Category: General Ramblings

Fan in Search of a Team

Most of my life growing up was spent in big cities that usually had at least one major sporting (football, baseball, ice hockey…I’m not a basketball fan) teams:  St. Louis (Cardinals, Cardinals, Blues), Houston (Oilers, Astros, Aeros), and Tampa Bay (Buccaneers were the only pro team there at the time).

From college and beyond though, I’ve never lived in a city with any professional sports teams.  When I first moved to Tennessee there were no major teams anywhere in the state.  I’ve made do with college for football and the Cards and/or Braves for baseball, but it just wasn’t the same.  There’s just something more encompassing when you’re rooting for the hometown team.bum

My first real experience with this was during the late 70’s “Luv Ya Blue!”, Bum Phillips days of the Houston Oilers.  Its not often that a coach is beloved by a team’s fans, but he was an icon.  He led the Oilers during several of their most successful seasons in the toughest division at that time.  Blue Fever ran rampant in Houston and its suburbs.

During the playoffs, the Oilers were defeated by the eventual Super Bowl champions over the next three years.  The owner, Bud Adams, then fired Bum and enraged a city.  Losing Bum broke the magical trinity that existed between coach, team and its fans.  Its been 33 years and I still hold a grudge against Bud Adams (and the Pittsburgh Steelers who blocked the way to the Super Bowl two of those final three years).

I had written the above portion of this post last weekend, prior to learning the sad news of Bum Phillips’ death on Friday.  I had intended to end about never finding that same connection to a team, but I really just don’t have the words anymore.

Many call him a legend, but he’d probably disagree with you about that.  He was humble that way.  He once said that his home may have been in Goliad (his ranch in Texas), but his heart was in Houston.  He loved Houston and we loved him right back.

Rest in Peace, Bum.

“If I could be remembered for one thing, that would be for being myself. You may not always be right, but you do what you think is right. If you’re wrong, have the ability to admit it. Both are damned important.” ~Bum Phillips

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Charm School Dropout

During my time growing up in the South (in Texas), there existed a torture device for young girls of a certain status, known as “Charm School”.  Its northern/European counterpart was known as “Finishing School”, I believe.  It specialized in classes covering manners, deportment, hygiene, grooming and above all, situational etiquette, i.e. the social graces.

My mother (a very determined woman) was adamant that her little tomboy learn to be a proper young lady and enrolled me in the Sugar n’ Spice Charm School.  I went “reluctantly”, meaning I was dragged, kicking and screaming, to a two-hour class, three times a week.  For six months.

My mother has her pride and joy:  a picture of me (looking a lot like Buffy from Family Affair) at charm school graduation in a dress and white knee socks, wearing my rhinestone tiara and holding my diploma.  I was ten.  I didn’t technically drop out, just mentally.  I know I heard the lessons because somehow, it all came back to me when needed later in life.  I thought I’d share a few of the lessons…and my failures.

Proper sitting posture:  sitting etiquette

It is important to be aware of your situation to determine how you sit in a chair, especially in mixed company.  This will determine not only which direction you face in the chair, but whether to cross your legs and if so, whether you cross them above the knee or at the ankles.  The hands should be relaxed in your lap, either lightly clasped or resting one atop the other.

This does not mean its okay during etiquette class to slump down in the chair, legs spread wide with arms crossed over your chest, glaring and muttering about wasting time when you could be playing football.

Proper dress:

Your attire should be appropriate for the activity, weather, and season.  Formal occasions require a long gown, mid-calf skirts are appropriate cocktail or tea length.  Short skirts should never fall more than one inch above the knees and should only be worn for the most casual of occasions.  Shorts should only be worn at home or as required for athletic events.

Dress for the occasion does not mean its okay to wear cutoff denim shorts, a ball cap, tube socks and a University of Texas, Hook ‘Em Horns t-shirt to church because “God doesn’t care how you dress since he let Jesus walk around barefoot in a robe.”

etiquette051613Proper conversation with young men: 

Speak demurely and stick to neutral subjects such as the weather or literature.  Avoid controversial subjects such as politics, religion or current events.

Shouting like a banshee and punching out the neighbor’s son because you thought he stole your Nolan Ryan baseball card from his first season with the Astros is not acceptable deportment for a young lady.

Telephone etiquette:

The telephone should be answered with a polite greeting, then wait for the caller to identify who they are trying to reach.  You may also politely ask who is calling before gently placing the phone down and going to notify the party that they have a call.

