Friday, January 30, 2009

Dang, That Thing Is Huge!

You might recall that I do mystery shopping from time to time.

Recently, I did one at a local Cinnabon.  Part of the shop requirement is to purchase any fresh baked product.  I got a cinnabon and an extra frosting.  I get the extra frosting because I rarely eat it when I get it and after it’s gotten cold, it needs more frosting, but also because I rarely eat it all at one time.

I used to work in the mall when I was in college and one of the stores I worked at was right next to a Cinnabon.  I ate it every day for lunch!  That tells you the kind of metabolism I had at 19.  I ate a regular cinnabon and had a MochaLatta every day!  

Talk about fat and calories!  Yikes!

If I tried to do that now, I’d be 200 lbs in a year!  Not to mention, diabetic.  That’s a lot of sugar!  (But I didn’t care about any of that back then.)

I do these shops generally once every month or two.  I don’t always eat them either.  Sometimes I send it to my uncle or get one for my grandma.

This last time, though I did get one for me and, as I said, I got a regular cinnabon, but this was no ordinary cinnabon.  This was the biggest cinnabon I’ve ever seen!  It took me 3 days to eat it!

It was at least twice the size of a normal cinnabon.  It was good, too.  Well worth the money, especially since it was free to me!  

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Car & Computer Issues

Monday, I went out to my car to go to school.  I never made it to the computer lab. 

My car was completely dead. 

I had to wait several hours before I could try to jump it.  Well, my step-dad tried to jump it for me.  It juiced it enough for it to crank and the lights to go on, but not to start.

Since the battery is as old as the car (almost 8 years), we ended up getting a new battery. 

That didn’t do it either.

My step-dad thinks the fuel line is frozen.  Cars I have had in the past have had this happen.  They were old (1980 or 81) cars, so it made sense.  This car is a 2001 and I have never had a problem.

In fact, the car started Saturday and it was a lot colder Saturday.

We put a bottle of Heat in the car, but nothing.  I am going on day 3 without a car. 

It’s always something going wrong.

Yesterday, my power cord didn’t want to connect to my laptop.  After a couple of hours online, with everything opening so slowly, it stopped connecting and entrecard stopped working.

My Drops Inbox kept giving me errors, so I turned the computer off and came back a few hours later, but the same problem was happening.  A few hours later, I tried again and the same thing.  I decided to post a blog, but I kept getting an error there too.  Bah!

Let’s see if today is any better.

Friday, January 23, 2009

MMM! Yum! Pancit!

My best friend since we were 5 is half-Chinese and half-Irish.  Her mom is Chinese but was raised in the Philippines.  Because of that, I grew up eating Filipino food around Filipino people. 

I never thought about it, it’s just the way I grew up.  Other people don’t like the food or don’t really know how to eat it.  The same with Chinese food or Japanese food.  I spent a lot of time in Chinatown with them and at various Asian food markets and whatnot.
My two favorite foods her mom made (my friend makes them now too) are Pancit and Chicken Adobo.  Actually, one time when we were kids, my friend’s mom and her Filipino friends called me an honorary Filipino because of the way I was eating it.  

Apparently, I was eating it like they do. 

A funny thing about growing up with all of them is that they are so small and I am so tall.

My best friend is 5’1.  Her dad is probably about 5’4.  Her mom is about 4’9.  I am 5’10.

The funniest part is that my friend and I were often asked if we were sisters, or even funnier, twins.

Not only are we 9 inches apart in height, I am mostly Irish, not a drop of Asian blood in me.  I am extremely fair skinned and my friend is very tan.  We really don’t look at all alike.  Her mom was usually with us too, so I think it is even funnier that they would think I was her child.  We think it was usually because of how we behaved together.  Always giggling and having so much fun with the most mundane things.

I miss them all so much.  Her parents live in Arizona now, so I rarely see them.  My best friend now lives in Georgia with her husband and 2 boys.  I see her usually once a year or so.  The last time I saw them was October 2007.  Hopefully I will see them in a few months as they might be coming in April. 

My friend usually makes Pancit when I visit her, so, I get it usually once every 2 years.

