happy F****** Holidays

Hey all,

Last month I tried, and failed, to write a novel.  Many of you are familiar with Nanowrimo, where you try and write 50k words in 30 days. Some of you, like me, failed. Some of you succeeded.  For those of you who did, congratulations or something. Whatever, no one really likes you.

Anyway, now that I have totally failed to be awesome, I am coming up for air.

Which is good, because it is the Holiday season, and I am so FUCKING STOKED (warning, I am so excited about this that the language I am using might only be suitable for adults) (warning about the warning, it may have come too late, and some kid accidentally read the word fuck in all caps. I’m sorry).

You’ll notice I said Holidays.

For some reason, I have noticed there are two reactions to the use of Holidays to describe the time between Thanksgiving and New Years Eve.

Either people get all congratulatory because you have saved everyone the embarrassment of saying “Christmas” when there might be some atheists around. Or Jewish people.  Obviously, these people cannot bear to hear the word Christmas.  They are entirely excluded from the Christmas holiday. There is no way they have gleaned what it means from the millions of Christmas specials out there or the carols that play non-stop on any soft rock station ever. When you speak of it, they become so confused that they are obviously filled with rage and start killing everything. I’m pretty sure that is the premise of every single Christmas Horror movie.

So just say Holiday.  Less blood will be shed that way.

The other response is even more confusing to me. I’m not even going to use sarcasm to talk about it, I would just mess it up I think.

Some people get offended.  Like by saying Holiday I have made Christmas into a bad word. Like I am ashamed of my Christmas tree, and my advent calendar,  like I would rather be caught dead than be in church on Christmas Eve.

This is not the case.  I celebrate Christmas.  It’s my holiday and a love it. I love the secular parts, the gift giving and the eggnog.  I love the religious parts, the advent wreaths and the manger scenes. The church plays and candle lit services.

And yet, I say Holiday.  How strange of me.

Let me tell you why:

I am so FUCKING excited about this whole season that I am practically jumping out of my goddamn skin to share that happiness with each and every fucking person.  Holidays is an everything thing, it’s a broad spectrum term that blankets all of my excitement.  I don’t care which holiday you’re going to have happy one of, I just want you to have the HAPPIEST FUCKING TIME ever.

So Happy Holidays everyone.

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A Bunch of Updates (of Varying Interest)

So, eh…

I know it has been a while.  AND I know that the key to successful blogging is you keep the content fresh and update frequently. But, I didn’t.

I will do the next best thing.  This is the apologetic “while I was gone” post.

Event 1) My job got crazy.  School started, and all of the sudden there were 50 or more freshman who needed to know where their classes were.

I know that doesn’t sound bad.  But understand, all 50 needed to know, at the same time, and all their classes weren’t in the same place and…

Ok.  You’re right, that’s not that bad.  BUT! I have also been spending no less than 5 hours a day staring at a spreadsheet. Have you ever worked on the same spreadsheet for 5 hours a day? Do you have even half of an actual brain?

Then you know how much that sucks.

Event 2) I am about to finish writing my novel. Now, when I say finished, I don’t want you to think it is almost done.  That it has finally reached the point where I am happy with how it turned out.  Actually, quite the opposite.

I am almost finished, because I have been working on it so long I am sick of the thing.  It might be good, it might be awful and I have been reading the same words so many times that I can’t tell the difference. So I am calling it in.

I am ready for something new.  I think a ghost story.  Maybe for adults this time.  Maybe not.  I kinda like YA books a lot more than most grown women with disturbing amounts of gray hairs ever should.

Anyway.  I have begun the process of sending this novel out to agents.  I don’t expect much, but I figure it is good practice.

Sending your novel out sucks. Don’t let anyone ever tell you different.  First off, you are pretty sure this is the worst crap you have ever written.  But you have to write a query letter about how it is a shining example of literary genius. You have to lie. You have to lie through your teeth. Except that there is this tiny infant bird, fluttering in your heart. He is your hope that your novel is actually good. He believes you aren’t lying when you talk of your books merits.  He is perched so precariously in your heart, he will probably fall, a clumsy toppling onto the hard ground. His naked goose pimple skin will grow cold as he dies.

