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Wednesday, December 29, 2004

But enough about my problems

There are a lot of people in Asia whose lives have been destroyed. Help them, if you can.

The American Red Cross, OxFam America, UN World Food Programme and UNICEF

And thanks to Chris, for doing this on his site first. I wish I'd thought of it.


Tuesday, December 28, 2004

A series of unfortunate events (part the first)

Some people might prefer posts with birds chirping and happy little elves…this is not the post for you. Feel free to read on, but you’ve been warned. (with apologies to the Lemony Snicket movie, the only bright spot I’ve had in the last couple of days.)

So, Christmas went ok. I got gifts I like, and people seemed to like the gifts I bought them. All in all, I was feeling pretty chipper. Sunday came, and we had a decent dinner with my Dad with only light to moderate weirdness.

On Monday morning, I was preparing to start my vacation. My time to relax, do stuff around the house, hang out with my husband and my dog, get the new blog all set up. And then I got the phone call. My dad had collapsed and they had taken him to the emergency room. They didn’t know what the problem was, but he was in and out of consciousness and couldn’t tell them what was going on – it could be a stroke or a heart attack.

**Before I go any farther, just so you know, my Dad is now fine. He went home from the hospital this evening**

Naturally, John had just left with the car five minutes before I got the call. And just as naturally, when I called my mom for a ride, she had to be difficult, and decided to send my brother to come get me instead. But before he could get here, John came home and we headed to the hospital.

Where I learned several things:

1. my father, the doctor, has diabetes, which he suspected, but didn’t bother to get checked out. On Monday it was so out of control, his blood sugar was 553 (for reference it should be between 60 and 90)
2. when your blood sugar gets that high, you can have a stroke or go into a coma
3. my dad had chest pain on Saturday night, but decided it was nothing and took a Percocet he had left over from going to the dentist (as an aside, we have the same dentist, and that man has never given me so much as a Tylenol. Where’s my fucking Percocet?)
4. My dad has a girlfriend. Named Margaret. She seems very nice.

The extremely efficient people in the ER established that he had not had a heart attack or a stroke, and started giving him insulin. And as his blood sugar came down, my dad became coherent and conscious again, which was nice to see.

He claims this was the wakeup call that he needed and he will change his diet, and exercise and take his Glucotrol. He did those things for a while after he had his bypass surgery when I was in college, so, maybe he will.

But the past two days have been a rollercoaster for me. Worry, of course. Guilt – when the nurse was asking me questions about my dad, I didn’t know the answers. Does he drink? Well, he never drank much, but for all I know, he downs a bottle of whiskey every night now. I mean, I didn’t see him for six months this year. Resentment. Resenting my mom for being unhelpful and bitchy throughout this whole episode. Resenting my dad for not taking care of himself. And then there’s the depressing realization that my parents are getting older, and this is probably just the first of many times I’m going to end up racing to the hospital because one or the other of them is sick.


Sunday, December 26, 2004

Merry Christmas, Internet!

Am still very busy with the seemingly endless family holiday marathon. Plus, I ended up sleeping for close to 12 hours (with a short one-hour break to walk and feed Seamus)in an attempt to recover from the craziness of Friday and Saturday.

But, I wanted to say Merry Christmas to all my blog friends.

And share with you the highlight of my day yesterday -- a combination of words that I am absolutely sure have never been said together before, and that are unlikely to be repeated -- uttered by one of John's step relatives after opening one of his presents.

"Aw, snap! Edgar Allan Poe, my favorite!"

Gotta love those southern Maryland teenagers.


Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Slightly Crazed Penguin

In the past week, I:

• watched the movie the Commitments, which left me with the urge to describe things as “brilliant” and people as “right fuckin’ eejits.” But I’ve restrained myself.

• worked very late. A lot. It feels like I’ve done nothing but run from the second I got to work each day until I crawled out the office door late at night. The upside of this is that after tomorrow, I will be off of work for 10, yes 10, glorious days!

• bought a lot of gifts. I’m not a great shopper, but I do enjoy buying people presents.

• listened to my wonderful Yahtzee! CD from BMH. Along with the bonus Christmas CD she sent me. :)

• baked cookies for my co-workers.

• wrapped presents using strips of packing tape because we ran out of scotch tape. And by ran out of, I mean were the victims of a mysterious tape dispenser disappearance.

• visited three nurseries to help my mom find the right (read: least insanely overpriced) Christmas tree, helped her put up said Christmas tree, and helped her put up lights on her front steps.

• saw the movie Closer. Mini-review:
John: That sucked.
Me: Oh, it wasn’t that bad. You could tell it was originally a play though.
John: No, it sucked.
Me: Well, I didn’t really feel the characters were very sympathetic…
John: Complete suckitude.

• knitted frantically, trying to finish this stupid scarf for my father in law. It looks nice, but it is taking forever. Whoever said you can make a scarf in two days was either making a very small scarf or a liar.

