Debating the Debate

26Sep2016 Filed under: blah-blah-blog
brace-yourselves-2016-candidates

My husband is 100% sure he’s watching Clinton and Trump debate tonight, but I’m slow to commit.

I think it might be more enjoyable to clean the hair out of the bathtub drain, strand-by-strand with a pair of tweezers.

This whole election cycle has felt particularly exhausting. I honestly don’t feel like listening to Trump spout more one-liners off the top of his frequently too-hot head, or watching Hillary nod her way through yet another batch of carefully-rehearsed lies.

Their pettiness in planting arch-enemies in the front row seats at the forum just leaves me rolling my eyes.

Neither candidate is a prize. Both will bring problems to Washington and our nation as a whole. It really feels like voting against a set of beliefs than standing up for someone.

I noticed something the other day. At least in my neck of the woods, I see a lot of cars still sporting Obama bumper stickers from four or even eight years ago. I’d expect these voters to now support Clinton, but none sported a Hillary sticker beside the Obama ones.

I haven’t seen a single Hillary yard sign–all the ones I’ve noticed are for Trump. But I never seem to see Trump bumper stickers. It’s just weird. It seems like in years past, I saw a balance between red and blue, on cars and in yards.

Everything about this election feels weird to me.

Anyway.

Yes, I know how I’m voting. I’ve been trying to write a post about it but I can’t make it sound the way I want it to. I start a post, then feel completely “meh” about it and don’t finish. It feels like everything has already been said, far too many times already.

The one thing I do ask, though, especially leading up to, and after tonight’s debate:

Could we please stop calling each other stupid?

I am absolutely sick to death of seeing memes on social media about how dumb you’d have to be to vote for so-and-so.

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Honestly, the people I know who are passionate about politics are far from dumb. They’ve usually studied the points and made educated decisions based on the issues.

I might’ve read the same exact articles and walked away with the exact opposite opinion of them, but if I did–that doesn’t mean I’m stupid.

I know quite a few people (myself included) for whom this election basically boils down to choosing a couple of issues you’re particularly passionate about and then casting your vote to the candidate who seems most likely to help those causes.

So don’t call me stupid when my heart feels more strongly about one problem than another. And I’ll try my best to extend to you the same.

Deal?

 

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A Chance to Breathe Again

21Sep2016 Filed under: blah-blah-blog

A month from today, something magical is going to happen–I will be able to breathe freely again!

I wrote a few weeks back about the providentially improbable way I found out why I’d been wheezing and breathless for several years.

Idiopathic subglottic stenosis is a narrowing of the trachea just below the vocal cords. So far, we don’t know why I developed it, though I certainly fit the demographic: it almost exclusively strikes white females between the ages of 30 and 50. That leads to an assumption of genetic and hormonal triggers. It is also known to be associated with some autoimmune disorders.

Today, I saw a specialist at Emory, and am happy to announce that I’m scheduled for laser dilation surgery next month!

The doctor did a great job of explaining everything to me. A normal tracheal opening is about the size of a nickel. Mine is the size of a drinking straw.

So if you’d like to find out how ISS feels, plug up your nose, close your mouth tightly around a straw, then go for a walk or clean your house while breathing only through the straw.

If you try it, please let me know how you felt. :-)

I’m just so excited because autumn is my favorite time of year, and oh my gosh–I’m going to be able to breathe! And walk in the leaves! And do all the things!

Imma be even more indomitable than this guy…

ddb

 

A Taste of Japan in Atlanta

11Sep2016 Filed under: blah-blah-blog

Who is attending the coolest festival featuring all things Japan?

Yes, that would be me and my crew! And JapanFest sounds so awesome, y’all need to come, too!

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Organized by JapanFest, Inc., The Japan-America Society of Georgia and The Japanese Chamber of Commerce of Georgia, this year’s theme is “Cooler Japan.” This theme combines the best of modern Japanese innovation while honoring age-old traditions as the family-friendly festival celebrates its 30th year.

