Sunday, December 31, 2006

New dining table!

Dec06 036
Originally uploaded by Rosemary Grace.
The new opiate of the masses (that's consumerism, the new religion of the developed world) struck us yesterday, as I was at COSTCO buying foodage for our Hogmanay party I passed by this lovely dining table, which exactly fits the "dream table" Matt and I described to each other, and never found, when shopping for such a thing three years ago. The price was very good, and the thing is ridiculously solid, with a lovely finish. Not as dark as this photo makes it look. I stood and petted it for a few minutes thinking "oh boy, if I tell Matt about this, we're gonna spend some unplanned money...but it's preeeeetty". Then I went home and told him about it. A few hours later, after two trips to transport the matching chairs, we've got it set up in our dining room/area/corner. It has two removable leaves, which we will not need in this flat, fully extended it seats 10-12, sans extensions it seats 6, maybe 8, it's a real "grown up" dining table.

Thus continues our collection of slightly oversized furniture, pushing the limits of what our flat can comfortably contain.

This photo also shows off the silly new top I bought the other day, retro early 1970's giant daisies and lots of cleavage aren't my usual look, but I like it a lot, it's surprisingly flattering, and stopped reminding Matt of his Grandma's apron as soon as I put it on.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Cat Toy

Dec06 025
Originally uploaded by Rosemary Grace.
I got a skirt for our tree to hide the ugly wire base. I'm very happy with the skirt I found: it looks a little retro, like it could conceivably be a decoration one of us has had since childhood. Having all new Christmas decorations still feels strange to me, even with our tradition of giving each other an ornament each year, to create traditions and memories, we've only had 4 Christmases together, that doesn't quite compete with "I can't remember a Christmas whithout this candle holder/tin goose/clothespin angel".

Anyway. The skirt is about 70% wool, which gives it a nice felty appearance, and makes it very attractive for cats to sit on. Right now Tali is curled up taking a nap under the tree. At least he has calmed down and started treating it like a napping spot, instead of as a giant cat toy. As soon as I put the skirt down both beasties were exceedingly interested, they insinuated themselves under the tree and sniffed and patted at the snowflake designs, you can see here what happened when Tali found the buttons around the back, he managed to unbutton one of them with his teeth before I told him off and sent him to the corner to chew on some ribbons and think about what a naughty cat he is. Well, the ribbon chewing is what happened when I banished him from undertreeland. He made a beeline for the bag of gifts waiting to go to my car.

He's getting really good at responding to a stern "Tali...What are you doing?" by sitting up straight in the middle of the room looking super prim and innocent. I think he practices his "" face in the mirror while we're out.

Tomorrow I'm heading North to the not-so-frozen wastelands of Los Angeles, picking my sister up at the airport on the way to spend Christmas with my parents at granny's house. Matt is following on by train on Friday evening. Hopefully the tree will survive being alone with two bored cats until we return 4 days later. I'm looking forward to presenting Mum, Dad and Eve with their scarves.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Fluffy Medicine

Marble has just made my day by climbing into a newly cleared out cubby on the desk, and chasing her tail. Now she's done with the tail, she is thunking her head noisily against the roof of her formica cave, biffing at a pencil case, and purring at me.

I may have a cold that is developing into a sinus/chest infection, and am still waiting for my cold medicine to help de-clog my head, but I can't be unhappy, because I have a little furry nutcase to love and entertain me.

I tried to get a photo, but she left the desk to follow me when I went to find the camera.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006


My new music/camera/phone arrived today, I have been able to figure out uploading my phone numbers, and using the camera, all while sick and spacy. This is good, this means it's intuitive to use. I really like the interface, the screen is sharp, the buttons are easy to press, this is the most excited by a new phone I have ever been. Usually it's more a case of "ok, it works", or with my other Sony, the phone I picked because it was a free world phone, it was a case of "what the hell? where's the text messaging? where's my address book? these buttons are TOO TINY!" This phone also has a screen on the outside, that tells me who's calling, so I answer by opening the phone, but don't have to open the phone to see who it is. Nifty. I have already found that feature to be much more convenient.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Shop 'till you drop

Just make sure to land on the cushy new bed.

We spent our first night on our new bed last night (new mattress & box, same old IKEA frame), it was a big improvement. Not just because it's never been peed on by an overzealous cat. It's firm and supportive, but with a plush top to make it just squishy enough for comfortable positioning. No more waking up with an achy hip and shoulder from lying on my side. I'm very happy that we got to buy it on Saturday afternoon and have it delivered by noon yesterday. Which also gave us time to go to IKEA and buy the storage cabinets we've been eyeing up. Operation Get Your Act Together is coming on apace, we've rediscovered the roll-top desk under the piles of papers, the new storage cabinets will facilitate actual organizing of the stuff we're not throwing out. Matt has also freed up about 5-6 linear feet of shelving by deciding to take all of his computer and networking books to fill the book case in his new office/cubicle. I got lucky and found mince pies and christmas pud at Cost Plus, so I laid in a stash of the little pies for family Christmas, and one box to save for my birthday in a month and a half. Matt has his mp3 player, I have my red shoes, the Christmas presents we each picked for ourselves. Yesterday I ordered a new cell phone, today I am plotting the final few things I am going to purchase for gift-giving. I feel like we're going a bit spendy-crazy, but I know that the things we're buying are all useful, and we're not breaking the bank. More like making up for the past year and a half of saving really hard for Matt to go to university full time. For Christmas, family members are mostly getting Goddess Kaffeina tea, or some interesting sweet from Cost Plus. My parents and sister are each getting a scarf from me. I'd better finish schwestie's ASAP, I've still got about a foot to go before it's done.

Phew. I need a nap. On my new bed. Pity I'm at work.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Earth Mother

I prefer the "Empress" card in my own deck, but I like this description. If I change around some of the answers where I was torn I could also be "Judgement" "World" or (gulp) "The Tower". Though I can see why the tower: my life has often involved radical changes in my thinking and tearing down of old structures to allow for growth. I think I am doing better now that I try not to build so much structure around my beliefs. I try to be open to what comes, not bound by expectation. It's a difficult change to make, we are taught to form expectations about everything.

