Dec 1

Five Paragraphs About Me

I’m sitting at the dining room table, working on my laptop with the background music of Little Bear on the television. Next to my laptop are two pairs of dance shoes–ballet and tap–that are too small for my daughter now. I never had the chance to take dance lessons when I was a kid, so I want to give her that opportunity, at least until I am certain she does not want to do it anymore. But for now she loves it. In a few years I’ll sign her up for piano lessons, but I won’t give her the option to quit that. I’ll be the mean mommy on that one, since it’s darn near impossible to learn to play the piano when you’re an adult. I keep telling myself I’m going to go take music lessons when I get some free time, but I doubt that it’ll be piano. More likely guitar. I’d love to learn how to play electric guitar. Maybe I’ll get my daughter into guitar lessons some day too. I don’t want to overload her with lessons, but there are a lot of things I want to be sure she has the chance to experience. I want her to choose her own path, but I want her to have lots and lots of paths to choose from. She’s just so damn cool and smart and beautiful, it makes me cry if I think about it for too long.

My husband is out taking his thirty minute walk around the neighborhood. He worries incessantly about his health, for several good reasons. He’s a good husband, and a wonderful father and he wants to do everything he can to make sure that he’s around for us as long as possible. He’s a vast improvement over my first husband, which really isn’t meant to be as much of a knock on my first husband as you might think. We got married for the wrong reasons, and stayed married for too long. Habit and momentum, he used to say. But the one I have now is my partner, and we got married for all of the right reasons.

The tips of my fingers are sore as I type, and I can feel my forearms already starting to ache. We went to the rock-climbing gym with my sister and her family again today, and somehow I got talked into trying a particularly difficult wall. There were about six times when I didn’t think I’d be able to climb any higher, but then I’d hear advice shouted from below on where to move my feet or which grab to go for next. Sometimes I’d feel the slack on the rope being taken all the way in and I knew I could cheat just a bit on the rope to get to next hold, knew that my sister was nudging me up past the rough spots. That’s what big sisters are for, right? And I made it to the top, managed to slap the black pipe, then gratefully let go and let her bring me back down.

I just finished posting some research advice on a writer’s forum I belong to, giving details about what a body looks like after it’s been in the water for a day. I’ve seen a few of those. I’ve seen them when they’ve been in the water for far longer than that as well. I’ve seen burn victims and car accidents, murders and suicides, heart attacks and strokes. I’ve seen babies as young as a few hours, and men and women in their nineties. I’ve seen what a fetus looks like at four months gestation. I’ve seen that death is not fair, is not patient, is not discriminating. I’ve seen that death does not allow you to get your affairs in order first, and does not care if you spoke sharply to your child before you left home.

I’ll have some time to write after my daughter goes to bed. I’d write now but I can count on an interruption every few minutes on the order of, “MOMMMMMMMY!” It wears on me, but I also hate it if she goes too long without calling for me. My agent’s been shopping my novel for a few months now–not long enough for me to get concerned about its lack of ability to sell since in publishing terms its hardly been more than a few minutes. But that doesn’t prevent me from having neurotic episodes where I begin to worry that at some point my agent will throw up his hands and shake his head and ask himself why he ever thought I had anything resembling writing talent. I do what I can to counteract the neuroses by writing more, but I know that having the validation of having a book sold will be the ultimate cure. Then I’ll get to trade up for a whole new set of neuroses about sequels, and book launches, and sales numbers. But hey, at least I’m being honest with myself, right?

Nov 16

Things you can’t ignore

I woke up at 3:30 this morning to the not-so-distant sound of a smoke alarm chirping somewhere in the house with its cheery message of doom for its battery.


I tried to ignore it.


Crap. I got up, thinking that it was the downstairs alarm, so I staggered to the hallway and listened.


Oh. Crap. It wasn’t downstairs. It was upstairs.

It was in The Kid’s room.

