“I prefer neurotic people. I like to hear rumblings beneath the surface.” ~ Stephen Sondheim

Andrew Wyeth Master Bedroom

  Andrew Wyeth, “Master Bedroom”

“Neurotics are sure that no one understands them, and they wouldn’t have it any other way.” ~ Mignon McLaughlin, The Second Neurotic’s Notebook, 1966

Well, I think that my body does not like the antibiotic Cipro. I started taking this wonderful med last week, thinking that my body would react as it normally does after taking an antibiotic for a few days: No more icky, everything all better. Not this time.

I’ve been waiting a week for the chills and weakness to go away. So far, no go. I stayed in bed all last week, didn’t even come near the computer. My desk began to look like a laundry rack. Finally, on Friday, I had to get out of bed to go to a family cookout for my German niece and nephew who were in the country. I look forward all year to these family parties, seeing everyone, getting out of the house, getting tipsy twice a year.

Not this time.

I was drinking Coke and ice (no Pepsi, pshaw), ate a grilled burger, no birthday cake even. Had to go home and change into jeans and a long sleeved shirt because I was freezing. Good thing we live so close together.

My one day out of bed earned me two more in it. Yesterday, I woke up early with big plans to put away the laundry and to write a blog. By 8 p.m., I knew that it was a lost cause. Today, we went to the airport to see off the travelers. I came home and crashed and woke up at 7. Unfortunately, I did not know if it was 7 in the morning or 7 in the evening.

Totally discombobulated. Don’t you hate that? I actually went out into the dining room and asked Corey if it was nighttime. But as I asked him, I realized the answer to my question because if it were morning, he would have been in bed, not sitting at the computer in the dining room.

It’s impossible to be able to tell time by the dogs because they are quite content to stay in bed with me day and night, occasionally moving under or above the covers depending on whether or not I’ve turned off the air conditioner.

Oh yes. Life has been pleasant for Corey since I’ve been shutting off the a/c in the bedroom since I’ve been sick. First I get chills, and then I’m too hot. A/C on and no covers . . . a/c off, lots and lots of covers. He said that he woke up a few mornings ago and I had completely buried myself under the blankets. He couldn’t even see my nose.

“No good neurotic finds it difficult to be both opinionated and indecisive.”  ~ Mignon McLaughlin, The Neurotic’s Notebook, 1960 

Andy Warhol Diamond Dust Shoes
"Diamond Dust Shoes," by Andy Warhol

So that’s what life has been like in my house for a while. Completely unexciting. Nothing to tell. No energy to post. I have had plenty of time to ponder a few things, which I thought that I would share with you because that’s just the kind of person that I am:

  1. Why are there six pairs of shoes next to my desk and how did they get there?  I realize that I probably left all of them there, but when? When have I had time to wear six pairs of shoes since I’ve only been out of the house to go to the doctor and the store?
  2. Why did the x-ray technician at my doctor’s office try to take my blood while the lab technician (or whatever the proper term is, sorry) went to help the student x-ray technician do an x-ray? Doesn’t that seem weird to you? It does to me, especially since she missed my vein the first time. I think that my evil, ugly twin may have reared her head accidentally because she didn’t want to try to go for another vein. We waited for the real blood person to come back and stick me.
  3. Which one of the Jack Russells talked Tillie into taking a bag of hoagie rolls off the island in the kitchen when we weren’t home, and did they make her share? I’m pretty sure that Alfie did the conniving, while Shakes used his opposable thumbs to open the bag.
  4. Did you know that eldest son’s name has been changed to Ramonn? When they put all of the cousins’ names on the birthday cake at Costco, they spelled Eamonn’s name wrong. Do you want to know something even more bizarre? When Corey texted me to tell me that Eamonn’s new name was Ramonn, I actually texted him back and asked him ‘Why?’ That’s how out of it I am.
  5. Why is it that nothing I wear ever makes my mother happy? I show up at the cookout in my brown sundress and wedges. She announces loudly, “Why are you all dressed up? I thought this was a cookout. I don’t understand why you do this . . . ya da ya da ya da ya da.” She said the exact same thing on the day of Eamonn’s graduation. This has led to my adoption of the following standard: “I’m fat and ugly and my mother dresses me funny.”
  6. Why can’t there be another series of books like Harry Potter? While I’ve been in bed, I’ve reread books 6 and 7 in ancitipation of the movie coming out on Wednesday, which only makes me wish even more that there could be more books. And no, I’m not going to read any of the Twilight series, just on principle.
  7. Why do I continue to get notices that I’ve won the Irish Lottery, but no one is sending me any money? What’s up with that?
  8. Who will be the next to fall in the continuing saga of politicians who preach one thing but do another? And how does one go about getting on the payroll for John Ensign’s parents, you know, just to get helped out (as they put it)? (I know, I broke the whole tongue-in-cheek motif of the list, but I was just wondering . . .)
  9. Why does a commercial featuring a cartoon line drawing (Slim Shots) need a disclaimer at the bottom alerting people to the fact that results for a real person would not be the same as they are for a cartoon? Have we as a society really gotten that stupid?
  10. How can Bruno be at the top of the box office list? Is this somehow related to #9? You’re kidding me, right? People actually paid money to go see more of this crap cloaked as humor. Yeah, maybe I’ve lost my sense of humor, or maybe, I just don’t find annoying racist, bigoted skits posing as humor terribly entertaining.