It is not correct to answer the phone “City Morgue, you stab ’em, we slab ’em”.  It is also not okay to move the handset two inches from your mouth and yell for your mother that the aunt that looks like Yoda and smells like fish is on the phone.

Proper table and dining etiquette: 

When ordering or waiting on your meal to be served, you hands should be in your lap, not on the table.  Always be mindful of the place setting and using the proper silverware for each course.  While eating, do not make unnecessary noise, such as slurping, chewing loudly or clanking of dinnerware.

Playing “Seafood/See-food” or using the steak knives to sword fight with your brother at a dinner with your father’s boss is apparently not correct behavior.

When living in Asia in my 20’s, I had to adapt to a whole new set of do’s and don’ts.  It is okay to burp at the table, but not okay to allow your dining partners to see you use a toothpick (cover the maneuver with your hand).  My own personal faux-pas:  it is considered an offense if you are the guest of honor at a dinner and refuse to eat the fish’s eyeballs with your host.  Sorry Emily Post, but I will never be THAT proper.

So though I am aware of how I should behave in public, whether I choose to or not is a different story.


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Weekly Wrap-up

ribbonThis is what happens when lots of little stuff happens during the week that is too much for a Tweet, but not enough for its own blog post.  First the not-so-good, then the better news.

As an update to my breast biopsy ordeal post, I’ve developed some kind of allergic reaction to the specific adhesive or material of the external bandage.  I’ve got some nice blisters in a semi-circle around the incision area.  But I’m healing, at least physically.

I was told at the time of the biopsy by one of the technicians that the one sample they were able to get wasn’t good enough.  I was woken up by a phone call yesterday morning from the mammography center to let me know that my biopsy came back benign.  After the doctor left the room, he checked the sample himself and declared it enough to send to the pathologist.  When tested, it was confirmed that it was a “good” sample that did contain some of the microcalcifications.  So its a valid result.  Whew!!! (yes, deserving of three exclamation points)

Thanks to everyone that responded, both on the blog post and privately, for all the well-wishes, laughter, prayers and sharing of experiences.

The good news is allowing me to now not only celebrate, but enjoy my favorite weekend.  My one and only Mom-cation of the year.  For 2-1/2 glorious days every October, I have a solid 56 hours or so all to myself.  My husband and son make an annual “pilgrimage” to Alabama on the second weekend in October for an antique engine show.  Its an important tradition for them and its vital to helping me keep my sanity for the upcoming year.

I usually take a break from any housework and enjoy my time either watching movies, reading, soaking in a bubble bath, or playing computer games.  And I sleep, whenever I feel like it without having to adhere to someone else’s schedule.  I get to do what *I* want to do, when I want to do it.

I also take a much needed break from my healthy eating and let my “grazing” instinct have free reign.  I stock up on chips, lunch meats, Little Debbie, and bread products (soft pretzels and cheese bread), as well as some sweets like ice cream and cappuccino cookies.  Yeah, I go a little crazy, but I deserve it for keeping myself on a tight dietary leash for the other 363 days of the year.

I’ve also had some time to catch up on my blogging and shows I’ve got stacked up on my DVR.  I’ve got my Twisted MixTape Tuesday posts ready to go for the next couple weeks, which makes me very happy.

I’m also caught up on the lectures for the History of Rock course I’ve been taking online.  For anyone that loves music, its absolutely fascinating.  Part 1 is coming to a close next week with the introduction of psychedelic rock in the late 60’s/early 70’s.  Luckily, Part 2 starts right after, plus the same instructor will be teaching a 6-week Beatles course at the beginning of next year.  The great part about this instructor is that he packs a lot of information in an interesting way into lectures in short 5-10 minute sections that only take up a couple hours’ time each week.  Contact me via Twitter or the message button on my blog sidebar if you’d like information on these free online courses.

In closing, I heard this song during one of the parts of this week’s Dancing With The Stars (a tango, I think) and its been haunting me all week.  I don’t know why.  I do know when I have the inclination, I’ll check out more of what the artist has to offer.  Enjoy!

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Give Me Novocaine

syringeI had a completely different post made up for the end of this week about a journey I’ve been on following some “suspicious” clusters found on a mammogram.   I’ve been writing it as I go, about the actual physical process and the mental anxiety that accompanies a “non-normal” result.   The plan was for me to get a biopsy done on Tuesday and receive the results on Friday morning.

Fate threw a big old monkey-wrench into those plans.

I was all set up on the table to get a stereotactic biopsy, face down, strapped in and given the lidocaine injections to numb the area.  The doctor was a specialist that was in town to train several technicians on some upgraded software for the computerized machinery that guide the place of the probe and needle used to take the samples.  There were also a few technicians and audience of observers from other facilities being trained.

