Thursday, September 28, 2006

The Billy Lab Report. By Jack Daniels Robbins

Hi, it’s me, Jack!
Yep, Jack! The dog. I like dirt.Do you have food?

My Mom is at work. Work gives you money. To buy food! Lots and lots of food! I love food. My Nana has been giving me food this week. And not just crunchy food, the slurpy gooey kind of food, too. She’s nice.

But Mom said I should tell you my tummy is doing good. Wait… I mean, well. (We’re working on my grammar.) I like dirt! Did I tell you that?

They took out a big part of my intestine. Which is part of your guts. And guts are gross- I like gross stuff- like the possum I played with one time! He was gross- sticky and kind of smelly. That was cool.

OK, I have to go dig now. ‘Cause I like dirt! And rocks, too. But now when I pick up a rock everyone starts fussing and going “NO, JACK, NO!”

What’s wrong with rocks?

Licky-face for everyone!

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

The Littlest, Perkiest Loser

Dear NBC:

Last night I watched the season premiere of The Biggest Loser on DVR. Loved the 50 states theme! That could have gotten hokey, but you kept it on track. Loved that Caroline Rhea is back! She seems sincerely interested in the well being of the contestants and she isn’t some stick figure herself, which makes her even more endearing. Loved that Bob returned! He’s a great trainer, he’s genuine, and did I mention he’s hot? (A note: I think Bob finally coming out of the closet would make a super addition to the finale this year.)

And then the lady trainer came zipping down next to Bob. And my inner dialogue went like this:

Yay Jilli-…wait…. that’s not Jillian!
Who the hell is that?
Why is she so damn perky? And why is she doing that cheerleader jumpy thing?
Does she really think we’ll believe those boobs came with her body?
SHE’S going to be the tough-as-nails trainer?
But what about her hair? She can’t sweat and keep her hair like that?

NBC, I am ashamed of you. You dump a great person like Jillian for this fluff? It’s not hard to figure out what happened here. Jillian was terrific- but not tremendously “feminine”. Her gravely voice and lean, cut body weren’t unattractive, but hardly conventional female beauty. She was aggressive in training the contestants; nobody would have ever called her sweet. (Not that she was uncaring. Oh, and she got the results!) Again, not typically “female”.
She’s been replace by a large-breasted conventionally pretty woman who is (so far) the portrait of stereotypical kindness and caring. She’s been replaced by a woman who is so keenly aware of how she appears to everyone that she has to constantly remind us all that she’s “not a Barbie.” Jillian was replaced by a softer cuter kinder version of the female trainer that will be more palatable to gender-norms-obsessed conservative America.

And this from a tv show that’s supposedly sending a message of self-esteem and acceptance regardless of appearance?

Shame on you, NBC.
Bring Jillian back.

One Disgusted Female Viewer

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Billy Lab: The Post-Op Report

Good grief.
Jack did not have a tumor. What he did have was a HUGE (volleyball-sized, I’m told) callous-like thing where something he ate had TORN OPEN HIS INTESTINE and his body had tried to heal itself up. He also had a digestive track packed full of sand and rocks.

Now it’s time for obvious Q&A with Lauren:

Q: How on earth did the dog live through that?
A: We don’t know. The docs don’t know. He is a miracle of veterinary science.

Q: Why didn’t you take him to the vet sooner? He could have died!
A: We would have taken him sooner… IF HE HAD GIVEN US ANY INDICATION HE WAS SICK! Vets tell you to watch for changes in appetite and behavior. He had neither.

Q: How’s he doing now?
A: Very very well for someone who had their bowels excavated less than 24 hours ago. He’s resting comfortably, as they say.

Q: When does he come home?
A: Tomorrow. And he’ll be spending next week in Spartanburg with Nurse Nana who will see to his post-op care while Mommy & Daddy work overtime to pay the vet bill.

Q: Oh yeah… how much is this going to cost?
A: We’re not going to ask that question until we have to pay in order to get our dog back.