Children will be able to make paper puppets and enjoy Kamishibai, a form of Japanese theatrical storytelling that uses paper puppets. They can also learn Japanese calligraphy, try on traditional Japanese clothes, make kites, color in Japanese coloring books, fold origami figures, and play with traditional Japanese tops and paper sumo wrestlers. Children will get to play with Samurai Borgs (Japanese fighting robots), Beyblade, Hyper yoyos, and play a modern cup and ball game called Kendama.

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Kids will also be given the opportunity to let their creativity shine by using a 3-D pen that will make their art literally stand off the page! They can use the tool to draw fish and watch their creatures come to life in a 3-D aquarium. There’s also a special app that allows you to design fireworks and then see them on the big screen at the event.

Oh, and who wouldn’t love to have a picture made with Domo!

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For the second year, JapanFest is collaborating with anime convention, MomoCon. The Anime village is a section of the festival completely dedicated to anime products, anime viewings, and gaming, including an opportunity to meet Anime voice artist Kyle Hebert. Keep Momocon is also sponsoring a Pokémon Go! Meetup. Capture and boost a gym, claim resources from Poke Stops and build your team, all factions welcome!

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Fans of traditional fighting methods will enjoy demonstrations of virtually every Japanese martial art in existence, including aikido, karate, kendo, kyudo, and sumo.

And of course, no festival is complete without music, shopping and food!

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Musical performances include taiko drumming, J-Rock and J-Pop, classical music, Japanese dance performances, a kimono fashion show, and kabuki theater.

Shoppers will love Ginza-dori, organized by the Japanese Chamber of Commerce of Georgia and named after Tokyo’s famous shopping district. It will feature Japanese ceramics, traditional clothing and accessories, and fun items such as masks and toys. For those who want to try on a kimono, the Konnichiwa Club will dress them in the latest kimonos from Japan.

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Come hungry, because the best of Japanese cuisine awaits. Fill up on everything from sushi, bento, ramen or rice bowls, then indulge your sweet tooth with bubble tea, shaved ice and traditional Asian pastries. For lighter appetites, a Konbini store and Japanese grocery store, Tomato, will sell tasty and unique Japanese snacks.

Now, the details!

Date: September 17-18, 2016

Location: Infinite Energy Center (located at 6400 Sugarloaf Parkway, Duluth, GA 30097)

Time: 10 am to 6 pm (Saturday) and 10 am to 5 pm (Sunday)

Admission: $10 (kids 6 and under are free!)

Although tickets are available at the door, attendees are encouraged to purchase tickets online to minimize waiting at the event entrance.

Individual tickets are available for sale until the day before the event through the Infinite Energy Center ticketing system, AXS.

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A Most Unlikely Diagnosis

24Aug2016 Filed under: blah-blah-blog

If you’ve been around me in the past few years, you’ve probably noticed me wheezing.

If you’re really close to me, you’ve surely noticed that I’m not as active as I used to be. I don’t go for walks anymore. I’m now one of those annoying people who will drive around five minutes just to get a closer parking spot. Amusement parks are my worst nightmare, but sometimes I suck it up and do it for the kids anyway.

Even though I’ll spend most of my time on a bench because breathing is such a pain in the butt.

Heck, I struggle to breathe while carrying laundry from the bedroom to the kitchen. I huff and puff when making the bed. Forget vacuuming and mopping. If you come to my house, you’ll see…Maid Mama has clearly been slacking off for a long time now, and ain’t NObody been picking up the slack.

And elevators? Oh my word. The most embarrassing places on the planet. Locked up in a silent box with strangers while I sound like Darth Vader nursing a bad case of bronchitis. People either ask if I’m OK or they stare at me wide-eyed, clearly mortified at the thought of catching whatever I’ve got.

This has been going on FOR YEARS. Years. I first remember it alarming me when I was on a walk with my friend Lori C. I could still walk a whole mile without sitting down back then, but I sounded terrible. At her advice, I made an appointment with my GP, who diagnosed me with exercise-induced asthma.

I think it was a placebo effect that the inhaler seemed to help a little, for a little while. I kept refilling the prescription and thinking if I could just get in better shape, if I could just lose some weight, I’d feel better. That’s what the doctor said.

About two years ago, I finally went back to the GP and said, “Look…this isn’t working. What’s next?” And he’s like, well, you don’t sound like you have asthma after all. You should get a cardiac and pulmonolgist work-up.

