.  There were several times that I just plain forgot.  But on most of the days I didn't write it was because I just didn't want to.  I wasn't in the mood so I didn't do it.  I'm really spoiled and selfish that way.

To my surprise, I discovered that I like writing in a group.  This is a little strange since writing isn't exactly a group activity plus I really don't like people...not individual people, just people in general.  You know.  Humanity. When given the choice between hanging out with friends and spending time alone, I always prefer to be alone.  That's just how I roll.  Even so, I really like our motley little writing group and I hope to stay in touch with them.

Overall, I liked my NaNoWriMo experience and I will do it again even though I have never in my life invested so much time in creating something so awful.  But...this was about the process for me, not about the product.  Will I finish my novel or edit it or maybe submit it for publication?  Yes I will.  Just as soon as polka dotted pigs fly out of my butt. 

Sunday, November 28, 2010

IKEA is the new Disney World

Jayson, Taylor and I went on a little outing to IKEA today.  It was almost as much fun as Disney World.  This was not a shopping trip but more of a reconnaissance mission.  If we get this house that we applied for this weekend (and I'm assuming we will), we are going to have a lot of space to fill and I want to fill it cheap and cute.

Parking and entering the store was surprisingly easy as was navigating once inside.  It helps that they have maps showing you where to go as well as arrows on the floor and big arrows on the wall.  We felt a little like cattle being herded to the slaughter but the scenery was nice along the way.  

Since it was close to lunch time when we got there, we decided to start with a visit the IKEA restaurant.  The three of us ate for $20 and it really wasn't bad.  Taylor and I split a chocolate cake for dessert and it was actually pretty darn good.



Once our bellies were full, we joined the rest of the herd on their journey to the bowels of IKEA.  I don't know exactly how big the store is, but we kept moving pretty steadily with very few stops of any length and it took us 3 hours to get through both levels.  I can see that there will be no "I just want to run in to IKEA for a sec."

We found several things we like, including this sofa/bed from the Tylosand series.  There are lots of mixy-matchy-modular pieces we can choose from.
 

Since the downstairs of our house-to-be is ceramic tile we're going to need several area rugs to keep it from feeling like a tomb.  I picked out 2 rugs, one that Jayson liked and one that he didn't.  Taylor mentioned something about not living in the same house as one of the rugs which just might be the key to getting her out and on her own.



We will also have to have at least one Poang chair because they are surprisingly comfortable.  So much so in fact that Jayson said he'd like a chair and ottoman instead of the Lazy Boy recliner he's been nagging me about.  Thank you, Jesus.  I have yet to see a recliner that didn't look like Archie Bunker should be sitting in it.

I like this dining table but I prefer the black/brown color and maybe some different chairs. 

I have no idea where I would even put this pendant light, but it has to go somewhere by gosh.  It's too fabulous not to.  And this sink looks like it could adequately handle all of your cooking AND embalming needs.





I have vowed not to buy any kind of table (other than dining) that does not also include some storage space and I especially like this one.  Again, I have no idea where I would put it but that's irrelevant. 






Jayson surprised me by choosing the Malm series for bedroom furniture.  It's a little too minimalist for my taste but that's something I can work around.  I'm also a little concerned about the low profile of this bed and our aching knees and backs.  Maybe the bed will just be for show and we'll actually sleep in our matching mechanical lift chairs.


At the end of our exhausting 3 hour tour, I was really tempted to jump into this huge pile of plushie stuffed animals but I figured that with my luck I'd hit the edge of one of the metal bins and injure myself.  I'd never be fortunate enough to injure myself badly enough to be compensated with a kitchen makeover.  I would just end up bleeding on a stuffed shark which they would force me to buy since I damaged it. 

Friday, November 26, 2010

Pie, Panties and Nightmares

This has definitely been the most peculiar Thanksgiving ever.  We're in Houston, taking another shot at finding us a house to live in, and Jayson and I are both feeling a little under the weather.  Jayson has a head cold so he's whacked out on cold/sinus medicine and he keeps playing with his voice cuz it's all deep and gravelly.  I am slowly bleeding to death and have been for the past 4 months but I'm having a little surgery next week that should fix it all up.  And poor Taylor is trapped here with her old and ailing decrepit parents all weekend. 

