Thursday, April 27, 2006

Why I Love My Friends...

Friend 1: Hey, since I've never *heard* someone say "machinations" aloud, do you know if it's pronounced "mashinations" or "makinations"? Just out of curiousity.

Friend 2: A handy note: if you go to Yahoo's dictionary and type in a word to look up, they have a feature where they let you hear how the word sounds. It's pretty nifty.

Friend 3: pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis

Friend 4: I believe that's pronounced yôr mä-mä.

Monday, April 24, 2006

More About Dad

The past few weeks have been a whirlwind of activity and drama. Frankly, I'm exhausted. And my dad called last night to say that he is having a lot of trouble breathing.

Cathy: Umm... shouldn't you go to the hospital?
Dad: Nah, I'll just wait until tomorrow and call the doctor.
Cathy: How long has this been going on?
Dad: Oh, a couple of days.
Dad: I'll be fine, I'll just call the doctor tomorrow.
Cathy: Well, other than that, how are you?
Dad: Tired. I didn't sleep last night.
Cathy: That's very unlike you... why did you have trouble sleeping?
Dad: I was scared to go to sleep.
Cathy: ... Why? Aren't you a little old to be scared of the dark?
Dad: I couldn't breathe. I was afraid if I went to sleep, I wouldn't wake up.

He's driving ME to a heart attack, I think. I know one of the side effects of a major surgery like this is depression and extra emotionality, but it breaks my heart to hear him talk like this. I know he's bored, I know he's depressed, and I know that all I can do for now is call him a couple of times a day to try entertaining him. He's not even halfway through his confinement period yet. Dan is going up there on Wednesday or so to stay a week, do farm chores, entertain Dad, and take advantage of as many Red Sox games on ESPN up there as possible. I'm going to try going up for the weekend myself, but am not sure I can yet.

I just feel so useless to him down here, but can't take more time off right now to go up to be with him. And I know its stupid, but I feel like I should be able to do more... to keep Dad happy and healthy by the sheer force of my personality or something. And that's a ridiculous expectation for both myself and for my dad. But there you have it.

In other news, I experimented with a new setting on the exercise bike last night and OH MY GOD MY LEGS HURT. But no pain, no gain, right? I want to get rid of the disproportionately flabby thighs I inherited from my mother. I told my Dad, who has total chicken legs, that I would trade with him; he wasn't amused, because he remembered me telling him he has hot legs when he's in a dress (really the hospital gown). He wasn't too amused, but his nurse sure was. I thought he was too hopped up on medication to remember me teasing him, but it just goes to show: Dads will ALWAYS remember when you pick on them, even if they are under general anaesthesia and morphine. But it is true... my dad has legs that would make an 18-year-old prom queen proud. Those of you who knew him when he was in Miami wouldn't recognize him; the farm work has made his already chickeny-legs skinnier, his gut has actually turned into pure muscle, and his arms are gaining definition.

Its a little disheartening to have a 68-year-old father who is in better shape than you.

A little story for you all that Dad recently told me.

Dad did a stint in the Army when he was 18. His sergeant couldn't stand him -- probably because my dad was (and still is) the biggest smartass in the world -- and repeatedly chose him to stay in the barracks while the others were in the field to clean everything. With a toothbrush.

So Dad behaved at first, and scrubbed everything until it gleamed. The sergeant came by, said it wasn't good enough, and ordered him to do it again. Dad resignedly did. Again, the sergeant said it wasn't good enough. Dad mutinously cleaned everything a third time. The sergeant came by and told him to do it again. Dad refused. The sergeant ordered him again, and Dad told him to go fuck himself.

I'm sure you can imagine how well THAT went over. He ordered Dad to meet his team in the field. He responded that he'd been forced to clean so long, he didn't even know where they were anymore. The sergeant said he'd take him there, but he'd have to go double time.

Dad was a strong, lean guy in his teens and twenties... he'd been on the track team every year of middle and high school, but his sergeant didn't know that. They took off running, hauling all their gear. About halfway there, the sergeant started to get tired and told Dad to slow down. Dad, being the crotchety old man he is even then (which I say in a loving way, because it is one of my favorite qualities in him), "No, you mother fucker, you said double time and we're DOING it double time!" ... And then he sped up and ran even faster, much to the sergeant's dismay. He wasn't supposed to lose face and get there minutes after my Dad, you see.

Dad got in a lot of trouble for disrespect to his sergeant, but he never had to stay behind to clean the barracks again... over all, I think HE won!