You are The Empress

Beauty, happiness, pleasure, success, luxury, dissipation.

The Empress is associated with Venus, the feminine planet, so it represents,
beauty, charm, pleasure, luxury, and delight. You may be good at home
decorating, art or anything to do with making things beautiful.

The Empress is a creator, be it creation of life, of romance, of art or business. While the Magician is the primal spark, the idea made real, and the High Priestess is the one who gives the idea a form, the Empress is the womb where it gestates and grows till it is ready to be born. This is why her symbol is Venus, goddess of beautiful things as well as love. Even so, the Empress is more Demeter, goddess of abundance, then sensual Venus. She is the giver of Earthly gifts, yet at the same time, she can, in anger withhold, as Demeter did when her daughter, Persephone, was kidnapped. In fury and grief, she kept the Earth barren till her child was returned to her.

What Tarot Card are You?
Take the Test to Find Out.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

California, how do I love thee?

I am craving cobb salad, and guacamole, and california rolls.

Me wants avocado.

Evidently I need some "good fats" in my system. Also, blue cheese (hence the cobb salad).

Maybe I am moving up my grad school application plans. Which would mean maybe I am taking a class starting in February. Hmmm. I need to figure out if this comes under the category of "overloading myself".

Monday, November 20, 2006

I should be packing

But I just finished my statistics homework earlier than usual, Matt's gone to the corner to buy cola (for to put some rum in it), and I just had two tequila-lemonades and am feeling relaxed and happy, and altogether not focused enough to make practical clothing decisions for the next week in Pennsylvania, let alone decide which CDs I want to take on the plane with me. Yes I said CDs. I have no iPod or similar, I am still using CDs and my lovely noise-canceling headphones, which are the best thing for making plane travel bearable. I didn't realize until the first transatlantic trip with the new headphones how much of the discomfort of travel is involved with the white noise of the jet engines. At least for me.

Things are settling down from the past month of job insecurity and wonderings. Matt starts his new job Dec 8th, between now and then we have a week in Pennsylvania for Thanksgiving, and then he's going to be using up his vacation hours from the "old" job until he starts his new one. He's already getting a significant raise, and today his new supervisor said "oh, HR has you set at a lower salary than the minimum for your job title, we'll have to fix that" totally matter of fact, since he's already taken the job for sure. If she sets it to the range she's referring to, technically, I won't have to work. So this means grad school for me is completely financially viable.

Holy Crap.

This time last year I decided that I would go to grad school. Right away. GRE in January. Application submitted in March. Start classes in September. Leap up and fling myself into a new path! Then I got a cancer diagnosis that January and cancelled my GRE test.

So now I am trying to maintain calm while planning my future path. I have substandard grades from my BSc, so I need to take the first class on my target Masters degree program, and get an A in it, to supplement my application. I need to take the GRE, and do well in it, to counteract my grades from 1998-2001. I need to work on a fantastic application essay, and schmooze some great referral letters from high muck-a-mucks a the university. All of these are attainable, but I have decided to take them one at a time, and to tackle them after I take a break to focus on myself and build a stable foundation for all of this work. I'm still struggling with depression. When I brought this up to Matt he agreed that giving myself the next 6 months to focus on counseling and getting to the gym, making the next half year or so about taking good care of myself, that it could pay dividends for years to come.

Pay your self first.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Down? Up?

So the management thing is looking more promising to go through, apart from the internal hire/promotion freeze that goes into effect in Matt's company tomorrow. Which means he's getting the job, but in mid January, after we get back from Thanksgiving, and he burns through the rest of his vacation time, he gets to go on leave without pay and we get to tap our emergency fund for mortgage money. Thankfully we have an emergency fund. This does allow more time for other job possibilities to come to fruition, he was sort of being rushed into this gig because his supervisor wanted to keep him in the company. Still, sucks to be off the payroll just in time for Christmas, even if it does mean he gets a little extra unpaid vacation in the mix.

Me? I'm casting about to see what my option are/would be if I end up making a change. I keep thinking "grad school" then wanting to hide under something. What if I don't get accepted? What if I DO get accepted and crash and burn like the BSc that nearly-never-was? It's hard to imagine finding another position with all the good aspects that I have here, my job title often gets lumped in as a brainless wage-slave who gets handed the shitwork and the benchwork, but not permitted or expected to actively participate in the science. Most of this is probably the depression talking. Now that I know it's there, and that it does a lot of the talking, I'm more aware as it's happening. That doesn't seem to make it go away, I just get upset that I'm getting upset and off I go into a spiral. I'm sure the spiralling is fuelled by the double dose of uncertainty regarding our household income(s) right now. I just need to crowbar myself some breathing space to get a handle on some basic things that will help me get out of this vicious cycle and start making real progress towards stability.

Monday, November 13, 2006

No wonder my head hurts

I just spent all morning updating my lab notebook, it was only a week's worth of stuff, but somehow I managed to run upwards of seven procedures for 3 different projects, plus supervising students in another project. That's more like a normal 2-3 weeks worth of stuff. Now I don't feel so silly for feeling completely overwhelmed and stressed out for the past 10 days.

Our flat is still in chaos, the purge cleared out a lot of stuff that needed clearing, but we still haven't reorganized what's left behind. Also, I may need to be job hunting soon, or in the next couple of months, or in 6 months, or not at all. I don't know either way, but it's shaken me up, since I have the stable job, Matt has the laid-off-every-3-years job. I will say more when I know more, but I don't know when that will be.

Speaking of which, he's getting laid off. Or would be if he hadn't already been given the heads up by his supervisor and started looking for other positions within his company that he could transfer into. He's already been picked for one and we're now waiting to hear what the salary is supposed to be. The thing is, it's a management position, which is a great career step for him, but it's absolutely shitty hours, and we have heard there's a possibility they will try to get him to do the management job at his current pay scale. Which, frankly, is not worth it. So we are waiting to hear about the salary because that will tell us if it's going to be a 21% raise (you read that right), management track career boost, but we will only see each other on weekends...Or if he's going to turn it down and continue to look for work outside his current company.

