Something you internet denizens probably don't know about me (seeing as how I am merely a line of text) is that, in the real world, I wear hats.

They're simple hats. Ones with brims, like baseball caps, but not quite the same shape. I have four. One is a brown one I only wear as a last resort because it got washed once and now fits funny, two I got at Disneyland with my best friend (one that looks like Colonel Oneal's hat from Stargate and one that is from the Tower of Terror attraction and is purple with a silver key on the side), and a plain dark-green/brown one I got from Target while visiting Megan in Nevada.

All my hats (save for the brown one) have meaning to me. Granted, it's just the sort of shallow kind of meaning that comes from having an object for a long period of time from a place you like or person you love, but still, I'm attached.

There is a regular customer at the shop named Shirley. Well, actually there are two Shirleys, and both are problematic in their way, but this is about Shirley two. She is one of those people who have what I think of as an air of false niceness. I can't explain it. I've met people like this before, where they smile and their smiles seem sincere, and they say nice things, but at the same time even their seeming sincerity reeks of falsehood. I cannot tell if people like that are genuinely nice, and intentionally trying to make themselves appear nice (thus giving off the air of falsehood for their trying too hard), or if they really are mean and just pretending. Either way, she has that same personality that sets my teeth on edge and, though I smile at her right back and will help her, I still don't trust her. But I digress.

She is a very tall, moderately overweight woman who always wears shorts and some kind of Jesus T-shirt. Her voice has a bit of a rasp to it, and her hair is long and red-blonde and always under some kind of hat. She always lugs around a cart with a bunch of stuff in it, and she comes into the coffee shop to watch service on the TV and knit, usually interacting with the TV. If the pastor says to shout praise the Lord, Shirley shouts it. if he says "turn to the person next to you and say *SOME PLEASANT PHRASE ABOUT GOD LOVING THEM* she will usually find me and say it. She applauds to the TV when people in the congregation applaud. Every Sunday, like clockwork, she will come in, go to the back where we keep the creamers, and fill up her 20oz metal coffee mug with our milk, then bring us the empty milk canister to have us fill it up, just so she can get another cup of milk with her coffee. This irks me, but at the same time while it is an obvious abuse of the system, I can't exactly do anything about it.

Sunday she was wearing a cap that probably started out cream, but had yellowed around the edges and faded at the top. On it, the blue foam words "JESUS LOVES U" has been stuck on either by subtle thread or by glue. During the middle of service, she comes up to my counter (she always talks to me) and said,

"Excuse me, would you like to trade hats with me?"

I instinctively put my hand on my head. "What?"

"Would you like to trade hats with me?"

"Oh... no, no thank you. Yours is nice, but--"

She nodded. "It's okay, I understand. God just told me right now to offer trading hats. Mine has Jesus on it."

"Yeah, it's cool, but my friend got this for me--"

"Yes but Mine has Jesus on it."

I sorta mumbled placating nothings about how it was a nice hat and went back to restocking the cups.

At all three services that day, the Senior Pastor was giving away money. 40$ to every person in need. Ushers were handing out 20$s and people were lining up to receive, as well as give (which was nice. People went up to the stage to give ushers money to give to other people.) This is not the first time they have done this; I remember once when I was twelve they did this. So it's been ten years.

In the coffee shop, all four of us-- me, my brother, Jill and Stephanie-- were all contemplating going up there and getting some money, because if two of us went, then we could put the money in the tip jar and all of us would get at least 20$ that day (which would've been really REALLY nice, as out tips usually range to about 8-10$ each. Church people are terrible tippers).

Finally, during the last service, we convince Jill and Stephanie to go join the crowd of people accepting money. My brother and I watched the TV, looking for them in the crowd, giggling about what we'd done. Shirley, who had been sitting near the counter, comes up and leans over so we're almost nose to nose, and puts her hand out like she wants my hand (she has no sense of personal space and is always trying to touch my arm and it wigs me out) and says, smile on her face, sounding excruciatingly patronizing,

"You know, I was tempted to do it, too, but God told me that I don't need it. And you don't need it. We don't need it."