I’m going to stop for now because I think that I’ve taxed my brain with just this little bit of fodder. Perhaps tomorrow I’ll be able to piece together something more interesting; for instance, how can John Sandford of the Argentinian boddice-ripping e-mails actually compare himself to David in the Bible and do it with a straight face? Now that’s food for thought.

And to everyone who has been stopping by to check on me, thanks. It’s always nice to hear from you. Mean it.

More later. Peace.

Sometimes It’s the Little Things

clas tub + candles

 Feels Like a Little Bit of Heaven

Fifty Things About Me That Are Totally Irrelevant:

  1. My middle name is Gayle. Just think about that for a minute . . . Lolita Gayle. Can you perceive any possible rhyme or reason why those two names might be linked together in any way? Me neither. It has always dumbfounded me as to why my parents chose this for my middle name, and I have always hated having Gayle as my middle name. It’s not the name that I hate, per se. It’s the name in conjunction with my first name. No poetry there. No melody. No logic. But what can you do? My cup of teadaughter hates her middle name also, and her father and I thought that it went very well with her first name, so I suppose that it’s just one of those parent things.
  2. Whenever I go to a bar, I order three things simultaneously: whatever liquor I’m drinking, for example Kahlua and cream, plus a glass of iced water, and a cup of hot tea. This is one of the reasons that I like to go to places where the wait staff knows me. They don’t look at me like I’m crazy when I place my order. Why do I do this? Why is my middle name Gayle? Exactly. Actually, I like to drink all three things at once. I pace myself by drinking water throughout the night, and I like my hot tea. I’m not a big drinker in the first place, so my combo works very well for me.
  3. I have only had short hair a few times in my life, and the times that I did have it, I hated it. I’m just not a short hair person. I feel like I look like a monkey when I have short hair. Of course when I was a child, my mother used to chop off my hair regularly. She would see a hairstyle that she thought was very chic, and then I would lose hair. I hated it when she would do that.womens-collage
  4. I have always been a flaming liberal, and females who say that they aren’t feminists don’t really understand the true definition of the word.
  5. I have two crooked toes. They were never broken, but the fourth toe on each foot is curved like a comma. It has never really bothered me unless someone asks me about it.
  6. Speaking of toes, I have Filipino toes, as in, I can pinch with my toes and pick up things with my toes. I know, also very strange, but trust me, this is not an unusual trait among Filipinos.
  7. Cats make me have asthma attacks, which is a shame since cats love me, and if I enter a house in which a cat resides, said cat will make a beeline for my face.
  8. My favorite thing to do when I go out is singing Karaoke. That’s because I’m a ham and a thwarted Broadway star. I had planned to run away to New York after high school, but it never happened.
  9. I’m a classically-trained pianist, but never felt that I was very good at it, even after 14 years of lessons.
  10. I have been a vegetarian a couple of times in my life, and there was no particular reason for it other than I got tired of eating red meat. I’ve never been a vegan and don’t even have the least idea as to how one does that.
  11. I love Beethoven as much as I love the Beatles, Frederic Chopin as much as I love Kenny Chesney, Stravinsky as much as I love Springsteen. My playlists usually cover about four genres of music.
  12. Cayman Islands beachMore than just about anything else, reading is my favorite way to pass the time. Reading on a tropical beach is even better. Reading a good mystery on a tropical beach with an umbrella drink is the best.
  13. My favorite holiday is Christmas. I love to decorate the house and to buy the perfect presents for the people in my life. No one else in my family gets as excited about Christmas, and that always makes me a bit melancholy.
  14. I make lots of lists—grocery lists, shopping lists, to do lists—and I lose them almost as soon as I make them, which kind of negates the whole purpose of lists.
  15. painted toenailsI always keep my toenails painted. When I went into labor with Alexis, I took the time to paint my toenails and mop the kitchen floor. One of the things I hated about having back surgery was my inability to paint my toenails for a while.
  16. I have worked as a writer, editor, marketing director, resume writer, newsroom supervisor, grants writer, proposal development specialist, graduate teaching assistant, university English instructor, membership coordinator, publications manager, 6th grade public school teacher, senior education specialist, and research and development assistant. The job that I hated the most was teaching 6th grade for Norfolk Public Schools. The job that I loved the most was teaching at a university. The environment that I enjoyed working in the most was at an arts museum. The environment that I enjoyed working in the least was for a non-profit help group.
