Sunday, May 31, 2009

Things that make me happy

(installment #250,319 in a series of 10,000,000)
Naming my stuff

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Change one thing, change everything

They were high school sweethearts. He - tall, skinny and painfully shy - just transferred from a private school. She - valedictorian material with a little of the hot geek thing going on - was and is still my best friend in the world.

She asked him to the Sadie Hawkins dance and that was it. They were inseparable for all of senior year and the summer that followed.They braved undergrad a few hundred miles apart then ended up together in Columbus; she was immersed in the life-sucking test of perseverance,smarts,and will that was vet school. He had his degree in wildlife biology. They got engaged.

Somehow, as relationships tend to do at that age, it sort of slowly unraveled. He was miserable away from the woods where he hunted and fished. She was tunnel-visioned and hell-bent on getting through vet school. They went their separate ways; it was too painful for both of them to try and remain friends.

She thought about him often, wondered what he looked like now and what he was doing with his life.

Fast-forward almost 20 years.

One day, she's home from work with laryngitis. She picks up a freebie local paper, the kind that end up, unsolicited, on one's doorstep and usually ends up directly in the garbage without so much as a glance.

But, this day, she's home when she wouldn't normally be and reading a paper she wouldn't normally read.

She doesn't believe her eyes. An obituary for a man, 37 years young, with the same name as the man she almost married. It couldn't be. He had a pretty common last name and anyway, last she heard he was living in West Virginia.

With a sense of trepidation she checks the online obituaries of the city's major newspaper. There, before her eyes,looking at the pictures in the guest book, her worst fears are confirmed. He still had the same glint in his eyes and the dimples when he smiled, but he was probably 75 pounds heavier. He had always hated being so skinny, 6'6" and under 200lbs. Many friends and family mentioned in the obit. No mention of wife or children.The family requested donations to sarcoma research in lieu of flowers.

Cancer. Cancer had taken this big, healthy, woodsy hunter-fisherman-outdoorsman. 37 years old.

A thousand thoughts flew through her mind at once: I would be a widow right now if we'd gotten married. He wasn't married. Why hadn't he gotten married or had kids? Would we have had kids if we'd gotten married? Did he suffer? I hope he didn't suffer.

Change one thing, change everything. They don't break up and they do get married. Do they live in the suburbs - like she does now? Or in the sticks, like he did? Do they have kids before her endometriosis took a tube, an ovary, and most of her fertility? Is she now a widow with kids at 38?

Or... Maybe she doesn't suffer a bout of laryngitis and she's at work and never sees that obituary.

Or, like she does the other 99% of the time, she throws that paper in the garbage without even giving it a look.

Change one thing, change everything.

Friday, May 29, 2009

90% compliance.

When put in such cut and dry terms, I think it's achievable. I'm talking about the 90% compliance with your nutrition plan that Tom Venuto advocates for losing body fat without depriving oneself and feeling that one must be "perfect".

This flies in the face of my all-or-nothing mentality, which is good, because that mentality has only set me back and gotten me fatter in the past.

Venuto's experience with training clients is that if they follow their nutrition plan 90% of the time, then "what you eat the other 10% of the time won't matter much." He finds this more effective than allowing a full cheat day, which I can tell you personally turns into a "cheat half-year" for me. While you're at it, he advises, don't call them cheats. Give it a positive connotation instead.

I think I'll call mine giggity-giggitys.

Don't think I haven't thought this over. Seven days with 3 meals and 2 snacks each per day. 35 meals/snacks per week. 90% of that is precisely 31.5. If I feel like rounding it up it's 32. So 3 times in a week I can have a giggity-giggity.

Allll riiiiight.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

This is what I've had the most trouble with....

... in my struggle to not use food for anything other than fuel for my body. I tend to feel a binge coming on and say to myself, "Ok," instead of having a conversation about the possible consequences of going through with the binge. Sometimes I don't even think enough to get to the "Ok" part. I just do. And that leads to a pattern of hours and sometimes days - at the worst times, months - of out-of-control eating with no regard for what it does to my body.

