Thursday, March 5, 2015

I'm in a hypercoagulable state of mind

It has not been my week. The dreaded blood clot returned despite the fact that all my bad veins have been treated and there is nothing happening that should trigger clotting. I'm in a hypercoagulable state. I Googled it. Big mistake. So, I'm totally convinced I have cancer. Rationally, I know I don't have cancer but it's just there in a little corner of my brain. So, off to medical center I shall go to get a mega big blood draw in the hopes of determining the cause of my hypercoagulable state.

As a result of the clot (much easier to type than "hypercoagulable state") I'm sporting my super sexy compression hose. Yesterday I had a procedure at the vein doctor so I have to wear them for three days, including while sleeping. No biggie - I'm a pro at this. Well, perhaps not...

Yesterday morning some sort of virus hit me like a truck - I went from functioning adult to puking lady in about 45 minutes.

This mean, nasty virus has now taken over my body - my throat hurts, I can't sleep and my entire body hurts. At 4 AM I decided to go downtstairs and make some tea.

One step on the stairs (wearing my slippery compression hose) and - BOOM!

I slid right down the stairs.

So now I'm in a hypercoagulable state, my throat is sore, my body aches from the flu AND my head, shoulder and back hurt from a 4 AM trip down the stairs.

Getting old is no fun.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Happy New Year! Yes, it's the annual letter!

Happy New Year!

Friends asked if I intended to write the annual letter since I haven't been updating the blog and I thought. "of course!" and then I had this realization: I am 37 (sometimes I forget my age but just did the math to verify) and the label "single, broke and (sort of) fabulous" still applies. That's just sad. That's probably why I don't update the blog anymore. It was all fun and games in my early 30s but now it's just pitiful. You know you are thinking it so I'll just own it. In my defense, I have to share that Kathie Lee and Hoda (totally reliable sources!)said new research shows there is a gene that causes singleness - clearly I have that gene! 

After a bit of additional reflection (I spent a lot of time alone so there's plenty of time to reflect. In fact, probably too much time!) I went back to something a beloved colleague of mine said this year. She looked at me and said, "Jen, you make the best out of every situation and you really live life to its fullest." Hmmm, not sure I truly live life to its fullest (My passport is expired. I live in Grand Rapids, Michigan. One could argue I'm not fully living my life.) but she has a point. I really do try to make the most out of life. After all, we only have one life to live! That, by the way, was the final line of the "One Life to Live" (soap opera, duh!) theme song in the 80s. Anyway, on with the letter.

Dear Friends and Family,

Happy New Year! I enjoyed your Shutterfly/Walgreens photo center Christmas cards full of pictures of your (not furry) children or (not so) exotic vacation photos. I couldn't corral all my (furry) children in a space close enough to photograph them together, so once again I decided to forego mailing cards. So, if you didn't get a card for me I don't hate you, I'm just too lazy to send cards. At least I'm not one of those "Merry Christmas" mass text people - I can't stand those. I realize the senders mean well but it's not my thing. Anyway, 2014...initially I thought 2014 was a mixed bag but really, after the turd of a year that was 2013, I realize 2014 was pretty awesome.

Sure, there were some challenges. I'm getting old and starting to have health issues. True story. For example, I went back on The Pill. No biggie, right? Wrong! I'm no spring chicken and apparently The Pill is for those youngsters. Why, you ask? Well, because it caused me to develop not one, not two but three blood clots in my right leg. At least it was a trendy malady. Seriously, 2014 was like the Year of the Blood Clot. I know a ton of people who developed them. Mine was the least serious of them all, however, it seriously screwed up my running and you all know how I love to run (will get to that later). I then had my varicose veins treated (because I have the vascular system of a grandma apparently) and that further sidelined me. Then, just this weekend, I threw out my back, presumably from sleeping on an old, terrible twin mattress with my 90lb dog and two cats at the home of my parents. In fact, I'm popping Vicodin right now. Needless to say, I'm ending 2014 a little chubbier than I started. In April I will run the Big Sur Marathon and can't wait to recommit to my physical health and wellness - just hope my body will cooperate! Other not great stuff - my dad's cancer returned and I had to say goodbye to Lucy, my best furry friend ever. And George Clooney got married (WTF!). Tough stuff, people, tough stuff. These things were difficult - are still difficult - but I don't want to dwell on them right now.