In typical Green fashion I waited until the last possible minute to make a plan for Thanksgiving.  I stayed up late last night, cruising the internet to see which restaurants were open and serving a special dinner.  There appeared to be lots of options at first until I dug deeper and saw that most of the restaurants required reservations.  I did manage to find a few that still had reservations available but the average price they were charging was between $50 and $75 PER PERSON.  And most of them weren't even serving regular turkey and dressing but they had roasted duck and stuff I couldn't pronounce.  No freakin' way.

Jayson wanted to go to Fogo de Chao which is pricey but worth it every now and then for the experience.  And the papaya cream dessert.  Unfortunately, they were closed so I chose the next best thing: The House of Pies.  It's like an IHOP that makes its own homemade pies.  Can I just say, that was the best pie I've ever put in my mouth??  Jayson had the french silk and I had the bayou goo and I'm looking forward to working my way through their entire pie menu. 

Oddly enough, their little thanksgiving dinner was quite good.  It wasn't fancy, just traditional thanksgiving food and it was pretty darn tasty.  I was really thinking it was going to be sort of pitiful and hilarious like when the family on The Christmas Story went to the Chinese restaurant after the dog ate their turkey.  We even started singing, "Deck the hars with boughs of horry, fa ra ra ra ra ra ra ra ra," but we couldn't get our waitress on board.  She kept humming the Mission: Possible theme song.

I guess I should mention what happened before we left the hotel room to go eat.  This is another one of those gross TMI situations but it cracked me up so I can't not share it.

So I have this little medical problem where there are some things attached to my uterus and one of my ovaries that shouldn't be there.  My doctor has been keeping a close eye on things and it's no big deal so I'm going to have a little outpatient surgery next week to take care of it.  It's a common procedure called a D & C which stands for dilation and curettage.  My doctor is Mika King and I love her, she's fantastic.  The way she explained it to me, they basically dilate my cervix then scoop out the lining of my uterus in much the same way someone might scoop the seeds out of half a cantaloupe.  Okay, she didn't say it exactly like that, that's just the mental image I prefer to have.

Anyway, that should clear up my ongoing problem which has been chronic bleeding that varies from mildly annoying to oh my God I'm hemorrhaging.  This weekend I seem to be on the more unpleasant end of that scale which can cause some wardrobe problems, if you know what I mean.  And there isn't a woman out there who doesn't. 

So this morning I had a minor wardrobe problem, no biggie, but I did have to rinse out a pair of panties in the sink.  It happens, it doesn't phase me anymore, I rinsed them out and sort of left them on the side of the sink to drip dry.  I forgot all about it and went about the business of getting ready for the day.

Shortly before we left the hotel, Taylor came out of the bathroom and asked sort of tentatively, "Um, mom, why are there panties in the sink?"

I said, "You don't want to know."  She's a grown woman (sort of) but she's young and still easily grossed out so I was trying to spare her the traumatic details.

Taylor said, "No, I probably don't want to know.  Wait.  Yes I do.  I want to know."  I asked her if she was sure about that and she said she was so I told her that it was my ongoing excessive bleeding problem.

Taylor said, "Oh thank God!" which temporarily stunned me.

I said, "You seem relieved that I'm bleeding to death."

She said, "I am!  I thought you had to pee and you couldn't make it to the bathroom in time and I thought to myself oh no she's getting so old!"

So.  Apparently my only child would rather I bleed to death than become an incontinent old person.  Feelin' the love.

Right before we walked out the door, I visited the bathroom one last time and saw a pair of Jayson's panties hanging from the light fixture.  That was a little weird, even for us.  When I asked him about it he said that he saw mine on the sink and of course he knew why they were there and he didn't want me to be embarrassed about it so he hung his on the light fixture to distract the maid.  What a guy!  Of course, the maid will come in and see mine on the sink and will think to herself "been there done that" and go on about her business.  But I think tighty whities (which happen to be gray) on the light fixture are going to get her attention...and possibly get us evicted.