The doctor stated that the slight pain and burning of the lidocaine would be the last sensations (other than some pressure and/or pulling) I would feel during the procedure.  What no one, including myself, realized is that apparently, I’m one of the few people that lidocaine doesn’t work on.

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~This is supposed to be actual size of the probe.~

I heard the hydraulic hiss and a “thunk” as the machine fired the probe into my breast.  Yes, I said “fired”.  Not eased in like an needle, but FIRED.  And I felt an intense, searing pain of a like I’ve never felt before that I have no words to begin to describe.  Not through fractured bones, child-birth, a c-section, many other medical procedures and even a tattoo.

When someone is stabbed or shot in a movie, they usually clutch at the area, fall down with some moaning and heavy breathing.  Reality is much different.

There was no beautiful fade into unconsciousness like on film.  There was the screaming (mine), the shouting for more lidocaine (the doctor), two people trying to hold me flat to the table as my uncontrollable crying and shaking from the pain was causing me to hyperventilate and then the burning as the additional lidocaine was being injected.

It took a good ten minutes for me to get myself under control.  I was still in excruciating pain but they wanted to continue with the procedure and needed me to stop shaking so they could put the needle down to the probe and take samples.

It happened again.  I wasn’t numb at all and felt the cutting and tearing as they tried to remove some tissue.  More screams, sobbing, snot and drool pooling under my face and two more shots of lidocaine later, they ushered all the observers out.  I was left with the doctor, two technicians and two nurses apologizing all over themselves and debating whether to keep trying or end the procedure.  We all finally came to the decision to try to ease the needle in and if I still felt any pain, we’d stop.

Even after six lidocaine injections, I still felt the sharp pain as they tried a third time.  The doctor made the decision to abort the procedure.  He seemed almost as visibly shaken as I was and stated that this kind of thing is so rare, it had never happened to him.  Apparently, even though the surface area of my skin numbed with the anesthetic, the deep tissue did not.

The nurses managed to get me released from the table and onto my back while holding pressure on the open wound that was now double the size of normal due to me jerking from the pain and tearing through my own tissue.  I was bandaged up with steri-strips and a dressing, then eased up into a sitting position.

That’s when the aftermath began.  Lidocaine has epinephrine (adrenaline) in it.  The tremors and panic attack started almost immediately and I broke down into crying fits again.  My hands were shaking so hard I couldn’t even button my shirt and the water in the small styrofoam cup kept sloshing out.

I was supposed to be able to drive home after the procedure, but between the trauma and the effects of the epinephrine, they refused to release me unless someone could come pick me up.  They sat me in a back office waiting area amidst other patients waiting for their biopsies.  Not really a good plan as I was bombarded by scared questions as soon as the nurses left.

I won’t go into the normal pain and aftercare of the procedure because its really what you’d expect.  But the shaking and anxiety-caused crying fits lasted a good hour and a half.  I’ve had nightmares of the pain never-ending every time I’ve slept.  Since the doctor couldn’t get a tissue sample of the suspicious area, I’ll have another round of mammography and ultrasounds in two months.  If there is any change, he wants to do a surgical biopsy under general anesthesia.  Even though I’ve had general before, now I’m terrified at the thought of it maybe not working right and being outwardly unconscious, but aware and able to feel pain.  I’ve lost the faith I had in doctors assuring me that I wouldn’t feel pain.

The incident just happened on Tuesday and logically I realize its normal that I’m still a wreck.  Every time I think of the incident, my mind flashes to that pain and an acute anxiety overtakes me.  I feel like I can’t breathe and I can’t stop crying.  I’m not used to being so out of control.

Time usually eases traumatic memories.  I hope this is one that fades and I hope its soon.

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Time is made from honey, slow and sweet

Some nights she lay awake, restless in the darkness closing around her.  Unable to sleep and suffocating under the crushing regret of hurtful things she’d done to others.  This night, she wondered how she could have once been so selfish and immature to succumb to the temptation of a short-lived indulgence.  Her sight blurs in a tide of tears for damage done.  In daylight, she doesn’t look back because she fears the additional pain of knowing.  But during the night, her imagination plays those scenes in an endless loop that she can’t avoid.

To escape the cycle, she consciously reminisces about something good to sever the threads of her self-condemnation.  She can hear, touch, and see vividly in that flashback, feeling just as she did in that moment so many years ago.  Floating through the delicate reverie, it soothes her like a balm.  She can breathe without pain and is finally able to drift into a dreamless sleep.

