Monthly Archives: October 2014

My Uncle Ed. From Scotland. And a happy rant about sisters and aunts.

Do you ever have a moment where you just get really excited about something and have to share? This is one of those moments! And then it spirals. Man, blogging is just happening right now.

My Aunt Susan, my beautiful and amazing aNut, who I have loved forever and ever and who I enjoy getting to love differently with each passing year (more on that in a minute) is married to a man named Ed. And he is from Scotland. And because he’s awesome, and he loves my aunt and is therefore required to love me (except I think he might even if he weren’t actually required) he wore his real deal kilt to my wedding and lets me call him Ed, the Scot, and also plays the “Doctor.” “Doctor.” game with me (because we’re both doctors– the PhD kind)… so I was ridiculously pleased when I saw a series of recent posts on Facebook of my Uncle Ed, on tv, and basically winning a Dead Poets Society competition.

It was too good! All of it!!

Here he is, at the mic, on tv, basically winning…

On the news even!!
On the news even!!

And then they showed a picture of the audience, including those three people that make my heart swell!! Ed, my aNut, and my Grandma. Love, love, love!!

love, love, love!
love, love, love!

So exciting! I’m ridiculously proud! And not just because Ed is from Scotland and a PhD in physics and married to my Aunt… but mostly that’s why 😉 Regardless, he’s my most favorite man that any of my mom’s sisters have ever, ever, ever been married to. Ever. So glad he’s in the familia!

Look how happy he makes my little aNut?! That's a good, good thing...
Look how happy he makes my little aNut?! That’s a good, good thing…

Anyway, about my Aunt, who I’ve been thinking about a lot lately (and not just because I’m working on a late birthday present for her– which I am, and it’s awesome), but also because she’s the best person I know at talking about love and relationships between people. The best.

We talked before about how when my sister was due with her first little girl, Emma, I basically freaked out. I was terrified of losing my sister. We’ve all seen Frozen, we should all be watching Once Upon a Time (because it’s awesome), so we all know there’s nothing worse than losing a sister. Television and movies don’t lie.

And neither does my aunt. She was so re-assuring and honest. She told me that Abby would still love me and I would still love her, but that it was true, our relationship would change… and that I would be amazed at how much I would love her little girl.

Right. On. The. Money.

And now she has another one– precious little Claire, who I also adore with all my heart. Abby is different now, because she’s Emma and Claire’s mom, but she’s still my sister and I love her something fierce. And Emma and Claire are so different, yet I love them both in a crazy auntie kind of way. Differently, because even so young, they’re already very different people, but so so so intensely. I was so worried about Abby changing that I forgot to consider that possibility that being an aunt my just change me too. I’m so glad that it did!

The point I’m trying to make here though, most of all, is that the way I love my sister and the way I love her girls, my sweet little nieces, changes the way I love my aunt. Not for better or for worse, but from a different perspective and with a whole new sense of complete and total gratitude for the way she has loved me for so many years. I had done nothing to earn it, except by being an extension of my mom, but now I know what it feels like to love that little being anyway and I can appreciate just how loved I was (and am, of course!) by my aunt.

It’s a special bond, you guys. And I’m so excited that Abby has two little girls and that someday Emma and Claire will be like Rita and Judy (my grandma and her sister), Beth and Susan (my mom and her sister), and me and Abby. It’s a crazy and beautiful thing.

It’s interesting to note though, that Judy had three boys and so did Susan… perhaps that’s what will be in the cards for me! I do like patterns.

And Scots. I like Scots too.

Ed The Scot 3

Congrats, Ed!! I love you, aNut Susan!

A short and quick list of things I love. No lamps.

Ho-ly cow! When it rains it pours! And I am basically being swept away!

Also over-dramatic.

But for seriously, I’m writing a big old grant right now and by the time I get home (late! woe is me!), I’ve basically used up all of my writing juices and I’ve been unable to get anything bloggy out the door (although stuff’s cooking, I swear it).

All day today, though, I’ve been itching, itching, itching to write for fun! Weird because I was also on a crazy roll all day with less fun writing– if my fingers weren’t moving a mile a minute, my mouth was! Talking and writing and thinking and writing some more. Super productive!

So quickly, while the juices are flowing, a short and quick list of things I super love! Ready? Go!

1. My sister’s use of emoji. She’s a genius at it… she turns it into an art.

For real though, I'm going to Tennessee to see a dear friend and then to hang out with my dad and a bunch of nuns and I couldn't be more excited!!
For real though, I’m going to Tennessee to see a dear friend and then to hang out with my dad and a bunch of nuns and I couldn’t be more excited!!

Those emojis though, right?! It’s awesome, awesome, funny, ha ha… then bam, martini glass and I die! I love my sister girl so so so much, you guys!


