Friday, February 29, 2008


That was how my vision tested this morning. I'm fairly amazed, really. They told me not to expect better than about 20/40 the first week with improvements over the course of a month.

So I'm pretty psyched. All in all, even with the bit of discomfort and the inconvenience last week, it's been totally worth it.

In other news, we have a primary on Tuesday. I was joking with a girlfriend from Illinois last night that Ohio is the New Hampshire of the Great Lakes: Everyone pretty much ignores us most of the time, unless there's a presidential election going on then then Whooo doggie! We're the belle of the ball! The big debate was down the street at the University (where hubby goes to school, but did he get me tickets? Noooo.) Caroline Kennedy was at the YMCA in my little berg last night, stumping for Obama. I knew this only because the convenience store over by the freeway had a ginormous "Welcome, Caroline Kennedy!" sign out front on my way home last night. I guess she needed a slurpie while she was on the campaign trail. Hubby is the lead Precinct judge for election day, so he's pretty psyched.

I'm still undecided. I know it's un-cool not to be a fervent Obama supporter right now, and by golly, he's awfully charming and engaging in a Jack Kennedy sort of way. But I'm still wondering if I should abandon the opportunity to elect a very capable and experienced WOMAN to the White House, just because she's part of the Old Guard and a bit of a shrew. There will be more listening and soul searching over the next several days, here in the Land of Bean.

Final thought: We've had 18 inches of snow at my house over the last week, with another 4 inches forecast for today. Enough, already!

Be well, gentle readers.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Barista Blues

Can't get your double shot nonfat hornswaggle latte today?

Let's all look forward to having a perkier grande mocha tomorrow, m'kay?


This is what I saw when I woke up this morning. No; it didn't say 12:30. It said 5:30. That was when my in-laws called to say they made it home from Florida. No small feat, as we had about 6 inches of snow overnight.

But hey! I'm reading the clock! And lots of other things as well! Like the Interwebs. This is OK.

So the surgery went well. By "well", I mean that it was, bar none, the weirdest thing I have ever experienced. Ever. And I had an emergency c-section while fully conscious. If you haven't experienced that, let me explain that I was given an epidural and then, while I was fully awake, and watching, they cut me open and took another human being out of my body.

This. Was. Weirder. Did you see A Clockwork Orange? That scene with the eye? That one?? That's what they did. Clamped my eye open. I handled it with grace. And by "grace", I mean that I freaked out, sat up, hyperventilated and passed out into the arms of a male nurse who bore a striking resemblance to Brendan Fraser. At least, in my freaked-out, dilated eyes condition he looked like Brendan Fraser. He did. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

I won't describe the rest of the procedure, but I can say that, thankfully, it's only five minutes per eye and it didn't hurt.

Did I mention it was weird?

But today, I can see! :) Everything. Clocks, trees, snow, navel lint. Everything.

It's pretty cool.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Laser Surgery: Day 5 post-op

Still can't see doodly. This kinda sucks. The whole world looks like those word verification thingies that you have to fill in when you comment on Ali's blog.

The doctor swears it'll be better tomorrow. I hope so. Because it took, like, ten minutes to type this.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Rant Alert

Well, this is another of those blog entries written when I was hurt that gave me my outlet. It served its purpose, but it's time for it to come down now, lest it cause unintended and unnecessary hurt.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Waltz Down Memory Lane

Someone pointed out this week that we are in the midst of the 25th anniversary of the Solidarity movement in Poland. Hard to believe it's been that long. I've been thinking about the remarkable political changes that the 80's brought us: Solidarnosc, Perestroika, Glasnost, even Tiananmen Square. Truly, 25 years later we still see the aftermath of those times being played out in events like the independence declaration by Kosovo this week. I guess we should exercise a bit more patience about the Middle East, eh?

In the midst of all that, I was reminded of a certain day in 1989 that brought a smile to my face:


“August! August, are you in there?”

I rang the bell on the counter to the stockroom. “August, I need some beta-mercaptoethanol. It’s an emergency! My samples are chomping themselves to bits!”

I had stupidly set up a DNA sequencing reaction before I started polymerizing the gel I’d use to separate the reaction when it was done. Now I was hurrying and I’d dropped the bottle of beta-mercap. on the floor. The smell of rotten eggs was working its way down the hallway, like one of the plagues of Egypt. I’d soon be the least popular technician in the Biochemistry department.

Reaching over the counter, I popped the latch. “August! You here?”

The stockroom of the biochemistry department was as old as the medical school itself, its walls lined floor-to-ceiling with boxes and bottles of every shape and size, with names both familiar and bizarre: Butter of Antimony, Aqua Regia and Pink Bismuth sat beside the more common Sodium Chloride and Boric Acid. From the layer of dust atop some of the bottles, I fully believed some of them had not moved from their spots in 50 years.

