Holiday 2011 Gift Ideas


Just Another Day

This morning I was sitting in my office producing a report that I update each week. As I changed the date, I was hit with the reminder that my dad's birthday is tomorrow.

October 19. Tomorrow. Dad's birthday. 

The best way I can think to describe what happened in that instant is that the reminder somehow physically and mentally knocked the wind out of me. I felt like I'd just taken a hard fall. I couldn't inhale or exhale. Time just stopped for a minute.

October 19.

I don't think I actually realized that I had stopped breathing until I finally heard myself gasp a bit for that next breath. I had to go into a meeting, so I told myself it was just another day, shoved it back down, and went on with my work.


I don't understand why it happened so suddenly. For the last week I've been informing people of an October 19 deadline, creating meetings for Wednesday, and discussing timelines. It just hadn't occurred to me yet. Now, though, even typing it hurts.


My dad and I didn't talk all that much, but October 19 was different. Even if we were really upset with one another or our lives were so busy we couldn't make time, I always called him on his birthday.

My dad would have been 73 tomorrow. I would have called him and asked him what he did for his birthday. Most likely he would have just had a nice lunch at home and spent time on the farm - like any other day. I'd tell him to make sure and treat himself to something special, and he'd tell me that my brother and sister called and pass along updates. After a pause in the conversation he'd slowly say, "Well, I reckon I better get off here," and we'd end the call with assurances that we'd keep in better touch.  For a few days after the call, we'd text each other quite a bit. The quick hellos and silly dad jokes would come less frequently as my response time increased over the following week or two. I'd let it slide knowing that we'd have another call on Thanksgiving for sure. I would feel a little badly that we didn't talk more, but I'd get wrapped up in my life and move on.

But tomorrow we won't do that. We can't do that. Tomorrow is October 19, and for the first time in my life that day will pass without my talking with him. 

I'm trying to tell myself it's just another day. It is, ultimately. 

And yet, looking at that date, 

October 19

I just can't breathe. 


Responding to Greenpeace Solicitors

You know them...the annoying vested kids on the sidewalk who are always so friggin excited to talk to you...but how do you get rid of them?

I usually just say no quickly or maybe make a phone call, but I'm really enjoying April from Regretsy's approach:

“Hi!” She chirped.
“No,” I said, finishing my soda.
She pouted. “But, we’re saving the environment!”I stopped. “Saving it? Like how? Like recycling or something?”“Well, yes, that’s part of it!” she said, brightening.
“Oh good,” I said, and I handed her my empty bottle.

I know what I'm trying next time.


Humming Home Your Shadow

I was introduced to this traditional story recently, and it was so beautiful I had to share it.

When you get up in the morning, Hoopa Indian children are told, it is very important for you to wait until you get your shadow home. When you go to sleep at night, part of you -- your shadow -- takes off. The part that you've held down all day, the part that you wouldn't let live. When you go to bed, your shadow says, "Now is my chance. I will go out and explore the world that you won't let me touch all day." And off it goes. The shadow has the freedom to go as far away as it wants to, but it has one tie: You have a hum that only your shadow knows. And it can never disobey you. So when you get up in the morning, if you remember to hum, your shadow will come back home. Even though it doesn't want to. So when you get up, before you go out, give your own little hum, and your shadow will say, "Oh! I have to go home," and it will come home. And you are never ready for the day until you have taken time to sing the song of your own shadow. Some people say, "I must have gotten up on the wrong side of the bed -- I think I'll go back and start over." They've forgotten to hum! Or some people get up at seven, and at ten o'clock they're still saying, "Don't mind me, I'm not all here." They've forgotten to hum! So there is a land of wisdom in remembering to get yourself all here every day. This is taught to the Hoopa tribal children not by saying, "When you get up in the morning you must do this!" but by saying, "Hum your song, so your heart and your spirit come together."  
-- Hoopa, retold by Sister Maria José Hobday

I think I might just be starting my days humming from now on.


Rite Aid Service Recovery WIN

A manager with Rite Aid, I think the regional manager for the area, called me to apologize extensively and talk about how he could get me to go back. While I'm not willing to return to the one that Lek manages, given the effort they made to contact me immediately to resolve the issue, I am happy to try another one in the area. This is great service recovery. Good job, Rite Aid.

