Grandma passed away about a half hour ago.

After an hour on the phone with expedia and united, I got our flight confirmation via email. With all the changes we made, they forgot to get us back from Denver. Now I'm fighting with The Annoying Voice on United's phone service line and I'm starting to lose it.

Because I Feel Up To It
I'm on the phone with Expedia now, changing our tickets so we can go to Ohio on Monday. It's taking FOREVER, but the lady has been very nice and I'm grateful that she hasn't made me say my reason for the change over and over. Because I just can't say it out loud.

I guess we could go to Columbus tomorrow, or even RIGHT NOW but the truth is, yes, I want to play the 5 games I have between now and tomorrow night and more importantly, I don't think I can bear to hang around Columbus for 2 or 3 days before the fun gets put in funeral. All you Columbus readers, you're welcome to attend, even if you only knew her a little. It will be at 10 am Wednesday, at St. Agatha's church. Not to lay on the guilt, but since we are talking about a Catholic church, it seems okay, just this once. It would be really nice to have you attend, if you can.

I don't want to see her house without her in it. I do want to be with my mom, to be there for her the way she's been there for Grandma these last few years, but I can't bear to spend too much time there. That, and I'm really too old to take the redeye. I'm very good at avoiding grief through logistical planning.

Out Of Time
The family is gathered round and Grandma has already slipped out of consciousness. They, whoever they are, don't expect her to last more than a couple of hours.

The funeral is already set for 10 am Wednesday.

I didn't expect to react this way -- not crying, not hardly at all (yet), but shaking like a leaf.

Babies Are Funny
We had a much-needed baby visit tonight. When I came in, the girls were cracking themselves up and were happy to see me. Sammi squealed with joy and Riley made her patented Sniffy Face. They walked to me, laughed, went for my pony tail holder, typed on my Sidekick and ate like mad fools, Sammi finishing ahead of Riley for the first time I've ever seen.

There was laughing and bouncing and more Sniffy Facing. It was so worth the time away from my paper, away from all the worry that has followed me these last few weeks and days. Because when there's bouncing and laughing, not everything can be bad.


It doesn't seem real that Grandma's really about to leave us. She's been with us for so long, fought so hard through illness after illness. Could it really be coming to an end?

Most of the time, I'm holding it together, but sometimes, I can't do it anymore.

One Good Thing
The bitch who hit my car's insurance company called. I have to take the car over to their inspector person but since she isn't denying that she hit me, (she's denying that there's ANY way it could have caused damage. If you're going to try and get out of paying what you owe, that's certainly a creative way to go about it. "I hit you in the face, but that hand print? Not mine!") he's pretty optimistic that I'll be able to get out of paying for the repairs.


I Don't Think It's Appropriate To Respond This Way
When a notice of someone's resignation comes into my inbox, it's probably not okay to think to myself 'Ahhh, at last. I have been waiting for this day for SO LONG.'

No, I'm sure it's not.

Friday With Grandma
Esther and Leigh take turns sitting with her during the night. One of them naps in the chair near her bed, the other sleeps in her own bed. Then they switch, cleaning her up as needed.

Mom sat with her yesterday, held her hand, talked about many things. Grandma has started mentioning wanting to work around the house, if she wasn't so tired. She told mom she's not feeling so good and spoke in such a quiet voice that mom had to lean in to hear her. But she recognized mom and recognizes my name, too. She said that she never got to clean out that basket, of cards and letters, that she and mom had meant to get to.

I keep looking up the signs of dying, to see where she is. I'd looked them up about a year ago and noted at the time that Grandma was doing none of them. Today, she's doing about one more 'active' sign of dying each day. She's having trouble swallowing, and now she's clutching at the bed linens. That makes two signs.

She's as comfortable as possible, cared for by two amazing women who have put their lives on hold for this. Family continues to drift in and out, some family is getting a little intense with their demands helpful suggestions, but that's to be expected. Those who didn't have such an active role to this point will often come forward with suggestions for her care, we'd been warned about this and it's definitely going on. Mom is trying to shield herself and we've worked out this response: "Thanks for your suggestion, we're doing everything we can for her now."

I doubt it will work, the well-intentioned assvice will keep coming. But Mom should know in her heart that she did everything as well as it could have been done. My uncle (who has worked hand-in-hand with Mom over the years) keeps saying that their Dad would have been proud of the way Grandma's been cared for. And he's right, Grandpa would no doubt be pleased to see how Grandma's been loved during this time.

Sometimes that's the best gift there is, to end a life saying "I loved her well."


Because It's Hard For Me To Leave You Without Something Funny
Last night, I realized that years and years after I started telling the joke about what's Irish and sits outside (answer: my good friend, Patty O'Furniture, which cracks me up to even write, let alone say out loud.), I noticed that here in our house, we have a dog named Patrick, who we often call Pat, or of course since you, good reader, already know where this is going, Patty.

And that we could most certainly call him Patty O'Furniture.

I miss her already.

I'm Lucky, You Know
That the grandparent I've always been closest to is the one who has been around the longest and lived the closest to me while I was growing up. Given that she was in her 70's when I was born (my mom got a late start on the whole parenting thing), I am a very lucky girl to have had her around, and aware, and yes, cool, for this long.

There are many days where I think that Grandma is the reason that I was adopted into this family. I know that's not totally true but that sure as hell doesn't make me less lucky to have been loved by her.

What's Not Quite Right
Is that the words 'funeral' and dysfunctional' both contain the word 'fun.'

This Should Not Give Me The Amount Of Great Joy That It Does

Not Every Day Is A Good Day
First, I'll start with the good news: Zeus' bloodwork came back and all the levels that were out of control during his GranolaOrdeal are now back to normal, save the liver enzymes, which have been out of whack since this winter, before the incident. He remains an old man, and that brings with it an allowance for variance in his bloodwork, as long as he's hippity hopping and feeling okay, we'll deal.

He's still a little shaky at times -- scratching weird places is not as smooth an operation as it used to be, the limbs don't connect where they should, but by and large, our little guy has come back to us. I remain grateful to the fates, who decided that we didn't need to suffer this particular heartache now.

And now the sorta bad news (this, just in!). The lady who backed into me has continued to be extra special in her handling of the event:

  • She refused to file a claim with her insurance company. My agent had to do it for her.
  • She's claiming that there's no way she could have caused damage to my car (btw, the estimate is $744.00 to replace the bumper cover and fix other damage she caused. None of this includes the alignment, which was THE ONLY THING I wanted to have fixed)
  • The only good news is that she's not denying having backed into me. Her insurance company is doing an investigation of their own, based on what she's saying and on what I've said, as well as the estimate from the body shop guy. Hopefully the nice people at allstate will conclude that I didn't screw up my car on my own, that the damage was, in fact, done by that not-so-nice lady (we'll call her 'bitch') and will cover my $500 deductable.

And now the bad news. Grandma has turned for the worse again. She's now having trouble swallowing, which is apparently one of the things that happen when you're dying. The cousins have gathered round and I'm feeling the distance between San Jose and Columbus more acutely than I might have thought. I'm tempted to go RIGHT NOW, I'm even looking at flights for tomorrow (which are surprisingly less expensive than I would've imagined).

I'm struggling with why I want to go. Is it to see her one last time (yes), to be there for my mom (yes), to see my snooty relatives (not that much). But there's nothing left I can say. She and I have said it all a hundred times over the years, she knows I love her, that she'll always be my best friend. Would saying that in person help me with this transition? Maybe.

She had a turn for the worse last August and I went then. Jeannette wisely said at the time that I'd never regret going, that I'd only regret not going. I'm looking so deeply inside myself to answer that question for this time that nothing seems clear. Grandma's not all that coherent, she may or may not recognize me.

I think of the last time I saw my other Grandmother, who died of Alzheimer's. She was so out of it, she thought I was dating my dad, then thought we were someone else. The experience left me shaken and still makes me jittery to think of it. The last time I saw my Grandfather (Grandma's husband) alive, he had wasted away from cancer and cried when he saw me. He didn't want me to see him like that, living in the room across from where Grandma is now dying, so skinny and sick.

