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Christmas when I was little was amazing.  We would go to my grandmother's house most of the time (but it was still good when we went to my Aunt's house or when we had it).  She would cook a huge smorgasbord, with fried chicken, swedish meatballs, swedish sausage, and lutefisk.  There would be herring and beets and olives and pickles and vegetables (usually corn and green beans) and potatos and buns.  Sometimes, my Mother would make her banana/candied apple salad for an appetizer (which she denied making in later years). 

There would be 15-20 people there every year, cramming into that small house.   The kids would sit at the cardtable in the living room, but I usually managed to find a place at the big kid's table by promising to help serve dinner and clean up.  I would listen to gossip and stories of years gone by.   After dinner, the men would go into the living room to watch football and nap.  The women would clean up--a task that seemed to take forever in Grandma's tiny kitchen without a dishwasher.

We'd open presents after the kitchen was cleaned.  It was a funhouse of ripping and tearing.  We were never orderly folk.  I would often play Santa (as the youngest) and distribute the packages.  That meant that I was often the last one opening my presents.  I loved that!

After, we would clean up the detritous of generosity and greed, and we'd move on to the true gluttony--the cookie buffet.  In a family where at least three of the women were fabulous bakers, you can imagine the richness of variety--of flavor that table provided.  I was truly blessed by the memories of those cookies.

Then, sated, some of us would go to midnight services... some of us would start playing some cribbage.  My father would often begin to snore on the sofa, with one of us waking him up periodically to get him to quiet down.  It seemed like the night never ended, somehow.

Now, my grandparents are long gone.  My parents have passed on, too.   My brother is remarried and his children divide their time with their two families of origin.  Maybe this year is our year, but with my brother's remarriage comes another division of loyalties.

I'm childless, and this year, recovering from the surgery that ensures that I will remain childless (although at 42, I guess it was already pretty much certain).   I am married to a man with two children.  But, somehow, we can't have a holiday that brings them together without causing problems that just ruin it for me.  

Knowing that Christmas Eve would be difficult for everyone's schedules, we invited my step-children and their mother for Christmas morning.  We said, "Come or not.  This is our time.  We are laying claim to this time for our new traditions."   My stepdaughter, her husband and their son would come late or not at all, we knew.  My stepson and his mother would argue with my stepdaughter about his service dog, but might manage to come in the end with or without the dog.

I don't really want the drama.  I just want to open presents underneath the tree and listen to christmas music.  I want to have some appropriate food and watch my grandson play with his new toys (and maybe play with him myself as he grows older).  This year, I want this at our house to accommodate my surgical recovery.  I'd like it to continue at our house to establish some sense of tradition.  I don't like chaos. 

Maybe we'll invite more people in other years.  It seems like it might work for people to spend the morning with us and the rest of the day elsewhere.  We'll see.  I'm not going to hold my breath, because it looks like our new tradition isn't going to work for Tom's children this year.  Maybe next year.  In the meantime, Tom and I have to figure out how to handle Christmas alone.


Well, I was in the OR for five hours.  I had layers of adhesions on my bladder and a hemorraghic cyst at the rear of my abdominal wall that were the likely culprits of my discomfort.  They found little residual endometriosis from my prior surgeries, though, so the prognosis is extremely good for me.

I have not yet had any real menopausal symptoms.  Until I do, the plan is to try to go cold turkey off the estrogen.  That should be interesting.

Abbott-Northwestern has really improved since my last surgery.  The door on my room closed.  Tomato soup wasn't on the menu (and there WAS a menu).  The tv soundsystem wasn't in the bed. 

Ultimately, they had stopped giving me IV pain meds, and I wasn't getting any sleep.  And, I was bored.  There is NOTHING that I hate more than boredom.  So, I went home.

Even the night of my surgery, the pain was manageable.  Tom and I were dancing in the halls of the hospital, hoping that someone would notice.  True, it was a sedate dance, but it was a dance!   Now, he sleeps more than I do.  And I'm looking for things to do.  I wish I were a knitter at this point.



Writer's Block: Little Women

Fans of Little Women often divide along Jo/Amy lines. Jo was independent and smart, but Amy always seemed to get what she wanted and have more fun. Are you in the Jo camp or the Amy camp?
Jo!!!!  Isn't it obvious?  I've completely followed in Jo's footsteps down to the older man!


So, tomorrow is the day.  I am going to have a laparotomy to remove my uterus, remaining ovary and cervix (I hope).  I will be in the hospital (Abbott Northwestern) for 2-4 days, and then home for recovery for at least 3-4 weeks.  Tom and I are going up north on Christmas Day to make sure I don't go crazy at the Day After Christmas sales.  I do have court hearings scheduled as early as January 7th, but I'm going to try to get those continued for another week or two.

I just can't see myself being capable of conducting a trial, especially not if I'm still on vicodin (my drug of choice).  I recall being exceedingly tired even a month after my last surgery.... (As you can tell, I'm still trying to convince myself that I shouldn't do the trial, because really, I just want to get it over with).

If anyone comes to visit me in the hospital, please forgive the way my hair looks.  I remember last hospital visit, my hair stood straight on end until I got a chance to wash it when I got home.  I felt soooooo unfresh!