And while I'm on the subject of the bathroom check out how the water runs in the sink.  Jayson noticed this and called me in to look at it and of course I had to take a picture.  It makes a heart shape.  That's just cool.


After our Thanksgiving pie, Jayson took us both back to his office so he could show Taylor where he works.  She headed straight for the candy dish in the reception area...she is her mother's child.  He gave her the same tour he gave me a couple of weeks ago and she pretended to be appropriately impressed.









Here Jayson and Taylor are showing off the new Expro journal which has a lovely embossed logo on the cover and high quality heavy bond pages inside. 











And here you see the heavy stone coasters that are on all the conference tables in the board rooms.  They're really very nice and I told Jayson if he'd just palm one a week we could have a nice complete set in no time.














On our way back to the hotel I finally got a picture of the divorce van that's always parked in front of the Shell station.  I'm not sure which is more pitiful...the people would actually call this number to get a divorce or the attorney who advertises his services in this way.  It's kinda sad but kinda funny.







This afternoon we all took long naps because we were exhausted for various reasons.  Jayson isn't sleeping well because his head cold makes him not be able to breath and lack of oxygen can sometimes disrupt your sleep.  I'm not sleeping well because I'm bleeding to death and as a bonus I get to have severe cramps to go along with it.  Taylor is not sleeping well because even though she has her own bed she's in the same room with us and my nightmares are disturbing her sleep.  She should be on my end of them. 

One of the added benefits of narcolepsy is vivid dreams or hypnagogic dreams.  Mine are usually extremely real, loud and vivid, I have at least 4 or 5 every night and I wake up between each one.  It's exhausting really.  Sometimes when I'm screaming in a particularly terrifying dream I will wake up to find that I'm actually screaming for real.  It's usually not a super loud, full-on scream but the kind you have in your dreams that comes out sort of strangled where no one can hear you to help you.  Apparently I did that last night and it was loud enough to wake Taylor up who in turn woke me up because she thought I was dying.

Tonight I promised Taylor that just for her benefit I would try my best not to scream or pee in my pants, but instead I will quietly bleed to death so as not to upset her.  She was most grateful for my thoughtfulness. 

Monday, November 22, 2010

When the world doesn't spin like I want it to.

I'm going to whine.  You have been warned. 

It's been a week since we submitted our application to lease a house in Houston.  We were told the credit check takes about 24 hours then it could be another day or so for them to present everything to the owners and get a decision.

It's been 168 hours and still we have no answer.  I check in daily with the realtor and I'm given the "we're waiting on this, we're waiting on that" routine.
 
In her defense, I really don't think any of this is the fault of the realtor gal we're working with.  She just had the misfortune to be the Agent on Call when I called to schedule a time to look at the house and couldn't get in touch with the listing agent.  Bless her heart, she didn't realize who she was talking to, otherwise she would have run screaming hysterically in the opposite direction since I'm a well-known walking Murphy's Law/Freak Magnet.

The first delay was not being able to get in touch with the listing agent.  I left several messages on her cell phone's voice mail as did Ms. Agent On Call.  None of our calls were returned which is just weird.  Normally you can't get a realtor to stop calling you.  Having one completely ignore your calls is probably the first sign of the apocalypse.

The next delay was getting the credit report/background check done.  On the day it was submitted we got a call at the office to verify my employment so that was an encouraging step in the right direction.  Marti took the call and told them that I was the Chief Creativity Pastor, I had worked there since the time of the Patriarchs and I made $250K per year.  She made one tiny mistake but all things considered I think I can overlook it.  My official title is Chief Creativity Pastor IN CHARGE...meaning all creative ideas must be passed by me so that I can determine which category they belong to: creative, cheesy or churchy.  Those are the 3 Big C's in the industry and I have a tendency to reject the last two unless they are to be used in an intentionally ironic way.

We were told that the credit check was taking so long because of the way Louisiana does things.  This is a very viable excuse and I almost believed it until Ms. Agent On Call went on to say that in Louisiana it's all done by paper, they don't have it on computer.  Okay, that's bullsh*t.  Seriously.  Even the Flintstones have laptops now and I know that for a fact cuz I seen it on the TV.