Those memories have stayed with me, even 22 years after Grandpa died, 15 or so since Grandma died. I don't want that kind of memory about my beloved Grandma. Since she's more cognitively aware and less physically different than I'm used to seeing her, it's hard to tell what the right answer is. I may never know.

My mom is frustrated because the number of relatives around are preventing her from spending alone time with Grandma. She just wants to sit with her and hold her hand, but there may not be a chance for that now. I reminded mom that she's been there when Grandma needed her most. These other folks are coming in now, trying to get what mom's had all along -- time. Through all the trips I've made back there since she got sick, I've had my time, too. Maybe it's time to share Grandma, to let everyone else say the kinds of things I've said over and over to her.

I did ask mom to tell her that I'm thinking about her, that's always been my best friend. Mom said she would. For now I'll sit here at my desk, not allowing myself to cry because once I start, it will be a long time before I stop.


The Grandma Report
The parents made it home safely and they've been over to see Grandma. Apparently, she's somewhat coherent, producing urine, and asking Mom about her dog. Grandma told Mom she'd missed her so and apparently the dead relatives have backed off on their visits. I'm not sure what it all means, except that the end may not be quite as near as we think.

The two main ladies who take care of Grandma have come together and are both there with her at the house. They're staying there until the end. They've known Grandma for only a few years and yet she means enough to the both of them to put their lives on hold to be with her now. That's how amazing my Grandma is, that's how amazing Leigh and Esther are. I am extremely grateful that Esther calls her Grandma, and loves her as if she'd known her all along. Same goes for Leigh, who has livened up the last few years with Saturday night popcorn parties and countless games of poker and bridge. Now they're just talking to her, moving her gently and providing her with the level of respect and dignity that she deserves.

Now there's this window of time where I could hop on a plane (as if that's easy to do, as if they're free) and visit her, while she's here, before she goes. But I've done that no less than 12 times since she's been sick. I've said all there is to say, things between Grandma and I are as good as they'll ever be (which is great, has always been great), I have nothing left to say besides, Grandma, I love you so much. I always have, I always will, no matter where you are. I'm with you always. Oh and if you can, please please please hug Alice for me, tell her that even now I miss her like crazy.

My cousins are assembling from around the globe, it sounds like my mom and her siblings have planned most of the funeral. I'm told that if I'm going to speak, I'm not to cry. Um. Hi. There are only so many things you can control. That ain't one of them.

When all is said and done, I won't be hopping that plane, I'll be sitting right here in my cube, waiting for the news that will break my heart no matter when it comes.

Aquaintences of Ham
A CNN article describes four suspected evildoers as "Authorities said all four were acquaintances of Ham."

Which by itself is pretty damn funny so I'll leave out the rest of the story, which is not funny and is, in fact very sad and horrible (brief summary: people can suck, and be mean). But I will say that I, Liz Doughty, am an aquaintence of Ham. And of Sausage. And I'm proud to make that aquaintence.

Sorry My Enthusiastic Anonymous Commenters
I had to turn off anonymous commenting since some M-Fer stopped by and dropped a crapload of spam comments on my ass. I'd like to talk to that guy about a fecal matter, that's for sure.


The Checkup
Took Zeus back to the scene of the crime tonight for his holy-shit-you-survived checkup. The vets were amazed at how good he looks, pleased to meet the Real Zeus, who, I have to admit, is sort of less sweet and charming than the Near Death Zeus. They took a fecal smear (but nobody asked me to discuss that fecal matter), checked him all over, marvelled at his bad self, took blood after a struggle that was unlike the Near Death, Overly Cooperative Zeus. He was rewarded with a jar of baby food and discharged with a clean bill of health.

I still can't believe that he's back with us, a significant portion of his bad self. Our little grey miracle man lived to bark another day.

Proof That The ZMan Is BACK!!!

Taken this morning while he was waiting not-so-patiently for LE SNACK!


Seriously Not Cool
When you stop by my cube with your soda in hand, please refrain from burping in my ear. Especially when we're trying to hammer out the end of a project that's been way more frustrating than it should have been.

Things I Don't Understand
  1. Why the woman who does the mid-day bathroom refresh on our floor doesn't close the bathroom for 10 minutes to do her work. No, instead, she sits on the floor, outside the stall you're in, waiting for you to finish so she can do her business after you've done yours. That's not fair.

  2. Why there's this sudden familial emphasis on travelling together in the impending-but-still-unscheduled trip to Ohio. First my mom got all worked up about whether or not my brother and I would ride on the same plane together. Um, probably not? I can't imagine having the energy to coordinate that right now. She spent the night sulking about it, obviously transferring her grief about Grandma's condition onto this heralded plane flight. It was still annoying, and completely unecessary.

    Along those lines, my cousin called about the same thing, could she fly with us. What am I missing? It's not like we're driving to Fresno and carpooling would help. There's no discount for plane-pooling.

    I'm sure there's some therapuetic value in the notion of travelling together but I guess that's not there for me. When I travel on a plane, I sleep, try not to get airsick and read or watch movies. I don't make single-serving friends or even talk to Andrea much at all, when she's with me. So all the excitement would probably make a lot more sense if I had different plane habits.

I Must Tell You
That over the weekend, the Z Man seems to have returned to his full capacity. We had hippity-hopping, barking and very little shaking and panting. He's eating well and every time I look at him (with his lovely Hospital Hair, which is slowly growing back) I am thrilled that he's back with us. Our little grey-haired miracle.

The Best There Ever Was
My grandmother has a pillow that someone gave her, it says the World's Best Grandma. Maybe those people who made it thought it would apply to a million grandmas around the world but I know the truth: it only truly applies to mine.

Since the moment we met, in 1973, we've lit up each other's hearts. I grew up a block and a half away from her, had the chance to spend many an afternoon, many a schoolday lunch with her, eating egg salad sandwiches on her fancy red plates, drinking Pepsi that came from a glass bottle. She kept those Pepsis in the garage for us kids, switching to Diet Coke when I went through my short-lived diet phase, then on to regular Coke when I found my true love of beverages. Her freezer always had butter pecan ice cream because my Grandpa loved the stuff. After he died, she just kept buying it because they'd been together so long it had become her favorite, too.

We went to Florida together once and were roommates for a week in bamboo framed beds in a cottage that faced the water. We played gin rummy for hours and hours in that cottage and we were both scared to death when I met a water bug in the bathroom in the middle of the night.

And always the cards. Mostly gin rummy, but poker and blackjack, too. The important stuff. She taught me a million solitare variations and no doubt, knew a million more that I didn't get to learn. During my lonliest middle school years, when other kids were playing spin the bottle or discovering the impact of hormones on your daily life, I was playing cards with Grandma at her breakfast table, drinking cokes and eating Knorr spinach dip that we'd rate with each reincarnation (ooh, a little too much sour cream today). We had a running tally of points in our games, I'm pretty sure she won in the end. My place at that table got me through those lonely summers, and now that I think of it, it probably got her through some lonely summers, too, when she was adjusting to being a widow.

After Grandpa died, she'd come over to our house for dinner every weekend. A welcome presence, my best friend, here in my house! We'd laugh at our own jokes and shoot the breeze. Though the frequency of my gin rummy visits diminished when I hit high school and discovered the companionship of a very nice girl, our relationship stayed strong. At that point, Grandma had found her way to a number of bridge groups -- we had both made new friends.

About 10 years ago, my mom got the call she'd been dreading -- Grandma had broken her hip. It happened around 4 am, but Grandma waited to call until Mom was awake, she didn't want to bother her. Hip #1 was replaced and Grandma recovered without complications. In fact, she felt so good that she decided that she'd pre-emptively get her other hip replaced. This was about 5 years ago.