I was instantly assailed by visions of The Kid waking up, and me losing out on all hope of getting back to sleep. I cracked open the door to her room, mildly shocked to see that she was still asleep.


I cringed at the sound and muttered some choice invectives under my breath about the timing of the death of the battery. I slid into her room, and then climbed up onto only piece of furniture that could be easily and quietly moved to allow me to reach the alarm. Unfortunately it was one of those glider ottomans, so I began a balance routine that would have made a Cirque performer proud.


Scowl. Scowl. Balance and wobble. I reached up to the damn alarm and twisted it off the base, It came off obligingly… an inch. I muttered a few more choice invectives as I realized that the damn thing was wired into the house alarm system. (A system that we gave up on using a very long time ago.) So, I wobbled and balanced, and attempted to unplug the damn thing from the wall.


I could NOT get it unplugged. The Kid rolled over and I held my breath and froze, attempting to muffle the damn chirps of the alarm with the sheer power of my mind.


Could. Not. Get. It. Unplugged. I stepped down from the ottoman without doing a faceplant and returned to my bedroom. Could not find a flashlight anywhere. Managed to find a swiss army knife. Managed to find my phone. Returned to the kid’s room and to the wobbly ottoman and to the dangling, chirping alarm.


I pressed a button on my phone and held it between my teeth to give me some light. Pried the damn alarm away from the damn plug, which finally came free with a lovely sharp sound of cracking plastic.

Held breath. Looked at The Kid. Thanked the gods that she had picked tonight to sleep like the dead. Wobbled on the ottoman. Had a sudden flash of me falling off of the ottoman and impaling myself on my swiss army knife, all while husband is out of town. Wondered if The Kid would wake up if that happened. Was glad that I had my phone in my mouth because if I did fall off and impale myself I could probably still dial 911 with my tongue.


Climbed down from the ottoman. Managed to escape The Kid’s bedroom. Returned to my bedroom and turned on the light. Let out a silent scream as my retinas burned away. Attempted to remove the damn battery from the damn alarm. Used the swiss army knife some more. Cracked some more plastic. Finally removed the battery. Exhaled in relief.


Agh!!! What new hell is this?! I took the damn battery out!


I contemplated opening the window and chucking the thing into the street.


I then realized that the damn chirps were dying out. Damn capacitors.

It finally went completely silent. The Kid was still asleep. It was only 4am. My alarm was set for 5am.

Miraculously, I was able to get back to sleep.

Jul 7

Anna knows the truth about cats and dogs

Anna was trying to pet the cat, Emma, just now, at a moment when Emma didn’t care to be petted. Emma is amazingly tolerant of the attentions of a three-year-old, but when she tires of it she will administer a token nip or very light tap with her claws which usually gets the message across (and has so far failed to draw any blood.) Emma batted at Anna’s hand, and so I tried to explain to Anna that you can’t make cats do anything, and that if they don’t want to be petted it was best to leave them alone.

Anna considered this information very seriously, then looked at me and said, “Then we should get a DOG.”

Jun 6

Gender issues

I got home last night at about 7pm and saw my daughter sitting in the recliner wearing clothing that I did not recognize. Not only did I not recognize the clothing, but it was quite obviously “boy” clothing–t-shirt with a tractor on it, boy-style shorts, and even boy-style underwear.

I asked my husband, “Where did she get those clothes?”

“They were in her bag,” he said, with a vague wave in the direction of a little backpack. I looked more closely at said backpack and determined that it was an “Elmo” backpack. Anna’s backpack is of the “Nemo” variety.

“Those aren’t her clothes. That’s not her backpack. That backpack belongs to Clayton.” I knew this last fact because the name “CLAYTON” was written in black magic marker across the top of the bag.

Husband glanced over. “Oh.” Then he shrugged. “Hey, at least I brought the right kid home.”

I said something inarticulate.

“It could have been worse,” he said. “Just think: There’s probably a little boy running around in a dress somewhere.”

