Return of the Mac

March 22nd, 2007

Mia’s trials continued, and continue to continue, but she is home now. Her levels had gone down, but then they went up. I visited her in the hospital for two-plus hours on Tuesday, and at that point, she was eating on her own some, being force-fed some, and slightly lower in her liver levels. So yesterday they let me bring her home. She’s eating like a champ, taking her insane regimen of pills and squirted sera like a champ, and getting in the way on my desk like her old self. There is still some vomiting, and she’s set to go in next week to check levels again. There might be a biopsy in her near future if these levels don’t get in balance, but for now, she seems pretty content under my desk-lamp. Prrrrrrrrrrrrowr, she says.

The Mysterious Mia Jane

March 20th, 2007

The last few days have been full of sunshine and good times with friends—all thankful, temporary distractions from worry. Mia went from bad to worse when she came home from her hospitalization for liver tests and did not eat or drink anything for two and a half days. She also threw up yellow bile all over the house. Yesterday I took her back to the vet (man, was she bummed to get in the cat-carrier), and they started an I.V. right away. As of yesterday, the vet was still scratching his head. None of the tests were SHOWING anything. Fatty liver disease was all but ruled out by one test, and others showed no apparent tumors. Meanwhile, her liver was visibly swollen and mottled in the Ultrasound, and her enzyme levels and billyrubin were sky-high.

This morning, the vet reports that she’s doing better and eating on her own now. Her levels have come down slightly, so the plan is to keep her there and keep watching those levels. We had checked the serial numbers on our cans of Iams after the pet food recall and found them to be in the safe numbers, so I was able to tell the vet when he asked that this was not likely a cause. Then he said, “Is it possible she’s gotten into something?” Who, Mia? Mia, aka cat-who-licks-the-varnish-off-furniture? Aka cat-who-licks-worn-spots-on-our-leather-shoes-and-coats?

The vet is encouraged by her dropping levels, and says it seems likely there won’t be any long-term damage. I’m not going to cheer just yet, just in case there’s something more serious we haven’t discovered, but she’s eating, and that’s a relief. Never again will I snap at her for screeching endlessly for her evening stinky-food. Instead, I’ll race to the pantry like, “Oh, you’re hungry? That’s GRRRREEAAAAT!”

Saturday Morning at No. 6

March 18th, 2007

Stevel has been playing the very challenging and entertaining-for-spectators Motorstorm this morning. My favorite moments were these:

Me: “What’s that?”
Stevel: “Some kind of garbage truck. And it’s beating me.”


Stevel: “I’m good at OTHER games.”

While Stevel played, I built things with the Pixel Blocks insistently lent by Sarah-Architect. I made this thing.

Still no word on Mia. I just called the vet’s office, and the vet will call me back soon.


March 15th, 2007

It’s very early in the morning, and I can’t sleep. Worrying about Mia, who spent the night at Dr. Jones’ office. The blood work showed high liver enzymes, and the vet wanted to do some additional tests right away. Mia had an X-ray and acid-bile test yesterday. Today she’s in for an ultrasound and not-exactly-a-biopsy-but-sort-of-mini-biopsy-with-a-long-needle.

Poor, shivering, for-once silent Mia. It’s much too quiet around here without her frequent, cranky “Rah”s, her chirpy “Mrr-wrr” greetings every time I walk in the room, and her earthquake-purr at my back as we share this desk-chair. The only one enjoying this is Linus. He makes no secret of his glee, racing back and forth from the front door to the back door over and over. “No one’s hissing at me! Whee!” If he senses our sadness and anxiety, he’s coping with it in private.

Meanwhile, Mia’s condition might be something that’s simple to treat, and it might be something serious. We won’t know until a few days from now. I can’t wait to get her back home this evening, so she can start working on that kitty-brain magic of forgetting any of this ever happened to her. How confusing it all must be when you don’t speak Human. “Why are you stuffing me in a box? Why are you moving me at 40 mph in a bigger, noisier box? Why are we in a place where I can smell and hear predators and other cats?”

“Why have you left me here?”

Seems a Bit Old for Acne

March 12th, 2007

Mia and I just came back from the vet. We noticed yesterday that she has blood-blisters all over her chin. They are popping and bleeding. Gross, yes. Worrisome, very. The vet said this is actually a common bacterial affliction that some cats get on their chins, and she likened it to acne. And like acne, it is going to involve a number of products that are neither cheap nor fun for the patient to endure. There’s Betadine washing, antibiotic-gagging, and postule-popping. As a senior citizen of 55.6 years old (according to; Mia actually just turned 12), this cat seems an unlikely candidate for acne. As a lover of all snacks potentially fatally toxic, she DID seem a likely candidate for some sort of serious allergic reaction; thus the rush to the vet this morning.

