We rock.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Ever wonder what it was like to have that E.coli stuff that was all the rage in the beginning of Septmber?

Mud says:

And do you have an hour? Because if you DO, and you're the curious type with a strong stomach, I invite you to read the following. Because I had that crap, and I'm suing. To be completely honest, I'm not sure how I feel about the suing thing - it's hard to believe that it will make anything better, you know? It's also hard to really realize that my sickness was actually some one's fault. I mean, I realize it on an intellectual level. But on an emotional level, it's not as concrete. It's MY fault, right? I mean, I did eat the spinach...

Anyway, here is my personal statement. It's gory. It's loooonnnnggg. But every word is true. Here it is, enjoy.

Tuesday, August 29.
By the time I got home from work – around 5:30 – my stomach was hurting fairly badly. It had been bothering me since sometime after lunch. I did what I usually do when I have a slightly upset stomach: go for a jog. Normally, if something is wrong with my belly, a nice jog will get things moving, as they say. I assumed it was dehydration-caused constipation, something that I can get when I train hard. I was in the best shape of my life and had completed my first triathlon shortly before, on Sunday, August 22. I was working out five times a week without fail.

That run, I remember, was excruciating. I jogged for around three miles, but my stomach ache just got worse and worse. When I got home, I skipped dinner and went almost straight to bed. I had a lot of important things due at work that week, and I wanted to head off any illness so that I didn’t have to miss any time.

Also, my first rugby practice of the season was the next day, and I also had a very busy weekend planned. It was Labor Day – and I was going to go to the beach in Pentwater, Michigan, with my extended family. Also, while I was there, I would have a five-year reunion with my senior-year college roommates in Grand Rapids, Michigan. As it would happen, I had to skip all of those events.

Wednesday: August 30

When I woke up, my stomach was still hurting, badly. I normally get to work an hour early, at 8:00, but I could not get out of bed when my alarm rang. I let myself sleep for another 30 minutes, and then willed myself to get up – I couldn’t miss work. I went to the bathroom and took one of the grossest poops I had ever seen; it was huge and black and looked like coffee grounds. I convinced myself that the worst was over, and forced myself to eat half of a banana and half of a kiwi. I remember them so well because they came out of my body shortly after, almost fully intact.

When I got to work at around 9:00, the first thing I did was go to the bathroom. I had a meeting at 9:30, but I was in the bathroom with scorching diarrhea almost every 15 minutes. By noon, I decided that there was no way I could make it through the day. My drive home was miserable; I was trying to drive hunched over the steering wheel. It is, unfortunately for me, a 20 minute drive. Even though I went to the bathroom immediately before leaving work, I had to stumble from my car directly to my bathroom. I barely made it.

I was also getting worried. At first, I had tried to convince myself that the growing amount of red I left in the toilet after each trip was nothing to be concerned about – what was left of some spaghetti sauce, perhaps. I called my fiancé at work, who told me to stick it out. But by noon, I was pooping almost nothing but a gross combination of blood and scabs. I went back and forth between my bed, where I was curled in fetal position, and my toilet, in approximately 15 minute intervals. I find it hard to describe the pain I was in – but I do remember that I couldn’t stand up straight. I was literally doubled over.

I called the nurse hotline on my insurance card soon thereafter. I was in so much pain, but I’d never really gotten diarrhea of any kind before, so I didn’t know what I was supposed to feel like. The nurse on the line said that I should go straight to the emergency room. I balked, but I did call my fiancé who came home from work. We went to the Urgent Care center directly across the street from my house. Again, I went to the bathroom right before I left my house, and several times as I waited to talk just to the receptionist. I could barely fill out the forms. When I finally got them filled out, the receptionist told me the same thing the nurse on the line had: they couldn’t help me there. I had to go straight to the ER.

We walked - I was still doubled over - back across the street from the Urgent Care to our house, but I was worried about the drive. I was on about a ten-minute “diarrhea cycle”, and the drive to the hospital was about that. Lying on my bathroom floor (a place I would become far too familiar with in the coming days, to be painfully honest) I tried to convince my fiancé that I was clearly too sick to go the ER. He disagreed. I took one last awful poop and got in the car. I stumbled into the ER and straight to their bathroom.

I did learn one interesting thing – suffering from stomach cramps and bloody diarrhea bumps you right to the top of the ER waiting room queue. I explained to the nurse who admitted me that I had trouble with the standard 1-10 pain numbers game that they make you play in the ER by saying, “Well, I’ve never felt anything this awful, but I imagine that giving birth would be worse.” She told me I was a ten.

I cheerfully clung to my original self-diagnosis with every nurse that examined me. I had been training hard, and I was dehydrated. This gave me slight constipation, which had somehow...exploded my intestines.

I was shown to a bed, thankfully fairly close to the bathroom. They put me on an IV almost immediately, which was good for hydrating me (or so I hear) but added an extra thing I had to detach and carry with me to the bathroom every time I had to go. By this time, I was also in a gown. It took me approximately 20 trips back and forth to lose all dignity and therefore all pretense of holding the back of the gown closed. I was still not walking vertically and I could no longer straighten one arm because of the large needle in it. I was in incredible pain. More than once, I got back to my little ER room, lay down on my bed, and curled into the fetal position, and then immediately had to stand back up, detach my IV bag, and waddle my bare ass back across the crowded ER. I was in a new and unique circle of hell.

I was seen by a stream of doctors – first a generalist, and then a colon specialist. They both gave me rectal exams, which was delightful. They determined that I did have blood in my stool, which was no surprise to me. What was extremely surprising was their announcement soon after that I would be staying the night and receiving a colonoscopy the next morning. “But I’m just dehydrated,” I said.

It was during one of my many trips to the ER bathroom that I was reintroduced to the Kiwi, a spot of green in a sea of red. I was repulsed. But, I think the scariest moment, the moment when I started to panic, was when my pulse dipped to 50. The nurse told me this wasn’t unusual for “athletes,” but I know that my resting heart rate is usually much higher than that. I started worrying that there was something seriously wrong with me. They moved me to a room.

