7.12.19

Four Years (or 1, 461 days) Ago

Exactly four years ago I learned that my left optic nerve was inflamed, and that I would need steroids to try to fix things.

Since then I've had innumerable blood tests, two three-day courses of steroids, gone on oral steroids and immunosuppresants, taken other medications to protect me while on those drugs, had three MRIs, one CAT and one PET scan, and visited three different doctors (an ophthalmologist, a neuro ophthalmologist and a retinal specialist) at a rate of about one a month.  And as a pleasant side effect, I've had three ultrasounds and visits to two other doctors because my eye doctors "just want to be sure" things are ok.  Sigh.

Luckily, things have stabilized and there's hope that maybe all this will taper off -- despite my eye not completely ever getting back to 100%, I can live with what I have now.

Then about a month ago I learned that an art teacher I know in SmallCity has been experiencing the same symptoms.  Thus far it's just oral steroids and some improvement, and I'm praying that this will be all she needs.  If she does relapse (as I did) well... her health care is nowhere near as comprehensive as mine is, not to mention that SmallCity isn't known for being a hotbed of medical excellence.

Looking back, those 1,461 days haven't been all bad.  I've gone to Dublin and Amsterdam and Montreal, and seen some great performances, and generally manage to get through my life with only fatigue and some minor inconveniences (like the timing of my "nighttime" pills, or muscle weakness).  I can't imagine being at the start of this, teaching art for a living and without the best hospitals/doctors and full health coverage.

In other words, don't feel bad for me, but please keep her in your hearts.

28.10.19

Notable Quotes

Yu's voice dips even lower.  "Because it seemed an obvious solution.  It made both the emperor and the people think something was being done.  And we have all, at some point, confused doing something—anything—with actually solving the problem."

The Magnolia Sword by Sherry Thomas

25.10.19

Post 3000?

In December 2006, after around two years of blogging, I hit 1000 posts.  I took another six and a half years to hit post number 2000.  And now, six years later, there have fewer than 200 posts.  It's not that life is less exciting, or there's less to blog about.  It's that I'm tired all the time, thanks to the exciting combination of EBV and CRION.  I'm reading for committees or collection development, and I do blog most of my reviews (nearly 1400 reviews posted since then, and over 2000 books read!).  Work gets in the way.  Losing my mother got in the way (and then some).

Will I make it to 3000?  Does it even matter?

20.10.19

Too late

I confess that I have far too many email accounts to monitor, but there's one that is kind of special: my shopping email account.  It's one I only check when I've ordered something online and having it keeps my real emails clear from shopping spam.  Because I had to order some new warm tights for the cooler months I've been checking the account and today, I found this:


Seven years ago?  Okay.

It wasn't until the hack that I realized that Zappos was now part of Amazon's encroaching empire. I've ranted here before about the way Amazon can reach into your Kindle and remove books, or how they manipulate pricing and what results you see when you search for an item.  Not to mention the problems it causes for infrastructure when people don't buy from local, bricks-and-mortar vendors (think pollution, fewer local taxes paid, and shuttered storefronts).  Or the way workers are treated.

There are other places to shop, including online.  If I need shoes I can avoid Zappos by going to a shoe store OR I can go to several websites and order there.  It's a definite choice to avoid Amazon and I'll confess to being just a little judgy about those who still use it (sorry, the "but the discount!" excuse doesn't wash).

This 10% "gift" is seven years too late to matter, and many years too late for me to want to support their owners.

19.10.19

Strange Conversations

Last night, because I would be working a little late, the decision was made for Thing One not to wait for his dinner.  When I'm on my way home I usually call and say I'm leaving work - last night, because it was chilly, I asked for a cup of tea (it takes about 20 minutes for me to get home so it's easy to time these things).  When I walked in, it was clear that the previous day's pizza was being reheated for dinner.

Me (sniffing):  Did you put garlic on your pizza?

Thing One: Yes, why?

Me: I can smell it.