I came upon what you see below in my new book, and it was like the heavens opened up and put a cheat-sheet in my pocket. Actually I put the cheat-sheet in my pocket. Marked the page, highlighted around that bulleted list, and ran off a copy, and laminated it. I take it everywhere with me now, and it got me through a Memorial Day cookout pretty painlessly. Rather than having seconds and thirds of everything as I usually do, followed by a "taste" (yeah right) of the many dessert offerings, I had grilled chicken, beans, asparagus, and for dessert... one cookie. That, my friends, is progress. What was more amazing about it is that I was thoroughly satisfied and felt absolutely no stress in saying no to additional portions, even when cookie cake was waved in my face by a hostess anxious to get rid of the sweets. It really did give me hope once again that I could do this, and that every day didn't have to be a struggle.

Here is what I am carrying around everywhere with me: (from page 77 of Tom Venuto's book, The Body Fat Solution)

  • Am I thinking about eating because I'm physically hungry or for another

  • If it's not for physical hunger, then why I am thinking about eating

  • What will be the immediate consequences if I eat this?

  • What will be the long-term consequences if I eat this?

  • What will be my rewards for saying no to this?

  • Is eating this going to move me closer or farther away from my

  • Is eating this worth it?

  • See what I mean? It's so goddamned simple, it's stupid! I've gone over this sort of thing in one form or another in therapy for the past year and a half. But, there it is, conveniently on a page, all in one place, worded just the way I think my therapist intended when she urged me to have a conversation with my self (or my inner child) while considering eating mindlessly.

    So far, all I can say is that little laminated piece of paper has freed me. Thanks, Tom.

    Wednesday, May 27, 2009

    I could never be a therapist.

    Though that was my major and my intention in college, I am realizing now that would have been a terrible career path for many reasons. Primarily, because I'd fucking slap people.

    Don't get me wrong; I have empathy. I do! But after watching Obsessed the other night, that just confirmed in my mind that I am right where I need to be, career-wise. For some reason, the more people cry and say "I can't" and do silly shit like wearing the bloodied clothing their dead father was wearing the night he died in a car accident - the more empathy flies out the window and I want to slap them.

    I bet my therapist wants to slap me sometimes. Hell, I want to slap me. I sit there in the recliner (nope, not on a couch) once a month, and I say the same things over and over again. She gives me gentle reminders that I should be going over my 12-step work and reminds me of all of the tools I have to keep me from eating more than I need to. I go to a group once a month in her office and we all sit and talk about problems, solutions, situations where we've succeeded, situations we haven't handled well. Yet I don't see any major outward progress with myself or anyone else. Sometimes I wonder what would happen at the end of a year if I took all those co- pays and group fees and socked them away and didn't go. Would I be the same weight, just $720 richer? Or would I go off the deep end and gain 40lbs? See? Don't you wanna just slap me?

    I found a book that sort of encapsulates a good bit of what I have been learning in therapy into big ol' handy, 293 page cheat sheet. It comes from an unlikely author. Not a psychiatrist or psychologist; not even a doctor. Not one single pretentious letter follows his name. However, this book, in reiterating everything I am learning in therapy in a down-to-earth and motivational format, is re-opening my eyes and telling me again: You can actually do this. It's not rocket science. You don't have to obsess over food or think about it all the time. You don't need to belong to a gym or own thousands of dollars worth of fancy equipment.

    The book is The Body Fat Solution by Tom Venuto, a bodybuilder, trainer, proponent of natural nutrition, and blogger.

    I'll be sharing some tidbits from the book that are making me nod my head, get out my highlighter and run to the copier to immortalize certain passages.

    And I'll sit there on Monday and tell my therapist about it and she'll think to herself, while probably wanting to slap me, "Yes, yes. It's the same stuff I've been trying to get through your thick skull for the past year and a half." (all the while smiling enigmatically at me)

    Monday, May 25, 2009

    A Tale of Two Tacos

    Bloated on road food from my trip south, I've got these cravings: "Summer-y!!", says my brain. "Fresh and grilled!!", say my taste buds. "Healthy. PLEASE.", begs my ever-widening ass.