The vet was concerned about Mia’s weight. We have been, too. When she came back from her year with my parents in Georgia (also known to Mia as “My year as Queen”), she rapidly dropped four pounds. Since this was more than 30 percent of her overall weight, we kept a close eye on her. We thought she was perhaps on a hunger strike, objecting to such unacceptable house-rules as “You are not the Queen,” and “Linus gets to live here, too.” It turned out that the cause, in fact, was that Mia was no longer interested in the dry food of “commoners.” She had instead mysteriously developed a habit for begging at noise-pollution volume for canned food and (a cat-language translator who interpreted her meows tells us) foie gras. Luckily, they carry Iams canned cat food at CVS across the street, so that when we run out, the noise pollution is temporary, and only a few neighbors have time to throw bricks through our windows.

Anyway, the concern about Mia’s weight ebbed for us when she stopped losing and plateaued at a little over nine pounds. But the vet thinks we should make sure there aren’t other causes, so another half-percent of Mia’s weight (in blood) is now at the lab. (Doc, are you sure this makes sense?) We’ll know tomorrow if there’s anything to be concerned about. I asked if they test for simple pickiness/spoilageness, but she said that test hasn’t yet been approved by the National Vet Board or whatever. Maybe we can get it done in Canada.

Happy Birthday to Big Steve

March 12th, 2007

Yesterday was the birthday of my dad, aka Big Steve (as opposed to just Steve; there is no “Little Steve”). For those of you who have met my dad, you’ve been the lucky recipients of his remarkable gift for storytelling; his ability to befriend anyone with whom he interacts, his employees at work and waitresses and mattress salesmen alike; and his impressive store of trivia and corny jokes. For those of you who haven’t been so lucky, I encourage you to take the opportunity if you ever get it. But prepare to add him to your family; as many of my friends will tell you, it takes but one visit to Big Steve’s house to be forever thereafter known to him as one of his adopted daughters or sons. As kids, my sister and I appreciated our dad for being our playmate and entertainer. A big softie, he was always spoiling his girls, and these same qualities make up his demeanor as a grandad to my nieces. As my good friend now that I am an adult, my dad’s pride in me lifts me up when I’m down; his interest in my life and dedication to being in touch make me feel loved; and his open-mindedness to my shifting viewpoints in light of my life’s many new experiences makes me feel accepted for who I am. He’s a great dad.

Dad, I’m so glad you were born, and not just because you brought me such life-improving items as Pauline, stuffed mushrooms, and my perfectly justified, inherited freeway vigilantism. But because I like you.

A Taste of the Poison

March 9th, 2007

Another note on my visit to CVS just now …

I have been trying for some time to adopt healthier habits. I don’t feel like my lifestyle is totally out of control, but having, since I got married, gained almost 20 pounds FOR NO REASON, I’ve wanted to try and get into something that qualifies as “shape.” And not the shape of a bowl of brown goo meant to make brownies for two dozen people, and not the shape of a dinner that consists of a double-scoop at Baskin-Robbins, and not the shape of French fries covered with melted Velveeta and dipped in Ranch. Shape. This is L.A., and I don’t own ANY of the things that really qualify you to live here, including gorgeous bottle-platinum hair, a bronze tan sprayed on with a finer result than the “sun” could ever DREAM of creating on a human’s skin, flip-a-quarter-tight abs, a Lamborghini, a live-in-vegan-chef, a personal-trainer-slash-cabana-boy, or a Bluetooth headset perfect for screaming at your personal assistant while you jog in your eight-hundred-dollar jogging outfit. I don’t even have roller blades OR a surfboard. I was scared they might evict me if I didn’t at least get a gym membership.

So I joined Sarah-Architect’s gym. And I have been trying to eat salads. And I have for THREE WHOLE DAYS successfully avoided any major sugar-sweets. I was proudly gnawing celery sticks in front of the TV. I was selecting salads in restaurants where cheese-slathered items were also offered. I was talking myself out of ice cream on the way home from errand-running by promising myself sugar-free Oreos and sugar-free chocolates when I got home. I was riding high on my Aspertame wagon!

But oh, how the glorious fall. While walking to CVS, I decided to allow myself a Cadbury’s egg. As a treat. A seasonal treat. One. This wouldn’t be like last year, when I bought a CASE of them there, so that even the cashier wanted an explanation. Oh no.

But would you believe those pushers at CVS were selling them two for one!

Now I feel like ass. If Stevel doesn’t get home soon, I am in danger of eating brown sugar directly from the box, because it’s the only sugary thing left in the house. (Please come home, Stevel.)


March 9th, 2007

Just now at CVS, I noticed fake Crocs, or, more simply, Croc-offs. I realize there’s probably almost no difference in quality. And the difference in price is significant. However, I think I will remain a loyal con-shoe-mer of the Crocs brand. It was, after all, the Crocs brand that made Stevel and me into sole mates in Hawaii.