Morning comes with wakefulness and renewal.  She can exist another day with her facade of having no regrets, until night penetrates her delusion once again.

Between vacation and other life happenings since, I’ve pretty much been phoning it in here on the blog with hops, memes and weekly features.  I just haven’t felt the inspiration to do much more.  I’d look at my extensive list of ideas for posts and just feel “meh”.  I saw the problem, but just couldn’t summon any interest in trying to fix it.

Today, I ran across the Daily Prompt on the WordPress sight:

Take the third line of the last song you heard, make it your post title, and write for a maximum of 15 minutes. GO!

Since MixTape Tuesday is my favorite weekly post, I figured I could do this prompt since it involved music.  And just writing.  Maybe it could lure me out of my slump.

I pulled up my last played song  and just listened to the music.  And listened again.  And one more time.  Then I gave up and looked up the actual lyrics for the third line since Tom Waits isn’t exactly known for his enunciation.

“Time is made from honey, slow and sweet.” 

I let the song play on, cleared my mind, felt the music, and began to write.  It didn’t go anywhere near where I’d originally intended it to go.

I’m not a Writer and had no intentions of even posting what I’d thought was just an exercise to get me motivated to be more personal here on the blog.  As I read through it, I started correcting grammar, mistakes in tense, and punctuation.  Somewhere in the murky waters of my mind, I knew I’d be hitting the publish button.  So anyone still reading just got to review my homework assignment.  And bear witness to me exorcising a few demons.

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Urban Dictionary

I was trying to find the definition of a phrase I had read in an article on the web one day and happened to end up on the Urban Dictionary site.  I had no idea I would find it so fascinating and the next thing I knew a couple hours had passed.

I found all the terminology either snortingly funny or spot-on accurate at describing something that had no name in our pop culture.  Sometimes both.

I thought I’d share a few of these I found so appropriate to my life:

Link Diving:  The act of clicking further and further from your original subject of research. Commonly related to the popular website Wikipedia.com.  I do this all the time and is often the booksreason for scorched dinners or my slackage in uploading blog posts.

Book Hangover:  When you’ve finished a book and you suddenly return to the real world, but the real world feels incomplete or surreal because you’re still living in the world of the book.  Instant teleports aren’t real?  Crap, I’m back in the real world again.

Man Points:  Points that one receives upon the completion of a distinctly manly task. More often than not, intelligent points and man points are inversely proportional.  Points received for doing stereotypical macho actions like starting a fight with a professional boxer, taunting someone to throw a dart at your face, lighting a fart on fire, or holding a scorching object in your hand for an extended period of time.  My husband is fortunately not as idiotic as the definition, but I do award him man points when he completes something on my Honey-Do List or handles emergency water heater or plumbing issues.

Coupon Karma:  The act of clipping every coupon and leaving them near the item in the store for others to use. The good Karma is returned when others start practicing Coupon Karma as well.  Okay, I’ve never heard of this or ever seen a couple lounging around on grocery shelves, but I think this is a wonderful idea and I may start doing it myself.

Trash Jenga:  When the garbage gets piled so high that you and your roommates carefully place trash on top to form a tower. The one who is unfortunate in having the tower collapse on them is then responsible for taking out the trash.  We play this weekly.  We don’t get garbage pick-up service out here in the country and hauling it off to a “convenience center” is a job my husband dreads and puts off as long as possible.  This results in all the cans outside being full, so we get to play Trash Jenga in the house.

googleGoogle Smart:  When someone has to Google a topic, then post the information, as if they came up with it all on their own.  Google is my best friend.  Really.  My mother is about ready to stage an intervention for me to deal with my Google addiction.  I just can’t help it.  I read something or hear something on the radio or television and just need to know more.  Or I see someone in a movie and have that “what is it I know them from?” moment.  Google!

Update Day:  The one day, usually every month or so, where you finally crack, and update Adobe, Itunes, Steam, and a bunch of other crap all day. Basically renders your computer useless if you are using anything but solitaire.  I’m so guilty of this, but it isn’t just one computer I’m responsible for.  As the “Tech Officer” for our household, I deal with four desktops and two laptops, one smartphone and two Wii(s).  I also update all the virus/malware software and run manual backups to external hard drives.  By 5 p.m. on these days, I’m usually in such a foul mood that Update Day is also known as Pizza Night.

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Happy Birthday ‘Merica

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I didn’t want to do a traditional July 4th post, but I can’t let it go by without some kind of nod.  So here’s a Happy Birthday USA tribute in my own style:

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