Saturday, June 26, 2010

Delta sucks

Awful experience Thursday night. Our evening flight was inexplicably delayed, then delayed again and again. No information, of course. We finally boarded for what was now a 7:40 flight and sat on the runway for hours. And by"we" I mean the 11 passengers and small crew. After a long time with no information the captain announced that there was a minor mechanical problem, but not to worry -- it was a quick fix. He actually said it would be 5 minutes. A half hour went by. THen he announced he'd be essentially rebooting the entire plane, and that was sure to work. It didn't. This went on and on, with t-shirt-clad maintenance guys coming up the stairs and into the cockpit, shaking their heads and doing whatever they did but with absolutely zero result. By now hours had gone by. Finally finally finally they said that this plane was going out of service but good news! They had another aircraft, and a bus would take us there. And we waited. No bus. The next bit of news was that we were to disembark and agents would redirect us. No agents had any idea what we were talking about. We wandered the airport, ran into another lost soul and the three of us asked various gate agents, customer service reps, anyone (I was about to ask a maintenance guy) where our plane was. We were all told that that flight left in its original aircraft. We continued to walk through the airport (no mean feat for me), listened but heard no announcements and finally found the group from our original flight. There was a plane at last, and we boarded, but were shocked at the lack of info, the complete absence of customer service and the feeling that no one really gave a rat's ass about this flight (excepting the very nice flight attendant named Jeff.)

At that point I took 2 atavan and dozed through the flight. We arrived in Charlottetown at nearly 2 a.m.

Swirling through my mind were several things: the recent Frontline I watched about the problems of regional airlines (this was Comair, Delta's regional carrier) and some of the issues raised in Dan Ariely's new book "The Upside of Irrationality" in which he talked about some of the customer service nightmares he's had, and what they say about human behavior and expectations.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

San Mateo

The Peruvian cooking class was amazing -- great food, great chef, amazing cocktails (Pisco Sours). Nick cut himself while shucking corn, but it's a typical cooking-related injury and it was dealt with quickly and effectively. We had a blast.
Jamie came over Sunday afternoon. We rode in the morning (20 miles) and it was great. Then the four of us hung out and made a huge dinner. Nick and I went to bed after, and the girls went off to the movies (Toy Story 3.)

Right now I find myself at a cafe in San Mateo, waiting for Laur. We'll hang out and have some wine and snacks before I leave for San Jose. Then back on the redeye tomorrow night, which means I'll be uselesss Thursday. So I'll stay home, do what work needs to be done, sleep a little and pack -- we leave Thursday night for PEI till early Monday morning, when I'll either come straight to the office if I'm up to it or back home for a few hours.

Next set of injections for this piriformis/sciatica situation 7/6, and I'm hopeful. I'm definitely moving better, and more of the pain seems mechanical than nerve-derived. Always an adventure.

Wedding plans continue. More decisions made, others still to be hammered out. For the kids readings we've identified three of the four (all but Nikki) so progress is most def being made (I may have been watching too many episodes lately of "The Wire.")

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Peruvian cooking

our class is tonight! 4 and 1/2 hours of Peruvian cooking and eating, at ICE. Very psyched. Tomorrow we'll ride in the morning, and then Jamie's coming over to spend the day and sleep over. She and Liv will do the Austin Street shuffle looking for wedding-appropriate dresses (if that doesn't pan out the failsafe is a shopping trip with Nick Monday.)

Looks like a gorgeous weekend. Our day today is pretty unplanned so we'll do the usual (and we love the usual.) Tried to watch a documentary last night called "American Meth" but I fell asleep 9 minutes before it ended. I pretty much got the point anyway.

Looks like Thomas and Sara are joining us up north for the July trip; maybe also Gena + beau (still haven't met him.)

Joe Barton! What a gift to the Democrats. Many thanks.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Which sonnet?

Liv wants her wedding reading to be from Shakespeare. Currently choosing among:

  • Sonnet 18
  • Sonnet 29
  • a really beautiful passage from "Love's Labours Lost"

We're saving Sonnet 116 for the wedding officiant to read as part of the ceremony. Pretty much decided on Matt's reading (the only appropriate Decemberists song -- red right ankle.) Still need readings for N & J. Checked out Sonnets from the Portugese but don't think they'd be comfortable with any of those readings. More research...

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Nerve pain

It's different from all the other kinds of pain I've been having since this whole mess began. It's a disturbing pain because you feel it far from and removed from its source. It's caused by my back but I feel it in my ankle and leg. And it's harder to find a comfortable position -- with my hip and back I could find a neutral position. The mechanics were easier. But when I feel the nerve pain it's harder to find neutral. The doc changed up the drugs and I'll try them as soon as we fill the prescriptions, and I remain hopeful.

on a beautiful June Saturday

a lovely weekend is here. Matt is back from Montreal and now in NJ. Liv is in the Hamptons. Both back Sunday. Seeing T&S tonight, which we're really looking forward to. Our rings are ready, yay! Liv and I made giant strides on dresses for the wedding (3/4.) Couple more trips and we'll be done. Holly (heart of a lion) off to the park shortly. Narrowing down some wedding readings and taking care of some other wedding details. Liv took the SAT's last Friday (fingers crossed); now we wait and hope this round is good enough so that she doesn't have to take them again. Great tutor for this round, but still hoping for her sake that she's done. Matt's finishing an online class and it turns out he's not much of a fan of online learning -- the lack of interaction and discussion is alienating. Not surprising. Looking forward to a great weekend.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Wedding readings

so far the best choice seems to be Shakespeare's sonnet 116. Still need readings for the kids, and reading Elizabeth Barrett Browning's Sonnets from the Portuguese for ideas. Looking for memorable evocative readings that the kids will be comfortable with, and solving for all 4 should be interesting. Still deciding if we want to include the Apache blessing in the ceremony (I'm ambivalent but undecided.) The officiant put together a beautiful ceremony, and we're really only tweaking -- it's so good.

stuff of note

  • attending one of the funniest (however unintentionally funny) concerts in Summerside, including the 11th grade band "Thundercove"
  • seeing Rachel Maddow at Laguardia on Wednesday morning, right in front of me on the Starbucks line (no, didn't get a chance to talk to her -- she must have been running late because she bolted from the line)
  • awful wildlife photos from the Gulf
  • Liv SAT's -- today
  • Matt off to Montreal for a few days before camp
  • planning the family trip for August
  • getting done a lot of catch-up stuff this weekend

Sunday, May 30, 2010

A perfect PEI day

Yesterday was perfect in every way. Beautiful weather -- about 70 and cloudless all day. We took our first PEI ride of the season -- about 18 miles (26 kilometers?) on the Confederation Trail. Couldn't have been nicer.

The kids were safely squirreled away: Matt in NJ, Liv in the Hamptons, both in excellent spirits. After our ride we came back, showered and then hung out outside in the glorious weather playing scrabble, waving to neighbors, doing scratch-off cards, reading and having mojitos.

A lovely mid-afternoon rest, then we watched an episode of the Wire (season 2, keeps getting better. Nick installed and set up the DVD player.) Everything slow and langorous and leisurely. We decided to have an early dinner at the Lobster House, since the evening was as beautiful as the day and we could sit outside. But the restaurant was closed. Out of business? Not open yet for the season? No idea. But we went driving into Kensington, music blaring (combo of American Idiot, Fela, Decemberists, Radiohead) and found a charming little inn and restaurant warmly called "Home Place." Very nice place to happen upon. Food was good (salmon for me, tenderloin for Nick) and spent time chatting with the very young waitresses (one too young to even pour the wine.) We talked about PEI, they asked about NY, told us about the history of the inn.) Very fun.

Then to Eleanor's Dairy Bar where Nick had a hot-fudge sundae (best ice cream in Summerside, they say.) Then home, where we read. I'm fighting my way through "The Big Short" -- even the dumbed-down version of the economic crisis with the synthetic CDO's, the credit default swaps and other questionable instruments is a challenge for me to read. Nick's fighting his way through the new book by the author of Life of Pi (Yann?) I'd check but it's upstairs and Nick's still sleeping.

We fell asleep pretty early, tired by the day's excellent adventures.

It's raining now, which makes certain decisions for us. We probably weren't going to ride again, just so we had energy for the rest of our day -- seeing Roy at the Triangle in Charlottetown, maybe lunch with Susie, a concert at the French School tonight with Randy and Allison.

Tomorrow's easy too -- one errand (paying taxes at the bank), getting the house together, repacking (much easier, we didn't bring much and we're leaving here some of what we brought) and then the drive to Moncton. We'll spend the night there so it's not so punishing to make the 6:00 a.m. flight home.