• felt guilty because I have gotten many nice Christmas cards, but didn’t send any. Maybe I’ll send Happy New Year cards.

• attended a work-related Christmas party that I didn’t think I would enjoy, but that turned out to be fun. And they served three cheese croquettes and fennel tartlets. Yum!

• got hosed on shipping costs by UPS. That’s what you get when you don’t make it to the shipping store to mail your packages until December 22nd. Sigh. At least they were friendly, efficient, and had boxes for my two light but oddly sized packages.

At least I’m almost done! Once I get through Christmas, I just might sleep for a couple of my days off. How are your holiday preparations going?


Sunday, December 19, 2004

So that others can learn from my mistakes

If you want to have a baby, but what you have instead is PMS (again,) take a little tip from me.

Under no circumstances should you watch the show “Make Room for Baby.”

If you do, you will most likely find yourself sitting on your couch., clutching your knitting and crying as you watch the 21 year old single mom with a dead brother give birth…hoping that your husband doesn’t wander into the living room and see you blubbering…hating yourself for crying over such a corny show…and yet, unable to change the channel.

In fact, no woman with PMS should watch this show. It hits the trifecta of cheesiness – sort of a combination of A Baby Story, Extreme Makeover Home Edition and While You Were Out. When the mother-to-be with the sob story goes into labor, the host of the show, a designer, carpenters, and the mother-to-be’s friends come in and redo some part of the house and create a space for the baby. It’s hokey and poorly produced, with all sorts of manufactured drama (hello, you show a woman in labor. No fake drama needed) but somehow strangely compelling.

And the worst part is, I had to go meet my mom and I didn’t even get to see the end of the show!


Saturday, December 18, 2004

If ever I meet Paul McCartney…

I will thank him for all of the excellent music he has brought to the world.

I will congratulate him for being a vegetarian and all of the good works he has done over the years.

And then I will ever-so-gently punch him in the nose for the song “Simply Having A Wonderful Christmas Time.”

Not only is it annoying to hear, but it is so damn sticky! It has been playing in my head, over and over, for two days now.


Wednesday, December 15, 2004

For Claire

For Claire, who wants to know.

Three names you go by: Bad Penguin, Hillary, Hills

Three screen names you have: badpenguin01, hilldery, and well, my actual name.

Three things you like about yourself: I’m a good listener, a dependable friend, and I have nice hair

Three things you hate/dislike about yourself: I’ve let myself get out of shape, I doubt myself too much, I’m too impatient

Three parts of your heritage: Irish, more Irish, German

Three things that scare you: Infertility, family members dying, what the Bush administration is doing to my country and the world

Three of your everyday essentials: the happy dance my dog does when I come home, John’s sleepy smile, a nice cup of (decaf) tea before bed

Three things you are wearing right now: brown pants, blue sweater, lovely brown shoes with buckle

Three of your favorite bands/artists (at the moment): Only three, that’s tough. Kasey Chambers, U2, the Rolling Stones

Three of your favorite songs at present: Water in the Fuel (Kasey Chambers); Lake of Fire (Nirvana cover version); Chain of Fools (Aretha Franklin)

Three things you want in a relationship (love is a given): Laughter, friendship, warmth

Three things you want to try in the next 12 months: to learn more about Buddhism, to improve my writing, to not get any more stupid cavities in my teeth

Two truths and a lie: I used to be a Park Ranger. I actually did vote for a Republican once (on purpose). I have never left the United States.

Three physical things about the opposite (or same) sex that appeals to you: Eyes. Then smile. Then chest and arms.

Three things you just can't do: be coordinated, calculus, be cheerful early in the morning

Three of your favorite hobbies: blogging, reading, knitting

Three things you want to do really badly right now: buy a house, have a baby, see my husband happier in the life we have now. Or is that supposed to be more immediate? Then it is: eat nachos, work on the design for my new blog, and never have to think about direct order entry (annoying work project) again!

Three careers you're considering: I kind of like the one I have. Or free-lance writer or something that helps other people, like UN relief worker or working for a non-profit

Three places you want to go on vacation: Ireland, South Pacific, Greece

Three kids' names: Liam, Kate, Kira

Three things you want to do before you die: Skydive, see more of the world, contribute something to making the world a better place

Three people you'd like to take this quiz now: Crazy Single Mom, BMH, and Pink Stiletto


Monday, December 13, 2004

I have seen my doom

In Huis Clos, Hell is being stuck in a room with no door with a bunch of strangers. You can’t leave, you can’t sleep, you can’t even close your eyes, because you have no eyelids. It always sounded pretty awful

But that is not the Hell that waits for me. No, I caught a glimpse of it today, and now I know how I will be punished for my sins.

I will have to sit in the dentist’s office, so cold that I am shivering, reading a two month old People magazine, suffering from one of those screwdriver-in-the-eye, on-the-verge-of-throwing-up headaches. Half of my face will be numb, and I will have to listen to a truly hideous version of some kid singing “All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth.”

