Sunday, October 30, 2011


"If you're not feeling well," I said with a glance at his ankle, "you really don't have to join us for dinner. I can handle the group."

"Katie," he replied with utter sincerity, "I have a 3 year old and a 3 month old and permission from my wife to go out tonight. If I end up in a wheelchair, I will be there for dinner."


"He looks like a vampire," a colleague said about a new hire as we were in neighboring bathroom stalls. "Dark hair, pale skin, very tall." I took a moment to feel grateful that I wasn't very tall - with my dark hair and pale skin, perhaps I would be a candidate for the undead as well.

"Oh!" I said, perking up. "And he studies blood flow!" Delighted with my joke, I giggled and paused when nobody joined me.

"Vampires like blood?" I explained, profoundly disappointed in my bathroom buddies. "Come on! That's funny!"


Beavis and Butthead is back on MTV. While modestly embarrassed about my joy in a returning high school pleasure, I did catch a re-run last night.

And laughed so hard it hurt. I could listen to their commentary on Jersey Shore for hours. Bless you, Mike Judge.


My parents help at Little and Smallest Ones' school (which I find terribly sweet) but Dad is not a fan of rained-out recess.

"I always get stuck with the bad class," he told me when we last spoke on the phone. "The girls are nice, but the boys just go wild. And I'm not allowed to yell at them so I just keep repeating that they should settle down."

"I'm sorry, Daddy," I said absently as I was driving home from work.

"Oh, it's fine," he replied. "I told the teacher they were mean to me." And he sounded so much like Smallest One as he laughed.


Have you seen the commercials for Milo's Kitchen? Where the woman is proud of her dog? (That's not the funny part - wait for it.) Chienne loves the chicken jerky. As soon as the bag crinkles as I open the seal in the pantry, she trots over, tail wagging and waits for our routine.

I ask if she likes chicken jerky and she barks.

I bark back.

We repeat that until she begins to howl and after I join in, I place the treat in her mouth and she trots away while I giggle.


I talk to myself - and/or my dog and cat - quite a bit. So on our walk the other day, I paused at a corner and said, "Go ahead, Mr. Truck."

I blushed when I realized his window was open despite the cold weather and he grinned at me before saying, "Thanks, Miss Pedestrian."

"You're welcome," I murmured as he waved and pulled away. "But it's Dr. Pedestrian."


Oh! For the lovely ladies who offered to befriend me on my post recently, I love you times infinity! I would so install you in my guest room and come find you when I thought of something funny to share and then be profoundly disappointed if you didn't laugh.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Speaking with Strangers

When I am sad, all is directed downward.

Shoulders, eyes, corners of lips.

I rarely speak as the air about me discourages converation - it feels safer, if painfully lonely, inside my head.

Said depression seems to have lifted as my recent trip west was littered with interactions - short, friendly exchanges likely inspired by curious eye contact and automatic smiles.

"Is this A4?" the man asked, eyes bright but gait unsteady as he shouldered his way through the crowd toward the pole that was charging my laptop.

"It is," I replied, lips curving in welcome but sympathetic expression emerging as he mentioned his hip was hurting from his previous flight. I glanced at his ticket and touched his arm briefly to command his attention. "You're going to Boise?" I confirmed and when he nodded, mentioning it was home, I winced and said that US Airways was miserable about changing gates. "You're going from somewhere else - A29, I think - but you should look at the monitors to check." So hand on his arm, I pointed at the nearby cluster of screens and frowned as I watched him hobble toward the proper departure point.

I answered questions for two more people, wondering if I looked knowledgeable or simply approachable standing there in my gauzy skirt and turquoise sweater.

I arranged the former around my legs after standing at spot 5 to wait for my taxi outside LAS and crossed my legs toward the duffel and laptop bag on the seat beside me. "Summerlin," I directed my driver, looking up the hotel name on my Blackberry as we sped away from the airport and past the strip.

"Are you married?" my driver asked after we'd covered travel and weather and economic topics.