Got airline tickets for us and Mom and Dad for the August trip. Very psyched! We're already planning what we'll do when we're here with them, Laur, Patty and the kids. Much to do: Highland Storm, a ceilidh or two, maybe a concert at the Indian River music festival, a visit to all the Anne of Green Gables sights, Sandspit, more, more, more. Dinner at either Lot 30 or Dalvay for the special occasion night. Otherwise casual.

One last thing: Custom Creations, 233 Water Street, Summerside. Welcome to your addicition, said the artist. That's all I'll say on the topic.

Friday, May 28, 2010

6:30 Friday in PEI

We arrived late Wednesday night in Moncton, NB -- our first time flying there. Easy flight, the one odd thing was the man in front of us at immigration at the airport who was dressed in business casual, explained to the officer that he was here on business and then had to explain why he brought with him a bow and arrow. As we were on line for the car rental I heard him talking to some random people in the airport how he was here to shoot wolves and caribou. Interesting.

We got in late; it was almost 1 a.m. when we reached the house. I slept til 11 (!), Nick til 10, and we started the day doing the shopping to fill the fridge and pantry. We didn't need that much since it's just the two of us, and we'd left a lot of staples here, so it was easy. We love Sobey's! It's part of what Liv refers to as how we "play house" here.

I found a place to get a badly-needed manicure while Nick went to Canadian Tire for a DVD player. In the late afternoon we were visited by our next-door neighbor Donna, who is facing a difficult week: her husband Norm enters a nursing home (Alzheimer's unit) Monday, and she's having a hip replacement Wednesday. We'll be thinking about her all week.

Then Randy and Allison stopped by, both to say hi and to give us our mail and take care of the paperwork and money we owe them for the caretaking. They stayed for a glass of wine and told us about a concert Sunday night that sounds fun -- the four of us will go. That's also the day we'll go to Charlottetown to see Roy play at the Triangle bar, and we'll stay for a couple of hours in the afternoon.

We had dinner at the lobster shack that used to be called Sharkey's but is now under new managment and doesn't even have a sign yet. According to the menus it's now called Frederick's. Good basic food, and since the lobsters came in on 5/1 I had one -- small, sweet and delicious.

And we'll get to see Susie! Just need to figure out where and when. We don't have many plans except a tentative plan to ride Saturday (weather and pain permitting), dinner at Lot 30 and the usual stuff we do at the house.

May look into a couples massage at one of the local places -- tbd.

We may have dinner tonight at the Lobster House right here in Summerside. It's supposed to rain today so our rainy day plans may include staying home and reading, playing games etc., or if the rain's not too heavy we may explore the eastern side of the island.

Spoke briefly to my mom (interrupted by Donna's arrival) and they are planning on coming up in August when my brother and family arrive. That would be perfect, and we've got room for everyone.

Oh it is so so so so good to be here.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

things that seem awkward but turn out not to be

Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, the emo-musical about our 7th President, currently at the Public Theater. Surprisingly good and funny and imaginative. A little long but overall worth seeing.

meeting my ex's new girlfriend, last night over a bottle of win. Surprisingly easy and pleasant, felt more like hanging out with friends than anything else. Really like her, and she seems very good for him

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Olivia's triumph

ok, that's hyperbolic. But she did well with her project at Mount Sinai with the Starlight Foundation. Couple of glitches with props and her rotating cast, but it went well enough that they want sequels and Liv is happy to continue. She was totally charged by the experience, "I'm thinking about music therapy again" and "I LOVE being in front of the camera!" Everybody wins.

Beautiful weekend. We may ride today, but it's also the day when I start the daytime Lyrica, so we'll have to see. Tomorrow we meet with the wedding officiant, and after that Liv, Nick and I will go downtown to see "Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson." Matt can't make it, but he's still buzzing about Fela, which was fela-tastic. Sorry for that clunky coinage.

We leave Wednesday night for PEI -- can't wait. Happy birthday Nikki! Hope you and your friend enjoy "American Idiot" -- tickets on the way.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Nick and Wendy go cycling!

We rode -- first ride of the season. We were both nervous and concerned but it was great. Did the 16 mile starter ride out at the beach. I'm always tentative the first time I ride each season, but Nick's as always incredibly understanding. We kept our speed manageable, never more than about 14 mph. Slow for me but fine for the inaugural ride.

We both felt great after. I can always feel the toxins leave my body as I start to ride, and we couldn't have had a more beautiful day.

Hip part was fine, so I could swing my leg over to get on the bike. Felt it more in my back but I've had a lot of pain the last few days and no discernible change during or after the ride. The sciatica really returned with a vengeance yesterday, with the calf and ankle pain I was having before I started on the new drugs. I missed a dose Friday night because we were out, and since that's the only variable that changed it's to that lost dose that I'm attributing the new old pain. But the cycling certainly didn't make it worse, so I'm happy.

We came back rosy and happy, then hit the showers and hung out with the kids. One Scrabble game (I won, though I got off to a very slow start.) Liv and I chatted about her Hamlet project (I suggested she pretend she's a therapist with Hamlet as a patient and write session notes. She liked it and is working on it now.) Matt kibitzed during the game (he plays Scrabble on his phone and we'll definitely make the next game a three-way.) He's off now to see Yianella, and they'll come back together tomorrow so we'll have a couple of days together.

Sunday morning

It's going to be a beautiful day, and I really want to try and ride. Figure I have pain if I don't ride so I may as well do what I want.

The florist we're using for the ceremony is coming over this morning. We were supposed to bookend the day with wedding activities : florist in the morning and ceremony officiant in the afternoon. But we've had a lot of back and forth with the officiant and are now rescheduled for next weekend. We'll stay in the city that evening to have dinner with Thomas and Sara (currently scheduled for today but trying to move to when we'll be in the city already.)

Overall the wedding planning is very smooth and easy.

Matt's home -- and good, and sweet. We are going to take him and Yianella to see Fela Tuesday evening, which we're very psyched about. Liv demurred; too much work.

We've been reviewing the Peru itinerary. Looks great but I'm asking if we can also find time to see the Amazon basin. Not like we have that many opportunities to see the Amazon so don't want to miss out.

It's been a really nice weekend. Work of course but a manageable amount. Good and mellow, relaxing and fun.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

American Idiot

Brilliant. Fantastic. What a ride. All four of us loved every minute of it. Liv wants to see it at least two more times, and we may see it again too. Best thing we've seen and definitely the best musical since Fela. It reimagines how a musical can work, and everything from the staging (wild) to the musicality (impressive) to the music itself to the performances. Just brilliant. Told Matt (who I finally saw when we get home) that I'll get him tickets to see it this week.

Liv just woke up and she, Nick and I had coffee together and talked about the show. I read the review earlier so was able to confirm that what Jon thought about one of the characters -- who the Times refers to as the "androgynous goth drug pusher" St. Jimmy -- was an actual character and not an apparition as he thought.

Great evening.

Sunday, May 9, 2010


Happy Mother's Day!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

big news week

too many stories to mention and keep track of. But definite highlights include the flash crash, the jobs report, the oil spill and the riggers reports, Times Square, etc. etc. etc.

And how funny was the Daily Show about the ascot?

the closing of Enron

Just a word about that -- very disappointed that it closed. Great review in this week's New Yorker but clearly a day late and a dollar short. Oh well. Next weekend we see "American Idiot" with Liv and Jon and we're very psyched.

So much going on. Wedding plans are coming together. The decoupled nature of our plans (ceremony and party separated by a month) complicates the planning a bit, but it's still pretty straightforward and stress-free. We're passing on certain traditional wedding elements -- the band, the video, the wedding cake, so that helps. Everyone we're working with is incredibly professional and reassuring -- from the people at Ethical Culture (we meet with the officiant next weekend) to the caterer, florist, calligrapher, restaurant. We'll have fun stuff to do in June like shopping for clothes. Honeymoon planning coming together -- nice combination of expertise from the travel agent, Mirwan and our own research.

Open house tomorrow (Judy says she has good luck on Mother's Day) followed by a Mother's Day early dinner. Should be fun.

We were going to ride today but the sky threatens, so we'll pass.

Monday I start PT with a new diagnosis (piriformis syndrome and sciatica) and a new place. The cocktail of drugs is helping. It has calmed the crazy ankle and leg pain. Hip and back pain continue but I'm hopeful that the combo of injections (had the first one, next one this week), the meds and the PT will help.

Matt comes in next week and I'm so psyched to see him. Even Liv was fine with it. She's taking an SAT diagnostic test this morning. Fingers crossed.

It's an intensely busy Spring, with everything going on at home and at work. And I know I'm behind in blogging -- a casualty of the current complexity. But I'll try and keep up.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Sunday, sunday!