    So, to meet those demands and those of my wallet, we're revisiting an old friend, and making a new one. Note that these recipes use many of the same ingredients. I hate nothing more than letting that fragrant bunch of cilantro turn to a squalid, liquidy waste at the bottom of the produce drawer because I only needed half the bunch. The other nice thing is that if you like to cook ahead, like I do, you can chop lots of this stuff just once.

    Today's new recipe up for review is, again, from Cooking Light:

    Fish Tacos with Lime-Cilantro Crema

    4 servings (serving size: 2 tacos)


    Crema: (I like that word: Crema. Sounds kinda dirty.)
    1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions
    1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
    3 tablespoons fat-free mayonnaise
    3 tablespoons reduced-fat sour cream
    1 teaspoon grated lime rind
    1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    1 garlic clove, minced

    1 teaspoon ground cumin
    1 teaspoon ground coriander
    1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
    1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
    1/8 teaspoon salt
    1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
    1 1/2 pounds red snapper fillets
    Cooking spray
    8 (6-inch) corn tortillas
    2 cups shredded cabbage

    Preheat oven to 425°.

    To prepare crema, combine the first 8 ingredients in a small bowl; set aside.

    To prepare tacos, combine cumin and next 5 ingredients (through garlic powder) in a small bowl; sprinkle spice mixture evenly over both sides of fish. Place fish on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Bake at 425° for 9 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork or until desired degree of doneness. Place fish in a bowl; break into pieces with a fork. Heat tortillas according to package directions. Divide fish evenly among tortillas; top each with 1/4 cup cabbage and 1 tablespoon crema.

    Nutritional Information
    Calories: 394 (14% from fat)
    Fat: 6.3g (sat 1.5g,mono 1.5g,poly 1.5g)
    Protein: 40.3g
    Carbohydrate: 40.1g
    Fiber: 5.5g
    Cholesterol: 70mg
    Iron: 3.5mg
    Sodium: 857mg
    Calcium: 233mg

    Do I ever do a recipe the way it's written? In a word, no.

    I actually subsituted full-fat plain organic yogurt for the sour cream in the Crema. The Crema *licks lips suggestively* tasted just fine to me with the yogurt substitution. I also don't generally use the fat-free or low-fat crap the recipes often call for, because that stuff is full of filler and tastes like ass. So, to recap, full-fat real mayo, not that Miracle Whip shit, and full-fat yogurt instead of low-fat sour cream.

    I really liked the inclusion of the lime zest in the Crema. Such a bright almost.. explosion of flavor. I probably shouldn't use Crema and imagery of explosions in your mouth... you'll think I'm not getting any. I assure you I am.

    Also, since I already had the grill fired up for the flank steak, I grilled the fish on a Pam-lubed sheet of heavy-duty foil. Less than 10 minutes on a medium-heat grill, and it was perfectly flaky.

    The fish? By the way? Not red snapper. Not at all. Individually quick-frozen flounder filets from Costco. Only $8-something a bag, fyi.

    This recipe is going to end up in my "make for company who like fish" and "make for myself when I have fish" rotation. Filling, yet light and summery.

    Sunday, May 24, 2009

    What I hear when the hockey game is on.

    You've probably got to be a fan of McSweeney's lists to appreciate this.

    Names heard in the Pens playoff game last night that could also be names for deviant sexual acts:

    • Dupuis
    • Fedotenko
    • Kunitz
    • Letang
    • Eaton
    • Scuderi
    • Ruutu

    • Satan

    Saturday, May 23, 2009

    This is better than Prozac

    I am in love.

    Let me introduce you. Her name is Dragonfly, and she is my kayak. Now, I had all intentions of giving my Perception Prodigy - the 2nd best Christmas gift EVER, in case you were wondering - a totally badass name. Also since I got shot down on naming the jetskis Shepherd I and Shepherd II, it was pretty firm in my mind that I was going to honor my girls in some way with the boat's name.

    But life, serendipity, whatever ... likes to throw little monkey wrenches into our plans all the time.