So I did. Heart checked out fine. Got a major long lecture on how I would breathe easier if I just lost weight. Felt shamed into believing that I was a lazy sloth who was reaping what I’d sown.

Pulmonologist did a sleep study and said I have sleep apnea. I never followed through on getting a C-pap. I just hated the way it felt, like trying to exhale into a full-blowing hair dryer pressed into my mouth. Every night since has felt like a gamble, but I don’t know how I could sleep at all that way. I asked him why sleep apnea would make me so breathless during the day, when doing even the simplest tasks. He said it was obesity. Obesity does all of that. My body wasn’t designed to carry around all this extra weight. Like, duh. (OK, he didn’t say “duh”, but I think he might’ve if we’d known each other better.)

So, nevermind that I’ve been obese basically my entire life, except with one short stint of bulimia in high school, and up until a few years ago, could breathe just fine. But hey, being fat IS the root of all evil. So I believed that my huffin’-and-puffin’ was entirely my fault.

Well. I found out today that it’s not.

And I’m not going to lie–my eyes teared up when the doctor told me that I wasn’t to blame.

I have subglottic stenosis, possibly caused by the autoimmune problems I’ve had since 2003. A lot of times, they don’t know why people have it. It’s basically a narrowing of the trachea below the vocal cords that makes for noisy, difficult breathing. He ran a camera down my nose and I got to see the whole thing. Pretty interesting stuff.

He seemed surprised that I’ve had this for years without it being diagnosed. But he did say that it’s a relatively rare condition and after I have a CT scan next week to see how bad it is, I’ll probably be handed off to the specialists at Emory. From what I’ve read, it’s manageable through surgery and dilation. It can recur and require more extensive surgery, but hopefully it won’t get to that point.

Now…I know this is long. But bear with me. You have to hear what led me to go to the doctor now, to begin with. I had kinda resolved myself to just having to live with this until it landed me in the ER or something.

I would totally have not been at the ENT today if I hadn’t broken my own rules last week.

It’s my policy to stay out of the living room during the day. The computer is in the dining room, my two homeschooled kids do a lot of their work at the table, and I’m not into any daytime TV shows. So there’s really no reason to be in the living room. My recliner (AKA The Chair of Doom) must be avoided at all costs if I don’t want to nap the day away. I mean, if my butt settles down into those sweet, soft cushions, I’m OUT. It’s over. (Must be from all that obesity and apnea…)

But…one morning last week, I made breakfast and I just wanted to sit with my feet up and chill, maybe watch something on the DVR while the teenagers were still sleeping. I clicked through the guide and saw that The Doctors was on next.

Y’all, I never watch that show. Ever. No offense to those who do (like my Mom–she’s their biggest fan) but it’s just not my cup of tea.

But I felt this unmistakable urging to click on it. Which I immediately suppressed and kept scrolling to find something I liked better.

Now, I’m not one who is quick to say “God told me” to do something. If there’s anyone whose mouth I don’t want to put words into, it is His. But I couldn’t find anything to watch. And that still small voice was still nudging me: “Go watch The Doctors.”

So, because I’m far too often like this…

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….I said, “Oh, alRIGHT!” and clicked back over.

And this is what I saw! (Check it out!)

And I was like, “Oh my gosh…that is ME!”

And I joined a Facebook group for those with ISS, and the more I read, the more I felt like I was reading my own experiences. But I didn’t really participate in any discussions because those “it’s all in your head…it’s your own fault” conversations kept creeping into my thoughts and I didn’t want to say that I had something that I might not actually have.

But I knew that I had to find out.

I’m so glad that I did! I’ve been needing to schedule an elective surgery for a scar-related hernia and the doctor told me today that I cannot be intubated until this is fixed. He just said, “That would…not be good.”

If Zach hadn’t had his accident, I would’ve had that operation this month. And I’d have been intubated and who knows what tracheal damage that would’ve entailed.

Thank you, Lord.

Thank you for everything. For luring me to my Chair of Doom at 10:00 a.m., for pushing me to watch a show I never watch, for leading me to a kind and compassionate doctor. For letting me be alive and OK. For giving me answers.

