Saturday, August 06, 2011

I'm working on formatting all these stories, editing out the junk, cleaning up the spelling errors, etc.
Read while you can, because eventually I'm going to delete it all. Well, everything except the stitches. You guys seem to LOVE looking at those stitches in my foot.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Birth son mentioned years ago here found me on facebook. We're friends. Went to visit his family this summer. He came to visit us the summer before. Life continues to be fascinating.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Saturday, January 28, 2006


My high school algebra teacher would usually start class with a joke. 20 years ago today, he walked into class looking very grim and said, "Did you hear that the Space Shuttle blew up?"

We responded, "No! Tell us about the Space Shuttle blowing up!"

We thought it was a joke, but it wasn't. Our teacher brought in a television set and we spent the class watching the news.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Rebuilding an Engine, Part One

There are a few things I learned during my dating years. One of them was never date an alcoholic. And another was never rescue an alcoholic. I did both. This is the "dating" part of the story versus the "rescue" part of the story.

One of my boyfriends owned a late 1960's mustang fastback. I'm likely to get lynched for saying this, but I really don't remember what year it was. It was shiny and black and had a honeycomb grille. Anyway; the first time he went out racing in his new/old muscle car, he blew the engine. So I got to hang out at his house and watch him rebuild an engine. I thought it would take him a week or so. He had all the parts. He had all the tools. It should have taken a week. It took him the better part of 3 months.

Now, to be fair; he usually worked on his car over the weekends. It's not like he could quit his job to spend a week rebuilding an engine. And he had to have the job to pay for the pretty chrome parts he kept attaching to his car that didn't run.

I wanted to help. I'd spent a lot of time around street racers, and knew exactly how to take an engine apart and put it back together again. The only part I didn't know was how to connect the engine to the transmission, and what the thingie* that made the pistons move looked like. *see glossary for "thingie"

The fact that my classic car ran, and his classic car did not wasn't enough proof that I could help. I had to stand in front of the engine and use a lot of technical non-thingie speech while pointing to the various parts before he would accept that I might know what I'm talking about. Even so, all I was allowed to do was clean engine parts. But that came later; after he had actually stripped the engine down to the block.

Prior to that glorious day, I would come over to his house and we would spend an hour talking about how pretty the car was. Then his friend would show up with a case of beer. The two of them would drink a beer and talk about what they were going to do that day. I would drink a Pepsi that I had purchased with my own money.

They would stare at the engine and debate what could have caused it to lock up, while drinking another round of beer. I guess they needed the beer to build up the courage to use tools or something, because after a pair of beer apiece; they would start "working" on the car. Generally, this involved pulling the valve covers and hoses, getting greasy, putting everything back on, and polishing chrome. And of course, drinking a lot of beer.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Black Market Lunch

When I was in public school, lunch was doled out according to the number of lunch coupons you had. You could buy a week's worth of coupons, or you could buy them daily.
Mom thought I brought my lunch every day. I never told her that I usually got my lunch on the black market. Because some of the more enterprising 8th graders would make copies of their lunch coupons and sell them throughout the week. So, if I was lucky enough to find money on the ground, or if I had something to trade; I could get a black market lunch. The 8th graders would take money, cigarettes, pills, or services -like running stacks of coupons to other sellers.

It didn't take long to learn that food coupons had different values on different days. On "meat"loaf day, you could buy black market lunch for a dime. On pizza day, the cost was 75 cents or 5 cigarettes. I never stole my mom's cigarettes, but I did carry a pack around in my purse for trading. The white kids smoked Marlboro, the black kids smoked Kools. Sometimes I'd find a half a pack of smokes on the ground in front of the bar after a fight. That was a good find. It meant I could eat without being part of the crime syndicate... Although I was a good runner.

Another way to get in good with the 8th graders was to hide their activities and warn them when a teacher was coming. That was easy work. All you had to do was start a game of dodgeball on the side of the school and have a watcher. The crowd of dodgeball players would obscure any 8th grade activity, and give plenty of time to put out their cigarettes if a teacher was coming.