Yesterday I sent Ms. Agent On Call a fish or cut bait email.  I told her, very sweetly of course, that we need an answer by 5 p.m. today or we're moving on.  It shouldn't be this difficult which makes me think that maybe this isn't the house for us.  Either that or it's just another day in the life of the Green family where the simplest tasks quickly turn into brain surgery.

She said that the homeowners were waiting to hear back from their insurance company to see if our particular breed of dog is on their banned list, which is information they could probably get from a 5-minute Google search.  AND (yes, I'm getting angry now) their house has been up for lease for over 2 months and they advertise that they will accept pets on a case-by-case basis.  If I was Mrs. Landlord I would have done my homework ahead of time so I could tell a potential resident if I would allow their dog or not since I'm advertising that it's a possibility.

Just look at that face.  Who could turn down that face???

We were honest about our dog, which I regretted when I found out that the amount of the pet deposit is determined by the weight of the dog at approximately $10 per pound.  Snappy is a 60 pound Rottweiler mix but had I known that was going to cost us a $600 pet deposit, she would have been a 4 pound toy Chihuahua. 

I'm really sort of anxious to see what they do about that "mix" situation.  Most insurance companies have Rottweilers on their "watch" list if not completely banned.  Since Snappy was a stray who adopted us, we really have no idea what breed or mix of breeds she is.  Her coloring and markings are definitely Rottweiler so I'm pretty sure about that part, but her body shape is all wrong and she has white on her chin and chest.  Her toes are webbed which makes me think she's got some husky in there.  She's scary smart and one vet told us he thought she might have some border collie in her.  I don't know, I don't care, it's never been an issue until now.

I didn't say anything on our application about my tendency to "rescue" any small furry creature that crosses my path and appears to be in need.  Hopefully by the time I have amassed a family of squirrels, rats and groundhogs, we will ready to buy our own house/zoo.  Oh yeah, there's the horse too.  If we let her graze in the backyard we won't have to mow (or fertilize) so everybody wins.  If Mr. & Mrs. Landlord knew how much trouble I could potentially be, they wouldn't be so uptight about a 9 year old dog who's never bitten anyone in her life.

That's enough complaining...for now.


I thought you might like to see the contents of my "How to Live in Houston" packet that I sent off for.  Actually, it's several packets.  And actually, all I was really looking for was a map of Northwest Houston.  The Houston maps I have cut off those areas and I simply must have a paper map in my car to supplement the Garmin and my iPhone which are both notorious liars.

The Relocating to Houston book is very comprehensive and is about the size of a Sears catalog.  Okay, maybe just the Sears Christmas Wish Book. 

Then there's this whole other guide you can get if, like us, you're relocating to the Northwest Houston area.  It's basically the same information as the big book, just confined to one particular area.

And the third book covers the Katy area and came with lots of information about veterinarians and pet grooming. They were also the only ones who included a separate map so they win.

All three books are full of helpful information on school districts, shopping, night life, sporting events, concerts, and a bunch of other stuff I'm really not interested in.  I'm glad postage was on them.

See the portfolio thing at the top from Woodcreek Development Company that has a pocket that looks (and feels) like tooled leather?  They build stuff like fancy office buildings and "master planned communities", which is just another way to say "subdivision you can't afford to live in".  The portfolio itself is glossy, embossed, tasteful and definitely wins the prize for the most pretentious junk mail I've receive this week.  Their starter homes are 300K and are not located in California which makes them just a tad pricey in my book.  I would never buy a Woodcreek Development home since it's obvious that a good portion of their proceeds go toward this fancy embossed portfolio they send out for free to any yo-yo like myself who requests Houston relocation information.  Really...all I wanted was a Katy map.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Take your wife to work day

Here are a few photos from yesterday's tour of Jayson's office.  I forgot to take a picture of the outside of the building which has a lovely Expro logo at the top.  I really like Expro's logo and colors which is very strange.  They're an oil company so you wouldn't expect them to have a cool identity but they do.


We parked on the second level of the parking garage and took the elevator to the "penthouse".  Expro occupies the entire 10th floor of the building.  Here is a picture of Jayson pushing the elevator button with an expression on his face that I've seen many times before.  It's the one that says, "Holy cow, you are a complete freak.  I can't believe you're taking a picture of me pushing the elevator button.  Thank God it's Saturday and no one's here to find out that I'm married to a crazy person".






