Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Greetings from the Sick Ward

My apologies for the lack of posting this past week. I inherited a bug from Brian that is about as much fun as the Black Plague, and possibly as deadly. My coworkers are looking at me and doing double takes today, followed by a gasp and a "you look TERRIBLE" or something along those lines.

Could be worse. Sometimes my coworkers do that when I'm feeling completely fine - after all, I do get paler than a chemotherapy patient during this time of year. It ain't easy being green....

Nonetheless, I wish you and yours a very happy new year! Now excuse me while I blow my nose. Again.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

A Few Thoughts on Christmas

Christmas has been a constantly shifting concept in my life, as I’m sure it has been for most people. As a child, it was a day of magic and excitement and miracles and ohmygod brand new toys! As I got older, Christmas became a day of family and warmth and a really, really good meal orchestrated with love by frenzied parents. Later, the simultaneous divorce of my parents and (unfortunate) marriage of myself and my Ex caused Christmas to become a whirl of confusion and division – my life was like a jigsaw puzzle of mismatched pieces, and I was trying to squash them together to make a recognizable picture. It didn't really work. And as the dust settled, Christmas became whole again, but in a duller, half-recognizable form, seen through the eyes of a person who was considerably less happy than she used to be.

And now, Christmas of 2008 has arrived with a brand new life and an outlook to match. I anticipated December 25th (and the days pre-and proceeding that day) to be brilliant – a glorious comeback of the “old” Christmas, full of magic and wonder and anticipation. I decorated liberally, and I brought presents generously, and in abundance. Brian and I started what are sure to be new traditions in our happy little life, and punctuated the month of December with little instances of warmth and merriment and other Christmas-y feelings, all tied together with a roaring fireplace and a happy dog and a sense of gratitude that cannot be expressed by words.

Unfortunately, things don’t always go as planned. Yesterday was undoubtedly the darkest day that I experienced in 2008. It wasn’t only what happened (although what happened was pretty awful), but that it was allowed to happen – that bad people should triumph and good people should suffer (2 days before Christmas, nonetheless!), that really pulled the rug out from underneath me. I’ve had several struggles this year that have really challenged my sense of justice, but this latest action completely blindsided me. The hurt is deep, and shaking this last hit off is proving a monumental task.

And yet…

The people who surround me are lighting little fires in my chilly, significantly bitter heart. Sympathy and understanding and hugs are abounding. Friends and coworkers are offering advice and shoulders and food and cards and smiles. Brian (my god is he wonderful) is sitting with me in my dark tunnel, saying just enough and offering more support than I thought was possible. My family is sharing my outrage and driving me forward with righteous cause, bearing my flag proudly. Surely this is what Christmas is all about. I think I’m finding that Christmas doesn’t always come easily and effortlessly. Often, it comes with our burdens and sadnesses and indignities in tow. But it’s our ability to rise above these hardships – with the help of those we love – that makes Christmas the special time of year that it is intended to be.

This Christmas Eve, when the weight of my hardships were dragging me under, I felt a thousand hands reaching to pull me back up.

And I am grateful for each and every one of them.

So I wish everyone a Merry Christmas. May your loads feel a bit lighter, and your hearts a bit brighter this Holiday season.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Pen is Mightier than the Sword

Aaah, the power of words.

Remember that blog I wrote yesterday? That blog where I fumed and vented, then came to terms with my present life? Wow, did that improve my mood! I started writing a wretched, lost, on-the-verge-of-tears individual, and by the time I tapped that last period into place, I was on a whole other level. From depression to gratitude in 30 minutes, and all it took was throwing some words down on a piece of paper (

I am constantly amazed by the power of the written word. With regards to my job, I use my words to educate healthcare professionals. True, the bulk of my projects on Clostridium difficile infection and cytomegalovirus aren't exactly saving lives, but I have my moments of gratitude where I'm appreciative that I possess the ability to write in such a way that others can be enlightened, if only about hospital-associated diarrhea.

Alternately, this blog was designed with the aim of entertainment, mostly for the (3) people who read it. This blog still entertains, but now I write to entertain myself, as well as others. I also write to vent, to laugh, to share, and to humble myself. The subject matter may be primarily fluffy and nonsensical, but it's impact on me has been real and significant. Writing has kept my mind open and my creative juices flowing. It's my way of working through problems, sharing small amusements, and reminding myself of what's really imporant in life. I guess you could say writing is my meditation, my philosophy, and my religion all rolled into one. And I'm a better person for it. Hell, that one blog just allowed me to achieved a mindset I used to only attain through the use of pharmaceuticals (aah, zoloft, how do I love theee? Let me count the ways. ... ... zero. Big, fat zero)

I think the important thing here is that no matter how you express yourself, whether it's through art or music or religion or communication, self-expression is a noble and worthwhile pursuit. Have YOU expressed yourself today?