    Sitting in the middle of the lake, enjoying the sounds of families fishing, other boaters paddling by, the croaking of the bullfrogs, and the occasional splash as a fish does an acrobatic jump up out of the water - it happened. The most perfect blue dragonfly lit on the bow of my kayak. It matched perfectly the color of the boat and the natural beauty all around me.

    And just like that, another one of my inanimate objects has been brought to life.

    Friday, May 22, 2009

    Ok. Yes.

    I did it.

    I ate the them. Whatever those sweet, oaty things were that you left on top of the hot cooking box. Yeah. Ate 'em. Made my ears itchy afterward, but hey. You only live once.

    I assume - and maybe I'm making an ass out of u and me when I do so - when you leave something so obviously yummy and right in my reach, that it must be for me. I hear, "There, Ceece, I'll just put these up here for you.", (or is that just in my mind? Probably.) Then I see that look on your face and you say "WhatdidyouDOOOOO" all stern, and it occurs to me maybe those sweets weren't for me. Well, what the hell. I heard you complaining anyway that they were too crispy. If you'd have asked me I'd have told you they were just fine, both plain and soaked in my water bowl.

    What? You like my hat? Haha. I wasn't too happy about that one. However my people have found that given the right motivation, like food or BEER, I will wear just about anything on my head and sit still for a picture. It makes them happy - and that, my friends, is my sole purpose in this life.

    I study my people. Dad and the little one especially. My eyes follow Dad around the room. If he goes too far, I need to follow him to see if he needs me. He might need me. I can tell he is comforted by my presence by the way he pats me right above my tail and calls me BoneHead. I don't know what that means, but it has the word Bone in it, so I'm pretty sure it's a good name. If Dad opens the Big Cold Box, I am THERE. In case you don't know, sometimes there is BEER in there and BEER is one of my favorite things ever. I'm actually a little embarrassed at how much I like BEER. Just the mention of it, and I'm vocalizing and pacing. They get one out and I stare, transfixed, and next thing you know, my mouth is watering. Who needs a bell? Pavlov was an asshole anyway.

    The little one? She is mine. It is my job to both watch over her and keep her in line. I follow her everywhere. Well, almost everywhere. She goes to the house beside ours a lot. The one with the Little Dog With a Death Wish. I can't remember his name, so that's what I call him. What business does he have coming at me with teeth bared? Psssshh. I could dispose of you with one shake, Little Dog. Watch yourself. Anyway, the little one gets on this Big Yellow Thing quite a bit and goes away. It brings her back, but those hours seem to be interminable to me. Especially that last hour before she comes out of the Big Yellow Thing and her voice once again fills our house. I can relax again... Oh, spoke too soon! Other small people coming to the house. Gotta herd 'em, keep 'em in line.

    Then there's The One That Takes Me Places. We speak to each other with our eyes, and we always seem to know what the other is thinking. She studies me as much as I study her. I am not quite sure what her role is in our den... sometimes she's there for hours and hours... days in a row. Then, sometimes, I don't see her for a couple of days. Therefore, when I do see her, I feel the need to let her know in unequivocal terms how much I missed her. I know I'm supposed to lie down before I ask for attention. I know. It's hard, though, ya know? When The One That Takes You Places arrives, you can't help but be excited. Sometimes, she fools me, and we don't go anywhere but the backyard to play JollyBall. I don't mind, though I'd rather go swimming. I think she enjoys seeing me swim almost as much as I enjoy doing it. She just stands on the dam with that big shit-eating grin on her face while I jump in, paddle, fetch, drop toy and shake... jump in, paddle, fetch, drop toy and shake. Repeat all day for all I care. I could go forever.

    Speaking of shit-eating... have you ever tried it? I'm telling you... it's worth getting yelled at.

    Thursday, May 21, 2009

    I haven't laughed this hard in a long time.

    Every time I look at this, I start again.

    Tuesday, May 19, 2009

    Hey! Hey! Hey! HeyHey!

