June 2008 Archives


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I am in New Jersey visiting family. My grandmother was hospitalized this morning with what they thought was pneumonia.

She went to a wedding last week in Florida, where everyone was smoking all around her. She had developed a cough in response to the smoke irritation. She then flew from Florida to Hawaii and from Hawaii to Newark this week, which would be trying for someone in their twenties.

Her cough was controlled with Robitussin all day Friday and then when she woke up Saturday, she was much worse, dizzy, wheezing and couldn't seem to get air.

My mother took her to our family doctor, who did a very thorough work-up and sent her to the emergency room with all this information. They did a chest X-ray and lab work in the hospital and thought she didn't have pneumonia, rather congestive heart failure. Among other treatments, they put her on oxygen and admitted her.

My parents and I went to see her after dinner and they said she was 100% improved from this morning. She coughed a few times when we were there, but it was nothing like what I expected. She was comfortable and relaxed, and we are encouraged that she'll be okay.

Something that I'm finding rather unsettling is that my grandmother has early Alzheimer's dementia, so when nurses ask her questions, she has no idea. She forgot why she was in the hospital, didn't remember critical and very relevant details of her medical history, and took a stoic approach as usual, not asking for food because she didn't realize she hadn't eaten all day (since they took her to the doctor as soon as she got up this morning).

When we were there, we gave the head nurse more information and clarified several medical things (for example, my grandmother said she had never had high blood pressure, whereas she has had chronic hypertension with a history of pulmonary embolisms and is on medication for it). We told her that my grandmother will always say she's not hungry and if you ask her if she's eaten, she'll always say yes because she can't remember and doesn't want to be a burden. And so on.

I dunno, it was just tough. My grandmother was really happy to see me, and she knew who I was the instant she saw me. She held my hand while we were visiting, and she seemed completely herself, which was an enormous relief. My mom said she was a different person this morning and it's a world of improvement this evening.

I think she'll be okay, but I'm so sad thinking of my grandmother sleeping in a hospital bed in a town she hasn't lived in for 30 years. I hate imagining her waking up confused, not knowing why she's hooked up to oxygen or why she's struggling to breathe.

More than anything, I just hope she's okay.

True love

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This weekend my mother showed me a sculpture in the garden, of two little angels.

She said that as soon as she looked at it, she saw herself and my father, as angels before they were born. The little boy angel is putting his wing around the girl and kissing her on the cheek. Everything about that gesture conveys the love and affection they have always felt for one another.

My mother believes that she and my father had to be born onto earth to find each other and be together, but they've been in love much longer than that.

It is an extraordinary privilege to come from that kind of love. I think it's the most beautiful thing I've ever seen.

Call the AKC

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My mother told me they're going to call the AKC and have all of their dogs' names officially changed.

Little Otto will henceforth be known as Poops on the Rug von Weiner.

Molly (on the right) is now Good Golly Miss Chews Her Butt In Front of Company.

And sweet Smooch (in the middle) is now simply Bad Dog, for specified and hilarious reasons.

I'm looking forward to seeing these dorks soon.

Bloomsbury and Bloomsday

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I've always had a pretty great interest in the Bloomsbury Group, sparked by reading Virginia Woolf in high school and piqued through several literature courses in undergrad (most notably a phenomenal course on Mary Shelley, Virginia Woolf, and Sylvia Plath).

I had started to move more into Latin American magical realism (I'll give you three guesses which author has featured most prominently) in the last year. In an art history methodology course I prepared a critical bibliography on Roger Fry, and in studying his vast contributions to art history, criticism, and theory (and sneaking in some other works and checking out his painting), I fell back in love with the Bloomsbury spirit of boundless exploration and genuine intellectual curiosity.

This evening I went to the first meeting of a new book club devoted to the Bloomsbury Group. I think we were all similarly surprised to find other people so interested in these writers. Several of the members wrote their theses on Virginia Woolf, so we're starting by reading Mrs Dalloway, progressing through Woolf's works, and continuing with other authors from there.

I am, of course, ridiculously excited.

On a similar lit-nerd note, today was Bloomsday! I caught some of the live stream fromSymphony Space, for Fionnula Flanagan's final monologue (fantastic).

It was interesting that for the first time in decades, they separated the theater performance from the radio broadcast over fears of the FCC deeming Joyce profane. You can read more about it in this NY Times article.

Hmm. I think I should read Ulysses again.

Poke the Smokey

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For about a year now, Smokey has had a bump on his head. It started out about a millimeter, but over time it felt like a very hard pea, centered between his ears on the back of his head.

Despite the vet saying it was nothing to worry about the last time we brought him in, Eric was still worried and insisted we bring him back to have it biopsied. I went in with the conviction that even if it were something terrible, I wasn't going to risk putting a fourteen-year-old cat under anesthesia, so we would not go for a surgery. I figured at least he'd get his annual check-up in, and if it could bring peace of mind, then so much the better.

This vet did a much more comprehensive examination than her former colleague and compared her observations with previous notes. These notes, I should add, included "he's a gentle, sweet, and relaxed boy with a wonderful disposition." Typical to character, once they got the thermometer out of the way Smokey thought he was at a cat spa. He purred and sighed as they listened to his heartbeat and breathing, and everyone chuckled as his started to snore on the table.