Before I got the colonoscopy, I had to drink 2 liters of a despicable, salty, colon cleaning liquid, even though I was sure there was nothing to be cleaned from my intestines. Mine was lemon scented, but the flavor did nothing to prevent it from making me throw it right back up. I spent the night drinking the colon cleaner and vomiting in addition to my original problem, constantly pooping blood. The consistency of the diarrhea increased, something that hours ago I would not have thought possible. Several times, I had to go to the bathroom, sit down so that I could empty my bowels, and throw up into the trash can in front of the toilet.

They also collected another stool sample during the night, which means that I had to go to the bathroom in something called a “hat.” A hat looks exactly like you would expect it to – and the brim fits under the toilet lid. When the nurse tech came to collect the sample, she had to literally ask me if the contents were actually my poop – they looked more like something that would come out of a bloody nose.

Thursday, August 31.
I barely slept, and I did not manage to keep much of the colon cleaner down. The colonoscopy was at 8 am, and the doctors proceeded even though I’d been vomiting most of the colon cleaner.

The morning is a blur, mostly because of the anesthesia for the colonoscopy. I do remember snippets from the procedure itself – I was kind of lying on my side, facing the monitor. The one thing I remember the doctors saying during the procedure was, “And look, there’s another one.” I remember thinking this meant I had cancer, but then not being able to care and dozing back off.

When I got back to the room, I was still really woozy and everything is hazy. I heard a familiar voice in the hallway – I literally shouted, “Mom?” and then was very embarrassed because it was so stereotypical, crying for my mom. Luckily, it was actually my mother. She’d driven up from Dayton, about an hour away, to “take care of me,” even though I had insisted that she didn’t have to. (“I’m only dehydrated!” I’d said.)

It was during those hours that I had my only actual bathroom blow out, where I was unable to make it to the bathroom in time. I was groggy, had recently had a hose up my bum, and was still carting around my IV – and I couldn’t get to the bathroom even though I had one in my hospital room. Almost there, I filled my underwear with blood and poop. It dripped down the inside of my legs and spilled onto the bathroom floor. For some reason, this devastated me.

I didn’t know quite how to handle it. I first threw my underwear into the toilet, and tried to shake the crap off of it, but really didn’t have any luck. I then threw my underwear into the trash can (the same one I’d been vomiting in all night, by the way, which is gross) and tried to clean the bathroom, the toilet, and myself, with paper towels. By this time, both my mom and my fiancé were in the hospital room, asking if they could help, but I couldn’t bring myself to have either one of them deal with me as if I were a child in a diaper. I still feel a little bad for the poor nurse tech who had to clean the bathroom.

A couple fuzzy hours later, the doctor who had performed the colonoscopy came to talk to us about the results. He showed me pictures of the ulcerations on the inside of my large intestine, and said that I had hemorrhagic colitis, which was probably caused by a bacterial infection of some kind, but might be caused by a chronic condition, probably ulcerative colitis. He prescribed an antibiotic (Cipro) and 2 days of pain medication (Vicodin), and said I could go home. He gave me nothing to stop the diarrhea, which would continue unabated for the next several days.

Recovery: Friday, September 1 – Present
The next two days were shocking in their consistency. I was still going to the bathroom every fifteen minutes or so. I moved into the guest room to be closer. I could not read, eat, or watch television.

For the first two days, my schedule revolved around my pain medication. I had exactly enough pills to take one every six hours for two days. I was petrified that this wouldn’t be enough, and I could barely go the six hours between doses. I took pain medication at 2 pm, 2 am, 8 am, and 8 pm.

For those 48 hours, I would take a pain pill and go to sleep for two hours. The pain would then wake me up, and I would have two hours that we uncomfortable, but bearable. The two hours before I could take the medicine again were awful, and I would basically lie in my bed and cry. But I couldn’t cave and take the pain killer early, or I might run out. This was true for all hours of the day. The two hours before 2 am were the hardest. I was lonely and exhausted. Sleep in that kind of pain was completely out of the question.

Near the end of my pain medication, I began taking half-pills, to make it last longer. I called my doctor to see if he could prescribe more pain medication, but he said that I couldn’t get a refill of Vicodin over the phone. I would have to come in to his office, which seemed completely impossible. I would rather just make it on Ibuprofen after my medication ran out.

I had also, by this time, done a little research on ulcerative colitis, the chronic condition that I “might” have. But, for some reason, when you go through this kind of ordeal, you fear the worst. I was positive that I had something awful, something lasting. What I learned about ulcerative colitis was truly devastating. I would have episodes like this regularly. I would have real issues digesting my food. I would become familiar with the regular enema. What was worst, for me anyway, was that it looked like I would have to give up vegetarianism, as some of the websites I read espoused an absolute avoidance of vegetarian staples like dairy, wheat, and beans. I’ve been a vegetarian for almost ten years, but I would do anything to avoid going through episodes like this if I could.

The blood started to disappear from my diarrhea sometime late Saturday, which was a huge relief. I hadn’t eaten since the banana and kiwi on Wednesday morning, and I had moved beyond hunger into a dull numbness. My mid-section looked almost skeletal – I joked to my fiancé that I was on the supermodel diet: water and diarrhea.

I ate for the first time on Sunday morning. My fiancé bought a fridge full of things I thought wouldn’t upset my stomach: eggs, watermelon, and juice. Also, upon the recommendation of ulcerative colitis sufferers on the Internet, we purchased a $200 juicer, for colon health.

I ate a fried egg and a few chunks of watermelon. When I went to the bathroom soon there after (I was at about 30 minutes now), I was crushed to see the reintroduction of red into the toilet. But when I looked closer, I realized that it was just the watermelon – wholly undigested. In addition to being disgusting, I had learned that this was a symptom of ulcerative colitis. My confidence in my own, worst-case-scenario self-diagnosis increased.

I ate my first actual meal on Monday – Labor Day. I was determined to return to work the following day. I had run out of “sick time,” and moved into tapping my vacation time, which I didn’t want to do. So I left the house for a trial run for the first time on Monday, and only had to dash for the bathroom once while I was out. The pain had mostly subsided, leaving me only with a deep sense of worry. I felt betrayed by my body. And I felt like I was forbidden from eating anything that might irritate my condition. According to the ulcerative colitis websites, this meant I couldn’t eat almost anything.