Friday, April 21, 2006

I am a bad person

I should have updated long before today, but things have been a bit hectic in the CakeorDeathery lately. Much of what I wrote about in my last post is in the process of being carefully mended. It will take time, but since all parties involved have agreed that it is worth the effort of preserving the relationship, it will be done. When writing that last entry, my emotional reservoir was full of quick-drying cement, to use Mrs. Kennedy's analogy. It won't be easy, and I'm sure things will relapse a couple of times in the process, but at least my reservoir is more of pancake batter this week than cement.

I honestly don't know how things went from the blackest of black to a mid-grayish so quickly, especially because I thought it was impossible. I'm unspeakably glad they have, though.

On the the lighter and brighter side of life, I got an interesting phone call the other day. See, some of you don't know this, but from the age of 5 to 20, I was a stage performer. Musicals, plays, choir performances... I did it all. Just before my 20th birthday, however, I overdid things. I was conducting a children's choir, member of my university women's chorale, member of my church choir, and singing in a wedding -- all in one month. My voice crashed on Christmas after a month containing over 30 rehearsals and performances. I was plagued with sinus infection after sinus infection, cold after cold, and continual laryngitis. I had to quit all my choirs, go on moderate vocal rest for 8 months, and haven't sung since then.

So anyway, this call was for an audition... for a professional-grade community choir. I'm seriously considering auditioning. Its just a matter of deciding if I want to spend countless hours this summer getting my voice back into shape and refreshing myself in sightreading (which I was never really good at, actually). It will also require some minor lifestyle changes if I'm really going to be serious about this -- things like drinking a LOT more water, cutting down on soda and coffee, no raising of my voice anymore (like at baseball games, etc.), and just getting over the fact that I'd have to sing in front of Dan when practicing. I know, I have a weird complex about practicing in front of people. I don't like them to hear me when I sound bad, but I can't exactly kick Dan out of the apartment for an hour or two a day.

I'll probably change my mind six times a day until the audition, but as of right now, I think I'm going to try it. I miss being part of something that makes good music... knowing that you're creating something of beauty is a release of sorts, and a spiritual balm of sorts. Not in a religious sense, but in a personal sense. I've always felt that pushing myself as a musician was a way of pushing myself as a person. I've never outgrown a bit of stage fright, but music pushes me to get over it enough to get on with life. I've never liked being in large groups of strangers, but musicians working together have a certain solidarity to them that helps me get over that, too.

Yes... I think I'll do this.

Friday, April 14, 2006

The Kindness of Strangers

One day, sometime last month, Dan and I had an argument. I was upset and left the apartment to cool down a bit, so we could discuss things in a calmer frame of mind. I stopped at a red light, and a homeless man, selling Miami's homeless newspaper (it is written and run by the homeless to earn money for the bread bank... similar to StreetWise in Chicago, if you are familiar with it) came up to my window, which was already open. I handed him a dollar, and he saw my red eyes and asked if I was alright.

"I'm fine, just a rough day."

"Honey, everyone has rough days. The trick is to remember that you're healthy, have friends, and are happy overall. Look at me; I'm homeless, but I find happiness, too."

I was touched by his words and concern, and told him so, thanking him for his kindness.

"Let me tell you honey, there's nothing stranger than kindness and no one kinder than strangers . Have a blessed day."

And the man walked off to the next car, seeking his next dollar, with a happy grin on his face.

This encounter has stuck with me, because of the open kind-heartedness this man had towards everyone, even a stranger with red eyes in a car stopped at an intersection. His simple words calmed me down more than anything else could have, and have come back to me since then when in similarly stressful situations.

Sometimes, however, it is hard to remember that my health, friendships, etc. are intact. Now is one of those times. I don't want to go into specifics right now, because doing so will make everything seem so real and close, and I like the distance I temporarily have from my own feelings. Just let it suffice to say that it was made apparant yesterday that a relationship close to my heart has failed, and I am lost, hurt, and in a very, very bad place.

On top of this, my dear friend's father was found dead today after being missing for a couple of days. She needs me, and doesn't know of the emotional trauma that came to a head yesterday in my life. And I'm going to be there for her, dammit, even if it means putting everything going on in my life on hold. I know I'm not able to postpone the overwhelming feelings of hurt and lost from these events in my life very long, and that I probably shouldn't, but I can't face them. And while this death in my friend's family isn't a welcome relief by ANY means, it is a personal reprieve from myself.

So, Internet, I turn to you, and the kindness that strangers bring to each other. While nothing I can do or say will make everything better for my friend, what can I do? We're going shopping after I get out of work to get her some black clothes, because she doesn't have any. I'll go to the funeral to be there for her. But what else?

And for me... how do you endure the agonizing feeling of your heart breaking into millions of pieces? I'll post again in a couple of days saying what happened. It is too close to the heart right now.