So... pray that the snowfall doesn't close down the city and that there are no counter indications to doing the surgery tomorrow.  I'll be back with you all in a week or so.  Maybe then, I'll be able to clean out my personal email accounts.


I just realized that it's impossible to order pizza without a telephone.  I'm starving.  The home phone isn't working.  My cell is dead.  Dayumm.

Sleeping on weekends

On December 9th, I go in for my hysterectomy.  It's time.  I've been dealing with endometriosis for the better part of 10 years.  I've known women who have become disabled by endometriosis.  I've been far more fortunate.  Much of the time, I am mostly asymptomatic.  I've had two surgeries, though... and I started having pain (due to scar tissue, we think) this last summer.  Oh... and my monthlies are coming closer together.  Mostly, I've been noticing a lot of exhaustion with a slight overtone of headache. 

Given that I am also peri-menopausal, I've decided to take the leap.

Here is what my trip down surgery lane will mean.  I get to have a laparotomy, because I am not a good candidate for laparoscopy.  I will be in the hospital for 2-3 days, unless there is some kind of complication.   The first night after the surgery, they will want me to get up.  It will be the worst pain imaginable.  I am already scared to feel that pain again.  Then, nothing will hurt as bad.

I will spend approximately 2 weeks on some pretty heavy pain killers at home that will make Deal or No Deal the perfect entertainment.   After that, I will be able to drive short distances.  Tom will drive me up to Leech Lake where I will continue my recovery over the holiday, coming home just in time for me to get back to work on January 5th. 

I won't be able to lift anything for six weeks. 

It will be a long break from reality for me.   If I recall my last surgery correctly, it got real boring towards the end.

And then I got hit by a car.

Dad and Political Lawn Signs

Four years ago tomorrow, I lost my father to heart disease.  He'd gone into the hospital to have a mitral valve replacement, and had a stroke while in recovery.  Post heart surgery, there is a conflict between treating for stroke and for the heart, so there wasn't a lot they could do.  It was a very difficult time for me, and marked the first of many tragedies that happened in my life over the next three years.

This was the first year since my father's death that I didn't suffer a loss.  I feel like I've tied up a lot of loose ends in the last year and have been able to clean house psychologically.   I don't feel like I'm always in the midst of a crisis. 

The weird thing is, the election just keeps putting me in the middle of where I was four years ago.  I remember being so optimistic about the election last time, after listening to the debates.  I know I wasn't too tuned into the media (I had other things on my mind), but I was really surprised at how badly Kerry lost. 

I remember driving through my neighborhood in between trips up to Duluth and being so mad at the republican lawn signs.  I told my friends that if any lawnsigns were missing or defaced in my neighborhood, I was a likely suspect.  Rage was really present in my mind.  I couldn't stand the Menards commercials.  I couldn't stand traffic.  I couldn't stand idiots.  I tried so hard to moderate my emotions in front of my friends and coworkers, but I was always fluctuating between rage and numbness. 

I'm feeling a little rage again.  I don't think I'm going to tear down lawnsigns.  I seem to be handling Menards commercials okay.  But, when I read things other lawyers write, I get mad.  And, I seem to be less strategic than I usually am. 

This too shall pass.

Things I Hate

The blinking light on my phone.

Noise in the morning.

Loud shoes.

Realizing we're out of milk after I pour my cereal.



The sound of things rollling around in the car.

The clerk at the convenience store who opens a new register and invites the person behind you in line to step right up.

People who smoke while they are walking down the street.

Menards commercials.

I am NOT suicidal

A study was recently done which indicated that there has been an alarming increase in suicides of women between the ages of 40 and 64.  Researchers do not quite understand why this might be, but wonder if it might have something to do with midlife crisis.

I can tell them that it most definitely is not about midlife crisis.  It's about the grind.  It's about getting up every morning and going to work and trying to serve the interests of everyone in the world.  It's about not having enough fun, enough me-time, enough we-time.  Work gets harder and harder and more and more consuming.  This is just plain crazy. 

The weight of obligations is paralyzing and then you have to do something not as well as you'd like to do it at the last minute.  Our mantras stop being, "A job worth doing is worth doing right the first time,"  and morphs into "A job worth doing is worth doing half-assed."

There you go. 

Rebublicans for Obama?

A few weeks ago, a friend of mine declared himself to be a republican and stated that as soon as McCain was elected president, he was going to report Tom and me to the newly formed Committee on UnAmerican Activities as left-wing "criminals". I didn't believe a word he said, since he has often said outrageous things just to get a rise out of people. However, I will definitely hold him to his word that he is a republican, since that is not something one should say in mixed company if it is not true.

Authenticity is a very important trait if you ask me.... So, if you say you are a republican, you should be a republican. Gosh Dern-It!

Anyway, I noticed yesterday that this friend has an Obama sign in the window of his apartment.

I also noticed that Michelle Bachman (who is my congressperson), seems interested in reviving the McCarthy-era Committee on Un-American Activities, at least with respect to investigating members of congress.


I would never believed that someone would call for an investigation into un-american activities in this day and age.  I thought we figured that one out fifty years ago.  The fact that this headline came out in the context of McCain's presidential bid (especially since I thought McCain would encourage an era of more middle-of-the-road politics), makes me concerned for the future of America.

Of course, I could just pass it off as another weird Michelle Bachman moment.  If nothing else, she's good for entertainment.