My uncle’s nurse is Filipino.  She comes to his condo once a week to check his vitals and whatnot.  She is very sweet and they get along really well.  They were talking one day (my mom is always there when the nurse comes) and my mom mentioned that we like Pancit.  The next week, she brought a giant pan of piping hot Pancit that she had her husband make.

It was so good!  A bit different from my friends.  Slightly different noodles and a few different vegetables, but it was good!  I have to learn how to make that and Adobo.  I also have to learn how to make Empanadas and Alfajores.  My other best friend is from Argentina and her mom always made them.  Now that her parents moved back to Argentina, I never get the cookies and only sometimes get the empanadas if her sister makes them. 

Man, now I am hungry!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Everyone Was Watching

It seems nearly everyone watched the inauguration of President Obama.  From toddlers to the elderly, including those in my family.

I was up and watching the coverage from about 8:15 until I went to bed.  I did break away when the local news was on from 4:00 to 5:00 and then again from 7:00 – 9:00 to watch The Biggest Loser.  I had less interest in the Ball coverage, though I did watch that from 9:00 – 10:00.  

Like most, I was moved by the history of the day and the massive crowds present to witness history.  Reports say there were 2 million people and not one arrest.  The mood created by this president is evidence that we as people can come together peacefully and with like minds.  An idea that has been challenged and doubted for as long as I can remember. 

I had a chat over dinner with my mom and step-dad the other night, a day or two before the inauguration.  My mom thought the coverage and excitement for 4 days prior to the inauguration was overkill.  I told her it is history, it’s huge.  She agreed, but thought it still seemed to be too much.

I told her that not only are people of all colors excited by the history of having the first Black/African American President and all that entails, but it is also a collective sigh of relief.

George W. Bush has had the lowest approval rating of any president and most people have felt dread with him as Commander In Chief.  While I will admit not all that has happened in this country is entirely Bush’s fault, a lot of it is and as I learned a long time ago, whomever is in charge of a company or a country is ultimately held responsible for its failure and errors.  His presidency has represented a divide and a downfall with little hope of improvement or change.

President Obama has signified change, hope, and a return to a time of prosperity.  The ability for so many to come together without incident is evidence of this.  This is a large part of why so many were celebrating prior to the inauguration and why so many cried tears of joy and relief. 

Bring this idea together with the history of the day and it was overwhelming.

Every time they say President Obama, I pause.  I knew it was coming, but it still is hard to believe it really happened.  He IS the president.  It is surreal.

My nearly 90-year-old grandma has liked Obama from day one.  She watched all day (except when she was napping) and had a running commentary on the events, the people, the clothes.  It was cute.  She was disappointed, however, that they did not show the ball gowns of more people.  She was hoping to see Oprah’s gown. 

My 4-year-old nephew was playing on the floor while my sister watched the inauguration.  He seems to not pay attention to things, but we now know he does.  At one point, President Obama was speaking about duty.  My nephew, being his father’s child, had a Beavis and Butthead moment.  He stopped playing and said, “he said doody.  Doody, doody, doody.  Ha, ha.  Doody.  Doody.  Doody.”  Later he decided to go in the family room and watch his show on PBS.  He knows how to turn on the TV and put that channel on.  He came running out and said very exasperated, “Mom! Obama is on 11 too!” 

My 6-year-old niece is in first grade and they have been learning about presidents and democracy.  The other day she announced Lincoln is her favorite.  They watched the inauguration in school and she said some kids were crying because it was the first Black president.  I am not sure how much she understands truly, but she knows it is historic and important.  She is just starting to understand that people are different races or colors or religions, etc.  She is in a very multicultural school that embraces differences and educates all the children about them in a positive way.  I see her and her classmates and I see the future.  It’s beautiful.

One day, it will not be a big deal for the President to be Black, Female, Asian, Latino, Native American, Indian, Muslim, Jewish, Pagan, Divorced, Single, Gay, Lesbian, etc.  One day, it will be so commonplace that the only thing people are concerned with is how well the person will lead this nation.  I see that day when I look at my niece and all the little children. 

Today, I revel in the moment and feel so much hope and excitement about the future.