It’s Happened

March 8th, 2007

As a teenager, I used to wonder if I would fall victim to the same affliction that plagued my parents and teachers and other adults. The thing that made them not realize the coolness difference between socks from Banana Republic and socks from K-Mart, between Keds and the knock-off Keds in the Garden Department at Sears. The affliction that made them roll their eyes at our youthful fashions—our COOL youthful fashions—and dismiss them as rebellious, tasteless, and oversexualized. I knew from TV documentaries about the 60s that they had not always BEEN this way, and I wondered what horrible blight overcame them, and how I could avoid it. I vowed to resist, and with the aid of my students and magazines and all of Los Angeles, I have tried my best to avoid this aspect of age. I have squeezed my ass into stretchy jeans, poked pancake-sized hoop earrings into my ears, and made an entire outfit out of three-quarter leggings, a mini skirt, and an authentically new vintage T-shirt from Urabn Outfitters ALL in an attempt to avoid detaching from what LOOKS GOOD to the YOUTH of America. But now, here, I admit my failure. Because standing in front of the VERY trendy American Apparel with Stevel the other night, out of my mouth came these words:

“This is how my students dress. But these mannequins just look naked to me.”

Steve agreed. “These outfits are ridiculous,” he said.

It is over. We are doomed to uncoolness. Two-for-one ultra-high-waist jeans at CVS? We’re on it.

Beyonce. [Sigh.]

March 8th, 2007

Over the last few years, I have developed a secret crush on Beyonce Knowles. I think ever since “Jumpin Jumpin.” It’s the kind of crush that makes me want to BE her. Now it is public. Beyonce is just so graceful and talented. And “Irreplaceable” is terrific. If ya feel me, throw yo hands up at me.

Taxing Day

March 6th, 2007

Today we went to see our tax man, Bob, in Agoura Hills. That’s an hour’s drive north of us, past tract-mansion country and into horsey country. Bob is worth that drive. His office is decked out—DECKED OUT—in 12″ G.I. Joe dolls and thank-you gifts from his special effects clients … a model alien’s head here, a framed picture of a sci-fi gargoyle there. Photos of his two daughters fill any spaces that might otherwise remained undecorated. Each year, Bob consistently wears Abercrombie pants, T-shirt, and zip-up sweatshirt; maybe this is his daughters’ influence. He notes our expenses in his tiny code of mechanical pencil markings on legal-sized accountant’s graph paper. He sips coffee and smiles, seemingly genuine in his interest in what we’ve been up to in the last 11 months. “Oh, you bought a TV? Flat screen? Do you like it?” “No more ‘Student Teacher.’ Now I can just write ‘Teacher,’ right?”

Now Stevel is playing Q-bert. He insists that when Q-bert falls, the garbled nonsense he curses is the word “Shit.” Maybe.

I Broke My Bird-Finger

March 5th, 2007

For about two months now, I have been suffering a mysterious pain in my right middle finger. I thought maybe I was playing too much Nintendo DS. Or working too hard. [But no, THAT wasn't it!] The pain worsened and worsened. Here is a list of things I have been unable to do without incredible pain the last few weeks:

1] shift gears
2] steer
3] type
4] carry anything
5] use utensils
6] hold my cell phone to my head
7] work the TiVo remote

Basically, all of the things that make life worth living. So Friday I went to the doctor, who took X-rays and poked and prodded the hand and told me I have tendinitis. Of course I wept because I am such a big baby with sickness and things, and a flawed tendon on my finger is devastating. To make matters worse, I am supposed to wear an aluminum finger-brace-thing, which does relieve the pressure on my tendon, but which looks dumb and prevents me from doing most things I need to do in order to survive, like eat, and instant-message. I am also supposed to ice the hand several times a day, so I have become best pals with a certain bag of frozen corn. [Love you, Frozen Corn. XO!] The icery feels good. But the hand still feels VERY BAD. Having been the recipient of karma before, I know that this is really about how very, very freely I’ve wielded this particular finger on the freeways, and since I am deserving, I am trying to suck it up. But I’m not very good at that. And so, Tendinitis, all I can say to you is this.

Stevel on His Hair Today

March 3rd, 2007

This morning as Stevel was getting ready to leave for work, I asked if he had showered. He said yes, he had, the night before after I had gone to sleep. I explained that the reason I was asking was because his hair was looking a little … wild.

“I like it that way,” he said, messing it up even more with his hands, “People at work give me less shit. They’re like, ‘He looks crazy. He might bite me.’”

High Up On the List of Things I Dont Want to See Hanging by the Toilet in a Public Restroom

March 3rd, 2007

Salad tongs.

Unisex bathroom-slash-box-storage-room at the 99-cent store in Culver City. EW!!! WHY!!!