She had it done on Halloween and by Thanksgiving she was walking with just a cane. Back to her bad self and doing great. Until the sepsis set in and she was rushed to the hospital. As far as we can tell, she got a staph infection after getting a pedicure before the hip wound was fully healed. That infection spread and the only option was to remove the hip, leaving her leg a floppy mess. That Christmas, she was in the hospital, in a bad way. She was in rehab but her will to learn to live with one hip wasn't really there. I went with her to every session, threw the soccer ball, helped her try to tie her shoes, held her as she cried from the pain, from the frustration of knowing her life would never be the same.

That trip, I stayed so long that when I got back, my work had decided they didn't need me anymore. Grandma moved from the hospital to one nursing home, then another. But she wasn't happy, and the level of care even at the best of homes still sucks. It still means waiting for someone to get off a break to clean up an accident so the quest began to bring her home. My mom and uncle interviewed a number of crazy people to be Grandma's in-home caregivers and eventually found a wonderful woman who has lived there every Sunday night-Friday afternoon ever since.

But it's nowhere near the life Grandma led before and it pained me to visit her there, in the chair in her bedroom or lying in her bed. "These are my movements," she said a couple of years ago, "chair, to bed, to chair." A far cry from the vibrant woman on the go she was before the hip disaster.

When my mom left her last week, she kissed her and said "I'll see you, Mom." She didn't even explain that she was coming here to see us. Grandma has already moved on, her body is just wrapping things up.

Yesterday, we heard that she's gone into kidney failure. The doctor said we could bring her into the hospital, rehydrate her but it wouldn't last, it would only put off the inevitable: that my Grandma, my hero, my best friend, is going to die. Probably this week.

She's seeing her dead relatives -- her dad, her mom, the stepmother she never liked. She's yelling to keep that woman away from her, even in the afterlife, she wants no part of her. I picture her family coming toward her, walking through that light to surround her and take her from this world into theirs. It's interesting how she's not seeing her husband, but her parents. She's not really recognizing anyone, I think she's already moved on.

What little I've read about kidney failure says she's hallucinating but I think that's the medical establishment's way of dealing with the transition from this life to the next. It comforts me to think that her dad is there to help her move on, that my grandpa is no doubt next in line to greet her after 22 years apart.

Though this moment has been just around the corner for many years now, I don't think any of that will make knowing that she's gone even a bit easier. Because she was still my best friend and I'm lesser for her not being here.

She's in no pain, I think now she's just waiting for the bus to heaven to close it's doors and whisk her away. I can only hope and pray for a smooth transition on the way.

The Downside Of Playing A Triple Header
Well, there are a couple. First is the fact that my already baggy jeans start to fall off after the second game, leaving me with a very unpleasant case of plumber's crack. But the second is that my legs get really tired.

But you know, I played 3 games, played my ass off (literally, see above) in all of them and finished strong. I guess my stamina is back up. Woo!

First the Good
(The following summary is not in chronological order, in case you were following the schedule and thinking, 'huh?' that's not when it happened.) The Good: The newly revamped A-Team 2 kicks ass! We played a newly revamped Cheap Skates (who looked more like the Cheap Monkey Hounds, since it seemed like 1/2 of their players were from other teams.) They won 2-1 but we were in it the whole time and our new additions were terrific.

Then the tie for Great!
I'll start with my maroon team. Viv and I had gotten (almost) everyone we'd hoped to in the draft and it worked better than I'd dared to hope! We started off by agreeing to name the team Le Snack, thus setting off what will no doubt prove to be a very long list of jokes in hacked together French. Viva Le Snack! Oui!

We started off strong and stayed that way, getting more and more juju as the game when on. We won 4-2 and had a blast! Oui! Le blast! It's going to be a really fun season.

Great, Too
After stopping at my brother's house for a drive-by bbq with the parents, we headed back to Logitech for the A-team game. That team is revamped as well -- we lost a few and added some players who are significantly stronger. And ho-lee shit did it change things for us! We scored early, and then often, rousting them 6-2. I even got an assist!

It's looking like all teams are going to have a great season. Woo! Viva Le Snack and les A-Teams!


WAAAAY Too Much Fun
Heather and I can not stop sending funny email addresses to each other. You'd think we don't have cable or something.

ldoughty-mime-hater@placeiwork.com(edited for global comprehension)

Seriously, this is the most I've laughed in a few weeks. All the heartache, all the stress is somehow manifesting itself in these emails.

Keep 'em coming.

How Did I Not Think Of This Sooner???
I just realized that you can manipulate my work email address in a zillion ways as long as it starts with ldoughty. So...I've been sending emails to ldoughty-nards@placeiwork.com, then Jena came up with the best one: ldoughty-seeyoutomorrowcorn@placeiwork.com.

LOL to the point of choking.

I really should get out more.

You CANNOT Be Serious
Off and on for the last couple of weeks at work, I've been trying to get this fancypants new tool to run. I diligently followed all directions, consulted with the team of brilliant geniuses and our collective brains could not find the problem.

Until Sandeep of the Magic Fingers from the fancypants tool team came over, fiddled with my system, admired and was perplexed by my fancypants ergonomic keyboard, then discovered the problem.

There was an EXTRA SPACE at the end of one of my environment variables. Carol responded by banging her head on the wall outside my cube repeatedly. I couldn't agree more.

But Oh! The Panting!
The Z man gave us another long night last night but it ended a heck of a lot better than the one that started all his doggie drama. We were sitting on the couch with him when he started panting like it was a zillion degrees outside. Except it wasn't so we were concerned when his tongue flopped out of the side of his mouth and he kept looking at us like we had to do something for him RIGHT NOW. I was attempting to do schoolwork on my laptop so I looked on the internet to see what shivering and panting together could mean. Pain was the answer so we called the vet. They said to bring him in.

We gave him a little while to see if he'd calm down, when he didn't, we gathered him up and headed back to our second home, Adobe. Unlike last time, where a team was ready for him, this was a much calmer affair. We were told to wait! Phew, yes, I will wait all night if it means you're not that worried about him.

One of the vet techs stayed late to see how he was, then marvelled at how well he'd bounced back -- better, she said, than any animal she'd ever seen who was that sick to start with. That alone made it worth the trip. We checked his weight -- still a scrawny 26.6, but no change from when he came in last week so that's good news too. We'd like to work him back up to around 30, but we'll get there.

The vet did a baby food test, to which I said if it's a test involving food, he'll pass. Which he did, nearly taking the vet's finger off in the process. She said that since he's on 5 kind of medications now and had suspected liver failure last week, she didn't want to give him a pain medication that his liver would need to process. We were sent home and of course, the MOMENT he got back into my car, he stopped panting.

He put himself to bed and eventually found his way to the couch for the rest of the night. Today he's more himself than he's been since this all started, no wobbling at all, no panting, just his bad self.

I can't thank you enough for all the kind words, thoughts and prayers you've given our little guy. It's all paid off and for me, this experience is bittersweet -- I can't help but think of how we lost Alice after a vet bill that was just as large, how at the end of that day, all I had was a broken heart and a box of ashes. This time, we got lucky and our little guy is home again where he belongs.

Sometimes you just get lucky. I guess this was our turn.


There's That Point
Where someone has hurt you (okay, me) so much, so many times that even when they mean well, it's easy to assume they're trying to screw you again.

I'd love to share more details about this particularly unpleasant part of my life, but well, readership is way too high and I'm afraid the Meanie In Question might be listening.

And if you are -- why you gotta be so mean?

Almost IN!
My parents are on their way here as we speak, they are a mere 2 minutes away from being IN!

Zeus: The Condensed Version
Now with pictures!! The short version of what our little guy went through.

Where The Z Man Wobbles Today
He's been home since Monday night and though he's MUCH better, he's still got some problems. For one, he's very very very tired. That, we expected. But he's also shaking quite a bit and since he's not a chihuahua, that's not his usual style. We've got a small collection of t-shirts for him so he's wearing that and it seems to help.

But he's having a hard time with coordination. He falls over after walking for a bit and (this is the most alarming) has a hard time finding the treats right in front of his nose. The good news is that he eats them, no problem, once he finds them. However, this morning he snubbed the pill popper we gave him. Pill poppers are soft treats with a hole in the middle to hide pills in. They were working fine, but not today. I'm hoping he just figured out that they hold pills...He did eat it when we put it into his food (Hill's I/D and baby food, for now).

