March 25, 2008


This afternoon at work, as I walked by the coffee pots, I smelled something. Something different and not at all office-like. It wasn’t the scent of fresh-brewed coffee. Or that of a steaming hot mug of Earl Grey tea, or hot chocolate with a dozen miniscule marshmallows bobbing about. I can’t completely describe what the smell was, only that it was familiar. And unpleasant.

Yes. The smell. That smell. Of stale coffee, microwaved Cup-O-Noodles and anti-bacterial hand soap combined with the stench of uneaten hospital food, freezer-burned ice cubes for making ice chips, and pink plastic pitchers. And suddenly I was there. At the oncology floor of Stanford University Hospital in 2002. In an instant I was transported to the kitchen, where caregivers would come to grab a popsicle for their father, mother, sibling or their not-really-a-boyfriend-but-I’m-sticking-by-him-through-this-because-I-love-him. Where caregivers could escape the rhythmic inhale…exhale…inhale…exhale sounds of the pump as it dripped a toxic but necessary concoction into their loved one’s veins. Sometimes I would come into this haven and want to cry. But I never did. Someone might see me and my reputation as “a rock” would be shattered. And we couldn’t have that, could we?

Depending on that day’s menu, I’d often inspect the neglected food trays to see if anyone left their Oreo brownie. (Nearly every day, I’d have nothing to eat but a Nuts Over Chocolate Luna Bar and a grande nonfat latte.) Most of the time I came up empty in my quest for the bland chocolate squares. But the Jello cup was still there. (How is it that hospitals can even make Jello taste worse?) And maybe there would be some mashed potatoes, or a wilted salad left on the plate. No thank you. I avoided the anti-microbial and liquid diet entrees. Nothing exciting on those trays. On the rare occasion that I did find an Oreo brownie or two, I horded them like a Chipmunk storing nuts for the winter. I never ate them though.

Since I had the 6 pm to 7 am shift, my caregiver uniform was a pair of pajamas. The pants were covered in a tiny leopard print and the black tank top had a cat appliqué made of the same print. I shuffled across miles of that plain white linoleum tile in my puffy leopard Dearfoam slippers. Rawr. Caregiver disguised as fierce feline. Oh, and that fashionable pilly gray fleece I wore. Why are hospitals so cold? How many times I asked that.

Some nights, if he was allowed, I would bring him food from the Outback. A baked potato couldn’t hurt, but stay away from the skin. Most of these fancy Outback dinners, barely picked at, wound up in the fridge on our very own shelf. Inevitably the square Styrofoam boxes wound up in a pile in the garbage can because of his vanishing appetite. But popcorn was always welcome. And it went nicely with American Idol. Some nights were 2 baggers.

For a second today I remembered the feel of the stiff white sheets on my makeshift bed (which was no more than a pink vinyl chair that collapsed flat). I felt the coldness against my shoulders. The unforgiving “mattress” that made slumber nearly impossible was more like a box spring. Those sleepless nights are long gone.

Those days were a lifetime ago. And I have worked to lock these memories in a part of my mind where I am safe from them. But today I was back there. Back in those dark days, all because of my keen sense of smell.

March 24, 2008

Brain dump

This post is random and haphazard.


Take a look at my “sideblog” over there —> (on the side, get it?). Feed reader peeps will need to come over to the actual blog to see it. I’ll be putting bits of tiny randomness (rumblings, if you will) there from time to time.

Also, if you leave your feed readers and come on over, you’ll see I updated the photos in my header to brighten up the place a bit.


You have just over a week to get your answers to me on the logo alphabet quiz. We have someone seriously in the running for First Prize, so get those mental juices flowing! If you’ve already emailed in your guesses, you can send more in as you think of them. I’ll combine all your answers on April 1.


I don’t usually blog about my dreams, but this one was pretty interesting (and I actually remembered it when I woke up.)