Playing dodgeball was how I learned about black market lunch in the first place. I wondered why there was a crowd of kids around the 8th graders, and wandered over. It took me a few days to figure out that you really could get a hot lunch, practically for free! From that point on, I ate black market lunch and gave my peanut butter sandwiches away.

When I finally fessed up to my mom (last night), she told me she used to counterfeit bus passes at her school.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

The Dirty Book Store

The dirty book store sat at the corner of Jefferson and Sidney, right next to Trader Bob's Tattoo shop. Trader Bob's is still there. The book store (thankfully) is not.
My sister and I threw a little party when the book store closed. We bought Big Gulps from 7-11 and spent the whole day standing around that corner; claiming it as our own. Because the area around the dirty book store was the only place my sister and I had feared to go. Anywhere else, risky as it might be, was fair game. Even the abandonded buildings.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Foot Update

Dr. Pozzi granted me 6 physical therapy sessions. I'm going to ask for more. Bit by bit I'm getting better. But damn, it's frustrating. I have stretching exercises and toe exercises that I to every day. I can walk without my cane now, but I really have to concentrate on walking properly. Twice a week, I see my therapist. First she chants, "Toe DOWN! Toe DOWN!" as I walk to her station. Then she pulls out the torture device ultrasound machine. The ultrasound helps break up the scar tissue that sits like a pile of rocks in my foot. It's agony. Sometimes my eyes water.
I get a foot rub after the ultrasound therapy, but it's not much fun either. And it should be. Foot rubs are (usually) nice.

Every visit brings a new exercise. At first it was just stretching and using my toes to scrunch up a towel. Believe it or not, this was difficult. On the second visit, she put a weight on the towel and I got to balance on a device that looks like a cross between a ball and a sit n spin. Again, this was actually difficult.
Yesterday, I had progressed to picking up marbles with my toes. I used to be able to pick up anything with my toes... pens, needles, superballs, you name it. Nowadays, picking up marbles is a triumph.
I'm very proud of me. I'm progressing pretty darned well, I think. It makes me happy.
Besides, I've always liked a challenge!

Monday, August 29, 2005

And on a side note...

The injury reminded me just how beautiful the world is. I was happy for weeks. Everything made brought a smile to my face. Isn't that strange? I certainly wasn't happy about having stitches in my foot, yet I couldn't not be cheerful about everything else.
no comment

You may have noticed a lack of interesting stories from my past recently. It's because I've been living an interesting story right now. Wanna hear? Then read on!

About 3 weeks ago, I stepped on a broken mason jar and sliced my foot open. Oddly enough, it was while I was on the phone with my doctor's office. When I looked at my foot, I thought I'd cut it all the way across the arch. I cussed into the phone, then told them calmly that I'd have to call them back. Because right now, I needed to go to the emergency room and get stitches.

A tiny part of me was freaking out. The rest of my brain was saying, "Cool! Stitches! I've never had stitches! except for, you know, giving birth; and that's not the same."

My husband was home at the time (thankfully), and he bandaged my foot and drove me to St. Anthony's. We could have gone to a closer hospital (like Barnes) but I wanted a hospital with an empty waiting room. I didn't want to wait for hours to get my foot fixed. Had we gone to Barnes, I'd probably still be there.

So we went to St. Anthony's. This is where I discovered that I cope well with pressure. I stayed calm during the 15 minute drive. My mind would start to think of the horrors beneath the bandage, the risk of infection, whether I'd be able to walk -and I'd just change the channel. Yeah, that medical stuff is interesting; let's see what's on CNN.
Along the way, my Hubby said, "I'm so proud of you. You're staying so calm."
What, are you kidding me? I was terrified. I just didn't see how crying and screaming would help the situation. As a matter of fact, I could see several ways that crying and screaming would hurt. It would raise my blood pressure, which would cause more blood loss. It would upset my husband, who I was relying on to get me to help. It would frighten my son. No, breaking down would not help at all.