  17. I have been to the following countries: England, Scotland, France, Germany, Morocco, the Philippines, Mexico, the Cayman Islands, Honduras, Belize, and Spain. The places that I have not yet been to that still want to see include Ireland, Wales, Greece, Costa Rica, Australia, China, and New Zealand.
  18. A job that I think I would have been good at? Being a crime analyst (in the lab, not in the field). I love solving mysteries, and it seems that analyzing evidence would be one of those jobs that would continue to evolve.
  19. The major that I seriously considered and actually regret not pursuing is marine biology. I considered pre-med, psychology, and anthropology. I ended up getting two of my degrees in English, but I have always been interested in life under the sea. I did take my LSAT’s because I was going to go to law school when we moved to northern Virginia, but then I got pregnant with Alexis and changed my mind. 
  20. Tartan 27 Sailboat
    Tartan 27 Sailboat
  21. I almost bought a 27-foot boat when I was in college that I wanted to live on. Do I regret not doing this one? Absolutely. How often are you that free in your life? No ties, no debts, the ability to make life-changing decisions. I was completely stupid for not following through on this one, and the only thing that held me back was fear.
  22. My best feature? My legs. My worst feature? Everything else.
  23. My favorite flower is lilac.
  24. My favorite scent is Calvin Klein’s Eternity.
  25. My favorite colors are black, red, and purple, in that order.
  26. I love black leather boots, my full-length black leather coat, and squooshy black leather hobo bags. My favorite leather designer is Kenneth Cole, and I don’t believe that you can ever have too many boots or purses.
  27. black bootsI love cashmere but cannot wear it because it gives me a rash.
  28. I love silk and wear it as often as possible.
  29. I love the smell of freshly cut roses, but hate the smell of rose-scented candles.
  30. My favorite jeans are Levi’s, and I cannot imagine ever paying $200 for a pair of jeans.
  31. My favorite jewelry, besides my wedding rings, are my crosses. I have a gold Claddagh cross, a gold crucifix, and three rosaries. I am not Catholic.
  32. I would have been a good lawyer because I like to win.
  33. Among the things that I like to collect are watches, especially ones with big faces and leather straps.
  34. My mom pierced my ears with a needle when I was 12.
  35. I have one tattoo on my back. I want to get at least two other tattoos.
  36. I am claustrophobic in crowded places: elevators, coliseums, rallies.
  37. I can curse without moving my lips.
  38. gem_aquamarineI spent several formidable years of my childhood in London, England. I went to a public school, and I had a very proper British accent. I haven’t been back to England since I was a child, and I would love to go back just to see how much it has changed.
  39. My birthstone is garnet, but my favorite stone is aquamarine.
  40. I am stupidly jealous, and more than once have made an idiot of myself because of it, but it stems from my insecurity.
  41. I believe that if you make a promise, you should keep it even if it’s to a small child. If you know that you aren’t going to keep the promise, don’t make it. Broken promises cause disillusionment.
  42. Keeping information from someone is the same thing as being dishonest. I know. This is probably a woman thing.
  43. I could go my entire life without watching the NFL and never miss it.
  44. I want to live in the mountains and by the sea.
  45. I love good coffee, Belgium chocolate, and angel hair pasta.
  46. I love fresh seafood, but refuse to eat lobster because I think that they should be allowed to live on the bottom of the ocean for as long as they can.cupid's bow lips
  47. I miss wearing suits and heels.
  48. I always have something on my lips, at least gloss, throughout the day.
  49. I would love to pursue another degree.
  50. Nothing is better for stress than a hot bath, lots of candles, a glass of wine, and someone washing your hair for you.
  51. This is the longest amount of time that I have spent thinking about just myself in forever, and I only did it because I couldn’t think of anything else to post.

More later on a different subject. Promise. Peace.

“Take Care of All Your Memories For You Cannot Relive Them” ~ Bob Dylan

summer-08-cousin-shot

Summer 08 Sutcliffe Cousins: Phillip, Eamonn, Brett, Hannah, Alexis, Rebecca, Mallory

“Memory is the primary and fundamental power, without which there could be no other intellectual operation” ~ Samuel Johnson

I cannot write tonight. There is just too much pressing on my mind. I am waiting to hear about my brother-in-law in Germany. He is in the hospital with pneumonia and is on a respirator.

