Friday, December 24, 2004

...So This is Christmas

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Christmas Eve... there are four gifts under our tree this year. At first glance, it seems pretty sparse. I mean, how many Christmas trees only have four presents underneath them? But look closer. There are four presents. Four presents for four people who mean a lot to us. Four people who we are fortunate enough to have as family. Family that we could afford to buy small gifts for.

And it's not as if Christmas should be all about the gifts anyway, ya know? It's supposed to be about family and love and togetherness. For the first time in my life, and only by necessity, I have been forced into truly understanding what the season is all about, and it's not consumerism.

It's about the best friend that stopped by this afternoon and the laugh we shared. It's about the way my husband hugs me from behind while I'm at the kitchen sink washing bottles. It's about the dog whose furry body keeps my feet warm as I type this. It's about the cat peeking her head over the top of the monitor and swatting at the cursor.

It's about loving what you have in life, and not wishing for things you don't need. Sometimes in order to gain you have to give up. Give up the wants and the needs and the have to's and just be, and just enjoy being.

Jonas and Wil are side by side in the living room floor. Wil is sitting cross-legged beside the bouncy-seated child. The Grinch is on tv, and the two of them are captivated. They look like that scene in Forrest Gump. I am teary-eyed. Yep, it's the little things that matter.

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

The Not So Cheap Seats

**This is a review of the Fisher Price Aquarium Wonders Bouncer which I have the displeasure of owning.**

The Fisher Price Aquarium Wonders Bouncer certainly has a lot going for it in the looks department, but my love affair with this particular piece of baby gear ends there.

Upon receiving the bouncer as a gift, I was thrilled. It was attractive, and matched perfectly with our seaside nursery theme. I thought that my son would really adore the ocean scene, music, sounds and lights since it really impressed me and my husband. Chalk that up to our being easily amused and extremely naieve when it came to practicalitly.

After Jonas's birth we quickly realized how poorly designed this contraption is.

For the newborn infant, the seat is not reclined enough, causing baby to slump dangerously to one side, and making his head fold down upon his chest. Since, at such a young age, baby had no interest in the fish, we decided to remove the aquarium/toys because they make it difficult to get baby in and out of the seat. They also make it rather heavy and bulky to move around. Without the aquarium part attached, baby cannot enjoy the soothing music and sounds that the package proudly boasts. With frustration, we placed this seat off to the side, hoping that it would prove more useful to the older infant.

As a four month old, our son now seems too big for this seat. The seatbelt barely reaches around his belly, and the part that goes between the legs is too short, causing the seatbelt to not fit properly around his hips. While our son is a bit on the chunky side, he is still firmly in the middle of the growth charts for his age, and so I must attribute this downfall to poor design, and not to the fact that I have a fatass for a child. In essence, the seatbelt barely holds him in at all, and I do not feel secure placing him in the seat unless I am sitting right beside him the whole time.

On to the aquarium/toy bar: Baby seems to quickly grow bored of it unless it is used in a darkened room, otherwise the color change is not noticable, and the fish become quickly predictable. The music is nice, and soothing, but my son doesn't care for any of the other sounds. The toys attached below the aquarium are inconveniently placed so that only a gorilla baby could effectively find any enjoyment in them. They are low and out of baby's reach and only serve to whack him in the shins whenever he kicks his legs.

I do give this seat a single star, simply for the fact that it is nice looking, and well padded, and the vibrate feature is nice. But all of these things could be, found on a much less expensive model. Perhaps one that also took into consideration the dimensions and physical abilities of the average infant.

Save your money on this one. Your baby will thank you.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Bringing Work Home

*** I must preface this entry with a warning: the following is not for the weak of stomach.***

There's a phenomenon in the veterinary world that occurs every year around the holidays. Everyone and their cousins decide to put their old sick dogs to sleep. I always figured that people would prefer to get through the holidays, maybe have that one last landmark memory with their old friend, but experience has proven that to not be the case. I suppose they all feel like they have to make room for that Christmas puppy their kids have been hounding them for. **Note: Do NOT buy your children a pet for Christmas. Have you ever seen how quickly they bore of those expensive gotta-have-it toys? Now imagine having to be obligated to walking, feeding, and (ugh) housebreaking that Christmas gift... Besides, no one has time for a puppy when your busy going to holiday parties and entertaining out of town guests.**

So we've been passing out the pink juice a lot over the last few weeks. It's not a fun part of the job, and whether you believe it or not, if you're a regular at a particular vet clinic, the staff there is pretty attached to your old pet, too.