We lost most of yesterday because Nick spent the day collecting Jamie from her cruise and taking her home, but we picked up where we left off Saturday. Mint juleps and the Derby at Sarah's (thanks, it was fun but too short) then dinner. Friday night we saw a terrific little play down at a tiny theater on Waverly. Called "The Aliens", it's by the woman who wrote "Circle Mirror Transformation" which we saw last year and really enjoyed.

Today people are coming to see the house, and we'll stay local so I can pack for my upcoming trip and reclaim the weekend. We were going to ride but I can't find my cycling stuff (!) so we'll kick it off next weekend. Probably Saturday before the Mother's Day brunch on Sunday.

Wedding plans continue. A few loose ends now that we've decided on a place for the ceremony (NY Society for Ethical Culture.) Need to figure out lunch after (restaurant or catered at the Society?), a photographer, clothes, etc. Nothing hard. We're meeting with the officiant in a couple of weeks to plan the ceremony. So nice to do planning without agony; this is fun and easy and doesn't have a million moving parts.

That's all for now. There's so much going on: the oil spill, the car bomb in Times Square, Arizona's immigration catastrophe, but it's a beautiful spring day that we'll spend with scrabble and mojitos, so I'll put the serious stuff to the side for now.

Happy Sunday.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Rainy Sunday

So today will be a home day. Yesterday was fun: Gena was apartment hunting around here and we met her midday for a couple of cocktails and catch up. Great to see her, much fun. One game of Scrabble outside in the yard -- sorry, Nick -- I did have all the advantages that game (though you had both blanks but we won't mention that.) Liv came out to dinner with us at a local Indian place (I was going to say "joint" instead of "place" - that's Nick's influence.)

I've been up for a few hours, catching up on work stuff and wedding and other stuff. It's 8:30 now and I think I'm still the only one awake. Even Holly is sound asleep.

Today we'll hang out, shop for dinner and cook. A new cookbook arrived in the mail from Cook's Illustrated (my favorite cooking magazine, bar none) which was really interesting because it's all lighter and healthier recipes. I told Olivia we can make anything in the book. Right now we're down to three dishes: chicken tacos, Asian lettuce wraps and a cold soba noodle salad. Not sure we'll make all three but on the other hand it's a long day ahead. Liv and I talked about getting manicures today but it's not a day to do much outside. We'll see.

The weather sucks. I don't feel any pain increase from the weather (mine's pretty steady.) Nick gets achy in this weather but as long as he keeps in mind that it'll improve when the weather does (which is what happens every time) he's ok.

I go back to the physiatrist Wednesday, and I'm hopeful that she can help and that I'll be in fighting form for the Peru trip, which is a very active one. Nick is concerned that I'll be able to manage this, but with 5+ months to go I want to believe I'll be better enough to handle it. I want to go to Peru. Peru. Peru. And I want to go when we're planning to -- right after the wedding reception. Nick thought we might want to delay it for a a few months but I reacted poorly to the suggestion.

Mirwan sent us tons of info about Peru and exactly what to do and where to say. I forwarded all of the info to the travel agent. She doesn't seem to mind this kibitzing approach to planning, at least not so far.

The week ahead is crazy, busy and intense with back-to-back meetings, overlapping meetings, evening events, etc. And the following week I head to the West Coast for a few days. Very busy time of year.

And so a quiet day sounds exactly right.

Saturday, April 24, 2010


One more play we loved: The Glass Menagerie. Beautiful production that restores the humor of Tennessee Williams. So 3 plays in a show all worth seeing (Red and Enron.)

Very busy week and now a very relaxing weekend. No firm plans, a 180 from last weekend. More hanging out, catching up, mojitos and Scrabble. We'll start trying next weekend to cycle again, though we'll start slowly with a shorter ride.

Wedding plans continue. Not too much to do for the reception/party except find a photographer and deal with clothes, hair and makeup. Plenty of time for that. For the ceremony we're checking out the NY Society for Ethical Culture end of day Monday.

Pain continues but I'm getting relief from my drug cocktail. I'm skipping the Vicodin, but the Lyrica, anti-inflammatory and muscle relaxant return the pain to somewhere inside the band of tolerability. Before the drugs the pain was outside the band. I return to the physiatrist Wednesday; by then she should have all the medical records and will have spoken to the ortho. Hoping that the pain relief is sufficient so she can start the other parts of the treatment -- physical therapy (on hold til she spoke to the ortho) and injections.

Such a beautiful day today. Everything is better in the spring. The Arizona immigration law is Draconian and shocking, but if it spurs federal action it'll have been worth it. It's good to see our systems conspire to make possible the reforms we need. Thank you Anthem for healthcare reform. Thank you Goldman Sachs for the imminent financial reg. And maybe soon we'll thank the citizens of Arizona for the impetus to address immigration reform.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Enron, the musical

Tough week but ended well. And last night we went for dinner (Bobby Van's -- bit too much of a WASP stronghold for our tastes but food was good) and then to see Enron, still in previews. We weren't really expecting to like it, but in prep we'd watched "The Smartest Guys in the Room" just last weekend.

It was a blast. Very well done, funny but meaningful, with some great touches, ideas and acting. Much of the dialog was familiar -- the playwright picked up the actual statements by some of the leading actors like Lay, Skilling and Fastow. But some great expressionist elements (the Lehman brothers, the raptors, three blind mice.) We really enjoyed it. John Lithgow was in the audience (that's the second time we've seen him at a play.) It came across as broader and more relevant than the story of a single company gone terribly wrong. It felt like a classic tragedy with a fall from grace, and the points and lessons of the Enron story have broad applications to our sense of who we are in business and as Americans, about our values and what matters.

Today is about errands and straightening up the house -- some people from the open house are coming back. Among the errands is a drugstore visit to get all the prescriptions the physiatrist gave me. She was great in terms of time spent, thoroughness and a non-silo'd approach to what's wrong with me. She said it's the piriformis muscle which isn't functioning well and is pressing on nerves causing sciatica -- that's the pain that's lately gotten worse and wakes me in the night. Quite a cocktail she prescribed: muscle relaxant, anti-inflammatory, pain killer and something else for nerve pain. That's part one of the treatment -- to try and get the pain under control and manageable so that we can move on to the plan she thinks I need, a combination of injections and physical therapy, leavened by drugs.

Also on the docket for the weekend is addressing the save-the-date cards and mailing them. That's exciting.

Tonight we have dinner with Lamia and Mirwan. Really looking forward to it. Plus they've been to Peru and we're anxious to hear all about it.

Tomorrow more house stuff for another buyer. Then a matinee in the afternoon: "The Glass Menagerie" at the Roundabout. I hear it's an unusual production but I love love love that play so I'm curious to see what they've done.

Thursday, April 15, 2010


lots of good stuff getting dropped by. Yesterday's UPS guy brought the save the dates and the stamps, a book about Peru, plus some more mundane stuff. I do love deliveries, I have to say. And these wedding-related packages are the best.

Early Thursday

Up since 5. Really since 3 but I dozed a while. It was pain that woke me and kept me awake, and at a certain point I said the hell with it and got up.

Fortunately my day is relatively easy: a trip out to see a client this morning, then back to the office for work and meetings and a day that ends with PT. Tomorrow I see this new doc -- a physiatrist -- so will figure out what that's all about.

Looking forward to a fun weekend. Tomorrow night dinner followed by the new show about Enron. (A musical about Enron -- really?) Then dinner Saturday night with Lamia and Mirwan, and on Sunday we're seeing The Glass Menagerie. Not a particularly restful weekend but should be a good one. Someone's coming to see the house Sat afternoon -- one of the people from the open house. Nick has some things to do Saturday and I'll use the time to do the great clothing shift in honor of the season's change. And together the 3 of us will address the save-the-dates so we can send them on Monday. All good stuff. We'll try to keep next weekend open to inaugurate the cycling season. Per PT, I can ride, but they suggest less resistance, less speed and a shorter duration that is my wont. Better than nothing.

Matt and I have been in touch all week, working together on his paper: propaganda in 1920's Germany. I had an art book of period drawings that turned out to be very helpful.

Liv's new SAT tutor is working out well -- all hail Glen. That's a relief.

It's early not only in the day but to characterize the week, but I'll try. It's been a good, busy productive week and the change in weather makes everything better.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

A beautiful family day

That's what Nick said about yesterday, and he's right. We went to services to hear Dad read the haftorah and be honored (as Nick said to Murray: "best haftorah I ever heard." And the inevitable question: who is reading the other haf?) It sounded perfect to us (though eagle-eyed bar/bat mitzvah tutor Aunt Shirley found one mistake; not really a mistake but the substitution of one word for another.

But it was beautiful.

The whole lot of us were there, so happy and proud of Dad. After the service and kiddush we went back to the folks for dessert and some hanging out. Later my brother came over and we hung out with the kids, who for the first time in a long time got along. Maybe it's detente, maybe they've just tired of the stress of holding those extreme positions. But it worked.

