Monday, May 30, 2011

Holiday Weekend + Rainy Days = Craft Time

Project #1
A coffee table tray, with the trademarked modge-podged "C." Bear in mind, the photo makes it look cooler than it is. It started as an unfinished wooden tray from Craft Warehouse. I painted it with the leftover red paint from our bedroom. Then I sanded the edges a bit to make it look somewhat antique. I traced the letter C from an old printout using specialty paper I bought at a cool paper/craft store on NW 23rd. Then I used several coats of Mod Podge to glue the sucker down. It's already on our coffee table housing a Real Simple magazine, Alex's glasses, and the DVD player remote.

Project #2
When we first moved in to the apartment, I bought this stool at the Thrift Store near Trader Joe's in NW. It was a scuffed-up white when I bought it. Along with an old table/desk we had, I painted it blue/grey and yellow.

This weekend I got inspired by the e.e. cummings poem "i carry your heart." I typed it up in the most typewriter-like font I could find in Word, tore each phrase into little pieces, and used many coats of Mod Podge to secure the stanzas in a circular pattern atop the stool that serves as my desk chair.

For posterity, here is the poem. Along with Sylvia Plath, he is one of my most favoritest poets. And in one of my most favoritest movies, "Untamed Heart," Christian Slater quotes lines from the poem to Marissa Tomei. I cry a single tear every time I watch the scene. Seriously. Despite being a grammar-Nazi, I happen to like Mr. Cumming's no-caps, sans-punctuation, bizarre syntax, and made-up words. In other words, I dig his non-conventional style:

i carry your heart with me (carry it in my heart)

i am never without it (anywhere i go you go, my dear;

and whatever is done by only me is your doing, my darling)

i fear no fate (for you are my fate, my sweet)

i want no world (for beautiful you are my world, my true)

and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant

and whatever a sun will always sing it you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows

(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud

and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;

which grows higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide)

and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart (i carry it in my heart)

Project #3
And my final masterpiece of the weekend, my specialty, my only true creative talent - magnets! I made these sets of geeked out speechie magnets as thank-you gifts for my RIO supervisor and two CDS professors/faculty. I'm thinking I should go into business. I see magnets like these, or the ones in bottle caps, sell for, like, $3 at novelty shops. My other idea, the real money maker, is making anatomical onesies for babies. Seriously, I think people would dig buying babies little outfits that outline their digestive, respiratory, or circulatory systems. By the way, I've got copyrights to that idea, any of you sneaky readers out there.

My next project: re-usable snack baggies. I bought some oilcloth, cute cotton fabric and Velcro to sew up. Mill End Fabrics is my kryptonite.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Maybe Baby

I am two days late. I've taken five pregnancy tests, and they have all been negative. But I refuse to believe it. I did buy the cheapie Rite Aid brand, after all. But this last month is my first foray into pregnancy tests. Alex nags be that "you get what you pay for," but I've always been a stingy bitch, even when it comes to my reproductive health. Those really nice Tampax Silk tampons? I love them. They glide in, no mess (TMI). But still, I buy the house brand at Target, and then am disappointed every time. They just don't have the same silky feel.

I didn't start having sex until I was 21 (you'd be proud, Mom). It wasn't as though I was a celibate nun, I was just more of an "everything but" kind of girl. I like to think I was pretty good at hand jobs in high school (are those still en vogue?), and honed my BJ skills as a drunken sorority girl (sorry, Mom). And even though I wasn't exactly guarding my flower, I wasn't ready for the read deal. And then there was Matty. He took my virginity, as well as a handful of other Logger gals. Maybe he went for the virgins because he was oh-so-bad in the sack. And even with my lack of experience with technical fornication, I knew he sucked. First of all, it was like a dog humping my leg. Not a big, real dog, like a chocolate lab or german shepherd, but more like a bull terrier or even a chihuahua. And he came in, like, two seconds. Then he got up, headed to the bathroom, and tossed me a hand towel to clean up the cum he left all over my stomach. Did I mention we "forgot" to use a condom?