Thing One: Lemongrass and cinnamon

Me: On your pizza???

Thing One (laughing hysterically): No! In your tea (continues laughing)

7.10.19

Notable Quotes

"Hmmm." Eleanor sipped her tea. "And perhaps that's why I don't care for social media.  I've found that in the heat of a conversation, people sometimes say things that they may mean but would never utter if given another moment to think.  Social media takes that away... hesitation, I suppose you might call it.  That moment of contemplation.  When I write a letter — any letter, for business or personal, I think about what I want to say. Then I reread the letter to make sure that my meaning is clear.  If I'm upset about something, I'll sit on the letter for a day to make sure I want my feeling on the matter known, and how I want to come across.  Civil society requires civility.  It requires individuals to consider the repercussions of their words as well as their actions.  Today I fear people—not just teenagers, who did not exhibit self-control even in my day—rarely consider the repercussions of anything they do or say."

Poisonous by Alison Brennan

30.9.19

Plus ca change...

It's been something of a difficult year for my father: first my mother, then his best friend died.  This was a man who not only gave my father a professional home but also became a good friend to my family.  Early on, we would all go for walks or drives to the best pizza in the area.  Much later, he checked in on my grandmother when she was in the nursing home and my parents were out of the country.  Of course I had to go to his memorial last weekend, held at his (and his father's, and his brother's, his son's and my) alma mater... and where he and my father taught together for decades.

Like most Small Liberal Arts Colleges, mine has been engaged in building and expanding the campus.  With the exception of the original 1800s quad, I'm not sure I'd have found my way around thanks to all the changes.  Shortly before I started, the school went co-ed.  At that time, the fraternities ruled the school's social life - and the addition of young women didn't change things.  Except at one, an independent, that allowed women to join.  Many of my friends did, as did I.  We had less money than the nationals, but we threw the best parties, where the emphasis was on dancing and enjoying rather than drinking (flipped, obvs, at the other houses).  Years later, the school bought all the fraternity houses and converted them into dorms.  Our house was situated at the entrance to one side of campus, and rather than become a dorm it became the new Student Center.

Last weekend, we parked and were walking to the bookstore, passing buildings that hadn't existed 30+ years ago.  The House I'd known and loved seemed to be a shell, with only the facade retained.  We went in to the bookstore, and at the entrance I turned right, to where the House had been.  And this is what I saw:


Some things haven't changed that much.  Ok, the couches are in better shape, the floor far less scuffed but if I closed my eyes I could hear Thing Three talking, or Thing Two DJ-ing, or any of the others playing Trivial Pursuit or planning the next party or figuring out the theatre production schedule (most of us were theatre people).  Dinner would be served just down the hall.  

Turning left, though, it was a whole new world.  As they say, plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.

9.9.19

Notable Quotes

"I'd like a large regular coffee with space for extra cream, please," said Wil."One Hefty with extra space," replied the teenager, "Would that be a latte?""No, a large regular coffee.  And I don't want a 'Hefty'""But you just said —""I said large. I'm not going to fall victim to Mug O' Joe's corporate vernacular. I just want a large coffee."The teenage blinked, confused.  This was beginning to go in the exact same direction it always went whenever Wil stood up for himself: namely, south."Hefty means big.  So does Bulky.  And so does Outsized.  We've had this conversation before.""No we haven't.  This is my first day.""Well, I've had it with all thirty-five of your predecessors.  I'm not using your terminology because it doesn't make sense." Wil pointed at the overly indulgent chalk-drawn menu just to make it clear he and the teenager were discussing the same issue.  "Just because someone in marketing happens to own a thesaurus, and just because your shareholders insist your drink sizes appear bigger than they are, and just because you are between liberal arts colleges and wish to bring your artists talents to bear on today's menu, it doesn't mean I have to join in.  I would like a large regular coffee with space for extra cream.  Please.""One Heft—""Don't say it.""One large coffee. Regular.  What flavor?" The teenage was beginning to get the hang of this argument.  He wasn't going to go down without a fight.