"No," I replied with a shake my ponytailed head. "I have a dog and cat," I offered, "but no husband or children."

I winced in sympathy when she said she lost her husband 8 years ago and her children were now grown. "I like being on my own though," she said. "I date now and then and enjoy men's company but never seem to want to sign up to take care of someone again."

"I think I like the idea of being with someone more than the reality of it," I confessed. "I love the infatuation part - the blushes and nerves and excitement of first dates and first kisses. But then it becomes routine or someone opts out and feelings are hurt and it's just a lot of work."

She agreed and we discussed male quirks until arriving at my lodging for the overnight trip. I thanked her and grossly overtipped and waved as the doors slid open to welcome me to the hotel.

I quickly made friends with the man at reception, then made the acquaintance of the waitress at the restaurant in walking distance.

I chatted with both colleagues and collaborators, enjoying the small talk of (very) conservative politics and demurely declining to share my views. I did take notes, gaining professional insights and asking questions between sips of wine in the evening or gulps of coffee in the morning or bottles of water throughout the day.

"My flight was delayed 3 hours," he said and I glanced up from my laptop to politely cock my head at him.

"I'm sorry," I offered with a gentle smile, watching as he lowered himself to the ground opposite to where I was sitting, again to charge my laptop.

"It's fine," he replied easily, arranging the hat that rested rather jauntily on his head. "I had a great vacation and got cash to have some lunch and I'm not going to get upset about it. Life is good."

"Good for you," I praised. "It's easy to get upset about travel problems but your attitude seems much healthier."

He grinned at me before readjusting his hat to take a short nap on the semi-dirty floor on which we rested, waking to tell me more about his weekend and asking after the work that had me so focused.

"So how are you?" the cute boy next to me asked, turning off his phone on which he'd had a friendly conversation moments before as he settled into the middle seat.

I turned my attention from the window toward him, admiring both glasses and closely-cropped beard before answering that I was fine - thank you - and how was he? So he told me about his friend and his problem and we talked about Vegas and our differing purposes of business and pleasure.

Then we, as he put it, geeked out by discussing medical topics. Healthcare trends and treatment strategies and political influence and global approaches. It was fun - like a really good blind date - to find someone knowledgeable in the field I call my professional home. And we exchanged insights and asked questions and made eye contact and smiled and touched hands and arms as the discussion grew more animated.

I glanced at the card he gave me before we deplaned and returned one of my own. "I enjoyed meeting you, Katie," he said, smiling and nudging me with his elbow as we waited our turn for people to deplane.

"Likewise," I replied. And I enjoyed being met.

Friday, October 14, 2011

One of Those

You know when you're standing up after using the bathroom and realize the back hem of your skirt was in the toilet?

Or when, after deciding that you'd simply rinse it in the sink, catch sight of the fact that you're wearing those crotchless tights you made after you dated that guy who requested but never actually saw them?

And when weighing the completely disgusting thought of having urine on your clothing against being seen in a public restroom without underpants, someone walks in and begins talking to herself - in a loud, frantic way - about how her mama didn't raise her to be late?

And you wonder whether she was late for an appointment in this giant building that was hosting your visit or if she was late in the way women say when they believe they are pregnant?

Then worry over whether she'll have the baby in the restroom while you and your dirty skirt huddle in one of three stalls?

Quickly decide you've been watching too much Law & Order and Snapped on television?

And remind yourself that while you know CPR, you are not at all trained to deliver a baby - even in the best of circumstances? And CPR isn't - to your knowledge - overly helpful during labor?

Recall that you're not the best in emergencies - like that time when the pipe burst while you were doing that experiment for the first time in 12 months and you just stared at it for a moment - watching the liquid pour from the wall and splatter on the floor as a puddle grew alarmingly quickly?

And when you realized you should call for help, you frantically stated, 'Water! Water everywhere!' rather than offering a location or your name?

Or how if you won $1,000,000 and could do anything, your main response is 'I think I'd enjoy a series of naps? After I shower and throw away these clothes?'