The Nasty Truth

I am a friggin genius when it comes to remembering names. I have been known to walk into a party where 20 people are hanging out and impress everyone with my ability to remember everyone's name. And job. And where they live. And I'll do it again in like an hour. And then another. I'm awesome at it. It's my best party trick. But still. I realize that I will probably not see at least half those people again, and that even though I'll remember the names through the night, if I run into one of them in a month, I'll have no idea.

Over the past three years, I've met so many people. I've made great friends, met people I will follow through their careers with great respect, and made tons of career connections. But I've also met a lot of people I will never see again. It's not that I don't care, but that girl I met at that party who is the friend of the wife of the student I just met because we happened to be at the same party - I probably won't see her again. And the truth is, if I do, I'm gonna have to tell her I'm sorry but I don't remember her name.

So I honestly laughed out loud when watching a recent episode of Parks and Recreation:

"Hello, I'm Ben."
"Hi, Dan."
"Uh, Ben."
"It's not important. It won't come up again."

honesty! :)


My Letter to Rite Aid

I decided to try out Rite Aid today, given that it's closer to where I'm staying right now than my former pharmacy, but I was extremely upset by my experience there.

I had surgery to put a severely broken foot back together and am on full bedrest, except that to pick up percocet, you have to show up yourself to the pharmacy. On my very painful and exhausting trip to get my medicine, I was excited to see that Rite Aid offered a 15 minute guarantee so that I could get back to bed quickly. I dropped off my prescriptions at the RIte Aid in Pleasant Hill, CA (2140 Contra Costa Boulevard, Pleasant Hill, CA 94523) and waited for them to be finished.

Within five minutes the pharmacy manager, Lek Sananikone, called me back over. He said the insurance was rejecting my prescription because it was too soon. I informed Lek that I was aware there had been a problem, but that my doctor had just spoken with my insurance company and gave approval to cover it and they had said it was good to go. My doctor had asked that I have the pharmacist call if there was a problem, so I suggested that Lek do this. Lek refused to talk to my doctor and told me to go back to the CVS pharmacy where I had gotten the prior prescription. At this point I was still calm. I explained to Lek again the situation, that my doctor had just talked to the insurance company and that she had asked that the pharmacist call her if there was a problem. He told me to go to back to CVS, that the computer told him no and there was nothing he could do about it. I again stated that my doctor had just gotten off the phone with my insurance company, and perhaps he could call them. He told me the insurance company is already rejecting it, there's nothing he could do, I should go to CVS. At this point I started to get upset because it seemed like he wasn't even trying to help me, he was just trying to get rid of me. I told him this and suggested again that he call my insurance company. He finally did and was on the phone for quite some time. While I waited, I called my doctor and told her what was going on. She asked to speak to the pharmacist, but he was still on with the insurance. She got the insurance company on the other line and they told her everything is fine and it should go through. Lek snapped at me a couple of times telling me I need to be quiet while he is on the phone. He got off the phone and told me there is nothing he can do, the insurance company says it is too soon. I asked him to talk to my doctor. He refused.

At this point I am crying. I am in pain, I am exhausted, I'm on crutches, and I'm not even supposed to be out of bed. My doctor was on the phone with me and asked to speak to Lek, who said no, but I handed him my phone anyway. I do not know the contents of their conversation, but in the meantime my boyfriend suggested that I might be able to pay cash. I asked Lek if this would be possible and he snapped at me to be quiet because he's trying to talk to my doctor. He handed the phone back to me and she was very upset with him. Unfortunately, she can't just write me a new prescription because she is in SF and I'm on bedrest in pleasant hill and I actually have to pick up the handwritten script.  I asked him again if I can just pay cash. He said yes. I asked him why he didn't suggest this in the first place. He didn't answer me. I asked him if it will be a few minutes, and he says yes so I hobble over to the make up section and browse while I wait. That was at 3:05pm. I had arrived at 2:40pm

At 3:30 I still hadn't been called so I went over to the register to wait. My boyfriend made a comment about the 15 minute wait guarantee, and a technician who hadn't been there before asked my name. My prescription was waiting by the register and I had not been called. I made my purchase and asked about the 15 minute guarantee. Lek told her no because there had been an issue. I asked, "You don't honor it because he had to deal with my insurance company?" Lek replied, "there was an issue."

