Wednesday, December 30, 2009

the sweet love between mother and child

Yesterday I made the children go hiking in Marin, since we were all in desperate need of some exercise and I felt like seeing some nature. This was a deeply unwelcome activity to the children. As Iris noted, "If you wanted me to be so into nature, why did you have me in a city?"

At one point we crossed a creek on a little board bridge. Crabby fourth-grader Iris said vehemently, "I could fall and hit my head!" I had a hard time restraining my laughter. Iris upped the ante.

"If I fall, I am going to sue you!"

"I'm not going to send any children who sue me to summer camp." (Iris uber Alles has taken to perusing summer camp websites like a adolescent boy looks at porn).

"I could have a concussion! I could die! I am going to sue you!"

"If you sue me, I am NEVER sending you to summer camp, and I'm not having any more birthday parties for you, ever."

"Stop threatening me!"

"You threatened me first!"

"I stopped threatening you, so you stop threatening me."

Monday, December 28, 2009

I guess she won't be reading much Dan Brown

The Sober Husband mentioned the Holy Grail. He was referring to Monty Python, but he ended up having to explain the concept of the Grail and the Crusades to fourth grader Iris uber Alles. "Let me get this straight," she said. "They went on a quest to find some cup? Were they idiots? It's just a cup! They didn't even know what it looked like! It could have been any cup!"

Saturday, December 26, 2009


Iris gave me a wonderful Christmas present, something I had been longing for: a petcam. It is a small camera which you clip on a pet's collar, which then takes a picture every fifteen minutes to document what your pet has been up to. We specifically wanted this to see what our most glamorous pet, longhaired Frowst, got up to.

"I'm afraid we'll see a lot of dead animals", one child worried. Disagreeing, "I think we'll see his friends and other houses," a family optimist said.

What we have learned is that Frowst is much more boring than anyone suspected. You can see that he often spends over an hour without moving. When he does move, he generally seems to lurk about in trees.

I never noticed that he went under our beds, but he spent an hour lying next to Iris's rollerblades. This is all extremely disillusioning.

It's not all over for the petcam, though. I plan to attach it to the Sober Husband when he goes back to work. "I could just take a picture every now and then," he offered, but I said that wouldn't be the same.

"You'd be thinking about it then, and you'd plan the pictures. This will be different."

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

a holiday thought from Lola

Recently Lola presented her father with a beautifully drawn, colorful, sweet Christmas card, showing him getting his Christmas stocking. "Awww," I said. "I'm jealous."

Lola then happily presented me with her handmade Christmas card for me:
It's Holiday Road-Raging Mommy! I especially love how I'm driving on the wrong side of the road. Lola explained, "You are shouting at idiots! See, you are saying, 'Hurry up, it's Christmas!'"

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

one miracle of St. Audrey

Audrey, a child in the first grade, exercises a sort of fascination over Lola, who believes every word Audrey says. "Once Audrey was at the top of the climbing structure [at school], and she fell off, but a big wind came, and she floated, and she landed on top of the roof [of the kindergarten building]!"

"Lola, you know THAT'S NOT TRUE!" said big sister Iris, who finds these Audrey stories maddening.

"But Audrey told me," insisted Lola.

Monday, December 21, 2009

they like big butts

Iris, who is a sponge for pop culture, was singing that enduring classic, "I like big butts" around the house the other day. "Lucy! You sing it, too!" she commanded her little sister.

After a pause, Lola, who didn't know the words, gamely sang, "I like big butts when I have them for dinner."

Sunday, December 20, 2009

the disagreement

Last night we were driving home after seeing "The Hard Nut" (enjoyed greatly by fourth grader Iris uber Alles and me; first grader Lola wanted to leave early. I myself could watch fifty-something, paunchy Mark Morris dance forever; that man is magic). Somehow the Sober Husband brought up the subject of Arthur Kade, who exercises the kind of fascination over me that a maggot-ridden corpse would for a small boy with a stick.

The Sober Husband (who has not even read Arthur Kadyshes' stupid website or watched his maddening videos) opined that Arthur Kade is a genius and an artist, a performance artist.

"No! He's not! He is for real!" squawked Iris (also an Arthur love/hater) and me.

"You're just saying that because of Sacha Baron Cohen and the Borat movie, but Arthur's for real," I said.

"Yes, Daddude, a guy from 'Philadelphia' magazine followed him around for a couple of days, and he's for real!" Iris said very earnestly, but her father was not to be dissuaded.

"He is an artist. He makes me think of Andy Kaufman." [There followed a long, squabbly and emotional debate, where I called Andy Kaufman "a comedic genius" and the Sober Husband called him "a horrible person who shouldn't be on TV." So why, if the Sober Husband dislikes Andy Kaufman so much, was he comparing Arthur Kade, whom he proclaimed to be a genius and an artist, to him?].

The Sober Husband would not back down on this issue, and he grew loud and animated. "Look at you. You're torqued because I called Arthur Kade an artist and a genius. That proves he is. He has such a powerful effect on you. I can't believe calling him an artist torques you like that."