Despite these setbacks, challenges and loss it was a great year. A bucket list year, in fact.

Before I get to the bucket list (is the anticipation killing you?!?), I must share the mundane but important. I traveled so much (so, so much) that I finally have Hilton gold status and once again have silver status on Delta. Two years ago I missed silver by one trip. With all the travel I am subjected to for work, I relish any opportunity to get to board early and not get treated like steerage. So yes, I'm bragging here.

Thankfully, some of my travel was for fun. Well, the type of fun I'm in to - when you travel somewhere to run a race. I went to LA for fun (to run a marathon), the Finger Lakes (to run a half marathon) and Chicago (to run a half marathon, not to mention COUNTLESS times for work).

I celebrated my 37th year of being single by renting a "pub cruiser" and peddling (and drinking) all around Grand Rapids on a beautiful Sunday afternoon.

My home value went up and my neighborhood is well, boring. I won't say I miss the crime but, I must admit, things are so not exciting around here. I'm surrounded by normal people! And, not one but two big breweries are moving in to the neighborhood. What's next? A trendy gastro-pub? Wait, we're getting one of those too. So, life in the 'hood is not so 'hoody. Sigh.

Now, to the bucket list stuff.

I "won" two lotteries! No, no monetary prizes involved.

Less than a month after the blood clots developed I completed the AJC Peachtree Road Race. It's the largest 10k in the country and has always been one of my dream races. My BFF Peasley road tripped to Atlanta with me and we had a fabulous 4th of July. I'm so thankful I got to experience this race and really hope to do it again because it was just really fun.

Then, there was this. It was, without a doubt, the greatest day of my life.

I completed the New York City Marathon.

Twelve percent of people with names in the lottery got in and I was one of the 12 percent. The marathon was everything I hoped it would be and more. I don't want to get all sappy here but, I will, so indulge me for a moment. In 2009 I watched the marathon on TV. Don't ask why. I was not yet a runner. I watched the thousands of people take off over the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge and thought, "Someday I am going to run that marathon." That thought never left my mind. All the running, all the struggles with fitness and weight led to that moment - the moment I crossed the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge. Of course, there were 50 MPH winds (really, hats were flying off heads) and I suddenly had to poop with no porta-potty in sight so maybe that moment wasn't as perfect as I had hoped but after a few successful porta-potty visits (sorry, I'm a runner, we talk freely about our bowels. It's a thing.) I could relax and enjoy my 26.2 mile journey through the five boroughs of the greatest city on earth. It was incredible.

Then, there was this.

Well, not this exactly. Yes, I mean, this year I became the proud owner of this Hillary iPhone case but this case is important because it played an important role when this happened:
Yes, that's Hillary Clinton. Yes, I took that picture. And, yes, I used the phone covered in the Ready for Hillary case. Oops! In the excitement of seeing my idol, I sort of forgot her photo was on the back of my phone so if she looks surprised (or, as my friend Emily said, "scared") it's probably because she was looking at herself when I snapped this photo. Sadly, I was not able to slip Hillary my resume when this happened so that's on the to do list for 2015.

Hearing Hillary speak is another bucket list item I can check off. 

Sorry I don't have the usual snark for you this year. Maybe it's the Vicodin.  I'm still snarky - just ask my favorite co-workers. One actually thanked me for the snark in his Christmas card to me. I haven't lost my edge, don't worry. However, when I reflect on this year I have to be genuine. I'm thankful for my health, even though I complain about my issues those are nothing compared to what some people my age and younger are dealing with. I'm really thankful for my friends, new and old. This week so many people offered to help me out when I hurt my back - I'm lucky to have these type of people in my life! 

