Monday, November 24, 2008

Best Day Ever

I had what I would describe as a near ideal day yesterday. I woke up late and stayed in bed for two hours reading a book that was due back at the library. It was a really good young adult novel about a girl who is struggling with her weight. I thought the author handled the issue in a very, very realistic tone. Jonathan brought me something to eat while I was in bed. I think that is the best way to live, food and a book in bed. I don't need much more than that.

I got up around 10:30 or 11:00. Jonathan and I were going to go to Twilight on Monday, but I just couldn't wait. We went downtown, grabbed a slice at Straight From New York Pizza and then headed over to the theater. The movie was good, it stayed with the book, but I had a really hard time focusing. I was so busy watching everyone else react to the movie. When Edward walked into the school for the first time a collective sigh rippled across the theater. Jonathan and I glanced at each other and did our best not to laugh too loudly. At the end of the aisle, a couple seats away, a woman in her fifties was eagerly watching the movie. She was leaning so far forward I'm surprised she didn't fall out of her seat. When I came back from the bathroom I had to ask her to lean back twice so I could walk down to my seat. The movie was at the oh so important kissing scene and she was none too happy with my request.

After the movie we went to the library where I finally got my hands on a copy of the Gossip of Starlings. I can't wait to dive into it. I thought there was an advanced copy floating around the store, but I can't find it so the library copy will have to do.

Then we headed home and I took Isabel for a long, long walk. We walked in a different area than we normally do. I have to say, Salem is not a very nice town. There are some pretty rough neighborhoods right next to really nice ones. Isabel was ambushed by a cat, but nothing else too exciting happened. We were gone for an hour and it was a nice, relaxing walk.

I spent the rest of the evening curled up on the couch with a book. I had a huge mug filled with hot chocolate and peppermint schnapps and it was so warm and cozy I wanted to stay there forever. Jonathan was upstairs playing video games and I called him from my cell phone periodically for snacks and so he could take care of the dog. Yes, I really can be that lazy sometimes and he is nice enough to cater to me when I am like that. What a good, good day. It was exactly what I needed.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Shopping

I've started taking Thursdays off again for various reasons and I have to say I really enjoy having that extra day to relax, do housework and shop for Christmas presents. I'm trying to get all my Christmas shopping done before December 1st this year. I don't think it's going to happen, but I am remaining optimistic.

If you haven't gone shopping lately, go, go now. Everything is on sale - even if it's not advertised as being on sale. Or at least that's how it seems. I bought a couple items at Macy's today and my total was $25.00 below what I thought it should be. I asked the clerk if it was correct and she explained that both of the items were on sale. There was no indication on the packaging that the items were on sale, but I took her word for it. At Old Navy I was nearly accosted when I tried to get out the door without buying something. A saleswoman practically forced me up the stairs to check out their clearance section. I know the economy is bad, but are stores such as Old Navy and Macy's really doing that poorly? My first recommendation is to shop local of course, but some of the big retailers have huge sales going on right now and I have no problem taking advantage of those.

However, I am also trying to buy a lot of things locally, on 3rd St. in McMinnville, and in downtown Salem. I work at a small store and I know the small stores need our support more than the big ones right now. It's easy to think small indie stores are dying left and right, especially since that's what is featured in the news, but I know lots of small stores who are doing just fine. We may not be doing as well as we were last year, but we are far from rolling over and giving up. So please don't give up on us, and make sure you check out what a local business can offer before you go to the big guys. Especially if you're in the market for books ...

Sunday, November 9, 2008

A long sentimental post about sisters.

Last Monday I went shopping with my sister. As I was driving home from Portland I started thinking about how monumental our shopping trip was. A year ago we were barely speaking outside of holiday events and now I find myself e-mailing her to see if she wants to hang out. And I'm not hanging out with her because I have to, but because I want to.

The shopping trip was a typical day out with my sister and her 2 year old son, Ryan. She tore through store after store, piling shoes on the floor because she couldn't figure out how to reattach them to their display, dropping shoes on a pile of sweaters because she decided she didn't want them after all, and letting my nephew throw his french fries all over the ground. I followed behind, picking things up and apologizing to store clerks left and right. I work in retail; people who treat stores like that are annoying. I spent the day warm, (why do they overheat malls so dang much?!) flustered, and a bit annoyed.