2. Making humble people accidentally compliment themselves. It’s the best! I think I like it so much because it satisfies my evil tendency to trick people into doing things while still being nice. Genius! (Evil genius– wringing hands, narrowing eyes…) I kind of got my friend Marie to acknowledge being fascinating and thoughtful today. It was thrilling! (She’s both, by the way, for seriously. And way too humble about it.)


3. Watching people open the perfect Christmas gift. And this is really my favorite favorite. The thing I love more than anything else throughout the whole year.

I don’t want to toot my own horn too loudly here or anything, but I am a good gift giver. (And I’ve got almost all of my gifts for this year already! Burning a hole in my metaphorical pocket because I just want to give them all right NOW!) Because I love it. I love thinking of something and then watching someone else open it and finding the just right thing inside– so satisfying! It makes me crazy happy.

And this grant right now. It’s like that. As I’m finishing it up, I feel like it’s Christmas… which is what prompted this post.

It’s insane, really, this grant. I’ve been working my tail of and I’m completely beat, but you guys, it’s GOOD. Like real good. I’m more proud of this than I’ve ever been of anything else I’ve ever written. Even my dissertation.

Let me say that again real quick:


That’s big! But this is big, and I’m so excited! It’s like I’m putting on the finishing touches, wrapping it up just so and affixing a perfectly coordinated label and bow before slipping it under the tree and I’m getting so crazy excited to see it opened up!

Where in this case the grant is the gift, and the tree is PCORI, and the recipients are the physicians I’m writing for, and you know, metaphors.

Just trust me, it’s good. And worth the time it’s taking. Worth every single second, because it could really help some people and the people I’m writing for are 100% inspiring.

So… as a wise man once sang to us all while changing his shoes:

I’ll be back, when the grant (poetic license) is through

And I’ll have more ideas for you

You’ll have things you want to talk about

I will too.

See you on the flipside!!! (of the grant.. because I’ve been busy writing it… I made that clear already, right?)


Oh. And #4. I also love Anchorman. Hence the lamp thing in the title.



My sweet little sister got all excited when she saw that “Velcro.” was the title of an upcoming post so I thought I’d flesh that one out first. I think it’s a little weird that velcro would excite her so much, but who am I to question someone else’s passions? I’m nervous that I’ll disappoint, so as a preemptive measure, I’m posting for your visual enjoyment a false-colored scanning electron micrograph of velcro because it’s been one of my favorite SEMs since I first saw it a long long time ago:

{From the Columbia University Lamont-Doherty Earth Observity... science, man}
{From the Columbia University Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory… science, man}

Today (as in the day I started writing this post, which was actually several days ago) I decided that I will never purchase another pair of velcro shoes. Terrible choice.

Little odd for a thirty-year-old woman to have to say something like that. I know. But I got these super cute shoes last fall from Zappos.

{Zappos VIP = heaven for a giant-footed monster girl like me}
{Zappos VIP = heaven for a giant-footed monster girl like me}

I always expect the shoes I order to a be at least a little bit different when they arrive on account of no store in their right mind would ever picture the size 11– things become considerably less cute the larger they get, it’s a fact. So when they arrived and they were still super cute, I was thrilled… except that I discovered that they had a velcro closure, not some sort of buckle or clasp. Sometimes surprises can be good (like when your friend rents herself an accordion player as entertainment on her own birthday), and I really didn’t think the velcro would be such a big deal.

My friend Suma invited us for dinner and a "surprise" on her birthday-- the surprise was literally that she had hired an accordion player. Too cute!
My friend Suma invited us for dinner and a “surprise” on her birthday– the surprise was literally that she had hired an accordion player. Too cute!

(Side note: I used to literally feel embarrassed at mentioned my shoe size, as though I had anything to do with it. Now I’m embarrassed that I felt embarrassed about it. My feet are my feet. Short of binding them, ancient Chinese-style, there’s really nothing to be done. Just like my square jaw. Sometimes we just have to accept the body we are in and be glad to have it!)

Unfortunately, for the last year I’ve been walking around in these cute shoes getting more and more frustrated at the dang velcro.

(And yes, spellcheck Satan, I understand that velcro should technically be Velcro, but I’m not going to capitalize now or ever– on principle. Because you told me I should.)

Turns out, velcro is a terrible way to secure the strap on a shoe like this. Especially in this size. Just terrible. The closure kept getting worse and worse every time I wore them and today, I couldn’t even make it from my office to my car without stopping twice to reconnect. Lame. No more wearing those shoes.

I wonder about the cobbler (is that what shoe designers are called? or just shoe fixers? shoe makers? let’s just say cobbler for the sake of making my upcoming metaphor sound good…) who would use velcro as the sole closure for an adult-sized mary jane style shoe. It just doesn’t make sense to me.

…and here comes that metaphor — ginormous leap…

So what about the soul cobbler who seems to have attached my mood, disposition, whatever, to the sun with what basically amounts to velcro?