The vets were concerned that his liver problems could cause neurological damage and that seems to be what's happened. We're hopeful that he'll continue to improve but we're also realistic -- if he's still happy, still eating and wanting to be loved, we'll deal with whatever limitations he now has.

The other good news is that his big brother Gus is now sleeping again since his little buddy is home. The bassets (Rainie and Patrick) are sort of annoyed that Zeus is getting so much attention, but tough noogies. They can wait while we marvel at our little guy being home again.


Le Snack!
We're thinking of calling our mighty maroon team Le Snack, in honor of Tim Horton's Timbits. So far, it's winning with 2 votes.

I so long to scream LE SNACK!!! every time we do something good.

Sudden Sinus
Within mere moments of leaving the rink last night, my nose started to run. A lot. Heh?? Today, I awoke to a serious pain in my sinus area and a lovely cough. Could the stress of the last couple of weeks have finally gotten to me?

I dunno, but ow. And yuck.

Carol was nice enough to slip me some Sudafed, I'm holding out hope that it will kick in soon.


Lunchtime Z
I spent my lunch at home with the kids. Zeus was asleep when I came in, but woke up pretty fast for me. He wobbled around but fooped for food, enjoying the ham I finally gave him and eventually snoozing on the couch next to me. He even gave me a kiss. When I left, he joined them in the yard to say goodbye, though I'm sure he went right back to bed afterwards.

All the heartache, all the worry, was worth it for that kiss on the couch. Years later, when I wonder if I could have done more for him, I'll remember that kiss say no, I couldn't have done any more for him. Just like he couldn't be any more amazing and wonderful for us.

Welcome home, little guy. Having you back feels better than I could have imagined.

Why Is It
That when I'm hovering on the verge of tears for the umpteenth day in a row, only the saddest songs come on my iPod.

Our Friends' Baby
In other not good, but the best you could hope for kind of news, baby Delilah went home with her moms at last. They're working with hospice to make their time with her as peaceful as possible. I'm glad they'll get to enjoy her at home, even if it's only for a little while until Delilah leaves them.

One Up, One Down
The best news is that Zeus is home. Still a bit wobbly but clearly happy to be back with his peeps. He's sleeping a lot, even more than before, but who can blame him, after a week in a very bright, very loud ICU, not to mention having all those treatments done. Now his medicines, all 5 of them, come in the form of a tasty pill and he's still getting the party food. What's not to like?

In between Zeus' illness and what I'm about to say is this. When we were driving a million (okay, 90) miles an hour to get to Adobe to save Zeus' life, when he was literally a lifeless lump in my arms, me keeping my hand on his belly so I could feel him breathing, I did what anyone would do: cried hysterically and picked up the phone to call my mom. We've been talking throughout Zeus' ordeal, which leads me here.

The not best news is that my Grandma is fading fast. She's been ill for many years, but always pretty aware of her surroundings. We've still shared many a joke these last few years -- she's told Andrea to pinch my butt just as we're sitting down on the airplane, she laughs remembering how we used to watch Benny Hill together and my grandpa would get SO MAD at us for that kind of humor -- but it sounds like she's finally getting ready to move on.

Last week, she had many of the same treatments that Zeus did -- Vitamin K for the blood, they considered a transfusion for her. Her blood was apparently very thin and she was loopy so they gave her oxygen along with new meds. But I guess she's not going to have the same kind of happy ending that we're having with Zeus.

She kind of hangs out now, doesn't really engage with anyone, not even my mom, and is shutting down. My parents are still coming out here this week but Mom's arranged to have Last Rites performed and the nurse who comes out is prepared to make arrangements for hospice care.

This is serious. Part of me wants to get up from this desk right now and RUN to her, to hold her hand as she goes. But I don't think she'd want that. I've already seen her in so many poses of indignity that I doubt she'd want to add another. Plus, if she's heading out of this world the last thing I'd want to do is make her wait because I'm coming.

Because she would wait, if she could. That's how we are.

At her funeral, I will stand up in front of all my snooty relatives who don't talk to me because I'm gay and I will say only one thing:

She was my best friend.


At Last
After 7 days in the ICU I was able to bring Zeus home at last. He's still a little bit wobbly and doesn't have a lot of energy but he's here, between us on the couch, snoozing after a long day, wearing his brand new Hockey Dog t-shirt that I got for him in Vancouver. We stopped at Bill and Susan's on the way home -- the babies were fascinated by him. He was super gentle with them but soon got tired so we headed home.

When we got here, the Roos were all over him like stink on poop so I separated them from him. Eventually we all settled down a bit and Zeus went for a lie down in his crate. We have to give him 5 kinds of medicine but he's home, snoozing on the couch between us where he belongs.

Yup, worth every penny.

Well Said, Viv
Viv, on Zeus' bill: SoopahViv: dude, that's 31,000 timbits

The Ghosts Of Alice
When we lost Alice, it was after a traumatic vet visit that was not dissimilar to what we've gone through this past week with Zeus. My heart split into a million pieces that day, some of those pieces will never heal again. So when we found ourselves standing outside the x-ray room at Adobe where Alice had been x-rayed a number of times, it was hard to not associate the half-dead older beagle we'd brought in with losing Alice.

Granted, Alice actually died at some other vet office, somewhere in South San Jose that does fancypants orthopedic surgeries and bills $150 for CPR on an itemized bill that still makes me cry to think about.

In some ways I feel bad - this past week has been the only week Zeus has been an 'only dog' even if in a very artificial way. Yes, the other three have been cared for and loved, but all of our attention has gone to the Z man, who has never asked for so much.

I feel guilty because we love him differently than we loved Alice. Alice was my soul mate, even though a friend told me not to say so in front of Andrea, we all knew. I'm grateful that Andrea now has her own obnoxious doggie soul mate in Rainie (Gus and Zeus are for all of us to share), that the heavens sent me Patrick when I was hurting the most from Alice. But that leaves Zeus where he's always been -- a little less adored than the rest.

And that's not fair. We've been given a second chance with him, a chance to let him know how very much he is loved, how very much a part of our little pack he is and how we're certainly not ready for him to leave us.

Rest assured, the man has a place on the couch anytime he wants it for as long as he wants it. And yes, the chicken boob, which in many ways, means more to him than being adored in the same way the others are. Maybe it's that, that he's just differently-motivated, that a pat on the head means less than a treat in the mouth for him. For the bassets, that pat on the head will trump dinner every time, even if for only a moment, it will still win. For Zeus, dinner always wins. Maybe the best we can do for him is to make sure each and every one of those dinners count.

Zeus' MasterCard Ad
Finding Zeus half dead Monday night: Horrifying
Hearing that he'd tried to escape from his cage less than 2 hours later: Priceless
Ultrasound that revealed nothing the next day: $200
Recheck ultrasound that still revealed nothing: $200 that I'm going to try and argue out of
Plasma transfusion that brought him back to us: $300
Per day average of his 7 day ICU stay: $542 (total of $3800)
Bringing him home alive instead of picking up his ashes: Priceless

The man comes home tonight, a little worse for the wear but very much alive.

I just talked to the vet tech, who tells me that Zeus looks GRRRR-EAT! and that he can come home today.

The last time we forked out this kind of money for a vet bill, we brought home a box of Alice's ashes. I feel so very very very lucky that the Z Man will be wobbling his way home with us today.

Back from Vancouver and holy crap a lot has happened. First and foremost Zeus is 1000% better. No that's not a typo, he's 1000% better. I visited Thursday night. When I got there he was sleeping, when I touched him, he was startled! Just like normal! He also pulled his paw back when I touched it. Normally, you cannot touch his feet, let alone trim his nails. Monday night, when he was so sick, his paw had gotten caught in his collar and we didn't even notice for a while. He has come a long way since then. A long way.