I was dating Jack Nicholson. I was spending a lot of time with him and almost missed dinner with my friend Paula because of it. (I am, in fact, having dinner with Paula tonight, so it was eerily real when I was dreaming this.) As I was driving to meet her, I called to say I’d be late and “Oh My Gawd! I have to tell you about who I’m dating! You’ll never believe it!” As news got out, I found that my friends were not too happy about this new man in my life. Several tried to sabotage my new romance. One of my guy friends did some major research and snooping and found a photo of Kevin Spacey at Jack’s house. Kevin was wearing boxer briefs and a bow tie and he was holding a cocktail of some sort. He appeared to be dancing. Kev’s photo was inserted in a card sent to a guest at the drinking night at Jack’s. The note inside the card went on and on about how much fun they had “that weekend” and “isn’t Jack the greatest? I love him.” My guy friend heard from this carouser that Kevin and Jack were secretly a couple. I didn’t believe my friend at all. I said “but he was with Lara Flynn Boyle!” And my friend said “Yeah. So? Do you really think he was hittin’ that?” I had to admit he had a point. Also, after a few of months of dating, Mr. Nicholson had still not tried to “hit” me. I thought he was being respectful and gentlemanly. He did want me around all the time, and he bought me lovely things (a new camera!) but, as it turned out I was not his type exactly. And yes, he was wearing those sunglasses through the entire dream.


If anyone can tell me when F/X is putting new eppies of Rescue Me and Damages on the air, I will be ever so grateful.


And lastly, did you hear about Charlie Rose’s shiner? This man has priorities, is all I’m sayin’. Read about it here.

March 23, 2008

Top 10+ reasons to use your turn signal

One of my biggest pet peeves when driving is seeing people who change lanes, turn into a driveway or slow down to turn without using their turn signal. Matte hates it more than I do, so should you encounter either of us on the road, here are reasons why you should use your signal and avoid pissing us off:

<begin rant>:

  • From the California Department of Motor Vehicles, this is how you change lanes: “Before changing lanes, signal, look in all your mirrors, and…”
  • Only buttfaces don’t use their turn signal. And I know you’re not a buttface.
  • Why else is there a turn signal in your car if not for you to use it?
  • Using your signal is good carma. (See what I did there?)
  • Because all the cool kids are doing it.
  • It burns one thousand calories (probably it really does, over your lifetime).
  • It doesn’t make your ass look big or give you double chins.
  • It adds years to your life because people won’t crash into you.
  • It’s the courteous thing to do and Mr. Rogers taught us to always be courteous. Also courtesy is contagious so if you use your signal, soon, everyone else will too.
  • If you don’t, and you’re driving in Los Angeles, someone might shoot you.
  • Barack Obama likes it when you use your turn signal.
  • It narrowly missed being included on the list of new sins recently put out by the Vatican. BUT IT SHOULD HAVE BEEN ON THERE!
  • Keyser Söze, Hannibal Lecter and Dexter will come and get you if you don’t.
  • If you don’t signal, the terrorists win.
  • Real men use their turn signals (and real women do too).
  • 4 out of 5 dentists surveyed recommend using your turn signal.
  • Safety. For you and your passengers and for every other driver you meet on the road.
  • Because you don’t want this to happen to you. (Note: language NSFW unless you work in a mafia office.)

</end rant>

March 22, 2008

It’s madness. MADNESS I tell you!

Last night when I was about write this post and make the NaBloPoMo deadline, I could not log on to ye olde blog. Matte checked the Dreamhost (where our sites are hosted) status page and whaddya know! It was down. Under maintenance for up to TWELVE HOURS. You’d think maybe they would have given an early heads-up or something, like Flickr does. But no. Instead, those who have hosting through Dreamhosed were just without access. For me, the 12 hours of maintenance wasn’t a big deal. Sure I missed my deadline for NaBloPoMo, but I think the powers that be will forgive my absence yesterday. (And if they don’t well, then I guess I’m off the hook for the rest of the month. YAY!) But some people host commercial sites on Dreamhost and having a 12-hour outage would cause them financial loss. At least I’m not a web designer who couldn’t meet my deadline and give my client a new site by this morning. I didn’t have much to complain about. But I complained anyway because that’s how I roll.