You must not let this happen.

All through the rejection letters, the scrapping for new people to show it to, the many, many queries that seem more fake with each go, you have to cup your hand around this bird and protect him from the winter wind.

Sounds shitty right?

Event 3) I got a hair cut.

Event 4) Fringe started again.  The new season has parallel universe clones running all over the place, and a bunch of other stuff I can’t remember. I tried to watch it after too much pizza and beer and passed out in a hops and cheese coma.

But I was reminded of something I need to do. Some time ago, I found this on my site stats:

Someone told Google that they hated Olivia Dunham, and Google told them they would love my blog.

I would like to issue a formal apology to Olivia Dunham.

I am sorry Olivia (I can call you Olivia, right?). I know I complained about you.  I can’t help it. You are beautiful and have a great hair stylist. Sometimes, I get jealous.

But the truth is, you are one bad ass woman.  You give woman main characters a good name.  You are sexy, but you don’t lead with your sex.  You face bizarre but deadly phenomenon in comfortable shoes.

When I get upset about how great your braid is, and it is truly great, I am doing feminism a disservice. I am getting competitive with another female over something as dumb as fucking awesome kick ass hair.

I am sorry Olivia Duhnam.  I really do think you are swell.

(I will try and be better about posting)

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Into A Shape

At first glance, you may assume that I am a thin, healthy girl. Mildly attractive if you are into that awkward nerdy thing (thank God it does it for the Man).  On second glance, you may still think that. Especially if you are into dress pants covered in dog hair (I don’t even think the Man fits into this category, but there are people out there, right?).

But! I have been really inactive lately. I blame the surgery, but this far in, that is probably just an excuse. Also Netflix.

The point is, underneath this mildly attractive exterior, I am melting into a puddle of 100% body fat. It’s just the skin that houses all of my lard happens to be in the correct shape. Poke my arm though, and you’ll see. It will jiggle and wiggle like a arm full of jelly.

I’m sorry, that’s gross. Here’s a picture instead:


So basically, I need to get fit.  Or healthy. Or have some muscle tone at all.  To that end I went on Hike.

This wasn’t just any hike. It was Hike. It was a get up at the crack of dawn (8:00) and pretend you aren’t hung-over because you are gonna be at this all day kinda hike.

We walked 3 miles up hill. Our guide/the guy-with-the–best-hiking-boots had this really spiffy GPS tracker. It told us how many miles we had gone and how many feet in elevation we had climbed. I don’t remember what it was, but I’m going to say 1 billion. We already live at 7000 ft, so I don’t think that is an exaggeration.

The point is. The air was thin

But I was feeling really good. My blood was pumping and the area was truly beautiful. Every 15 minutes or so the scenery would change completely. It would go from mossy trees to rocky hills to streaming river. One of the best ways to get in shape I can think of: go look at pretty shit for a while.

Then we reached the lake aka our destination. This greeted us:

Photo by Shandi Love

The Man was pretty sure Momma wild goat was going to kills us. Or at least maim one of us as a warning to the rest.

Turns out they just wanted to eat some grass.

Then we walked down hill for 3 miles. For most people downhill is the easy part. You start to get your breath back and gravity starts doing half the work for you.

But for me, my knee started hurting really badly. Like it couldn’t support me for one more second.  This happened at .5 miles. The rest of the 2.5 miles were torture.

Why did this happen? I am a youngish thing; my joints should be doing good.  Strong. And well they are strong. But refer back to that picture of mine. No muscles.

It’s a hard job to take bag ‘o blubber down a mountain.

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I guess I should have expected it, but I came back into the world of Not-on-short-term-disability and everything was suddenly different. I mean, I knew some things would be. I knew I would no longer be able to have coffee be my sole form of beverage in a day. I knew that for several weeks I would be able to play the just had surgery card and make The Man carry things for me. I knew I was going to get awkward hugs from people I barely knew.

But some things were less expected

Harry went from this:

GRRRRRR Can you make a mail GGGGrun?


GRWOOOWLL I’m to busy writing to be your boss grrr

So now I have an new boss.  Her name is Paula.  She is neat.  She gets things done.  Especially things like redecorating and actually answering my questions.