So, what's next? I guess I need some new bucket list items. And no, not things like "marry George Clooney" (I will dwell on this for a minute - I'm glad he didn't marry a bimbo but I still wish he would have married ME!)...things that could actually happen. While most of you chase your children around the house I'll sit on my couch with my Vicodin, watching "the" Netflix and pondering my next moves that will help me live life to the fullest. Or as full as it can be living in this mid-sized Midwest city and working in the nonprofit world...

Happy New Year!

P.S. If you read this letter every year, you'll remember in 2012 I noted the crack in my kitchen ceiling. It's still there. I sort of patched it myself, meaning, it's still there. I've still got my edge! Maybe I'll actually fix it in 2015? Nah. I'll use that money to take a trip! 

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Annual holiday letter: Belated edition

The annual letter is back. Inspired by the many "holiday letters" I once received, I started this tradition a few years ago. Apparently word is out because I only received one "holiday letter" this year. It happened to be from my boss. She definitely doesn't read my blog (thankfully).

Dear Friends and Family,

2013 will end in about 12 hours and, frankly, I can't wait to see it end. The fact that I'm writing this 12 hours before the end of the year and days after Christmas pretty much sums up my year - always a couple of steps behind.

2013 pretty much sucked. Ah, after two stellar years that was bound to happen. It's not just me. I mean, Helen Fielding killed off Mark Darcy! Bridget Jones had a rough year too.

Traditionally I use this annual letter to share some highlights from the year, my travels, etc. This year more than ever I learned to appreciate perspective and appreciate that there are millions of people in the world who would love to have my first world problems. I'm lucky, blessed, whatever you want to call it. In the name of perspective, I'm going to share my top ten "little victories" or interesting moments of 2013. Sure, I feel like the year pretty much sucked overall, but some good / fun things happened so I want to focus on the good:

10. I found a home for yet another homeless cat that came in to my life. Yay for Sally the kitty cat!

9. The river in my city had its 100 year flood, flooding my basement. I didn't totally lose my mind over this like I would have a few years ago. Sure, I had to rip out much of the basement carpeting, I'm sure the basement has mold that will never go away and the whole thing sucked but, what can you do?

8. Proving I am my father's daughter, when I sliced my finger open with a very sharp, fancy knife I decided duct tape and gauze would have to do the trick since I have no first-aid kit in my home. That worked for about a day and then I decided stitches were in order. Here's a picture of my drive to urgent care:

7. I went hiking for the first time in Tucson and managed not to accidentally tumble down the mountain or in to a ravine. I wasn't really wearing proper hiking attire but, I don't own hiking attire so I figured a cute The North Face fleece and my running shoes would work.

6. In 2013 I did not overdraw my checking account. Not even once. Sure I had to reapply for my job and go through three months of torture not knowing if I would come out of the process employed, but when all was said and done I ended up making more money and am finally finding myself in a place where I am starting to feel financially secure. In fact, I even bought a new sectional! If you've been to my home and been subjected to my horrific old couch (which was an oversized love seat) and chair you'll know what a "luxury" this is!

5. I trained for and completed two marathons. Sure, I gained about 20 pounds in the process but at least I didn't gain 30. Seriously, I'm the only person I know who can train for two marathons in one year and GAIN weight.

4. I won a major award! OK, not really a major award but an award nonetheless! It was for making a healthy lifestyle change by becoming a runner (even though I did gain those 20 evil pounds this year). Total surprise and pretty darn cool.

3. Flew on a plane with US Rep. John Boehner. He and his two Secret Service agents were flying coach, just like me! And yes, he really is this tan:

In fact, he was wearing an orange sweater - which made him look even more, well, orange.

2. My home value increased. Sure it was by $300 but at least it is moving in the right direction. Of course this may be because....

1. My neighborhood is no longer full of hillbillies and drug dealers! It's true! A totally normal young couple bought the house two doors down and paid close to what I paid for my house! The hillbillies are gone! There are no more break-ins (knock on wood)! And, to top if off, my favorite brewery is setting up shop within walking distance of my house. Things in my 'hood can only keep going up!