When we stepped off the elevator Jayson used his handy key card to access Expro's offices through a lovely set of glass doors with their logo etched into them.  This explains why there was no Christmas bonus last year.








The reception area is very nice and tastefully decorated.  I didn't take a picture of the area opposite the reception desk, but there are chairs and a nice table with a generously filled candy dish on top.  That earned them the Shannon Green stamp of approval.  There was also a very large flat screen TV mounted to the wall which I'm sure is used only for official business, but if I worked there we'd have HGTV going on all day.





The first area we saw had offices mostly for the financial people...accountants or comptrollers or whatever with rows and rows of cubicles in the middle for their secretaries or assistants or whatever.  While we were walking around I kept thinking how cool this was and how I'd never actually been in an office building like this.  It looked just like the set of Working Girl or maybe an office in a building of a big city somewhere like...Houston.

Oh.  That's right.  We're in Houston.  Der. 






Jayson has a nice big office with nice big windows, book shelves, and chairs for his guests.  He made sure to point out a space on the wall where they will be installing a 50" flat screen TV that has something to do with his fleet monitoring software...so he says.  I think he'll be watching HGTV all day.








Jayson has already added a few personal touches to his window ledge including a lovely picture of Taylor and a Drew Brees bobble head.








He is always talking about how much he loves the view from his window so I peeked out and immediately saw what he was talking about.  If that was my office I would stare out the window all day, longing for a Dilly Bar while HGTV blared in the background.




Oops, wrong view.  This is the one Jayson likes.  Well...to each his own.

Freak.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Evil Bean Dip, Toxic Relish and Blatant Cheese

I despise moving.  I don't despise the fact that we are moving, I'm not thrilled about it but I can accept it.  It's the nuts and bolts of the moving process that make me want to stick a fork in my eye.

Yesterday I drove here to Houston so that Jayson and I could look at houses together and hopefully find something decent to lease for a year.  The road trip was uneventful, which is a good thing, and I didn't even doze off thanks to the steamy romance novel I was listening to on CDs.  I find those are the best novels for me to listen to on the highway because they keep my attention without requiring me to think too hard.

It took me 3-1/2 hours to get from Lafayette to Katy and I probably would have made even better time if it hadn't started raining while I was driving through downtown.  3 hours of audio porn can be quite motivating when you haven't seen your husband in a week.

When I got here Jayson gave me the tour of his "home" at the Holiday Inn Express in the oil center.  Apparently it's brand new and one of the nicest ones I've ever seen, I don't why he's in such a hurry to get out of it.  I was assigned a chair to call my own since he had already marked his territory in the rest of the room. 

Jayson took me to dinner at P.F. Chang's where I ordered both iced tea AND white rice and didn't have to repeat myself.  It was good to be back among those who speak my native tongue.  On our way back from the restaurant Jayson showed me all the local hot spots including the convenience store where he buys his Dr. Peppers, the kolache shop that he said really sucks, and the Target where he bought new underwear.

After dinner, we went back to the hotel and I began to plan our route for Friday's house hunt.  I had a list of about 40 houses in various neighborhoods for us to drive by so that we could first narrow our search down to one area and then hone in on a house. 

The effects of that afternoon's romance novel began to wear off when my tummy started gurgling.  It's a good thing I keep a little mini can of room spray in my travel bag for just such occasions.  I asked Jayson if his tummy was okay, thinking maybe it was something we'd eaten.  He said his was fine then picked up the empty can of bean dip I'd brought in from the car intending to throw away. 

Eating that entire can along with half a bag of Fritos during my trip pretty much killed my plans for a romantic evening.  If there was any doubt, the cries of "Oh God, please don't touch me" made it perfectly clear.  Those cries actually came from Jayson.   

By Saturday morning my tummy had returned to its usual cast iron state so we set off on our journey.  We probably looked at every available rental in our price range west of I-45.  We've always thought that Lafayette had loose zoning laws because in a lot of areas you will see an enormous mansion sitting right next to a trailer that has chickens running loose in the yard, but  Houston's lack of zoning laws produces some interesting situations as well.

