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Archive for May, 2008

I ran into a friend of mine today who I had not seen since I woke up from my Nap. He runs the Canadian Blood Services, so I told him I availed myself of his organization’s services several times while in the hospital. I have no memory of any of it, but when you get blood, they send you a letter telling you exactly what you got and when, and my list was long.

I felt oddly guilty when I got the letter, because I have never donated blood. It isn’t for lack of trying, though. I’ve been rejected several times, first for being anemic and the subsequent times for being on medication for Fibromyalgia. That one annoyed the hell out of me, because you can be on way higher doses of the same meds I took for the FMS for other conditions and that’s fine, but if it is if for FMS, they show you the door. The reason I was given was that if your FMS was bad enough to be medicated, you weren’t healthy enough to handle giving away a pint of blood. I complained to my friend, who said they were actually changing that and I’d be able to give blood soon. That doesn’t matter any more, because here’s the biggest irony: now that I’ve been given blood, I can’t donate it.

This frustrated me, much as I understand the reasoning. I think giving blood is one of the most significant mitzvah (good deed) a person can perform. It is easy, anonymous and life-saving. I can’t donate myself, but that never stopped me from nagging those around me.

So anyway, my friend told me that they are always looking for people who have received blood who might have a compelling story to tell. They like to roll people like me out at donor appreciation events, since it puts a human face on the good deed. Donors get to see concrete results from their actions when someone stands up and says, “I am alive because of you.”

I told him I’ll do anything he wants me to do. I can’t give blood myself, but if I can thank those who do, that is at least something. I think I’ll start now: if you have ever given blood, thank you. I really am alive because of you. And if you haven’t, give it a try. Go give blood. It’s easy. It’s fast. And they even give you cookies afterwards. Save a life, get cookies. It’s a good deal.

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I took Jasper for my longest post-coma walk today. We didn’t have time to go to the dog park, so I just walked him to the park near our house, which is very big. There are no dogs allowed, but we still take him because, well, it’s a stupid rule. I get ‘no dogs’ at the play structures, where there are many small children, but in a great big empty field?

On weekends, when it is busy, we keep him leashed. He is very popular, of course, because who can resist a great big teddy bear dog? Okay, some very confused people can, but not many. This weekend, we were at the duck pond in the park. The kids fed the ducks and Jasper sat and watched with great focus, either wishing the kids were tossing him that bread or wishing he could eat the ducks. We didn’t give him a chance to show us which. A couple bylaw officers drove by in their little van, slowing to stare at us, but didn’t stop to ticket us. Even the bylaw officers think the rule is stupid, obviously.

Today, there was no one at the park. I let Jasper off the leash, circled round the very bottom of the park, then started back through a field, still very near to one end. Very far away from the duck pond. Jasper turned into manic puppy and began racing back and forth, buzzing by me like a furry byplane at each pass. As I walked toward the exit, he was running in increasingly large ovals, orbiting me. He’d disappear into a stand of trees, then come tearing out the other side, running full speed. Finally, his loop got so large that he ran up the crest of a small hill very far away from me. On the other side of the hill was the duck pond.

He stopped and stared. I called him and continued to walk away. He looked at me. He looked at the pond. He looked at me again. Praying my strategy would work, I continued to walk away, shouting, “Jasper, this way!” Water and ducks or alpha mommy? Ducks or mom? What a choice for a dog to have.

He picked me.

Lately, when I pick the camera up to take a photo of him doing something cute, he immediately leaps up upon seeing the camera and does this:

How pathetic is that? And it’s not like he’s even in trouble, having wisely made the correct choice.

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Asher has a great deal of difficulty writing; it’s a learning disability, actually. He also has ADD, and works very hard in school to concentrate. By the time school is over he’s had it, and so frequently I ‘scribe’ his homework. He bounces around the room dictating to me what he wants to write.

His class is reading the book Sarah Plain and Tall, which I have not read, but know something about because Maya did it a few years ago too. Today, he came home and told me that he is to write a letter from Sarah to William, the child who is to be her stepson. Sarah writes letters in the book, Asher told me. But he knew nothing else – not what she wrote, not what he was supposed to write. He got as far as “Dear William,” and had nothing further to say. So I wrote this:

Dear William,

I hope you are good at paying attention in school so you will know what your homework is and not drive me nuts when I become your mother. I hope you don’t use, “The teacher told me I had to read the book, but she never said I had to remember it,” as an excuse.

Love, Sarah.

I am thankful that Asher’s teacher has a sense of humour.

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My picture uploader works again. See:

This is Jasper, waiting for J to run by. J likes to demonstrate his insanity by running the 10K race every year. This past weekend was the National Capital Race weekend, where hordes of crazy people run in a variety of races, from a 5K to a marathon.