Have you ever wondered what happens to beloved old Rufus once he's evacuated his earthly vessel? Of course you have. He gets stuffed into a body bag, which is little more than a heavy duty garbage bag. Trust me, there's an art to tying this bag off so that nothing escapes. What might escape, you ask? I'm sure you have an imagination. This bag is given a label, with the pet's name, and some disposal instructions, and then it's packed, not so neatly, into a chest freezer, along with everyone elses dearly departed critters. A service picks them up, usually on a weekly schedule, and then disposes of them however you requested. Usually this involves cremation.

Our freezer is usually plenty big enough to accomodate a weeks worth of death, but around the holidays space becomes somewhat of an issue.

So Saturday we euthanized a Rottweiler, a Greyhoud, and a Doberman, only to find out that the freezer was at capacity. Who knew you needed to make reservations at the doggie morgue?

No problem, really, I'll just call the folks that service our clinic and have them do an emergency pickup.

SURPRISE! They don't work weekends.

No reason to panic now, I'll call the emergency clinic downtown and see if they have some spare room.

Sorry, all booked up.

No we have a problem. We can either leave them laying out in the open where they will start rotting and smelling pretty funky by Monday, not to mention being just a little more than creepy to the poor dogs staying in the kennel for the weekend.

The next option was the last, and unfortunately, the winner. Angie has a deep freezer at her house! It's been empty ever since the first hurricane because it sat for 11 days with meat rotting inside, and no matter how much we've cleaned it, the smell just won't go away.

So home with me came three dead dogs. They are now housed in the freezer in my kitchen. I'm not one to be squeamish about these things, but it is a bit creepy. I keep telling myself that it's no different than if I had gone to the store and bought a couple of steaks. I mean, hunters stuff dead deer in their freezers all the time, right?

But somehow it seems different to have people's pets chilling (pardon the pun) in my kitchen. Thankfully, this is only a temporary situation, and my unwanted guests will be going back to work with me on Monday.

So next time you complain about having to take your work home with you on the weekends, keep in mind that it could be a whole lot worse.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

At Least There's the Breeze

Remember back when you were a kid, and all you cared about in a job was the fact that it paid enough for you to be able to go out and get that new cd, or splurge on that cute little skirt at that fancy boutique? When, exactly, does a job become more about benefits and meeting responsibilities?

So Wil's new job is going well. He's delivering medical supplies around town. Not exactly a career, but it's a decent paycheck, and for the first time in two years, we will have insurance.

I wish I could say the same for my job. It seems like ever since I've returned from my leave things have progressively gone downhill. Or maybe it's just that I don't give a shit one way or the other, about the goings-on there. I have my own family and my own worries. I don't feel like getting caught up in the micro-drama of the AMC world.

Every day I am pointedly asked when I'll be returning to full-time. Hmmm... let me think about this. Now, if I can pay my bills with my "part time" hours, why would I leave my son in the care of strangers for 12 hours a day, six days a week just to accommodate them? No thanks. There are a million and one jobs out there that I can do, but my son will only be a baby once, and I only have one chance at giving him a happy childhood.

Another reason that I feel less than enthusiastic about bending over backwards to assist them is the fact that I was carrying around loads of 40-50 lbs. at seven months pregnant and that is one of the main reasons I was put on bed-rest in the first place. I suppose I could have claimed that time as worker's comp, but I didn't feel like fighting that particular battle while struggling just to keep my baby and myself alive. Then while I was dealing with a baby who had some pretty hefty medical issues, and some of my own, they were constantly calling to find out when I'd be back. Mind you, I didn't get paid a single penny the whole time I was out.

When I broke the news that I didn't want to return full-time, I was met with some major hostility. Well, I'm sorry, I am not blessed, like some of the other girls, with a stay at home mommy that wants to be responsible for raising my child for me, and I can't afford the astronomical rate for full-time daycare, even if I weren't morally opposed to parking my kid in some germ factory all day.

So return to work I did, part time... Of course part time at the clinic is 30 or more hours a week, so in the world of real jobs, I AM working full-time, just in three days a week instead of five or six.

Did I mention that I was due a raise over the time that I was out on leave? Of course, that was docked and held back three months to make up for the time I was gone. What a bunch of greedy rich assholes I work for! I know what they're banking. It's certainly enough to pay me a fair and slightly above poverty level wage.

And they want to know when I'm coming back full time?! No thanks.