After years of not wanting to be like my sister at all I find myself wanting to follow in her footsteps, or at least be like her in some aspects. When we were leaving the mall via Macy's my nephew, Ryan, pitched a fit because he wanted to walk all over the store and my sister wanted him to stay by the stroller. My sister picked him up and carried him screaming out of the mall while I walked behind with the stroller. It was at that moment when I realized, she's done really well with this whole Mom thing. It was thrust upon her unexpectedly and I wasn't sure if she could settle into it, but I'm really impressed by how well she's doing.

Although I am really glad of where my sister and I are at now, I always feel a little sad about what it took to get us there. About a year ago Ryan was diagnosed with a kidney disease. After many consultations the doctors decided to remove one of his kidneys because it was so large. I went to visit Ryan in the hospital and it was sad to see him curled up in a hospital bed, but it was good to know he would be getting better soon. The doctors wanted to wait a few more months and then take his other kidney out and give him one of my sister's kidneys. 2 hours after they arrived home from the hospital the doctors called to let them know they had made a mistake: Ryan actually had cancer.

I remember my Mom calling and telling me the news, but I don't remember exactly how things went from there. Ryan was admitted to the hospital for a long time, I took time off from work, and I spent many, many hours at the hospital with my sister. During those hours spent together we talked a lot and I started to realize my sister is not the same person she used to be.

When we were growing up I disliked my sister a lot. To me it seemed as if she only wanted to spend time with me if she could get something out of it. She was three years older than me and I wanted to be her friend, but she was only ever cruel to me. Sure we got along sometimes, but it was only on her terms and it was always destructive behavior. She taught me how to sneak out of the house. She taught me how to smoke cigarettes, and convinced me it was cool. I remember the times when she would bestow favor on me. I would hang out in her room, we would flip through magazines, I would feel cool again. And then, BAM, she was cursing at me and telling me to leave her alone.

Her senior year of high school my sister was addicted to crystal meth and a variety of other drugs. I don't know how much she remembers from that year. I remember the forged checks, the calls from the police station, her punching me in the ribs, her pulling my hair, the sketchy boyfriends, and finally - rehab. After that year I didn't want to have anything to do with her. We didn't speak unless we had to and it was always on a surface level.

I never thought I would be someone who has a close relationship with a sister. My oldest sister has 3 kids and we don't have much to talk about. And of course I couldn't stand my other sister most of the time. Yeah, we would go to the beach for a weekend and everything would be okay, but she would inevitably make my mom cry and make me angry and then the weekend would be ruined. I have no idea what really happened in my sister's life her last two years of high school. I think there's a lot of residual pain though and she tends to take that out on our mom.

I didn't worry about the rift between my sister and me because I was so close to my brother. We hung out all the time and we were good, good friends all through high school. I remember coming home from my first year of college to find my brother laying next to me. He was waiting for me to wake up so we could talk, and talk we did, for hours. Then he did two tours of duty in Iraq and got married. We're still close, but not as close as we used to be. He's still my brother, but war changes a person.

I can't really say how my sister and I became so close. It was a very gradual transition from hostile to wanting to hang out. At first I was in it for my nephew, but before too long I wanted to spend time with her too. My sister can be a very thoughtful, kind person, but I was too busy remembering all the bad things to move forward.

I know we took a big step forward in our relationship when my mom called one day and said "They're back in the hospital. She wants you to come." That's all I needed to hear. Despite what we've been through, she's my sister, and when she needs me I will show up for her. Even though she doesn't cry, or whine about anything she has gone through in the past year, I will be there for her. I will go shopping with her, I will fold her laundry, I will bring her meals, I will be greatful to her for picking up dishes for me at Ikea, and I will do my best to enjoy all the time we spend together. Though my nephew is still with us, and doing very, very well, it does a person good to remember we will not have those we love with us forever.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Election Results

While I am not surprised that Obama won, I am surprised he won so fast. Obama was announced as president around 11:00 Eastern Time. I did not vote for him because he's way too far left for me but since he's been elected I hope he can bring this country back. And I am proud of my country for electing its first African American president. It is wonderful to witness that historical moment. I have to admit he is one hell of a speaker. I was getting a little verklempt listening to him speak and I don't like a lot of his policies! I'm glad the election is over because it was such a long and dreary process. Right now I'm sitting back and waiting to see how things will unfold over the next few months. Hopefully the election of Barack Obama as president will be a step forward for our country.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Grocery stores, freeways, and meltdowns

I'm a complete emotional wreck right now. I hate when I get like this, but sometimes it happens and I usually have to ride it out. A lot of things have been piling up lately. I've had some frustrating setbacks health-wise, Jonathan and I have been fighting, and my brother found out he's been called up for a third tour in Iraq (He goes in September 2009. Maybe things will change before then ...)