And instead of feeling like it is lasting forever, it actually will last forever.


Saturday, December 11, 2004

Been working?

No, been working.

You have to imagine saying the title and first line in a Monty Pythonesque British accent. That's how it sounds in my head.

So this week I've had a ridiculous amount of work to do, Christmas parties to attend, gifts to buy and errands to run. And then when I finally got home each night, I had to decide between posting here, obsessing about the new blog, working on the scarf that is my father-in-law's Christmas present and talking to my husband. Obsessing, knitting and hubby-time won out every time. Oh, and watching Lost. I made sure to walk in the door at 7:59 on Wednesday night. Do I have my priorities straight or what?

But now John is off with the car taking final exams all weekend, so I'll be home, dealing with the mound of laundry that has piled up, and blogging away.


Sunday, December 05, 2004

Choose my new url

So, I'm thinking about moving to my own url. Naturally www.badpenguin.com is taken. No one appears to be using it, but it is not available for me to reserve. So, I've come up with some potential alternatives, and I'd like your opinions. What address do you like best?


And, of course, suggestions of urls not on my list are welcome.


Saturday, December 04, 2004

I want...

I’ve been thinking about envy. Not envy in the seven deadly sin sense, but envy as a motivator. When you see that someone else has done something that you think you could do. Or should be able to do. Something that makes you say to yourself “I want…” and gives you a kick in the ass to get moving, to make changes, to go for what you want. Sometimes it is easy to see how to get where I want to go.

Other times, it’s harder to figure out. I want to be a better writer. I want this blog to be better than it is. I’m very good at the writing I do for work. I’m not bragging, just stating a fact. I’ve convinced a lot of people to part with a lot of money for the services my company provides. But that doesn’t mean I’m good at the type of writing that I think is important. I want to write at a higher level, but I don’t think I’ve found my voice yet. It frustrates me sometimes.

And then I remind myself that I had to work to get to level of writing I’m at professionally. It didn’t just happen overnight. I want to write the kinds of posts that move people – to laughter, anger, sadness – something. Not just ramble on about my trips to the dentist. Or at least be entertaining when I do ramble on about my trips to the dentist. I want to write essays, or maybe short stories. I even have ideas for magazine articles, not that I know what to do with them. But I’m not quite there. I’m going to keep plugging away at it, of course. It’s just that sometimes…I want.


Friday, December 03, 2004

A monumental decision

I just discovered a kitchen right by my new office that I never even knew existed. After due consideration, I have decided to switch my allegiance to the new kitchen.

Ah, the serious and important decisions that make up my day.


Wednesday, December 01, 2004

My teeth are evil and I hate them

And judging by their behavior, they hate me right back.

I would like to begin this post with a disclaimer. I am not some disgusting person who does not take proper care of her teeth. I brush and floss religiously. I just have bad teeth. If I ever wind up on a deserted island, I’ll be knocking a tooth out with an ice skate, just like Tom Hanks in Castaway.

So today, I went to the dentist to get my teeth cleaned. And learned that I have SEVEN cavities. Seven. That doesn’t seem fair to me.

Two of these cavities are in spots where the glue from my braces did damage. Everyone knew they would get cavities someday. Three of the cavities are old fillings that need to be replaced. One cavity is a brand-new one that caused the dentist to say “You haven’t had any pain from this tooth at all? Really?” They think it will take TWO HOURS to fix. Guess how I’m spending my Friday afternoon? And to make it even better, the dentist told me she might decide they need to do a root canal and a crown once they get in there.

And then we come to cavity number seven. This fucker is the Darth Vader of teeth – pure evil. It was filled seven years ago, in one of the worst dental experiences of my life. Three years ago it got abscessed and I had to have a root canal. And then a crown lengthening and a crown, which was extremely painful and expensive. Do you know what a crown lengthening is? Let me tell you what it is not. It is not where you go to the periodontist and they build something on to your tooth to make it easier to attach the crown. That’s what I thought they were going to do when I went in to have that procedure done. Sadly, I was wrong.

Anyway, Darth Vader is acting up again, or so they tell me. According to my x-rays, at’s like a volcano preparing to erupt. I could get another root canal, crown lengthening and crown, but there's no guarantee that will do the trick (the dentist referred to this as taking “heroic measures to save the tooth." I find it amusing to hear that phrase used in reference to a tooth. In mind, it conjures up images of people cracking my chest open to jump start my heart while pushing me through a hallway at top speed on a gurney or something.) I could just ignore the problem, but the tooth will keep deteriorating. No matter what I do, eventually I will have to have the tooth pulled,at which time I can get a titanium tooth implant. Apparently I am very lucky that they have this whole titanium tooth technology now. Yeah, you just told me I have seven cavities and probably need two root canals. And then you will screw a titanium tooth in to my jaw. Lucky is exactly what I am feeling.