Normally, when I work, I'm all smiley, even when dealing with people who are less than pleasant. So I suppose it makes sense that she suddenly looked surprised when, for the first time in five years of working there, my face went cold and stony and in my most severe voice, I said,

"My brother and I are college students with massive amounts of debt. We live at home and our mother is getting laid off from her job. We do need it."

She backed off. It was the first time I'd ever spoken to her or any of our customers that way.
So congratu-fucking-lations, Shirley. You broke me.


Today was a roller coaster of emotions. Mostly positive.

So last night, I knew I had two big things due today's class. I figured, "I will play one hour of Planescape Torment, then do one hour of homework, and go back to planescape" and keep going until assignment number one (matching scenarios with school health/education codes and writing down the correct course of action, in case you were wondering). Finished that and thought, "awesome. Now I only have one thing to finish, then I can go to work, then school."

Woke up and finished the second thing lickity split because I am awesome like that. I check the class website just to be double sure of my awesome-ness andsee. ..

A third thing due.

Shoot. It's a health related lesson plan that should be woven into whatever content area/curriculum you'll be teaching. (In my case, I finagled one up with using Dragonwings by Laurence Yep-- which is a great historical novel kids book, by the way-- as a bounce off point for the dangers of narcotics).

But I finished it, so woop! Off to work.

Normally when I clean up Sunday's mess on Mondays, I am alone. I can come in whenever I want, and my boss doesn't care about how long I take, just so long as I get everything done. Today, though, She was there, the church financial-person-lady Susan was there, and some representative guy from the placer where we get our credit card reader machines was there. Apparently, they were in the middle of installing a new card reader and trying to install another, but the reception/connection was so bad (it was a portable one they were going to try out) that it wasn't working. So my boss immediately set me to work rearranging the backroom to fit some spare water bottles from the Reaching Out Center (I guess they had ordered too many) and so all my years of Tetris had come in handy. Then I got a crash course in using the new card reader.

Everybody left after an hour so I could work in peace, and I took the opportunity to continue reorganizing the back, because it is one of those things I always want to do, but am afraid of overstepping my bounds. The place is a jumbled up mess of cardboard boxes full of plastic pitchers, a wall of books and CDs to sell, another wall of shelves that would normally be full of sodas and juices, but currently is only full of dust since we're out of everything and due for another shipment. So I had fun moving junk that had always bothered me and making things look nice and I found TWO 20LBS BOXES OF SPRINKLES.


Red ones and green ones, both cartons (they were shaped like milk cartons) coated in dust. My boss called later about something else, and I asked, "I found some old sprinkles. What should I do about these sprinkles?"

She said, "Sprinkles? We have sprinkles?"


"Well bring them out and use them for something."

She came by later when I was near finishing up and took a look. "Oh yeah!" she said. "These were from a while ago. I've had them for a few years. We've got red and green? That would be nice for the holidays coming up. They're pretty old, but they're just sugar..."

"I checked," I said. "No expiration date."

"All the same, maybe you'd all better test them out first. I'll go to the dollar store or something and pick up a dispenser for them."

So I guess we're doing sprinkles now.

So, the other day I might've had a major panic attack regarding a certain test. I cried, I threw up, and emailed my credential adviser asking about the consequences of failing and the process of reapplying to my credential program.

I got an email back.

"Hi Zeph,

We won't drop you from the program if you don't pass. Just get it done when you can and bring us a copy of your results when you get them."

OH HOSANNA I CAN BREATHE AGAIN! PRAISE THE LORD AND GLORY BE TO GOD IN THE HIGHEST. Like a giant rock has been surgically removed from my chest. Gah, that feels good.

So I'm working on a project for money. It's an art one, and I guess I'm not supposed to specifically tell people about it because SECRETS. (But you can bet your sweet bippy I will be bragging up and down the hallway about it once it's actually over). The dude I'm doing it for is sort of technologically naive and mailed me a physical copy of the contract for it. There was a discrepancy in the payment amount and my first thought was,


But that is being resolved and is fine now. I just thought it was funny that my initial reaction is "what did I do wrong?" I think that probably says something about me, but I don't know what.