Like pretty much everyone in this race, J is not in it to win anything, merely to get the time he is aiming for. He wanted to do it in an hour. He made it in an hour and 2 minutes, which is pretty good, seeing how little he actually trained for this. He doesn’t think he needs much training. “Anyone can run for an hour,” he told me. Speak for yourself, dude. I can’t run to the end of the driveway and I can’t even blame my recent Nap. I’ve always been like that.

Here’s J, in the blue hat:

This is a good photo, because it doesn’t clearly show how pained he looked. The kids and I, as we watched the runners pass, noticed that there were essentially two types of runners in this race : those who loped along looking pretty comfortable, maybe sweating, but generally looking loose and pain-free; and those who were basically doing the running version of hobbling, looking stiff and uncomfortable. J is the latter, although there are far worse than him.

These are the front runners. They all looked loose. I can see why these people are here, because they are going to earn money.

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Having an invisible disability is difficult. Of course, having a visible disability is difficult too, but for entirely different reasons. The problem with the invisible one is that as long as you look well everyone assumes you are.

This is not a new issue with me, as the pain of Fibromyalgia is also invisible. Post-coma has actually been easier for me because lots of people know about my illness and don’t expect as much out of me now. In fact, I’ve heard from a number of people – both directly and indirectly – that they hadn’t believed there was really anything wrong with me before and now feel badly, as I was clearly sick with this for a while. This doesn’t make me feel any better – worse, actually, as it confirms my fears that people think I’m just a big fat slacker.  Of course, why anyone would behave in such a manner as they obviously think I did  – faking pain – is beyond me utterly. You’d have to be seriously fucked up to restrict yourself like that just for kicks. Ironically, what I did do a lot was fake not being in pain, because I didn’t want to look like a whiner.

Anyway, this issue has long been a thing with me.

Today. I am weary. I have much I want to do and have accomplished little. Three plants got planted, but only one watered. I sat in the sun and got some light weeding done. I put a load of washing in the machine, where it still sits all wet.

I did want to pop to the grocery store and garden center (same place), so J came with me to be the heavy lifter. When it was almost time for us to pay, I suggested I start walking, as I am particularly slow today. I figured he could pay and walk out with the groceries and still be at the car the same time as me but this way I wouldn’t slow him down.

As I got across the road, a woman turned fast beside me and I caught, through her open window, what sounded like remarks disparaging the speed at which I made it across the road. Not fast enough for her, sadly. I watched her park only two cars away from our spot, so I ambled right past my car and up to hers, catching her as she got out.

I politely said hello, then told her that when she passed me, it sounded as though she was commented on how fast I was walking. Was this the case? She said yes, that she just wondered if I could maybe speed it up a bit. So I got to say, “Well, the truth is, the answer to your question is ‘no.’ You see I recently woke up from a coma and my muscles are still recovering, so I actually couldn’t speed up a bit.”

The woman looked a bit shocked and said, “In that case, I apologize.” I didn’t care about that. I told her, “What I’d really like is for you to not make assumptions based on what you see and make disparaging comments to people when you have no idea what their situation is.” She apologized again and ran for the hills.

I feel great, I have to tell you. I was polite and stood up for myself. I used to be the sort of person who would just ignore the woman and grumble about the unfairness the rest of the day, but no more! Now she gets to be all grumbly and I get to be pleased with myself.

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So yesterday, I hauled out all the plastic stuff we have to get rid of it, or at least take it out of circulation. Then, in a moment of blogginess, I then put it all on the counter and took a picture. I uploaded the picture onto the computer, then told wordpress to upload it onto my blog. It did so. It is now sitting in my ‘gallery.’ However, when I agree with wordpress that I would like the ‘gallery’ placed in my post, it does this:

gallery

Ha ha – a blog program with a sense of humour. Actually, it only does that half the time. The other half of the time, it merely freezes. This is pissing me off. I finally got organized enough to take a photo to accompany my ramblings and the stupid blog program won’t cooperate! I’ve tried for 2 days.

So, picture this: a counter top full of plastic plates, bowls, cups and water bottles. Okay. Good. Who needs photos anyway?

The straw cups aren’t in the pile because the metal water bottles have yet to arrive. But I did discover that they are number 5s, which isn’t a bad plastic as far as leaching is concerned, so perhaps I’ll keep them as back-up. The old sippy cups were 7s, which are very bad, but I have two newer ones that are 5s. Interesting.

I don’t know what to with all this stuff, up there in that inspired photo. Throwing it out seems bad, but I can’t think of a use for it all. Any ideas?

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Books

Yogamum tells me that the list of unread books came from Library Thing. (Which terrifies me with its appeal. I already spend too much time on the computer. Must. Stay. Away.)

I still don’t get why they didn’t just stop the list at the nice round number of 100, instead of adding 6 more.