I heard the word “E.coli” for the first time on Tuesday, my first day back to work. I got a message on my voice mail from the Health Department, asking about my association with the E.coli outbreak. I was literally astounded, and I assumed that they probably had a typo – I had colitis. I didn’t know much about the disease, but it didn’t take much research to determine that, indeed, my symptoms were consistent with E.coli.

I know this sounds funny, but I was elated. I would heal! I would recover! I could eat!

The anger set in a little later. I had a hard time blaming someone else for my own sickness, until I learned that E.coli largely comes from feedlot cattle, something I’d been conscientiously boycotting for almost a decade. And now I’d gotten sick from it? I was even angrier when I learned that, in essence, irresponsibly produced cattle had tainted spinach – the world’s healthiest food. Was it too close? Had the growers of the Spinach not done enough to ensure that their product was safe? Clearly not.

The worst consequence of E.coli was that my body was completely devastated by the ordeal. I tried to go running for the first time later that week, and could barely make it down the street. I had been so strong, and now I got dizzy lifting a basket of laundry. I tried to keep working out, and I do still work out. But even now, three months later, my physical fitness is nowhere near where it was. I was in worse shape after E.coli than I had been, years before, when I quit smoking and started running. In just 7 days, I went from being strong to being very weak. I felt like a kitten. I ended up missing the entire season of rugby, which was very sad for me. But I played one half of one game, sometime near the end of October, and was awful – I couldn’t accelerate into my runs, and I couldn’t take a hit (both of those are very important).

It took a long time for my colon to normalize, too. My poop quickly became much less liquid than it was when I was really sick, but it took about a month for it to solidify again. And even now it doesn’t seem “normal”. I’m more prone to diarrhea, something that I’d literally never experienced before my illness.

I do wonder what would have happened to me if I hadn’t been so strong when I had E.coli. I have learned that it kidney failure is a possible outcome, and I will never know how close I came to that. I cannot imagine it being any worse, actually. I try to make the best of any situation – but there seems to be few silver linings to this illness. The recovery was slow, and I’ve become a little more paranoid about the food I eat. I was in a lot of pain, though I am better. I’m angry, and there don’t seem to be many answers. Is this just some thing that…happened to happen? To me? Will it happen again?

I hope to do another triathlon next summer, by the way. I have a long way to go, but I think I’ll get there.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

You cannot take him!!

Robes Says:

My ex is obsessed with babies. Its really cute in its way, in its time, and in its place. By which i mean, in a way that doesn't involve me, in a time in which i am not around, and in a place that is not particularly close to me. Sometimes i wiggle a little bit on the baby talk because babies are cute and they do fun things like pee on the people who love them, but i generally consider the babymania to just not be my bag, so to speak.

However, to the Ex the babymania is a long standing obsession- 5 years ago she was my best friend. As my best friend, i had to talk her out of randomly napping kids (by the way, that is such a weird word, "kidnapping"- does "napp" mean steal? from what language? in what age? "I shall napp me a wife!") ok, back to the point. She also was into dog-napping and occasionally displaced weird things when drunk, which i didn't consider "napping" but seemed to be related to a common occurrence, which was very formulaic:

1. A Cute Thing is Spotted
b. The accessibility of the cute thing, as well of the level of care it is given, is assessed.
(does the dog look under nourished? is that baby being left out by itself?)
denouement: the someone with the ex distracts her and drives away before the thievery becomes too well plotted.

That was when she was a spring chicken, now her biological clock seems to be going full tilt. Because in her mind thirty is old. Today, babymania went just a little to far.


my phone rings, i answer
Robes: "hello, this is the office of Robes the Destroyer, how may i help you"
(obviously, i answer the phone like an utter asshole. Few things brighten my day as heartily)

the EX: "hey Robes, this is your EX of Immeasurable size. go on the Internet and find out how to get me a baby. Right Now. Tell me how lesbians get babies."

Robes: "um, i think you can do that just as well as me, and um, i have other things to do."

(i stuttered which has happened 5 times in the last 5 days and i'm starting to be concerned, complete side note)

The Ex: "NOW."

Robes: "No, hanging up now, use the internet yourself."

Robes hangs up phone.

2 seconds later, the Ex calls back

Robes: "for what?"

There is a Laugh, and a click.

The obsession has reached new lows- My little brother is not a sperm bank, ladies and gentleman!

I stand tall and proud and say "We shall not use him that way!"

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The Chrismas of the Killing Knife

My father...my father.

What can you say? The man has had truly inspired Christmases but occasionally has a real doozies. He has six children - Aged 27 (that's me!), 25, 23, 17, 16, and (insert a divorce and a remarriage, followed by another divorce in here) one beautiful 6 year old. The 17-year old is the only male, and my mother likes to dryly comment that God hath determined to keep giving daughters to my dad until he learns to respect women. Given the unlimited ability of the male to keep right on reproducing, we may have more siblings, yet. Female ones.

It seems, though, that he has totally learned to respect his own daughters, as a sub-category of women in general. It's enough to make you feel a little special, if you're the optimistic type.

Dad is generous to a fault, and trends toward one amazing, overwhelming gift a year. We have had the Year of the Digital Camera, where he bought us all top-of-the-line photo equiptment, from the camera itself, but also including the printer, photo paper, case, batteries...It was awesome.

Unfortunately, that year, he downright forgot one sister (then 14) and she burst into holiday tears. But he later bought her a whole drum set, based only a desire to learn to play the drums and on his desire to harrass his ex-wife. Buh duh bum, CHING!

This may introduce you to my father's tendency to faux pas - for example, the generally very successful Year of the Bicycle, where he bought me an awesome ten-speed (pink), Robes a very cool mountain bike (also pink) and Mysterious Third Sister a boys BMX dirt bike, in black and neon orange. If memory serves, she was very brave about her holiday tears at the time, though her angst still bubbles out when the event is mentioned in passing.

The Christmas of the High-end Winter Ski Coat was kickass. I think the overall winner of the Christmas Contest was the Year of DollBaby, which doesn't sound so cool until you realize that DollBaby was a horse. A HORSE, people. It was 17,000 decibles of small-girl squeal until we realized that having a horse meant coming straight home from school, every day, and shovel stalls.