I lifted him out of the crate and put him on the floor. One of the vet techs handed me a leash and I said the magic word -- WALK. He responded right away and wobbled but stood! Stood! And walked outside, peed for me, then felt bold enough to stumble around the whole hospital, where we waited in the parking lot for Andrea to show up. Finally, she did and was stunned to see me outside with the Z man, waiting for her! The grin on Andrea's face is something I won't soon forget. She ran from the car to see him and he greeted her with the world's best tail wag. He stood with us for a while, then we headed back inside, where he literally threw himself back into his cage for a snooze.

We haven't stopped grinning since. In the days that followed, his progress remains steady. He's a lucky man -- he's had visitors every day while we were gone, Elissa and Jena bringing grilled chicken, which HE ATE, and Heather bringing an unexpected but very welome dose of love and a photo sent back to us documenting his extreme progress.

Elissa cooked him up a tasty chicken breast and some veggies. He ate the chicken, licked the juices off the veggies and called it a day. I'd talked to the doctor before I talked to her -- this same doctor who not two days before had suggested that we consider how long we wanted to keep going with this, the same doctor who had DARED to suggest we'd give up on a little guy who had been fighting every day to come back to us, to come back to his home. The doctor was totally impressed with his progress, as he should be. Screw you for not having faith in our boy to keep fighting.

Because he has fought his way back, literally, from the brink of death. The text messages and IMs I sent Monday night said 'Zeus half dead, please pray.' And you did, the sum total of those prayers and of Zeus' strength being a little guy who is probably coming home tomorrow.

It's been hard to watch him be so sick, to rack up what promises to be a $3000 vet bill (yes, that's 3 0's). All these visits to the vet, phone calls and worrying reminds me of all the times we went through this with Alice, how her final huge vet bill brought us only a dense box of ashes and what has become years of a heartache that will never fully fade.

With a little more luck, we will set aside some of those ghosts tomorrow and bring our little old dog back home where he belongs.

Other events: our friends who recently had their baby are starting to accept that her prognosis is poor. They're working with hospice to bring their 2 week old daughter home to die. This breaks my heart in ways I can't quite describe.

A very nice guy from my band went into the hospital last week for a mess of gall stones. He had major complications from the surgery and passed away quite suddenly. I don't think he was older than 40. I just played a concert with him last week and now he's dead while our little old dog is coming home.

So much heartache in such a short time.


Zeus Standard Time
Zeus is on the mend! Thanks to all who visited, said prayers and good thoughts. It's all working, on Zeus time. And that's the time I'll keep.

More later...


You know, sometimes I'm fine and sometimes, it's all I can do to not cry about my Z. This is one of those times.

Get better already, would ya???

You know, sometimes I'm fine and sometimes, it's all I can do to not cry about my Z. This is one of those times.

Get better already, would ya???

Where He Wobbles Today
I'll start with last night. After a very uneventful and highly successful maroon draft, Viv came with me to see the Z man, since his spa (aka the vet) wasn't far from where we were. I think to her, he looked awful. All skinny and tired, sleeping like nobody's business. But there were some good things:
  • his catheter was out. This means he's walking well enough to walk that scrawny butt outside to pee.
  • the techs asked if I wanted to take him out for a walk. A walk? Are you serious? I'd love that, but alas, Mr. Man was too tired from his busy day to even really get up to talk to me.
  • the tech reported that he was walking better than he had been. They'd discontinued some pain meds that might have been disagreeing with him and that seemed to help.
  • he was sleeping as soundly as he does at home, snoring like nobody's business. I sat with him, just listening to him snore, pretending like I was in my bed and he was in his, just outside our door. I also called Andrea so she could hear it, too.
That was last night.

This morning I talked to the vet, who is not the same nice lady I've been dealing with, this guy was the seasoned vet of the team, he'd been around a zillion years and you could hear it in his voice. His bedside manner had the kind of abruptness that doesn't surprise you from a guy with his experience, but still bums you out, since he of all people should know better.

Yes, the bloody dirrhea has slowed way down but Z has lost a lot of blood. Well, duh, we all could see that. They gave him some vitamin K yesterday to improve coagulation but it's not quite enough, they're going to do a plasma transfusion today in hopes that it will help stop the ever-dwindling flood of blood from his skinny rump. That's another $250-$300 added to our current total of $1700. Which is all fine if my guy gets every chance to fight this.

They did some test on his liver that shows some problems. Again, makes sense to me since he's been having all the blood. They're going to do a repeat ultrasound (at no charge, $200 saved there) to make sure they didn't miss anything in his liver. But the doc is still worried about his neurological symptoms -- that he's walking like a drunken sailor. The most plausible answer is that it could be tied into the liver problems. If we can get the liver stuff under control then that should improve.

Then the fucker (aka Today's Vet) dropped the bomb: If we couldn't get the neurological stuff under control then we'd have to ask ourselves how long we'd let him go on.

HEY ASSHOLE! THE MAN IS OLD, 90+ IN PEOPLE YEARS. How about we give him time to heal before we start talking that kind of nonsense? I mean, you'd give your grandma time to heal, wouldn't you? You'd say, well, Grandma's 90, this might take longer to recover from than if she was 40. Wouldn't you?

I'm not suggesting for a second that we'll let the man suffer longer than necessary. We wouldn't and we won't. However, he's not suffering now, he's just hanging out and fighting the slow fight of old guys who have been through major trauma. And those people don't know him. We do. Every day when we come in, he's doing 2-3 things better than the day before. No, he's not hippity hopping around, but he's making escape attempts and walking on a leash. That's enough progress for us to see what he's saying: that he's still in this fight.

Please continue to keep the little guy in your thoughts and prayers. Imagine him standing up without wobbling, tail wagging, ready to eat anything we put in front of him. Now send that vision over to Adobe Animal Hospital, ICU cage #2.


I Was Fine, I Swear
Until a minute ago and I lost it. I'm ready for Z to be hippity hopping at home now, please.

No News: Good News
I called over to the vet's last night around midnight and they didn't have much to report. We all went to bed early (Zeus included) and I enjoyed a full night's sleep for the first time in a couple of days. I know, you people out there with young children scoff at me for this, you are shaking your heads and saying 'just you wait, Liz Doughty, until you have a muchkin of your own, then a good night's sleep will be a thing of the distant past'.

This morning, I called again but the vet was busy and so was the ICU staff so the vet called me back later. He's continuing to improve, still very slowly. He's trying to walk more, then he gets pooped out and flops down for a snooze. And yes, oh yes, the barking continues. He ate a little teeny bit of food last night, again, progress.

He's still having bloody dirrhea, which sucks. It seems to be slowing down, though, so that's good. He's going to get a coagulant today to see if that will help. But they're kinda worried that he has something neurological going on - did we want to call in a neurologist? Well, no. All we'd know then is that something else is going on, we couldn't fix it. I'd rather spend that money giving Zeus things he loves -- treats or bones or whatever he wants.

So, for now, we're still cautiously hopeful. And yes, racking up between $250-$400 per day on the man. Given that in 5 years, he's barely cost us anything, I suppose he's got this coming, but I'd still rather be spending it on treats than IV fluids and medical crap. I hate watching him falter when he walks, yet I'm thrilled that he's walking, even a little.

We're supposed to go to Vancouver this weekend for a tourney. Now that he's stable and not coming home for a while, we're going to go anyway since I can still call too often from Vancouver as easily as I can from home. If you know Zeus in real life (or just know me) and have a little time to spare this weekend, would you mind stopping by Adobe to visit him? Even for a little while? Email me if you can and I'll send you directions.

Keep those good thoughts and prayers coming. They're still working, still on Zeus Time.


Drunken Sailor
I went to see Zeus tonight around 5. He was so much better than when I saw him last, which was late last night, when he was basically a puddle of a dog. As soon as I opened the door to the putter ICU, I heard this bark and I thought, hmm, that sounds like Zeus' bark. But last I saw, he wasn't barking.