You know that feeling you get in your stomach when you miss a step and feel like you’re going to fall?

It’s like that for me, teetering at the edge of depression, now that the sun is disappearing earlier and earlier each day. Here in Wisconsin, it’s completely dark by 7:30… then 7:20… (and that was few days ago… we’re looking at about 7:00 pm now…) we’re scheduled to lose 1.5 more hours of daylight by the end of the month. Factor in the end of daylight savings time and that puts us at dark by 5:00.

As much as I love everything about fall– the colors, the crispness, the smells, the holidays– the sun going away makes everything else slowly dull.

As the sun progresses, so does my mood.

Good lord, I could never survive in Alaska… not without being diagnosed as seasonally bipolar, anyway. Manic 6 months of the year, depressed the other. I guess at least I would know it’s coming…

but no!

I’ll never go north of the UP! (Hopefully someday I’ll convince Seth to come back to you, beautiful UP!)

Don’t worry, I’m using my special light (the one I cleverly cropped out of the phone picture I posted in my most recent post– it’s right behind that and I turn it on every morning in the morning, and sometimes for a little boost in the afternoon) and I’m aware of these feelings and I really think the stupid shoes were not helping. So with my light, and my trusty [read: ugly and oh so comfortable (I’m sorry for making fun of you, mom)] Danskos, stomping through the leaves to and from work has been kind of ok (also, I love leaf stomping). And taking my pup on weekend walks in my blue paisley waders is even better. Again, no velcro.

Stupid velcro.

Here’s the hard part, the thing I hate myself a little bit for finally admitting:


In theory, it is, of course, but in practice… man… it kills me. I want to love the leaves and the pumpkins and the corn stalks and the chill in the air and such. But my velcro lets go as the sun slips down earlier and earlier and I simply cannot love it as much as I really want to.

But, for serious, I did great with the fall decor this year, did I not?!
But, for serious, I did great with the fall decor this year, did I not?!

As such, it’s now finally time to admit the following:


In theory, again, it shouldn’t be… I don’t like hot and sticky, when my head gets hot my hair gets crazy frizzy, and mosquitoes and black flies and other insecty creatures make me crazy. But, all that sun? Late night runs when the sun is just slipping below the trees? Windows open, breeze in the house… I kind of do love all of that.

Maybe that’s the real reason I want to move to the UP so badly… because even summer there isn’t so hot. It’s gorgeous every single day. And the greatest of all the great lakes– the Superior one, is the most amazing place in all the land!

(Actually, my grandparents lived there when I was little and trips to the UP were when I got to see them and all of my cousins on my dad’s side so it was really my dream to live there just because I loved how it felt to be in the UP when we were all there. But that was then. Summer is it now. Part of it, anyway.)


I have always tanned easily– it’s my sturdy Polish peasant stock. (I don’t remember if my mom or grandma said that to me, but I love it so much. I like coming from sturdy stock! It makes me feel like in a past life I wrapped my head like a babushka and harvested wheat from a sun-filled field… yes, I can romanticize even back breaking labor.) And even when I do burn, it generally fades into a lovely brown relatively quickly. I love Cabo San Lucas more than any vacation destination I have ever had the pleasure of going to (even Hawaii! even Europe! I’m so serious– love love love that dry, sunshine-filled heat). And SoCal is always calling my name (now that I’ve been there and when I forget momentarily that earthquakes scare the pants off me; even if they’re bitty… bitty earthquakes, not bitty pants).

Great news! There's both sunshine AND iguanas in heaven!!
Great news! There’s both sunshine AND iguanas in heaven!!

I guess I’m just a full sun kind of plant. Goodness knows I am always thirsty. (Do you know me in person? How often have you seen me without my Nalgene? Did you ask me if it was in my car or in purse if you didn’t see it?) I whither without extreme amounts of water (ironic for someone who likes Cabo so much… but did you see the other part about the great lakes???) and I think I’m in need of full sun too.

The changing of the seasons, in every season, is something I actually look forward to. I like the variation, life and death and new life, year after year after year. I am learning, however, that those months characterized by less sun here in the northern climes are probably always going to be a little harder for me. Turns out, my soul is more important to me than shoes, though. And even the shoes, despite their unwearability on account of the stupid velcro are still pretty cute and I’ll probably go out looking for another pair just like them… with something a little more secure as the closure. I’m stuck dealing with the soul velcro, so to speak, but even more than the dang shoes, it’s worth it. Worth it to fight. Worth it to stop walking every now and again to secure it.

When things are off…

It’s day 3 of my wonky work schedule. The morning of day 3 even. And I’m SUPER off. Like way too off for only having dealt with three days of slightly shifting my hours at work.

Clearly, change is not my thing. Not at all.

I’ve got all sorts of awesome ideas and several blog posts started, but… nothing yet.

