Thursday, August 27, 2009

"It's hard for me to be in a bad mood when you're being so nice to me."

One of my co-workers said this to me yesterday, and it got me thinking. I guess I am a pretty upbeat person, which I realize can be annoying to some people at times, especially when they're having a bad day and have a low tolerance for cheefulness. I come by this trait honestly--my Mother is perhaps the most cheerful and upbeat person I know, so apparently that apple didn't fall far from the tree.

I sometimes feel it's my job to bring up the mood of those around me--be the "cheerleader", if you will. I know my Mother has felt this way throughout her illness and she always makes sure no one sees her having a bad day. Even when her pain is almost beyond the limits of human tolerance, she'll struggle to put a smile on her face and do her best to reassure you that she's "just fine."

Last Saturday, my Mom had an operation to stabilize her fractured femur with some pins. The operation was a success and she had no troubles at all coming out of the anesthetic. By Sunday morning, she was her usual chipper self, joking with the nurses and other women on the ward. Another patient on the ward was evidently annoyed by my Mom's cheerfulness and complained to her nurse about it. Okay, I get it--some people are not "morning people", especially when they're in the hospital and probably feeling pretty shitty. No problem. Here's my problem--the nurse actually told my Mom to be less cheerful.

Are you fucking kidding me?

That really pissed me off. No health professional worth his/her salt should be telling any terminally ill patient that they're too happy and need to be less happy because their positive attitude--which is painstakingly constructed each day in order to make the specter of looming death less scary--is annoying someone else who lacks the same positive outlook.

My Mother's positive attitude is the reason she's still here. When she was first diagnosed, she was given 3 months to live--that was 3 years ago. She has defied every doctor's expectation and continues to do so. So forgive me if I get a little angry when someone suggests she should "tone it down" because it's like saying we, and she, aren't worth living for.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


It's been a while since I've posted an update on how my Mom is doing. I'm sorry for that--I know a lot of you deserve to know what's been going on because you care about me and want to be supportive in "my time of need" but it's difficult for me to bring it into this forum. I'm getting really good at talking about it and not crying, but for some reason I want my blog to be separate--"uncontaminated" if you will. Despite this somewhat irrational need, I'm going to give you an update because things have changed and I think you all should know. I'm gonna give it to you straight, people--so don't say you haven't been warned.

My Mom has broken her left arm and her left leg. As a result of this (read: our inability to care for her adequately at home) she is now in the hospital and will be there until she dies, which the doctors say will happen within the next 2 months. Her primary care physician has provided me with a letter for my employer which will allow me 8 weeks of unpaid compassionate leave to go "home" and be with my Mom. I'm probably going to go by August 31st at the latest, and will periodically come back here for some respite from the stress and to make sure things are okay at my place.

Jax will have to be farmed out, and Guy has offered to take him in. I'm unsure of that working as he and Max (Guy's cat and Jax's former "roommate") don't really get along all that well, but Guy has a 3 storey townhouse so he can separate them if need be. I guess (as with everything) I'll have to be flexible and make other arrangements if necessary. I also have several social commitments over the next several weeks (Kiki's wedding shower, S&M bookclub, etc) that I really want and need to be able to keep--for my own sanity I need some semblance of normalcy--but I may not have a choice and I know all of you will be understanding if I'm unable to attend one or more of these events.

I also want to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to all my friends and family who have been such a wonderful support to me throughout this excruciatingly difficult time. I really have the best people in my life and I couldn't have remained as strong as I have without you. I love you all so much and I have no idea if I'll ever be able to adequately express how much your presence, both physical and emotional, has meant to me. I'm (ironically) not a "sharer" when it comes to emotional expression, and I appreciate that you have all allowed me to come to you for support when I need it in my own time and in my own way. Your quiet compassion has been exactly what I needed and I thank you for it. It's only going to get harder from here, but I know I have all the support I need and that is more comforting to me than you can ever know.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Maybe It's a Sign

I pulled a muscle in my back on Saturday while putting on my bra. You may recall a similar incident a while ago. These two events have led me to the conclusion that I should stop wearing undergarments.