Friday, April 07, 2006


Seven days, five bypasses, and approximately 23 galloons of dog poo later, and Dad is out of the hospital! He's home, and doing well, especially considering the nature of his surgery. He went in for triple bypass surgery, but the surgeon found two more bloackges during the surgery, turning his triple bypass turned into a quintuple bypass. Did you know that could be done? Because I surely didn't until the tired, sweaty surgeon came out to tell us how the surgery had gone. Dad is recovering wonderfully, but he can't do any farmwork for at least two months, and I know it is already driving him crazy. Dan and I are going to the farm for a weekend soon to help with the chores that are piling up. I'm so glad he's home; seeing him hooked up to so many tubes and needles was one of the hardest things I've ever seen. Though I knew it was going to be hard, I wasn't prepared enough to see him unconscious with a breathing tube the first day. All my mom and I could do was blink back our tears and take turns holding his hand and talking to him, letting him know that we were there and that he was going to be ok. I hope I never have to go through that again, not just because I don't want any of my loved ones in that position, but because putting 200% of your energy, time, and self into someone else when all you really want to do is crawl into their arms and cry is the most exhausting thing I've endured. But if the occasion called for it, I wouldn't hesitate to do it again. Having us there helped my dad's immediate recovery so much that I'd never be able to deny someone my presence if it would help them like that.

In non-parental news, I've been home since Tuesday night and haven't really stopped working since; catching up on missed chores, working overly-long hours at work, etc. I'm collapsing this weekend and treating myself to a whole day of fun and relaxation.

Emily tagged me for a meme, so let the memming begin!

Accent: Nondescript, nonspecific, generic American accent. I live too far south in Florida to be part of the South, so I was spared that. However, I do start talking strangely when I visit my parents. As in, I caught myself saying "That sure ain't like the taste of sugar!" And I cringed, slapped myself, and vowed to return to civilization as quickly as possible.

Booze of Choice: Usually something fruity with a kick. Or Alien Secretions, a drink Dan made up. Even proportions of Malibu, Midori, Triplesec, and a splash of sour mix. FANTASTIC shot. Try it sometime.

Chore I Hate: I HATE LAUNDRY. I'll clean the toilet any day, just don't make me haul basket after basket of laundry to the washer! PLEASE!

Dog or Cat: No pets in Dan and I's apartment, but the animals at my parents' farm are partially my pets, and there we have 8 cats, 6 dogs, 1 immortal rabbit (seriously, it's 11 or 12 years old now. DIE ALREADY!), a couple of birds, and several fish tanks.

Essential electronics: My Precioussss... aka my PowerBook. I love it.

Favorite perfume: I don't wear perfume, but I use sweet pea and violet shower gel and that does the trick.

Gold or silver: Silver. I think gold looks weird on people with my complexion.

Hometown: Miami, Florida

Insomnia: A bit when the seasons change, but that usually doesn't last too long because I am NOT a nice person when I don't get my 7-8 hours.

Job title: Assistant Editor, Latin America. How exotic sounding.

Kids: Maybe one day, but not for sure and certainly not anytime soon.

Living arrangements: I rent an apartment with my boyfriend, Dan.

Most admired trait: I admire people who embrace change. I'm not exactly one of them.

Number of sexual partners: Just one. And yes, he's Dan. Some people have encouraged me to branch out, experiment with other guys, etc., but I'm just not interested. The same people tell me that I need some basis for comparison, and, honestly, I don't. Dan certainly keeps me satisfied, and is an incredible guy in other ways, too. Why the need to keep looking? Whatever, I just don't get some people. Why ruin a wonderful relationship just to sleep around? Makes no sense. I'm not that kind of girl anyway.

Overnight hospital stays: Only after birth, which is amazing given my record for clumsiness.

Phobia: Failure. Change. Loneliness. Grasshoppers. The usual.

Quote: "I hate quotes." ~Ralph Waldo Emerson~

Religion: I used to go to church regularly, but now I'm rather agnostic-ish.

Siblings: Three older sisters.

Time(s) I wake up: Anywhere from 5:30 to 7:15 on weekdays, depending on when I have to be into work, and usually 8ish on weekends unless I've been up until 4 am or something. Sometimes even then, and then I'm NOT a happy Cathy.

Unusual talent/skill: I can read Old English nearly fluently. And I mean OLD English, the kind that looks like a completely foreign language. Where "garden" is "neorxnawanga"

Vegetable I refuse to eat: Radishes. Total ew.

Worst habit: How to choose? I worry too much. I detest change and adapt badly.

X-rays: Dental and my arm, when I broke it at age 7.

Yummiest food I make: A pasta dish I learned to make in Italy... Rigatoni with zucchini, mushrooms, and fresh garlic, all mixed together with a creamy white sauce on top. YUM-MY.

Zodiac sign: Capricorn or Dog, depending on which calendar you're talking about.