Evidence! Look at all that good stuff coming up... eventually...
Evidence! Look at all that good stuff coming up… eventually…

This week at work, I’m moderating some focus groups for patients and caregivers all over the country. In this respect, it’s a way good deal to be living in the Central time zone, not too far from the east or the west, but conducting the groups after hours means that I’ve had to adjust my work schedule… they just don’t pay me enough to work all those extra hours without compensation, so I’m going in late. Like noon or one-ish and staying until I’m done (like 9 or 10-ish).

It’s a couple of hours. So, no big deal, right? Except… I’m barely functional. Everything is off. I can’t wake up in the morning, I can’t fall asleep at night, my meal schedule is crazy and I’ve been unable to get myself to exercise (with the exception of a couple walks) or to do simple household tasks, like loading or unloading the dishwasher, until the wee hours of the morning when desperation sets in.

My behavior is just bizarre. Clearly, I am meant for a regular 9 – 5, nothing different.

It’s particularly interesting because I spent six years in grad school burning the candle from both ends, constantly working, at work, away from work, thinking hard in the car on my way to and from work… never a moment where it wasn’t gonorrhea, chlamydia, mice, mice, mice on my mind. Maybe I burned myself completely out? I no longer have that capacity, I guess.

And at the moment, I’m completely useless.

That scares me.

A lot.

I’m a 30-year-old woman who claims to want to start a family (and desperately so!), but can’t manage a 4-hour shift in my activities of daily living.

Uh oh.

Maybe the G-man knows something I don’t. That I’m clearly not ready for any additional responsibility in life, because, seriously, look at me…

Or maybe I’m over-analyzing a tired, particularly off week? Half a week, even.

Who knows. But I’m freaking out.

For some reason, this relatively minor shift in hours feels like it has completely removed me from the world I lived in before. It’s been literally 3 days, and I just feel completely disconnected… like I’m no longer living in parallel with everyone and everything around me. Just off.

I suppose, though, that some days are like that… even in Australia. (Can you believe they’re making that into a movie, btw?! Not sure how I feel about seeing grumpy goose Alexander and his terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad day on the big screen…)

This morning, I was planning to go into work for a 10:00 am PCORI webinar, but decided to do it at home, on my couch, in my comfies, with a mug of tea instead. It was a good choice. I was already freaking out about the possibility of a 10 – 10 work day and the stress I was feeling was so overly dramatic and unnecessary. This morning of couch surfing and learning and sipping tea and enjoying the view from my window (goooooorgeous day) was a much better choice. A little chance to blog-style reflect on what my deal is.

Not a bad view from my firmly rooted position on the couch.
Not a bad view from my firmly rooted position on the couch.

Perhaps my deal is just that I don’t like to feel disconnected. An interesting observation for an introvert like me. But hear me out…

Although I’m an introvert, I do still feel connected to the world around me. I enjoy the walk into work in the morning, plans for lunch at noon, a short walk with my pup and a long jog for myself after I get home. I like making dinner for myself and my husband, having a brownie on the couch afterward. Doing some writing. I like tucking myself into bed around 10:00 and reading and reading and reading until my eyes won’t stay open any more (and the panic of realizing I shouldn’t have done that when I sleep through another alarm in the morning).

I like routine. That’s not such a bad thing, I suppose.

The bad thing, the thing I’m worried about, is that I can’t seem to deal real well with a disruption, no matter how minor or temporary.

Maybe the temporary is the problem though. Maybe it’s when the disruption becomes the routine, a la the six years of my life spent in grad school, that I actually settle in to the pattern and let it be the norm.


When Curls had her first knee surgery back in October of 2013, using the leash and sling to take her out every time she had to go potty was a major disruption for both Seth and me. It seemed like such a big deal. But we’ve been doing it now for over a year and it has, in fact, become the norm… I no longer even think twice about grabbing the leash and the sling and taking Curly out into the yard. It’s just life.

Well, look at this… a live a ha! moment. Change is hard at first, it requires adjustment, and without the opportunity to adjust into something and let it become the regular, it’s going to feel off, at least for me. I can be off for a week, a week with a wonky schedule, and it’s not going to derail my entire life. That’s reassuring.

Being off this week, to me, feels like a big deal. But my life and the lives around me are going on… moving forward… and I’ll rejoin the march, in step, next week.

So let’s all look forward to that. To getting back on track and feeling like myself again. To connecting with you again on a regular and personal basis. To giving myself grace to be off for a week… yet letting this week do it’s work on me (because it is working, these focus groups, talking to these patients and their families).

Although, my sister brought my soundly back to Earth when I talked about how awesome these focus groups were on Facebook:

big deal

Oh snap, Shabsky! She and I are both studying meme-use and sarcasm under the tutelage of our sarcastic meme-using genius of a brother. Abby is learning quickly! I’m impressed!