Monthly Archives: February 2008

Ask me no questions, I’ll try not to make stuff up

Well, that was interesting. I just got off the phone with DD20. She has a doctor’s appointment Tuesday (nothing serious) and had to fill out a Medical History and she wanted my help. It was tedious. She really only has one symptom: leg pains. She couldn’t figure out why they would ask whether she has bleeding gums. “Bleeding gums? What kind of thing is that to ask?” I said, “It’s a general questionnaire. I guess some people have that, or they wouldn’t ask.”

So we slogged our way through a very long list of questions beginning, “Have you ever had . . .” To which most of the answers were, “No.” Thank God. But we were bored. So, predictably, it then became ridiculous.

Q: List any major surgeries. A: Appendectomy.

Q: List reason for surgery. A: It was about to explode!

“I think probably appendectomy is self-explanatory.”

“Hey, they asked for a reason.”

Q: How many people in your household?

“What, like in my room or the whole dorm? I’m going to put 2/500.”

I think this is where I started to laugh. No doubt this was a mistake on my part.

Q: Who does the majority of the housework? A: No one.

Q: Who does the majority of the shopping? A: No one.

“They’re going to think you’re living in filth and starving to death.”

“I am.”

Q: Who does the majority of the yard work? A: The UNC grounds crew.

“Did you really write that as an answer?”

“Yes. Judging by these questions, this doctor sees a lot of really messed up people and needs something to laugh about.”

Q: Do you wake up feeling rested? A: Of course not. I’m a college student.

Q: What activity gives you the most trouble? A: Homework.

“I don’t think that’s what they meant.”

“Then they should have been more specific.”

Q: Do you have to climb stairs? How many? A: Yes, a lot. About a billion every day.

“A billion?”

“What, they expect me to count them? Yes, a billion.”

And so it went. I’m still wiping tears of laughter from my eyes. I hope her sense of humour prevails when she is old and less fit and the answers to these questions will most likely not all be “No.”

I won’t be surprised if I get a call Tuesday afternoon, informing me my daughter has been admitted for psychiatric evaluation due to her Inability to Take Things Seriously. I’ll be sure to tell them that kind of thing runs in the family. They just forgot to ask.


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IN WHICH We Rediscover the Joy and Terror of Writing

I wrote yesterday.

Sitting on the couch next to my sick daughter who was writing a paper about environmental something-or-other between bouts of coughing up a lung, I wrote. It was a quiet time, in spite of the respiratory sound effects, and productive. Yes, in that way too.

But I can’t quite believe how hard it was to start, after all this time has passed not writing. How much sheer nerve and determination it took to put my fingers on the keyboard and touch the letters that would make the words of that first sentence. And then the next. The uncertainty was awful.

So when I had done as much as I dared, which was quite a bit, I stopped and said, “I just wrote a scene.”


“In my book. I wrote a scene.”

“Good. That’s good.”

“I haven’t written in months. Since maybe October.”

“Mom!” Ah. Now I had her attention. “What the hell is wrong with you?” she demanded.

No one does indignant disbelief quite like an idealistic college student.

“I took a break from it. I had to re-think some things in the plot and then there were the holidays and then work has been crazy . . .” I know, it sounded pretty weak.

“Well, geez, would you hurry up already?”

“I’m trying. But I just don’t think it’s any good. No one is going to want to read this crap.”

“It’s not crap,” she said. “And I want to read it. Other people will, too.”

“But I’m afraid it’s boring. Boring and ordinary and stupid.”

“Mom, it can’t possibly be as boring as bio-technology.”

Point taken.

“Can I quote you on that? Maybe use it as a cover blurb?”

Now she’s laughing, too. “Sure, mom. Whatever. Just finish it, okay?”

So, I wrote yesterday. It was scary. And distressingly unfamiliar. Probably I’m going to have to delete much of it and do some heavy editing of what’s left.

But still, it felt good.

I’m going to try it again, tonight.


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Flu Food and the Blahs

The title of this post sounds like the name of a woefully misguided rock band. Try saying it three times fast. Or not. It was the best I could come up with.

The past few days have been exhausting. My DD20 is home with the flu and she has been sicker than I remember her ever being. The flu is nasty stuff. I took a vacation day yesterday to get some things done, but spent most of the day being Dr. Mom. Cancelled everything on my schedule today, as well.

I feel like I’m “coming down with something,” only it hasn’t quite happened yet. I’m hoping that flu shot I had last fall is busy doing its thing. Whatever that is. I woke up in the wee hours last night feeling feverish and achy, took some Tylenol and went back to sleep. Not feeling feverish anymore, but I ache all through my neck, shoulders and back. And I’m unaccountably tired. Maybe I have Flu-Lite.

We’ve been eating flu food. All the bland, essentially colorless and pretty much tasteless stuff. It’s all DD wants to eat — well, mostly she doesn’t want to eat anything — and it just seems easier for us to eat the same thing. Because I’m tired, that’s why. Eggs, toast, ramen noodles, chicken, apple juice, more eggs, bagels, homemade chicken soup [“With just dumplings, mom, carrots would be gross.”], cantaloupe, tea with honey, mac and cheese, pretzels, and of course more eggs.

I got her to eat a few strawberries yesterday, but I could tell it was just too much color. Maybe tonight we’ll try some mashed potatoes.

If it’s true we are what we eat, it’s no wonder we’re both feeling blah.


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A week is seven days — unless it’s 10,080 minutes

You ever have one of those weeks? One of those wonderful, magical weeks you look back on fondly, remembering how easy it all was? How everyone you work with was cheerful and efficient and the work seemed to almost have wings? How every person you encountered while out and about each day had a friendly smile and a ready compliment? How pleasant it was to accomplish the mundane and menial chores, how conquering even the most difficult tasks seemed effortless? How your workload was light and you left the office early each day, walking out to your car in the light of day, a spring in your step and the glint of a smile in your eyes? How once you got home your energy seemed boundless and you cooked and cleaned and did amazingly creative and productive things well into the night? How you slept well and soundly, how you woke up the next morning eager to do it all again?

You ever have one of those? I know I have. Last week was not one of them.


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