Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Can I Get A T-Shirt That Says "I Survived 2013"? I'd Wear It.

It has been a typical day at our house: Stella has been running scared from a rogue horsefly; my Grandy just stopped by to say hi and pick up an extra slice of cheesecake; and I have been annoying my mother with videos of The Maine, because I am bound and determined that she should know who she's going to see in less than a month when I take her to their Acoustic Evening With... tour. Between the tea drinking and usual ass-hattery that goes on at Fusspot Farm, it is time to pause for a few moments for our annual anamnesis. Since today is the final day of 2013, it feels prudent to think about some of the things we have been doing outside of operating rooms and pointless college courses.
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Reginald Kitty is not amused.

*February: San Antonio; The Who
*March: We were mainly busy with family things, but the early part of the month was marked by the loss of my boy, Nigel. To everyone else, he is a bird; but my little pop-punk prince and I know better. I continue to miss him, and his lessons, every day.
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Isn't he beguiling?
*May: Back to Tulsa for Paul! Twice. Perhaps you'll hear the story one day when I'm feeling talkative.
*July: The 8123 Tour! So many memories there -- potatoes and spoons, kids, potatoes and spoons.
*August: I was rather indisposed due to my somewhat major spinal surgery.
*September: Galveston! We had a great time there, actually, considering it is the beach.
*October: Austin/San Antonio; Dallas
*November: Dallas; our annual trip out to Las Vegas was eventful this year: we went to LOVE, of course, but we also saw Ringo Starr, and Michael Buble, which was a hell of a treat.
*December: In the early part of the month, while we were in Dallas, we went to see Donny & Marie's Christmas show -- yes, a fun time was had by all, including me. Don't forget, I also had that horrific nasal surgery (honestly, you feel like you're dying for about ten days; I didn't handle this one well).

When we add together some other family things, like moving my granddad, starting up at UT Arlington, and some other health issues within the family, it's been a tough one. My mother told me this has been the hardest year of her life, so I don't feel it's that far of a stretch for me to claim that this has been one of the most difficult for me, too -- maybe not the hardest, but close. I was able to take some pretty cool pictures, though, so that helps.

During all of this, we have been able to find our distractions, naturally. First, let's look at some of the fantastic television we've watched and imported this year.

We finally got to say goodbye to one of the greatest television shows of the new millennium, and it was well worth the nearly three year wait. It was a satisfying end to an endearing series.

Seriously, if you haven't been watching Call the Midwife, you've been missing out. The new season starts January 19th in the UK, and heaven knows when in the US; I just hope we'll be able to find it somewhere, because I hate to wait for my stories.

I know most of America hasn't seen the new series of Downton Abbey, so this is a spoiler-free video. Seriously, though, I don't wait for my stories if I can help it.

Has anyone else been watching Bad Education? Such a cute show; don't ask me, though, since I think Jack Whitehall is hilarious, regardless -- he's got good comedic timing.

Does anyone else feel that Fresh Meat is just going in circles on some points? Don't get me wrong, I love where they took Howard this series, but the Kingsly/Josie storyline is feeling a little Ross/Rachel right now.

Community didn't die! Don't forget to watch January 2 when the new season premiers.

Naturally, The Bachelor is our sacred ritual.

And The Bachelorette is our most sacred of all Bachelor rituals.

What keeps me most sane -- or close enough to sane, anyway -- is always the music. It must have been that whole doomsday thing that happened last year, but damn near everybody I like was spurred to make fantastic records left-right-and-sideways this year.

Miles Kane, how I've missed you. This boy knows his rock and roll. If this song doesn't make you want to rip apart a government building brick by brick, then set it on fire, I don't know what will. Did anybody catch his set at Glastonbury this year? Amazing; and a Union Jack motif to boot -- reminded me of this, and made me happy.

I really wish they would have released these songs on a separate EP, rather than an extended re-release; that's life, though. It doesn't change the fact that they released four new kick-ass songs.

Rocket's last record was great. On the 8123 Tour this summer, they played a few songs from "Wild & Free", and it was a fun experience. Gonna miss those four guys playing together.

What did I say precisely one year ago? Intentional or not, demos were leaked, and we got the unofficial Ryan Ross solo debut. Sounding good, indeed; I hope there's an album of finished material soon. Also, if you want it right-the-hell-now, this was a free download. Treat yourself.

And, because God loves me, everyone I love also gave the world new material.

This record is typical Paul. A triumph; seriously, if you don't have it yet, just go get it, it's worth the money, you will thank me after you hear it (but get the deluxe, it's got two extra tracks). Maybe, though, let's not wait so long for more solo work, OK, Paul? What a babe.