I am visibly upset at this point. I had been crying, frustrated with the system, but most of all frustrated with Lek's lack of interest in helping come to a resolution. From the very beginning he acted as if he just wanted me to go away, and in fact told me several times to just take it to CVS. I was very calm in the beginning, but at this point I am extremely upset. I said to my boyfriend and the technician, "well, lesson learned, I won't be a Rite Aid customer." Lek stopped what he was doing and came over to me to say, "If you hadn't been so rude we would have taken care of you. I would have taken care of everything for you." I remind him that I wasn't upset until he wouldn't help me come to a solution. I told him I've never been treated so badly by a pharmacist before - that I thought pharmacists were supposed to help you make things work. Then we left.

For the record - I am not upset that Lek couldn't make the prescription work. I understand that insurance companies are difficult. I am skeptical that he couldn't have done something more given that my insurance company was on the other line saying it was fine and it should go through. 
I am extremely upset with Lek because:
a) he immediately said "computer says no" and didn't even try to offer a solution, he made it clear he didn't want to help, told me to go to CVS
b) he never even suggested that I could pay cash as an option
c) he was extremely rude to me and my doctor after this
d) once my prescription was ready, he didn't call me and made me wait extra time 

FYI - it wasn't busy. I was the only customer there at this time.

I've worked in customer service and know what it takes. He's the pharmacy manager, he should be more helpful, and more professional. He should also be understanding of the fact that someone picking up a prescription for percocet with her doctor on the phone and standing on crutches in tears might be in a place where she needs a little more help. 

I'm sad because Rite Aid is the closest option for me in Pleasant Hill, but I'll gladly drive much farther to avoid ever having to deal with Lek again. I'm an avid pharmacy customer with several prescriptions per month and a $300 personal budget for supplements and toiletries and such that is almost exclusively spent at Walgreens. I'm young and loyal, and will make the decisions for my family in this arena - so I'm a pharmacy's dream customer. Unfortunately, Lek just made sure that pharmacy won't be Rite Aid. I'll be going back to Walgreens, where in 12 years as a customer I have never encountered one problem that wasn't easily and happily fixed.

The Rite Aid website states: 

Rite Aid is a place where customers are treated with respect and they feel appreciated and welcome.
Rite Aid is committed to providing our customers with superior service and complete satisfaction. Our associates are trained to offer our customers friendly, helpful service in every area of the store.

If you are committed to that statement, you should care about this feedback. As a corporate professional myself, I thought you would like to know.


About Lisfranc Fractures

Thought I'd offer a little info about the type of injury I have. When I initially went in to the doctor, they said it seemed like I had a broken metatarsal, but they couldn't tell for sure and nothing was displaced. They casted me and sent me on my way. The next week I went to a podiatrist, who said it was definitely broken, but that it didn't make sense to do another set of x-rays until the swelling had gone down. She sent me to a podiatric surgeon thinking it might be a lisfranc fracture, but that it wouldn't require surgery because of no displacement. So the next week I went to the surgeon and she did more xrays. When the swelling went down, all the bones went with it. Apparently that's all that was holding my foot together. She made it very clear that I would need pretty immediate surgery and I cancelled my trip to Panama. :(

So about the injury. It's called a lisfranc fracture, named after an 18th century surgeon. It happens when the ligament between a metatarsal (long skinny bone) and a tarsal (short bones in front of the ankle bones) ruptures. Sometimes you can heal it with just a cast if the bones don't move, but when they move out of place you have to have surgery to reset them.

Click here for a great diagram of the injury pre and post surgery.

Frequently, the ligament between the first tarsal and the second metatarsal ruptures, which leads to the metatarsals all moving toward the outside of the foot. Wikipedia has pretty good info on this stuff, but also has a decent xray pic (right).

Now MY injury was slightly different. The 2nd-4th metatarsals were all moved to the left as in the example xray, but there was also a big space between the first two tarsals (the bigger bones at the bottom). My 1st metatarsal had moved in so much that the 1st tarsal protruded and made a big bump on the right (into my arch). It also went up so when you looked at it from the side it was a like a big step where it's supposed to be flat. Mine looked a little more like this:


I'll post mine when I get them on disc.

The injury happens when the toe and metatarsal part of your fit go one direction and the ankle and tarsal part go another. For example, Wikipedia has a great little description of common injuries:
This type of injury classically occurred when a horseman fell while riding, having trapped his foot in the stirrup or fallen into a drain. At present, such an injury happens typically in activities such as windsurfing (where participants' feet are in foot straps that pass over the metatarsals), or when one steps into a hole and the foot twists heavily.
At least I've learned a bit during this process. Will share more when I get more.