Okay, that was pretty corney.

But on the subject of words, I came across this poem I had written for my grandfather's funeral last winter. I am by no means a poet, but once again, I am surprised at the depth of emotion that language can express. Judge it kindly, please. I believe this is the first 'poem' I have ever presented in a public outlet. Let's just say that I'm no Emily Dickenson (Thanks Elise and Jen, for just reminding me of her and how brilliant her work is). This poem may be far from perfect, but at least it's sincere.

Do Not See Me As I Am

When you look at me
In the twilight of my life
Do not see me as I am

Do not see
The craggy wrinkles
That line my eyes

See instead
A thousand smiles
That wear themselves
As badges of honor
About my lids

Do not see
My worn out skin
That clings so loosely
Soft and tired

See instead
A thousand dances
That gently tugged
And stretched me thus

Do not see
The spots of age
That dust my hands

See instead
A thousand moments
So precious to me
That they are each one recorded
To be relived forever

And when I am gone
And laid out to rest

Do not see
A lifeless form
Whose touch has grown cold
And stiff with death

See instead
An empty vessel
For I am up
Amongst the stars
Forever watching
Sharing each smile
Each dance
Each moment
Until we are united again

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Price of Happiness

I don't know what the price of happiness is. All I know is that it keeps going UP!

This divorce is costing me. It's costing me money, and its costing me time, and its costing me my sanity and its costing me my health. I seriously think I'm getting an ulcer over this thing. I mean, who plans on walking in to court not knowing if you're actually going to be heard and granted a divorce THAT DAY?!? Ridiculous.

I swear, sometimes I feel like the gods are toying with me. Why let things happen smoothly when it's so much fun to put up roadblock after roadblock? Truthfully, most days I can zig and zag around these obstacles with the best of them, but today, I'm smashing into each and every one, getting more and more dented with each hit. My pockets are empty and my sense of justice is bruised, and the hits keep on coming. And even though (or perhaps because) I'm in the final stretch of this thing, each outrage is burning a little deeper than the last. Literally. My heartburn is really acting up.

But my mother, my wonderful mother who is always there to lend and ear and a shoulder and some good advice, put things in perspective for me. She said to me, "Would you rather have all that time and money and energy back and still be married to him?" When my answer was a resounding and horrified "NO!!!," she then said to me "Well, then, I guess it's worth the price."

Mom, you're awesome. And you're absolutely right. I'm happy now. For the first time in a long, LONG time, I can say that I'm happy with where I am in my life. I'm grateful for where I live and where I work and what I do, and I'm a MILLION times more grateful for the man I share my life with (not Jericho - although I'm grateful for him to - the other one).

So is it worth the blood, sweat, tears, and cold hard cash I've spent upheaving my life in the pursuit of happiness? Hell YES! I may be broke and exhausted and riddled with gastrointestinal ouchies, but it's still better than where I was a year ago.

The price of happiness may be high, but you know what? Cost be damned, I'd give everything I have to be where I am right now. So ask me, "what's the price of happiness?" and I'll tell you "Never more than it's worth."

Monday, December 15, 2008

Hard Lessons Learned This Weekend

In chronological order:

1. Don't be fooled by the excitement of a flood

I'll admit it; when I looked out the window and saw Haynes Creek rushing mere inches from the top of the dock, I got a little excited. There's nothing more thrilling than witnessing the raw power of nature. I know the creek only rose, like, two or three feet, but land was missing and trees were under water and I when I saw what had happened during the night, I rushed outside, camera in hand, admittedly enthralled with the dramatic changes to our yard. But when you live mere yards away from a creek, do not—I repeat do NOT—view a flooded backyard as a form of entertainment. An excess of water is never a good thing. Period.

2. Sump pumps are not to be trusted

It's true. Sump pumps are one of the laziest, most spiteful, and unpredictable machines ever invented by man. Their job, their only mean of existence, is to work. When water gets too high in the hole, they are supposed to pump the water out of the hole, through a network of pipes, and into some sort of vast, unknown place I like to call "the public sewer system." But do they do their job? Rarely. They run when they're not supposed to run. They stop running when they're supposed to turn on. They clog and fail, most often when nobody is home to recognize the problem before a state of emergency is created. I think sump pumps are the "red-headed stepchild" of the plumbing world; you should expect them to let you down, lest you be disappointed when they do.