May 4

Anna’s observation that I am definitely not flat-chested

Anna woke up while I was still in the early stages of getting ready for work (i.e. I was naked as a jaybird and had only about half my makeup on.) She asked me if she could help me get dressed, so I showed her how to hook my bra and put the straps on my shoulders.

After it was on she stepped back, shook her head and said, “Mommy, you have TOO much milk.”

Apr 2

The war on Spam

My battle against comment spam continues. I’m averaging about 200 spam posts a day, so I finally went through them the other night and pulled out as many “key” words as I could and put them in the “blacklist” section.

So, don’t try and make any comments that contain the name of ANY sort of prescription or diet drug. And, I’m not being a prude (anyone who knows me should be aware that I am most certainly NOT) but try to refrain from using words pertaining to sexual activity. Don’t tell me about your ringtone. Don’t direct me to the cool p.o.r.n site you found. Don’t tell me about your cousin who had the sexchange operation and is now a s.h.e.m.a.l.e. Don’t tell me that I’m now a m.i.l.f. (even though I would definitely take that as a compliment!) And don’t tell me the exploits of your cute little p.u.s.s.y. cat.

Unfortunately that only cuts out about 2/3 of the spam, but it’s a start!

Oh, and thanks to various people who emailed me with suggestions. I think that I have failed to respond to some of you, but please know that I DID read your message and take it seriously, and will try very hard to catch up on my email backlog very soon.


Work has been psychotically busy. I’ve had to cut back on my time working in the morgue to focus more on the IT portion of my jobtitle. Our new director came on board a few weeks ago and we’re full steam ahead on getting the new DNA and Toxicology lab set up. And since the technology level in this office was approximately 1980-level before I came on board, and it now needs to be about 2010, I have my work cut out for me!

And, the added excitement to that whole venture is Windows Vista. See, there seems to be a lot of existing software that doesn’t work quite right with Vista, so we would really like to keep using XP for at least a year until more of the rough patches get ironed out. Problem is, Dell has said that they’re going to stop selling computers with XP in just a couple of months.

In other words, we need to figure out how many computers we’re going to need for our new labs for the next year and buy them now. (Yes, I realize that I could always just uninstall Vista and install XP instead, but we also don’t want Office 2007 and various other New Shit so this is the easiest option. I hope. Sheesh.) On the upside, the Dell reps are drooling at the thought of selling me so many computers. :)


And, since I haven’t posted any AnnaCuteness in a while, here’s a video of Anna riding her cousin’s horse. (Her cousin is the one leading the horse. He does barrel racing, and at the meets they sometimes do “lead ins” of the little kids, where they lead the horses around the barrels. Anna LOVES it. I think I’m going to be buying a horse in a few years. Sigh. :) )

Anna and the barrels

Dec 31

The safest place

Anna fell asleep by 6:30, leaning up against me with a cooked carrot still clutched in her hand. I managed to change her diaper without waking her up too much, then just left her in the clothes she had on, pulled her shoes off, and took her up to bed. She slept through much of the racket, but then woke up again just a few minutes ago, crying out for her mommy.

I had a feeling that some of the bigger booms would wake her and scare her. Before she fell asleep we’d all gone for a walk around the neighborhood, and right when we got back home, just as dusk was falling, someone came out and set off a firework in the street. It screeched loudly and then whizzed into the air, exploding in red and blue sparks. Charlie wasn’t too thrilled about it, but Anna started screaming, and had to be held for quite some time by her daddy to calm down. Then after a short lull the explosions started up again and Anna had run screaming again, this time for comfort from her mommy.

I went upstairs when she woke up and cuddled up next to her. She gave a little whimper and rolled into me, throwing an arm over me. I kissed her forehead and stroked her hair, telling her that she was safe, that mommy was here.

She reached out and grabbed my sleeve and pulled my arm over her. “Hold me, mama,” she said.

And I did.