    Sorry. Sometimes I just bark like that to get attention. Just like rolling on my back and bicycle-kicking my legs up in the air, despite the fact that I'm in what they call my "golden years". Sure, it hurts a little when my bony back hits the floor and I squirm my atrophied hips from side so side.. but it hurts so goooooood when I can scratch just the right spot as I roll on that carpet.
    Anyway, yeah. Did she tell you what she did yesterday? I had to feed myself. 14 damned years old, and I had to get my own goddamned dinner. I don't know what she does when she's gone. Most of the time, truth be told, I sleep. I can't help but be happy when she comes home, though, even though I had to feed myself. Did I tell you about that? Yeah. Damndest thing.
    Anyway, she comes home with the best smells on her boots and pants. Sometimes, it's like she's been dragging those boot soles through a butcher shop, or something. I don't know where she goes to get those great smells and tastes on those shoes, but I wish I could go just once. First thing she does is take those boots off her paws. Then she removes the clothes with so many smells, puts them into the big box that goes swuusshhhh, swuushhhh, clank, fshhhhhhh, and they come back out without all those smells. She puts on the clothes that smell like our den, and that's when I start my show.
    I throw myself all over the room where our beds are... rolling on my back, exclaiming in joy and camaraderie. She seems to enjoy this, because she laughs and scratches my belly and calls me My Ol' Bimbo... whatever that means. It is some sort of notation of respect, that I do know. Anyway, when I tire of rolling, I run back and forth across that room and I feel young again. When I pick up that big soft square that smells like me and shake it, it's like I am transported back to my youth. Days when my hips didn't crack with each move and I could walk in a straight line, without using my tail for balance. Days when I could go for a Ride In The Car without wanting to throw up or crap myself. Yep. Those were the days.
    But these days are good ones, too. Not hearing those loud booms outside when it rains... I don't miss those. And those loud noises during the summer nights during that one week? Those were scary. I remember being drugged high off my ass, just so I wouldn't care so much about the noises. They still scared me; I was just too fucked up to knock stuff over or crap on the floor. But these days, I don't even notice them. I don't have to sleep on the floor if I don't want to. Who's going to tell a lady of my age and stature to get down from that comfy thing she gets to sleep on? Certainly not her. Most times, when she sees me there she tiptoes in and curls up behind me, careful not to disturb my sleep. But even at my age, I can tell when the smells from the world outside enter my home, and I look up, and there she is.. lying behind me with her arm over my side, scratching my belly in just the right spot.
    Yeah.. I had to feed myself yesterday, did I tell you that? Sheesh.
    But it's not a bad life.

    Saturday, May 16, 2009

    How appropriate...

    ... that I should happen upon this on the 18.5th hour of a 20-hour shift. It took a 20oz Diet Coke and 5 cups of fair trade dark roast before I could communicate in more than a series of unintelligible hoots, grunts, and clicks.
    As you can see by comparing my actual consumption to the curve above, I never got to the God sighting part..
    However, since God has never been accused of having a paramedic complex, but the reverse is often true... would I recognize Him if sighted?
    Oh yes. The errant lightning bolts coming at me. That would be a clue.
    (Thanks to NurseAusMed for the pic)

    Wednesday, May 13, 2009

    Wish I were with you, but I couldn't stay. Every direction leads me away. Pray for tomorrow, but for today, All I want... Is to be home. - Foo Fighters

    Tuesday, May 12, 2009

    How many?

    How many fleas must one pluck off of oneself before it is considered an act of self-preservation - and not Yankee snobbery - to leave the infested area, and head for the comfort of home?

    That threshold, for me, was a little less than 24 hours. I got to see my family, and my beloved Brian, and I got to see some great friends.

    In the words of the Foo Fighters, all I want ... is to be home.

    I'm heading out tonight.

    There's no place like home.

    I mean it.

    In the past several days I've run the gamut. I've spent hours and hours behind the wheel on seemingly endless highways. Spent a couple leisurely days with friends touring and lunching and chillin'. More time behind the wheel, then the hush of a hospital room and the wheeze of an 83 year old struggling for each breath. A blissful night reconnecting with him, both of us miles from home for two different reasons, but only a few hours from each other. How could I not go to him? His only remaining parent lay frightened in a hospital bed, and he was there to be her strength until hers returned. Where would he turn when he grew weary of being the strong one? So I went to him.