This was back before Plan B pills were like Tums, and I had to go to an actual pharmacy and talk directly to the pharmacist and show my ID to get the morning-after pill. I was a bit traumatized about the sitch. And henceforth promised myself to ALWAYS use protection. Which I have since abided by, more or less.

Fast forward about three years, to my only other "pregnancy scare." I'm living in a ski town, working as a waitress in a sports bar, and in-between boyfriends (both figuratively and literally). I am having some serious menstrual cramps that aren't responding to the Advil/Tylenol mix, and not even to my save-for-a-rainy-day Vicodin. I ask to leave work early and go visit my BFF who works at the only medical center in town. Stac tells me to see one of the doctors, just in case.

I'm sitting on a bed in one of the rooms, with the hygenic paper crinkling loudly under my butt as I fidget around. I'm waiting for Dr. L to come back in and hopefully give me some stronger meds. I mean, I know I'm not dying or anything, but I am doubled over in pain.

Dr. L barges back into the room and announces, with no hint of compassion or surprise, "You're pregnant. I'm afraid you might be having an ektopic pregnancy so I want you to go to Montrose Hospital for further tests."

Fuck. Me.

On second thought, No, don't. That's what got me here in the first place.

My mind is racing: "How could I possibly be pregnant? ... I'm so diligent about using condoms (most of the time), and especially now that I'm cheating on my sort-of boyfriend! ... Shit. Ryan or Brock? ... SHIT! Or Chris? ... Do I have to tell them? ... Seriously, I'm 23 and pregnant? ... I am NOT the kind of girl who belongs on an MTV documentary television program ... I mean, I'm no angel ... I've been sort of sleeping around ... Some might even call me a slut ... I say I'm a progressive and liberated 21st-century woman ... And I think I'm falling in love with Ryan ... Should I call my brother? Or my dad? Fuck. How'd I get myself into this!?! I always use a condom ..."

Stac clocks out at work and drives me the 60 miles to Montrose. They check me in to the ER, dress me in a cold hospital gown and plug me in to a bunch of different machines to run tests. Something like four hours pass, although it feels like four days. A EKG tech or somebody walks over to me laying in the hospital bed. His eyebrows are furrowed and he looks a bit confused.

"There was something curious about your _______ count."

(I don't actually know what he said, but it had to do with my blood).

"Sooooo, the results came back negative. You're actually not having an ektopic pregnancy. You're actually not pregnant at all. I guess that first urine test was a false positive."

Seriously?!? Did this SERIOUSLY just happen to me? My family teases me about being a hypochondriac, which I think is totally unfair anyway, but THE DOCTOR TOLD ME I WAS PREGNANT! This was not drama I invited into my life as a fun way to pass the time and toy around with the (too many) men in my life.

I mean, this is GREAT news, but seriously? I don't even know what to say. How is it, that yet again, I constitute the .001% chance of something happening. It's not hypochondriacal or paranoid if it's really happened, you know.

Whatever. I'm not pregnant!!! I don't have to deal with whatever real-life, adult responsibilities come with decisions about pregnancy!!! There is no alien life growing inside my belly, either in my uterus or outside of it!!!

I need a drink. I am not pregnant. Thank god.

Flash forward back to the present time. The only "pregnancy scare here" is me scaring away pregnancy. My womb is not be a hospitable place. I am not pregnant. And this time I'm disappointed. At 29 and married instead of 23 and whoring around, I double-up on prenatal vitamins instead of vodka.

Second Saturday

The Memorial Day holiday means a three-day weekend (four-day for me, actually) so today is not the dreaded Sunday - laundry, groceries, worrying about the week - but it's like Saturday all over again!

We neglected to get any form of exercise yesterday. Even our attempt at a morning walk was thwarted by the damn freight train. Oh well, gluttony feels good. Instead we puttered around the house, ate breakfast in NoPo, reduced our monthly AT&T bill by $30, changed the Suby's oil, got a tattoo, ate McDonald's cheeseburgers, and watched HBO's TV show "Hung."