Curioddity by Paul Jenkins 

2.9.19

The Almost Gone

I read a book recently that talked about the Almost Gone.  Who are they?  They're people who have died yet are not forgotten in living memories.  Not those famous people we all hear about has having Made A Difference or Discovered Something so are part of our cultural memory, but those people we actually knew - family, friends, teachers, enemies, etc..  As long as they live in our memory, they're not completely gone.

Last weekend would have been my parents' 60th Anniversary.  It didn't feel right to let my father be on his own, so I decided to go home.  He balked, saying it was a lot of driving and obviously there were other things for me to do, given the start of the school year.  Tough.  I was coming. 

That first night, after dinner, we talked.  He's gotten through the first eight months, but it's been difficult.  Luckily he's had projects to complete, and many friends to spend time with (he says he's inherited a number of girlfriends, close friends of my mother who go for dinners, lunches and walks with him).  But he's lonely.  He's still at the house we moved into 50 years ago and while we've given away most of Mom's clothing everything else there is a reminder of her.

By the end of the second day, he admitted that having me around and going to museums and dinners and all that was distracting, and he was grateful.  We both frequently mentioned her, as in "Mom and I loved this drive" or "Mom would never have let me wear that outfit".  We partially planned the internment of her ashes and unveiling of her tombstone.  I wrote about half of the thank you notes to people who had written to us and/or donated in her memory.  In three weeks I'll be back because his best friend and colleague (died in early March) will be memorialized and my father will be speaking.  It's going to be difficult for him to give that speech, and I won't let him give it alone. 

I'm reminded of a speech given by a teacher at my high school, remembering the teacher who had inspired me many years ago.  Jack was so memorable that decades later his students remembered him (I was friends with an older woman and one day I said something about my alma mater; she said she knew and loved a teacher there - imagine my shock and pleasure that it was Jack, in year one or two of his teaching career, at another school!), and he couldn't walk across campus without constantly being stopped to say hello and talk with students and colleagues.  Yet a few years after Jack's retirement, on a visit back to campus, no one knew who he was, excepting those colleagues still teaching there. The speaker challenged the current students to think about their brief four years on campus and what impression they could make on the lives of their teachers and the other students: what legacy would they leave behind?

Both my mother and his friend are part of the Almost Gone.  They live on in the memories of friends and family, and in my father's friends' case, in the students whose lives he touched.  Their legacies are secure, for a while at least.   What will people think when I'm Almost Gone?  What will they think about you?

26.8.19

End of Summer

No more lazy days "sleeping in" until at least 5:15 (thanks to The Herd), napping and reading.  As you read this, I'll have started working again, officially.  Unofficially, of course, I've been working all summer.  So what have I been up to?  How has the Massive Summer To Do List™ fared? Let's see...

✔ DVR 0
Clean up efiles in Dropbox and on GDrive
✔ Catch up on blogging
✔ Catch up on book reviews
✔ Get ahead on my 2019 Reading Goal
Inventory books and add to my personal catalog 
✔ Finish the Summer 2019  MPOW Work List
Create donations of clothing and other unnecessary items
✔ Read unread blog posts (I use Feedbin and had nearly 3000 posts to catch up on in June!)

I've also managed to binge on a few tv series and watch a number of movies.  If you're looking for ideas for your next binge, the Lazy Summer Watch List is:

TV Series Movies
The Case Goodbye Christopher Robin
The Crown Happy Death Day
DCI BancroftHome Again
Executive StressLoving Vincent
HiddenMurder on the Orient Express
Keeping Faith My Friend Dahmer
Line of DutyThe Snowman
Loch Ness The Square
MotherfathersonWelcome to Happiness
Murder in Suburbia The Wilde Wedding
Murderland Woodshock
Queens of Murder
Succession
Thorne
Trivia

Oh, and I've read 120 books.

Not bad for a summer of lazy, right?