Congratulations, Mr. President. 

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Ann Coulter And Race

I don’t watch The View.  I used to, I admit, but I just can’t handle Elisabeth Hasselbeck.  I can’t handle the arguing that ensues and the way they talk over each other.  I can’t stand the way I feel after watching it: angry and tense.  So, I stopped watching it, even though I adore Whoopi. 

I also rarely watch Access Hollywood anymore.  I happened to catch the episode on Tuesday January 13 while eating a quick dinner.  They were showing a clip from Monday’s (January 12) episode of The View with Ann Coulter and discussed the “aftermath” with her.  Coulter was apparently plugging her book on the show.  Barbara Walters read a bit of it and set the ladies off.

The bit that was read basically said that single mothers are to blame for crime because they raise criminals, which didn’t sit well with the ladies.  Another topic they “discussed” was celebrities who are half-Black and half-White, like Halle Berry, who were raised by their White mothers, yet they identify as being Black.

Ann seems to take offense to this. 

I’m glad I didn’t see this episode because I would have been furious.  My mom raised my sister and me as a single mother.  Neither of us are criminals.  There are many, many people raised by single mothers who are productive, respected human beings, never having committed a crime.

I also don’t quite understand why Coulter is concerned with the way someone identifies themselves.

Since she is obsessed, I have to wonder why.  I am guessing there is some supremacy aspect to her.

I have many comments to this topic.

Why does it matter how someone identifies himself or herself? 

Perhaps the reason they identify as Black is because their complexion is darker and to the outside world, that is what they are. 

Have you ever noticed the way some people focus on someone’s race when they can’t figure it out?  If it is not obvious, they ponder it.  Because someone like Halle Berry is a lighter complexion and has smaller features, people aren’t sure “what they are.”

Perhaps the reason they identify as Black is because the media focuses on that and waits until the celebrity tells us, like Tiger Woods did, or they just decide for them.

Perhaps they are conditioned.  By White America.  If you know history, there once was a one-drop rule.  Meaning, one drop of Black blood would identify that person on census reports as Black.  Perhaps this has simply carried over to the way people automatically view themselves and others.

It is doubtfully a snub toward their White family, especially if they were raised by a White mother.  I’ve only ever heard celebrities of mixed race speak well of the family who raised them. 

Let’s put this in perspective a bit.

I’m approximately 90% White.  Whatever that means, right?  I’m mostly Irish, but there is some Scottish, French, German, Bohemian and probably a few other things I don’t know about.  The other approximate 10% is Native American. 

I identify as White.  Because I look it.  If someone says, “what are you,” depending on whether they want the full or abridged version, I tell them all of the above or I just say Irish.

It’s just easier to say one answer.  It doesn’t mean I am not proud of my Native American ancestry.  I am.  It’s just simpler to say Irish than to spew off all the aspects of my heritage.

My best friend is half-Chinese and half-Irish (and a few other things).  She identifies as Asian on those little boxes we have to fill out.  She would like to check White or Caucasian AND Asian, but she isn’t given that option.  She is only given the option to choose one. 

I imagine that is where a lot of people have had to make the decision as to how they should identify.  The government puts us into those little boxes and we are only allowed to choose one.

So, could it be due to the census reports? 

It could be any of the above or all of the above or something entirely different.

I don’t understand why it matters how someone chooses to identify.  That is their personal choice.  I don’t know why someone else would care or take offense or even think they have the right to question that choice.

What frustrates me more than anything is that as a country, we are trying to move away from race and that racial divide.  Then there are people like Ann Coulter who not only seem to enjoy the racial divide, but appear to perpetuate and further that divide.

Shame on her.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Instincts and Regretting a Cereal Bowl

Have you ever had a moment you would like to redo?

A single moment you realize would have change the outcome of an event.  Letting that car go ahead of you rather than blocking the intersection.  Stopping to answer the phone before running out the door.  Not taking the elevator when the person inside creeped you out.

We all have moments like this.  Some seemingly small decision that leads you to a certain event.  A decision, a moment, that you wish you could do over to change the outcome of that event.