Today, on the other hand, we donned our padded asses and took our matching Surleys to the streets (and trails). There is something oh-so-satisfying about being able to walk right out our front door and hop on our bikes for a few hours of riding. This cycling thing is a new hobby for the both of us, and so far suits us well. I don't know enough about distance or speed or calories burned to get my panties in a twist about it, and Alex, well, Alex is pretty much laid-back about all things active. We biked through the Pearl, toward NW, up into Forest Park and all along the main fire road, out to Germantown Road, across the St. Johns Bridge, and through North Portland, right back to our apartment again.

Taking in the views from the St. John Bridge.

A break from the uphill.

All smiles in Forest Park.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

My Name is Woe

Hi, my name is Joanna Close and I might be barren.

This is the third month we have been "not trying." In other words, this is the third month I have been off birth control and we've been humping like rabbits. Seriously, just like my childhood rabbit, Blazer. I'm pretty sure we only bought one rabbit to start with, and somehow they multiplied by the dozens. In the end, I ate my own pet rabbit. Not to my knowledge, of course. It went a little something like this:

Me: "Daddy, why does this chicken have four drumsticks?"
Al: "It's a special chicken, honey. Just eat up."

Anyway, back to to the humping like and not the eating of rabbits. How is it that I spent my early 20s trying SO hard to not get pregnant, and now here I am doing my darndest to plant that damn seed and have a baby grow in my belly, and I'm failing miserably?

I know, I know, it's only been three months. But the heart wants what it wants. And it wants it now!

Even though I'm pretty sure I'm PMSing (I am aware that my ovaries exist, I'm craving sugar, and I feel like a blob), my compulsion to go to Rite Aid and purchase myself a 3-pack of the house brand pregnancy tests won the tug-of-war. There is something so disappointing about seeing a "-" instead of a "+" when you want it. On another note, I never realized I peed so hard and fast. Splatter, everywhere.

Plus, I told myself that if I'm not pregnant this month, I need to focus on dropping some lbs. Seriously. I guess either way I'll be praying to the porcelain gods. Kidding, kidding. Just wanted to make a tasteless "mia" joke that only I will think is funny. Sorry, babe, I know you're the only one who would ever read this, and you are wearing your disappointed face right now. But if I can't makes un-PC jokes about eating disorders to you, I have to have some outlet, right?

xoxo and cheers to all the other barren 20-somethings. I'm thinking it was something in the WL water ...


It's always really gross when people ask Alex and me if we're related, but I'm starting to get a feeling why it happens more often than we'd like.

1. We are both built like tree stumps. You know, short, squat, and more or less square-shaped. We are as wide as we are tall. No one has ever accused us of being "lanky." As a matter of fact, Alex's college buddies used to call him T-Rex, because he has short little arms like his prehistoric namesake.

2. Alex and I have similar coloring. We are both naturally very white, and we turn pink when we "tan." We both have reddish hues to our dark blonde hair.

3. We both have large-and-in-charge noses. I once read that this is actually a desirable facial feature. It symbolizes wealth or prosperity or something great like that.

4. We both have straight, white teeth. This is simply because:
products of upper-middle-class families in the 1990s = lots of orthodonture.

5. And, apparently, we dress/accessorize alike ...

Example #1: It started with matching shoes for our wedding. We thought it was cute.

Example #2: We got tattoos together. Again, we thought it was sweet.

Example #4: Then we got matching bikes. This was more a product of wanting our new, expensive bikes to serve the same function (commuting, touring, road rides, Forest Park rides). At least they are different colors.

Example #4: By sheer accident, honestly, we got the same glasses. We just realized it today. I'm embarrased.