School was school. Unremarkable, except that I turned in all of my stuff and got some graded assignments back.

Me and my bro took the bus home (he had stayed late to work on a school project) and we went to get a burger together. Me and my bro are bros. Everybody needs a bro like him.

My cockatiel Birb is a piggy. He took forever to wean, and when he started eating pellets, he wouldn't stop and nearly soured his own crop. We had to take him to the vet to get his crop pumped (like stomach pumped) and now after he eats, I have to give him water mixed with a little bit of baby food formula because he REFUSES to drink plain water. He is like eleven weeks and this behavior is irksome. I don't mind too much because I luffs my Birb, but I hope I won't have to do this for the next 15 years.

Oh, also we found a black kitten last week. He's about 10 weeks old and is also a she, but in our house the rule sorta is "if it's dark, it's a boy. Light is a girl." For instance, Ditto is a mostly-white boy cat. But we still call him "her." It's just one of those things.

So hey, if anyone wants a black kitten that is stupidly affectionate and likes to eat french fries, give me a ring.

Lucy's Tips For the Day: 
  1. You can hilariously ruin many romantic pop songs by replacing the word "love" with the word "bean(s)".
  2. You can make many romantic pop songs hilariously filthy by replacing the word "whisper" with the word "finger". 
  3. #2 sometimes works with Lovecraft: "The Fingerer in Darkness".

As proof of #1, here's Bad Company:

Baby, when I think about you
I think about beeeeaaaaans
Darlin', couldn't live without you
And your beeeaaaans
If I had those golden dreams of my yesterday
I would wrap you
In the heavens
And feel it dyin' all the way
I feel like makin'
Feel like makin' beans!
Feel like makin' beans!
Feel like makin' beans!
Feel like makin' beans with yooooouuuuu ….

I was really delighted that my clinic reopened Friday with the physician assistant seeing patients.... except then part of me was mad and sad. MY PATIENTS I WANT TO SEE THEM WHO IS THIS INTERLOPER.....Emotions are not logical at all. I got mildly drunk and yelled about Ayn Rand later. It's pretty funny in retrospect, though these northwesterners are just freaked by raised voices. I keep forgetting. In DC when I was in high school in Alexandria, everyone yelled. Some demonstrafers, I mean demonstrators, were yelling about something 364.25 days a year and Congress was yelling back and who cares? It is like being able to block out one's child practicing Twinkle twinkle on the violin for the ten thousandth time. I had two children play violin and so I got to refine my blocking....
Musical interlude to relax.
I was looking for something I'd written and googled myself and found.....Quota. I found a blog that had quoted it with my permission in 2007 and with my name on it. I followed the links and found five other blogs that put it up. Nice. That felt rather warming and like maybe I am not just shouting in the wilderness. Not that I would stop shouting in the wilderness, I find it's a good outlet.
It is still unclear if I will be able to return to work. My muscles are now recovering, though lungs and vocal cords are the worst. If I talk too much (ha)then it hurts in vocal cords and trachea. The bronchoscopy showed me striped, like an inside out barber pole, red muscles and pinkish white cartilege and the muscles should not be that red. Inflmmation, irritation, unhappy muscles, slow recovery since it's now been five and a half months.
Chorus started up last night. I can sing but not talk, slow twitch versus fast twitch. Weird stuff, though of course I am reading lots and have a working theory.
Next I have to track down infectious disease specialist and otolaryngology to see if my tonsils should be removed or if there is anything else I can do to lower my chances of getting strep A sepsis a third time.....Ugh, tonsillectomy at my age, yuk. (Bawk, bawk, bawk, yep, I'm feeling like chicken lizard, heh).
Sepsis is on the rise nationally and still is often hard to recognize and lethal. Scary stuff, dudes and grrrls....

You got to be kidding me right?