I almost broke down at the entrance to the ER. They saw me getting out of the truck and met me with a wheelchair. I realized thees people would fix me, and I started to cry. Out of relief. Suddenly, it wasn't just me holding my foot and self together. There were people I could pass this on to.
And just like that, the tears dried up.

I returned to the calm, interested, semi-trance I'd been in on the drive. When they triaged me, my BP was 129 over 73. See how calm I was?
I spent the next half hour or so laying on the waiting room floor with my foot on a chair -that being the best way to stay calm. I became fascinated with the workings of my own body. There would be a wave of pain through my foot, followed by a brief spurt of endorphins. The sudden lack of pain would remind me that I have a foot that I'm trying to ignore. Which would freak me out, like spiders tickiling the edges of my mind. I would take deep "calming" breaths, and think, "Nothing to do but wait..." Then my nostrils would start twitching. I don't know why. It was like a tic in my nose. It would spasm with each heartbeat, and since I have mitral valve prolapse, my nose was kind of dancing to it's own rhythm. Which I found hilarious. So I'd giggle. Which made my foot hurt...

So. After a period of pain waving, endorphin riding, nose twitching fun; I was taken to a room for my stitches. This is where it got ugly.

A woman came in for my insurance card and asked me questions I couldn't answer. I must have used up my endorphin stash in the waiting room, because having labor-like pains in my foot that left me breathless. My hubby answered for me, and the woman left with my insurance card.

A nurse came in and chatted with me as she removed my makeshift bandage (toilet paper and gauze tape). "I'm going to take off your bandage and have a look."
There was a small package of cleaning supplies by her side. Yeah, this was going to hurt. I told her, "It's pretty bad."
She replied, "Yeah. Foot trauma can be..."
I'll never know what foot trauma can be, because she'd removed the bandage at that point and gotten her first look at my little cut. Her face lost a little color and she quickly put a fresh bandage on my foot.
I had been thinking, "It's not as bad as it first looked. Injuries never are." And it wasn't. The gash was only 2 inches wide. The bleeding had mostly stopped. And the cut looked like I'd used a scalpel, rather than the raggedy tear I was expecting. Who knew that glass can cut like a knife?
Nonetheless, seeing my wound gave me the shakes. The nurse said, "That's very deep. You'll probably need an x-ray. The doctor will be in in a moment, and he'll give you an anesthetic."
She smiled gently and asked, "Does it hurt?"
I said, "not as much as I'd expected."
She said again, "You'll probably get an x-ray." And left the room.
My hubby was holding my hand, and I looked over at my son, realizing that he had chosen the chair that was right beside my foot. He was practically at eye level with the gash the nurse had just bandaged. Shit. I didn't want him to see that.
So I asked him, "Did you see my foot?"
He said, "No! I closed my eyes."
Good. I stopped shaking.
About that time, the doctor came in. He pulled back the bandage enough to get a peek an my cut, then sat down to talk with me. His bedside manner rocked. He explained that since I'd cut my foot on glass, he would have to probe around and see if there was any left. He seemed genuinely contrite that he would have to use an anesthetic during this procedure. He warned me that the shots of Lidocaine would hurt very much. Something about how the nerves in the foot react. I knew he was telling the truth.
But. There was nothing to be done about it. And at the end of it, I'd be numb. That was a good thing. Besides, I'd delivered a 10 lb. baby without anesthesia. How much worse could it be?
It was worse. Much, much worse. So much so, that I don't really remember it.
I remember him holding my foot down and saying, "Try very hard not to kick me. You don't want the needle to break off in your foot, and neither do I."
I was laying on my tummy, with my husband holding my hand and arm; braced for the worst. The doctor verbally walked me through everything he was doing as he prepped my foot. And then came the injections. I felt the needle go in, not too bad... The doctor said, I'm going to start injecting. Try not to kick. Are you ready?"
I said, "Ok, go." And made myself go limp, like you do before a tetanus shot. (They gave me one of those, too.)
Then I said, "Ooooooooooooooh!"
Ok, that sucked. Next shot.
"Aaaaaaaaahhh..Ah, Ah, Ah, Ah, Ah."
On the 4th shot, I lost vision for a bit. I recall thinking how interesting it was that it hurt so badly I couldn't see. And there were more shots coming. Toward the end, I was screaming. But my leg never moved. I didn't so much as twitch. I'm grateful for that. But the pain? No memory of it whatsoever. It's gone. It was gone the instant it stopped. Like it never was.
As a result, I could endure another round of Lidocaine. Because as far as my mind was concerned, it was nothing.