That's my 2013 in a nutshell. Sure, I'm ending the year a little more jaded than I started, but I did learn more than ever the importance of looking for the "silver lining" if you will. Also, I learned I wear a lot of pink. In fact, I'm wearing pink right now. I definitely want to make some changes in 2014 but I will definitely keep wearing pink!

Happy New Year! Welcome, 2014!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Hillbilly Heaven no more!

I haven't been home much this summer. Marathon training and additional work responsibilities keep me running (literally and figuratively) all over the place. I suppose the Hillbilly Neighbors were also an extra incentive to avoid my house. Since June I've witnessed many things including Little James on the roof threatening to fling himself off and Jabba James playing "basketball" shirtless (gag) so many times I'm surprised I'm not blind. There was the time recently Jabba James yelled at me from inside his house to ask if he could (once again) borrow my lawnmower. Since I couldn't see him I just pretended not to hear him. These people purchased not one, but two lawnmowers earlier this summer, so I don't understand why they're still so hellbent on borrowing mine! Anyway, the saga of the Hillbilly Neighbors has finally come to an end.

Remember when I begged them in my last letter to go back to the trailer park? Well, I think they did.

They are GONE!

The Hillbilly Neighbors have left the building! For real!

About a week and a half ago I spotted a small U-Haul parked in the driveway. The next morning the dining room chairs were on the front porch. Then those were gone. The next morning there were piles of garbage left at the curb, including things you wouldn't throw away unless you were moving and downsizing like the little girl's perfectly good wagon and a lawn rake. That morning I saw them load up in their rusting Saturn minivan and drive away. And that was it.

It is no shock that they're gone, given Big Momma was the sole supporter and can't make more than $10-$12 an hour at her job.

I'll admit I'm a little sad for them - I'm sure they're moving back to the trailer park or some tiny apartment. My guess is it isn't fun/comfortable/easy to have five to eight people living in a small space on any given day.

A friend said it is a little sad because I won't know what happens to the kids. Um, yeah, I think I have this figured out. The toddler is going to end up pregnant at 15 and Little James will end up in jail - probably because of being provoked by Booby Brian. Speaking of Bobby Brian and his penchant for peeping, I have no doubt he'll end up on the sex offender registry within the next four years. I do wonder about poor, dear little Maverick. He is only subjected to these fools every other weekend but still, that's too much. It seems he is being raised by someone with some common sense and manners, not to mention, a basic grasp of the English language. (Never did I hear Maverick say things like the others such as "I seen" or inappropriately using the word "them" as in "Jen, was them your parents" or "Where'd you get them woodchips."). My hope is he will turn out OK in spite of his gene pool.

Then there's Mittens the Kitten, aka Hillbilly Cat. I haven't spotted Hillbilly Cat since July, so I'm thinking Jabba James "got rid of it" like he did the dogs. By the way, this week I learned from a neighbor he "got rid of" the second puppy for biting the toddler. Puppies bite. I shudder to think of how he "got rid of it."

The other good news is homes in my neighborhood are starting to sell - and when I say sell I mean to normal people at prices close to what I paid for my house! Things are looking up. Since the Hillbilly situation didn't work out for whatever company owns the house, my hope is they'll fix it up and try to actually sell it. Fingers crossed.

Goodbye, Hillbillies! Welcome back peace and quiet! Serenity now!

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Hillbilly Cat, Hillbilly Cat (What are they feeding you?)

Dear Hillbilly Neighbors,

Oh, where to begin? Just to reiterate, no, I do not have an extra SD card you can "have" (Do you really own a digital camera? Really?). No, you cannot use my wi-fi. No, it is not OK that Hillbilly Grandma and Grandpa (They just got married a couple of weeks ago - the "reception" was in the backyard here.) flick their cigarette butts onto my lawn. No, it is not OK that you put your slip'n'slide on my front lawn (Imagine Booby Brian shirtless sliding down a slip and slide outside of your window. It is not a nice scene.) then left it there on a hot day, burning my lawn.