Most notably is what we kept running into all day yesterday.  We found several really nice houses in gorgeous well-kept neighborhoods that we absolutely loved.  The only problem is that as soon as you turn out of the subdivision, you run right into a run-down strip mall complete with tattoo parlors and crack dealers.  I guess I should try to look on the bright side and consider this an advantage since I wouldn't have to drive all the way across town to buy my crack.

We even saw a couple of newer subdivisions with really nice houses that we liked a lot but as we continued to drive around in them, we'd happen upon a low-income apartment complex sort of nestled in the middle and surrounded by wrought iron gates...which we found out the hard way is sometimes what you get when an ad says "located in a gated community".

I hope this doesn't make us sound snobbish or racist because really we're not.  I would have no problem at all being the only white family in a black or hispanic neighborhood as long as that neighborhood was safe.  That's our main concern.

By about noon time yesterday, we had wandered into what was probably not a particularly safe area of town but we were hungry and it was the middle of the day so I Yelped us a restaurant.  It led us to Teotihuacan Mexican Restaurant on West Bellfort.  I knew we were in luck when I saw menudo on the menu.  Not that I would ever eat it, but that told me this was authentic Mexican food and would probably be fabulous.  And it was.  They serve a tomatillo salsa with their chips that's incredible.  I'd definitely risk life and limb to go there again.

I just recently discovered that Houston is the 4th largest city in the U.S. behind New York, LA and Chicago.  I did not realize this.  For some reason I always thought of it as a little bit bigger than Dallas.  It has nearly twice the population that Dallas does.  Why did I not know this?  What was I thinking??  Why did I agree to this?  Everyone who knows me knows that I don't like people and here we are moving to a city that's almost 20 times bigger than the city we live in now.  That's 20 times more people for me to not like being around.  I see lots of pharmaceuticals in my future.

  <----------------After spending a good portion of our day in traffic that looked like this....

...we entertained ourselves by mispronouncing street names such as this one.--------------->

I seriously doubt that's Snot Road.

By the time we had crossed house #40 off our list, we had been at it for almost 9 hours and had half a dozen prospects.  I have to give my husband a pat on the back.  He drove everywhere I asked him to, got out of the car and peeped in windows to see if the house was occupied (and sometimes it was because he found eyes peeping back at him) and climbed over fences when I absolutely had to know if there was a covered patio or not...all without a single complaint.  The man was getting lucky last night whether he liked it or not.

Originally, our plan for today was to set up appointments to see some of the houses we chose from yesterday.  However, I woke up this morning feeling certain that we needed to cross everything off our list that wasn't in the Katy area.  That was actually our original plan, to find something in or around Katy, but we expanded that area hoping to find something that would be more convenient for Taylor.  She's planning to go to the University of Houston which will be almost an hour's drive (one way) from Katy.

Katy is really the only area we looked at yesterday that I half way liked.  It has an almost North Dallas/Irving feel to it that the other areas we looked at didn't have.  The only problem with this morning's new revelation is that it narrowed our list of possibilities to 2 houses and I couldn't get the listing realtor to return my calls.




Before we left the "house", I jumped back on the computer and found 5 more houses to drive by while we waited for the realtor to do his job.  However, before tackling that unpleasant task Jayson took me to his office so that I can see where he works now.  I took some pictures and will talk more about that in another post.






After our office tour, we were both hungry so Jayson took me to a restaurant that I had commented on yesterday.  My comment had something to do with how there seemed to be one on every corner.  It's called James Coney Island and I have to admit they make a darn fine hot dog.  I had "The Chicago" which had relish and pickles and peppers and I don't know what all else on it but it was good.  The only thing that made me hesitate was the color of the relish.  It was a bright day-glo green, the kind that doesn't ever occur in nature.  In fact, if it was a crayon it would be Toxic Waste Green.  But like I said, it was tasty.