Then he probed around in my foot, cleaned it thoroughly, stitched me up, and went on to his next patient.
He talked me through the whole thing. My foot was glass free. The gash was 3/4ths of an inch deep and about 2 inches long. The cut was very clean and should heal fine. Because of the depth, he gave me antibiotics. I didn't need him to explain how much an infection would suck. I knew that one already.
Here is a pic of my stitches, the first time I had the dressing changed:

And here it is the day the stitches came out:
No stitches

It healed very nicely. I can walk pretty well, although I've got a bit of nerve damage on the ball of my foot and in my big toe. Hopefully, my doctor will come through and give me a referral for physical therapy. I called today and asked for it.
The phenomenon they call "phantom pain" is quite an experience. I don't recommend it. It's really weird when you can "feel" your big toe in your other big toe, if that makes any sense. Plus, your brain makes up random sensations at inconvenient times. I think it's testing out different things, just to see if it gets a signal back. The day before yesterday, it felt like my foot was asleep all around the numb spot. You know, that pins and needles feeling? Today, it feels like I have a splinter.
A really strange one it when my brain says "Foot Cramp!" and my foot doesn't do a damned thing. I look, and it's just sitting there, being a foot. No cramping, no anything. Odd.
They say the nerves will grow back, or re-route, or something.
If nothing else, it's interesting.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Dr. Seuss Does Death

Don't pump me full of chemicals
and bury me in the ground.
Just toast me 'til I'm ashes
and spread me all around

Don't need a final resting place
for folks to come and mourn
I'd rather fertilize the Earth;
a part of me reborn

Into a flower or a tree,
or maybe just some grass.

Eternity inside a box?
I think I'll take a pass.

Friday, July 15, 2005


I forgot Soulard Farmer's Market, the whole Soulard area, Pevely Flea Market (hour drive to buy other people's crap)... Argh! I'm sure I'll think of more...
Downtown, including Union Station, the train depot turned shopping mall, get some Hodges Chili if you visit... Look at all the people wearing red for the Cardinals baseball game, I'm sure there will be one during your stay... There's just so much to do. How long were you planning on being here?

Thursday, July 14, 2005

For Sarsparilla

When you visit St. Louis, I highly recommend some of our totally free museums. We also have quite a few dirt-cheap museums. Most are less than $10. That's what, 6 Pounds?

Don't bother with the Arch, unless you like to look at a city from high up.
If you like art, The Art Museum (creative name, eh?)has a fantastic collection. Admission is free, although there is a fee for any special exhibits. The Art Museum is in Forest Park, which is kind of St. Louis' version of Central Park in New York. Forest Park is chock full of places to go, like The Muny, which offers 1,500 free seats for every show. They're not the best seats, so bring a pair of binoculars.
There's also The History Museum, The Jewel Box (an old greenhouse), and the Science Center.
The Zoo gets it's own paragraph, because the zoo is our pride and joy. Parking is $10 or so, but admission is (you guessed it) free! I went there a few weeks ago with my sister-in-law. We bought bracelets ($10) that let us in to all the pay attractions, all day long. So we rode the trains as long as we wanted, rode the carousel that's full of hand carved zoo critters, went on the air conditioned dinosaur ride, saw a (really crappy) movie, walked through a herd of butterflies, and visited the children's zoo. We were there for 6 hours! On a sad note, we're down to 1 polar bear. Both of his pit-mates dies recently. He looked very lonely. :(