Well, I had that moment about 10:00 last night.

The news was just coming on and my mom had gone into the bedroom to call my step-dad (he’s out of town on business).  I heard a noise sounding like a door closing, but that’s not what it was.  I heard it 2 or 3 times earlier in the day and I figured it had something to do with the frigid cold and things expanding or whatnot.  (The noise was completely unrelated to what comes next.)

I heard it a few times and decided to get up and check it out.  It sounded like it was coming from downstairs.  Before I stood up, I heard my grandma’s walker.  She was going to the bathroom.  I stood up and put my slippers on to go downstairs to check.  I noticed a bowl on the end table from some cereal I had as a snack about a half hour earlier and decided to take it to the kitchen before going downstairs.

That is the moment I wish I could do over.  Forgetting the cereal bowl and going straight downstairs.  If I hadn’t taken the cereal bowl to the kitchen, I would have gotten there in time.

After putting the bowl in the kitchen sink, I went down the stairs and by the time I got to the bottom of the stairs, I heard a thud and then my grandma yelled.  I pulled the bathroom door open because I thought she was in there.  The heat lamp was running and the door was closed.  It was also the first door I reached.

She wasn’t in there.  She was in her bedroom.

Normally, I hear her walker both going to and from the bathroom.  Last night I only heard it once, so I assumed she was in the bathroom.  (I have hearing like a dog; I hear the slightest sounds and generally know what it is and where it is coming from.)

I missed the sound of her walker entering the bathroom and only heard it going back to her bedroom.

My grandma has a potty chair in her bedroom.  She had in there before we built the bathroom that is right outside her door now.  She keeps it in there now because, at nearly 90 she doesn’t always make it from her bed to the bathroom in time, so she keeps the potty in her room.

My mom has told her many times that if she goes in the potty, to just leave it and she will empty it for her.  My mom is a saint and is accustomed to dealing with excrement of all kinds from adults because she cares for my bedridden uncle and she cared for my step-dad’s father before he passed.

My grandma is stubborn.  Stubborn is an understatement, actually.

I don’t understand why she felt the need to empty the potty last night.  She hasn’t felt well for a few days.  Not sick, but in a lot of pain.  Even though I cleared her room to let the heat flow and it is now nice and warm in there, the frigid temperatures bother her arthritis and she has been in bed most of the time because of the pain.

Because of that, it surprised me she was going into the bathroom when I heard her.

I imagine that she is wishing to redo that moment, the decision to empty her potty.

The noise I heard, which caused her to yell out, was her falling.  She had gotten back into her room and replaced the potty.  Instead of just getting into bed and leaving it at that, she decided to park her walker out of the way.  That is where the trouble began.  

She might be wishing to redo that moment, actually.

When I heard the thud, I called out to her before I opened the bathroom door.  She says she was calling me when she fell.  She says she doesn’t know why she was calling me instead of my mom.  She actually wasn’t calling me.  She yelled out once.  She might have been saying my name softly or thinking it, but I never heard my name.

When I didn’t see her in the bathroom, I ran the few steps to her room and flung the door open to see her sitting on the floor shaking.

She was on her way back to her bed.  She holds on to the dresser as she walks back.  She lost her footing and tried to grab something to hold onto but she was already down.  She says she fell flat on her back, but I know she didn’t.  She couldn’t have because where she was sitting, there were too many things behind her.  She also couldn’t sit up that quickly on her own.

I yelled to my mom upstairs, but thought she might not hear me so I pounded on the ceiling.

My mom did hear me.  She heard the thud too and thought I was putting out the bag of clothes for Amvets.  She thought the thud was the door.  She heard me yell and thought that someone grabbed me.  

Between the two of us, we got her up.  Thank God.  My step-dad is out of town, so if we couldn’t get her up, I’m not sure what we would have done.  Grandma kept crying that she didn’t know how she was going to get up.  

She fell about a year and a half ago.  We had been moving my uncle and we were all over at his new place, except grandma.  She was at home, but we had her stay upstairs so she could go to the bathroom (the bathroom downstairs was just a dream then) or sit in the living room or whatnot.  We had been there longer than we expected and we were winding down when I just had this feeling.  I told everyone I was leaving to check on grandma.  