For reminding me that You move in mysterious ways.

And for the soon-coming gift of breathing freely again!

OH. MY. Goodness! I. Cannot. WAIT!

See ya later, Darth Vader!

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A Cup Of Aggravation

23Aug2016 Filed under: blah-blah-blog
Cup O Aggravation

You’ll never convince me that fast food employees deserve $15 an hour. Why? Because interactions like the following are not even remotely rare in my town.

Wendy’s is offering their small Frosty for 50 cents at the moment. Money is squeaky-tight, it’s hot as Hades out, and Tuesday is the one day that all three of the younger kids are away at school. So today felt like a good day to grab a cheap frozen snack on the way home.

Ha.

When we pulled up to the drive-thru speaker, it was silent. I wasn’t sure if I should say “Hello?” or “Is anyone there?” because I’ve heard that if you’re pushy, they’ll spit in your food. So we waited.

In silent, hot, hungry anticipation, we waited.

Actually, I lie. The speaker was silent. My youngest was whining that this was “taaaaakinnggg toooooo lonnnnngg” and the other two were bickering over something that I can’t even remember.

“Are you ready to order?” The demanding voice smacked my eardrum. I could’ve understood her irritation had she already greeted me and I was just sitting there. But there had been no pleasantries exchanged at all.

“Yes, I’d like four small chocolate Frosties and two small vanilla Frosties.”

Silence. Another LONG silence.

“OK. So that’s….four small Frosties and three small fries.”

Fries?

“No, I only ordered Frosties. Six small Frosties. Four chocolate, two vanilla.”

“NO, you SAID…” and then her attitude-drenched voice tapered off. And then I turned to my kids and whispered, incredulous, “Does this person really think she is going to TELL me what I said?!”

They laughed. Because they know their Mama and what happens to them if they try to tell me what I said when I KNOW what I said.

Silence. Another LONG silence.

“OK, that’ll be $7.42. Drive around.”

“Um…aren’t Frosties 50 cents each?”

“YES. I will take off the coupon at the window!”

I’ve done this before and there wasn’t any mysterious coupon to be configured, but hey, whatever.

So, we finally crept up to the window. AND…no one was there.

She finally sauntered over. “I took off the coupon. Your total is $3.75.”

Now, mind you, I’d been sitting there since 1962 holding three ones, a quarter and a penny in anticipation of a $3.21 total. Tax is 7%, so the total for six items at .50/each plus tax should be $3.21.

And I told her this. And I’m going to pat myself on the back because I smiled AND used my nice customer-service voice instead of the sarcasm-coated utterances which usually flow freely when teenagers irritate me at home.

She didn’t smile back. “Oh, hold on…” and she vanished again.

Sigh.

Is it just me, or should getting some discounted ice cream not be QUITE this difficult?

The crickets were chirping again before two girls appeared at the window.

The (manager?) glared at me and spoke slowly, seeming quite certain that I was too dumb to count, much less drive a car.

“This total is right,” tapping the screen. “You ordered seven Frosties.”

“No…I ordered six.”

She snapped around, told the girl, “You got seven on here!” Then the manager fixed the order and stomped off.

Defeated, she told me, “OK. That’s $3.21.”

I quietly handed her the cash and kept my mouth shut even though I wanted to shout, “I know that! I’ve ALWAYS KNOWN THAT! All 476 years that I’ve been sitting at this @#$% window I’ve known that I owed you three dollars and twenty-one cents!”

Then. THEN…

She just stared at my quarter and penny in her palm. She kinda poked them around with her long fingernail, looking utterly bewildered.

She keyed in the amount and when she got the change out of the drawer, it’s like a light bulb momentarily flashed as she realized that I wanted one nickel back instead of four pennies.

At least, I hope she realized that was the reason behind The Great Mystical Combination of Coins.

She thrust the nickel and the receipt at me, saying nothing. The girl at the next window silently passed me our Frosties.

I kinda wondered if someone might’ve spit in them.

So, yeah. Minimum wage for minimum skills. Which if pay were really based on skills, this girl should be making about $1.51 an hour.

Maybe round that up to $1.55 so she doesn’t get confused.

 

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