Unwinding Pre-Church

Steph is too tired, and the bug that made Susie feel crummy came back for an encore this morning, so I’m at Panera across from Our Lady of Peace Church, eating a bagel, drinking a small river of Diet Pepsi, and blogging before I head over to First UU for church.  I’m here alone today.

I barely left the house yesterday because Steph and I gave the living and dining rooms a long overdue cleaning and rehab.  One of the benefits was that we found Clara, the smallest of the nested wooden Russian dolls a friend of mine sent Susie from Moscow several years ago.  (Susie named the outermost one Mrs. Doll, and, in descending order, the smaller ones are Sarah, Mara, Cara, and Clara).  Clara had rolled under the couch while Susie and her friends were playing with the dolls, and she had been MIA ever since.  (I had been afraid she’d rolled down the furnace register, so I was relieved that she was safe and sound, albeit a little dusty.)

I left the house yesterday to go to the post office (I bought stamps and post cards) and to Family Dollar, and in the evening to take Susie to her friend Rosemary’s for a birthday party.  (It was at Skate America, and all the kids were meeting at Rosemary’s house beforehand.)  Steph and I ate some leftover spaghetti and watched Fay Grim, which I liked much better this second time around.  Steph had started to watch it under protest, mainly because she couldn’t stand its predecessor, Henry Fool, but she ended up thinking it was fantastic.  Susie came back, far overstimulated, from Skate America shortly before 10:30.  As soon as Fay Grim ended, I walked over to Rosemary’s house and got there just as the kids were returning.  (Seeing James Urbaniak, who played Simon in both films, on the season premiere of Without a Trace whetted my interest.)

My office is the next big cleaning project I want to tackle.  I’m sorry to report it no longer looks like the pictures I posted here last June.  I won’t post pictures of how it looks now, but I want to have it cleared before NaNoWriMo begins in November, so it won’t become a dawdling tactic.  ("I’ll get to work on the novel, but first I want to clean this shithole up!" has become a familiar stalling tactic.  "As soon as I get organized" is another one I use quite often–and waiting for me to get organized is as realistic as leaving the porch light on for Jimmy Hoffa.)

I was quite disappointed that McCain decided to debate Obama after all.  It would have been such a wonderful visual showing Obama, Jim Lehrer, and an empty podium.  As for the bailout, these bankers should be left to stew in their own juices–you made your bed, now sleep in it.  I feel like batching up all our bills and outstanding debts (and they are legion!) and mailing them to Congress and the White House to apply for a no-strings-attached bailout.

P.S.–I accidentally erased Without a Trace before I had watched half of it.  Any of you beloved readers still have a tape of it?

While Wi-Fi is Cooperating

I’ve wrung my hands at length about the on-and-off (mostly off) Wi-Fi provided by the Cleveland Sight Center–my only real complaint about this place, in the 2+ weeks it’s been my base of operations.  Since it’s cooperating for now, I’ll sit down and type an entry while I have clothes drying in the basement.  I have Al Stewart on my Windows MediaPlayer ("Song on the Radio") and I’m at the desk in my room.

I don’t consider myself to be superstitious, but I am a little reluctant to relay the latest news about Steph’s hospitalization, for fear of jinxing it.

Steph may be getting out tomorrow (today–it’s just after 12 midnight, but to my reckoning, it’s still Thursday night).  Her Coumadin level has been at 2.0 during her last two blood draws, which is the minimally acceptable level in the eyes of the cardiologist who comes to see her every afternoon.  His only worry now is her fluid retention, but he has increased the Lasix, which meant that Steph has been making several mad sprints from her chair to the bathroom.  (The down side to that is that she feels she can’t take walks, because she’d be too far away from a bathroom.)

Her walking is easier now, because the doctor discontinued the Heparin drip.  Whenever she’s ventured out of bed, she has to drag along a metal pole where her bags hang, and with two different digital monitors attached.  Her first walk (to the north solarium on the 10th floor, 75′ from her room) without the pole was a little funny, since she’s used the pole like a cane.  It’s analogous to the first untethered spacewalk.