Q: How are you going to keep him from doing this again?
A: Good freakin’ question. There’s a handsome reward (o.k.- we’ll make you dinner and get you drunk) for anyone who gives us the magical solution!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Billy Lab Update

Seems that in addition to "a lot of rocks in his stomach," the vet has also found a large tumor on Jack's small intestine. They are removing a portion of said small intestine right now. :(
Poor sweetie.

New Breed: Billy Lab

Poor Jack.
Loyal readers will recall that our sweet doggie Jack has a history of interesting digestive episodes. He has the eating habits of a billy goat with a tapeworm, so this latest development shouldn’t surprise anyone.
About a week and a half ago, I took Jack to the vet for his annual visit and to address some weight loss issues. They did a bunch of tests and found nothing, but decided to deworm him just in case. 10 days later he was back at the vet, down another 3 ½ pounds and with what I shall politely call some potty problems.
Again, bloodwork and other tests showed nothing remarkable, except for some slightly altered levels in a few proteins. Phrases like “exploratory surgery” and “ultrasound with biopsy” and “masses in the abdomen” began to be thrown around. But our vet (a funny, kind, practical woman we adore) suggested that we first take an abdominal x-ray to see if it showed anything obvious. Jack apparently supported this idea – he cooperated long enough to be x-rayed without sedation.
The vet came back in with the x-ray and said “Leave it to your dog…”
To which I replied “Oh God… .what did he eat?”
Vet Lady: “I don’t know… but there’s a lot of it.”
Me: “Well… there was that Texas ball cap. And the three toys he chewed up last week. Oh, and he likes paper napkins a lot. He gobbles up rocks on walks. Did I mention the toy plane? He only got half of that….” (you get the picture)
Vet Lady: "Wow..."
Me (looking at x-ray): “Is that half a tennis ball?”
Vet Lady: “Hmmm… could be.”
Me: “What is THAT? Some kind of twine? String?”
Vet Lady: “I won’t really know until I get in there. But see those bright white flecks? That’s probably metal.”
Me (to the dog): “Nice work, Jack!”
Jack: *slurp* *lick* * BELCH*

So the result is that our boy is going under the knife as I type. Neither I nor the vet nor anyone in the vet’s office can tell what he’s got in there, but whatever it is, it’s blocking his colon and parts of his small intestine. The good news is the vet assured us this did NOT look like a tumor or other naturally-occurring mass. So provided we can keep him from eating half a landfill again, he shouldn’t have any more troubles after the surgery.


Will they let me use my flexible spending account to put back money for next time?

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Terrier Wishes & Gamecock Dreams

Another post on the topic of perspective, folks, but this one slightly less serious.

The University of South Carolina Gamecocks played the Wofford Terriers yesterday. As predicted, USC won. But not by much. 27-20, as a matter of fact. Here’s where perspective comes in.

USC is a VERY large public university with an incredibly well funded athletics program, the expenses of which include the multi-million dollar salary of one Steve Spurrier. Wofford is a small, 1,2000 student private school (Husband’s alma mater, by the way) that has a very nice size endowment for a 1AA school, but usually has about 8,000 in attendance at their games compared to USC’s roughly 70,000. You’d have to superglue two of Wofford’s linemen together to get one of USC’s.

This match up was supposed to be a veritable bloodbath at the hands of USC. Husband and I joked as the game began- that Wofford was essentially entering the Coliseum and their players should watch out for those pesky lions. The injury report could read “Smith- decapitation by lion- out for season”. Can’t you just see Spurrier giving the emperor-esque thumbs down? The trainers could attach a laurel wreath to that @#$@#%$#@ stupid ass visor. We figured Spurrier could give some good playing time to the guy who replaces the urinal cakes. You get the idea.

AND USC ONLY WON BY SEVEN POINTS. Wofford was the David and USC was the Goliath. To make matters worse, there was some … um… sketchy officiating, shall we say? Wofford got mistreated by the refs a couple of times which should have only made the routing by USC even worse. But no. USC barely squeaked out the win by subverting a Wofford touchdown in the last moments.