I'm torn. The size of the potential raise would make a huge difference to us, we'd be able to travel as well as save for the future, and spend a bit more on home improvementy type stuff, but it's a two year contract during which he'd be working from 3pm to 1am 4 days a week, on call 24 hours, and working every 5th weekend as well. The alternative is a smaller career boost, maybe some time on unemployment while he looks, and a job pretty similar to what he's doing now, with similar hours, so we'd still see each other on weekday evenings. The certainty of more money and more stress, or the uncertainty (and stress) of a longer job hunt, and hopefully a return to close to the status quo, which do I wish for?

Actually I know which I wish for: the management position to offer enough cash for it to be worth it. Because then we'd know what was going to happen. Being able to take more trips, and some intelligent routine-shifting will make the funky work hours much more bearable for both of us. What's weighing on me is the fear that they won't offer the raise they should, which will be a blow in itself, and also mean more uncertainty until another job appears on the horizon.

To counterract some of this stress we went for a short hike in the mountains yesterday, then had a late lunch in Julian, followed by a trip to Witch Creek Winery. This is the winery we got our wedding wine from, the woman who does the tastings is a real character, always remembers us and gives us the cellar club discount even though we're not cellar club members. When I bought the two cases for our wedding she gave me 20% off for buying cases, then made up another 15% discount for the hell of it and threw in some pepper jelly for free. I think she's angling for us to bring back in one of the bottles of '99 port we've got laid down in our closet. It was good spending a day together doing stuff we did when we were first seeing each other.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Nesting & purging

The weekend before Hallowe'en Matt and I did a purge. We rediscovered the floor in our second bedroom, found that the top of Matt's dresser is made of wood, not fashioned from a mountain of unfolded clothes waiting to be ironed, mended, or hung up in the closet. We also found a pillowcase I have been looking for since September, and had assumed to be eaten by the washing machine. A slightly less pleasant discovery was that somebody had peed on the big cushions atop my blanket box. Since it wasn't me or Matt, it had to be one of the cats, unless our friends have taken to sneaking off and scent marking random places in our bedroom during a party. Our cats have been feeling territorially threatened by a stray who hangs out by our windows and taunts them. It has not been a pleasant month to be carpet in our condo. Thank Petsmart for Nature's Miracle, which has saved us from living in That House. You know the one I mean, the one that reeks of kitty effluvia. We still have unusually hairy lampshades and white fluff on our burgundy sofa, there is no question that long haired cats inhabit our flat, but at least we are wining the battle against catstink.

Anyway, back to the purge.

By about 3pm we had a 6'x4' area of our living room taken up by a 5' tall stack of stuff to donate. Two G3 macs, a box of books and software to go with them, two plastic lawn chairs, a queen bedspread, a king duvet, two superficially destinked giant cushions, two boxes of clothes (how did we manage to find 2 boxes to discard? We already did a clearout 3 months ago!) a small lamp, my stereo from university (sniff, farewell little blue Sony, you served me well) two window box-fans, a ridiculously large and cavernous motorcycle rucksack, a vase, and, the star item: an iRobot Roomba automatic vacuum cleaner robot thingy, complete with remote control. We inherited the robot from our neighbors, it couldn't hack their cat hair (hur hur), and it did no better with ours. Off to the charity shop it goes, I'll take my tax deduction thank you. When we loaded all of this into the SUV it was FULL. We don't even fill it when we go camping for four days and take lots of firewood.

We still need to complete the autumn cleaning by tidying and sorting the desks and book cases, maybe I can find some kitchen stuff to donate, but I doubt it, I use all my kitchen stuff. I'm already realizing I could have offloaded my wedding shoes and some sneakers I never wear, which would free up slots in the closet for a pair or two of new shoes I have been eyeing on zappos. Anybody want a pair of size 10W winter white leather pumps with a 1" heel? Pristine condition? Lovely ballet-slipper styling your mother would approve OK.

It felt very good to clear out some junk that had been cluttering up our home for far too long. We capped off the weekend by going to Home Depot and buying knobs and drawer handles for the previously plain kitchen and bathroom cabinets, they look very spiffy.

Once I finish my statistics class at the end of this month, we are going to install an arch in the entrance to our hallway, and put molding sills on our windows. We have already allocated any Christmas money to the painting fund. Farewell rental-reminiscent white, hello taupe and linen to compliment the carnelian wall in the living room, teal wall in the kitchen (sounds weird but we love it), and sapphire & ice blue in the bedroom. This time next year the poor long suffering ugly-ass carpet will be ripped out and replaced with tile and hardwood. Oh, and we are now debating replacing the ugly plastic bathtub with an better enammeled model and tiled walls. Happy evil nesting plotting has been going on apace. We might even need to start taking notes of what we agree on so we don't forget any fun.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Sub-ba Cul-cha

There is a line in a Pixies song where Frank Black sings "sub culture" in typical grunty Frank Black wierdo style. I now have this one fraction of a line stuck in my head, I can't even remember which song it's from.

The sub culture I'm thinking of right now is that of knitting and crochet. I recently took up knitting, now I'm trying crochet, making scarves for my Mum, Sister and Dad for Christmas. I signed up for Lion Brand emails hoping I'd get coupons or something, but mostly it's ads for pattern books and the odd free pattern. At least now I understand some of the jargon, though I doubt I'll ever be someone who constantly carries yarn, needles and hooks with me. I may be a tad obsessive about some things, but my hands can be idle without me flipping my wig.

The pattern book advertized in today's email is all patterns for shawls, shrugs and wraps, I'm sort of tempted, I like cozy wrap-type clothing. I look at the picture on the front and think "I'd love to make that!", I think about making a couple of swishy wraps for friends. Then I read the second part of the book description:

"Book Inclues 30 original designs including a Western-style men's poncho ("moncho"), and an adorable children's capelet embellished with organza ribbon."


I am speechless. (Also not buying this book)

Thursday, September 21, 2006


It turns out that "Got Brains?" is the trade mark of a company akin to that sells neuroscience related brain-themed stuff. They have BRAIN EARRINGS, and BRAIN keychains! Be still my beating geeky heart. Actually, the DNA earrings are very attractive, subtle, not obviously novelty gear.