Foot Surgery Update

My first night after surgery was much better than I expected. Not too much pain at first, then throbbing into the night and my big toe is completely numb.

I talked to the doctor this morning. The surgery went really well and she feels that she was able to reconstruct it beautifully. We had expected to use 4-6 screws, and she only needed two. That's great because it means more of the healing can rely on my own ligaments and such. She also said it's fairly common for my toe to be completely numb, and that it usually goes away. There's a chance it won't, but we'll monitor that over the next week or two and decide what to do about it. 

The anesthetic fully wore off this morning and the severe pain has just set in. I'm on percocet, but they don't really work anymore, so I'm trying to just stay put and sleep and do my yoga breathing to get through it. My toes aren't bound by the cast, so they can move - which is good in some ways, but also means that I inadvertently move them and cause jolts to go up my body. Yeehaw. I'm also starting to feel the soreness from the breathing tube that was down my throat, so not a lot of talking for me. 

So now I go back next week to get it checked, again in another week to put on a full cast, then 4 more weeks of no weight and crutches before switching to my robo-boot and starting rehab. In 3 months I'll have to have another minor surgery to remove the screws, and then rehab. She promised me I'd be on a snowboard by next season and playing basketball by the end of the year. Salsa dancing may take a little longer because of the lack of support in the shoes, but I have a new pair of shoes waiting to be tried, so we'll have to make it work eventually. If anyone has any great ideas for activities I can do with a broken foot, I'd greatly appreciate it. I'm focusing on upper body yoga, lifting arm weights, and in a few weeks kayaking. Definitely need some more cardiac options, though (I can't ride a bike for at least 6 weeks). 

I'm staying with a friend now, but greatly appreciate all the offers of help and will take you up on that once I'm home. 

Lots of love,


Medical Record Craziness

Currently hating how the medical system works out here in the big city.

To get my surgery Thursday at the ortho place, I have to get my physical and the records from that physical from my doctor at St. Marys, and my labs from the hospital at John Muir. St. Marys and John Muir have not been super timely, so my surgery is at risk.

I'm the patient needing surgery and sitting here trying to coordinate 3 different places to get this all in order so they don't postpone it. Days like today make me almost wish I had Kaiser.

Can we please get everyone on board with digital data management?


Not an Uncommon Church Issue

I watch 20/20 on hulu. I almost hate to admit it, but it's a guilty pleasure left over my childhood and time with my mom. The April 8 episode features a girl who was raped and then instructed by her radical fundamentalist church to forgive and forget, to the point where she was basically told it was all her fault and she needed to repent for HER sins. To the point where she didn't turn him in or press charges. This young woman spent her life thinking she did everything wrong and that this guy did nothing wrong. She spent her life thinking she couldn't turn to God or anyone else for help. She was actually told she was lucky that she didn't live in old times because she would have been stoned. She was FIFTEEN when it happened. NO matter her age, This is NOT okay. This is NOT uncommon. This is actually a story I've heard time and time again from fundamentalist evangelical churches, particularly in the midwest. Incredibly sad. I'm livid, but I'm also happy to see this in mainstream media. I think people don't realize how powerful churches can be in the lives of young girls.

You can watch the 20/20 episode of her story here:

The news story hit papers in 2010:


What I Want

I watch the show Parenthood regularly. One of the things I always envy is how there are so many siblings who love each other and are there for each other through their lives. It makes me want more than 2 kids...even though I feel like 2 is probably the responsible number.

But this...this got me. In the last episode, the oldest of the children, a high school senior, was in a car accident.

This is the next scene. Watch the first 3 minutes.

Parenthood - Watch the First Three Minutes

This. This is what I want.

Not the car wreck, you idiots. The massive support.


Laundry/Sick Day

You know you're an adult when you stay home from an evening obligation because you're geting sick and then spend the night doing laundry and cleaning because that's the only time you have to actually get stuff done.