As usual, the local media outlets refused to be bothered by reality. To hear “Gamecock TV” and other local sports reports tell it, the game went something like this:
USC showed up early, studied for a few exams, donated a kidney each, and had a prayer circle. They then proceeded to thwart a terrorist attack, save a litter of homeless puppies, help a few old ladies across the street, cure cancer, and win the game by about 700 points. Steve Spurrier was officially declared the second coming of Christ and the players were awarded Nobel Peace Prizes.

The delusional allegiance to USC football baffles me. They play like second-string high school kids and barely beat a team they should have stomped, but it’s treated like a bowl game win against Ohio State.

On another note, I’ve coined a new football term. You’ve heard of “coughing it up”, right? Here was last night’s conversation:
Husband: Uh-oh… he **coughing noise** coughed it up
Me: Oh, honey… that wasn’t a cough… that wasn’t some mild-mannered dry heave. He vomited that football. That was a SPEW.
Husband: Man, if I was a commentator, I’d totally use that. ‘Lee, he vomited that football like an airsick guy with a hangover at an exorcism!’

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Better Days, Worse Hotels

Feeling a little better today. It’s a strange business, this grieving. Yesterday was a deep dark hole. Today is better- easier. Tomorrow? Who the hell knows. That’s tomorrow.

I’m headed to Ocean City, Maryland on business today. The website photos remind me very much of every generic cheesy boardwalk hotel in Myrtle Beach. You know the places… d├ęcor in pinks and turquoise with seashell motifs, nautical themed restaurants with roped pilings and fake seagulls. Great cheap spots if you’re headed to the beach with a gaggle of elementary-school aged kids who will enjoy having a miniature golf course on every corner. Icky. We’ve been making fun of this place for weeks now and the running joke has been about how many of these hotels have BOWLING ALLEYS in them. Yes, bowling alleys. In the hotel. No SPA, mind you, but rental shoes galore! In the spirit of these tacky accommodations, we’ve come up with the klassy boardwalk hotel trifecta. You must have:
A bowling alley
A lazy river
A ferris wheel
Of course the ferris wheel can be within 4 or 5 blocks and still count. (They are hard to actually fit into the hotel proper.) You also get extra credit for having more than 4 miniature golf courses visible from the front door of the hotel. Oh, and SUPER extra credit if you can get a hotel bowling shirt embroidered with your name!

So the full report on the hotel and the shenanigans of my trip when I return. I’m traveling with Wally and we’ll be seeing V.D., so it ought to be interesting! In the mean time, will someone please take a casserole by my house so that Husband won’t eat Applebee’s boneless buffalo wings all three nights????

Monday, September 11, 2006


I’m filled with a lot of sadness today, but not for the reasons you might think and I’m struggling with my own selfishness. Yes, I have thought of the families of the victims of 9/11. It would be difficult not to with every news source on the planet doing a blitz of five-year-memorial coverage. And yes, I am sorry for their losses. It was an awful, tragic, hateful, ugly thing for their loved ones to be ripped away just for going about their business in the wrong place at the wrong time or on the wrong plane. It’s not that I don’t recognize their pain and it’s not that I don’t care about what they suffered, what our country suffered, that day five years ago.

But I find I don’t have room in my heart or in my head for their sadness today. My own sadness is not yet five months removed, much less five years. True, my tragedy was on a much smaller, much quieter scale. Just one life was lost and not a word of it was on the news. I completely appreciate how my baby's death pales in respect to what happened in NYC and DC and Pennsylvania. It wasn’t a violent cataclysmic event that affected the psyche of a nation or the course of history.

But it affected my psyche. And my history. And those of my sweet Husband and our families. And we are not yet recovered. In fact, I think my own recovery has just begun. In the weeks immediately after Cecilia’s birth, I was the portrait of carefully measured mourning. I applauded myself for my own stoicism- for handling things so rationally, so logically. I acknowledged my grief, but I was never overcome by it. I returned to my normal daily life quickly and seemingly without incident. I was very proud of how well I’d done and how little bother I’d been to anyone.