But yes! Yes, my man was barking, irritated about his newly-placed catheter. Barking! He had the stregth to be annoyed and to show that annoyance by barking! Woo! I sat with him for a while, listening to him bark. When I'd stop petting him, he made an attempt to stand up and stumble towards me. He settled with his head in between my arm and the wall, eventually snoozing.

I left him and spent some time with Susan and the babies, who live conveniently close to the emergency vet's office. I picked up Andrea, we had some dinner then both headed back to see him. He was still perkier, still barking and trying to walk even more. He kept standing up like he was peeing. Who knows, in his mind he could have been, even though he was catheterized. When we're with him he REALLY wants to stumble out of there and head home.

That's the good news. The bad news is that he's still having bloody dirrhea, and he has pretty much no muscle control. His paws keep curling under when he tries to stand, though he can now stand for moments at a time. He recognized us and definitely put on a good show for his moms.

I will take teeny bits of progress as they come. Please continue your good thoughts and prayers for the Z-man. They're paying off. Let's get my little guy home again soon.

All Zeus, All The Time
Since I last posted, I've spoken to the vet twice. I do not care if I'm pestering her, though to her credit, she doesn't seem to mind all that much. I've progressed from being a hysterical ninny to being (sort of) in control of my emotions, able to make what I hope are the right decisions about our little man.

His red blood cell count has dropped again, down from 70 when he came in, to 59 this morning and now, to 52. That's great news. Normal is 5.5-8.5 so he has a long way to go, but we'll focus on the fact that it's coming down at a good, abeit slow, pace. He hasn't vomited since about 3 am, though the dirrhea continues. She thinks that will continue for a few days as the granola and god knows what works it's way out of his little system. She's a little concerned that he hasn't peed, but again, these people don't know Zeus. That man may have his moments of selected incontenence these days (one night, he just got confused and peed on this crate we use to elevate Gus' food. He was as confused by this as we were!) but that man WILL NOT pee in a crate. He loves his crate, will sleep in one if given a choice, there or in the one bed that's too small for the other dogs but just the right size for a beagle (yes, that's right, it's a cat bed. What can I say, the man is scrawny...) but he sure as hell won't pee in one, even if he does feel like road kill. I told them that this morning but he's not exactly up for walking outside, so they're going to catheterize him for a little relief. He will no doubt feel indignant about the situation but that's better than a belly full of backed-up pee.

I am still sad sad sad but trying to send him images of himself standing up in the cage. Yes, praying too, but I figure none of it can hurt. All of the prayers and good thoughts that are coming his way are helping for sure, please keep them up!!!

I just want him home. And hopping around. And tap-dancing on my bladder while we sit on the couch.

What Zeus should be doing instead of being a doggie hospital patient

Zeus At The Hospital: Day 2
We stayed up until 2 am so I could wait as long as possible to call about our man. The vet was feeling much better about his condition -- he'd perked up a little, his skin tone was better and he was no longer laying on his side. He also apparently decided that being in the cage waas enough for now and had strolled out. That was a huge win, that he'd been up and around, even for a second.

The vet called back at 7 am, when she was going off her shift. He hadn't made much progress since 2, and that worried her. Apparently, his big jail break took all his energy! I called again at 10, he's now picking up his head and moving around a bit. I talked to our regular vet, who agrees with me that he's just taking his time. The man is not young and you know, sometimes, you just have to be patient.

Andrea paid him a visit this morning and I think the weight of it all finally hit her. He tried to scootch towads her, held up his head and seemed to recognize her. But it's such a far cry from the hippity hop dance he usually does that she finally broke down.

I talked to the vet again and she would like to do an x-ray or ultrasound later today if he continues to not improve dramatically. It's doubtful that there's blockage but please, fine, do whatever you think is best, if it brings my little hippity hop back home to hippity hop.

This morning I gave the dogs a treat and pretty much lost it when I went to give Zeus his, then realized he wasn't there. The other dogs didn't know what to do either, since Z goes first. We were all like, um, who's next on the list? Patrick has spent a great deal of time looking for Z -- in the bathtub, under my bed, in the office, outside. He's pretty upset that his brother isn't around. Gus has responded by moaning and Rainie's a bit more clingy than usual. Andrea and I are just sad. And tired, so very tired.

Bringing back our hippity hop boy will be a slow process but I'm confident that he'll pull through. Please continue all the good thoughts and prayers, it's working, albeit a bit slowly. But Zeus has always done things on his own time, why change anything now?

We All Miss Him
Yes, Zeus can drive us crazy but the dogs, Andrea and I are all a little lost without him here. Gus is moaning, Rainie won't leave my side and Patrick would rather be on the couch with us.

Rest assured, if Z man makes it home, it will be his place on the couch, not anyone else's, for quite some time. Here's hoping and praying that happens.


Zeus and the others got into a whole bunch of food last night and though the bassets and Gus seem fine, Zeus was quite bloated. I came home at lunch to check on him -- he'd thrown up most of it, but he seemed okay. He got all up in the Roos grill about getting petted and I naively thought the worst was behind us.

When we came home tonight, he was so still I thought for a moment he was dead. When I saw that he was breathing, but not moving, we sprung into action. Fed the other dogs, got our shit together and scooped him up. He was absolutely lifeless in my arms. I called the emergency vet's office and kept it together until they asked for his information. I couldn't even say his name without crying.

Andrea got us there in record time and when we arrived, I noticed that he'd pooped all over my leg and the towel I'd wrapped him in. We rushed in and they took him from us right away, setting him up in the treatment area. They had a hard time running an IV, they wrapped him in towels and put warm bags of fluid around him to perk him up. He was so devoid of muscle tone, his foot was caught in his collar and he didn't even care. We stood there, watching and crying as they tried to bring him back to life.

Eventually they sort of got him stabilized and moved him to the ICU. We stayed with him as long as we could but eventually he was settled in his area and we were just in the way. He seemed to perk up a little more but was still having diarrhea and nowhere near his usual self. The doc suspects pancreatitis and says he's in shock, that he's not responding according to the usual treatments as she'd hoped so I don't know what to think.

We left him there and drove home, where we sit waiting for news. I'll call over there before we go to bed to see if there's any change. Seems like this is a week for hoping for miracles. Is it too much to ask for our Z man to get one now?

With all the heartache we've seen recently when it comes to our friends' kids, you'd think it would be easy to decide not to try to become parents, that we'd watch their heartache (and our own, on their behalf) and it would make it so easy to change our minds, to spare ourselves the agony that our friends are facing.

But it hasn't. Nor has it made us feel invincible. We know the risks, though you can never fully understand how bad things can be until they are that bad. All we can do is hope that we don't come to know that kind of pain first-hand, trusting that if we do, we're strong enough to face it head-on.

Any time I have a pang of questioning, of wondering if we're doing the right thing in trying to birth our own kid, all I have to do is look up at my calendar of Sam and Riley and know that everyone (who wants it) deserves a chance at that kind of joy. You just don't know what it's like when Sam does Sniffy Face or Kissy Face at you, or when Riley smiles her now-four-toothed gummy grin. You just don't know.

But I do. And man, am I lucky.

Seriously, Why?
Did I ever think that going back to school was a good idea?

One Hurdle Cleared
After a really lousy, largely sleepless night courtesy of our dogs, who seem to have forgotten that they're actually 4.5 years old and not goddamn puppies and become a raving band of terrorists, inflicting what seems to be an unending stream of harm upon themselves, I hit the ground running this morning.

No, my paper isn't quite done, nor is it remotely inspired, but...I did make a claim with my insurance company for the damage done to my car. I get a free Hertz (or similar!) rental car for the duration of the repairs and more importantly, I can take it to a real body shop to make sure that the noise I'm now hearing when I push on the clutch is truly nothing, and of course, that there isn't some hidden stuff wrong with it as well. My limited faith in the staying power of American cars is going down with each passing day.

I followed this flurry of activity by calling the lady who hit me and saying that I'd decided to go with my insurance company and that she didn't have to meet me at the Midas shop tomorrow after all. Bye, bye, I said and hung up as she said something else. Oh sorry, didn't hear you. Oh sorry, never plan to talk to you again, you big meanie with limited driving abilities.