Anyway, I got a cease-and-desist comment to quit using their trademark as my blogs name. So I did. I might even buy something from them. Nifty brain stuff!

Now I am in a quandary, should I keep the new, somewhat temporary, title? Or revert to "Painfully Fluffy", which I definitely made up, 10 years ago now. Though I'm not sure I feel it applies to me so much any more.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

First garment

Worsted weight, size 8 needles, 33stitches wide, 3x3 ribs.

I have now finished two scarves, but this is the first one. It will be given to my 3 year old nephew when Matt and I go to Pennsylvania for Thanksgiving. I'm still working on MY scarf, the one Marble was eyeing up in an earlier photo. Last night I started one for my Mum. At least my in-laws and immediate family live in climates with winters cold enough to warrant gifts of warm woolies. I am trying to find out what colour might work for my sister.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

I see daylight

My desk has moved, temporarily to my boss' office. Which means that I have real natural light as I type this, it also means that the usually cramped 10x10 Ft of office are now REALLY cramped. It's lucky I have a nice, compact iMac desktop, so that my computer can perch on the front half of this desk. The entire back half is stacked (thankfully, neatly stacked) with all the binders of product info and protocols from the lab, and my notebooks. One of which I optimistically put in a box, then had to run to retrieve two hours later.

The lab is being renovated next week, so this week has been the week of packing, trashing, and frantically finishing as many experiments as possible before we're cramped into a much smaller space for the interim. It's a bit tiring. I am taking off week two of the fortnight of chaos, not going out of town, but officially unavailable to pop in to the lab and keep things going. I am hoping that I will also be unavailable to regular phonecalls asking where things are, or what stage x y or z experiment is at right now. This hope may be a little unrealistic, but we'll see.

This morning I finally got back to the gym, it had been nearly 2 weeks since my last swim. At about 5.30 I realized that was MY alarm going off, and leapt to a sitting position, somehow making the bed make a fantastic *SPROING* noise, which scared the crap out of one sleeping cat and one sleeping husband. Things went much more smoothly after that, however, once I had reassured them both that it was just me waking up violently. I had baklava and yoghurt for breakfast (I know, horribly decadent), pulled on my swimsuit and jeans, and made it there in time to fit in a 20 min swim and 10 min in the sauna before I had to get dressed and escape the impending workmen in the women's changing area. The gym is being renovated too.

My swim felt really good, I swam 3 laps more than my previous standard for 20 minutes. This time I remembered to put my goggles on squarely before getting in the water, so they remained mostly un-fogged and I got the fun of watching my hands under water and the shadow I cast on the pool bottom as I swam. I don't know why, but that's always a really fun aspect of swimming to me. Stuff looks different and mysterious under water, especially my own hands, trailing a few bubbles, with my silver rings glinting in the blue green light filtering through the water. Nail polish looks extra shimmery under water too, but I'm not wearing any today. I may paint my nails a frosty blue and pretend I'm a mermaid on my next swim.

I had been thinking of using part of my week off to paint the bedroom, but I'd probably better not add any form of home renovation to the mix just now. Too much chaos!

Sunday, August 06, 2006

work in progress

work in progress
Originally uploaded by Rosemary Grace.
Marble is relishing a rare opportunity to check out the work in progress. When I was winding the wool for this scarf into balls, she got hold of one and ate a fair bit of wool before I caught her. So now I know I can't leave it unattended in between working on it. Real wool seems to have a magnetic attraction for cats. They're not nearly so interested in the synthetic or cotton yarn I've used previously.

This is hand dyed and spun wool that I treated myself to before I even knew what I'd make with it, there's a lot of variegation in the colour that is not showing up in the photo, little streaks of violet and cobalt blue. It's a little strange knitting myself a scarf in the hottest months of summer, but I look forward to chillier weather when I can start to wear it.

Sunday, July 30, 2006


All afternoon I have been stewing over what might have been a decent post about depression: managing it, reducing it, breaking old bad habits without dropping the ball of day to day life...

Then I sat down to post, and Marble the wondercat leapt into my lap like a bellyflopping kitten-bomb of love and started grooming my arm while purring. She has now settled down to a nap, still purring, with her chin resting on the desk.

I can't channel my angst effectively in this position, so you will have to take my word for it. I was going to be deep and meaningful and full of fabulous metaphor.

But I got distracted by something fluffy.

Friday, July 21, 2006


Sticker shock: I weighed myself this morning, I'm "only" about 5lb up, but it puts me over an important threshold I had not wanted to see again. The Scale Demon has also recently taunted Matt.

The Grooviest Gym [TM] is a well timed addition to my routine. I'm currently trying to get hold of the membership guy so we can get signed up this month, while there's no evil registration fee.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006


Continuing in the "spl-" theme today.

Matt and I are checking out a new gym. New to us, that is. We've got a free trial 7-day pass this week. It's a historic San Diego location, ON THE BEACHFRONT, with a lovely covered swimming pool, yoga classes, aerobics classes, the usual cardio machines, free weights and isolation machines, all in well- lit pleasant rooms with nice wooden floors. Except the pool, which has astroturf around it. Weird, but completely non-slippery. There is also a hot tub, with a view of surfing machines. I haven't gone to look at the surfing machines, but my understanding is they're tanks with a wave-maker, and people ride skim boards or small surf boards on the wave (one at a time). So at some point I will be hanging out in a hot tub overlooking the Pacific, watching surf monkeys skimboard on a specially made wave machine. I love California.

I swam yesterday and today before work, only 20 minutes each time, but my muscles are feeling it. The really great thing is that driving to the gym, then from the gym to work is actually LESS total time in my car every morning. I leave early enough to miss the West bound traffic heading to the coast, then the stretch from the gym to work isn't that busy. I do have to get up earlier, but I think it's pretty cool that I'm adding in a workout, and actually spending 10-20 minutes less time driving per day.

