Thursday, June 28, 2012

Things I like Thursday

You all know I love to laugh, and make others laugh. As I have gotten older and faced more loss that comes with time, I have come to realize that laughter really is the best medicine. I can't believe the things I used to whine about when I was a teenager and in my 20s. But in the past year, as Mr. RK and I have faced the death of loved ones, my own serious illness, and a close family member's alcoholism, I find I have a more positive attitude than I ever have. Why? If we lose our sense of humor, we're doomed. We can make a choice to wallow and get dragged down, or count our blessings and move forward, even if it's one slogging step at a time.

I also get the feeling that many comedians or people who are super funny may use that as a balm to cope with their own disappointments.

I am so sad that Nora Ephron died. I haven't read her books but her movies always cracked me up - I haven't met a writer whose wit matched hers, except perhaps Garrison Keillor.

Beyond admiring her screenplay skills, I didn't know much about her - and then I read this story.

Hardly an easy life, but she didn't wallow. She didn't spontaneously combust...she got screwed in love but loved again, and successfully. She was diagnosed with leukemia, but still wrote one more book.

I collect quotes in notebooks, on scraps of paper, and in e-mails to myself, and try to read and re-read them and send them on when I need them.

This one from her is going on the top of my blog for awhile - it's advice she gave to a graduating class at her alma mater in 1996:

“Above all, be the heroine of your life, not the victim.” 

Words to live by for sure.

PS Don't forget to stop by Claire's blog for her "Things I like Thursday"!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Adventures in sugar-free land

One of the things I came home with from the hospital was a new routine. Despite having a very health lifestyle, genetics resulted in my being diabetic, so food and routine have been modified.

Some things I did not know:

1. Learning how to prick your finger to do blood sugar tests is sort of like cutting yourself shaving, except that you do it on purpose, several times a day. Either it hurts like hell and you get no blood (maybe I am a vampire?) or it doesn't hurt so much and you nearly bleed to death. Mr. RK says maybe it would help if one were naturally a prick?

2. Beware sugar-free foods. In a sweet (no pun intended) gesture, Mr. RK ran out right when I got home from the hospital and bought a bunch of sugar-free treats. Some of these - Fudgsicles and Swiss Miss cocoa - are to die for. The little box of chocolate-coated cookie wafers, however, spelled danger. Mid-bite into our first cookie, Mr. RK exclaimed, "Oh!!! I just read the label! 'Excessive consumption may cause a laxative effect.'"


"Do you want another cookie?"
 Me: "No. Never, come to think of it."

3. Not all sugar-free foods will carry this warning. You might get really excited, say, theoretically, about low-carb, sugar-free chocolate from Trader Joe's, and have an experience equivalent to when your dishwasher blew up. Hint: when the dishwasher quit, I tacked a note to it that read, "Do not use. WILL GO BOOM." Said chocolate bars should come with the same note.

4. Just like when you get your wisdom teeth out, chips are essentially forbidden. And just like when you got your teeth out, your partner will discreetly move the basket of chips at your favorite Mexican restaurant away from you.

5. Good news! You can eat all of the organic peanut butter, tofu, feta cheese, soy products, and tahini that you like. Peanut butter has been so rapidly disappearing in our house that Mr. RK said, "I think I found out where your superpower comes from."

6. Another perk is that your partner will feel so sorry for you that he will agree that you two need a new couch. Perhaps this diagnosis was really given by Ikea.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Five minute Friday

Check out the lovely Claire's blog to see her post.

So, today's topic is humor.

I realized more than ever when I was in the hospital that if we lose our sense of humor, we are totally lost. I was able to make jokes when I had three IVs, and I think that (as well as God, and the love and support of Mr. RK, family and friends) was what helped me stay sane.

My family is a funny bunch (as in odd), but we also like being funny. We also like to chat. My grandfather, for instance, probably started talking the day he was born and he hasn't shut
up ever since! I think I have heard all of the stories a million times, and I
hardly ever see him.

One really hilarious one though - when he was a clergyman, one of the weddings
he performed was with an American woman and a man from Iran. He started to
suspect that the Persian wedding ceremony was different than the traditional
American one when the wedding vows started to go something like this (and I
swear I am not making this up):

My grandfather: "And do you take this woman, (whatever her name was), for richer
or poorer?"
Groom: "Richer!"
Grandfather: "In sickness or in health?"
Groom: "Health!"

And at the end when he pronounced them man and wife, the groom said, "Yes!"

Later, my grandfather found out that the traditional Persian wedding ceremony
involves a series of questions and answers. Or so he says. ;) I don't have any Iranian relatives, so if anyone has the answer to this (if it's really traditional or my grandfather is full of it), please let me know.

Speaking of funny...

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Wordless Wednesday

Well, a few words in one...

Where the streets have no name - oh, not quite...

What I am bringing to work...

Not my kind of restaurant!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Advice from Dad

The Portland paper is running a Father's Day feature this weekend, "Advice from the World's Best Dads." A couple of weeks ago, they asked readers to e-mail the best advice their dad had given them.

And they printed my dad's advice, which only goes to show that I have been right and he really is one of the world's best dads.

It had to be 50 words or less:

"People who give will always have more than enough. And people who are grasping will never be satisfied, or feel that what they have is adequate."

So true. I have always given whatever I can, even when I didn't have much, and I have always had more than enough. Same with my dad. (He was thrilled, by the way, and said this story was the best Father's Day gift!)

Some of the advice printed was cliche, and some of it was profound, and some of it was hilarious!

Among my favorites:

"Don't flip the pancakes until ALL the bubbles have popped."

"Drive like everyone else is an idiot."

"Always have some pajamas hanging on the bedpost in case there should be a fire."