"Ummm, Daddude, can you focus on driving? I hate to say it, but you are waving your hands around, and the car is moving around," said Iris worriedly. It was true. The car was weaving as the Sober Husband, with shining eyes, gestured and ranted about Arthur's genius and artistry.

"I am going to be really torqued if you get into an accident because you are calling Arthur Kade a genius and comparing him to Andy Kaufman. I will be laughed off The Lego Wig," I said very firmly.

"Why is that called 'the Lego Wig'?"

"Because Arthur got this really bad free haircut from his stepmother, and someone posted on his blog, 'Arthur, you appear to be wearing a wig made from Legos', and everyone thought that was funny."

Iris laughed uproariously. A wig made from Legos! We were all able to join together, for a moment of pretend harmony, in ridiculing Arthur's hair.

Monday, December 14, 2009

love blossoms, but not politeness

Today we drove to Doggy-o to pick up the Sober Husband after work. While we were waiting in the tiny parking lot, fourth grader Iris uber Alles got out of the car and tried to moon her little sister. Iris was not tall enough to effectively moon, and so she was trying to jump up in the air while bent over with her butt stuck out. Little sister Lola shrieked and shrieked with laughter, and then shouted exuberantly, "I LOVE IRIS!" Then reality sunk in, and Lola said, "Oh my God, did you hear that? I love Iris? I LOVE IRIS? What is this?"

Eventually the Sober Husband showed up. On the way home Iris shared about how she'd been forced to write an essay about the meaning of Christmas with a classmate, and she was assigned to work with the child she considers her archnemesis, a very religious girl given to correcting Iris, and as a result, their joint essay was largely about the Baby Jesus. Iris wondered aloud why non-religious people celebrate Christmas, and her father attempted to explain, until this civilized discussion of ideas about Christmas was interrupted by first grader and noted Jesus fan Lola shouting, "YOU ARE A JEW! SHUT YOUR YAPHOLE!" In yet another display of hideously bad parenting, I was taken by a fit of uncontrollable laughter lasting several blocks.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Pigwidgeon as Pygmalion

The Sober Husband has been very sarcastic about my African grey parrot's failure to speak. Pigwidgeon spoke on one memorable occasion, when desperate for attention (the girls and I were ignoring her while we ate lunch), she said, "Hello" in a sweet, piping voice, and we fawned over her for hours. She never spoke again.

"My parrot can talk," the Sober Husband snarks. "Yours is stupid."

We researched the matter and learned that most African greys don't talk until 1-2 years old. Therefore Piggle is not delayed in her speech. However, I tasked bored Lola with working on Piggle's speech. Seven year-old Lola took this assignment very seriously and went off to write down some phrases to teach the parrot. Returning, she pulled up a chair next to Pigwidgeon's play tree and, in a very serious voice, intoned certain phrases over and over again, including notably, "[The Sober Husband] was wrong. [The Sober Husband] was wrong."


Iris has a sleepover tonight, and Lola is happy to send her off. "Pack your bags, Iris! Pack them fast! Pack them fast!"

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

a doctor and a plan

Today I saw the specialist, a doctor whose practice is devoted to fibroid tumors, and I liked her a lot. She discussed my ultrasound results, gave me a physical exam, and covered the various options, and we made a plan. I will have a hysterectomy on "the first available date", which will most likely not be until late January or even February.

I feel so relieved. The Sober Husband was just dismayed and depressed sounding when I called him to fill him in, but he kept to his prior commitment not to second guess me or my medical advisor of choice (and I am so glad to finally have a doctor handling this whom I like and respect).

Sunday, December 06, 2009

a pleasure wasted on the young

The other day I was playing Warcraft, and someone was seeking others to join him in a twenty-five person raid. One of my guildmates reacted: "I hate that guy!" I asked why, and my guildie elaborated. "He only does .624 damage. He dies all the time; he's always bugging the druids for battle rezzes." My guildmate went on and on, thoroughly dissecting and condemning this other player, finally winding up by saying, "He's fourteen."

"He should understand that Warcraft is a game for the middle-aged," I said.

My guildmates, who are almost without an exception middle-aged, all agreed. Perhaps in twenty-five years this other player might mature into a good Warcraft player. In the meantime "someone should send him a 'Hello Kitty Island Adventure' membership" one snarked.

a raw fish

"Did you know Audrey ate a raw fish?" asked first grader Lola. "I heard about it at school. Once Audrey was at the beach, and there was a big wave coming [measures about 2 feet with hands], and she wanted to drink it. So she opened her mouth really wide, and she drank it in.... AND THERE WAS A FISH IN IT! So she ate that raw fish."

(This is the same Lola who treats virtually every utterance coming from her mother's lips with complete disbelief and condescension).

Friday, December 04, 2009

medical update

I now have an appointment next week with the doctor who is basically the local authority on this sort of tumor I have: her entire practice is devoted to this. Previously I tried in vain to get an appointment with her and couldn't get anything before January, but my persistent husband called several times and got me shoehorned in. Emboldened, I canceled my appointment for Tuesday with Dr. Condescension. I'm feeling much more sanguine now, hoping to get this dealt with quickly. I'll be so happy to stop having to cold call doctors, much less see them in person and endure their doctorly antics.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

the outlaws and Lola

"Cats have no laws," observed Lola, who added sadly, "I have so many, so many laws that apply to me."