Friday, July 14, 2006


OK, the gig's up. My jeans are officially getting tighter. I suppose this is pretty good considering that I have not exercised in anything close to a consistent manner for at least 6 months, though really, more like 3 years. Also considering that I don't feel like I'm paying much attention to what I eat, this means I have ingrained new, more realistic eating habits along the way somewhere. We can just gloss over the 2 or 3 times in the past 6 months that I bought a 100g Ritter Sport, then ate a whole 100g Ritter Sport in one sitting ("just two squares" does NOT work for me).

Why does the cheapest good European chocolate have SPORT in the name? This is a cruel joke. I need to stop looking at the website too, it's making my mouth water.

I had a gym membership, and I wasn't using it enough. I made a valiant effort to go to the Sunday Yoga classes I love every week, and for 4 straight weeks it was cancelled at the last minute, only one of those times I managed to find out beforehand. Then they "cancelled" the instructor. She's started a new yoga studio, which I could go to I suppose, but Matt and I made the decision to try to exercise outdoors more. Use our feet and our bikes. Which means buying a bike rack. I gleefully cancelled both our memberships, freeing up $62 a month. Three months later I have still not bought a bike rack. Those things are expensive! Especially if you have a spoiler on your car, which I do.

Exercise helps combat depression. I resisted starting counselling for a very long time because I kept telling myself I was going to work on the exercise thing, and that would help more than talk therapy. So now I am working directly on the depression thing, I have to remind myself that progress will most likely be slow, now that I'm out of hair-trigger meltdown mode and back into my much more normal state of "moderate" depression. This realization is scary in itself: that "normal" for me actually falls somewhere between mild and moderate depression. I've always joked that I'm so practiced at navigating minor life crises that the real challenge for me is normality. I'm not sure if that means part of me knew that the depression wasn't just due to circumstances, but went deeper, or if, by saying that, I have somewhat created this emotional state for myself.

This is hard.

I need to exercise. I want to feel better. I NEVER want to go back up to a size 18 (though I realize that it won't be the end of the world if I do).

I'm stuck. I'm disorganized enough at home that Matt and I are still stumbling about with no real routine. Meals are not planned until 5 minutes before they happen, I waste half an hour every morning trying to decide what to have for breakfast, for 25 years I managed to fall out of bed and just eat a decent breakfast, now for some reason I need to THINK about it first.


I FEEL stuck. See? Therapy = good. Therapy helps me spot these negative statements and edit them to a more optimistic version.

I'm still disorganized though, and it's making everything harder than it needs to be.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Still ticking, and starting to have more fun

Busy busy busy.

The month started with Boss and Grad Student away at a conference, a conference for which we just barely managed to get the data in time to put into posters to present at the conference. Evidently there was also in incident where Grad Student's poster got THROWN OUT by the person cleaning his hotel room, and he had to go dumpster diving in the basement of a large city hotel to recover it. I'm told it wasn't even sticky when he found it. *shudder*

After they got back from conference #1, we had to get going on data for conference #2, which is right now. So for the past 3-4 weeks I have been at least up to my neck, and frequently up to my eyebrows, in all things work. Last week I stayed till 7pm one day, and 8pm on Friday, this was because the buttload of data we'd generated needed to be organized and categorized and made to mean something exciting.

Oh, and in the middle of this up-to-the eyebrowsyness, my parents were in California, so one Thursday evening after work I hung out in La Jolla, got a haircut, got Matt to drive up from our flat to meet me for dinner, then at 8pm I set out Northwards to pick up the parents from LAX (at 10pm) and drive us all to Granny's. All of which went very smoothly, no evil traffic, no delayed planes, no lost luggage (hooray). Matt took the train up to LA the next day, which did no go so smoothly at all. What should have been a journey of 4 hours door to door, with 3 of those hours spent on a comfy squishy train seat turned into 9 hours door to door, with 7.5 of those hours spent in a mysteriously too-narrow train seat that caused Matt to have interesting back and shoulder spasms the rest of the night.

That Sunday was my Granny's 90th birthday party, which went exceedingly well. She's a bit resistant to fuss and attention, but it was a low key enough affair that she was really happy. I got the bonus of finding out that the pearl earrings I'd bought her were extra appropriate because pearl is June's birth stone. Who knew?

The NEXT weekend, my parents and sister came down to visit with us, on the train (only 50min late this time), and in between trips to Marshall's and Designer Shoe Warehouse we watched a World Cup game in the bar of a casino, got pedicures involving a hand-painted flower on each big toenail (that was just me and my sister) and went to a cousin's university graduation ceremony.

That was also the weekend of Matt's and my first wedding anniversary. We went to the Wild Animal Park, with the aim of riding on a hot air balloon, but the wait for the ride was far too long, so we went back the next week. It was fun.

It was nice having a sort of re-tread of last year, with family around, a cousin graduating from UCSD (different cousin), and everybody reminiscing about our wedding day. The year has gone FAST, particularly the 2006 part of it. I hadn't realized how worried I was about my family's response to my scar, but Mum and an Aunt were pleasantly surprised, my sister found it more obvious than she'd expected, and my uncle enthused about how great I look, and how whatever I've been doing, I should keep doing it. I managed to avoid saying something about "oh? having cancer and getting a big chunk taken out of my face? I should keep doing that?".

So yeah. The looming depression that I have not mentioned much (if at all), and that led me to a lovely melt down at work last month, that depresion is being dealt with a bit. I'm in counselling, that helps, this time I'm not doing it as quickie crisis-fixing, I plan to do this for a while and really get myself on a more even keel.

The first half of this week I finished up two papers, and now I am taking the rest of the day off, starting with sushi for lunch with a good friend.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006


I usually score "you have both male and female brain" on these types of things. I'm glad of it, I wouldn't like my brain to be so heavily influenced by the presence of my lady parts.

You scored as Either. You brain is neither specifically male nor female dominated in the way you perceive things and as bad as this sounds it can easily mean that you are capable of combining both limiting gender aspects to your advantage. Rather than being genderless you are possibly able think freely. This does not nec. mean that you are bisexual or androgynous or indecisive, though it might.









Should you be MALE or FEMALE?*
created with

Monday, May 29, 2006


I'm the sappy one that dies young? Shish. Can't I be Jo?

Which Classic Female Literary Character Are you?

You're Beth March of Little Women by Louisa May Alcott!
Take this quiz!