Why do I love them? Their material is so hard to get hold of. I don't care, I love 'em, anyway. Also, thank the good lord the Big Bad World jacket (kind of) made its return (yes, that's "So Wrong, It's Right"-era Alex Gaskarth interviewing the Plain White T's during the "Big Bad World" album cycle -- life is beautiful).

Not only did The Maine give us "Forever Halloween" this summer, but they gave us "Imaginary Numbers" earlier this month. Seriously, go get it, it's gold; "Lovely Sad" has a "Ram"-esque quality to it -- you know it's got to be good if "Ram" comes to mind when you hear it.

If you don't smile and/or dance while watching this amazing clip, you are not human, and need to return to your mother planet. Honestly, it was like watching the opening scene of Pirate Radio.

Even my YouTube suggestions get it.
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I find it interesting to look at last year's New Year post, and compare it to what actually happened this year.

*Paul did release an album.
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Look at you, being adorable.

*Lots of amazing people made fantastic art, and gave it to the world.
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*And there were many, many big decisions to be made.
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Considering my predictions for 2013 were pretty spot on (weren't they, weren't they), I'm not even going to try and think about 2014. Perhaps this apathy will last forever! As of right now, I have no plans for the new year, and I'm just going to sit back and wait for it to happen to me. So much went on this year, I wouldn't be surprised if the next twelvemonth was a decline; I also wouldn't be surprised if it snowballed on me, too.

All I will say about 2014 on this final day of 2013 is good luck to the United States, and God bless rock and roll.
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Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Chocolate Bells and Foil Money

Christmas this year has been a great kick in the pants. For starters, I have felt like this for the last ten days...
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Through it all, I have been baking my little heart out for our huge Buford Christmas party...
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Homemade Eggnog Cheesecake, Snowball Cookies, Soft Gingerbread, Bourbon Balls, and my infamous Deviled Eggs.

...and, let's be honest, here, we all know how I cook...
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Cook's privilege to sample all ingredients! Also, that looks like vodka, not rum.

Then, yesterday, I come to find out that only about thirty percent of the usual participants in Buford Christmas are actually going to show up. I over-cooked, and have been frantically eating cookies ever since -- I have three dozen Snowballs, two dozen Gingerbreads, and three dozen Bourbon Balls, plus Cheesecake to eat, and four people to do it.
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Also in the last ten days since my surgery, I have wrapped about five dozen presents, which will now be sitting unopened in my Grandy's house until people eventually grace him with their presence.
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The most any of us can do is put Lilly in her little red dress, and try to have as wonderful a Christmas time as we can.

But, you know, this video helps...

So, this Christmas, I am reminded of wise words...
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...and offer my own festive greeting.
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Saturday, December 14, 2013

We're Celebrating Our Wood Year!

On this date in 2008, my sister told me I should blog, and I, somehow, agreed. Now, here we are, 368 posts, one hairless cat, and five years later. I sit here in the dark, pretentiously sipping my dark hot chocolate with vegetarian marshmallows, listening to NEW, tapping my bunny-clad foot to the beat, and wondering where to begin.

I think the obvious should be stated right from the off: in 2013, I have been a bad blogger.
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Reginald Kitty approves.

There are reasons, of course. I didn't just abandon writing publicly for no good damn reason, naturally. Considering it isn't really much of a look-at-all-the-stupid-things-we've-talked-about-on-the-blog anniversary post, I think it's time to tell everybody what in hell happened this year. Don't worry, there will be photographs.
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Reginald Kitty does not approve.

I think everyone should be caught up on the earlier part of the year when I tried to explain what was going on, so let's pick up where that left off.

The last time I did a proper blog post was three days before going to see Paul in Tulsa. What I do for that man; he has no idea, and never will, but that's OK, because I lurve him. We planned to be gone May 29-31 to go to both shows, and drive back home. Stupid me decided to take a five week literature course that started, you guessed it, May 28th. I missed nearly four days of a five week course -- I reiterate, a five week course. Who in their right mind takes a five week course? So, naturally, I had to work to catch up (rather reminiscent of the time I completely missed the first six days of an eight week Freshman Comp One class to see Paul in Vegas, but still made 114% in the class, and was asked if my work could be used to instruct future students. Sue me, I'm proud of that). I don't care. I took these photographs, and don't remember a damn thing about the course: which was more important?
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May 29 limo watch.

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May 30 limo watch.

So, about two weeks into a five week class (again, why?) my second Summer session class started; I was half through with a five week course, and was starting an eight week course at the same time. Why, why, why do I do these things to myself? Who sets this up as a possibility, anyway? There must be some kind of flaw in their system to be able to do stupid things like that. As the five week class was wrapping up, we headed down to Dallas for some business we will discuss momentarily, and, most importantly, to see The Maine on the 8123 Tour.
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See that black spot right under Jared, next to the tire? That's me and my umbrella. I was dying, as it was over 100 degrees in Dallas that day. I think I may have passed out for a minute from the heat. Also, thanks to whoever took this picture.