Anyway, what I was going to post yesterday was how awesome I am in my NCAA March Madness bracket picks. I had Siena upsetting Vandy, yes, I did. I also had Villanova beating Clemson, yes I did. Those two upsets put me in second place in the pool. Of course UCONN had to go and screw me. I had them going as far as the Elite Eight, but most everyone else in my pool had them going far in the tourney too, so it’s sort of a wash. There are no scientific methods in my basketball picks. I always choose a couple of upsets, but usually they are so far-fetched, it’s outrageous. This year I chose Siena because my friends Shawn and Rachel have a dog named Siena. I chose USC because Shawn went there (uhm, thanks Shawn). I chose Kentucky to upset Marquette because I lived there (and I should have picked the Wisconsin school instead, I know). I chose Wisconsin to go to the final game because…well…I’m an honorary Wisconsonian (?) having married into a Wisconsin family. Plus, I thought the state could use a morale boost since Brett announced his retirement recently. But for the final game, I used Anton Chigurh’s method of choice. So, Memphis will win this year’s championship. Because the coin said so. And if they don’t win, it’s not my fault the coin malfunctioned.

***Updated to add: I also picked the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers to win in the first round! Because I love a mascot that’s the top of a hill. You don’t want to mess with a Hilltopper.***

Are you swept up in March Madness or not much into basketball? Are you in a bracket pool? Who do you have winning it all?

March 20, 2008


I’m tired. It’s 11:30 pm and we just got home from a surprise birthday party in San Francisco. We were at a wine bar that was overly packed and overpriced. The food was oversalted. But it was for a surprise 40th birthday party so we (really I) took the high road. It was fun, I just wish it wasn’t on a weeknight. I don’t do well with the going out on weeknights. Now we’re home and I am in sweats and a Flickr t-shirt, watching LOST. Also, I must post today, to make my NaBloPoMo deadline. Do you see how dedicated I am?

Before I go, I have to tell you a Desmond story. Yes. It’s about my cat. Kitten, actually.

Every morning, while I’m in the shower, Desmond sits outside the curtain on the bathmat, meowing. Today though, I didn’t hear him, so I peeked out from the shower to see if he was there. He wasn’t on the bathmat, but he was walking out of the bathroom, carrying my chonies in his mouth, as if he had just caught his prey for the morning.

After my shower, I found him in the living room flinging and flailing my underwear about, and generally attacking my Victoria’s Secret boyshorts. Well, I just had to grab a photo of this! So I took the hunted underwear, put it back in the bathroom and sat with my camera in my lap as I waited for the fierce predator to return. The little perv returned and absconded with my undies again. See the little perv?

Can I borrow your underpants for 10 minutes?

March 19, 2008

Quiz! With prizes this time!

Back when I worked at PricewaterhouseCoopers, an issue of our company newsletter included a game like the one below. We were to submit our best guess for what 26 companies made up the alphabet (all of them were our clients). The person with the most correct guesses would win a case of Opus One. I did not win.

I was thinking about that puzzle today and decided to do one of my own and have you all play. The alphabet below is made up of letters from popular web sites or high tech companies. There are a few that are tricky, a couple that are obvious and one or two that I’m guessing no one will know. Just to make for fair play, I’m closing comments on this one and accepting answers by email only. Send your best guesses to catheroo (AT) gmail dot com. I’ll accept submissions until April 1 when I announce the winner. I’ll also give linky love to everyone who played.

If no one guesses all 26 companies, I’ll give the prize to the person with the most correct answers. What’s the prize, you say? Uhm. Not a case of Opus One. But how about a $25 gift certificate to Amazon?

Have fun and good luck!

Logo alphabet

March 18, 2008

Moment of Zen


Moment of Zen

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