As far as I could tell, August Gottschalk had been in that stock room nearly as long. August knew everything, from how to calibrate the spectrophotometer to how to mend a grad student’s broken heart. He imparted his wisdom in a thick Bavarian accent, accompanied by a cup of “milk coffee” and a twinkly, blue-eyed wink.

I found August at the back of the stockroom, staring out the window. His eyes were filled with tears. In his hand was a small, worn, black and white picture of a young woman. She stood, framed by a bleak stone building on a cobblestone street, wearing a dark, plain coat and the stern expression that seems to characterize all pictures of a certain age.

I touched his shoulder. “August?”

He turned toward me, and his face burst with joy. He gestured at the small, black and white television in the corner of the room. “The Wall! The Wall is coming down! Look at them!”

On the television were images of students, with hammers and picks, working under the floodlighted glow of dozens of television cameras, tearing out pieces of the Berlin Wall. Hundreds, thousands of people shouted and danced, beers in hand, while armed guards stood silently by.

August grabbed me by the hand and pulled me out of the stockroom and into the hallway.

There, he guided me into a clumsy (on my part) waltz while he sang Das Kufsteiner Lied. A crowd gathered and began to dance along with us, not understanding completely what was happening, but knowing it was something very special. August released me into the arms of one of my lab-mates, turned and waltzed with a confused but happy Chinese post-doc from down the hall. He twirled, in turn, with a dozen others before collapsing into a chair, wheezing, laughing and exuberant.

He held up the photograph. “My sister”, he said. “I have not seen her since 1967. She has been in East Germany, and they would not let her across to visit us. Her husband is considered a dissident.” He spit on the floor. “That bastard Honecker! I hope they hang him now!” He looked at the photograph, his eyes clouded with tears once again. “I will go to see my sister, now. We will be a family again.” He nodded his head with satisfaction.

August didn’t make much money working in the Biochemistry stockroom. But the department took up a collection, and in the spring of 1990, he went back to Germany to see his sister.

He never came back, but I’d like to think his family reunion was a joyous one.

Friday, February 08, 2008


The big grant came through. I have a job, doing something I love, for the next five years.

It's more than that, actually. It's a chance to be part of the most important thing I've ever done in my whole life. (besides be a mom)

I called the other company and told them I couldn't talk to them anymore.

It's a huge relief. In fact, I don't have a tension headache for the first time in a week.

It was great to have a company fussing over me. But it's even better to feel like I'm back where I belong.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Rollin' and Tumblin'

That's mostly what's going on inside my head lately.

My job depends on having external funding, in the form of grants. In order to keep my job, I have to successfully write grants. And have them funded. Most years, this isn't a huge hairy deal. I write several grants each year, a couple of them fund and voila! I get to keep working.

This year is a bit different. I ended up putting a lot of eggs in a couple of very large baskets that would keep me fed and happy for about the next five years (and which are, incidentally, for projects I felt unbelievably passionate about). It took an immense number of hours, but the payoffs were worth it. At least that's what I thought at the time.

Now, I'm not so sure. I haven't heard about the biggest of these grants, and the two smaller (but still sizable) ones are probably tied to the success of the first one. If it doesn't come through, I could easily end up stranded. Not the best sitch for sole wage-earner mom...

Enter Plan B.

I got a call back in October from a large, public multi-national here in town, wherein the recruiter dropped a FABULOUS job into my lap. "Here you go." 20K raise. Stock. Fascinating work that I am well suited to do. They really need me and they would really appreciate me. The work would set me up to be working part-time as a consultant from home, making the same money, inside of five years. It's the key to my long-term plan.

Yeah, so what's the catch?? The travel. Probably 2 nights a week away from home and probably one week out of every six overseas.

I have a seven-year-old child who has some unique needs. And I have a husband who has battled depression for...well, just about forever. He tries. He takes his meds. But sometimes, despite best efforts, he falls off the edge pretty fast.

I love that this job will set me up to be doing the best for everyone in the next few years, but I'm wondering how much of the next few years (the last of the best of my daughter's 'easy years') it would cost me. I wish I could see six months into the future and know whether or not we'll all be OK.

But then I wonder how well I can care for a family while I'm out of work, or having to downsize to a job that only pays 2/3 of what I'm making now.

I have a week to make a decision.

I wish to hell I knew the right answer. I wish I had a sign.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Final thoughts before bed

Did you wear red today? Even if you didn't, if you're one of my female readers, please visit Go Red for Women and take the heart disease assessment. Because I love you and I want you to be healthy.

I think the series Lost is being produced by former executives from McDonald's and RJ Reynolds. Because those who watch it are utterly addicted. And those of us who don't Just. Don't. Get. It.

Be well, my friends.