Great day for Dad and for all of us.

Later Nick and I went to see "Red" with Alfred Molina. Great play. 90 minutes of fantastic language, ideas and intensity. I felt like I understood Mark Rothko for the first time. Really great, tight, brilliantly acted and cunningly written. A blast.

Today is maiden voyage open house of 2010. Let the cleaning and pretense that we don't really live here begin.

Saturday, April 10, 2010


That's a big part of my life right now: lists. Lists of to-do's -- for Olivia's college plans, for wedding prep, for Matt's travels, for the honeymoon, for work. Lists of names -- for the wedding. My bulletin board is covered with lists (I still like hard copy.) But even with all this going on, it's not terribly stressful. The wedding planning is pretty simple, at least relative to other major events I've planned. The restaurant makes it pretty easy. For the ceremony we're looking into the Society for Ethical Culture. We'll review their info this weekend, check with Matt about dates and decide if that's how we want to move forward.

Today we'll celebrate my Dad's 80th birthday, and the gang's all here. Laur flew in from Berkeley, Matt came from Mass. Jon stayed over. And we'll all meet at the synagogue at 10 to hear him read the haftorah. Very nice.

Tonight Nick and I will see "Red", the new play about Mark Rothko with Alfred Molina. Look for a review tomorrow.

Tomorrow's the first open house of the season, so fingers crossed.

It's an invigorating time, with all these things in the offing, the weather changing and so much to look forward to. Still having quite a bit of pain, but in the better weather and with the energy of spring it's not getting to me as much. Need to schedule an appointment with this physiatrist person soon. Took my first post-THR flight, and was expecting problems at the airport metal detector, but nothing happened. No beep, no nothing. And my energy is fully back, so I can work without limit, see friends and do everything else I need to do.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Beehive of Activity

suddenly everything has come to life, just as the weather changed and our long bleak winter morphed into a beautiful warm spring. We're both very busy with work, and starting to do social things (though I find I still can't do everything I like -- I still get tired and there's still quite a bit of pain.)

But a couple of things are going on that will make this spring and summer bursting with activity. There's Liv's college planning -- a new SAT tutor, scheduling interviews, reviewing applications. There's her summer program at Berklee and the plans to get her there and set up. There's wedding planning! We have a date and are now starting to work on the plans. It'll be simple and intimate to be sure, but even that requires thought and attention to detail. There's a potential trip to Louisiana to see Nick's folks, since it's been too long. There's paperwork for Matt's year abroad, which is looming. There's my Dad's 80th birthday -- no work for us; we'll just be part of the events -- but it's on the radar. There are summer trips to PEI to plan. There are bikes to be taken out of storage and taken out (we'll see how that goes.)

All good things, all happy things, just an awful lot of things especially compared to the lost month of February when nothing of interest was in the offing.

And this weekend is the most beautiful I can remember, and our last quiet weekend for a while. After this one we've got lots of plans to do things and see people, so we'll really enjoy the solitude and simplicity of a quiet weekend with just the two of us.


Saturday, March 20, 2010

other news of note

  • Matt got his official acceptance to go to Shanghai in the fall
  • We're starting to talk about wedding plans: what kind of wedding we want and where
  • It's spring!
  • Going tonight to see a new production of "Hard Times" at City Center, third in the series from the Pearl theater company (first two were "Playboy of the Western World" and "Misalliance." After tonight we'll get back to serious theater-going
  • my pain continues but grows stranger. The awful morning pain that lasts about 3 hours goes all the way from my back/hip to my foot, with particular intensity in my ankle. Very strange. We go back to the doc Tuesday but are no longer expecting to get a real answer. No idea where we'll go from here
  • starting to have a social life again; beginning to make plans to see all our friends. We still have to go slower than I like because my energy flags after a full day at work. But we'll pace ourselves
  • healthcare reform is heading to a vote tomorrow! We are so psyched
  • stories we've been following include: Bart Stupak, John Ensign, the shocking developments in Virginia, DADT. Jon Stewart's imitation of Glenn Beck Thursday night was brilliant. Stephen Colbert's take on Beck was pretty damn good too
  • It's house-showing season, starting tomorrow with a couple of people, to be followed by open houses in April. Think happy thoughts

Thursday, March 18, 2010

adventures in parenting

It's been an interesting week, with Matt home. He was great -- as up and cheerful as he gets, though there's a knot of anger inside him that doesn't seem to go away. We talked a lot about the similarity of our worldviews and coping mechanisms: the essentially malevolent universe, the need for escape clauses, safety nets and the importance of maintaining an outsider's status. He and Nick got along better than they have to date.

And it was a great week with Liv too. We celebrated her birthday at a great restaurant -- Del Posto -- with the three of us plus Liv's boyfriend and two close friends. Great meal and a great evening. She told me yesterday that it was the greatest meal of all of their lives. And Nick commented that he feels his relationship with Liv -- always good and strong -- has only gotten better.

But my two kids managed over the course of the week to never be in the same room at the same time: not once. That certainly eliminated the hostility and stress of recent visits, but left me with an odd feeling that I can only express in this way: I feel like I'm the mom of two only children. That's the best way I can describe the situation.

It could be worse, of course, if my relationship with either of the kids was shaky. With Liv and me there's never a problem. With Matt of course there have been issues and we had problems pretty much from the day we moved into this house (that he hated so much) until last year when it all finally broke open and we dealt with what had driven us apart.

So the good news is that both relationships are strong, but the peculiarity of the situation is always there and during this week it became clearer.

Never dull.

Sunday, March 14, 2010


It's Sunday morning and for now the weather has calmed a bit. Matt came in last night and it's great -- even though our initial instinct was "it's been a long day; we'll talk tomorrow" we ended up sitting around the dining room table (the 3 of us, with Nick) talking politics and policy. Nick and I agreed that Matt strongly reminds us of Ezra Klein (our favorite baby wonk.) We shared a bottle of very good Malbec, a gift from a new employee, and hung out for a long time just talking. We'd done a lot of shopping so the house was full of food for Matt, which he always appreciates. So good to have him home. He's locked in for Manchester, and within about a week he'll know for sure about Shanghai.

Needless to say Olivia wasn't here when he got home, but their paths are sure to cross in the next few days. Matt will be out tonight with his dad, and we're cooking. I found a new recipe for an updated country captain stew that we'll make tonight for the three of us.

Nick and I are going to carve out a couple of hours today to make some plans: theater, our next Carnegie Hall series, our spring/summer plans to head up North. Yesterday got away from us, between work, Liv's SAT's and Matt's arrival. So today will be planning day. We may also see if we can throw in a quick trip to Belize for late spring.

I started reading "The Family" yesterday (the book Rachel recommends by the author she has on the show whenever one of the topics is the family, the fellowship or C street.) Absolutely terrifying. If even half of it is true the organization needs to be investigated by the IRS, the CIA (lots of freelance diplomacy and statecraft going on), the FBI and anyone else with a stake in this. It's shocking.

Another thing on our list of to-do's is to dismantle and move the table that Nick set up in the bedroom for my convalescence. I used the table while I was out for everything from work to meals, but now it makes me think of a sickroom, and it's time for that to end.

The pain continues pretty much as it's been for the last week or two. My energy is about back to normal, so I'm more productive, and I can plan around the worst parts of the day. But I'd love to know when and if this will end, whether once this heals I'll be good as new, whether my back will continue to be a problem. Still significant uncertainty.

One last thing: we watched a new episode of Frontline last night, about a journalist allowed to live with the Taliban in northern Afghanistan. Fascinating and as always with Frontline, very well done and highly recommended.

Thursday, March 11, 2010


This was a week of re. Re-immersing, re-entering. Getting back to work and actually having my meetings in person instead of on the phone. Seeing people -- people! The problems I left were there waiting for me, and that's fine -- I'm ready to deal with them. Fresh air. City streets. All deliciously refreshing and welcome.

My energy is still variable, as is the pain. As has been the pattern, the worst times are morning and night; daytime is best. I'm good in the office for anywhere between 1/2 and 2/3 of the day, and I take care of everything else by phone.

Started PT yesterday. Went back to my old place on 56th Street. Inconvenient but wholly worth it. The last place I used felt more like a mill. My guy -- Bo -- seems knowledgeable and careful. He also suspects an inflammatory problem, plus lingering back issues. We'll see. I'm determined to be thoroughly compliant, as I have been since the surgery.

Liv is set for the summer at Berklee, and she's so psyched (as am I.) Her birthday's next week. She didn't want to do anything too elaborate, but we're doing a dinner for 8 or 9 at Del Posto in the meatpacking district. And I'm giving her a clothing allowance. She's as happy as can be. And she wants Nick and I at dinner (not Matt though; a bit awkward since he'll be in but we'll manage.)