I went to the chiropractor yesterday to see what could be done and he beat me up pretty good. Is it weird that I really liked it? He practices something called Active Release Therapy which hurts like Hell but seems to have been extremely effective. Not to mention the tremendous rush I got from all those endorphines--nature's way of getting you high to take your mind off of excruciating pain.

He also gave me a crap-load of really strenuous excercises which looked misleadingly easy when he did them. These are meant to strengthen my core and will replace the damaging crunches I've been religiously doing at the gym which he explained have been worse than useless, even contributing to my problem by weakening the tendons that hold my spine together. Isn't nice to know your efforts to get in better shape are actually causing more harm than good?

This would all be so much easier if I could just exchange this lemon of a body for a new one. If anyone is deserving of a "cash for clunkers" incentive it's me.

Friday, August 7, 2009

I Swear This is Not a Food Blog

I could never be mistaken for Julia Child, but I know my way around a kitchen well enough to ensure I don't starve. I live and die by "The Joy of Cooking" which is an encyclopedia for the culinary illiterate. I'm not afraid to experiment which is probably why my best "recipes" really have no recipe to speak of.

A staple in my diet is my signature chickpea salad. It's undergone many a variation in it's day, and the last incarnation was a combination of chickpeas, black beans, cucumber, green onion, grape tomatoes, feta cheese and my favourite balsamic salad dressing. Today, however, I changed things up a bit and decided to incorporate quinoa (pron. KEEN-wah).

I have never used quinoa before, so a little digging on the internet schooled me on proper preparation. Tip: it expands. A lot. After cooking way more quinoa than I really needed, I let it sit and cool for a few minutes before incoporating it into my salad. The results are spectacular, if I do say so myself, so I've decided to share my secret and embarrassingly easy recipe with y'all.

Kendall's Keen Quinoa and Chickpea Salad

1 19oz/540mL can of chickpeas
1 19oz/540mL can of black beans
1-2 cups of cooked quinoa (1/2 - 1 cup uncooked)
1/3 of a large English cucumber
most of a quart container of grape tomatoes
2-4 green onions (2 if large, 4 if small)
100 grams feta cheese (or to taste)
1/4 cup of your favourite salad dressing (vinaigrette works best)

After preparing too much quinoa, set aside to cool and try to figure out what you're going to do with the extra. Drain the chickpeas, rinse well and put in a large bowl. Drain the black beans, rinse well and add to the chickpeas. Add quinoa to the chickpeas and black beans until it looks like a good balance. Slice the cucumber into half-inch sections, then quarter the sections. Add to the chickpea/black bean/quinoa concoction. Slice each grape tomato in half and keep adding them to the chickpea/black bean/quinoa/cucumber almost-salad until you like what you see. Chop the green onions into small pieces and throw them in there, too. Drain the feta and crumble into the nearly-there salad. Give it a good stir (mix it up really well) and if it looks good, add the salad dressing a little bit at a time, stirring in between additions. Feel free to taste your wonderful creation to ensure the right amount has been added. Once you're satisfied, it's done!

I seriously tried hard to make this as easy to follow as possible, but feel free to make any changes/additions/etc. These measurements provide me with probably 7 to 10 servings and this will last about a week in the fridge.

Bon appetit!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Getting Some Action

Well I'm back in sunny California visiting My Honey and so far things are going swimmingly--and by "swimmingly" I mean I've seen a lot of fish! Thursday night we went to Nightlife at the California Academy of Sciences where we toured the rainforest, were stared down by fish that looked like they came out of Jim Henson's imagination, were ignored by pretentious penguins and creeped out by taxidermied African wildlife. Oh, and we got to watch two geckos "do it like they do on the Discovery Channel."

All in all, a successful outing.