They decided to do a fine needle aspiration to determine if his bump was a fatty cyst, mass cells, something benign or something to worry about. They used surgical wash to kind of slick his hair down into a part so they wouldn't have to shave his head. Looking at Smokey as a Clark Gable kitty, I kicked myself for leaving my camera home (though I was more worried about his head).

The first aspiration was not terribly deep, and because Smokey squirmed a little, we held him more firmly for the second. As the technician inserted the needle, it evidently ruptured what was a liquid-filled vesicle of some kind and his bump almost instantly went away.We all looked at each other like "So uhh, there goes that."

The vet examined the cells and fluid from his aspiration and said they look fine, but she sent them to a lab to do a more comprehensive analysis. For the most part, though, I think Mr Pants is well and truly fine and we no longer have cause for worry about his cute little head.

We're both quite relieved.

When we came home, we found we'd accidentally locked Iggy in the bedroom the whole time we were out. Uhh, whoops. He was more than a little miffed, but wait until he goes for his annual check-up on Monday, hehehe.

Nom nom nom

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Last night I baked insanely delicious cupcakes.

They are Banana Cupcakes with Honey-Cinnamon Frosting, from the March 2008 issue ofEveryday Food. You can find the recipe here.

Eric and I both really loved these. The cake is wonderfully moist and flavorful, and we thought the batter would make equally tasty muffins or banana bread.

The frosting, however, was unbelievable. This is the first buttercream I can remember making, and wow. The honey and cinnamon set it off something magical.

(Also, I haven't forgotten about updating my site design or all the things I meant to post, but I've got a lot to do tonight, so it may be a little while more).


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Last summer in Venice, my painting professor spoke frequently about the feeling of dislocation and how it can benefit an artist. She said she had not learned any Italian, nor did she plan to, because she enjoyed the public privacy she gained within her own thoughts. I came to understand the significance of not belonging somewhere, the mental vacation that accompanies a physical one, and since then I've ascribed a sort of dreamy and poetic sensation to being out of place.

Earlier this week I was summoned for jury duty, which put me in a room full of my fellow Brooklyn citizens. There were people from all walks of life, and I really enjoyed looking around, learning about people from their dress, activities, and occasional utterances.

After sitting around for over an hour, a man finally came out and began a series of instructions on filling out our juror's cards, writing down phone numbers etc. He then started with the people who were requesting to be excused, including those with doctor's notes, those who were the principle caretaker of a minor and so on. Then he came to the portion which I think may have more appropriately come at the beginning of his process: those who do not understand spoken English.

It was in a way rather funny. He acknowledged that if you could grasp the sentences he was speaking with regards to understanding basic English, then you would not need to come up to ask to be excused. A woman repeated his announcement in Russian, and then another woman made the announcement in Spanish. I understood her announcement, and it was much blunter "If you feel lost and do not understand what is being said in English, come with me."

One man a few rows in front of me was middle-aged and Hispanic, wearing a freshly pressed plaid cotton shirt tucked into belted jeans, his juror summons and a pen in his pocket, his hair neatly combed. He startled up when the woman began speaking in Spanish, and he seemed relieved as he started walking toward the aisle.

The front of the room became crowded with people who, presumably, had been completely clueless for the first hour and a half of sitting there. They were led to another room off of the room in which the general mass was sitting, and I kind of forgot about them as I watched people making their excuses for other reasons.

Some time later, a smaller group of people started coming back out from the left. I'm not sure why I even looked up, since there had been people trickling in and out all morning, but I saw a group of older Russian women, followed by Hispanic people. Most of them looked mildly relieved or neutral, and I gathered they had been excused.

The plaid-shirted man, however, looked hotly embarrassed, his cheeks red and his eyes stinging with tears. He blinked rapidly, and his entire demeanor was crestfallen. He walked toward the back of the room with his head slightly lowered in shame, and I felt terrible for him.

In all my privileged notions of the romance of dislocation and not belonging, I'd forgotten about those who desperately wish to belong. Like so many other citizens, he got his summons, showed up in the appointed place and time with the supplies he'd been instructed to bring, and he was ready to act as an American citizen. Unlike almost all of the rest of us, he actually wanted to do it, and it hurt him when he was told he didn't understand English well enough to be part of the judicial system.

Since living in Italy, among hordes of American tourists, I learned to tune out English and experience the same blissful unawareness as when I listened to crowds of Italians. On my lunch break from jury duty, I sat on the post office steps by Columbus Park, looking at Brooklyn through a foreign lens, tuning out all the English conversations and signs (this was easy without my glasses on), looking at its charms the same way I might in Piazza San Marco or on the Spanish Steps.

I looked at rows of park benches surrounded by rose bushes and lush planting, watched the sunlight dapple pavement, ate my prosciutto and mozzarella panini (with entirely too much meat and not enough cheese or sauce), listened to conversations in the foreign language of other people's lives, and really took in the wonder of this city.

In a backwards exercise of dislocation at home, I think I finally learned to love Brooklyn and appreciate the privileges of being a citizen here. What a refreshing change of pace.

What in the?

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I don't have any idea what happened to make this site look all broken and 1990s, but something about my Wordpress theme or stylesheet got borky, and I haven't gotten around to fixing it yet. So we're back to this site's first theme for a little bit. Yay grass.

This is kind of fortuitous timing, as I've been wanting to change the look of this site for a while now... maybe I will take advantage of the opportunity.

In the likely event that all my attempts come out like hot buttered ass, I may wait until Eric can do it for me. We'll see.

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from June 2008 listed from newest to oldest.

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