Matt's in for a week beginning Saturday, which I'm really looking forward to.

Our social life is at a standstill for about another week. We'll keep this weekend quiet and then next week we have a lot going on: besides Liv's dinner we have our next Carnegie Hall concert (string quartet) on Friday, and a new production of "Hard Times" on Saturday. Really looking forward to it.

Watched the new episode of "House" last night, and I found the main character -- a patient/blogger -- interesting and relevant. She counted on reader response much more than I do (I have a lot of what Susie calls "silent stalkers") but I completely understood her need to record her life and to experience it through her writing.

Otherwise we soldier on. Lots to follow in the news: Massa's implosion (made even more interesting and sweeter by his appearance on Glen Beck); the healthcare happenings, the shocking developments against gays in Virginia, the gathering storm between the Supreme Court and the administration, the way the public option clings to life. Wow.

I ordered two books we heard about on Rachel: "The Family" and "Crazy for God." Nick and I are going to each read one, then swap and compare notes.

It's good to be re.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

inching forward

some updates:

  • finally, finally going back to work Monday, at least for part of the day. Can't wait. I've been doing more and more work from home, but it's not the same as being there

  • doc hypothesizes my ridiculously slow progress this way: that both he and the rheum suspect an underlying inflammatory condition (in his words: "we can't find it but we can smell it.") Something ought to explain why I'm such an outlier.

  • nice birthday dinner Wednesday night at Alberto's. My first time out and I managed reasonably well

  • Liv now has her sights directly on Berklee College of Music as her first-choice school. She's all set up for their summer program and now we'll have a laser-focused action plan to help her get in there. School looks amazing -- we got their brochure yesterday and Liv is reading and studying it, cover to cover. Her Starlight project will help, and it's an audition-based acceptance process. So everything I learned through Matt's admission process is unhelpful -- we'll learn a whole new way

  • We'll drive up to Boston in July to help her settle in for the program. Decided to go the day before and make an event of it. Will be great.

  • Matt's overseas adventure is falling into place; looks like he cleared all the hurdles and it's a go. Go Matt! He'll be in the week after next and can't wait to see him

Thursday, February 25, 2010


Real and demonstrable. And confirmed by Vlad the Impaler (aka my physical therapist.) The end is within site, and I'm hoping that at my next doc appointment (Tuesday) he clears me to return to work, even part time. As usual mornings and nights are the worst, but in the daytime there's a real improvement.

I'll express how I feel in one of Nick and my favorite expressions: yayyyy. There is a direct correlation between the scale of the event under comment and the number of "y's" in yayyyy.

Liv now checks the Berkelee College of Music dozens of times a day to check the status of her application. We've gone from apathy to intense interest, which I applaud. And it looks like she's settled on a book for the kickoff of her program at Mount Sinai. She picked -- what else and why didn't we think of it sooner -- the Olivia the pig books! Specifically she'll meld the original book with Olivia Starts a Band. How perfect?

Matt and I did rapid-fire texting early this morning, (I think he was in class -- oops) all about politics and healthcare reform, about how much we applaud Anthony Weiner, admire Ezra Klein and detest Harold Ford and Eric Cantor, about which political blogs are worth reading. I really miss him. Matt, that is.

Nick brought my engagement ring back to the jeweler for sizing. It fit perfectly when I first got out of the hospital and was swollen beyond reason, but now that I've returned to normal it's too big. I miss it -- how silly is that? I haven't been wearing it because I've been stuck in the house, and haven't bothered with makeup or jewelry or even real clothes but I do try on the ring at least once a day, every day. It's the most beautiful thing I've ever seen. Nick is THE BEST, for a million trillion reasons. Ahhhhhhhh. It's so amazing to be so happy, and I wish that everyone could feel this way and experience happiness this pure and profound.

Monday, February 22, 2010


To be fair, they're more mini-updates or even micro-updates but here they are:

  • I'm improving, however slowly. While I don't see a difference day to day I see it week to week and I'm definitely in better shape than I was last week. I recognize the patterns of pain and energy so I can better use the time and plan my days (early mornings and nights are worst for pain; late mornings and late afternoons are best for energy)

  • Getting more work done, a direct function of energy + pain

  • Big decision made yesterday: we applied for Liv to attend a 5-week program this summer at the Berkelee School of Music (Boston). It's a big program (and an expensive one but oh well) and is geared to performing skills. It's a school she's interested in for college anyway; distinguished both for the music program and apparently also for music therapy. She was back and forth about this most of yesterday as we talked about it -- didn't want to be away for so long this summer (neither did we want her away) but the program seems so right for her right now that she decided to move ahead. Should hear about it in a couple of days. Her big concern is that she'll be able to see Jon, come home, etc and even though we don't have the specific scheduling details I reassured her that it's not the gulag and she'll have more freedom than in other previous summer programs. So she won't work this summer after all, but this seems well worth it.

  • Loving the Olympics -- watching everything save hockey and ice dancing. Great that the Olympics coincided with my convalescence -- very considerate.

  • Delighted that Meet the Press ratings go way up whenever Rachel Maddow is on. They should dump David Gregory (seems like a GOP tool anyway and a pale imitation of Tim.) She's the best and so glad the world is discovering it. Where's the petition to draft her? I joined a Facebook group about it but it seems a particularly impotent way to make the point

  • Great but sobering article in the Atlantic about the long-term effects of the recession; I pity the kids entering the job market in this environment. So tough. It'll be the atmosphere that Matt will be entering, but since he's interested exclusively in government and policy I'm hoping he'll be in the right place at the right time

  • Vague conversations about wedding planning. Nothing firm but we're starting to talk and think about it in broad strokes. Nikki lost 20 pounds -- go Nikki! And now she has this extra motivation: she'll (of course) be in the wedding party. Liv will be my maid of honor and Nikki and Jamie will be bridesmaids. That's about how much thinking and planning has been done. Not much but a beginning. I go into my jewelry drawer to try on my engagement ring at least once a day

  • planning and hoping hoping hoping to be back at work next week. Miss being there -- working at home is ok but isolating. Need to see people and be seen. In the meantime it's critical to keep my brain working (don't want to turn into mush-mind) hence the constant reading.

  • thanks so much to all my friends and family for your ongoing concern. It means a lot. And even if the communication is primarily passive (email, text) when it was hard to talk by phone I really appreciate it

Thursday, February 18, 2010


and another week crawls to a close. Saw the doc on Tuesday and he was as surprised as we were that the pain is still this intense. Took xrays to check and that part was clear, so he thinks it's the soft tissue that's damaged and taking longer to heal. Changed up all the meds and wants to see me again in 2 weeks so we'll see. At least he confirmed that I'm not crazy (well maybe, but not for this reason.)

I can do more, and just do it through the pain. I'm managing stairs about once a day, which is a big step (pun intended.) PT continues, and is more challenging and intense each time which is thoroughly appropriate. The pain is dramatically worse after a session but that's to be expected.

I'm fully compliant with the exercise regimen; no interest in playing around or gaming this. I want full recovery with complete range of motion, so I do all the daily exercises which are taking up a larger and larger portion of the day.

Mostly my energy is much better so I can do more, in terms of meetings and calls. What I couldn't do was accompany Liv to her meeting at Mount Sinai on Tuesday, but she wisely decided to go without me (even though for about an hour or two before she was due to leave she tried everything possible to get out of it -- to no avail.)

And it was worth it. By all accounts the meeting was a great success. She met with several people on the Mount Sinai staff, plus one rep from the Starlight Foundation and they brainstormed for a while. Then -- in her words -- they "funneled the ideas" to arrive at an approach for the first performance (April.) She was buzzing with excitement that night and through yesterday. This is bigger for her than how it started, which was to come up with a way to distinguish herself on college applications. Now it's a cause, a crusade.

She set up a gmail account yesterday so that she would have a more professional-sounding email address than her personal one, and I helped her with her follow up note. It's so great to see her excited about something like this, and it even got her interested in working with sick kids as a possible career.

In any case the project is kicking off, and she's running it. Very very cool -- go Liv!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Snow day

Not like it makes much difference to me, but what's nice is that both Nick and Liv are home today because of the weather. Good to have the full-time company.

My energy is better and I can deal with email and other things on a more ready basis, so that's good. The pain continues and I've now accepted that I need to double the painkiller dosage (still within acceptable parameters) to manage it. Worst is the morning, both because all the drugs have worn off and because of the stiffness.