But there was also the aforementioned Year of Books and Fruit, after which we celebrated by reading and eating healthily. And then, there was this year, which is destined to go down, down, down into infamy.

We got to my dad's and were welcomed by 5 small, identical packages wrapped in newspaper. Tearing off the classifieds revealed one medium-sized, black killing knive. Quality: Excellent. It looked like this:

This knife has something called "S.A.T., or Sog Assissted Technology, which (and I quote from their website) "propels the blade out once the operator has initiated the one-handed opening action." To the lay person, this means that you can just flick your wrist and with a deadly-souding *click*, you unleash some fury, in the form of a razor-edged blade. It's something you've seen gangstahs do in movies hundreds of times. Once you've started, you can't stop. *Click.*

The 17-year old son was pumped. *Click*, *Click* Click.* His slightly younger sister proceeded to shred the newspaper wrapping. Slice. The rest of us looked at it bemused, because? What the hell do I want with a killing knife?

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Wednesday, December 27, 2006


Mud says:

You may have gotten this from the post a few down, about storms and storming, and about engagements, engaging, and engaged.

Our mysterious third sister is, as I may have mentioned, as close to a Bond chick as exists in the nonfictional world. She is a scientist, who banters comfortably about chromosomes. She is a diplomat in the most organic of senses, who can smooth a rocky situation by her presence. She knows her limits, and generally chooses to cry alone but prefers company in celebration. Her middle name is Grace, and though she literally trips over any damn thing in her path, a better suited name could not be found to suit her personality.

AND, she is smokin' hot, one of the rare people who, when her life story is featured on E! or The History Channel, (I will entertain offers from both?) will be played by an actress who does not do her chocolatey eyes or long legs justice.

I am prejudiced about the legs - I have them, too. The eyes are unique on this planet. Um, except for maybe in my mom.

When you grow up with someone, you never wonder if they will find some one who is "worthy" of them. You make fun of them. I always interrogated them to find out which boy they had a crush on that year, and then used the information to taunt them mercilessly.

And then, as you move away from home and start to see them with new eyes. And I guess I never thought that my sister would find anyone who was worthy of her. I became protective. Hesitant.

But as I grew to know my sister's new fiancee, I realized that not only is he "worthy," he is perfect. Their strengths compliment eachother, but their weaknesses overlap. They spur on each other's imaginations. Together, they can rule the world. I look forward to seeing them grow old, together.

I am confident that, like good girl scouts, they will leave this planet better than they found it. With more laughter, and more drinking games.

Robes talked about "storms of engagements," and it's funny - I think of a similar allegory flipped inside out. People end up with other people because it's handy to have a side-kick, someone to help you swim through rough waters. A portable port. It's certainly not a perfect system, but it ain't bad. It sure ain't bad.

Best wishes, and have fun storming the castle!

Additions to the English Language, Part 1

fucktified- when someone has been having so much sex that its not unlikely a passerby will catch a whiff of them and think "they have been doing it." As in, "i need to go home, take a shower, and unfucktify myself" or "i am so fucktified right now that only my gf could like me." or "I will not meet your mother in this fucktified condition!"

platanobustion- when someone you once found attractive suddenly becomes completely nonsexual to you because of their behavior. For example, "I just saw you pick your nose and we experience platonobustion."

xen day- sundays you skip church to watch xena the warrior princess on tv. as in "you didn't know you were gay when you were 14 even though you celebrated xen day?"

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Ramble On Robes!

Robes Says:

Mother in Law

storm words are some of the glories of the english language- all are so different, so swirly, so violent in their own unique and distinct way-- Even the most simple ones- like "icestorm " are evocative- "and then the icestorm of the gods rained around them, and turned the unfortunate inhabitants of Izestrom into pillars of Ice." i can imagine a world in which the Bible has that verse.

Small storms have a limited power for destruction but a poetic power for inspiration. As children, we used to sit on the front porch with my father and count the seconds between the crack of the lightning and the Thwack of the thunder. One day, by Lake Michigan, we got to watch a waterspout work its way across the lake, hit the beach, and climb up towards us. By the time it reached the family- by the way-, my parents woke us up it was close to 3 am- it was the tiniest little eddy of power. It lifted my 8 year old hair barely off of my face and reminded me of monsters.

As i grow older, I have always avowed the that world cries with you sometimes, especially when that grey takes over and the rain just mists down- it doesn't pound down, it doesn't seem to be trying to beat its way into the ground, but it sometimes forms tiny halos around street lights and the world- well, it's just crying. Just a couple months ago, my roommate and i sat inside a darkened house while a thunderstorm wrecked havoc on our electricity- we were in the basement when the power went out, and after sitting around for an hour with candles we abandoned ship and made for the nearest indian restaurant. 6 hours later the power flickered back on just as we were going to sleep, and we flitted around the house turning off the unneeded electricity as the goose pimples finally subsided from our necks.

There is something perilous about the corners of your house darkened by a storm. Something Gothic and deeply disturbing.

As for the big boys, the professional maelstroms that destroy parts of civilization, the destruction they carry with them is so aptly mirrored in the power of their names. The words are almost an intonation, a dictum from on high. "and on the seventh day, God Made the Tornado. So that man would know circular wind and be awed by the power of wanton destruction" No wonder the gladiators all used to steal storm names and take them as their own. Well done, gladiators. Wouldn't it be a bungled moment if we didn't have the word Hurricane and had to say "74 mile hour wind rain beats down on eastern seaboard."

So that is a class of words i Love. Here is a class of words i dont think quite so much of.

engagement- when two people agree to get hitched in the eyes of either the lord or the law at some unspecified time in the future. can also mean "something one does" as in "i have a three oclock engagement."

betrothal-WhenSoFor one or more people decide to commit to a certain way of living a life, most commonly when a man asks a woman to get their asses married someday. A knee preferred.

troth- When someone gives someone else a rock, whether large or small, they are asking to share a troth. Or when someone promises anything to someone else. Has a nice holy feel to it, and a bit of a dramatic spin "I pledge to thee my troth!"

fiancee- yep. one whose made a troth to another homo sapien

let's address "emotional impact." Except for Fiancee they are so ordinary and everyday. I can think of 18 million normal things a "troth" could be.

troth- the child of a troll and a Germanic warlord set to take over rome.
troth- a small jewelry type thing that is used to *bejewel* apparel.
troth- a synonym of the word staple.
troth- a really really bad meal made by your mother in law that you have to seem to enjoy but actually really really hate.
troth- to walk around in the mud

Words that sound like "troth"-
trough- a trench. something a horse drinks out of.
cough- when you have phlegm stuck in your throat and have to hack it out.
truth- that word is a bitch.
froth- the spittle in the corner of a rabid dog's mouth.

see my point here?