If you're looking for something a bit more exciting, there's the City Museum; a touchy-feely museum that was once a factory. A mad man with some money bought the place and started building. It's still growing. Wear comfortable clothes, as you'll be crawling through caves and riding a 3 story slide. I particularly like the City Museum. Partly because everyone scoffed and said, "No one will pay to visit a museum!" and partly because they have a huge collection of St. Louis architecture. They've saved the facades and do-dads from practically every building that's been torn down. Since I grieve the loss of our old buildings, the architecture exhibit is my favorite place to go. The City Museum charges an admission fee, but their food prices are reasonable and the only other expenses are parking and the world aquarium. For $6, you can touch a non-stinging ray.

The height of excitement would be Six Flags St. Louis. Admission is $42, but they have specials all the time. Like any theme park, food is prohibitively expensive. Expect to spend $100 for admission and food. The thrill rides are thrilling, the other rides are fun, the water park is nice and wet... bring sunscreen. The water park hasn't been open long enough to grow decent shade trees. Six Flags is an easy 30 minute drive from Downtown St. Louis.

For that matter, just about everything is an easy 30 minute drive from downtown St. Louis. We're chock full of interesting places. The dog museum, the bowling hall of fame, horse racing, car racing, the delightfully haunted Lemp Mansion, the museum of transport for train fans, the Magic House for children, and so much more!

I haven't even touched on the people watching delights. Fun neighborhoods to shop and stare include the U City Loop, the Central West End (adjacent to Forest Park), Grand Center, and South Grand Avenue (I recommend Mokabee's Coffee House).
That's a month's worth of tourism, so take your pick!

We also have gambling boats.

You might wonder why so many of St. Louis' attractions are free, or super cheap. That's because we believe the arts should benefit everyone, regardless of income. A lot of our property taxes go toward our parks and museums so that everyone can enjoy them. The city is considering raising the property taxes again to support the St. Louis Symphony. When the measure finally comes up for a vote, I bet it'll pass. I'll happily pay another 2 cents per hundred dollars of valuation to maintain our world class symphony.

Friday, July 08, 2005

The Multi-Use Roof

St. Louis is great because it has a multitude of flat roofs. When you combine them with narrow gangways, you get a daring method of transportation. If you can leap 6 feet, you can traverse an entire block without touching the ground.
Since most of our flat roofed buildings have a facade; you can hide from the cops, sunt@n t0pl&ss, or bombard your friends. They're also a great place to shoot off fireworks.

A flat roof should be re-tarred every 5 years or so, which explains all those smelly tar trucks around the city.

When we moved in to the apartment next door to the bar, the roof was freshly tarred. When we moved out 7 years later, we left behind an assortment of tupperware that had been collecting drips. The landlord didn't do a damn thing to maintain the building.
When the downstairs neighbors broke our door, Mom was the one who fixed it.
When the Leisures threw a brick through our window, Mom was the one who patched it with duct tape.
And when kids pulled the mortar out from between the bricks so they could have something to throw at the busses, our neighbors were the ones who tuckpointed the place.
We gave that slumlord $300 a month for a leaky roof and an apartment we had to share with mice and cockroaches. And I'm a little bitter about it tonight.

Tenants have rights, and mom could have called the health department and gotten the place condemned; but then where would we live? So we tried to make the best of it. Eventually, we got rid of the mice and roaches through the judicious application of cats and Raid. For some reason that's beyond me, our landlord had carpeted the kitchen; so we put cardboard around the stove, to keep the carpet clean. (throw rugs? What, are you kidding me? We couldn't afford throw rugs! We needed that money for food and such.)
I have a picture of our cat, standing on the stained cardboard, with a bloody mouse in his mouth. we were so proud of him. He single handedly (clawed-ly?) rid our apartment of mice, and then he went after the roaches. He was the most efficient killer I've ever known.