Thursday, March 31, 2005

My Two Left Feet

I'm not the most graceful person in the world. However, after watching the folks in our dance class, I know that things could be much, much worse. Our instructors are going to earn every single penny of our tuition...

Since this is a University sponsored class, we have a very diverse group. Everyone from the students (who look more and more like Doogie Howser as time goes by) to maintenance men, nurses in scrubs, MDs in suits (male and female), and a few women dressed to the nines in slit skirts and heels.

Guys, this is a GREAT way to meet women. Unfortunately, it is a lousy way to meet men...the few men were either dragged in with their wives or girlfriends, or they were instructors. The only two guys who didn't fit either of those groups were in their teens or twenties and wanted to learn how to dance so they could meet girls...funny that as we were starting out, they deliberately chose we ladies old enough to be their moms instead of the cuties in low rider jeans and tank tops. Guess we looked nonthreatening...

Anyway, it was FUN. If I'd been able to talk Marla into it, I think I'd have tried to find a salsa bar Friday night, just to practice. :) But I'm not quite ready to go it alone...and she's not quite ready to try out her steps for real (I'm not ready either, I just WANT to. Plus I figure if I spent a whole evening dancing salsa, I'd be pretty good at the end of it).

Ah well. Next Thursday we start swing...I can't wait!

And today I am grateful that the sky was blue, the sun was shining and the redbuds are ready to burst into bloom.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Pinky & the SnakeShakers

We're having a research meeting on Saturday. I knew when I took the job that we'd do this 4 times a year, but I really, really thought they'd give me some notice (at least, more than a couple of days!).

Luckily I'm not working at my OTHER job Saturday night, but I am volunteering for what is billed as "The World's Largest Garage Sale". Of course it's not, but it does benefit charities here -- and one of the charities is an animal shelter, so I'm there from 12:30 to 4:30 (if I volunteer where I can't see any animals, I won't take any more home...this is a good thing. It wouldn't take much for me to be the eccentric cat/dog/lizard lady). But the original plan was to shop the sale from 8:00 to 12:00 with Bev and just make a day of it. So, no old junk/treasures/gewgaws for me. Instead I get to go to Java Dave's, drink really good raspberry iced tea and avoid the pastries even though someone else is buying.

It will give me a chance to get to know these guys I work for a little better -- seems as though all they do is run from one hospital to another.

However...since I'm working Saturday...that means that I can take an extra long break on Friday and see Pinky and the SnakeShakers -- who despite the name, are not a snake handling cult. Check 'em out -- . "Good Girl Gone Bad" is one of my favorites...and they'll be playing downtown, about 10 minutes from where I work.

Since Bev's off that day, I bet I can talk her into going with me, even though she's the biggest homebody I've ever met. She's of the opinion that if you can't find happiness in your own backyard, you're not going to find it. And since she's found it, why go anywhere else?

Today I am grateful that I managed to recover this post after Blogspot developed an error while posting. (hey, less frustration is good, right?)

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Dancin' Fools

Marla and I are going to take ballroom dancing lessons beginning on Thursday. She's convinced this will be a great way to meet, I'm not so sure but I've always wanted to learn, so it's all good.

Marla's my age and ultra feminine...she loves pink (in fact, most of her clothes are either pink, black, or a combination of pink and black). She aspires to accumulate more shoes than Imelda Marcos. Add a cute little girl voice, fluffy blond hair, voluptuous figure and an ever-so-slightly flirtatious girl-next-door personality...and maybe you will wonder, like I do, why she is still single.

Anyway, I have never taken dancing lessons, unless you count bellydance (which is a hoot but I don't know that I'd ever want to perform where other humans might see me do it -- it's bad enough when Pixie the wonderdog and Evil Wiley lie there and stare when I practice). My feet never want to do what I want them to do. Not only that, but I suffer from Directional Dyslexia. I first noticed this when I took aerobics lessons way back when...when told to turn left, well, sometimes that worked, and sometimes I was the only one facing the wrong way. Someone who directs while I drive is much better off if they point the direction...I once dated someone who really thought that pointing was about the rudest thing one could do, so he'd always say "left" or "right" if I were driving and he directing...and then get upset if I turned the wrong way. Whenever I wanted him to look at something, I'd use those lavish gestures Carol Marol used to use on the "Let's Make a Deal" show to indicate Door No. 1...and then he'd get bent out of shape. Hey, I was NOT pointing. Yeah, that next guy (if there is a next guy) really needs to have a sense of humor about things.