That's Right
It's 1:15 am, I have a paper due tomorrow night after a full day of work. My paper is about half done and I just can't do anything about it.

This week has been just awful, it didn't allow me much time to give a crap about school. That's no excuse, it's just the truth.

In case you were wondering, our friend's baby isn't faring too well. An MRI showed a lot of brain damage and the doctors aren't optimistic that she'll survive. Her moms are continuing to hope for a miracle, I am too. Because sometimes, hope is all that's left.

Still Irked
All day, I've been fuming about how that woman and her daughter spoke to me, how incredulous they were that my car could possibly have something wrong with it. The woman who hit me is convinced that she hit me straight on, even though she saw the dent that's at an angle. Round and round we went about it, until finally I said I'd show it to her on Tuesday.

But the more I think about it, I remembered this: I have paid a shitload of money to my insurance company over the last 9 years. For that fee, I have purchased a liason between people like this woman and myself. I'm going to put that liason to work and have our insurance companies duke it out.

I would be disrespecting myself if I allowed these people to accuse me of lying and getting away with it.


Aren't You Nice?
After THREE DAYS of waiting, I finally heard back from the lady who hit my car last week. Well, not her but her not-very-nice-totally-accusatory daughter, who couldn't understand how her mom's sedan could possibly have caused any damage to my slightly-taller SUV. Um, because it has bumpers that are the SAME HEIGHT? Isn't that why they make most bumpers the same height?

The daughter went on and on and on about how that was just common sense, that surely the alignment in my 8000 mile old car must have been off beforehand, implying that I'm trying to scam a $100 (just a guess) alignment job out of her. What a bunch of mean-spirited people.

In the end, they're going to meet me at a Midas (which she'd never heard of) on Tuesday to determine if it's possible that her hitting me caused any damage to my car. Hmm. All I know is, before I met her, my car was perfect. Now it's not. You do the math.

I'm trying to be nice to the lady, to avoid going to her insurance (or the police) but after this morning's conversation, I'm less inclined to do that. Why is it so hard for people to do the right thing? Why?


Chuck Rules!
After last week's heroics, our very own Chuck Martin has been named Logitech's player of the week!!!!

Get the full story here.

Way to go, Chuck, and way to keep us in the game. I'm STILL grinning.

There Goes My GPA
Got my second in series of hellish, disappointing-in-the-end midterms back yesterday. I wound up with a B+. I know what you're thinking, that a B+ is nothing to sneeze at, and you're probably wanting to remind me that it beats the hell out of that D+ I managed to get in Research Methods. And you're right. It is and it does.

Except that, to date, the lowest grade I've had is an A-. I've worked extremely hard for each one of those good grades and have been extremely proud of my high GPA. It dates back to high school, where I missed graduating with honors by 3 HUNDRETHS of a point, and then to college, where I met the same fate.

This time, hell or high water, I'm getting a groovy-colored sash on my robe and hat. I'm getting the extra connotation on my degree, I'm waltzing through the rest of my life saying I have a Master's, something Cum Laude. And you don't. Unless, of course, you do. Then I'll high-five your ass and pretend we're doing the secret dance.

But this semester could blow that. Relegate me back to where I've always been, just short of something special.

Thanks to Wednesday's car accident, my alignment is now off and the woman who hit me hasn't returned my phone call about getting it fixed. She has through the weekend to get in touch, otherwise I'll sic my insurance agent on her ass.

My car must know I'm planning to abandon it and is seeking car revenge. Nice.


How Did I Not Know This???!!!???
That there's a WAFFLE HOUSE about 8 miles from our hotel in Denver. Screw Casa Bonita, I'm having waffles. And Bert's Chili, and Alice's Iced Tea, and hash browns, scattered, smothered, covered, chunked, topped and peppered.


Oh yeah, and we're going to play a tournament, too.

And speaking of tournaments, we're off to Vancouver next Friday for another one with the newly formed Belmont Thunder. We just got the schedule tonight -- it's totally weird: Friday, 10:15 pm, Saturday, 10 am, Saturday, 2:30 pm. If we do well, we'd play again Sunday at 8 am, and then, if we're lucky, at 11:15 am. Wow. Play on, Thunder!

For The Record
It was NOT Susan From Omaha who front-ended me yesterday, it was some Russian lady I don't know. We just ended up doing damage inspection in the parking lot of the Sierra Suites where Susan From Omaha stayed last summer when she was here. Instead of in Omaha.

After accidents I've had in the past (all 3 of them), I've spent a lot of time thinking about what I could have done differently to prevent it. Since then, I've adapted my driving so I actually DO those things, which is why, until yesterday, I had been accident-free for a decade. A decade! Holy crap, I've done things like Safe Driving for a decade.

I guess that's why I'm pissed that I got hit. Yes, it was no fault of my own but it still smarts. But I'm fine, Guy is fine (though his grill is not) and the lady who hit me can be fine or not.

No Freaking Way
With the addition of the Mighty G to the A-Team 2, it looks like I just might be able to play center ALL THE TIME ON MY OWN TEAM for the first time ever. Thank you thank you G for giving me the freedom to play up. A lot. Maybe I'll even learn how to score.

Okay, you can stop laughing now.

Did I mention that Viv, Jena, Andrea and I will be pimpin in an Escalade in Denver? That we'll drive that Escalade to CASA BONITA? Oh and we'll play some hockey games in a tourney.

Null Day
Today was crazy nutso. Started off with a very successful doctor visit. I have to admit that it still cracks me up to answer the question "What method of birth control do you use?" with "nothing!" only to get a very confused look from the nurse. "Abstinence?" "Nope, I'm just gay. But we've been having unprotected sex for almost 9 years and I'm still not pregnant! WTF!!"

Heading to work after that big adventure, I had the most bizarre car wreck ever (see below). So that negated the goodness of the doctor visit.

At this point, we're at 0. One good thing, one bad.

I walk to McDonald's for lunch with Heather and tell her that it's the weirdest McDonald's ever. As I say this, an enthusiastic McDonald's employee steps outside, holds the door, and welcomes us to McDonald's as if it's some fancypants restaurant. Other oddities of that location include the beverage caretaker who is so enthusiastic about her duties that she often prevents you from getting your drink and the counter worker who shouts politely and insistently that she's ready to take YOUR order.

That was nothing in terms of the null day, maybe a slight positive since the weirdness happened exactly when I predicted.

Had my weekly meeting with my manager, where we went over my progress this quarter, which was more strong than I'd dared to imagine. Score one for me.

But then I went to my dreaded Research Methods class, where we got our midterms. Inexplicably, I got an A- on one half and just as inexplicably, a D+ on the other half. It averaged out to a B-. Score one for not me.

During band, I get an IM from my oldest little brother, who tells me he might be coming here for some kind of event. That trip, if it happened for him, would include a few days to hang out with me! My head instantly fills with all the things I would show him, all the people I'd show his bad self off to. Score one, no, make that two for me.

Later during band, I get an email from our friends Jen and Gabriela, who had a baby due in late March. Little Delilah was born 2 days ago, 1.5 weeks late. Almost 9 pounds and beautiful...but she has a subdural hematoma (bleeding on the brain) and is having seizures. She's in the NICU where Susan works so at least there's someone to watch out for her, but after a completely healthy pregnancy, this was about the last thing they expected. Score one not for me, not for Baby Delilah or her moms.

All told, it added up to a null day. I would have much preferred an event-free null day, one that brought little Delilah into the world without any drama beyond the exhiliration of her family.


Back That Ass Up!
When I pulled up to the light at First and Bayshore, the car in front of me started to go through the intersection, realized that it was too late and went into reverse. Fine, no problem. She sat about 10 feet in front of me until the light changed, then she floored it to get her go on.

Which is all fine until you consider that she was still IN REVERSE. As her little pieceocrap car hurtled toward me, I thought "wow, she's going to hit me." And hit me she did, sending Guy Laliberte into a jolt. I flipped on my hazards, waited for the confused aholes behind me to go around, then eased back into traffic, barking at the lady to get up ahead so we can pull over.