(By the way, a physical therapist told us the way to measure distances in the Clinic: Each ceiling tile is 2′ x 2′, so just count the tiles above you and double that figure.  The things you notice when you’re bored…)

I have yet to hear Obama’s acceptance speech, but when I’m back in Columbus, I’m going to try and stream it from CNN’s Website.  I wish I had heard the speeches of both Clintons.  Even though I knew it was coming, I was on the edge of my chair watching the states’ roll call.  I admit I did hold my breath until Hillary Clinton announced that she was turning all her votes loose so Obama could be nominated by acclamation.  (If I could trust this Wi-Fi, I’d listen to the speeches here and now.)

I spent a little of the $30 gift card from Rite-Aid.  I checked back every day to see if they had MP3 players for sale (there was a hook for them, but they were out), so instead I bought two Hot Pockets and a bottle of Diet Pepsi.  I also spent about $10 on a little 3K Rite-Aid digital data organizer.  I would never had paid for something like that out of pocket.  Since there are no Rite-Aids in Columbus, I decided to buy something fun but useless in the long run.

The nearest pop machine to Steph’s room is in the sixth-floor family waiting area.  I’ve made the trip down there to get my "fixes" of Diet Pepsi, and it seems that there are people elbow to elbow and sprawled out on the floor and furniture in sleeping bags, blankets, pillows, etc., regardless of what hour you come by there.  It reminded me of pictures of the post-Katrina Superdome in New Orleans.

Steph isn’t totally recovered.  The right arm and hand have healed much more quickly than the doctors said they would, although she still lacks some flexibility in the fingers.  She says that her strength and stamina are better than they were in the months preceding the surgery.

There was an air show in Cleveland during the afternoon.  Looking out the windows, we could see four or five jets flying wing to wing (maybe about a foot apart from one another) and doing different pitches, rolls, loop-de-loops, etc.

This is the longest I’ve ever been away from Columbus since I moved there in 1995.  It is also the longest Steph and I have been separated from Susie.  (The previous record was a week when she was at a UCC camp in Brinkhaven.)

I am actually looking forward to going back to work.  I am counting down the time until 7 a.m. on Tuesday.  I don’t plan to E-mail ahead to my supervisors, but rather to just stroll through the doors, sign in, and start collating the morning reports that I deliver at the start of each day. 

Dear, Neglected Diary

I realized this is the first time that I’ve posted in here since I got back from Cleveland.  As of right now, the surgery is still a go.  All systems are go, all lights are green, as NASA personnel used to say.

With Pat at the wheel, we’re lighting out for Cleveland about 1:30 a.m. Monday morning.  Unfortunately, my room at the Cleveland Sight Center seems to have fallen through, so we’re scrambling trying to find an inexpensive place for me to stay for most of next week.  Any of you out there in Blogland (especially those of you from Cleveland) have any suggestions?

Susie’s play closed last night, and it was quite good.  There didn’t seem to be any missed cues or any major faux pas, and the kids could be proud of the job they did.  If I’ve piqued your curiosity, you can see the play if you click on http://vwx.blip.tv and watch from there.

Steph will be knitting this afternoon, probably in German Village.  She’s being picked up in less than an hour.  Susie has been cleaning her room, and she has to be finished at midnight tonight, or else we go in with a snow shovel and do a true scorched-earth cleaning.  (I’ve held out the carrot of a trip to the pool if she finishes by 4.  I checked just before I logged on here, and she’s made some progress.  You can actually see the floor.)

I was up by 9, and after a bowl of corn flakes, I went and bought soda for Steph and me.  (I’ve been known to venture out to the all-night Marathon station at the corner of Sullivant and S. Central at all kinds of weird hours if one or both of us awakens with a hankering for a certain type of junk food.  Many people have doubted the wisdom or safety of doing such a thing.  I try to remember what Abraham Lincoln said when people constantly worried for his life: “If I am killed, I can die but once; but to live in constant dread of it, is to die over and over again.”)

I was dreading Monday’s return to work, because I was afraid I would be inundated with doctors’ reports waiting on WinScribe to be typed.  There were a few, but they were manageable, and by Wednesday I was having to pretend to be doing something.  (The ex parte orders and lump-sum advancement requests were feast or famine; I’d get a huge stack of them, or none at all.)  My supervisor couldn’t send me to another department, because they were scrambling to find work for their own personnel.