So I had a bit of a meltdown in the grocery store yesterday - Fred Meyer to be exact. Part of the problem was PMS related but a lot of it was the frustrations I mentioned above.

Yesterday Jonathan and I went to the grocery story after my doctor's appointment where we were told that they don't know what's wrong with me. My heart and lungs checked out fine, which is great. I can exercise without worrying about dying now. I may feel awful but everything is working fine!

The doctor told me he thought my Graves Disease may be the cause of all this. Graves Disease is an auto-immune disorder which affects the entire body, but it mainly causes the thyroid to be overactive. That's as medical as I get. So the pulmonologist sent all of his findings to my endocrinologist and the two of us will discuss what to do now. Although I have to wait until March to see my endocrinologist. I've lived like this for 5 years - what's a few more months??

My hope is always that a doctor will say "Ah-ha! Here's the problem, here's the solution - now your medical problems are solved you can be on your merry way." And I know I shouldn't get my hopes up, but I do because I'm human, and the end result is tears in Fred Meyer and impulse buying of chocolate chip cookies.

As Jonathan drove the few short blocks to our house I sobbed, ate cookies, and tried to explain how I felt. Needless to say, it was pretty disgusting and he didn't understand a word I said. Later that day I left for Portland to spend some time with my sister and nephew. My sister is moving to Idaho for a year, or more, because of her husband's job so I'm trying to spend lots of time with them before they leave.

On the drive up I was listening to a sad CD and I started thinking about things again and then I started crying on the freeway. Seriously, it was pathetic. I was driving along I-5 sobbing and talking to myself because I always have to voice what I'm feeling even when no one is around to hear me. Then I started thinking about how Ryan, my nephew, has cancer and how if anyone should be crying it's my sister. However, she has done remarkably well with all of the stress that has been piled on her this past year and she hasn't complained much. And then after expressing all of those emotions I just felt like a terrible, whiny person. And I still kind-of feel that way.

I don't know why I get so emotional about having Graves Disease. I always feel so guilty for crying over it but I can't seem to stop. Maybe that's just my way of coping with it and I should stop feeling guilty and let myself cry (and eat chocolate chip cookies).

After yesterday morning I didn't see Jonathan for the rest of the day. I went to my sister's and he went somewhere to watch Monday night football so we didn't meet up until late last night. And then tonight we've been snapping at each other all night and that's made me more emotional and frustrated. Jonathan and I have been through a lot this past year and on days like this it's hard for me to cope with him and our relationship. We fight so much sometimes it gets to be really overwhelming. But then I am reminded that he does love me because he's willing to drive me home while I cry, talk, and spray chocolate chip cookie crumbs all over the dashboard.

Some weeks are just rough ones and I know this one will pass but being in the thick of things sucks.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Book Friends

This post has been formulating in my mind for a while, but I think I'm finally ready to put it out there. A couple days ago I got an e-mail from my husband asking if I would put together a book list for someone at his work. There are a few people in my life who ask me to do this for them (and I don't mind doing it at all) but this is the first time someone I have never met has asked me to do it.

At work recommending books is what I do. I get caught up in other things, other projects but at the end of the day my job title is simple: bookseller. Every now and then I feel a sense of pride because I am good at what I do. I can recommend a book successfully to most people and sometimes those same people come back and ask me if I have another recommendation for them. And before too long a customer becomes a little bit more than a customer. I wouldn't classify them as a friend but they hover somewhere in between friend and customer. Perhaps they are their own category: book friends.

It makes me feel like I'm doing something right when someone comes in the door and says, "Oh, I love what you recommend. What should I read next?" I don't have what people may classify as an amazing job. I don't save lives, I don't win important cases in court, I don't run a business or anything else that people may think is worthy. But I do get to see people at both good and bad times and I get to recommend books to help them through the bad times, or to help the good times last.