After lunched, Jayson filled the car up with gas at another local hot spot called "the Chevron where I fill my car up with gas".  Then we hit the last 5 houses on our list.  House #2 struck a chord with both of us and we knew that was the one.  We headed for the nearest Starbuck's where I called the listing realtor, emailed her, and filled out her online call-back request form so that she, too, could not call us back.  I finally called the office of the real estate company and they sent out their random agent-on-call who let us inside the house.

We had already decided that the only thing that would keep us from filling out an application for this one would be finding a dead body in the attic.  The house has 2 ways to access the attic and we checked both of them.  No dead bodies.  We filled out the paperwork, gave it to Ms. Agent On Call, who promised to call us back as soon as possible since she has to get information from the listing agent who still has not called us back.

So here we sit.  I'm leaving town tomorrow, hopefully not until I hear from Ms. Agent but I'm not real optimistic about that.  We're just praying that they accept our application and will be able to let us take possession within the next week or so.  Jayson is chomping at the bit to get moved in and I sure would like to cross this task off my list.

Jayson took me to dinner tonight at his favorite Houston restaurant Pasta Lomonte's.  It was great.  It's hidden near the oil center in this cluster of restaurants that look like converted houses and they all have open patio dining and it's just quaint and adorable.  We'll definitely go there again.

I'm a little bit anxious to get back on the road so I can finish listening to my novel.  It's a contemporary romance about a hardened FBI agent with a troubled past and a shy, innocent 911 dispatcher whose family gets tangled up in a crime.  It's just too cliche not to love.  But that's not even the best part.  Get this.  The mousy little 911 operator's name is Winnie.  How perfect is that?  And the FBI agent goes by just his last name...Kilraven.  How could he not be gorgeous with a name like that?  Sometimes blatant cheese is the best cheese. 

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Invisible Nakedness

Last night before I went to bed I moved all our clocks back an hour like we're supposed to, set the alarm on my iphone, put on a pair of sweat pants and a t-shirt and snuggled up under the covers.  Being a true Southern girl, I don't tolerate cold weather very well and when the temperature drops below 60 I feel like I am in danger of getting frostbite on my delicate extremities.

On a typical night I will at some point shed my clothing in my sleep thanks to my current state of perimenopausal hell and the night sweats that go with it.  Then when I wake up in the morning, I'm freezing cold, shivering and angry at Jayson for removing my clothes while I slept.

Of course he will swear that he didn't do it and as I slowly begin to get more alert I will realize that once again I'd done it myself and just didn't remember.  But Jayson will continue to defend himself by saying something like, "I swear I didn't do it, I didn't even know you were naked!"  Which just pisses me off all over again.

The least he could do is say how miserable he was all night long because I was lying there all naked and sweaty but out of respect for my unpleasant hormonal state he laid awake all night long admiring the view and fighting the urge to reach out and touch.

But, no.  He didn't even know I was naked.

Of course this is all irrelevant since we're sleeping in different states right now but he'd better be using this time to practice his if-you're-miserable-I'm-miserable-too skills.

This reminds me of a recurring nightmare that I've had for just about as long as I can remember.  In my dream, I'm in grade school even though I'm whatever current age I happen to be.  So, I'm 40-something, I'm in grade school, I walk into my classroom late, of course, and I'm buck naked.  I'm not aware of my nudity until I walk into the room and I notice that everyone else has clothes on and I'm mortified to discover that I forgot to get dressed.  However, I don't seem to be mortified that I'm in my 40s and still in grade school.

I sit down at my desk and try to scrunch down in my seat to hide my lack of clothing, but this is a waste of time since the desk is tiny and I'm 40.  The teacher calls the class to order and all the little children sit quietly at their desks, ready to absorb knowledge like the little sponges they are.  I am so completely shocked, embarrassed and uncomfortable that I can't even concentrate.  I have an overwhelming urge to flee but when you're over 40 and naked, fleeing can be way more traumatizing that just sitting still.  No one wants to see that.

So I sit there, trying to hid behind my Big Chief tablet.  The teacher walks around the room handing out papers and when she gets to me I try to apologize for my offensive nakedness and she shushes me.  She shushes me!  My apology and my attempt to explain my accidental exhibition are more of a disruption than the exhibition itself.

There I sit, in second grade, 40 years old, in a birthday suit that's 2 sizes too big, and no one notices.  Which I just now realized seems to be a recurring theme for me.