We took Susie and her friend Rosemary to the Spaghetti Warehouse after the play last night.  (It’s an Italian restaurant, and since commedia del arte is an Italian form of drama, it seemed quite appropriate.)  I was quite full by the time I was finished, although I burned off some of those calories lifting Steph’s scooter into the trunk of our taxi.

I spent awhile loading RealPlayer11 Gold today onto my hard drive.  (Any techno-nerds out there, I desire your advice.)  Whenever I log out of it, and then click the RealPlayer icon to get into it, I end up having to reinstall it before it will work.  I was glad to be able to replay some of the files I had downloaded from YouTube.  (YouTube is also on my shit list at the moment–I haven’t been able to post videos here and diarize about them from YouTube since before we went to Cleveland.)

I’m down to the last 40 pages in the current holographic diary volume.  (I use 200-page composition books I buy at Family Dollar.)  I was showing Steph the article about Robert Shields, the hypergraphic retired minister and teacher who kept a typewritten diary of literally every minute of his waking hours.  (I blogged about him earlier.)  So I’m not quite as obsessive a diarist as he was.  Neither my blog nor my handwritten diaries and notebooks, nor my Twitter entries (as linotypist), will ever look like this:

That’s about it for now.  I’m going to post this and then make myself a peanut-butter sandwich and drink yet another Diet Pepsi.

Back in Columbus, But Cleveland Beckons Again Very Soon

Pat came up from Columbus in mid-morning and took Steph and me back home.  (He would have been there anyway, to help see me through the excruciating hours when Steph was in surgery, but he just ended up coming there a few hours later.)  We checked out of our room at the Cleveland Sight Center, had an early and deliciously filling lunch at the Jerusalem Grill, a glatt kosher diner in South Euclid (check them out at http://www.jerusalemgrill.com or, even better, stop in when you’re in Cleveland!).  The owner was very friendly, recommended wonderful food, and kept us supplied with pita bread and hummus, and kept a sharp eye out for whenever our portions seemed to be running low.  (I stuck with American fare–hamburger with kosher beef, fries, and Diet Cokes.  Caffeine is pareve, as far as I know.)

We arrived in Columbus just in time to pick up Susie after her matinee performance in Isabella e la Bestia, and Pat dropped me at the credit union so I could pay some bills.

While I was in line at the check-cashing joint waiting to pay a bill, my cell phone rang.  It was Steph.  She had just hung up from the Cleveland Clinic.  Dr. Lytle’s office called, and said we are to be at the Cleveland Clinic on Tuesday the 12th at 5:15 a.m.  Steph asked how we would be sure that we wouldn’t trek all the way up to Cleveland again and then have the rug yanked from underneath us a second time.  Apparently, Dr. Lytle himself scheduled this procedure before he left town for vacation–possibly a twinge of conscience or a desire to tackle a procedure this involved and this complex.

So, we’re trying to rework the logistics, seeing as how we used all my paid leave, extra cash, etc. to pay for the trip that just ended.  More details will come as I know them, but for the present, all I can say is that early on the morning of the 12th, I will be pacing the floor and drinking Diet Pepsi by the gallon as Steph undergoes surgery.

Although I described Dr. Lytle a little in my entry earlier this week, I haven’t mentioned his bona fides.  The clutter, the rumpled appearance, the overtaxed bookcases, etc. made me like him right away.  I sensed a kindred spirit.  He went to Harvard Medical School, so we compared notes re Brookline, Harvard Square, The Crimson, etc.

Here is his bio, courtesy of the Clinic’s Website:


Susie and I are going swimming later this afternoon.  During our hiatus, Pat and Tanya taught Susie to ride a two-wheeler (something I didn’t learn until I was a junior in high school), so Pat called to say he needs to fit her for a bike helmet.  We’re going to the pool via their house.  Steph is, even as I type, knitting in Grandview.

Let the Testing Begin

If I was in Columbus, I would be at work for an hour already, but instead I’m at the Cleveland Clinic, in the waiting room at Desk F15, while Steph is having her first round of testing–a chest X ray and a blood draw.  I’m waiting until she’s in a procedure that will take awhile, so I can find the cafeteria and an ATM machine and then get some breakfast.  Steph has had to abstain from everything except water since 8 p.m. last night, so I didn’t want to eat in front of her.  (Steph has appointments almost back to back this morning.)