Finally, she and I both make it to the safety of the Sierra Suites where Susan From Omaha stayed parking lot and check the damage. Lucky for me, Guy sports a lovely grill that Viv was nice enough to pick up for me and Andrea was smart enough to figure out how to install it, sans instructions. Thanks to that grill, Guy emerged unharmed, only the grill boasts a nice dent, which, if you ask me, just makes it look like I actually off-road.

The lady was hysterical, crying and the like. Sheesh, lady. If you just paid attention to what you were doing, there'd be no need for the waterworks. But I got her info and told her I doubted I'd do anything about it.

That said, I think I'll walk to lunch.


Oh Cwap! Last night I was working on a paper and doing some additional research for both said paper and my thesis when I found an article that matches almost exactly what I'm planning to do. It's different enough that it will be highly useful and lend creedence (clearwater revival) to my assertions. That's all good, but the problem is -- why didn't I see it sooner? Not only is it extra-relevant, it's by the same author who I've quoted a number of times, from a number of different pieces she's done.

Internet, please don't fail me now. I'm so close.


Jena made this totally rad picture for my birthday, enjoy!

Red Pants: Ubiquity Achieved!
Saturday night, I went to the Ice Oasis early so I could scam, er, sub in for the game before mine. I strolled into the Black team's locker room and asked if they needed a sub. Since Dan, Robyn and Heather MC are on that team, I was hoping they did. One of their teammates is out with a virus, but was hanging out in the locker room talking to them while they got dressed (this is a practice I've always found a little disconcerting. In his case, it was fine, but sometimes I'm like, hey, non-player, get out! Which is why, when I coach, I let my skaters dress then talk to them on the bench when they're ready to go.). So this guy thinks for a minute when I ask about subbing, then says,

Don't you have red pants?

I nearly busted out laughing. The man knew me by my red pants! Yes, yes I do, I said, Dan, Robyn and Heather MC getting the joke too.

In case you were wondering, I have red pants!

Cannot Escape
Apparently there is now a shortage of Green goalies and I'll be subbing in games until my replacement is found. I'll do my best, but as we all know, it's really not good enough.

Last September, I ended a prolonged car selecting experience by buying a Jeep Liberty. I wound up getting the '1 at this price!' model that you see advertised in the paper, so if nothing else, the price was right. Hell, the price was in!. But, quickly, I realized the pitfalls of buying a car that is, in many ways, stripped down.

First? Well, it's stripped down. No sunroof, no CD changer, no groovy purple interior lights like my Passat. Second? This isn't so much the stripped-down-ness, but just a beef with the car. It fishtails like crazy coming out of a stop in the rain. Huh? Cars can still do that? Third? It gets HORRIBLE gas mileage. I know, it's an SUV, they do that, I should expect it. But I didn't really understand what all that meant until every week I was putting over $40 of gas into the thing.

You can no doubt see where this is headed. After mere months of being a Jeep owner, I'm realizing that it's not for me, not right now. So as soon as we get some financial shit with the house (that is another story for another time) squared away, I'm most likely trading in the Jeep for the Mazda RX-8 I wanted but talked myself out of in the first place.


I'm In!
I went back to Grad Studies today in a second attempt to turn in my candidacy form. Driving down San Fernando, I admired all the nice homeless people and I gave thanks to all the chubby undergrads who have followed the current fashion that now covers their bellies and keeps their thong panties all the way inside their pants. I saw a young man carrying a boba drink and his books across the street, and I thought "I never want to come back here again."

To you fourth, fifth, or more year San Jose State students, I admire your ability to stick with the place for that long. I'm at the end of my second year and I'm done. Just done, even though I have 6 more weeks of classes to get through, 5 more papers to write, and finally, a thesis to start the study portion of and finish. It seems overwhelming, especially since I pissed away my Spring Break by watching a lot of TV and fighting with my mother.

But I made it to the famed building and it was at last, open. I had called last Friday, after discovering it closed on Thursday, nobody answered the phone, nor did the message say they were open (or closed for that matter) so I figured they were closed. Wrong, they were open. I should have gone by.

But the prissy woman at the desk took my form anyway and said I'm still in for a December graduation. Yes, if I pull this off, consider your bad selves invited to a somewhat cheap-looking ceremony (if my department actually has one -- SJSU is too cheap to hold school-wide commencement more than once a year) on the lawn outside our building. Folding chairs will be provided for your ass, unless we have to go into the gym.

And when I absolutely lose faith in my ability to finish, please turn me around and point me to this post, when I think of all You People coming on down to San Jose to watch my (hopefully pregnant) ass waddle across a stage. Or even a grassy area. Just let me waddle and give me that degree.


Holy Crapola Batman!
So...the A-Team 1 had our playoff game tonight against my least favorite team. You know, the team with the ahole who hit me last year, which is the same team that has the guy who called me a dyke recently. We had 12 people lined up, but then I got a call 2 hours before game time, 2 people couldn't make it. And then there were 10.

The other team had 17. Yep, 17 freaking people. That's, at the very least, 2 too many. It just gets confusing to play with that many, because you have 4 sets of wings, who end up sitting for-ever! Of course, that was not our issue, no, none of us sat forever. The amazing thing was that we all took reasonable-length shifts for once (as a group, we tend to stay out too long), but the more amazing thing was that we scored first and early. With a one goal lead we were feeling pretty good, but still very very cautious. In the second, we scored again. Shortly after that, they scored once but we held our act together, playing defense as a team. We emerged penalty-free and more importantly, WE WON!!! 2-1!!!

Our bad selves, #8 in the standings beat the #1 team with the shortest bench in our history as a team. I guess you could call us the Mighty Ten. At least I will.

I giggled and sported a perma-grin all the way into the locker room, walking out of the rink, at dinner, and even now, as I sit on my couch telling you about it. We rule!


The Upside To Going In Circles
Is that after I've spent an exceedingly long time skating around the face off dots with Mr. Skate In Circles, I can say hey! I skated circles around....Belmont?

The New Crack
Back in the day, my Internet surfing range was limited to websites about nothing, then it moved onto websites about hockey, specifically about buying spiffy ass new hockey gear. But now that my hockey gear is starting to show signs of wear, I'm finding that with the exception of my beloved Red Pants, I'm not in any hurry to look for anything else. That's because my attention has turned toward the babymaking world and let me just say, there is a shitload of heartache out there around babymaking. I keep reading, hoping for a happy ending, for wombs filled with growing babies, for homes suddenly filled with the laughter of a wee one, knowing that for some of them, that may not happen.

And for all that heartache, for all the assvice given and not taken, for all the dumbass shit that doctors have said, I am sorry, good babymaking women of the internet. Were that my apology could undo what's been done, retract what's been said, the world would be a happier place.

It seems so obvious, but in case it's not: people who are dealing with the utter heartbreak and despair of fertility do not need to have it compounded by the cruel comments of strangers. They just don't.

Going In Circles
Since Viv does it, it must be cool. So I went to Belmont for the Thursday night drop in class. I'd been once before and was absolutely awed at the number of times and ways the instructor can make you skate around the face off circles. I was not disappointed last night! We went around forwards, around on one edge, around doing a few scooter pushes, then around backwards on one edge, then doing scooter pushes, then, finally, doing backwards crossovers. Wow. No less than 10 times of just skating around the circles.

Good excersize, yes. Good for your crossovers, yes. But yes, boring. So very boring. For G and I, the challenge was in pacing our start so we didn't bump into the guys just ahead of us. For those guys, backwards was not their event. For me, it is my event but it seemed that no matter how much space we left (up to an entire circle) we still ran into them. Times when it would be appropriate to pass, the guys wouldn't allow it, or didn't know to so I had to stop and wait. But it was still good to do All. Those. Circles.

And it was even more gooder to do them with Viv, G and Wendy. Yo! That was rad! Eventually, we moved on from circles and passed, then passed some more. But it was good to get out, to skate with nobody keeping score.