Songs My Future Man Will Deserve #3

I'll Stand By You - The Pretenders

Oh, why you look so sad?
Tears are in your eyes
Come on and come to me now
Don't be ashamed to cry
Let me see you through
'Cause I've seen the dark side too

When the night falls on you
You don't know what to do
Nothin' you confess, could make me love you less

I'll stand by you, I'll stand by you
Won't let nobody hurt you
I'll stand by you

So, if you're mad, get mad
Don't hold it all inside
Come on and talk to me now

Hey, what you got to hide?
I get angry too
Well I'm a lot like you

When you're standing at the crossroads
And don't know which path to choose
Let me come along
'Cause even if you're wrong

I'll stand by you, I'll stand by you
Won't let nobody hurt you
I'll stand by you

Take me in, into your darkest hour
And I'll never desert you
I'll stand by you

And when, when the night falls on you, baby
You're feelin' all alone
You won't be on your own

I'll stand by you, I'll stand by you
Won't let nobody hurt you
I'll stand by you
Take me in, into your darkest hour
And I'll never desert you

I'll stand by you, I'll stand by you
Won't let nobody hurt you
I'll stand by you

Won't let nobody hurt you
I'll stand by you
I'll stand by you
Won't let nobody hurt you

I'll stand by you
No, no, no, no, no
Take me in, into your darkest hour
And I'll never desert you
I'll stand by you
I'll stand by you


Songs My Future Man Will Deserve #2

Good Hearted Man - Tift Merritt

Swore that I was living free
Boy, you couldn't talk to me
And the pride that kept me
Didn't know no company

Early morning subway train
Feeling lost and runnin' late
Well he held the car
He gave his seat to me

And I can't find nothin'
Feels so fine as lovin' a good hearted man
Oh he can sooth me, free me
Oh I'm going to marry that good hearted man

I told him that he better go
?Cause I was crazy and impossible
That my love was broken
My dreams had run all wild

Patient as the easy rain
Oh he never turned away
Callin' "Hey sweet woman
You know you're not a child"

And I can't find nothin'
Feels so fine as lovin' a good hearted man
Oh he can sooth me, free me
Oh I'm gonna marry that good hearted man

Good hearted man, now the night makes sense
Because your tenderness, it's shelter in me
So trading in that hard headed kid for a woman I can give to him
And it ain't easy but I'm gonna do the best I can for that good hearted man

You know there just aint nothin'
Feels so fine as lovin' a good hearted man
Oh he can sooth me, free me
Oh I'm gonna marry that good hearted man

Oh and I'm grateful, grateful
Got to say thank you to a good hearted man


Songs My Future Man Will Deserve #1

Head Over Feet  - Alanis Morrissette

I had no choice but to hear you
You stated your case time and again
I thought about it

You treat me like I'm a princess
I'm not used to liking that
You ask how my day was

You've already won me over in spite of me
And don't be alarmed if I fall head over feet
Don't be surprised if I love you for all that you are
I couldn't help it
It's all your fault

Your love is thick and it swallowed me whole
You're so much braver than I gave you credit for
That's not lip service

You've already won me over in spite of me
And don't be alarmed if I fall head over feet
Don't be surprised if I love you for all that you are
I couldn't help it
It's all your fault

You are the bearer of unconditional things
You held your breath and the door for me
Thanks for your patience

You're the best listener that I've ever met
You're my best friend
Best friend with benefits
What took me so long

I've never felt this healthy before
I've never wanted something rational
I am aware now
I am aware now

You've already won me over in spite of me
And don't be alarmed if I fall head over feet
Don't be surprised if I love you for all that you are
I couldn't help it
It's all your fault


Black Walnuts

I had a beautiful moment today.

At the dinner gathering after my father's funeral, we had a traditional family potluck. When dessert time came, I chose a brownie and sat down to enjoy it. I took a bite and tasted something I loved but couldn't quite recall. After a few moments, I realized that the brownie was made with black walnuts. Black walnuts, as opposed to English walnuts, have an extremely unique taste. Wildman Steve Brill says:
Black walnuts have a strong, rich, smoky flavor with a hint of wine. Use them any recipe that call for nuts, but unless you’re featuring the black walnut's flavor, use it sparingly, or it will overpower everything else. I often combine one part black walnuts with three parts commercial (English) walnuts.

A lot of people don't like them, but they grow everywhere here in Missouri and we used to pick them up off the ground to eat them. I'm not even sure you can find black walnuts in SF. Anyway, it was just one of those moments in which I found immense joy in being from the Ozarks and felt a real sense of coming home.