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

well, that was a waste of a morning and $170

So today I went off to try a new doctor, at a boutique medical firm recommended to me by countless friends. To a person these friends all rave about how their doctors have so much time for them, are such good listeners, send them email all the time, etc... In order to step foot across the threshold one must pay an annual membership fee, on top of having acceptable insurance and paying all the regular copays (a steep $40 for every visit in my case). I was happy and optimistic as I went downtown. I also had a printout in hand from my October ultrasound, with detailed measurements and descriptions of my tumor (the one thing which went right in all of this medical hell was that I went to the medical record offices at UCSF yesterday in person and got that printout promptly from a very friendly black woman).

In contrast to my friends' experiences, with doctors who have all the time in the world for them, the first thing this new doctor said to me was, "I hope they told you I only have a few minutes for you." He did not prove to be a good listener. I had filled out a form noting that I take Xanax, and I told him "it's for insomnia, NOT anxiety; I have no anxiety problems." I'd barely said that when he riposted, "Are you seeing a psychiatrist for your anxiety disorder?"

And what I came away with was nothing but a list of other doctors for me to cold call. Like Dr. Baby Gay whom I saw before, this male doctor knows nothing of the female organs, doesn't want to contemplate the female anatomy, and doesn't even want to discuss the female organs. Why is it that a tumor, just because it happens to be attached to a uterus, is so untouchable and icky? Why do uterus-phobic doctors accept appointments with women? Note: I was not expecting him to operate on my tumor personally, but I did expect him, as my new primary care physician, to want to make the arrangements for my care. Back in the old days when I had a doctor and needed surgery, my doctor set it up. I'd never met the surgeon and gastroenterologist who both operated on me back in 2000 before I went under the anesthesia; my old doctor arranged it all (and I read a profile of my surgeon in the Wall St Journal during my convalescence).

I was distraught when I left. I've put a lot of time into coldcalling doctors, and I'm not eager to work my way down a new list of unknown doctors. I have no faith in today's doctor to give me a good recommendation, either. He just picked some names off a hospital's practice list after I was unenthusiastic about his first choice, whom he raved was "a real holistic practitioner." "What does that mean?" I asked. "She's really good with herbs," he said. I looked at him. "I'm really more of a science type," I said dryly. What I need at this moment in time is a surgeon, not some herbal remedies. "So someone more allopathic," he said with disdain, and he pulled up the list of faculty from a local hospital on his computer.

When I got home, I looked up "allopathic", which Wikipedia says is a term "coined by Samuel Hahnemann, the founder of homeopathy. It meant 'other than the disease' and it was intended, among other things, to point out how traditional doctors used methods that had nothing to do with the symptoms created by the disease and which, in Hahnemann's view, meant that these methods were harmful to the patients.. . . During the 19th century it was used widely among irregular doctors as a pejorative term for regular doctors. In the United States the term 'allopathic' has been used by persons not related to homeopathy, but it has never been accepted by the medical establishment, and is not a label that such individuals apply to themselves."

I think we can safely say I will not ever see this fancy new doctor, who sneers at science-oriented doctors as "allopathic", again. Going to this expensive boutique was supposed to solve my healthcare problems, but I'm back at square one, just out $170. Leaving the office I felt the familiar pain in my abdomen, and tears sprang to my eyes. I choked them back and trudged to the subway.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

okay, okay, I came to my senses

I got a lot of responses on and off the blog about my post yesterday where I wrote about my fibroid diagnosis and how I'm going back to the same crappy doctor I hated to deal with it. To a one, the readers felt I was making a big mistake seeing Dr Condescension again.

Also, I got out my calendar to look up when I'd had the ultrasound, and it took Dr. Condescension one full month to get back to me with my test results. Irritatingly enough the sweet nurse who finally called me was kind of panicky sounding that she couldn't get me in within a week for an appointment to set up a treatment... which was ironic since a month had already gone by.

I am willing to take a big part of the blame there. When I never heard back within a week or two, I should have called and nagged them to pull the test results and look at them. In my defense, I had meningitis and felt like crap and could barely do anything, but still, if one doesn't hear back about test results, one should call up and be persistent.

I spent a couple hours this morning trying to get a new doctor. I can't see the fibroids specialist who heads up a special fibroids clinic until January. Every single primary care doctor recommended by a friend is not accepting new patients. I ended up agreeing to an unheard-of doctor at a recommended practice, whom I will see tomorrow morning. If I don't like him, I can try another doctor in that practice (and I will, since I've paid $129 as a new patient fee to get my foot in the door at that boutique practice). I'm leaving my appointment with Dr. Condescending on the calendar for now, and I am keeping open an appointment in January with the hotshot fibroids doctor as fallbacks.

I just wish my old doctor hadn't left. I've had the same bad luck trying to get a new dentist since my Dr. Huey moved to Arizona. Thankfully my children have a good doctor and a good dentist.