3. Never sleep easy if you are under flood conditions and relying on your sump pump to keep your basement dry

Not much explanation needed here. I slept, on Friday night, dreaming of sugar plums and what-have-you, while the sump pump/timer contraption we had rigged up (on account of the sump pump running continuously) went haywire and water slowly filled our basement.

4. Wet carpet smells like ass
I should know; I had my face planted in rolls and rolls of saturated carpet (get your mind out of the gutter) while I lugged them up the stairs, through the house, and out to the garbage. It kind of smells like wet dog, mold, patchouli, and something inherently evil. I bet that’s what Dick Cheney smells like when he gets out of the shower. Gross.

5. Basement make-overs aren’t always planned

We were planning on eventually re-doing the basement. We were going to pull everything out, rip up the carpet, re-paint, re-carpet, and possibly put in a bar.
And then the basement flooded.
Now, with the exception of the bar, all of that will be happening this week. Actually, after this weekend’s fiasco, a bar will most likely be installed. And used. Heavily. See, every cloud has a silver lining. True, we might have spent our weekend dragging everything from the basement into the kitchen, dining room, living room, and sunroom to pull out the carpet, but by Christmas, we may have a fabulous new basement. Now repeat after me: The glass is half full…the glass is half full…

So, to summarize:
Flood + broken sump pump + a blissfully unaware night’s sleep = new basement

Serenity now, folks. Serenity now.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Water, Water Everywhere...

I'm getting ready to leave for work this morning, as always. Dogs let out? Check. Lights turned off? Check. Pants on? Check.

As I'm walking out the front door, I casually glance out the back window.
"Hmmm. The creek looks a little high," I say to myself. I stop and puzzle. I walk to the kitchen window.
"Hmmm. The creek looks REALLY high."
I open the back door and walk on the deck.

This is what the backyard looks like:

So the bad news is that we have a sump pump that stopped pumping automatically and now needs to be run every hour for about 2 minutes to keep the water from flooding the house.

But the good news is that I had to stay home and keep an eye on the pump.
I don't care how old you are, a "snowday" (or should I say, "floodday") is ALWAYS exciting.
HOORAY! Happy Weekend, Everybody!!!!!!!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


I'm having a crappy day. For some reason, people today don't seem too interested in getting the facts. That's never a good thing.
So, to cheer myself up, I'm posting a few pics taken over Thanksgiving and the night we put our tree up.
After all, it is the holidays, right? I need to find some F-ing cheer, like, NOW, Before I kick someone in the neck. (grumble....snarl....grumble...grrrr)


Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The "Plate of Shrimp" Theory

My coworker Elise has a theory called the “Plate of Shrimp” theory. Well, it’s not her theory, exactly. Some movie from the 80's (I think it was Repo Man) actually generated the theory. The guy says (and I quote)

"Say you're thinking about a plate of shrimp. Suddenly someone says plate, or shrimp, or plate of shrimp. Out of the blue. No explanation. No use looking for one either. It's all part of the cosmic unconsciousness."

But since nobody remembers the 80's anyway, we’ll just say its Elise’s theory. She has extrapolated on that concept to believe that random happenings in the universe often occur in two’s, in quick succession. For example, somebody who sees a plate of shrimp is likely to see another plate of shrimp in that same week. It pretty much describes the way that some off-the-wall discussion or event or subject matter reappears in some form or another within a few days. And then we all say, “Hey, that’s weird. We were just [talking about, watching, etc] this thing, and here it is again.”
You get the point

So remember the subject of my most recent post? Sloths? Well, Elise just came in today with this comic strip. Not only is it HILAROUS, it discusses sloths, which in itself is a strange and infrequent subject of conversation—except for this week, apparently.

And you know what? My coworker Elise has been absent from this blog completely, except for this week. This week, she was in two posts in a row!

So there you have it. The Plate of Shrimp Theory.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Peacock vs. Sloth

My coworkers and I were talking about our nametags today.

Wait. I should back up a little bit.

A few months ago, our entire office had this communication workshop (I know, the hippie in me died a little more that day). During this seminar, we were required to fill out a questionnaire in order to be placed into 1 of 4 "animal" groups, based on our personalities. The groups were peacock, dove, turtle, or lion. Strangely, I found myself in the peacock group, even though peacocks are supposed to like flashy things, and I drive a POS Subaru Impreza. But no matter; the quiz said I was a peacock, so I went with it.