That Could Be Me

Yesterday I met our newest patient - a 30 year-old woman who was t-boned on a Monday morning on her way to work as a physician assistant at a medical office out toward wine country. She is Oregon born and bred, an athlete, married to a high school teacher, with a well-educated family.

"That could be me," I thought. She's my first patient to share a lot of common elements - demographics such as age, education, marital status, personal interests. In another time and place, she and I could very likely be friends. And now here she is, unable to orient to time or place. She doesn't even realize she was in an accident. She's mobile, in that she's up out of bed and in a wheelchair. But she is limited to this chair, and will be for quite some time, as doctors and therapists work to rehab her left-side crush injuries and nerve damage.

She is very pretty. High cheekbones, shiny brown hair. I can only imagine what she looked like before the accident. She speaks in a quiet voice, and seems somewhat mousy. I wonder what her husband is experiencing. She is not the same woman he married a few years earlier.

Although she is very nearly clueless, she still uses complex syntax. When I ask her, "Can you point to the plastic spoon?" She responds, pensively, "That's a very good question. Apparently, it is this one." She happens to select the correct object. When asked to name a toothbrush, she says "plastic spoon." She is vey perseverative, not uncommon following a brain injury.

"What do you do with this?" I ask, holding up the toothbrush.
"Well, you scrub with it."
True. Not too bad of a start.
"And what do you scrub?"
"Incisors. It's an incisor-scrubber."
I can't much fault her for that. She's right, after all.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

A place I like to call home

Awhile back I borrowed Alex's camera to fart around town and take some pics of our new hood. Turns out I got a whole lotta love for this place we now call home.

Wisdom from the workplace

People with brain injuries say and do the darndest things. Sometimes it is more in the delivery than in the actual words or actions themselves. It's one of the reasons I love my profession, and I don't want to forget the specifics of these subtle nuances.

I was administering a naming test, to evaluate whether or not a person is having "anomia," or a word-finding problem often caused my stroke or brain injury, to a woman, let's call her D. The picture was of a protractor, as in the math tool. She couldn't think of the word, although she knew what the drawing depicted.

"Yeah, well, I'm not measuring any angle with anything," she said, frustrated that she could not come up with the word.

At another appointment with the same woman, we were discussing getting back into exercise. The recreational therapist had suggested D take up swimming.

"It's an awful lot of trouble. You have to get in the pool. Get out of the pool."

One wise patient, who really had no wits about him, cleared from the fog for a moment to offer me a pearl of wisdom.

"You have to learn how to be apart before you can get it together."

Rather wise of him, this grasshopper thinks.

Today I instructed a patient, who had fallen off a ladder just two weeks prior, to journal about his day.

"Start by writing today's date."

He wrote: "today's date."

Now THAT is what we mean by concrete thinking.

The same ladder-falling patient referred to his confusion as "being behind the 8 ball." I'm not exactly sure what this means, but it seemed rather prophetic.

And on another occassion, with my same friend, we were working on an odd-man-out semantic task. He was instructed to identify the picture that didn't belong. This particular scene depicted a banana, an apple, a lemon, and a carrot. I was looking for him to say that the carrot didn't belong because it was a vegetable, and the other three pictures were fruits. He correctly identified all the images as "edibles," but failed to see which one might not quite belong. Using my best scaffolding skills, I proceeded to isolate each picture.

Me: "Is a banana a fruit?"
Him: "Well, yes, I believe a banana is an edible fruit."
Me: "That's correct. Good. Now, is a lemon a fruit?"
Him: "I believe a lemon is an edible fruit."
Me: "Alright, so is an apple a fruit?"
Him: "Now I wasn't grown on an orchard or anything, so I don't know."

Idiots holding babies

Logan has replaced George Clooney as my favorite man to have ever lived. He coos, he cries, he poops, he sleeps. And then he does it all over again. Although the floppy head thing sort of weirds me out. I'm hoping he grows out of this.
A day at OMSI in the uterus display and Alex wants a blastocyst all of his own. He does look mighty cute adorned with babies, if I say so myself.

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