What’s that phrase? “Calm before the storm?” In this case, the storm consists of alternating floods of anger and sadness that threaten to drown me; they are so all-consuming. I’m furious with the woman in the department store who is short with her two little children. Does she have ANY idea how lucky she is? I begin to cry when I see tiny pink feet peeking out carriers and strollers. Fortunately I am sane enough never to consider it, but a small dark part of me understands how a woman who has held her baby’s lifeless body could come to a moment in her grief when picking up that beautiful newborn from the grocery cart and simply walking out the door would be too much to resist. I can’t even begin to describe the sickening mixture of resentment and sadness brought on by the sight of hugely pregnant women.

I’m well aware of my selfishness and of how irrational I’m being. My logical mind knows that none of these people had anything to do with the damned missing chromosome that robbed us of Cecilia. It has certainly occurred to me that I’m awful for not just being happy that someone else doesn’t have to endure what we went through. I’m sorry, but I’m just not feeling that charitable.

And I’m sorry if I can’t muster a moment of properly somber silence for the victims of the terrorist attacks. Forgive me if I don’t attend the memorial services and freedom marches. I truly do wish their families well and I can appreciate that I am a horrific bitch for my callousness towards their plight on what should rightfully be their day of remembrance. It's just that my memories are all too fresh- my baby should have been born next week, but she died four months ago and there just isn’t room in my heart for anything else. I doubt there will be for some time.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Cryogenics in the Workplace

So. Cold. In. Office.
Blankets. Please. Send. Blankets.

Seriously, folks, the inability of corporate America to use climate control systems with any degree of success is a major blight on this country’s reputation. We can put people into space, but every office building on the planet must remain at sub-zero temperatures? WTF???? For a supposed superpower, we sure are subverting our own workforce. Note to the “powers that be”: it is very difficult to type when you CAN’T FEEL YOUR FREAKIN’ FINGERS!

The absurdity of it just kills me. I have to wear layers of clothing to allow for the temperature in a building that has an elaborate electronic thermostat system. My nose runs from the cold when I’m sitting at my desk. I rarely worry about refrigerating my lunch… spoilage? Not on this building manager’s watch! The women who work downstairs have blankets and quilts in their cubicles for use/wear in the meeting rooms, which are even colder than the office space. I have actually looked forward to printing large documents because it means I get to sit with my icy digits pressed up against the heat radiating from the printer! My laptop is a Dell, but let me just tell you, there is absolutely no chance of my battery catching fire- it’d have to burn through the layer of permafrost first. It’s 1:15 p.m. and the diet Coke I’ve been sipping since 11:00 a.m. is still chilled to perfection.

So here’s the million-dollar question… WHY? Are they trying to stave off absenteeism from illness by creating an environment in which no bacteria stands any chance of survival? Do they believe that warm=sleepy=unproductive? Is someone running a secret black market kidney transplant business on the 4th floor?

This issue weighs heavily on my mind. (And this snowsuit is weighing heavily on my body…)

Friday, September 01, 2006

Be careful what you ask for...

I am the Training Manager. When people need training, they fill out a form requesting said training. The form asks a lot of generic questions- name, phone extension, department, etc. But since we have offices in something like eight states, the form also asks for the location of the employee(s) to be trained. The form I received today responded to the location question with:
"At desk."

Another edition of... Funny Husbands Rock!

Me (yawning while talking): YOOODOTADOFFUNNN?

Husband: Um…

Me: What? You didn’t get all that?

Husband: I’m sorry, the subtitles didn’t come up.

Even in his tremendously-stressed-about-work state, he's a funny monkey! :)

My Favorite New Song: "Here It Goes Again" by OK GO

What does it mean when the temperature drops to a high of 83 and you start pulling out hoodies? (Note to self: get iron level checked.)