These words are boring and unmagical. storm words are exciting and poetic. Engagement words suck.

I, unfortunately, am in need of a brand new word. This word needs to mean "a storm of engagement, in which all the important people in your life become engaged at once, created a maelstrom of fianceedom that you have to live with and waddle through to the best of your ability."

I'm going to take a crack at combining these two classes of words, because I NEED this word. I need to be able to look at someone over a casual dinner and say, I'm in the middle of an X," and then talk them through what a glorious word i have created that so appropriately describes my position. here goes:
fiancee hurricane
betrothal blizzard
Marriage Maelstrom
Squaw in training squall
Engagement Cyclone

not sure which one to stick with- but congratulations to Mysterious Third Sister on her engagement!!

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Friday, December 22, 2006

Want to hear more about my Wedding?

Mud says:

My amazing fiance and I exchanged gifts last night.

He bought me dancing lessons, so that we can look like Fred and Ginger at our wedding. Personal dancing lessons, just like on reality TV. He also bought me a bridal magazine and candy-cane flavored pop rocks.

There is something about getting an extremely excellent present that fills me with a complete sense of guilt. I don't deserve him. I don't deserve to look like Ginger. I sat there with the gift certificate in my hand, opening and closing my mouth like a goldfish.

He knows that this wedding thing is - for lack of better words - totally defeating me. I wanted to get married in a wedding, invite all of our friends, get them all drunk, and party late into the night. We've lived a very transient life together for the past 5 years or so, and there are people we love scattered in pockets across the country. I miss them. I want them to celebrate with me.

I also have a deeply cheesy soul, but it is wrapped in a hardened crust of bitter, judgemental bitch, the kind who thinks cheesy is totally cheesy. Cheesy is not my thing. I did not wear a dress for years, and I'm more comfortable with a 30 pound backpack on my back than in high heels. I shop in thrift stores. I think showering daily is for pussies. I would rather invest in a new rain coat than in table linens.

But Inner Cheese feels like she has a case, here. This is a wedding! A celebration of love and cheese! All of the advice that you get for wedding planning boils down to the following sentence: "It's your day, do what YOU want." And, because Crust of Bitch doesn't know shit about flowers, Inner Cheese has taken over. She wants romance, complete with things like dusk. And silk. And Emily Post's 87 thousand etiquette tips. No pressure, right?

But Inner Cheese is a very sensitive creature. Upon any indication that her cheesy choices are being judged insufficient by the outside world, she caves to Crust of Bitch, who begins researching elopement plans in Costa Rica.

And if there's anything that the wedding makes me feel, it's judged. My dress must be good enough! I must be skinny enough! The food must make everyone happy! I must not go over budget! But I cannot look cheap! A wedding is "your day," which is kind of a major problem if you really hate being looked at.

Perhaps I should have taken that into consideration when I decided against elopement to Costa Rica.

The dancing has not been a small issue. Mike and I are both pretty good dancers independently, but, in almost over 5 years of dating, we have yet to master dancing together. Hell, "master"? We have yet to succeed at not sucking terribly at it. We are the same height, and he kinda slouches when dancing, which makes me feel even more like a giraffe. His side of the story is that HE is an excellent dancer but I am completely unwilling to follow. Together, we look more like Larry and Curley than Fred and Ginger.

We were prepared to do the Monster Mash or the Time Warp as our first dance.

But now? I am overwhelmed with how sweet he is and how unworthy I am. He has embraced my poor little cheesy soul, picked her up from the floor, and kissed her on the chin.

Incidentally, I purchased him the least romantic gift humanly possible: A wireless router, a nose-hair trimmer, and a copy of Final Fantasy XII. I chose Final Fantasy XII on the recommendation of the dude in the game store, who had a long, greasy pony tail which was tucked into a hair net. He seemed very qualified to make video game selections. Mike was thrilled.

Merry KissMass!

Mud says:

Perhaps the first real, publishable writing that we at Whinestone ever did came in the form of notes, scratched on church bulletins, mocking the preacher during Christmas Eve services. We were not really the church-going type of family. (Note: Yes, Mud was very religious for a while, but do not take this is as representative of the clan. The clan is one of blasted heathens.)

Nonetheless, we have a Hatchet-faced Grandmaw, and while she still had her mind, to cross her was to risk serious disembowelment. So to Christmas Eve service we went, every year unless we could think of a really good excuse. Our parents made us bring pens so that we would not behave unspeakably during church. At least not audibly unspeakably.

And we would just spend the entire service, under the pretext of "taking notes", writing notes to each other about the preacher and his asinine sermon, and if we could think of that, we'd just make fun of his ass.

The problem was, the preacher gave the same awful sermon every year, in which he attempted to re-cast all of the sacred Christmas traditions in terms what they symbolized for the Christ Child.

"Look at this candy cane!" he would say. "It's not really a candy cane if you turn it upside down! It's a 'J' for JESUS!"

"Or for 'Just shut the hell up, you Jerkwad'," we would scribble. "Or for 'Jockstrap. I think he's wearing one under his robe. You can see the straps." "No, those are just his Jockey's."

The preacher kept on preaching. "And the Christmas tree! Just look at it! On every branch, the needles point to heaven!"

"Um, actually, if you look at it, the needles point to both heaven AND hell. Also both left and right. What IS the tree telling us, exactly? I think there could be some debate." "And did you notice that, if he was looking for a heaven-facing analogy, he coulda just referenced the actual SHAPE of the tree, which is undeniably arrowing us upward?" "This guy is a total dumbass."

"And if you think about it, red and green each would have a special meaning for Jesus!" the preacher would carry on. "Green symbolizes the rebirth of spring! and Red! That clearly represents the blood that He shed! Red is the color of blood!"