The company took things a step further and decided to have everyone's "animal" printed onto their nameplate, as a reminder to others of their personality type. I guess the idea was that when someone went to a coworker's desk to discuss some matter of business, they would see, say, the lion graphic on their nameplate, and moderate their interaction accordingly. Whatev. I appreciate the company's attempt to be slightly less corporate, although I'd much more prefer to un-standardize my signiture and wear jeans than to have a little peacock on my nameplate. But I guess beggars can't be choosers.

Back to today. A bunch of us, including the graphic design guy, were talking about what kind of animals we really were. My one coworker mentioned how she saw herself as a dragon, which we thought was a strange choice (as she is exceptionally gentile and modest) until she explained that she had heartburn all the time (lol). Well, eventually, I came up in the discussion, and we all sat around trying to figure out what animal I really was.

After much debate, this was the consensus:

Apparently my coworkers see me as a mild-mannered, slow-moving, would-rather-be-sleeping type of person. I guess the sleeping part is right, but in terms of the pleasant demeanor and sluggish movements, I'm not so sure. I'll consider it proof that my ninja skills are well cloaked, as all ninja skills SHOULD be :-)

Anyway, it's always a good thing to have the creative guy on your team; 30 minutes later, my peacock was replaced with the agreeable fellow above. My coworker also got her dragon, which looks totally cool. If I wasn't so committed to hiding my ninja skills from mortals, I might be jealous of her super-cool dragon. But as is the code of the ninja warrier, my reflexes of lighning must be masked from the common man. The sloth will have to do.

So that's me:
Lillian Simmons
Medical Writer
Secret Ninja Warrier of Death
MD (well, practically)
Esq (okay that one I made up)

Wednesday, December 3, 2008


Haircuts are fun!
Apparently I'm ringing in the New Year (a month early) with a brand new 'do!

I was typing away at my computer this morning when I suddenly realized that my hair does and will continue to look like an electrocuted poodle for the entire winter season. It's too cold to let it air dry in curls, especially since it takes my hair 3-4 hours to dry naturally (I have an "undercoat" that would put a husky to shame). Straightening it, which is my other option, takes an hour out of my day, minimum. Every morning I roll out of bed, take one look at my hair, pull it back, and continue with my routine thinking "tomorrow I'll do something nice with it."

So, I cut it off. Below are before and after shots:


Okay, no, seriously...

Before (hottie on the left):

So there ya have it.
Change is good! Hooray for Change!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Christmas is Go

'Tis December, and what better way to set off the holiday season than watching some goood, old-fashioned, "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" on the TV. We were delighted to find it was playing last night, so with pizza and beer in hand, Brian and I shuffled downstairs to relive our childhood for half an hour.

I thoroughly enjoyed myself, but I'll admit that I spent a great deal of time trying to "diagonse" the Grinch with a psychological diagnosis. Aspergers? Schizophrenia? Some sort of Social Anxiety Disorder? I guess we'll never know. Interestingly, I found myself comparing the Grinch to my Ex-husband, and slapping my forehead for never checking his shoes to see if they were too tight (which might have explained his distain for Christmas, and life in general). In my mind, the Grinch and the Ex could be the same person, if you replace the "Noise, noise, noise, noise" with "Right-wing capitalist agend" and "Commercial support of the Military-Industrial Complex." (boy, I don't miss THAT speech at all, lol).

I also noticed that the Grinch's dog (Max, right?) and Jericho were quite similar, right down to the sheepish "smile" Jericho wears when he's been berated for being in the way, yet again. Gotta love the Bud!

So, I guess it's officially Christmas. This Saturday, my plans for running a 5k have been replaced with plans on finding, cutting, transporting, and decorating the perfect Christmas tree. Hey, we gotta have our priorities, right?

And now, the phrase that I've been waiting all year to say....

Monday, December 1, 2008

STFU Drew Barrymore

Dear Covergirl,

While I thoroughly enjoy your line of quality, affordable products, I would like to request that you refrain from using Drew Barrymore in further commercials.

Not only do your products fail to prevent Ms. Barrymore from looking like a cross-eyed garden vole with a bad case of Downs Syndrome, this most recent spokesperson appears incapable of understanding the meaning behind the lines she has painstakingly memorized. Instead of appearing as an easy, breazy, (moderately intelligent) Covergirl, rather, she presents herself with a look of fuzzy confusion akin to a drugged-up mental patient who has huffed one too many cans of Raid. I think she was actually drooling in one of your shots.

As a replacement, I recommend that you use Matthew McConaughey. I understand that most men don't wear make-up, but in truth, he could be selling Rogaine for Men and I would still purchase it. He's super hot.


Lily Simmons, makeup-wearer and die-hard Matthew McConaughey fan.