I woke up this fine frigid morning intent on following my usual routine. Shit, shower, shave sans the shave part. I made the usual drive to work, endured the usual traffic problems, arrived at the office, grabbed a cup of coffee and checked my email. After deleting a bunch of bullshit from upper management about the comings and goings of people who I’d never heard of and I’m sure who have never heard of me it was time get my daily dose of the news.

Usually, I log on to the internet, go to CNN and peruse the headlines. If something catches my eye, I’ll clink on the link and scan through the story. From there it’s on to Media Matters to get the left wing slant on some editorials. After that, it’s off to Newshounds where their motto is “We watch Fox so you don’t have to”.

Since I like a balanced diet, I then wander over to Fox News to read some of the opinions and see what Bill O'Reilly has to say and if I’m feeling especially generous stroll on over to the Drudge Report to get the extreme right wing’s take on the world. Having digested all of that, I figured now it’s time for dessert.

So it’s off to the The Huffington Post where I can get a more liberal take on things. Since those views are probably more in line with my way of thinking, I usually enjoy my visit. I find their comedy page usually provides me with some much needed laughs before I dive into my day and begin another frustrating day of living in corporate America.

And that’s when I saw it.

Maybe I missed it on all those other sites because there was no picture to accompany the headline or maybe it just didn’t register. But there, replete with the swastika carved in his head was a picture of Charles Manson with a by-line that read ”Wedding Bells?”

Charles fuckin’ Manson has been granted a wedding license. He’s 80, his intended bride is 26. He’s been in prison since 1969.

I wondered to myself, something is really fucked up in a world where Charles Manson can get married and I can’t even land a date. To the best of my knowledge, I haven’t slaughtered anybody or was in charge of a cult. I’m not stuck behind bars (well, maybe inside one) and have as much contact with the outside world as I need. I consider myself fairly intelligent and even though the aging process is beginning to take hold and I'm not what you would call eye candy, it ain't as bad as Charlie. I have always had a steady, good paying job and even though I can’t afford a lot of things I want, I’d consider myself comfortable.

I then began to wonder, “What the fuck is wrong with me?’ and after doing some soul searching realized it ain’t all that much that can’t be fixed with some tinkering here and there.

So, I’m thinking of forming the “Cult of Borgo” and once I attract some followers plan on wreaking havoc on the weak and the innocent of the world. Maybe that will gain me a certain degree of notoriety that will attract members of the opposite sex my way.

Or, maybe I’ll forgo the news all together and just stick to reading and watching ESPN.

Not.... going.... to.... make.... it.

Finishing Iron Noder now seems pretty beyond the pale. The irony is that I have hundreds of drafts which are for the most part shitty scratch notes for grandiose ideas, any one of which would take days to whip into something presentable. I'll plug away a few more though, so perhaps at least I'll be able to get halfway there. If I'm correctly recalling the rules, I get three free rambling daylogs, so....

Further to Borgo's reaction to the Charles Manson nuptials news, not only is this 26-year-old woman bent on marrying the murderer, she professes a desire to prove his innocence. Not sure how one would go about proving the "innocence" of a man who has engaged in incendiary bragging in interviews of his evildoings, but I have another theory, which is that marrying Charles Manson is a comparatively painless shortcut to fame -- since he's in prison, already elderly, and unlikely to ever again breathe free air, she may need only to hang on for a few years before cashing in on being Manson's widow. I believe there are laws which prevent a person from cashing in on their crime-based infamy, but I don't know that those extend to their family members.

Another thing I heard in the news today is that some pro baseball player just inked a deal for $375 million over 13 years -- which is $68,000 PER DAY for the life of the deal, meaning he'll be making more even on his off days (and he gets a whole season of those) than the typical wage-worker takes home in a year. But such is society -- this guy can hit a ball really well, which makes him more valuable than those who teach kids really well or save lives really well.

While I could call this Jessica hurts her back and has trouble recovering from her allergic reaction, I'd like to share our visit with the GI doctor that we met yesterday. Since my back was not feeling well I may be less charitable than usual, but the visit was pretty much a waste of time from our point of view. The medical assistant asked us the most questions. I liked her even though she kept calling the girls Princess. She spoke frankly about embarrassing topics like bowel movements and stained underwear, telling my daughter that these types of conversations were normal around the hospital. They weighed Jill, took her height and then went into a small room where she asked more questions about her health history. Some of the questions were standard, and I'm sure these are normal questions they ask everyone, but it has been twelve years since Jill was a baby and I have no idea when she pulled herself to standing, or rolled over for the first time without checking my records.