Jonas is not feeling well. He was sent home from daycare yesterday with a slight fever. Last night was miserable for him. It breaks my heart when he feels ill because I am so useless to do anything but hold him as he whines and moans. We rocked all night while he cried and coughed and squirmed. I know that he's too young to talk, but the expression on his face nearly broke my heart. It was almost as if he were saying, "Why aren't you making it go away, Mommy?"

He's asleep right now, naked in his bouncy seat. It's the first sleep he's had all day.


Have you tried buying a tomato lately? I paid $3.99 for two anemic looking flavorless ones yesterday. Four bucks for a couple of tomatoes! And we wonder why America is so fat?! I can buy a box of Hot Pockets for $1.79, or run through the drive through and absolutely gorge on some high-fat-high-calorie junk with the $4 I spent to have a little tomato in my salad. And let's not get into the price of the other salad components. You have to be rich to eat healthy in this world. It just doesn't seem right.


It's so damn hot in here. The air conditioner decided to stop working about a week ago. At first, it was no big deal... I mean, it's December, right? Who cares about a busted a/c? We have a lot of other financial obligations to deal with before we think about shelling our a couple grand on a new a/c, so we considered it a blessing that it decided to croak now. Out of spite, nature has kicked it's thermostat to nearly 90 today. Figures. We're going to have to take a fairly hefty cash advance in order to accommodate a few of the unexpecteds. What the hell, right? I mean, what good old red-blooded American isn't on the verge of bankruptcy? I'm sure going back to work full-time would provide the extra income I need to solve all my problems. *Insert sarcastic eye-roll here*

But hey, at least there's a breeze today, and last time I checked, at least THAT was still free.

Saturday, December 04, 2004

Goodbye Jane

The local paper devoted an entire two pages to her, yet it still didn't feel like enough. As long as she's been wandering the streets of this town, you'd think they'd hold a parade, or maybe close up shop for the day in her honor. Nope, just a two page spread appropriately and ironically buried somewhere in the middle of the local section, and a tiny blurb on the front cover. They titled her "Melbourne's Homeless Icon" but we simply knew her as Jane, or more accurately Crazy Jane.

She was found Thursday morning, slumped peacefully outside the 7-11, head resting on the tattered duffel bag that held her few possessions. I'm not sure exactly how sad a person is supposed to be when they learn the news that the local bag lady has croaked, but in a way, I feel as if her death takes some significant part of me... and of this town... with her. And yet, there's this contradiction of feeling within me. There's part of me that wants to mourn her, if for no other reason than the fact that there's no one else to do so, and then there's the part of me that says "Oh, get real, you hardly knew her!" I don't know which one to listen to. All I know is that I'll miss our not so lucid occasional conversations, and I'll miss seeing her stroll aimlessly through the city, draped in layers and layers of clothing, even in the midst of brutal summer heat.

I'd like to think that I'm not the only one that has this little gnawing regret inside of them for every time they laughed, pointed, and rolled their eyes at her. I'd like to think I'm not the only one that hates themself just a little for pretending not to see her standing there huddled uselessly under a palm tree in the middle of a storm instead of offering her a ride, or some sort of shelter. Surely she was human, just as deserving of friendship and kindness as the rest of us, if not moreso.

The report says there will be an autopsy to confirm the cause of death. I'm sure the doctors will narrow it down to something along the lines of heart failure, or maybe even drug overdose. What their reports and their proddings won't find is the consuming emptiness of a life spent on the fringe of society.

God bless you Crazy Jane, may you rest more peacefully now.

*The following was written some time ago. Just thought I'd dig it out and share it one last time.*


The brisk winter wind
delivered her in a swirl
of dirty blond locks
and moth-worn scarves.

From an adjacent booth
I inhale the compost stench,
Acrid acidity cradled
by candle flame freshness.
She warmed her cellophane skin.

Some jukebox gem lured her erect
and she danced, head thrown back,
humming in tuneless disharmony.

I stifled my laughter... barely.

Whirling, twirling,
careening and gliding
an erratic spiral of ecstasy,
arms flailing, crashes into me.

Eyes find mine,
dark, hollow and haggard.
I hide my trembling hands
between thick denimed thighs.

"Stay away from them black men,
you pretty, pretty child!"

One finger caresses my carnation cheek.
Clumsy, uncalculated strokes.
Close my eyes, I am corrupted,
filthy like her.

She is gone, as quickly as she came.
Out the door and vanishing,
hitching a ride on the gale.

Bartender sighs gently
"...see you've met Jane."
I shrug false indifference,
sip my coffee,
black as the men of her warning.