There's a rhythm to my days now, if a lethargic one. I wake up at about 8 or 8:30, check email and read the political and industry blogs plus headlines and any articles that interest me. After about an hour or two I'm tired, and I return to bed to read and watch TV. I usually watch the previous night's Rachel Maddow Show, the Daily Show and Colbert. I'm nearly finished with Game Change, which was delicious. Next read will be the most recent David Sedaris (which I've already started) plus magazines. Favorite mags are the New Yorker, New Republic -- happily both are weekly, plus the Atlantic, Newsweek and the food mags.

Post this period of rest I go back on the computer to check on things, then take an assisted shower. I can now shower standing, which is a significant improvement, but still need Nick's help getting in and out.

Afternoons are sleepy, literally. I sleep for an hour or two, read some more and catch up on TV. I particularly like "World's Strictest Parents", which I found on MTV but is actually a production of CMT. Love a good transformation story, and these definitely qualify. Tried "The Tudors" with Liv but might have been too soon post-surgery: put me to sleep.

Evenings include dinner, upstairs in the bedroom. Nick is doing so much, and without a whiff of complaint. After dinner we read, watch the Sopranos, etc. Haven't yet re-introduced games into our mix, but may start today. not sure I'm ready for Scrabble, so we will start slowly with Boggle and backgammon.

And that's the snow day.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Superbowl Sunday

Unlike last year when we had a Superbowl party and a bunch of friends came over to hang out and watch, this year's Superbowl party will be exclusive and intimate -- just Nick and me. He's planning on laying out a whole spread of food as though we were having a large get together but he'll be the only one partaking.

I'm planning to watch the game, actually. Usually if I watch at all it's only for the commercials, but this year I'm interested. Partly because Nick is so interested, and when he's watched throughout the season he stops to show me great plays or other events of note. His beloved Cowboys did well throughout the season, and it was great to see him so happy. But even with them out this should be a fun game to watch.

And I'm rooting for the Saints. Partly because New Orleans is such a sentimental favorite and because they are the underdogs -- two qualities I can't resist.

Doesn't hurt that by and large the GOP is supporting the Colts (I read that on HuffPo, I think) and Nick is a little torn because Peyton Manning is so good, but we've agreed to root for the Saints.

Yesterday we watched "The Hurt Locker" -- not an easy movie to watch but a good one. It's tense and suspenseful from the first frame and never lets up. But quite a good movie.

Saturday's mail brought the prescription refill for the painkillers. Needless to say Nick filled it right away. I'm finding that I'm not nearly ready to reduce the dosage or the interval between dosages. If anything I'm increasing the # of pills and shortening the time in between. All with doc approval, of course. I can actually take 3 Perc's (10 mg each) at a time. I haven't gone that far, though it's good to know I can.

So today will be another day of ice, rest, pills, reading, sleeping, though it'll be interrupted by the big game -- nice break in the action.

And next week the Olympics begin. I'm a sucker for the Olympic games; always have been. And though I love all Olympic games I prefer the winter ones. And they're in Canada. Need I say more? Very thoughtful of the IOC and everyone else to schedule the games for when I'm home, recuperating with nothing but time. Appreciate it.

Who dat?

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Saturday status

  • It's now fully a week later, and at this point there's only one direction to go.

  • I've got enough energy to do more things, at least more email, blogging and the occasional phone call

  • Officially the painkillers are finished and now we're dipping into the secret stash. When I think about it I'm still furious with the doc's office on this topic. So for now, while I'm powerless, I won't think about it. That will change.

  • Masterpiece Theater has produced a terrific new version of Emma, with part 3 to be shown Sunday. Highly recommended.

  • More than halfway through Game Change. I don't agree with one article I read that said it's the women (Elizabeth Edwards, Hillary Clinton, Sarah Palin) who come off worst. Just finished the Bill Clinton section and he hardly comes off smelling like a rose.

  • Starting to get a little more independent, at least in micro-ways. And they are micro: Nick now helps me into the shower but doesn't stay in with me; waits til I'm done. I can walk very small distances using the bannister rail and the cane for support, vs. the walker (that's a PT exercise.) I'm spending slightly less of the day actually sleeping vs. resting. Infinitesmally small steps, but steps nonetheless.

  • I'm banned from doing stairs at least until the next PT visit -- banned entirely. We'd thought that a once-a-day round trip would be ok, but not yet. So I remain a hostage to my bedroom. Reminds me of the Count of Monte Cristo.

  • I'm planning on starting to do calls with work this week, at least a few.
  • Thanks everyone for staying in touch and for understanding that until I'm more on my feet and can get downstairs that visits aren't really appealing. That I hope will change post Tuesday's PT visit if she clears me for stairs.

Friday, February 5, 2010

The actual name of the book

that I referenced, and used as ammunition in my war of words (and ideas) with the HSS nurse:

"Bright-sided: How the relentless promotion of positive thinking has undermined America", by Barbara Ehrenreich.

I know I've mentioned this book before; I was very impressed when I read it a few months ago. But I had no idea how relevant and useful it would become, so I'm making my endorsement louder.

Barbara, if you're out there, thanks for your thoughtful perspective and the data you found to support your compelling and innovative argument.

one week later

Sorry I haven't been blogging, but that's a reflection of how difficult this recovery has been. Too much has happened since I last wrote, but thought I'd provide some of the more interesting and noteworthy developments.

I seem to have set the record for fastest discharge post hip replacement. The surgery was last Friday and I got clearance to leave the hospital by Sunday (vs what was anticipated -- Monday probable but even Tuesday likely)

There was quite a set-to in the hospital on my second night. I spent the first night in recovery only because there were no rooms, which was puzzling. I asked why -- it isn't like HSS has tons of emergencies and therefore unexpected admissions -- and the staff agreed, but nothing could be done.

I finally got to my room the next morning, and had a difficult roommate: either she was awake and complaining, or asleep and snoring. This did nothing to ease my anxiety or improve my mood.

The night staff on my second night was the worst. I was stressed and anxious, desperately in need of sleep but no sleep aid was forthcoming (for reasonable reasons including my drop in blood pressure and hemoglobin levels.) But the communication was poor, and slow. The nurses were condescending and remote. The whole process is an infantilizing and depersonalizing one.

My set-to really kicked in when the nurse started telling me about the power of positive thinking and about how she was a disciple of some positive-thinking guru. I responded that I was a disciple of Barbara Ehrenreich whose new book "Bright Sided" used data to make the argument that not only was positive thinking of questionable benefit but could actually be harmful.

She wasn't unhappy to see me leave.

Since I've been home it's been mostly a blur. I can't do stairs so I'm a prisoner of my upstairs bedroom and the painkillers sap my strength and energy. All I can do is rest and sleep and read and watch TV. I'm not bored (yet) -- until the pain begins to ebb and my energy returns I'm not frustrated by my inability to do anything. That'll come once I start to feel better, but for now boredom isn't really an issue.

I've been reading Game Change, which is my kind of gossip book, and that's helping.

Nick's been great -- of course -- and this places myriad demands on him, but he never complains.

I'm walking (to the degree that I'm walking at all) with a walker. The device I thought would be my bete noir has actually turned out to be my best friend. So much for preconceived notions.

Physical therapy began this week; I've had two sessions with a Russian therapist who I quite like. I can't do that much but she's quite reasonable about expectations and my (shocking, to me) limitations. I'm trying to do the couple of exercises she assigned me, and find myself exhausted by just these few simple movements. But she assures me that this is normal and to be expected.

We upped my pain meds yesterday, which helps. I tried (to soon) to elongate the period between doses but that turned out (as many things have) to be a misbegotten idea.

And then this just happened: I didn't realize til last night that we were running low on the pain meds, and I just called the doc's office. Apparently they don't call in prescriptions -- "didn't you read that in the pre-surgical information?" They mail them. Mail them! I'll be out of these by today and may get the new scrip in the mail Monday.

But they don't really give a damn -- and that call actually well characterizes this entire experience. We have backups, fortunately, though the dosages are different.

My chief learnings from this experience, to date, include:

  • HSS is no better than anywhere else, for all the hype
  • Everything depends on the quality of staff (which was why Sunday was better than Saturday)
  • The system works to suit the providers, not the patients
  • real info about recovery and what to expect is sketchy, notwithstanding the pre-surgery class -- attendance mandatory -- which turned out to be pretty much useless
So now I'll return to my regular day: icing my leg, reading, TV and resting. I'm sure things will start to improve over the next few days, according to all reports. And at least I have enough energy back to do this, answer emails, etc.

Friday, January 29, 2010

New music

Elvis Perkins. Very cool. Matt suggested I listen to him, and told me that's all he's listening to. He's great. Just put his albums on my ipod to take with me. The musical medley I'm planning is him, Thom Yorke and the Decemberists. Funky, dark -- sounds about right.

I'll save the Celtic fiddle (Roy) and the Fela soundtrack for when I get home.


Today's the day, so yesterday was mostly about prep.