"It's better to be sorry you tried something that didn't work out than to regret that you were too timid even to try." 

"As long as you're being a good person, you don't owe anyone any explanations for who you are or what you do."

"Before you marry her, check her teeth." 

"Unless you're the lead dog, the scenery never changes."

"There will always be someone smarter, faster, quicker than you, get to know those people and learn from them. Don't compete with them, ONLY compete with yourself."

 "If at the altar in your wedding dress, if you've ANY doubts at all, WALK away." "...You may repay us all the deposits, LOL, but walk away."

What is the best advice your dad ever gave you? If you grew up without a dad, did you get great advice from a father figure?

Friday, June 15, 2012

Kind words in difficult times

I'm thinking people are going to stop opening my e-mails and answering my phone calls for fear of more bad news.

They say these things come in threes - my mother-in-law's death, my serious illness, and now an unexpected death in the family. Hopefully three's the limit!

I confide in only a few people with details. One of them is my great uncle, a retired pastor. We exchange quite a few e-mails, and he has always been great about offering spiritual advice as well as day-to-day chat.

Anyhow, I was worried about sending more serious news to Uncle J, who has anxiety, so I sent an e-mail apologizing.

What he wrote back was fantastic:

If I were going to be overwhelmed by your sharing your news and feelings, I would have been out of the race long ago...  Some things are hard to accept, but there is much that we can do to support each other... It's called LOVE...

Keep in mind that he is 80, Midwestern, and Lutheran (read: reserved - that's this side of my family.) Kind words indeed.

Saturday, June 09, 2012

Small pleasures

I don't mean to be totally warm and fuzzy, but as I recover I have been appreciating things I used to take for granted or not focus on perhaps as much as I should. I have focused on small pleasures.

Reading - I had been feeling sick for so long that I wasn't at my normal average of a book a week. When I was in the hospital, I overheard one of the caring and astute nurses observe that she thought a man on my floor probably hadn't ordered breakfast because he couldn't read the menu. She sent someone in to help him. I used to be an ESL volunteer for adults and I did occasionally encounter people who could not read or write in their native language, either. I always admired their guts, making time at the end of a full day's hard work to go and learn. I'm grateful that I am literate and can enjoy books.

BBC series - As you know, I am an Anglophile and I love to laugh. In between books, I have been watching some of the BBC series we own. Coupling, Fawlty Towers, The Vicar of Dibley, etc. Check them out if you haven't, they are hilarious!

Family and friends - I should say I have never taken family and friends for granted, but I have been blown away by how many caring phone calls, e-mails and cards I have received during my recovery. Even the volunteers at work have called to check in on me and wish me well. It is so nice to be cared about. My grandmother, who has historically had a hard time dealing head-on with serious illness and troubles in our family, has learned how to text at age 76! I had asked my aunt not to let her know how seriously ill I was, but my aunt did tell her and I was amazed when my grandmother texted me that "please always tell me how serious something is. I love you and I want to know everything."

For my picture illustrating family, this is an lolperson - hey, I just made that up - of my brother N, who had been bugging the fuck out of my other brother, B, by using his iphone storage, which had been used for podcasts, to take pictures for eBay. It finally ended after I made this picture and sent it to my parents.

Mr. RK - Again, I never take him for granted, but even I have been blown away by how he has been both cuddly and made of steel. We have gotten to "in sickness and in health" decades before I thought we would. It has been so difficult for me to accept so much care (luckily I can do many more things for myself now), but he has done literally everything for me without complaining, telling me I'm pretty even when I have felt as repulsive as the Bride of Frankenstein. One of the nurses I've seen at outpatient appointments told me to thank him for her. "Many people see their loved ones go through medical issues and they literally just freeze up," she said.  (Below is a picture of my other brother, who visits about once a quarter, and Mr. RK when we went out for Mexican food a few months ago.)
Humor! - I am laughing more than ever, and appreciating humor more than ever. Incidentally, one of my doctors (who is a really nice guy) has the initials SOB. Poor bastard.

See, you knew I couldn't be all Julie Andrews and falalalala for this entire post. And "fuck!" There, I said it.

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Of saints, CT scans, and bright red underwear

Thank you all for your well wishes. Long story short, I had quite a scare and feel blessed to be safe, healthy and back home.

Mr. RK has been a saint taking care of me. I have a few weeks off of work to recover from some health issues that are, blessedly, treatable. He has taken care of the very exhausting (running around to grocery stores, drug stores, follow up  doctor appointments, etc.) to the very disgusting (helping me care for an open wound) to the Donna Reed (doing all of the cooking, cleaning, etc.) He is really the gift of my life.

In the meantime, I must ask: even when I am in crisis, why is my life like a sitcom?

I was in the hospital for several days and among other things, I had to get a CT scan...and going into the scan, right before the medication knocked me out, I thought, "Hmm. I am wearing bright red lace underwear, and all of the doctors can see it!"


And mind you, the operating theater looked quite a bit like...Julia Child's test kitchen.

I told one of the doctors this. There was an oven, cupboards, the works...

And speaking of underwear, the gowns at the hospital only came in size XL. I am about a size S or XS, and on top of this I had lost about 20 lbs. in a week (I'm plumping up to normal now, yay), so they caved and let me wear sweats and t-shirts from home that Mr. RK brought me.

So one morning I laid out clean clothes, including bright purple underwear, and one of the specialist doctors just happened to pop by and sit on the couch - right by the underwear. I didn't realize this until after he left. Oops.

At least now I am only flashing people in my own home. 

PS I will visit your blogs as soon as I'm able...pretty tired at the moment, but again, thanks for all of the good thoughts and well wishes, my friends!