So anyway, it ought to be fun in a train wreck sort of way...

Oh, and today I am thankful for my brother Steve, who has turned out to be a pretty cool guy.

Friday, March 25, 2005

More Fowl Play

It's almost Easter. When I was a kid, my parents would buy us those little colored chicks. Unlike most families, though, where those chicks soon bit the dust, ours almost always managed to make it to adulthood. The ones that lived were all roosters; I guess it makes sense to sell the non-egg-producers for the pet trade. So Mom and Dad would find homes for all but one, because otherwise they fight. I've never asked, but hopefully those "homes" were a nice chicken coop with hens somewhere, and not someone's freezer.

I learned a few things about chickens from this experience.

1. A Watch Rooster is much scarier than a Watch Dog.

2. Chickens apparently don't see very well so you have to verbally identify yourself if you want to enter the yard of a Watch Rooster. Otherwise, you are toast.

3. If you tuck a chicken's head under its wing and then rock it gently back and forth a couple of times, it will go to sleep. My mom learned that from her father...I'd really like to know where he got it from.

4. Roosters are so tough that not even a mauling from two Labrador Retrievers will slow them down for more than a couple of days.

Even now, more than 30 years later, I miss hearing that Er-er-er-awwwk! every morning.

And today I am thankful that there ARE mornings.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Fowl Play

Jamie and I went out to lunch together today.

You'd know Jamie if you ever saw her -- she's just a shade over 6 feet tall, weighs 120 lbs and has wildly curling, bright red hair, freckles, and Paul Newman blue eyes. She and I used to work together in psychiatry research -- she's still there, and we try to get together once a week or so (she likes to vent about the job -- she's got the temper to match the hair).

So we're sitting in the cafeteria, and she said, "Do you remember the ducks?"

It was a spring day that day. I'd gotten to work late (as usual -- I operate on Jodie time so it's a good thing I've got a degree). There was a white duck in the parking lot, and it LOOKED frazzled -- feathers were standing up on the top of its head and it was quacking wildly and running in circles. If I hadn't known that only mammals get rabies, I'd have been suspicious about this duck.

So, being the curious person I am (my mom used to tell me that curiosity wouldn't kill me, but I'm not so sure), I had to check this out, and soon heard a very soft peep peep peep sound...which instantly made me bond with this mother duck whose ducklings were missing or trapped or SOMETHING.

After a bit of looking, I discovered they'd apparently fallen into a grate -- and I could see them, 5 feet below street level, looking up and wanting their mom.

So, since I was late already, I went into work and made a number of calls -- to the city, to University maintenance, to the police -- and NO ONE would come help these ducks out of the sewer. Jamie had been watching me do this all morning and finally said, "I bet we can figure out a way." So off we went.

I had no idea that two people could pull up a huge metal sewer grate cover, but we managed it, barely, and didn't even drop it on our toes.

Since Jamie's clothes were nicer than mine that day, I was the one elected to climb into the sewer and fetch the ducklings. And it was cobwebby, with scungy (an esoteric scientific term) stuff on the bottom, with huge ugly bugs. But heck, we couldn't leave them there...

There was just enough space to crouch down, but as I reached for a duckling, the whole crew got spooked and ran down the pipe, peep peep peep-ing frantically all the way.

So I climbed back out and the ducklings came back. Mom was getting crazier, making little darts at our legs as though she was working herself up to attack these monsters who obviously had nefarious designs on her babies.

I walked over to my car and opened the trunk, looking for inspiration -- and pulled out the spare tire cover, a nice sized piece of plywood. That fit over one sewer pipe hole. For the other one, the best I could do was a blanket that Jamie held so that it just covered the hole.

Back in I went, and by this time Mom had her courage up, so as Jamie held the blanket and I scooped fuzzy little yellow ducks, Mom pecked both of us unmercifully...until all 12 of the little darlings were safe. Then they all waddled off, Mom quacking as though she'd saved them herself (and maybe she thought she had). You'd have thought those little ducks were glued to her, the way they crowded up so closely.