Steph didn’t have much difficulty getting to sleep once she had settled in.  I called Pat in Columbus, made sure my previous blog entry actually posted, and hit the sack a little after 11.  I forgot to take my nighttime meds last night.  When you combine that with my trying to sleep in a totally new surrounding and trying to get my bearings, it took me quite awhile to finally go to sleep, and I was awake on and off all night.  I still don’t feel very rested, and I have yet to have my first infusion of Diet Pepsi for today.

The Sight Center room came with everything we need.  There are extra linens, bottles of Palmolive dish soap, a toaster, a microwave, a stove and oven, and a refrigerator.  There’s a Rite-Aid at the same intersection (the Sight Center is at the corner of E. 101st and Chester), so we can pick up odds and ends as needed.  (Many of the appliances and vending machines have Braille labels.)  I will probably post pictures of our living quarters in an entry later tonight.  And there is free laundry… not to mention a bowling alley! 

Gargantuan Task of Adjusting My Schedule

As time went by, I began to see the logic of Governor Strickland’s idea of schedule adjustments to ensure 40 hours’ worth of work from those of us who serve the State of Ohio.  Today, due to numerous submissions and re-submissions of my altered schedule, I had a supervisor who was fantasizing about having my head on a pole.

I arrived yesterday at 9:30, because Steph didn’t feel up to taking Susie to the pool.  I called in to work, told my supervisor I would be there, just later than normal, and took Susie up Indianola Ave. to the Olympic Swim and Racquet Club.  I had just enough time to buy a Diet Pepsi from the United Dairy Farmers store near the pool before I saw a bus headed back toward downtown.

I need to leave work early on Friday to run a few errands that have to be done on Friday.  So I’ve shortened lunches all week, and I’m staying at work an hour later on Thursday.

In other news, an article of mine has been posted online.  Its popularity will depend on how favorably it’s rated.  So, to help your humble diarist along, please go to http://www.Printnpost.com/articles/7319/1/The-Keys-to-My-Heart/Page1.html, read my deathless prose, and then rate it for me.  I have no illusions I’ll be the most popular (or prolific) author they have, but you have to crawl before you can walk.  Van Gogh only sold one painting in his lifetime, after all.

Maybe I Should Be Eating Sausage Tonight

After all, it is February 2, and it’s Ground Hog Day.  Sausage would be the perfect meal–it is ground hog, after all.

My late father had another way to celebrate Ground Hog Day.  February 2 was also the birthday of James Joyce.  So, Dad’s edict to his classes was this: If the groundhog saw his shadow, the class would read Ulysses.  Whether he ever carried this out, I do not know.  (Reading–and giving up on–Ulysses is a common college rite of passage, especially in a liberal arts school.)  I made several attempts to read Ulysses, but it was almost impossible for me to get past the big capital S at the beginning until I worked at Medco, and listened to the unabridged Recorded Books edition.  Both narrators–a man and a woman–were Dublin natives.  Joyce’s story takes place on June 16, 1904, and is set entirely in Dublin.  His boast was that if the city were completely demolished, builders could use Ulysses to rebuild it.

Susie bought a snow shovel today.  To earn extra money, she wants to go around the neighborhood and shovel snow.  The only problem is that there has hardly been a dusting of the white stuff this winter.  It’s only been recently that the mercury has been below 40 degrees.  We have had some bitterly cold days, but the snowfall is miniscule.

I am now a week caffeine-free, and I exhibited some great self-control last night.  We ordered in from Pizza Hut, and the deal that we selected featured a two-litre soft drink.  We ordered Sierra Mist, but the woman on the phone said they were out of it.  So we bit the bullet and ordered a two-litre of Diet Pepsi.  And when it came, we gave it to the family next door.

There have been no withdrawal symptoms except for the first day.  I’ve almost constantly had a water bottle in my hand at work, and I refilled it endlessly.  Last Friday, though, I looked like Frank Sinatra in The Man With the Golden Arm, without any help from Eva Marie Saint.  (That’s a movie I highly recommend.  Go to http://www.liketelevision.com and stream it.  I’m surprised it’s in the public domain.)