Maybe if I tell you about him that will help. Patrick is my ex’s older brother. He has always been the serious, intellectual one. Patrick was in the R.O.T.C. in college, and then he went into the army after graduation. Patrick was stationed in Germany where he met Helma, the woman he married. After a couple of years, they were transferred back to the states, somewhere in Tennessee.

In the meantime, Paul’s younger sister Ann was engaged to be married in the spring. Patrick and Helma were going to drive to Virginia on President’s Day weekend for a visit and for a fitting of brides maids dresses as Helma and I were both going to be in the wedding. Then the unthinkable happened. Helma fell asleep at the wheel, and Patrick, who had been asleep in the back seat was wedged in the seat when the car stopped. Helma had a broken nose and lost some teeth. Patrick had been deprived of oxygen and had spinal cord damage.

After all of the operations, Patrick was left a paraplegic, but he still retained his mind, his long-term memory, his wit. The army retired Patrick as a full Captain. He was unable to speak, but they worked out a communication system using arm movements and eye blinks and mouth openings and closings. Patrick was quick-tempered and impatient before the accident, and he was just the same after the accident, but never with me.

Whenever I tried to spell with him (which is what we call talking), I would tell him quite plainly that if he started to get all mean with me, I would stop and walk away, which would usually make him laugh, and then he would be patient with me as I tried my best to get things right the first time.

Just to show you how smart he remained, while they still lived here, we used to play games, like Trivial Pursuit, usually men against the women, and it would usually come down to Patrick against me. He loved to kick my ass with history questions, but I could usually get him on literature.

Eventually, he and Helma were able to have two children of their own: Phillip and Hannah. Helma’s sister Kerstin lived here in the states for a while, and she was married, and members of her family would visit, but Helma was always lonely for home, and it was very hard for her. Patrick had a physical therapist who came to the home, and Helma took really good care of him. But finally, they made the decision to move to Germany so that Helma could be closer to her family.

It was hard on everyone, especially on Paul’s mom, but Helma promised to come over every year for a visit, and for a while it was every year, but then the dollar dropped, and then after 9/11, everyone was afraid to fly for a while. They had just started coming back over a few years ago. Patrick had a big 50th birthday party in Germany, and several of his best friends with whom he has stayed in contact flew to Germany to celebrate with him, as did his mother, who hadn’t been to Germany since right after Patrick and Helma were first married.

That he has stayed so healthy for so long is directly tied to Helma’s dedication to keeping him that way. He has had two major health scares. And we have spent our time making visits to VA hospitals, which are incredibly depressing places. But overall, he has been incredibly lucky. They have made trips all over Europe, and when they have been here, Helma has taken Patrick to just about every Revolutionary battleground in the area.

With Helma’s assistance, Patrick has kept up his massive stamp collection, his alphabetized CD and LP collection, including anything ever put out by the Beatles. He reads constantly (books on tape have been a wonderful development for him because before that, it was books by whoever was designated reader). In other words, Because of Helma, Patrick’s hobbies have all been attended to, and his life, although far from normal, has been turned into the closest semblance of normal that it could be.

He has a computer that he can control to write letters to his friends. His children may have had times that they were embarassed by their father, but I think not any more than any teenager is embarassed by a parent. Just ask my sons.

The last time they were here, I noticed how tired Helma looked, and I was actually surprised, because she really takes care of herself. She is a championship swimmer. She coaches swimming. That is her time for herself. She is in very good physical shape, but she really looked thin this time. Not thin as in skinny, but thin as in worn thin. I wrote her an e-mail about it, but she never really responded, which I did not expect that she would. She is just not that way.

She had told me before coming that this time she was not running around to see everyone the way that they usually do. She was just going to take it easy. Normally when they visit, they are on the go from the moment they arrive until the moment that they leave. But this time, she really didn’t go very many places. Even when she went to Busch Gardens, she didn’t close the place the way that she usually did.

I’m waiting until it’s 2 a.m. here so that it will be 8 a.m. there so that I can call. I always forget about the six hour time difference. I’m hoping that the news is good, that they have turned down the ventilator and that the pneumonia is clearing. That’s the news that I am hoping for. After all, Patrick’s grandmother just died last week. I’m not sure how he took the news I don’t know the last time that he saw her. But he does get very emotional.

His mother, my other mother-in-law, is noticeably worsening with her own health problem. Parkinson’s does not respond well to stress. So I’m just hoping that she holds up well for the next few days.

I suppose for someone who said that she didn’t have anything to say tonight, I managed to run on in my usual way.

That’s all for now. More later. Peace.