While I'm rattling off grievances, please do us all a favor and pull your damn recycling cart away from the curb. You look ridiculous playing basketball in the street and using your recycling cart as the hoop. And by "you" I don't mean your children, I mean you, Jabba (Big Daddy) James. Additionally, driving around with Booby Brian and Little James in the back of your pickup truck is not legal. I should call protective services.

What I'm most enraged about, Hillbilly Neighbors, is the situation with your kitten. Yes, after blowing through not one but two puppies, you now have possession of a kitten. Said kitten keeps "escaping" and you don't do much to try to find it. Last time it escaped and you, Big Momma, yelled, "It's just a freaking cat!" at your toddler as she cried because she couldn't get kitty (Smart cat hid under the deck so no one could get to it.) I vowed to snatch the kitty if I ever had the chance.

Well, I had the chance.

Last weekend all was quiet at your house. You and I know this never happens. Of course, I took advantage of this opportunity to do some yard work. Gracie was all hyped up about something under the shrub in the corner of your yard. Upon investigating I discovered your kitten.

I easily lured the kitten by shaking a bag of treats. Once the kitten got in to my arms he did not want to leave. So, I did what any rational person would do, I took him in to my house. It was a hot day and he was clearly distressed. I set him up in my home office with food and water (Which he devoured.) and a makeshift litter box (Crazy cat lady or savvy cat lady? You be the judge.). Feeling smug, I strode into the living room to see if anyone had arrived at your home when I was struck with panic. Had I just committed a crime? Did I just "catnap" your kitten? OMG.

When I called my friend Rachael, she confirmed my fears. "You don't want them calling the police on you," she said. Right! You call the police on your children. Surely you would not hesitate to call the police on me for stealing your "property." (Because let's face it, this kitten is nothing more than "property" to you.)

Even though I desperately wanted to re-home your kitten (Perhaps I tried in earnest to do this. Perhaps.), the thought of you calling the police got the best of me, so when you and five of your kids rolled up I ran outside.

Remember when I asked if you were missing your cat and you looked at me like "oh shit?"

Remember when I asked how long your cat had been missing and you said "A couple of days?"

Yeah, that's when I should have lied and said I thought I saw it running down the street.

The day before this incident I saw Little James and he asked me if he could "have" a SD card. No mention of the missing kitten. You ask me all kinds of inane questions, have no hesitation about asking to borrow things, but it never crossed your mind (or the minds of your children) to ask me if I had seen your missing kitten? Really?

Sadly for Hillbilly Kitten I didn't. I told you I found him while doing yard work and offered to return him. Did you thank me? No, you just stared at me. So yes, of course I asked you if you wanted him back. When you halfheartedly replied, "Uh, yeah..." I wanted to cry.

I returned your Hillbilly Kitten.

The next day, imagine that, he was missing again while Grandma and "new Grandpa" were babysitting. Your kids found him quickly.

However, I am now wondering where he his. Every time I go outside I look for him. My fear is he has gone "missing" (Meaning you left the door open hoping he would escape because you no longer want him. Let's be real - this is what is happening at your house) and is lost.

Next time (Please let there be a next time.) I see him, I will snatch him and make him my pet. Period. Poor thing did not want to let go of me when I returned him to you. Remember how you literally had to rip him off of me? Animals are smart. He knows your house of horrors is no place for him.

Please, for the love, stop getting pets.

I dislike you for many reasons. But I hate you for your lack of care of the furry children you voluntarily take in to your home.

You are the worst.


Please go back to the trailer park you came from soon.


Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Sleep it up, babe! Or, why train travel is not that glamorous

Greetings from Amtrak!

I'm sitting on a train that has moved approximately 10 feet before stopping. I see a man out on the tracks with some sort of sledgehammer. He's a train official and not some random guy. He appears as though he's trying to clear something off the track. Great. I'm traveling to Chicago for work, not pleasure, and need to be pulled in to Union Station on time to get on a conference call with my boss. Ugh.

I'm a frequent flier and have seen just about everything one can see while flying the friendly skies. This whole train thing is a totally different ball game.