Every now and then it's good for me to be jolted out of complacency and remember why I work at a bookstore and why I love it. I can't describe how fulfilling it is but lately I've been having days where I am reminded over and over again that right now this is what I am supposed to be doing and I am good at it. I am socially awkward in many, many ways but I can always connect with people over books. Always.

Monday, October 20, 2008

I Hate Hospitals

Today I had to go to the hospital for a cardiac pulmonary stress test. Yeah, it was about as fun as it sounds. I hate, hate, hate hospitals and this test was all the more awkward because I had to go to my husband's department to take it. I'm glad that Jonathan knows people that might be able to help me solve this breathing problem (which has been going on since '05!) but it would be great if his colleagues had never seen me on a treadmill, hooked into all kinds of machines and breathing like I may pass out at any moment. Did I mention the huge clip that gets attached to the nose during all of this? Oh, and how about the fact that they have to venture up your shirt, A LOT, to insert, and then mess with, the cardiac attachments. I know his colleagues don't think anything of it, it's their job etc. etc., but all I can think about is the next Christmas party. "Oh, so this is what you look like when your shirt is in its proper place and you're not sputtering and sweating all over the place ..."

Okay, I'm exaggerating a bit, but it was still fairly embarrassing for me. And the entire time they're doing the test you can't talk because you have to hold the mouth piece in place. But they want to know how you are doing so you have to throw up 1 - 10 fingers every now and then. Here's the thing though; if a person ever gets to 10 they're screwed because they have you hold onto a bar to keep your balance and they have a pulse-ox on one of your fingers, which means you can't hold the bar too tight with that hand. What the heck are you supposed to do if you reach 10?? Throw both hands up and hope you catch the bar on the way down? 'Cause if you don't get it, you will fall forward and your face will end up catching you. Talk about embarrassing.

I made it to 6 1/2 before I had to have them stop the test because I was dizzy. I was worried they didn't get enough data but they all told me I did great and went on their merry way. Then in the parking garage Jonathan informed me that they just keep going until you tell them to stop or until they reach a certain level. I wish I would've known that before I started the test?! I thought they were in control. I didn't know I could have stopped at any moment. If I would've known that I would've walked in one door and right out the other.

Next week I meet with the pulmonary doctor I've been seeing to go over the results of this plus my other tests. Although just before he left the stress test room he appeared very confused and was talking about how he would have to "think about this case." We did ascertain one thing though. I definitely, no way, no how, not possible, do not have asthma.

My case is complicated for a lot of reasons but the main one is my thyroid problem. I have Graves Disease, also known as Hyperthyroidism and that makes the breathing problem difficult to diagnose.

A few years back when I was doing the test rounds to try to figure out my Graves Disease I realized just how much I hate doctors and hospitals. Figuring out my little disease was very convoluted and I saw a lot of incompetent doctors. Once a doctor diagnosed me I remember trying to come to terms with Graves Disease and having a chronic illness and how that would affect me. That was not a good time in my life. I had a lot of information coming at me and I didn't have a good doctor who could help me process it. It wasn't until I found my specialist that I realized what was happening to me and that I could control it and work with it.

In those confusing months after being diagnosed with Graves I remember feeling like I was beating my head against a wall. Chronic illness, chronic illness, chronic illness. For the rest of your life, for the rest of your life, for the rest of your life. Head against wall, head against wall, head against wall. And now I'm afraid I am going to have another chronic illness and it's going to be another depressing cycle before I adjust and come to terms with it. Or the doctors will once again draw a blank and I'll be back where I started, or where I am now - unable to breathe, petrified to have children, unable to run, exhausted all the time ... Or, here's a third option, that somehow it will be my fault. It is possible that I could be doing this to myself. That option can't be ruled out right now and that's just a scary thought.

So right now I guess it's just a matter of bucking up and realizing that this could help. That there may be a solution out there and the doctor I'm seeing now may have the golden ticket. I just hate going through all of this because it makes me sad, depressed and weepy. My poor husband, I know I'm not very easy to live with right now. Most of the time I'm raging at the world because I don't understand what is wrong with my body, but a lot of the time that rage gets spewed all over him.

I'm glad this day is over. I'm going to curl up with a good book now and hope for a better tomorrow.

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