"Or the color of prostitution, as any good Preacher should know," we wrote. "Rooooxxanne! Turn on your red LIGHT!" And then, "The rebirth of spring? Not only is that Easter talk, but it smacks of goddess worship to me."

"The Shame!"

Anyway, it's probably our fault for going to the kids sermon every year, but Hatchet-faced Grandmaw insisted on church BEFORE presents, because she knew all of her hell-bound spawn would ditch if there wasn't an incentive attached.

As for the preacher, you need not worry. He retired from the pastorate shortly thereafter, hopefully finding a calling in life for which he is more suited. Because, seriously? Candy 'J'?

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Also, grits and cream of wheat. And anyone else ever heard of ralston?

Mud says:

News! We here at Whinestone have experienced our first real comment! Technically, it’s our third comment, but Mud made the first and Mysterious Third Sister made the second, and those really don’t count for much.

But a real live other-person blogger, named Trina, left a complisult the other day. Or was it an inpliment? We are undecided, but so delighted that our first real, live comment is so wonderfully cryptic. And here it is: Trina (Hello, TRINA!) said, “I love your blog as much as I love oatmeal!”

At first glance, doesn’t this seem nice! I love oatmeal. Warm, filling, good for you, wintery-morning oatmeal. Load me up with brown sugar! No raisins, I hate those. Cinnamon, chocolate chips, maple, oh dear LORD I wish the working woman had time for both sleeping in and breakfast! Oatmeal, my love! Who doesn’t like oatmeal?

But there another edge to this particular sword, and don’t think we aren’t in on the joke! Robes and I, and our other sundry siblings (there are tons) were raised by a rare breed of hippie-nazi somewhere in the fourth Reich of small town Ohio. Our parents didn’t believe in the evils of “cold cereal.”


Among other ridiculous restrictions were:

  • We had a four inch, black and white television on which we were only allowed to watch PBS.
  • We once received nothing but books and fruit for Christmas.
  • We were only bought toys made of wood, plastic being far too land-filling.
  • White bread was out! Spinach was in!

And somehow, the innocent Cheerio was also verboten, as a product of our quick-use society. We had hot cereal, by government mandate, every morn.

Sometimes in the summer the Nazi’s would cave and we could have Shredded Wheat. Not the cool minis and of course not the frosted ones, but the big blocks of shredded wheat.

God we hated it. We occasionally got real cereal (and unlimited cable!) when we visited our grandparents, and the sweet, sugary goodness of Golden Puffs still tastes like honey-coated sin. The fact that other first graders got this every morning still pains me to no end.

Anyway, things have come full circle now, and I’m fairly convinced that when I do cave to my own internal, hormonal pressure and pop out a street urchin, fully formed, I will force health-food upon it. Hah.

And the poor urchin will HATE oatmeal for a while. But oatmeal will win. It will WIN!



Hangover Tale

Mud says:

Q: What cures a hangover?

And that's the conventional wisdom I tend to embrace. It's probably a step beyond true, whatever that is. It is very true. How many other truisms become truer and truer as time passes?

I am a hangover expert. If they offered PhD's in hangover-ology, they'd have awarded an honorary one to me.

Want to hear about my first hangover ever? I bet you DO.

I was a freshman at a small, religious college. It was known for being one of the top campuses in the nation, at least when measured by attendance to chapel, stone-cold-soberness, and nostalgia for Ronald Reagan. To find a party in such a location was a chore, but I am cute and tenacious, and located the hockey team. As Canadians, they were far less anal. I spent the evening slamming the following three things, in order.

1.) Raspberry wine coolers,
2.) Mad Dog 20 20, and then,
3.) Steel Reserve.

Upon completion of said chore, two of my roommates and I stood in a row, leaned over the railing of some one's porch, and spewed a fountain of fuchsia vomit into the shrubbery. Good times! I then smoked my first cigarette (a move that probably cost me at least a decade on this planet) and failed miserably at the task of hitting on some hockey dude.

I woke up the next morning, a Sunday, and skipped chapel. The hang-over pukes are so routine to me, now, but that morning I was shocked by the progression. Good bye, french fries! I can recognize you now, but I do not remember eating you. Look! There goes the reminants of the artificial coloring from the wine coolers! Hello, bile! Uh oh, we seem to be running out of bile! What do we DO? It's a bile shortage!

Hello, dry heaves. I thought anything was better than puking. I was wrong.

Hello, aching stomach muscles. Yes, I'd like to quit puking, too. But we're all screwed now, aren't we?

I was aware that people puked when drunk, but somehow my little church-going self had failed to realize that it could follow you INTO THE NEXT DAY, after the numbing effects of the alcohol had long faded. Also, needless to say, there were few people around with any reliable experience with "the sauce," especially on a Sunday morning.

I vomited on the half-hour into the evening, and was afraid that I had done poisoned myself, just like the Lifetime Family Specials said I might. But I could not tell my R.A., for reasons related to...you know...hell and expulsion. It never occurs to you that one of the hazards of Christian education is being surrounded by a bunch of clueless idiots when confronted with one of life's most basic challenges. No one knows what the hell a hangover is.

Days later, I wrote an email to a dear friend who attended a normal, red-blooded American college, and told him of my woes. You'll never believe this, I said. I was puking THE NEXT DAY. He said he puked the next day on most days of the week, and tended to hang a trash bag from his bunk for the purpose. I was flabbergasted, and probably swore for the first of 2,349,407 times in my life that I would never drink again.

Oh, the sweetness and the innocence that was me, before I'd pushed the boundaries of my own ability to metabolize alcohol! I now know exactly at what point I am - as they say - fucked the next day. Just recently, at a friend's 30th birthday party, I was joined late in the evening by my miracle of a fiance, Mike. As soon as I saw him, I stumbled over to him and draped my body across his shoulders. I whispered the following gin-soaked words into his ear: "For every one minute we stay here, I will be puking for ten minutes tomorrow." We then stayed for for two more hours.

weirdly and totally melancholy

Robes says:

it is grey grey grey outside right now- the grey where the east matches the west and you cant tell where the sun is and even the dirt seems to fade to grey and the green fades to grey and even the little bright orange berries that are still clinging to the trees outside the window for god knows what reason are grey.