Jamie and I didn't get anything else done that day. But you know, it was worth it.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Windy City

We all have those days where nothing goes right. Well...apparently I am having one of those YEARS...but I suppose that will make my 50s (coming up soon!) look really, really good.

I was walking across campus on Monday to deliver a protocol to the VA (pronounced "vah" by those of us who go there a lot), since one of the docs wants to do his study here at the University AND at the Veteran's Administration Hospital. Of course, being a federal bureaucracy, they require yet MORE paper than the university. :) Yes, I have killed many trees for my profession and the end is not yet in sight...but I digress. Oklahoma is one of the windiest places in the world. Chicago can make all the claims it wants, but there has never been a mass exodus from Chicago due to wind...remember that whole Dust Bowl thing? Well, that's because the Oklahoma winds blew away all the topsoil. You never hear about THAT anywhere else.

So anyway, I was walking across campus, when suddenly a huge gust of wind blew some of that dirt right into my eye, which made my contact pop right out of my eye.

I've worn contacts for 32 years. I have lost (and found) my contacts on the floor, in the woods, and even in a pool. But this one must have been blown away to Oz because it was just gone.

Without correction to my vision, I am so nearsighted that I have to hold things a couple inches away from my nose to see them. And having had such excellent luck with contacts for so many years, I have to admit that I have no glasses and no spares. This is not conducive to driving.

I did manage to make it home on just one eye (that sounds funny) and found an optometrist who would see me Tuesday since my usual one couldn't...and it had been more than a year so I couldn't just get another pair of the same old prescription. And since I must wear hard contacts, they won't be done until Friday. So I am wearing soft ones until then...which makes everything just a little fuzzy around the edges.

You know, I am almost afraid to try this dating thing, since the way things are going, anyone I meet is bound to have had Ted Bundy as a mentor.

And d'oh! I forgot my best and oldest friend's birthday on the 21st. We've been friends since elementary school and she is the single most creative person I've ever met.

My friend Jamie, whose mother died last year, has advised me that I should be writing down, every day, something I am grateful for (she says this has really helped with her grief). So today I am grateful for my friends, who love me even when I forget their birthdays.

Monday, March 21, 2005

The best time of year

I love days like today. It feels like spring, looks like spring, smells like spring. It's raining, but it's a mere mist of rain. The sky is dark gray, but light around the edges, as though it turn to sunshine at any time. Gusts of wind whistle around the houses and buildings, and the budding redbuds are luminous against the sky...ready to explode into blossom.

One of ee cummings poems about this time of year has a line about how you can't stop spring, "not even with All The Policemen In The World". And it's like that -- an unstoppable renewal, that will come whether you are ready or not.

I think redbuds must be my favorite tree. Smooth, medium gray bark makes up the trunk, which tapers into graceful, long limbs. Flowers that range from pinkish mauve to reddish purple (depending on the tree). The leaves are almost heart shaped, and are a medium to light leaf green. And when it is blooming, I like nothing better than to lie underneath one on a sunny day, and gaze up at the blossoms against the deep blue of the sky.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

The Elusive Hypnopotamus Part 2

I've been doing hypnotherapy for long enough that it no longer seems mysterious...but for those of you for whom it does seem exotic, mysterious, or maybe more on the lines of "woo-woo science"...well, I thought I'd tell you all about it.

Hypnosis isn't some unusual state. Most of us experience it several times throughout the day. It's that state that lies between being fully asleep and fully's driving your usual route and suddenly realizing you're a few miles down the road and you can't really remember the time in between, because you were thinking about something else and were driving on autopilot.

In a good session, the client remembers everything. In a bad session, the client falls asleep. Luckily, the latter doesn't happen often.

There are a number of ways to get there; this is called an "induction". Inductions can be as simple as a progressive relaxation exercise. This works well for most adults. A few people -- who feel the need to question everything -- can be confused into hypnosis (that's kind of fun). And a few very stubborn people, who really, really hate taking directions from anyone, can be persuaded into hypnosis by using a technique called "arm rising", which is more than a little strange and takes a long time, but it works when nothing else will. There are other techniques, but these are the ones I prefer to use. Kids, on the other hand, are easily hypnotized using a swinging object (you know, they way they always do it in cartoons).