The unread books on my shelves number in the hundreds. Most have stayed unread for years. I consider them back-up – like, what if they suddenly shut down all the libraries, or we are snowed in our houses for weeks sometime? The irony is that when I do sometimes find myself without something new to read, I usually pick up a previously-read book that I particularly like instead. But that is only short-term. I’m sure if I went new-bookless for longer, I’d need all those unread books.

Speaking of books, my kids’ school is having a used book sale as a fundraiser. Those things are a lot of work, because the books people donate need to be organized. I spent yesterday afternoon with a couple other moms going through boxes and sorting the books out.

The sale organizer thanked me several times for volunteering, but I confessed that I am not merely doing it out of the goodness of my heart. I’m doing it for first kick at the books. Those sorting the books can put aside anything that appeals and buy them before the sale starts.

Even putting aside the books I wanted (which I did), I just love seeing what pops up. The others looked at the boxes and boxes of books and said, “We have a huge job ahead of us,” and I agreed, but I was thinking of all the interesting books hidden in there. It’s like Christmas morning for the bibliophile.

I’m going back this afternoon.

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Book Meme

I got this meme from Yogamum. It is supposedly a list of the 106 most unread books on shelves. I don’t know how they figured that out, especially as there are some very readable books on the list (I have no argument with War and Peace or Atlas Shrugged, but Eats, Shoots and Leaves is incredibly readable, as is Mists of Avalon or Freakanomics – go figure). The rules are to bold the ones you’ve read, underline the ones you read for school, italicize the ones you started but didn’t finish.

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell
Anna Karenina
Crime and Punishment
Catch-22
One Hundred Years of Solitude
Wuthering Heights
The Silmarillion
Life of Pi : a novel
The Name of the Rose

Don Quixote
Moby Dick
Ulysses
Madame Bovary
The Odyssey
Pride and Prejudice

Jane Eyre
The [A] Tale of Two Cities
The Brothers Karamazov
Guns, Germs, and Steel
War and Peace

Vanity Fair

The Time Traveler’s Wife
The Iliad
Emma
The Blind Assassin
The Kite Runner
Mrs. Dalloway
Great Expectations

American Gods
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius (but I have it right here, and I’m really looking forward to starting it)
Atlas Shrugged
Reading Lolita in Tehran : a memoir in books
Memoirs of a Geisha (great book)

Middlesex
Quicksilver
Wicked : the life and times of the wicked witch of the West
The Canterbury Tales

The Historian : a novel
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
Love in the Time of Cholera
Brave New World
The Fountainhead
Foucault’s Pendulum
Middlemarch
Frankenstein

The Count of Monte Cristo
Dracula

A Clockwork Orange
Anansi Boys
The Once and Future King
The Grapes of Wrath
The Poisonwood Bible

1984
Angels & Demons

Inferno
The Satanic Verses
Sense and Sensibility
The Picture of Dorian Gray
Mansfield Park
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
To the Lighthouse
Tess of the D’Urbervilles
Oliver Twist
Gulliver’s Travels
Les Misérables
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
Dune (this book started off my serious science fiction habit as a teenager. When I was 13 years old, upon hearing how much I loved Star Wars, my uncle took Dune off his bookshelf and handed it to me, telling me that if I was going to say I liked SF, I should at least read the real stuff.)
The Prince
The Sound and the Fury (I hated this book so much that I convinced my grade 13 teacher to allow us to chose our own books for our final essay, since I knew I’d fail if forced to try to finish this thing.)
Angela’s Ashes : a memoir (very readable. His next one, Tis, was much less so) 

The God of Small Things
A People’s History of the United States : 1492-present
Cryptonomicon
Neverwhere
A Confederacy of Dunces
A Short History of Nearly Everything
Dubliners

The Unbearable Lightness of Being

Beloved
Slaughterhouse-Five
The Scarlet Letter
Eats, Shoots & Leaves
The Mists of Avalon
Oryx and Crake
Collapse : how societies choose to fail or succeed
Cloud Atlas
The Confusion

Lolita
Persuasion
Northanger Abbey
The Catcher in the Rye
On the Road
The Hunchback of Notre Dame

Freakonomics : a rogue economist explores the hidden side of everything

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance : an inquiry into values
The Aeneid

Watership Down (in grade 7, my report on this book, which I loved, changed my teacher’s image of me as a dopey slacker with no academic ability at all to a dopey slacker with a surprising aptitude for English class)
Gravity’s Rainbow
The Hobbit (as a science fiction geek, I assumed I’d love this book. Didn’t. At all. Very disappointing. And, why is this book on the list and not Lord of the Rings? I really tried to read that one, but it is an awful book that I cannot imagine anyone but teenage boys managing.)
In Cold Blood

White Teeth
Treasure Island
David Copperfield

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