When the doctor arrived he sat down and asked us why we were there. We explained that Jill's pediatrician had recommended a visit after bloodwork indicated that she had celiac disease. He consulted paperwork in front of him and nodded before explaining that he would like to have her scoped. In order for an official diagnosis to be handed down three things need to happen. The patient must positive labs, the patient needs to respond to the gluten free diet, and the patient needs to be scoped in order to confirm that intestinal villi show signs of the disease. That was his position and he liked it, repeating it at intervals in different ways so we would understand that without the endoscopy there would forever be a cloud hanging over her as to whether or not she was a celiac despite his statement that with family history, you're at an increased risk if a first degree relative has autoimmune conditions, and the labs. Supposedly the third step is a safety net of sorts in case patients were unsure if their symptoms had improved or their labs were falsely positive.

Most of the time he spoke to my husband and he didn't glance at any of the paperwork we had completed, preferring to ask us questions himself. I didn't have a real problem with that at first, but I was under the impression that he hadn't done any research on Jill before he walked into the room and that really annoyed me as the hospital had repeatedly called us to make sure that we were going to be at our appointment and were going to arrive early to complete said paperwork. He said that sometimes people need to hear that they have a condition after a test like an endoscopy to change their behavior, and there was the possibility that Jill who wants to be eating what everyone else does will suddenly adhere to a strict gluten free diet after the scoping, if it came back positive. When I explained to her that the scope was an invasive procedure he waved that away by explaining that she would be out the entire time and not feel a thing when she woke up.

We spoke to his nurse who reiterated everything the doctor had just said. We could take a class that would teach us how to live the gluten free life, but unfortunately it is only offered during the week at one o'clock so we would have to pull Jill out of school again to have her attend this class. Jill was crying during the appointment and on the way home we said that she had a choice to make. She can take the gluten challenge, and possibly get scoped if we decide to go ahead with that, or she can continue the way she's been eating. We did warn her that if she takes the challenge she will need to keep eating gluten for the entire month so this scope will be accurate. She wanted some time to think about it so we said that she could have until the end of today. I was pretty sure she would pick to have it in her life again which is what she told me after school. My husband and I are hoping that once she starts eating it regularly her symptoms will return, she will feel awful, and others will see what I observed back when we first suspected that it was an issue for her.

Naturally I'm apprehensive about this, but I think she needs a hard reality check and maybe it will be like some people who need to get mad drunk on a certain type of alcohol before they avoid tequila or whatever their poison of choice was. I don't think it will take long before she starts noticing that she doesn't feel well and this challenge means she eats as much gluten as she possibly can and has something with it at every meal so it will be pretty brutal for her and for us. I don't want her to get sick or have her nose start bleeding again. We will obviously intervene if things get really bad, but I am not looking forward to this next month. I already feel like garbage. This means gluten is back in my house when I can't have it, and I can't afford to ingest any accidentally since I know what happens when I have it, but if this is what it takes to get her to realize that this is damaging her health and making her feel like crap, then I guess that's what we're going to let her do. She's thirteen and we can't constantly monitor every bite of food she has.

We went to an Indian restaurant last night and I was really proud of my youngest daughter when she said she would rather just stay on the gluten free diet without taking the challenge. That kind of resolve is admirable in an eleven year old and we told her that the decision was hers to make either way. When I asked what the difference was between gluten and treats she said that treats were sugary snacks we wouldn't normally have and gluten could be a piece of toast or a muffin. Both girls have shared specific problems they've encountered when they eat gluten. Jill's hands and feet itch. Jane says that her stomach doesn't feel good and I'm actually more interested in finding out whether she has celiac disease than confirming that Jill does as her test came back negative so we don't know if that was her being more compliant than Jill, or actually not having the disease. I explained that things were not going to change at home regardless of what the test said, and I wish I would have thought to ask the doctor what he would say if the scope came back negative as when we were in the room he said that his personal opinion was that Jill did have the disease.