Its been this sort of grey for less than 24 hours but the color, which i generally romanticize, seems to have a captivating and pervasive melancholy which reminds me of certain scenes from Jane Eyre or The Secret Garden when they are describing the moors of England.

The grey has become so installed in my worldview that the cars splashing by on the street- they should look zippy and bright- seem to look like little bug-shaped hearses flitting cartoonishly between here and there- no where and everywhere in turn and at once.

it is December 21st. 4 days before Christmas. This time last year, right at this very second, i was going moronically, mesmerizingly, catastrophically nuts because i felt so unloved by a woman i considered my life partner. I felt ignored, taken for granted, completely off track and off base and treated like a child. I was poised on the brink of breaking apart. Its like seeing beautiful glassware tremble on the edge of a table before succumbing to gravity and splintering across a hardwood floor. Except to fill out this particular simile- i, today, am the person looking, and i, last year, was the glass about to fall.

I was terrified then- stark raving mad terrified- my Ex and i had bought a house together. a house with a mortgage that i never dreamed i would pay more than half of. a house with a roof and a kitchen that needed to be redone and a bathroom that could use work and a house with more space than our one bedroom apartment because We both KNEW we needed space, we just thought that physical space was what would solve the feeling we both had when we came home that we were stepping into a tiny little shoebox so utterly depressing that it needed to be dewormed, deflea-ed, and detoxified before either of us could even conceive of breathing normally. It didn't take long in a 1400 foot house to realize that the feeling simply couldn't be solved by more space- we just needed to live without each other.

i picture what i was doing at this moment last year- typing at the same keyboard, sitting at the same office, and my head is being pulled back into that feeling of Simply Simply Going fucking Crazy and tottering. I'm being haunted to thoroughly it almost feels like being possessed- The memory is so powerful, the feeling was so intense then and it can barely be contained now- I understand why people believe in werewolves because feelings like this exist- can i shed my skin become an animal and go nuts? will somebody please give me permission? id make an amazing lunatic!

But though the memory is so powerful, there is an incredible vastness between myself then and myself now- a year's worth of seconds, moments, decisions- a vastness grey as the sky and with a turbulent kicking undertow- i have gone months without being able to eat, months without being able to relax, eons without being able to forgive myself for leaving (i was pushed out!) but i left! but i was pushed!, tremulous seconds when i had the opportunities to take back what i'd done and try to pull the pieces of my life back together the way they had been before- so flawed and yet so safe- i had an amazing ability to ignore broken glass poking into my skin- i don't want to become possessed by that person, she is only a memory, only a past that is what i have done but is not who i am. Not anymore.

The person i am, i don't even have that many versions of myself to live with- i have not had that long to get acquainted with myself as i am now, the me that loves the way that i love (it feels to healthy that i try to make it more fucked up so that i think it has some soul some days)- the self that feels too damn free- and the self that feels so disconnected from the self i lived for 3 years. The self that feels too grounded and true, so honest and amazing- but also so unbelievably new. I feel so unbelievably completely new. and alone. new and alone.

I can barely resist the urge to go outside, find a nearby lake and walk along a mesmerizingly winter shoreline in the utter greyness that has taken this city by the seat of its pants and overcome it. I want to strip stark naked and wade into the water until i can't feel my toes anymore- until i'm freed from the thinking and all that exists in my mind is the greyness.

i want to dip my head under and swim three solid strokes entirely underwater. freezing, forlorn, and totally alone. Then i want to come back to the shore, and i want to have left these weird versions of my past selves behind- let them be ghosts, but never again let them be these almost alive things that can talk to me and almost coerce me into doing things-

but more over- i desperately want someone to tell me that they are proud of me for what i have done this past year, to tell me they have noticed. Because this much courage, the amount it has taken for me to make the decisions i have, it has taken everything i have to make myself into a person i am proud of. If it had taken any less, well, then i would only be less proud now wouldn't i?

and i don't want to be the only one who has noticed. i just want to be the only one in my head.

~the world spins madly on~ the weepies
Woke up and wished that I was dead
With an aching in my head
I lay motionless in bed
I thought of you and where you'd gone
and let the world spin madly on

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Monday, December 11, 2006

Option 3

Mysterious Third Sister says:

So I called to order a few books for the museum the other day and reached a menu with the following message:

For customer service, press 1.

For accounts receivable, press 2.
(All very standard).

Then.....For help with Bibles, press 3.

How tempted was I to press 3 and ask something like "I have some issues withCorinthians 13...can you explain that whole "through a glass darkly thing" or "What was Paul saying in that second letter?" or even "How strict is Godon that honor they father or mother thing? What about if you're adopted? Do I honor my biological father and mother? Do step-dads count? If I kill a parent, am I violating more than one commandment, or is that double jeopardy?"

Very. But I didn't! But you always could.....

Sunday, December 10, 2006


Mud says:

Doctors should offer steep discounts to the families and insurance companies of patients who do not "make it."

Also, vets.

It's all about the incentives, folks. All about the incentives.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

muds: What are you eating for lunch?
robes: peanut butter, bread, and cough drops
muds: underwhelming.


Monday, December 04, 2006

A tribute to Two Wonderful Dykes

Robes says:

when your exwife gets engaged i think you basically have three choices. i have, in my infinite wisdom, excluded "don't give a fuck" is an option. Sorry to all you delusional people out there.

1) be bitter, angry and hide in your messy and musty bedroom with a good deal of alcohol, ice cream, and non-washed hair while bemoaning all of your imperfections and failures, including:

your pajama choices (the flannel never was sexy enough),
your underwear choices (the flannel never was sexy enough),
and your sheet choices (the flannel never was sexy enough)!

2) be happy, perky and codependent on your best friends with a good deal of illusion-embracing rhetoric, caffeine, and perfectly coiffed hair while becoming a cheerleader for all of your perfection and blaming her for all the failures including:

applauding your new pajamas and criticizing her old ones (see above),
applauding your new underwear and criticizing her old underwear (see above), and
applauding your new and criticizing her old bedding choices (see above)!

3) realize that you both really fucked up in your own blessed fucked up ways, acknowleding how you were a jerkface and confronting it, and dealing with how she was a jerkface as best as humanly possible. Acknowledging the memories you shared are just memories. Sorta like your memories from *eighth grade* when you had your first beer or stole your first car or first got picked up for trying to solicit a prostitute in your daddy's car- just memories.