I hope to be able to talk about my concerts from this year separately -- maybe throughout the month of December, maybe into January when the next one comes up (I can't help it, when I heard that The Maine's acoustic "Evening With..." tour was passing through Oklahoma City, I bought two tickets, and I'm takin' my Mama to see something really, really special on January 30th, because I can). So, for the sake of actually being able to talk about some things, we'll save that for another time.

This is where it starts to get a bit heavy, so hang in there. My purpose for going to Dallas was to see The Maine; everyone else in my family wanted me to go to Dallas to see a specialist for a problem I have battled constantly for fifteen years. My scoliosis is something I never talk about, because, once people know about it, they treat you differently. Maybe it stems back from those public school days, but I know better that to let people know about my spine. I am breaking that silence because practically everyone I know, and a lot of people I don't actually know at all (damn small town living) found out about it. It's my story, and it's been a big part of my life, so I may as well dive into it.
This is what my spine looked like on July 23rd.
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45 degree curvature on the top, 35 degree curvature on the bottom.

Now, don't be mistaken, here: I have been under a doctor's care for this since it was discovered when I was seven years old. It's just that, when your doctor tells you that you aren't in pain at age twenty-one when that was the first complaint to him out of your seven year old mouth, and in every visit since then (sometimes five consultations a year to keep check on it), you start to wonder if he's all that great a doctor. I wore a brace for two years, but it did nothing to help. I was at the point where it was the undoing of my life when I was persuaded by my family to seek a second opinion. If it weren't for the 8123 Tour, I would not have gone to see if I could be fixed, and, subsequently, would not have been.

The surgery happened quickly. I saw the doctor on July 23rd, and had the surgery August 9th, with a week's worth of pre-surgery procedures (myelogram, MRI, CAT scans, etc). I stayed in the hospital for seven full days because there were complications with the drugs they had me on; I stopped breathing for a while, my heart rate crept up too high for them to move me, things of that nature. I should only have been in ICU for twenty-four hours, but they kept me three days. Less than a day after the surgery, they had to pull all of my pain medication to try and bring me out of it -- something they had never had to do to a patient before, apparently. So, in essence, I had an enormously invasive spine surgery, and had little to no pain medication afterward. It certainly wasn't their fault, it's just that my body doesn't handle drugs at all. At. All. I found that out when I got home, too. The narcotic pain medication they had me on after the surgery knocked me out so far, I slept through about the first week of recovery. Unfortunately, starting on August 19th -- ten days after the surgery date -- I began at the University of Texas at Arlington with a full course load. I had no choice but to minimize the pain medication, to the point where I stopped taking it so I could do my work. By about the third week after surgery, I was off the narcotic pain meds, and only taking one muscle relaxer a day, per the doctor's order. I was at the minimum amout of medication I could possibly take; the muscle relaxer they gave me isn't even considered a narcotic in this state.

So, about thirty-five or so days after the surgery, sometime in early September, I was feeling fantastic. So good, in fact, that we went with my dad on a five day business trip to Galveston. While I was still taking that full twelve hours of upper-division undergrad work. Lunacy.

In October, I began post-op physical therapy. The ass-kicker about it, however, is that it was in Dallas, over four hundred miles from my house. We had to stay in Dallas for five days in October, and three days each in November and December for it. I finished therapy last week, so those whirlwind trips, for which my mother and I had to drive in tandem, are over. We also decided to go with my dad on another business trip, and went to Austin and San Antonio for my twenty-second birthday, which just so happened to coincide with the trip. All while, I will remind you, was during a full time college schedule. Keep that in mind.

Last month, after the physical therapy trip, it was time for our annual Vegas vacation, for which we were gone nine days. Also during November, we had to pack my Grandy up, and move him fifty miles from the big city to our tiny town. After that, we packed up for a couple of days and headed to Wichita, KS, for my birthday present: my mother took me to see Theresa Caputo. You know, this lady. And then, two Thanksgivings (one of which I cooked two pies from scratch, two nut loaves [my specialty], the Tofurky roast, sweet potato dumplings, mashed potatoes, colcannon, and deviled eggs). All while taking a full college schedule.

This month, after the final physical therapy sessions and between getting Grandy's and our house ready for Christmas, I had about a week to finish my courses before I had to go in for another pre-op and surgery ordeal. Yesterday -- which, incidentally, was the last day of classes -- I had sinus surgery to fix all of the wretched sinus infections I have suffered with for years upon years. My pre-surgery nose was shaped similarly to my pre-surgery spine; no wonder I have had so many problems with this since ever. Hell, as you read this, I'm probably still sleeping off the drugs.