I divide prep into two categories: their idea of prep and mine. Theirs (the medical/industrial complex) included all the pre-op, plus surgical supply store shopping, the special diet I had to be on yesterday, packing, calling into the pre-recorded number at the hospital, etc.

My prep is different. It included the essentials: haircut, manicure, having my legs waxed -- the stuff that not only will I not be able to do for a while but the things that make me feel grown up and in control. That's not unimportant; I find that people become infantilized in hospitals and I want to hold that at bay as much as possible.

I don't have an early slot today, which seems unusual. We're due at the hospital at 12:30, with surgery planned a couple of hours later. So I have the morning today which was unanticipated but welcome.

Nick's all packed; he'll be staying at a hotel nearby. Liv will stay with friends. Holly's off to the kennel (Nick said that as soon as he turns off the expressway and she realizes where she's going she vibrates with excitement -- she loves that place.)

I've got my reading material gathered -- that's key. I've saved Game Change and also the latest David Sedaris, plus this week's New Yorker with the Tea Party story I'm looking forward to reading. And Sarah dropped off a book last night (can't remember which) that I'll save for when I'm back home.

Won't know about my room status for a while. I requested a private room it but the differential in price was so extreme that I'm not sure I'll take advantage of it even if available. We'll see. If semi-private I'll just hope for a quiet roommate and plan to keep the curtain between us closed. This to me is not a social occasion.

I've spoken to or been in email touch with some of my friends and family, so that's all up to date. Had a lovely dinner Wednesday night with my parents, aunts and uncle -- great evening.

My hip couldn't feel worse than it does today (and did last night) -- it's the last hurrah and it knows.

Not taking my laptop so won't be blogging til I'm home and really bionic. I'll be mostly news-free for a couple of days, which isn't a bad thing. There were some tantalizing stories this week beyond the State of the Union Speech: the Tea Party convention meltdown, the incident with Senator Landrieu in Lousiana and a couple of others, but they'll keep til I'm back.

One event we'll miss is the Leipzig Quartet at Carnegie Hall, so will need to figure out what to do with the tickets. Liv and Jon may be interested but we'll see. She's picked out the promise ring she wants him to give her -- it's a silver Tiffany band that says I love you. She was at Tiffany yesterday retrieving her lost gift card -- she still had money left over from her bat mitzvah gift returns but had lost the card. She now has $300 in Tiffany money burning a hole in her pocket. Not bad.

I guess that's it for now. Nick and I will leave in a couple of hours and he will of course be with me throughout it all -- that's what makes everything possible.

Will write again from the other side, once I join the ranks of the joint replacement.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Monday's Mill

Monday was the second (and last day) of prep for the surgery. It involved two things: a class at the hospital followed by an appointment for medical clearance.

First, the class. It was well filled, and while most people were older, as expect, a few were closer to my age. The instructor was a middle-aged woman, a social worker I think. She spoke with unending cheer and condescension; there was a patronizing quality to her presentation that suggested she was used to speaking either to the very very old or the very very young. She spend quite a bit of time extolling the virtues of the binder they distributed, particularly the page at the beginning that was blank for us to use to write down questions. Seemed a straightforward feature to me but to her it was a marvel and a wonder.

And the questions asked by patients made us thing no one had done any reading or research in advance.

We couldn't get out of there fast enough, but soldiered through the whole thing.

From there we went to see the medical doctor for clearance. For once I couldn't use my own and was assigned someone. When Liv had her SAT tutor Sunday night one of the vocabulary words was "perfunctory" and that well describes the experience. Little warmth, just lots of questions that came with the regularity of machine-gun fire. Lots of typing on her keyboard, a quick exam and out. It all felt very institutional, and left me cold inside.

We came home and made our first-ever visit to a surgical supply store to buy the kinds of products I never wanted to think about to ready the house for my return. We were both glad to have gotten this over with and too be back home. Yesterday's work day -- packed with back-to-back meetings, needs and issues -- was an absolute pleasure.

I'll work a full day today and a half day tomorrow, so I have the afternoon to do my sort of prep: get my haircut, pack, think through any needs while we're gone, do Liv's laundry, etc. And then we'll get the call with the time of surgery so we'll know when we need to be there Friday.


Monday, January 25, 2010

The rest of the weekend

Saturday at Sarah's was lovely. Your place is wonderful! And the food, company and vibe were great -- thanks for doing it.

Sunday was a quiet day: lots of errands for Liv (she sings tomorrow before what's known at her school as "the juries" so there was quite a bit of shopping to do -- clothes, shoes, etc. Hoping the singing takes care of itself.)

I made muffins for Liv and Nick; may not be able to do it again for a while. We played Scrabble (actually 6 games between Saturday and Sunday, and the Scrabble gods smiled at me.)

We glowed a lot at our new status. I called Matt to tell him; he sounded both surprised and happy.

So all good.

This is the last pre-op week. I lose today to prep and Friday to the actual surgery, which leaves me three days to get everything done: all work stuff, all home stuff, plus getting my hair cut and the other grooming things that will be difficult for a while.

In a little while we're leaving for the city for part one of today's pre-op adventure: the joint replacement class at the hospital. Can't wait. I imagine my fellow classmates to be significantly older than me (I could be wrong) and I'm not really sure how they'll fill the 90-minute session. Then to the medical doc for clearance.

A very medical day. Not my choice. It ends when I meet Liv at Mount Sinai to talk about her new project "once upon a song." More to follow.

Welcome to the Wilderness

Once again it's hard to be a Democrat. I'm used to it -- I've been one as long as I can remember. But it's new to Nick: raised a Republican, then an independent and only recently a Dem though he still considers himself an independent. Wisely so, I'd say. As he said to me in the wake of recent events "I was much happier when I was a Republican." And I understand.

Watching the recent events has been totally disheartening. The Massachussets race felt like a self-inflicted wound. What was the White House paying attention to if not key races? Maybe it's because we just finished watching every season of the West Wing, but it was our strong sense that this was the job of the Chief of Staff. The way healthcare has played out was another shot in the foot. Where was the leadership, the unity, the hammer? It reminds me of a oft-repeated line from "A View from the Bridge" though it was meant in a quite different context: "now we settle for half and we like it that way." This administration seems to not only settle for half but seek half, with fantasies of bipartisanship, a failure to lead, a misunderstanding of the mandate and the self-imposed requirement of the mystical magical supermajority.

It's so infuriating, and after the brief shining moment of victory and unity last year it reminds me of how it felt to be a Dem all along.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

What happened, when and how

It all happened yesterday. Actually too much happened yesterday for a single day; it was more like several days worth of incident and events jam-packed into a mild January Friday.

The day began with a client meeting in NJ, after which I went back into the city to meet Nick for half the pre-op appointments. In the morning before I left Nick got down on one knee -- I was puzzled -- and said he wanted to check out the shoes I was wearing. It was odd, no doubt, but I didn't give it a second thought.

The pre-op stuff went fine, and ended with my autologous blood donation (I gave the cookies to Nick who hadn't eaten since breakfast.)

After that we had time to kill before we were meeting the kids for dinner, and we wandered down a forlorn stretch of First Avenue looking for a place to duck in and have a glass of wine. For a while all we found were dusty convenience stores and dry cleaners, and then we spotted a little wine bar called Felice. A cute little place, practically deserted, but it was an off time at 4:00 in the afternoon. We had some very good Italian white wine, and Nick had what he thought would be a small snack but turned out to be quite a large sandwich.

We were chatting in our usual insufferable way. I told Nick I loved him, and he asked "how much?" I told him that I loved him the most, and at the moment I finished saying that he went down on one knee and said "then will you marry me?" And before I knew what was happening he took out a ring box from his pocket and opened it. Inside was the most beautiful engagement ring I've ever seen.

I said yes -- of course!

We marveled for a while at our good fortune, and I'm sure I was glowing. We giggled and left the well-named wine bar, and walked and walked.

We made a few calls and texts and made our way to Brasserie where we were meeting Liv and Jon for dinner. We got there early so we had a little more time to just be enveloped by what was happening (I must have looked at the ring on my hand a thousand times by then.)

The kids showed up and were thrilled. Liv was complicit in the whole enterprise -- she'd helped Nick pick out the ring and knew not only what was going to happen but when. They'd brainstormed ideas for how he was going to ask me (including one quite bizarre idea about asking me tonight at Sarah's party, stepping out to get ice and returning dressed as a knight in a suit of armor. Liv thought there might be better ideas.)

Dinner was wonderful -- appropriately celebratory. And it was a great meal on its own merits; everyone loved what they ordered and we had plenty of time, so even stayed and had dessert.