    Now, here I sit... Surrounded by fleas and empty beer cans and the stale odor of cigarettes. Every year it's the same; I make hotel reservations, then cancel because I feel guilty, like the uppity northerner who thinks she's too good to stay in this old leaky house with the tarps on the roof and the housefly and flea infestations.

    Last night, I concocted a plan in which a nonexistent emergency would tear me away, and I'd spend a peaceful, flea-free night in a hotel before heading home tomorrow.

    The plan melted away in an instant when Brian - my 23 year old nephew and my reason for wanting to visit - came to say goodnight.

    I can stick it out one more night for him.

    Sunday, May 10, 2009

    The good and the bad

    It's been a pretty great weekend for me.. Finishing a 5k (and NOT on a treadmill - wow!), meeting up with good friends, and seeing Atlanta through the eyes of an architecture and history buff.

    Not such a great weekend for Dan. He got a phone call that his Mom was hospitalized with cardiac symptoms, and he was fortunate to be able to drop everything and head to Tennessee to be with her - a rare occurrence for him to be able to travel on such short notice.

    He would not hear of me canceling my meetup and 5k plans to go with him. So here we are, about 200 miles from each other, both far from home.

    I have some time on my hands later, a full tank of gas, and a little talking box in my car that will get me to any address I tap into its keyboard.

    I'm going to go spend the night with him.

    Friday, May 8, 2009


    I'm in Georgia... Saw a car without a hood going down 85.

    Thursday, May 7, 2009

    Of paranoia and... paranormal?

    So we get a routine call for a 60 y/o male with a nosebleed (that's epistaxis if you wanna sound real smart). He's on blood thinners. We mosey on up there at our own pace, because I have yet, in 15 years, to have a patient die of a nosebleed. As we're arriving at the apartment complex, dispatch lets us know that the nosebleed may be due to a home invasion and possible assault. They then let us know that police have cleared the scene for us to come in.

    We walk in and see an obviously stoned-looking guy, sitting on the couch, dabbing his nose. It has, indeed, been bleeding - but by the looks of the bloody towels strewn about the filthy apartment and the lack of blood I see now - the worst is behind him. He's telling the cops about the intruders as we are setting our stuff down and getting a look around. Every surface in the tiny apartment is covered in junk, and dust, and cigarette ashes. Pill bottles are strewn everywhere in the kitchen, as well as dirty dishes and food in various stages of decay and odor.

    The cops have already checked every room, finding no intruder. The guy claims he came home to a few small-statured people, dressed in costumes and masks, with painted faces. They whispered to each other so softly he couldn't hear them, he said. Though, he said, it was weird that his place was still deadbolted when he came home, and he had to unlock the deadbolt to get in. Of course, "they booked" right before the police and we arrived. As he's relating this story, one cop who is taking a casual look around the place holds up a gigantic bong and waves it around behind the guy's head. We roll our eyes. A daughter confirms on the phone that the patient has an extensive drug history, as if we hadn't already figured it out ourselves.

    His story suddenly changes to something more plausible: his nose spontaneously started bleeding as he sat on the couch watching the game. Ok. That sounds good. We're back to reality here.

    Then, suddenly, a wooden wall hanging of 3 interconnected crosses comes flying, literally out of thin air, and beans the younger cop in the shoulder. We all stand there with our mouths hanging open, the patient included.
    "Who else is here?", the cop demanded, putting his hand on his holster and advancing toward what he thought was the empty bedroom.
    The patient, for his part, just sat there on the couch, shaking his head knowingly and mumbling, "See? That's the kind of shit that happens here all the time!"

    We retreated outside until the police cleared the residence a second time; it's not the medics' job to put themselves in harm's way if it can be avoided. Some one needs to be alive to treat the injured if something bad goes down. Of course, there is nobody else in the apartment. There is nothing on the wall on which the crosses could have hung, and no vantage point above us where we could see evidence they had been. Nobody even remembers seeing it before it came flying toward us. Weird, we agreed.