Quizilla |

| Make A Quiz | More Quizzes | Grab Code

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Snow Day

Tabblo: Snow Day

Late February in  Laguna, looking out over the Anza Desert. Brrr.
... See my Tabblo>

This is a test-post for a nifty new photosharing site called tabblo. I've had fun playing with it, it makes it possible to arrange photographs more like an album or scrap book, with different size prints and varied layouts. (I am not being paid to say this, I got forwarded an invite to try the beta and figured I'd give it a go. I got sucked in by two things: the ability to transfer all your flickr photos right away, and the fact it talks to my blog.

I like the way the layout works for showing a bunch of shots of something at once.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006


Halfway between sociology and engineering lies...Neuropathology? Oddly, this makes sense to me, especially if you add in my long term goal to study epidemiology or something similar.

You scored as Engineering. You should be an Engineering major!





























What is your Perfect Major? (PLEASE RATE ME!!<3)
created with

Tuesday, April 11, 2006


My parents and sister are on their way to Rome today, for Easter and a conference. Not envious. Not in the slightest.


I remember seeing the biggest Easter eggs known to humanity in shop windows in Rome just before Easter, I was seven years old, so the giant eggs were as impressive to me as the Roman ruins and marble cathedrals. The price tags were incredible too, since Italian Lire are very small, all the prices were in the hundreds of thousands, they weren't actually expensive, but all the zeros made them look it. Maybe I will swing by Cost Plus and get some pannacotta and bacci so I can pretend I'm in Rome too. I'll skip the scary seafood pizza, complete with squid, my sister was a great fan, but I was traumatized by taking a bite of folded over pizza and having a rubbery tentacle FLOP out at me. Of course I immediately shrieked and flung the offending slice from my person. Poor Evie, deprived of her tentacle pizza.

Oh well. Happy Easter Week.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Places I have been

There's a whole lot of empty space there. I need to get myself to South America, Africa, and some Asian countries.

create your own visited countries map
or vertaling Duits Nederlands

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Pancake Day

Tonight, while my party-animal American friends are whooping it up at a Mardis Gras party, with beads and hurricanes (no pun intended), I shall be marking Shrove Tuesday by making crepes stuffed with feta.

This is not through some stubborn refusal to take on the local traditions, Matt and I get up so early on week days that a late night drinking fest is a really bad idea. I think it is rather symbolic that I grew up thinking of Fat Tuesday as "Pancake Day", the day when we often had crepes for school lunch AND made them for dinner at home, with a vague idea that it's the last day before lent, and it's all somehow linked to Easter and Jesus and other random Christian stuff. Please note that I went to a Presbyterian school, but was raised atheist. Meanwhile, in the U.S., Fat Tuesday is Brazilian showgirls flashing their boobs at drunken frat brothers in the middle of a crowded street in New Orleans.

Pretty different.

Perhaps I should combine the traditions and make my crepes topless. Me topless that is. Or in a sparkly bikini and high heels, since the idea of making anything involving hot fat on a stovetop without a top on is a little scary. No photographs will be forthcoming. It might be worth it just to see the look on Matt's face. "No sweetie, I'm not starting to cook yet, I've just got to go change..."

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

All Clear

EVERYTHING came back all clear. All five moles were normal, no melanoma in the lymph node, no melanoma left in the margins they took (which means they didn't even need to take out as much as they did, but it's done now so...oh well).


So now I can just focus on trying to look after my healing incisions. No chemotherapy or further excisions needed! I was actually very surprised that I didn't even have a whacko mole, they've been following a trend of being "abnormal", I'm glad they're gone now so I don't have to be super vigilant of 5 different odd looking moles on my face. That was making me a little crazy already.

On Friday, when the stitches came out, I wasn't too happy with how it all looked. I was also pretty busy being relieved that I got off so lightly, and celebrating with Matt (there was wine, and congnac, and chocolate, on saturday there was peach lambic and more chocolate) But by Sunday the upper half of the loooong incision had healed and is already starting to vanish. It's just a LINE now, a thin line at that, if that's what it looks 1.5 weeks post op, it'll pretty much vanish over the next few months. The lower half...I'm not examining too closely yet, it's still healing up, and I know it'll be more visible, a thicker line, but it'll probably look a lot better than my paranoid imaginings.

Sunday, Matt and I went up to the nearby mountains in search of snow, on the way up we took an offroad trail, so we got MUD and SNOW in one day trip. Yesterday was a public holiday, and I was in bed, napping and reading until about 10.30. With both cats flaked out keeping me company. Then my parents called and I spoke to them for about 2 hours. Lazy day.

My whole family is breathing a lot easier now. I'm so lucky to have been going to a dermatologist regularly and caught it early enough.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006


This morning the glue on my dressings loosened enough for me to take off the surgical tape and replace it with fresh tape. So I got my first look at all the stitches and everything. Quite honestly I think it'll heal up really well but it freaked me out for the rest of the morning seeing so many stitches all over my face, and especially realizing how LONG the incision is from the melanoma.

I took a couple of photos for posterity. I think it will be good to be able to look back in a few months or a year, if I get down on the whole scarring issue. I think it will be good (if a little wierd) to have a photo I can look at and say "yeah...but I survived looking like THIS!".

So here's the question: you wanna see my new, temporary, bride of The Creature look?

Friday, February 10, 2006

We Love General Anesthetics

I spent a significant portion of yesterday unconscious, and when I came out of it I was filled with much happy love for the world (including the nurse who came over to me every once in a while to remind me to breathe properly because I kept dozing off and not breathing enough apparently). Highly preferable to lying on a table feeling no pain but being intensely aware of every tug and pull as a doctor fiddles about with your skin and stitches you up.

Now I'm a bit headachey and my face feels a little swollen, but I think that's pretty good for one large, one medium, and FIVE small incisions on my face. I'm also a little tanked up on vicodin, so I'm probably fairly incoherent.

The coolest part is that the dye they injected into the site of the tumor (so they could locate the correct lymph node) was bright blue, and now so is that part of my face! Yesterday the entire under-eye circle was this amazing bright cerulean blue. Like the height of 1980s eyeshadow tackiness, only UNDER my eye. It's already faded to a mere wash of turquoise, Matt got a photo about halfway between the peak of blueness and where I am now.