She also has no idea how to use Excel. I don’t know how she has never gained this skill, but I am frequently called into her office to add simple subtraction equations to her spreadsheets.  Also I use google to help her find things.

I look like a CHAMP.

Basically, she is an awesome boss.

Also.  When I went to surgery.  It was spring.  I could usually still wear my sports jackets to work. Days were warm, nights were cool.


I go to work like this.

But the biggest, most drastic change, the change I wrote this post for, was when I came home from work yesterday and found this:


On the one hand.  The Man looks good with short hair, its flattering and he is much more comfortable in the heat I just mentioned.  But really I’m conflicted.

Suddenly, my hair is no less impressive than my boyfriend’s.  I am no longer competing with those perfect curls. The long stretches of time and bizarre hair products necessary to keep him shiny and well kempt. He needs less time in front of the mirror than I do.

Dare I say it?

My hair might be more remarkable than The Man’s.

No no, that’s crazy talk.  I can’t go there.

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Major Surgery is the Circle of Life

Today is my first day back at work.

One the one hand, I’m glad. I sorta miss the routine of the office, the need to work for my money instead of sleep for it.

On the other hand, I just went from 0 hours of work to 8 hours of work and I am tired.

But it means one other thing. This is likely to be my last kidney related post.  It’s not that it isn’t going to still effect my life. It will. But I am sorta tired of talking about it and generally running out of clever things to say.

But here is one final thing I noticed.

Going through major surgery is like your life flashing before you in medium motion (not slow, not fast, takes about a month).

This is what you look like right after surgery

1st: You wake from a quiet darkness to a world of pain and not being able to hold your own neck up.  When they woke me from surgery, I blinked up at two nice looking doctors who immediately left.  Then I tried to lift my head and ask for a bottle (my mouth was dry OK).

3rd, no wait, 2nd: Your first poop is a big deal. You may remember me posting about how I couldn’t poop. It was a big concern.  But then I did. And it was amazing. Like, I didn’t realize how grateful I should be for the whole pooping thing. But basically the first poop was a marker worthy of a baby book entry for sure.

3rd: You enter your elementary school years. Your bored and throwing mini tantrums when nothing entertaining happens all day. The babysitter (Netflix) runs out of steam sometime during the 2nd week. Your boyfriend bribes your friends to get you out of the house.

4th: As a second time teenager, you get behind the wheel for the first time again. Once again, you are nervous but excited.  Sure you know exactly what you are doing this time, but the pressure from the seat belt on your incision is cause for concern anyway.

5th: I already told you about the pregnancy thing. In this scenario, it lands in the early teen years, so I guess you are one of THOSE girls. The ones your parents warn you about.

6th: Your first day back at work! Your finally responsible enough to land a job. Just hope you can hold it down, because sitting around the house for a month eating and being lazy is expensive. You have debts you’d like to pay.

7th: Almost immediately upon starting your job again, you are greeted by the harsh fluorescent lights in the work bathroom.  Suddenly you remember how much gray hair you’ve accumulated. It’s more than last time you looked.

Congratulations! Your back to the Old Man/Girl you once were!

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I am not pregnant.

I know this because the last thing they did before surgery was a pregnancy test. I hadn’t ate or drank anything for 12 hours, and they handed me a little urine sample container and pointed to the bathroom.  They had to hook me up to an IV just so I could squeeze out a couple drops and prove what I could have told them anyway.  There ain’t no baby in there.

I tell you this, because the following scene will sound like my uterus is in fact, occupied.

I’m sitting in my mushroom chair, rubbing belly protectively. The Mushroom chair is the only chair in the house that doesn’t put strain on my lower back as I carefully angle myself to not stretch my belly.

“Babe, I need a favor.”

The Man is a good boyfriend.  Since I got home from the hospital, He has cooked for me and walked the dog.  He has made sure I don’t lift anything over 10 pounds, and he doesn’t say anything when I go days without brushing my hair.  So he is on it immediately with this favor thing.


“Ice Cream. Need”

So The Man went out and got his lady some randomly requested, emergency Ice Cream (cookies and cream), while I walked around the house with my belly sticking out and coddled by my hand.