They seemed a little surprised because it was so sudden, but they said okay.  I hurried home, which is only about 5 minutes away, and I kept envisioning her on the floor.  I opened the front door and I called to her and asked where she was.  She answered that she was on the floor.  She had been there for about a half hour and didn’t have a phone with her.  I called my mom and had her send my step-dad and brother-in-law.  The two of them got her up that time.

Grandma knew it took two men last time, so she was worried we couldn’t get her up.  

We kept reassuring her and trying to calm her.  I bent her legs for her so her feet were on the ground.  My mom got on one side, I got on the other, and I prayed for strength.  

We got her on her feet and she said she was slipping so I lifted my leg using my knee to give her some support.  Thankfully, we managed to get her in bed.

She was in so much pain and just crying.

I rubbed her back for her and we gave her some of her vicadin.  I was worried she broke something.  So far, I don’t think she did.  She is bruised and I am sure she pulled some muscles, but she has been able to get out of bed to use her potty on her own, so I think she is okay.  Her arms are bruised up and her back hurts her very much, but I don’t think anything is broken.

I don’t doubt she is in pain, but my grandma is the type that is proof the placebo effect works.  She is very much mind over matter with certain things.  I used to make aromatherapy products.  Mostly for myself, but I would sell things to people also.  

Therefore, I have essential oils on hand.  I always have lavender oil, which is like the Advil of the essential oils.  Since I didn’t have anything mixed and she needed something right away, I grabbed my lavender oil and rubbed some on her back.  
(Lavender oil is one of very few that can be applied neat – meaning it doesn’t need to be diluted in a lotion or base oil like grapeseed before being applied to the skin.)

My grandma thinks I am brilliant and that I can do anything.  She asks me everything and I can tell her things to get her to do something or agree to something that if my mom said the same thing, Grandma would refuse.  To her, I do everything just right, so the lavender oil helped her.  Whether it did physically, she believes it did and that is all that matters.

All night, I kept thinking, if I just hadn’t taken the damn cereal bowl to the kitchen, I would have gotten to her before she fell.  I know it’s not my fault.  I didn’t cause her to fall.  I may not have gotten to her in time.  I might have only gotten there to see her go down, but I still feel bad.  I don’t normally have regrets, I think it’s a silly waste of time, but I can’t help but regret that cereal bowl.

What I am really irritated with myself about is that I didn’t go with my gut.  Like that time a year ago when I knew she’d be on the floor when I walked in, I had a feeling when I heard her walker.  My gut was flashing a red alert in my head, but my brain said, ‘she’s in the bathroom, she’s okay, just take the bowl to the kitchen now so you don’t forget later.’

I learned along time ago to trust my gut, so I am irritated that I let a cereal bowl derail that instinct.

Friday, January 9, 2009

It's Time To Clean House!

Since my laptop had been down, I took that time to do some things around the house that needed to be done.  A lot of little things, but I have started tackling one big project.

My grandma’s room.

My grandma used to live with my uncle.  She would argue that because her home is in Kentucky, but she hasn’t spent more than a week there in probably 10 years.

When my uncle’s MS started affecting his mobility, she started staying with him to help out.  She could make dinner and take him things if he couldn’t get around.  She also felt needed.  She felt she could help with my cousins too.  They were already on a bad path then and they’re behavior reflected it, she thought she could help.

My grandma has never been the type to take anyone’s crap.  Where my uncle coddled my cousins all their lives because he was overcompensating for their mother’s absence, my grandma would knock the shit out of them if necessary.  They learned pretty quickly they could get away with anything with their dad, but not as much with my mom (or the rest of us, though they are particularly frightened of my step-dad who is 6’4) and especially with grandma.

My cousin one time threatened to call the police because my grandma was threatening to hit him with her cane.  Let me clarify that my grandma is not abusive, she never laid a hand on my sister or me, and she never did more than crack them on the butt if they got out of line.  But with us, a threat was all it took.  With them, not so much.  When he threatened to call the police, my grandmother, who was already in her late 70’s or early 80’s, took him by the throat and had him against the wall. 