All of that was supposed to be an introduction to me whining because I overslept this morning despite my efforts to adjust our clocks correctly.  Then, as if that wasn't bad enough, I had the mother of all nightmares complete with Satan's minions coming out of my broom closet and eating my family and friends zombie style.  But all that pales in comparison to my invisible nakedness which has effectively chipped away what was left of my self esteem.  So, I'm going to sit here and ponder that instead while periodically checking to make sure I have pants on because obviously no one would tell me or even notice if I didn't.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Alice in Wonderland 2010

Halloween is over and I'm glad and sad.  Glad because doing what we do requires a lot of work but sad because this is our last Halloween in Lafayette so we'll likely never have the opportunity to do this again.

I could write pages and pages of hilarious Halloween night anecdotes that no one but me would read, or I can post pictures.  I think I'll go the picture route this time.  You can read about what we do in a little post called Burger King and The Cleavage Queen.  Basically, we just overdo Halloween to benefit the hundreds of inner city kids who trick or treat in our neighborhood every year.  We love on them, we let their mamas take our pictures with them and we give them a little Jesus in the form of some kind of very tasteful, non-cheesy tract or doodad.

This year we had an advantage over previous years since we were given some props to use by a friend who rescued them from their destiny with a dumpster.  They were Alice in Wonderland themed cardboard cutouts that were bought from one of those prom supply places.  They worked perfectly for us and saved us a lot of work.


Before we knew we were getting the cardboard props, we did make a few things ourselves: some mushrooms and props for the Mad Hatter's tea party






The TV station showed up and wanted to do a live interview which makes me nauseous. I told the reporter guy that I'm much better in print and I asked him if I could just write him a note.  He stared at me as if I had just spoken to him in Japanese so I took that as a no.  Fortunately they edited out most of the interview which you can see here.

Watching myself on TV reminds of when they show footage from a tornado.  They interview the people at the trailer park, because it's always a trailer park, and there's always a woman wearing a house coat that snaps down the front, curlers in her gray hair, and a cigarette with a 2" ash dangling from between her lips as she talks.  This is me.  Maybe I don't look like her and maybe I don't smoke but I feel just like her.

And she'll say something like, "Me an Earl was jus sittin thar watchin Wheel uh Fortune an we heard this noise like a freight train headin our way.  Earl tol me to grab the shotgun an head straight for Dwayne's cellar cuz a storm was comin.  When it was all over, we came out the cellar an they weren't nuthin left cept our green Frigidaire that got blowed 4 lots down.  The good Lord knowed we was gonna need them TV dinners".

We always try to give away a little Jesus every year so this year we put stickers on 300 poker cards.  We ran out of Jesus in 25 minutes, if that gives you an idea of how many kids come through our neighborhood.  We estimate that we get about 600 trick-or-treaters every year.












As usual, we grossly underestimated the amount of candy we would need for the evening.  An hour into trick-or-treating, we sent friends to the store for more candy and were glad to see they were able to find something other than Tootsie Rolls and that sugar free candy for diabetics.  Things started to get a little ugly while we waited for the candy to arrive and I was afraid we'd have to raid the pantry to find something to give out while we were waiting.  I had a fairly good stash of canned goods as well as a big Sam's size box of instant oatmeal packets and if we got desperate I was willing to go through some old purses to see if I could find a stray mint or two.  You just pick the lint off and they're fine.

We saw some interesting costumes this year including a couple of Michael Jacksons and an Avatar.  Dora the Explorer was popular although I thought this particular Dora looked more like one of the Supremes.  Hulk Hogan struck up a conversation with Jayson and wouldn't leave.


We'll be really sad next Halloween when we're in Houston where we'll be lucky if we get a handful of trick-or-treaters.  Maybe we won't let that deter us and we'll do it up big again. 

Someone suggested we do a Christmas theme next Halloween which would actually be smart since we could just leave up the decorations and get a head start on Christmas.

Another suggestion was a Rocky Horror theme which I absolutely love, but it might be hard to work a little Jesus into that theme.  But not impossible.  I like a challenge.  Hhhhmmm...