The next day I craved pickles.

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A low point for dignity

Probably my posts are going to be about living with one kidney for a while.  I know you might get bored about hearing about it, but the fact is, I have NOTHING else going on in my life.  I am on bed rest, and my day goes like this:

Wake up. Play Online Scrabble. Take pain med that makes it so I never ever poop. Take a nap. Wake up again, watch some netflix (Stargate SG1 is the current flavor), pray that today is the day I get to poop, take another nap,  maybe eat something, probably just watch more Netflix and then nap some more.

It’s a stimulating existence to be sure.

But, much more importantly: the surgery went well.  I am recovering nicely, and Lefty is pumping away perfectly in my brother.  Basically we couldn’t have asked for better. Unless we asked that we both get TWO kidneys and no surgery necessary, but that ship sailed.

Funny thing that happens after Kidney surgery.  Suddenly bowel and bladder movements become very very interesting.  I’ve never been so happy as I was when I learned my brother was peeing after the surgery. It was a HUGE FUCKING deal.  My pee too was a big deal.  All the while I was in the hospital, they collected it. Measured it.

The first thing anyone said to me after I woke from the anesthesia was that I peed water, and he’d be happy to have me on ANY desert Island. (true story).

And I may have mentioned how I can’t poop. I may have been all casual about it.  But it’s not casual.  It is the thing I think about the most in my day.  Why oh why can’t I poop.  Just once.

Basically. It’s not very big on dignity, donating a kidney.

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-1 kidneyland ahoy!

Most of the people who read this are people I love.  And it is OK if they love me but aren’t IN love with me. I still appreciate the readership.

So most of you already know that this is a pretty big night for me.  This is the last night that I have 2 kidneys.

For those of you not in the know.  My brother’s kidneys have been dying on him since he was in high school.  About 3 years ago they failed completely and he has been in dialysis ever since.

Dialysis sucks. You spend three days of every week watching the blood completely drain from you. You go home after that exhausted.  You have to watch you water intake carefully or your feet become puffy. You can’t have cheese or tomatoes or potatoes.

You can’t have CHOCOLATE.

As a sister, I could not let this continue.  Let’s introduce the players:

"I'm gonna miss you lefty" "I know Silm, be strong."

Lefty and Slim

Brother is getting Lefty.  He is a smaller kidney and they can take him out of my back through a smaller incision that will take less time to heal.

Now I know me telling you this makes it seem like I am trying to puff up my ego.  Like, oh my gawd Tamara, you are such a good sister! but actually talk like that makes me kinda uncomfortable. I don’t really know what to do with it.  So instead, I will distract you with tales of kidney transplant woe.

1) When they are testing your kidney for acceptable transplanty ness, they do some weird things to you.  One of them is a high contrast MRI.  Basically they inject radioactive shellfish DNA into your blood and then take pictures of your glowing fishy kidneys. This is how they decided Lefty was a good transplant candidate.

When they inject you, they say, “You are going to taste pennies, and then feel like you really need to pee. It’s normal just hold still.”

Then you taste pennies.  And then the horrible truth comes out. You don’t feel like you have to pee.  You feel like you JUST PEED. All over yourself. But you are going to stay still anyway, because maybe they won’t notice.

2) You have to pee in a cup. Often. Kidneys regulate urine, so they have to make sure yours are up to snuff. If you are female, this involves a lot of awkward spread eagle toilet sitting.

They will LOSE your pee almost as often as they take it.  I don’t know how you lose a cup of pee.  Especially a labeled one.  You figure that they would keep track of that. That it would be a point of pride. “we don’t lose pee here” but you would be wrong.  They probably figure you can just make more, so who cares?

3)Your friends will think it is HILARIOUS to give you kidney beans as a joke.  They will be right.

4) Every once and a while, when you tell people what you are doing, they will say something like “My uncle did that” or “I would do that in a heartbeat for my brother” and it will make up for all the times people get weepy eyed or hero worshipy about the situation.

5) I can’t think of a five right now. There is definitely one, but I am a bit loopy because I have been doing a bowel prep all day (read: no food and lots of poop joke opportunities that I won’t take). So I am going to wash with my antimicrobial soap and go to bed.