You’ve got to love that.

She stayed with my uncle for the most part for a few years, but she had a room at my mom’s.  My mom also used that room for storage.  Whatever she didn’t know what to do with, she put in grandma’s room.  After all, grandma only stayed with her when she needed a break from my uncle’s family.

Two or three years ago, she started staying with my mom more often than at my uncle’s.  

August 2007 when my uncle had his accident, I brought her home from my uncle’s and she hasn’t gone back.  She needed someone to take care of her during that time.  My uncle nearly died 3 times and my cousins were big time trouble.  An elderly woman, no matter how strong, needs to be taken care of during a time like that.  I waited on her hand and foot and sat with her while she cried. 

My uncle made it and we moved him closer to my family.  My grandma wanted to go stay with him, mostly out of obligation, but we wouldn’t let her.  For one, the place isn’t big enough for all of them.  For two, it’s wood floors and she would slip.  For three, she needs to rest and be the one taken care of now.

Since then, my mom has been saying we have to clean grandma’s room out.  When I tell you it is packed, I mean it.  It’s a big room, but there is only a path for her to get to and from her bed with her walker. 

I have wanted to work on it for a year.  I actually started to last year and my mom shut me down.  She said she needed to be there to go through the things in the room.  So I stopped.  A year later, it still hasn’t been done.

I intended to do it this past fall.  When I went in for my ductogram and biopsy, I had convinced myself I wouldn’t need the biopsy.  I had intended on starting on her room that Wednesday.  Needless to say, I had the biopsy and couldn’t do anything for over a week.

The main reason I wanted to get her room started at that point was because the heat vent was completely blocked by all the boxes and things piled up in there and it is so cold in her room.  I knew it was going to be a cold winter, so I wanted to free that area up.  She has a heated mattress pad and a heated blanket, but she can’t lay in bed all the time. 

After the biopsy, it was mid-November and my parents went to Mexico, then a friend had her baby and it was my brother-in-law’s birthday and then Thanksgiving….  You get the idea. 

I decided last week that this had to get done now because a) I have the time and b) it’s going to be really cold here this week.  Thursday the high is going to be 0 and the low is going to be -10 and that is the temperature, not the wind chill.

Friday, I went in her room, moved her bed, and started cleaning.  Moving things around and actually cleaning.  I had to dust the walls and shelves and then wash them down.  So much dust and cobwebs.  My mom came down a couple of hours later and started her moaning and groaning.  I scolded my mother.  I scolded her for letting her mother live in that mess (which is an understatement).  I scolded her for yelling at me for doing this.  I scolded her for being so negative. 

It’s not an option, this has to be done. 

I had made the decision to do it whether anyone wanted me to or not before I started.  

Here’s something you probably don’t know about me.  While I am normally very agreeable and passive, once I’ve made my mind up about something, you won’t change it.  You won’t do anything but cause me to dig my heels in further.  I inherited my stubborn gene from my grandma. 

Since Friday, I got the right half of her room completely cleaned and the heat vent cleared.  The left half will be tackled during the week. 

I also wanted it clean because I realize that at her age, she may not be with us for very much longer.  If she were to pass away in her room, I certainly would not want anyone seeing that mess, but also, I don’t know how people would fit in there to get her out.

Another reason for doing this is that my grandma will be 90 in April.  We are planning to throw her a party.  People will come from out of town for this and will come by the house while they are here.  If she cannot come out of her room that day for arthritis, they can go see her there, but not the way it was.  Nobody would fit nor would we want anyone to see that mess.  I know she would be mortified too.

With just half the room cleaned up, she keeps saying how big the room seems, even her TV.  As I said, it’s a big room.  It used to be my sister’s room and it still has the gray paint on the walls and some of the wall hangings my sister put up.  My sister moved out 9 years ago when she got married.  I took down those wall hangings and am putting up my grandma’s.  I can’t paint it, especially not now that it’s cold, but I can at least brighten it up with some pictures and decorations on the walls.

I want her to be more at ease and relaxed, especially at her age.  So far, so good.

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