Once you're hypnotized, then I can do a lot of different things. I've worked with stress, writer's block, fear of flying, weight loss, chronic pain, smoking cessation and I've even done past life regressions (more of my thoughts on this later). My favorite subjects, though, are children. And about my favorite hypnosis session is a "magic spot" for injections or blood draws, so the child feels only pressure and not pain.

Because I'm appealing to your conscious mind and your subconscious mind, imagery is important. And if the suggestions can be given as part of a story that taps into a larger symbolism, then they become more powerful. I developed a script for weight loss which uses the Cinderella fairy tale -- I'm very pleased with that one.

Those "past life" regressions are interesting. I don't know that it really taps into something from another life time...but I like to think of it (and explain it to my subjects) as the subconscious mind's way of reframing larger life problems into a different setting so that they are easier to think about, identify, and subsequently deal with.

Time seems to flow differently for the person who is hypnotized. It usually takes me 45 minutes to an hour for a session, but my subject generally thinks it's been about 10 to 15 minutes. And after the session, it feels as though you've had a nice, relaxing nap.

Oh, and that hypnopotamus? My daughter never could say "hippopotamus" correctly. And I always had this vision of this big river dwelling animal with swirly eyes creeping out at night to hypnotize unwary travellers for nefarious reasons...

The Elusive Hypnopotamus Part 1

Yikes! What a week. Although I've been at this job since October, this week my coworkers suddenly realized that I am a hypnotherapist, in addition to all the other things I do. It's a little surprising, since it's not like it's been a big secret.

When I took this job, the Big Boss was very interested in smoking cessation for the head and neck cancer patients who continue to smoke, even when all they've got to smoke with is a hole in their throats. However, the docs are SOOOO busy that it just kind of got pushed to the side until last week, when one of my coworkers started bemoaning the fact that the campus is now smoke free and she just couldn't kick her smoking habit. So I offered her a free hypnotherapy session (I NEVER charge friends or coworkers, but I do ask them to refer people to me).

If people haven't considered it before, apparently it's pretty scary. And when you consider that in many places (including this one) hypnotherapy is unregulated by any state agency, well, maybe it OUGHT to seem a little scary. You don't want just anyone giving you suggestions and directions in a vulnerable state, even if hypnotherapy doesn't make you do anything you really don't want to do. So, she had to think about it. And then she discussed it with everyone in the office.

I spent most of Monday explaining over and over again to different people exactly what happens and exactly what can be done with the aid of hypnotherapy (I'm pretty conservative. You can find some truly bizarre stuff out there -- but I personally do NOT believe that it can make parts of your body bigger. Maybe I can persuade you to THINK those bits are bigger...but they won't actually increase in size). I like to think of hypnotherapy as harnessing the power and strength that we all have when we don't rationalize it away or deny that we have it. So, lifestyle changes, simple phobias, stress relief, temporary pain relief are the majors. Plus I've been known to do "past life regressions" -- more on that later.

Anyway, once everyone figured out that maybe it was not scary, the original lady decided that she'd give it a whirl...and she was thrilled I suddenly became VERY popular. :)

So I did smoking cessation, weight loss, relief of food cravings, stress relief, and self esteem sessions all last week...seems like every free minute, before work, after work, and at lunch, was filled up with hypnotherapy sessions. Not even any time to blog, since it was also spring break and my son wanted to do stuff every night when I got home.

And the more sessions I did, the more desireable they became, until after work on Friday, I did a mass session with 6 people who just couldn't wait til next week.

And the clinic director is suddenly seeing dollar signs...

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Random thoughts...

Is water polo played with seahorses?

At the orthopedist's office (the next office down), the patients stand in lines to check in...most of them on crutches, with casts, or other walking problems...why? Why not have 'em sit and have the receptionist come to them?

For that matter, why do most medical places have you stand in line to check in? Most people aren't feeling too well when they go to see a medical professional...