Biopsy results next Friday. I'm really glad the surgery's done with, I shall probably worry more about the results as Friday approaches.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Poor Taliesin. They didn't find anything wrong with him at the vet, so they decided to give him all his boosters while he was in there. I'm not sure this was a good idea, since I got him home last night he's been all sulky and out of sorts. Not even the mighty pull of a spoonful of yogurt tempted him out from under the bed this morning. So I left him to carry on hunching in dark corners looking miserable. I know how he feels.

I can't just muscle through this, I can't get up the day after surgery, pretend nothing happened, and go back to work and be PRODUCTIVE. I'm not allowed, in fact I've been told I might need help walking to the bathroom, and that I should not be left unattended for 24 hours afterwards. Probably it's the general anesthetic that will have the effect of making me groggy etc. Matt has to work, and luckily one of our closest friends, who also lives in the building, has that day off and will be on supervisory duty. I'm not sure if he'll be hanging out at our place, or just on call. I left Matt to sort that out because the thought of asking for that kind of help makes me feel sick. I hate helplessness, absolutely hate it. Realizing how much I wanted my boss to give me work to take home with me for while I'm resting up was quite a shock.

Somehow in the past 5 years I have become the kind of woman who will keep pursuing work when she's sick, even if it might make her sicker longer. I think of public holidays as a great chance to catch up on household chores, I have actually caught myself considering "doing extra laundry" as a good way to spend a "me day". I'm sure I used to be much more of a skiver, any chance to get away with not doing stuff. I used to be so bored with school, or I couldn't see much importance in getting projects done, that I'd procrastinate until the last minute and then tearfully cobble together some crap, making excuses to myself all the way.

After I graduated and met Matt, and especially after I moved jobs to this one, a job well done became such a great rewarding feeling. Perhaps I learned that hard work does pay off. Hard work paying attention and learning on the job, and also hard work fixing myself up after a long bout of depression. I'm coming to realise that work, doing stuff, being proactive, becoming a go-getting let-me-at-it kind of person is what pulled me out of the hole I was in. It also made our whole wedding planning thing work pretty well. Now all of a sudden I'm faced with a huge challenge: being able to stop.

Even as I type this I realize it's pretty ridiculous. I'm not loosing a LEG. this isn't a permanent stop. I have to face being a gibbering wreck for about 24 hours or so after surgery. Maybe not even gibbering, just disoriented and sick feeling.

I feel that I've spent far too much of my life already hiding under the covers feeling sick. I wasted somewhere between 2 and 5 YEARS not taking care of myself, crying a lot and feeling sick to my stomach just existing. Often it was helplessness that I felt. Helplessness to "fix" my life. Yay anxiety. I hope I'm just spaced out all day after surgery, the fear that is looming is that it will feel just like the pit of depression and then somehow I will get stuck there again.

Of course, I was feeling depression rear it's head before I got this diagnosis. I could go all Medium on the facts and try to convince myself that I felt this coming and was mourning it in advance... or I could skip the BS hokey pokey and admit that maybe go! go! go! go! go! go! go! go! go! go! wasn't working that well as a long term life solution and I'm getting overdue for seeking a little, you know, balance.

One of the signs of this need for balance is that the day I learned the biopsies had shown melanoma, after about an hour of freaking out I started to feel good about the new challenge to overcome, because it would distract me from the lingering depression that had started to really scare me. You know something's wrong when a cancer diagnosis turns into a welcome battle with the world.

I know I will need to give myself some "me time" (sans laundry folding), to figure out what I need once I'm done with getting carved up and biopsied. Right now I think it's ok to huddle under the covers seeking comfort. Hopefully Tali will forgive me for taking him to the vet and come and sulk with me instead of at me.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Happy Birthday to Me

Sunday was designated stuff-your-face day, Matt woke me up by bringing me a Coldstone Creamery chocolate raspberry ice cream cake in bed. With candles that look like crayons! My initial plan was to have icecream cake and a bottle of zinfandel for breakfast, but since I wanted to go to yoga we saved the wine for AFTER the workout. We also had steak for dinner, followed by more cake. Yum.

Today we are "celebrating" by having the pre-operative consultation with the surgeon, getting the stitches taken out of my leg, then going home for leftover london broil steak and the last bit of cake. with super yummy framboise lambic to wash it down.

Oh, and Tali's getting checked out by the vet today, poor little bugger has been acting strange, like he might be about to scent-mark stuff, even though he's never been a spraying kinda guy. So he gets to have his nethers probed by a stranger. Being away from his sister will probably be the worst part of the day. They do much better going to the vet as a pair, so they can cower in their carrier together.

Monday, January 23, 2006

All Is Vanity

While faffing about attempting to resize a photograph to send in for a passport I was seduced by the sparkly lure of airbrushing. First I used it to conceal the incision that will soon be replaced by a much larger one, then I dotted out a couple of obvious pimples. By that point I was far too mad with the new power to make up for my inexpert application of concealer and powder, and I zapped away the under-eye shadows too!

I'm officialy a Californian. Or maybe it's just reaching 26.

If you go to the flickr page and flip back and forth between the two photos it's pretty cool, just like one of those "debunking the beauty myth" websites showing magazine covers.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Don't ask

Originally uploaded by Rosemary Grace.
for some reason I felt compelled to make this in word just now.

I think it's pretty self explanatory.

Status Report

OK, the melanoma on my leg was teeny-tiny (less than 1 mm) so they only needed to take out a 5 mm margin, which was done on Tuesday, leaving an incision about 4-5 cm long, with five stitches in it. Just like the first "big" incision I had on my face, which has now faded to a 4cm line that only shows if the light catches it right.

The one on my face was 1.6 mm thick, which makes it on the small side of "intermediate", since I'm on the young side for such things they are going to do a sentinel lymph node biopsy [>] to check for signs of spreading through my lymph system. The margins of this tumor also have to be removed, with a 10 mm margin (eek), which means a circle about the size of a US quarter, or a UK 10p piece, this will be done using the MOHS technique [>]. The Mohs is done with a local anesthetic, which would be kind of disconcerting apart from the fact that I've done this before, and now I won't be lying on the table freaking out about massive scarring, because the first big incision has healed pretty damn well. I bet you couldn't even look at my flickr account and tell me where that first big incision was. Unless you find the photo of me with a pressure bandage on my face.