Probably the most disappointing thing about the visit was the lack of hope. There was no talk about Jill's growth and development, no real nutrition information other than the mention that sometimes celiacs are anemic, and no methods of coping for us or for her other than to suggest this class. He rarely spoke to or looked at her when he was speaking, and I felt like he was annoyed that we were against the scope when protocol consists of the dietary changes, the labs, and an endoscopy. The other day I saw a Twitter chat about how upset some conventional doctors were that people flocked to those that they considered quacks. When we were at the gluten free bakery we ran into a woman whose son had food allergies and other health issues. By working with him and tweaking his diet she was able to introduce eggs back into his diet, and that was more of what I expected from a consult at Children's Hospital. I wanted to hear that they were going to assess what her different vitamin and mineral levels were, and get a dietician to work with her so she could see what a healthy, balanced, gluten free diet was. I also expected to hear some words of encouragement that we as parents were doing the right thing by questioning a procedure that was quoted as being between three and five thousand dollars.

A brother-in-law of mine works in a building across the way from Children's Hospital and he said that when they talk to their patients about procedures they are very blunt about what it will entail so there is no confusion about what is going to happen to them. I understand that you're going to treat children differently than adults, but at thirteen and a half we don't need to sugar coat things for Jill and as someone who has been scoped, I can share my experiences with Jill. It was not a fun procedure, I spent thousands of dollars having it done, and came away with no new information or any kind of next step, where do we go from here if I don't feel well? The doctor didn't mention vitamins and the nurse was pretty useless when we talked to her about an elimination diet for the food allergies. I want the healthiest happiest kid I can get and I left Children's Hospital with a sense of having been run through their system. I respect the level of education that these people have, but as far as my daughter goes, I was less than pleased with our consult. I felt like I was a naughty child, or not quite bright enough to understand that if the protocol says to scope, then everyone should get scoped regardless of our concerns.

The good news is that I've taken it upon myself to be an advocate for myself and my children and I'm not going to let that experience stop me from networking and doing my own research. Food can be tasty, nutritious, and even fun while you're eating gluten free. As far as overall health goes, I'm happy that my children are no longer the drugged up babies that we used to have here at home. We no longer make as many trips to as many specialists, the eczema and ear infections are gone, and we have our challenges, but considering that my children used to be on quite a few prescriptions including around the clock nebulizer treatments it makes me glad that they are able to keep up with their classmates in many areas. They are petite and I am concerned about Jill being behind developmentally, but apparently I can't expect to get answers from her GI doctor so I'm either going to find a new one, or I'm going to do more research and see what I can uncover, and maybe that means reaching out to some of the dieticians I know and putting a program together for her. I wish they would have gone through some of the psychological ramifications and talked to us about eating disorders, but they didn't and I'm not going to waste any more time there. So I have a plan and that makes me feel better than I did.

The outlook is not that bleak. She eats a wide variety of foods and she's a very smart person who sometimes doesn't get the grades that her parents feel that she should. She's loving and fun and we wish she would shower more often, but our main concern is that she knows she is loved, cared for, respected, and that her opinions matter. I don't want to raise a child who keeps cheating on her diet, and I do not want an eating disorder to crop up if she doesn't have one already so if giving her gluten for a month will set that issue to rest, then I guess that's what we're going to do for her, because we do love her and no parent wants to see their child deal with the rashes and other issues that accompany a major digestive problem. Hopefully my back issues will get resolved soon, and I'll do my best to keep track of her progress as the gluten challenge continues. We are looking into some exercise programs for her since she isn't in any sports and we no longer have a YMCA membership. We want her to be active and to realize that there is an entire world out there that is hers to explore regardless of what kind of dietary restrictions she may have. I hope this isn't as painful as I believe it will be for her, but then again, some lessons can only be learned the hard way.

Until next time,


Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.