Did you know that if you want to bring blood or other body bits into the US, there's a special form for that? If you don't have it, Customs will confiscate your samples at the border. So to find this form, I called the Customs office. They, of course, don't issue have to get it through the CDC. There are no telephone numbers on the CDC website that go to anything but recorded messages so I had to call Customs back. They gave me a number which was for computer support for the CDC. Computer support transferred me to the FDA, which does NOTHING with blood, and the lady on the other end was angry with me for even asking her for another number that might help. Tried the computer people again, since at least they tried to be helpful, and this time got an arm of the CDC that does public health...but all they do is provide brochures. So no luck. Finally decided to tackle it another way, and called a government agency that stores all kinds of human samples for the NIH (bet they've got some interesting stuff in their freezers!)...and the very very nice lady named Lori dragged their senior scientist out of a meeting to locate the form for me -- and then emailed me a copy.

HAH! Once again I triumph over the bureacracy! Oh heck. I can spell most stuff but this one escapes me. And I'm too lazy to look it up tonight. :)

Government agencies make me crazy.

I did get two studies submitted to the IRB, but one wound up with the dreaded Board 4...the board that rarely passes a study...sigh...

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

This is my "link" button for Cute, huh? Posted by Hello

Monday, March 07, 2005

Tile and more tile

Apparently mindless work is not the best thing to do when you're grieving. At least it's not if you're me.

I got the tile this weekend; Bev & Don helped me pick it up and move it into the house. One box of tile weighs about 40 pounds, and we had thirty of them to the 50 pound bags of thinset and the 20 pound bags of grout. So at least I got my weightbearing exercise. And I owe Bev and Don a gourmet meal -- probably Chicken Kiev and Bananas Foster. Which will negate any calories burned (and then some) from carrying in all that tile.

After putting the tile on the floor to see how it will look, prior to actually using any stuff to stick it down, I decided that I probably needed to patch the holes left after pulling up the carpet tack strips since it made a few of the tiles cant to one side or another.

So, pretty much, that's about all I got done this weekend. Move tile around and fill in holes in the concrete. And cry a lot. Sometimes the grief is just like a mental body slam out of left field. Too much work which doesn't require all the painful emotions I was avoiding thinking about came out to play.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

The Ultimate Cleverness

I can't remember dates. I detested history thoughout school (except for those few teachers who were all about the concepts and the actions instead of exact timeframes). I had trouble remembering my own birthday until I was a young adult. Couldn't tell you what day I was married on (which turned out to be OK, actually, since it's not an anniversary I want to celebrate). I know Mom's birthday is in June, because that's her middle name. I can usually get the months right, but I have to write them in my calendar each year (although that doesn't always help either). My friends know they have to remind me; my sister calls me with reminders of family birthdays.

It's probably more a blessing than a curse, though -- I'm such an old softie that I'd probably cry every day if I connected dates to tragedies. The people who love me, love me in spite of the fact that I can't remember their special days without assistance.

My daughter somehow figured this out before she was born. And out of all available dates, she picked the only one I might remember -- 3/3. She had to show up early to get it done, but hey! It worked out -- I have never, ever forgotten her birthday even once.

My daughter doesn't look much like her relatives on either side of the family. She's a tiny little person with a great big uncomplicated personality...she can go someplace she's never been before, and by the end of the day she has lifelong friends...she's comfortable in just about any situation and whatever she is feeling is right there on her face. In that way, she's much like Dad, whose gift for gab is legendary (must be that teeny bit of Irish ancestry).

Happy Birthday Alex!

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

The Wide Blue Line

There is a suburb to the city that I live in which has a problem with revenue. For years now, they've been telling their residents "Shop here! Spend your money in our city!"

The problem is that there's just not that much there...a liquor store, a smallish run-down grocery store, a couple of convenience the next suburb over has lower city taxes and a greater variety of merchants, so it's not surprising that many residents go elsewhere to spend their money.

So, this cash strapped suburb decided about a year ago that its residents needed to know exactly when they left its boundaries. So the city administration decided that a big blue boundary line would be painted on each and every street.

I go to the YMCA in this suburb, and I've been wondering why the heck the streets are painted blue in places. So now I know...and you do too. (Would signs have been so difficult? I know our literacy rate isn't THAT low!)

Oh, and those monkeys? They're my donation to, a group that sells handicrafts to benefit retired greyhounds.

This is what I did last night. :) Posted by Hello