OK, maybe I will be freaking out a little, but not as much as the first time. I know there's not much I can do but trust the surgeon's skill and take good care of it while it heals. That, and start a fund for laser resurfacing and/or chemical peels.

The lymph biopsy will be done under general anesthetic, which scares me: complete helplessness = baaaaaaaaad. Complete helplessness while somebody works at my throat with a scalpel = fucking scary. I have to keep reminding myself that this is not heart surgery, and that lots of people have general anesthetics for mundane things like wisdom tooth extraction.

Now we get to the part that will probably make everyone think I'm insane.

While I'm "out" under general anesthetic, the surgeon is going to remove five other moles from my face. Yes I have that many, no I don't look like a leopard. They all look pretty much like the innocuous moley that turned out to be harbouring 1.6 mm of cancer. My moles all look pretty normal: even colour, symmetrical shape, not too big, and most of them have been abnormal. Now two have been cancerous. My dermatologist, myself, and the head and neck surgeon all reckon it's a good idea to remove and biopsy the significant moles. If they're normal, we can be relieved, if they're not normal it's better to know now, and deal with it pronto. I am going to feel like the Bride of Frankenstein for a while, with stitches on my leg and on 5 small and one sizeable incision on my face.

I'm all calm right now. Listing off how many chunks of my face are going to be removed, and they might have to go back for more later. The thing with this whole experience is that when I'm freaking out, I'm freaking out WAY too much to type or write coherantly. I've been crying in my car a fair bit, unfortunately my long commute gives my brain plenty of time to run through worst case scenarios to itself. I'm either wailing inside and wanting to run far far away or hide under my bed with a cat, or I'm dealing with life. Dealing pretty well I think. I'm trying to make sure I let myself say I'm scared, and cry a bit, trying to let some of it out so that I can hold it all together enough to feel proud of myself.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Sod's Law

I didn't mention this before, because it's become kind of routine for me to have a dodgy mole removed when I go to the dermatologist for a mole-patrol checkup, but I had another two dodgy moles removed right before Christmas. The incision in my left shin healed wonderfully. By Sod's Law, the incision on my left cheek, right next to my nose was the one that didn't heal well. It wasn't an infection, the culture they took came back negative, but it was inflamed and didn't want to close. So I've been keeping it ointmented and covered to try to minimize scarring.

Waste of time.

Most of the moles I've had removed (3 out of 5 until this crop) have turned out to be "abnormal" in a benign way, and have required further margin to be surgically taken out. Sod's Law made sure that 2 of those were on my face (the other abnormal one was on my scalp).

Sod's Law has really outdone itself this time though. Both biopsies came back as melanoma. Very SMALL melanomas, but melanomas nonetheless. That's cancer, the BIG C. It's the nastiest skin cancer, most likely to spread to other tissues, most likely to recur. It's actually the best cancer to have if you're going to have a nasty spreading type cancer: at least it's highly detectable, and early detection means the only treatment required is excision and vigilance. No chemo. Thankfully.

So, back to my lovely dermatologist on Tuesday, to remove margins from my shin. She looks like a prettier version of Janice, Chandler's irritating recurring girlfriend on Friends, so I will call her Dr Janice. Then I will see a specialist in head and neck dermatology and surgery on Wednesday to discuss the offending site on my left cheek, and the possibility of doing a lymph node biopsy. I want the biopsy, I want to KNOW that it's clear, not assume.

Of course, I'm sure I'm sounding (reading?) much too calm. This is because I got the phone call around noon, and have already quietly freaked out about it by myself, then told a friendly coworker, and freaked out a bit more, then told my friendly boss, been sent home, and bought a fancy shower curtain and fuzzy bath mat as retail therapy. I've had 5-1/2 hours to digest this. There will be further freakouts, I may even post during one, they make good reading (if you want to see what I look like freaking out and questioning my existance and role in life etc., just check out 2001-2002 in the archives).

Matt just came home, and I told him right away. He takes my word for medical detail, so hopefully he won't be *too* worried, not constantly at any rate. I'm not going to tell my parents, not until I've had the margins cleared and (hopefully) get the all clear from a lymph node biopsy. My mother's brother died of internal melanoma, it would be such a nightmare to put her through the waiting and worrying again, so I will tell them when it's done and we're in vigilance mode, not treatment mode.

It's freakish and frightening, but it's not the threat-of-death diagnosis a lot of cancers are. More the threat of fear of recurrance and definite need for more bits of my face to get chopped out. I'd been wondering if I should have the remaining moles removed prophylactically, now I'm sure I will.

Shallow though this sounds I'm just REALLY glad this diagnosis came after the wedding. I think I'm going to be looking at a couple of years at least of babying incisions, and then saving up for a laser resurfacing or something. On some level I've been expecting this, you don't have 5 moles removed in 3 years, and have 3 of them turn out ot be abnormal, without something being a bit fishy.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Strike that

Bugger the giving up sweets. Some Januaries it works for me, some it doesn't. A week of sleeping like crap and weird hormone-withdrawal weeping/depression completely killed that. Forbidding myself from eating sweets of any kind was depriving me of much needed serotonin. So I ate a lemon poppyseed muffin. Best muffin I've had in ages.

Still haven't used the workout DVDs either.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

My name is Cliche, I'll be your sporadic blogger for the evening

I bought a set of workout DVDs. In the first week of January.

And I'm cutting out sweets. For January.

Sunday, January 01, 2006


My computer tells me it's 4am, therefore it is time to call an end to Hogmanay revelries, involving random 20 yr old finnish girls asking for the recipe for pimento cheese, old Scottish flatmates talking politics with new (ish) mexican has been a goood one for the books signifying life coming together and making an odd kind of sense of past and present. My husband is snoring. Time to go join him. Since So Cal is behind most countries in ushering in the new year.