Dec 23

Santa comes early

Today was an interesting day. It started out with a search for my husband’s cell phone and our debit card. We walked around the parking lot where he thought he’d dropped it last night, and we were just about to give up when a total stranger walked up and asked us if we were looking for a cell phone and if we were it was over on top of the garbage can.

This was Jack’s brand new LG 9900, so we were pretty damn pleased to get it back, to say the least.

(The search for the debit card did not go as well, so I ended up having to cancel it. Not a huge deal except for the fact that it I realized that I had no way to get cash until Tuesday now. Jeez.)

Then we went to breakfast at Waffle House. Near the end of the meal Anna began to get restless, so Jack told her that we were going to go look at puppies after we ate. Sooooo…. we went to Petsmart to look at Gerbils and Hamsters and Kitties and Fishies… but they didn’t have any puppies (or grownup puppies, for that matter.)

So, I think I was the one who suggested that we go to the human society shelter (which is less than a mile down the road from our house.) And that was my undoing.

We walked through the kennels, looking at the sad and desperate faces of the dogs. I told the woman that I didn’t want a puppy. I wanted a grown dog that was already housebroken. One that was good with kids, and that would tolerate a cat. There were several to choose from, dogs that had been there for months and months, who you could just see were aching for a life outside of the kennel.

We came home with this one, who we later dubbed “Charlie.”

I told Anna that she’d asked Santa for a puppy, and that Charlie had asked Santa for a family. And everyone was happy.

Dec 20

Squeezing one in before midnight

We just got back from the Coroner’s Office Christmas party, and I’m sitting up in bed listening over the monitor to my husband attempting to put Anna to sleep. She fighting him hard right now, and there’s a lot of shrieking and wailing, but I don’t think it’s going to take long for the fight to go out of her. I was actually pretty shocked that she was still awake when we got home (after 10), but we used a brand new babysitter tonight and I had told her that she didn’t need to kill herself trying to get Anna to go to bed. This was a pretty young girl that we used tonight (13), and so she probably wasn’t really up to the kind of negotiations that are involved in the bedtime rituals of a two-year old.

However, the seriously good news is that the girl who comes and cleans my house once a week told me today that she’d be willing to babysit for me if I ever wanted. And I will most likely take her up on that offer. She can definitely use the money, and she’s also an adult with a child of her own, so I know she can handle kids. Really, the only reason I never used her before for babysitting is that she didn’t have a strong grasp of english, and I worried about her ability to summon help if necessary. Now, however, nearly a year after she started cleaning my house, she is damn near fluent in english, which shames me since in that same amount of time I’ve managed to learn about six words of spanish.

The other plus to her babysitting is that she lives about five minutes from my house, which pretty much clinches the deal for me.

Who knows, maybe Jack and I will be able to actually [gasp] go out more than once every two months!

Dec 18

Enjoying Christmas

I have barely any of my christmas shopping done so far this year, but I’m actually enjoying the season, which is a bit of a rarity for me. Usually I’m a total stress-ball about this time of year, having to deal with a zillion different people for whom I need to get gifts, as well as the usual stresses of who is going where on what day–the perils of having scattered family all over the place.

But this year is fun, and I totally blame it on Anna. She’s utterly delighted at the entire concept. She announces with great regularity that she LOVES Santa, and LOVES Christmas, and LOVES Rudolph. She gets upset if the lights on the tree are not lit, and has already laid so much guilt on me for the fact that we have no lights outside our house that I know that before Christmas Eve, I’ll be out on a ladder nailing lights onto our house to appease her. She sings Christmas carols constantly while in her car seat, but it’s just so darn cute when she does that it’s impossible to get sick of it. Especially since she tends to be a bit liberal with the actual wording:

Rudoff red nose raindeah, has a shiny nose! And if you saw him! You would say we’re closed!

I’m counting down the days to Christmas as eagerly as any kid, just because I can’t wait to see how she reacts to Christmas morning.

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