Then we grabbed a cab to head over to the theater where we were seeing "A View from the Bridge" in previews. We enjoyed it. Liev Schrieber was brilliant, and the success of this play rests squarely on the shoulders of its protagonist, Eddie Carbone. Scarlett Johansen was fine -- neither added much nor took much away, and the rest of the cast was strong. Very moving, and it seemed as though few in the theater knew the play, so there were gasps of shock at key points (Liv grabbed my hand at one tense moment.)

After this extraordinary afternoon and evening the three of us headed to Penn Station to go home. Some snafus with the LIRR (we were on a train which suddenly went out of service and had to go find another) but we didn't mind. We didn't mind anything.

We are engaged!

We are engaged!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Detective Wendy

I was curious about what happened next door, because it didn't seem right. Our neighbors moved out so suddenly, and in such silence. They've always been friendly and chatty so it was surprising that they moved out with such rapidity and silence. It gave me a vague sense of something amiss, as though there were something else going on and it was more than a normal case of a marriage gone sour.

So I did a bit of detective work, and found this:

That's my neighbor they're writing about and trying to find. That's my neighbor whose alleged fraud was featured on NY1 and who is now apparently being investigated by the attorney general. That's my neighbor who was given an "F" by the Better Business Bureau. My neighbor who took advantage of these people. Yep, that's the guy.

It reinforces one of the things I've always believed, that rarely is anything what it seems. Fascinating. Disturbing, especially when you look into the people who were ripped off.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

anxiety dreams

Everyone gets them, and though I've been known to say that nothing is so boring as other people's dreams I enjoy these. Mine come in several flavors:

1. the college dream. I find myself on a college campus, at my current age. It's the last day of the semester: finals. I've never been to the class and am completely unprepared for the exam. A variation includes me finding myself not only attending school but living on campus.

2. the work dream. I'm in my office working, and someone comes to get me with the words "they're ready for you." I obediently follow into a conference room, where every seat is filled, every face expectant, and I have no idea what it is I'm supposed to be doing. Variation: I'm naked.

From everyone I've spoken to the themes are consistent but the execution differs according to people's occupation. An old friend of Paul's dreamt he was directing a football game and goes into the bleachers ahead of time to prepare. He drops his script and when he climbs underneath the bleachers to retrieve it he finds millions of scripts down there. Paul's was interesting too, sourced from the time when he worked at the track videotaping the races: instead of horses he sees sheep, who are the same color as the track and therefore indistinguishable.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Odds and ends

Liv's plans

Liv has decided not to travel this summer but to work instead (yay!). She's applying for camp counselor gigs at the JCC and other places and is hyper-focused on it.

Her community service/performing arts project is taking off. It'll be called "Once upon a song" and we have an initial meeting at Mount Sinai the week after next. Very exciting.

Dispatches from Iraq

Finally heard from Whitney -- it's been over a month. She messaged Liv on Facebook to let us know that she was ok, but that all email has been blocked because someone shared too much info. At least she's ok.

Rear Window

Not sure what's going on next door but now it looks like they're all moving out. Vans and trucks show up and haul stuff away, cars come and go, the principals aren't to be seen, including the kids. Nick's concerned that the house will be abandoned, hardly what we need next door in this of all markets. We'll see.

Tempers flare

I had a set-to with the ortho's office yesterday. They believed (mistakenly) that we'd spoken at length about dates and scheduling for all the pre-op. I called them (they seldom call me) to see where we are, now that we're within two weeks of the surgery. The scheduler told me she'd gone ahead and planned an entire day for me, but when I told her the date didn't work our tempers flared. I was angry because not only was she bitchy about it but they barely consult me when they plan things. She was angry because she felt I was being difficult. I know when I'm difficult, and this experience just didn't qualify. Perhaps they're used to dealing with an older population with more time on their hands, but that flexibility is not available to me. We hung up abruptly, and several hours later a more contrite scheduler called to work this out. Wonder who spoke to her. In any case I'm now scheduled for the 4 pre-op events, spread over two days: the pre-admission testing, the blood donation, the appointment for medical clearance and the class. I'm trying to imagine what this class will be like but it's frankly beyond my imagination.

A full week

It's Saturday morning, about 8:30. Finally the weather broke and it's warm enough for Nick to take Holly to the park where she'll see her friends and romp and frolic, bound and leap.

It was a good week, and a busy one. There were things after work every night, two of them particularly noteworthy. Thursday night was Liv's musicale at school. It was a beautiful program: first one of the school orchestras, which played Bizet and Dvorak. Then her chorus, the mixed chorus. They were amazing, and for the first time Liv sang with joy. She was dead center and because the heavy-set kid in front of her couldn't make it, she was easy to spot. The chorus sang six songs, including an old spiritual (is there such a thing as a new spiritual?) called "soon ah will be done." I preferred this concert to the winter one, which was held in a church and featured all of the school's choruses. This was held at the school which offers both more intimacy and better acoustics. On the ride home she talked a lot about music and singing and which classical songs she likes and which teachers she wants to have next year. It was a beautiful night all around.

Last night Nick and I went to see "Misalliance" at City Center (Pearl Theater Company.) This was second in the series; first was "Playboy of the Western World." It was really good -- a revival of a GBS play that sparkled with wit and observation. The best word to describe it -- the only word that seems to fit -- is delightful. We met at the Carnegie Club first, then had dinner at Rue 57 (shrimp cocktail and roast chicken for me; french onion soup and duck l'orange for Nick.) A great night. We had a blast.

Long weekend this weekend, which is delightful too. It comes so suddenly after the long break but is most welcome.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Hibernating and interesting patterns

It's that time of year, when we're happiest staying in the warmth and doing home stuff. Today we're making beef stew and will have the kind of Sunday evening the three of us really enjoy. There's going to be a party to say farewell to my hip, and Sarah graciously offered to host it. We'll start working out the details in the next few days.

Nick is as happy as a clam. Besides the usual reasons his Dallas Cowboys are having an amazing season (and post season) and he's sure they're going to the Superbowl.

There's definitely something in the water on this block. Looks like our next-door neighbors have split up; not surprising given the volume and acrimony of their recent arguments. They took to screaming at each other outside, well within earshot, so their kids wouldn't hear. But we did, at least in the warmer weather. Judging by yesterday's events (moving truck) and the absence of one of their cars it seems like the husband moved out. So now we're three for three on this stretch of block. When we moved here in '05 our neighbors seemed to have intact marriages, but then again you never really know what goes on inside relationships.

Wonder if that could be a selling point for the house. Looking for a way out of your marriage? Have we got a location for you.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Clarity, finally

So I finally understand what's going on with my hip and why we have gotten to where we are. The last few weeks -- since I saw the rheumatologist -- have been confusing. Her xrays showed no arthritis; not only no inflammatory arthritis but no osteoarthritis, which (I thought) was the chief reason to have a hip replacement.

What I have is called FAI: femoral acetabular impingement. I came across this condition in my research months and months ago, but no one was really listening to me (ah, our healthcare delivery system) but apparently now there's consensus. It's a long complicated name for what's not really a complicated problem: it means that the ball of the hip doesn't fit in the joint. It can be structural -- meaning you're born with it, or caused by trauma, but what should be a nice smooth fit made possible by nice smooth surfaces doesn't exist. It's possibly why the labrum tore in the first place, and then it's made far worse by the absence of a functioning labrum to cushion the joint. And because of the nature of the condition of course it makes perfect sense that none of the interim, conservative therapies would work -- why would they? PT, anti-inflammatories, injections, even arthroscopic labral debridement -- of course none of these can help address this rough bone problem.

And it explains why the best way I can describe the pain (and have been well before the medical community gave it a name) is that it feels like my hip doesn't fit. I know what fit feels like; the left side fits just fine.

So now it's on to the hip replacement. Got my date: 1/29. According to Jose it's the only thing guaranteed to work, and now I understand why. Long, strange trip if you ask me.

Apparently there's some prep involved beyond the usual pre-op testing. I have to donate blood, in case I need a transfusion. There's a class I'm supposed to attend at the hospital (can't wait to meet my fellow classmates) and I think some stuff we're meant to do in the house to make it easier when I get home.

It's time. This needs to be fixed and at least now we know what the "it" is. Enough already. But clarity helps.

Funky fabulous fevered Fela

Fela is alive. It bursts and vibrates and glows and pulses and trembles and explodes -- I've never seen anything so alive, and all of us felt the same way. We saw it Thursday night -- Nick and me, Liv and Jon, Nikki and Jamie. We loved every moment, and we've never seen an audience get to its feet so fast. We felt less like spectators watching a performance and more like a group of people lucky enough to find our way into the Nigerian club called The Shrine, where Fela and the troupe were on.

It's rare that I don't check my watch at least once during a show, but there wasn't a second when I wasn't completely engaged and swept away by the music, the dancing and the story.

See it if you can; tickets are still discounted and quite reasonably priced.

It was a wow.