The stench of McDonald's breakfast hit me when I entered the tiny train station. Why? I giant family of Amish people who had just arrived before me via cab (I have no idea where these people cabbed in from!), clenching bags of McDonald's. Seriously? They made a cab driver take them to McDonald's on the way to the train station? To each their own. I must wonder if Chicago is their final destination or if they are traveling on....and I also wonder why the heck they are traveling. Some guy in the train station tried talking to one of the men and he wasn't going to have it so I guess we'll never know.

Then there's Mr Douche Bag and his girlfriend. They're sitting in two separate rows across the aisle from me. Yes, two separate rows. I wonder if they realize more people will be boarding the train. He took a row, directed her to the row behind him and said, "Sleep it up between here and Holland, babe." Who says that? Now he has spread himself over two seats, has his legs crossed and will not stop shaking his crossed leg. See photo:

I think I'm ready to return to the friendly skies.

Monday, May 27, 2013

The police have better things to do on Memorial Day weekend...

"Jen, were them your parents?" - Big James

Why yes, Big Jabba the Hut James, them were my parents. Ah, the saga continues with the Hillbilly Neighbors. I wish the inane questions were the least of my worries.

Yesterday was a beautiful weather day. A perfect spring day. I returned home after running a marathon the day before and was both exhilarated and exhausted. My mood turned to down right pissed off thanks to the Hillbillies.

At first I thought they weren't home so I changed clothing quickly and set out to mow my yard (did I mention I had just run a marathon the day before? My back was killing me! That's how desperate I was to mow the lawn in peace.) when suddenly I hear, "F**k you, you little bi*ch." Yes, Booby Brian was at it with Little James again.

These two were in a knock down drag out fight in my front yard. Yes, in my front yard.

They screamed "bi*ch"at each other several times before I stuck my head out the window, arms on hips, a "WTF" look on my face. Finally, Jabba James came to break it up.

I had HAD it. Home five minutes and suddenly these two are going at it in front of my house.

I did what any rational person would do. My bags were still packed from my weekend away, so I locked up the house to flee. I just couldn't take it.

As I was locking up the front door, Jabba said, "Sorry about the chaos."

I did not respond.

He then said, "Don't worry, someone already called the police."

My response, "Um. I didn't call the police."

Jabba said, "No. we did."

Are you flipping kidding me? You called the police on your own 13 year olds?

He went on, "Yeah, James is outta control."

Maybe your parenting, or lack thereof, is outta control, pal! You are such horrible parents you can't handle them yourselves? Perhaps you shouldn't be parents then. Not to mention, I heard the fight because it happened ON MY LAWN and it sure as hell sounded like Booby Brian started the whole thing.

I turned my back to walk away and poor little toddler girl said, "Hey Jen, where are you going?"

I turned back, looked Jabba square in the face and said, "Away from here."

With that, I took off as fast as my Jeep would go.

This explains why the police were there about two months ago. My guess is mom and dad can't handle the kids so they call the police. 'Cause that's great use of my taxpayer dollars when crimes are happening in our own neighborhood and 'cause that's what good parents do, right?

Upon my return today, the Hillbilly House, duct tape in the front bedroom window and all (that's new) looked quiet. It was raining so I thought I would have some peace and quiet but no, no peace. As soon as Little James spotted me (Yes, he is home and acting like nothing ever happened so I guess he didn't get hauled off to the clink.) he emerged from the house and decided to hang outside in the rain and ask me if I would be interested in buying any baseball cards because he's trying to sell 250 of them.

Oh, and now here we are in real time - Booby Brian just emerged to tell me they have new chairs on their porch courtesy of grandma and grandpa. Goody. I did notice those and let out an audible sigh when unlocking my front door today. My friend and I were just commenting how it is nice they don't have front porch chairs so it is one less place for them to lounge (I love my front porch. My wi-fi works out there. I have Adirondack chairs with pillows and an outdoor rug. And flowers, lots of flowers.) but now I'm losing my front porch. I guess I lost it anyway with the fighting in my front yard and all.

$1,500 for a privacy fence sounds like a bargain right now. I'm calling Lowes in the morning. At least I can reclaim my backyard in about four weeks.