Goodnight sweet Lefty. You go to a better place.

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Sleep Stealer

I love sleep.  Of the basic necessities, it comes in second only to food, and depending on how much ramen I’ve had on any given week, sometimes even beats food.

Sleep is like the Universe wrapping you in its warm silky embrace.

Sleep can cure most diseases (including the Scurvy).

Sleep has given me half of my story ideas.

Basically Sleep is the best.

Every night, I watch enough TV that I get all yawny, I take a ridiculously hot shower (increases the drowsy) and I slip into bed.  The man usually joins me a little later, because even though he is older than me, he is not an Old Man the way I am and still likes to stay up kinda late.

So last night, this is me:

Aren't I pretty when I sleep?

Safe in Dreamland, or so I thought!


My head falls sharply back as the pillow beneath my head is snatched away. My eyes fly open. Something has disturbed my precious sleep.

Next to me is The Man.  He is curled in sleeping position, eyes closed.

But he is holding my pillow!

He mumbles something about how I wasn’t using it.

“I think I was. As evidenced by this bump on my head.” (actual quote, I’m freaking eloquent when you wake my ass up).

Silence for a moment. Then, “I think I know what happened. It’s too complicated to explain.”

“Give me the short version.” I say, crossly.

“I can’t.”

He puts the pillow down and turns over.

“What?” I say even more crossly.

But there is no response. He is asleep.  I’m pretty sure he was asleep the whole time.

Some men sleepwalk. My boyfriend sleepsteals.  And then tells convincing cover stories. Or at least strangely coherent ones. While still asleep.

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Old Man Tamara

If you are a returning reader (read: my friends and family) you may have noticed it’s been a while since I blogged.

I haven’t really been in a blogging kind of mood lately.  I try and be funny on here, or if I can’t manage that at least maintain a shiny veneer of self-deprecation.  The thing is, over the last couple weeks, I have felt deprecated enough that I didn’t think I needed anymore.

There was also a day when I was feeling great self-esteem wise, but I had a really bad hang-over and I was like eff my audience, I’m taking a nap under my desk.

But anyway, the reason for all of this is my car.  I drive an ancient Ford Escort.  I’ve forgotten if it is actually a color under all the dust and the brake light flashes at me no matter what position the brake is in.

I love my car.  I call him Chip.  (Yeah, I named my ‘escort’ after Chip and Dale’s dancers, what of it?)

The other week, Chip died. I was on an alcohol/vittles run and he just puttered out in the middle of a busy street.

Until this point, Chip had been running for 13 years without a mechanic touching him.  I considered this a point of pride.  He was a little trooper, a sturdy machine.  He didn’t need a MECHANIC. He was above all that.  But apparently, if you go 13 years without changing some parts, like I don’t know, a timing belt for instance, it is very bad.

The result is that it took a lot of time, and way more money than I actually had to get him up and running again.  So… I was depressed. I didn’t blog.

One of the things that happens when your car breaks down in the middle of the road is you start looking at other cars.  Maybe, it’d just be easier to buy a new one, or a nearly new one.  So in an effort to cheer myself up, I played pretend.  I looked at car websites and built imaginary cars.  Pictured myself ridding down the road in them.

It was then that I realized something. I am an old man.

Finally a picture of me

I HATED all of those pretend cars.  None of them had good gas mileage; the seats were leather and therefore gross.  There were definitely too many bells and whistles.  I mean, who needs seat warmers, or a CD player (or a working air conditioner for that matter)?

Basically, none of these cars were as good as Chip.  Because they don’t make them like they used to.  Back in my day people cared about workmanship, not gadgets and what not. Comfortable seating? Safety features? That stuff is for sissies.  What is wrong with this generation?

And another thing! Why do I have to keep buying my movies?  I was fine with VHS thank you muchly.  Then everyone wanted DVDs, and you know what? I went along with it.  I brought my favorite movies in DVD format.  It was ok I guess.  But I am NOT going to blue ray! I don’t even like blue ray.  And those flat TVs? They make everything look wobbly.  I’m not doing it. You can’t make me!

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