And if you critically evaluate where you are in life, when you look at yourself at 7pm, still working in sorta crumpled khaki jeans with sorta gross hair (maybe you smell funky, maybe your desk is messy, maybe you're not perfect.) - be kind- let yourself be beautiful. By that i mean, I'm going to let myself be beautiful. I'm reveling in my imperfection. Its mine, after all.

But just for a second, i'm going to let her, my Ex of Monstrous Size, the her i know and the her that i cant know because she is not the her i knew anymore, i'm gonna let her be beautiful too. And i'm going to let what we had be beautiful too, even if it was fleeting, and even if it was painful. There is something Amazingly Freeing about knowing that someone else has signed up for a gig you couldn't handle anymore. It lets it just be.

As Edna St. Vincent Millay said, "if you can't be sorry, well, you might as well be glad." I'm proud that i made such beautiful memories. and Proud i am not making them anymore. Is that even a paradox? So in a simplistic way, this is an ode to the happiness we both found through hurting each other more deeply than we had ever hoped to hurt anyone, ever. Amen.

Why My Ex Rocks, A Collage of Immeasurable Beauty and Love
By Robes

Wasted afternoons throwing leaves around, climbing cliffs and peeping up through walls, being little boys together while laughing without inhibition. Learning How to Snowboard. Sleeping outside in the dead of winter in a tent just to see what our limits were. Walking under an endlessly blue sky beneath dead branches on a frozen river, and then looking at tiny footprints in the snow. Discovering that you didn't need 3 salami sandwiches on a five hour nature hike. Looking for the dogs when they wandered off. Locking the damn puppies in my bedroom the first time i looked after them. Always finding them safe home after roaming the neighborhood for hours.

Dancing in the waves. Dancing in the ocean. Kayaking in the fog. Sleeping in the breeze. Watching the Sunrise and the Sunsets. Thunderstorms approaching across the bay. 3 days of not sleeping when she brought a Jeep Waggoner from Oregon and Drove that Fucker Home with no Title while I folded laundry and she didn't have cell phone service. 2 days of sleeping soundly after working 90 hours a week for 6 weeks when we drove the 2nd Jeep to the Bay. Perfect days on the Cape. Perfect days on the Lake. Floating in brown moldy water together in matching shorts. Walking in the Overflown River, carrying her piggyback in my waterproof boots and getting one of the dogs dead sick on sewage water. Discovering the drinking and bikes went perfectly together, like pees and carrots.

Moving into our house together and all the jokes on all of the boxes about my books. Wondering around Odd Lots and evaluating what the products meant about our culture. Red Bull Addictions. Living for a year without a fridge or a stove. Warm Summer Nights in the backyard . Watching her finish a marathon. Cleaning the basement endlessly. Beating her up at Chess. Getting beat up at chess, that one time it happened. Ten Different versions of Rummicube. Nalgenes of Sin. Plane Knowledge-abilitity. Flowers by my bed. Finishing a 17 mile hike and changing out shoes. Friendship, deep friendship. Perhaps never The Love That You Dream about as Little Girlies. But something that is love, regardless, and it fights to be named that.

Laughter. Forgetting. Forgiveness. Family. Failing. We were careless, and we were free, and we frollicked beside the sea.

What i Do Now that i Never Did then.
Why I love Who I have become in the Past Year

by Robes

I make adult decisions. I am a lesbian because I'm a lesbian- i like sleeping with womEn. I used to just like sleeping with Her. I deal lightly with my sexuality, it is part of me not something that defines me. I now pay my own bills. I drive myself where i'd like to go. I am habitually 5 minutes late- but i always call! I budget like a master and balance my checking account. If there is something i want, i get it. I own and take care of a home as a single woman. I know my friendships are things i need to maintain regardless of the cost because of the laughter. I have deep friendships with people who i missed. I stand up for myself, and am proud of myself regardless of my decisions. I run when i want to run. I pick out the music i want to listen to and hum when i'm window shopping like a crazy old lady. I go to sleep every night in a bed with no dogs because i like it that way. I have taken care of, loved, and taught my puppy until she is the best dog i have ever known. I let laughter invade my life even when i have the stresses of an adult. I have overcome the urge to apologize for who i am and what i eat and how i act. I paint, i sew. I revel in my messiness. I quirk my nose in a way i didn't use to, in a funny way. I think i'm sexy. I think i'm hot. I let myself be a cocky bitch. I let me self be young and fun. I'm decent at pool on my good days, and bad at pool on my bad days. I am not afraid of *most* women. I write. habitually and entertainingly, or at least, like i write. I wander around on sunlight spring afternoon and take pictures even if my heart is breaking.

I take care of myself first and foremost- that is my primary duty in life. I have rediscovered that i am good at it. I walk under the stars when i want to walk under the stars. and when i want to invite people, i invite people. I have 40 minutes in a car alone every day where i belt bad music at the top of my lungs off key and don't have to worry about my tone deafness, but rather pretend i'm the most amazing singer in the world. I allow my relationships to define themselves. I see beauty in the world. I can be happy by myself.

I laugh, i cry, i love, and I have regained what it is to be me. i have found a wealth of strength within me that is, in fact, big enough to share- a wealth of strength and compassion that i always knew existed but never knew how to use. I have found that i am magic, by myself, I am magic. That is not a threatening thing, that is not something anyone is allowed to be afraid of or to taunt me for. They can be magic too. Magic, its sorta endless people. Even if its hidden in the day to day.

A year ago i did not have these things, and they are gifts i've allowed myself to find. I'll fight to keep them. And i believe i'll manage

To the Future
by Robes
Some journeys are meant to be taken with others, some alone. As time goes on, i define myself by different roles and standards, but i am also the person who has lived my memories- I have failed before and i am not unsad.

To my ex, I hope she cherishes our memories. But more than that, i wish a deep, abiding happiness that shelters her from the world and opens the world to her. I wish her love. I wish her joy.

For me, i'll take myself. A year ago, i felt like the world had the power to unmake me. I know it does not. Glory Be. Glory Be.

More memories await making.

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