When asked questions you can't answer or assigned projects you can't complete or suffering through miserable cramps or debilitating depression or a general crisis of professional confidence, you just stand there in the bathroom, carefully arranged against the corner of the sink, trying to rinse the grossness out of the hem of your skirt?

If so, me, too. Want to be friends?

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Time, wrinkled

In the rare instances where my televisions go quiet, I hear the ticking of clocks.

In those moments, I turn my attention to them. The stately silver one that rests on my mantle. The sleek piece - a bit oblong - that came from Stockholm. The silly one that topples over when improperly placed on its stand. They, along with others placed on walls or perched on tables, tick along.

Until they don't anymore. I stared at one as its batteries died, its rhythm slowing from that of its friends. Eventually the second hand would no longer turn, hovering at the stylized 6 and twitching hopefully until gravity defeated the will of time.

Then it stopped.

"What do you want for your future?" has been a popular question of late. I've marinated in this deep unhappiness long enough that it's penetrated my skin, permeating conversations, lingering in meetings. I try to muffle it in conversations with family and friends, but hear the residual worry and sigh momentarily over my failure.

"How," the craniosacral therapist I no longer see asked, "can you fulfill your purpose if you're not aligned with your body? It's like you're slowly killing yourself."

"I do not want to grow old," I replied before frowning and realizing that was rather morbid. "I fear age and incompetence much, much more than I fear death." So perhaps if I coat my heart in cream cheese and surround myself with dough, I will go quietly.

I grimaced at a cricket when taking out the garbage. He waved his legs in the air, resting on his back and unable to right himself. It seemed best - humane - to kill the wayward creature, but I have not a strong stomach and shied away from hearing the crunch of his skeleton beneath my shoe.

Instead, I dropped the garbage bag - a heavy bag of black plastic filled with items rendered useless - atop him and glanced down after lifting it up. It had somehow flipped him over rather than ceasing his existence and I smiled for a moment as he hopped away. Then Chienne stumbled into a rock and I sighed, momentarily happiness crushed under constant degeneration.

I read somewhere that September is tough - the shifting patterns on sunshine befuddling the brain and making it sad. But this feels chronic. Perhaps a seasonal dip superimposed on a general slide downward.

I recall Smallest One's dismay when she stepped in a puddle on her last visit. Her giggling exploration pausing when she stared down at the muddy glop that enveloped her pretty shoe before she cried out, the wail echoing off the nearby houses and absorbed by the trees of the forest.

We scooped her out, soothed and patted and carried, muddy sneaker thudding against the pajamas we'd worn for our morning walk.

"It's fine, love," I told her, pressing a kiss to the fine strands of hair that insist on escaping her ponytail. "We'll wash your shoe and dry your foot and you'll be all better." And she snuffled away the last of her tears and rested her head on my shoulder until we reached the safety of home.

"I'm not well," I say often. Migraines, back spasms, bouts of anxiety that render me non-functional. And when people offer - sincerely - to help, I can't seem to let them remove my shoe and clean it off. Dry my foot and cuddle me until I'm all better.

I sat on the floor of a doctor's office - for puppies, not people - and held my Chienne while they pulled fluid from the lumps on her neck and belly. "I'd like them to be lipomas," I requested politely, resting my check on her back, reaching to adjust the glasses I'd knocked askew.

"They are," he quickly confirmed, showing my the slides.

"Yay," I offered and kissed her head.

"Of course, she could get more or they could get bigger," he arranged his hands in a shape approximating a listeria-infected cantelope. "We'll remove them before that," he assured me when I made a face at him.

"Falling apart, pretty girl," I noted. But we share take-out and naps and some days that I should spend at work but instead huddle here, alternately angry and anxious and profoundly afraid.

"What's the plan?" I asked myself as I changed the batteries in the clock so the seconds could tick by once again. So I'll go to church - I've not been in months. And we'll see how it goes from there.