    "It wouldn't have freaked me out so much", said the boyish-looking young irish cop, "if it hadn't been fucking CROSSES flying at me."

    Wednesday, May 6, 2009

    Oh, the irony...

    Words that should never be heard in an EMS dispatch, but often (in our system) are:

    "Vehicle accident, no injuries"

    Yep, I'd like to say millions of you tax dollars are being wasted so that we can take $250,000 worth of equipment and put it on the road for what is known to be nothing.. but I'm not supported by your tax dollars, so neener neener neener.

    Oh. Wait. The joke's still on me.

    Hey, look for mobile blogs from the road later this week as I take a road trip to Atlanta to meet up with some friends for the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure 5k. I may be, literally, blogging from the road, lying there face-up waiting for someone to remove my seized-up old carcass from the race course so's I don't trip up the serious runners. Tune in to find out!

    Saturday, May 2, 2009

    Ethics - A pleasant surprise

    The Kentucky Derby favorite, I Want Revenge, scratched from the lineup this morning. David Lanzman, the breeder and a part-owner of the colt, was quoted as saying, "They gave me their opinion of what was best for the horse. At that point, there was no debate (about scratching)," Lanzman said. "I’m glad the horse is OK."

    How ethical, and humane, and reasonable - in a sport where humane treatment of these beautiful animals is in short supply.

    In my eyes, they won today.

    Friday, May 1, 2009

    "Do you remember people you take care of?",

    ... asked the slight, blond woman who sat on the bench seat of our rig. The strap of her tank-top was torn, and she was shaking.

    We were called by police to evaluate her - not because she'd bumped her car at a super-low speed into another - but because in talking to her after the fender-bender, police had noticed marks on her neck that were shaped suspiciously like a pair of big hands. A swollen cheekbone. A bloody lip. Scratches on her arm and wrist.

    It had happened a couple of townships over from where we were now, and she left and had escaped to her car to drive home, dog in tow. The local police urged her to contact the police where the incident had occurred, because they had no jurisdiction to arrest anyone.

    "But he's connected. With (insert motorcycle gang name here), and the mafia. He has lunch once a week with the magistrate. He knows all of the cops. They won't do anything!" She looked at us as if she didn't expect us to believe what she was saying. She felt the need to explain: "This man is like my father figure. He put me through school... through graduate school! Nothing like this ever happened before."

    And then, looking me in the eye: "I'm not someone who does this. I'm not some drug addict or something."

    I looked back at her, thinking to myself, Neither am I, honey. Neither am I.

    I wondered if she had any idea how similar she and I were, even though she was an interior designer driving a BMW and I, a paramedic of more modest means. She had lost her parents at a young age. I had, too. By age 21 I considered myself to be an overaged orphan. We both ended up involved in some way with someone who was toxic. She, with a "father figure" abuser, me with a seemingly nice guy who ended up with a raging alcohol addiction.

    "You have no idea how humiliating this is", she said with downcast eyes.

    He hit me once. Once. I looked at the already-swelling purplish eye in the bathroom mirror in disbelief, and then calmly walked downstairs to call the police. Police that I knew and worked with on a daily basis were going to come to my door and see me like this. It's amazing my ex didn't end up having any "unfortunate accidents" and didn't "trip and fall" during his time with these guys, who treated me like their little sister.

    The next day, I went to the courthouse downtown and got a PFA, and cried in front of the whole room as I did so. "Who the hell is this person?", I wondered, because this couldn't be my life. I was not raised this way, to be a woman who needed a PFA. I pressed charges and faced him at the magistrate's office, stating I would not drop charges, but I would be ok with him not spending any more time in jail if he was required to go to AA. Hung out in the back room waiting for my hearing with those same cops I see and work with every day, wondering if they thought less of me now. Went to work with a black eye. Wore garish pink and purple eyeshadow on both eyes so my eyes would match.

    Sweetie, I thought to myself looking at her, I know what humiliation is.

    I can only hope and pray that this really is the first time this has happened to her, and the only time that it will happen.

    "Do you remember people you take care of? Like, if you read about me, would you remember it was me?"

    God, please don't say that.