In between all of these goings on, I have had some post-surgery issues that have come to light. I have some unusual growths on my thyroid that are being monitored to ensure they aren't cancerous, and they have discovered that I have a very high heart rate (what should be between 60 and 100 beats per minute is 169 for me). Not to mention the two sinus infections I have had since the spine surgery, the post-surgery anemia that everyone gets, and, because of the surgery, an extreme vitamin D deficiency. I don't mind it, though, since this is the after.
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Less than ten degree curvature both top and bottom, fusion on T2-T12.

And, importantly, something I don't know if I have talked about yet is that my pride and joy and reason for living, Lilly, was diagnosed with diabetes in January; throughout this year, she has been gradually losing her eyesight, and, by now, is nearly blind. She also has arthritis in her left hand, and can no longer jump up and down. She is still a puppy at heart, and loves to do all of the things she's always done -- it's just a little harder for her now.
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Look at that beautiful babe. Most beautiful in the whole wide world. But, you know, I'm not biased or anything.

As you can see, I have had so much going on, I simply haven't had time to tell you all about it. Less blogging, more living. That's it. That's the story. This is especially crazy to imagine since I was supposed to, in the words of my doctor's assistant, "be watching daytime TV for three months". In the four months since my surgery, I've been busy, and taken absolutely no breaks -- there wasn't time to. I am looking so forward to my life screeching to a halt after going a thousand miles an hour, even if it's for another recovery period. Buford Christmas is ten days away now, and Christmas Day follows, but that's all I have planned until late January when university starts again, and we go to Oklahoma to see The Maine, and that's how it will stay. I refuse to leave the house, and, most likely, will only change my jammies and socks for different jammies and socks. I will not put on pants or a bra, I will not leave the house, I will not receive visitors, I will not be a visitor, and I will not answer my telephone. If you want to reach me, too bad, I'm out-out-out. I hope that, after my nasal surgery, I will still want to blog through the recovery and talk about some concerts/vacations/experiences that have happened this year; if that isn't the case, it will just have to take a long deserved break, and wait it's turn.

So, at the first of the year, the blog was quiet because life was quiet; in the second half, the blog was quiet because life hijacked me. I have taken the opportunity to try and come up with a short Mr. Gee-esque poem for the posts that were made.

In the five years since this blog was born,
it's never been so damned forlorn;
sitting untouched for months at a time
makes it hard for this poem's bad rhyme.
I wish there was more I had said to you,
but the posts that were posted will just have to do.
We contemplated Elvisces while Pete rocked out,
caused some commotion, saw what publishing's about.
There was heartbreak, which fangirling mended,
a 365 blog that started and ended.
We met Elmo Tinsel, had supersleuthing to do,
quarter-life realizations, and flashbacks, too.
Least we forget the Top Fives and Mixtapes,
which rounds off the content I happened to scrape.
As we dive headlong into blogging year six,
I hope you'll stick with me and my stupid tricks;
I know it's been quiet, but I plan to blog on,
and I'd like to think that you'll come along.

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Really though, I am constantly pleased to think that whatever my tiny fingers are typing on my keyboard, someone somewhere in the world maybe got something out of it; whether it's a chuckle, or what I sometimes do with people -- shout at my screen "how can you be so stupid?!" while shaking my hands in the air -- there is a satisfying exchange of ideas somewhere here. I hope you think the same. Thank you for putting up with this blog for five whole years -- half a decade! My sister's children are younger than this blog, and that's creepy to think about; so much has changed in five years, and I am glad that I have been able to share some of that along the line.

To year six! May it be slower, less taxing, but just as exciting.
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Sunday, December 8, 2013

This Will Just Take A Minute

It has been a busy day. After meeting deadlines, it was time to put up our Christmas tree. Since my Grandy has moved to our tiny town, he has been at our house more often, and we have been at his new apartment a good deal of the time, too. It was really the first time we had had anyone over to our house to decorate the tree; naturally, I channeled my inner post-war bride, and put together a spread...
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Home-made eggnog, and home-made pecan toffee, with other snackables.

Between the cookery and holiday cheer, though, it is highly-highly-highly important to take at least one minute out of today to Think Peace, Act Peace, and Imagine Peace. My hope is that, perhaps, by taking a minute out of your day to do so today, you might continue to do so tomorrow, and the next day, until peaceful thought turns to peaceful action; I can't simply preach it to you, you have to do it yourself. We all do, and it isn't always easy. Just for now, though, think about it; take that sixty seconds out of your day.

And, perhaps, take another minute to think of an amazing human who also believes in the power of sending light and love to the world.

Is It A Subscription Box, Or Something More Sinister? (It's A Subscription Box. Maybe.)