Walking To My Doomsday (Conclusion)

July 1, 2010

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here.  And now, the conclusion …

My mom came the next morning.  My daughter was already up.  I was standing in the kitchen with my mom and I started crying.  My daughter was standing in the hall looking at me and wondering what was wrong with mommy.  My mom told her that mommy would be alright.  I told my daughter that too although I didn’t believe it.

My husband and I parked in the ramp.  When I was walking across the sky walk and the hall towards the elevator, I felt like I was walking to my doomsday.  I was here to lose my baby.  I told my husband I can understand the blood sugars being good if I wasn’t pregnant, but I didn’t understand how my blood pressure could be so low if I wasn’t pregnant.  Pregnancy causes low blood pressure in the first trimester.  I said I had been sick too, but not like I had been with our daughter.  We checked in with the guy I like at reception.  I could tell he could see what I was there for even though he didn’t say anything.  They must have had my appointments in the computer backwards, but he quickly corrected it so that I had the ultrasound and then saw the OB.  He didn’t say he was doing that, but I could tell from what he did say.  He was friendly and professional, but not quite the same as he had been in the past.

We went to the waiting room to wait to be called by the sonographer.  There was one lady in the waiting room.  I tried watching TV to take my mind off everything.  It didn’t work.  I don’t like crying in public or in front of others, but I broke down and started crying.  The lady ignored me and kept reading her magazine which I was thankful for.  They called my name.

The sonographer had to do a vaginal ultrasound since it was early in the pregnancy.  She found the baby right away and the baby was alive and seemed ok!  I was so happy!  I asked if the baby was ok and she said that she had to take all the usual measurements and dopplers.  Everything looked good!  It was too early to tell if it was a boy or girl.  She determined that the OB had been looking at a cyst or fibroid.  We knew that I had that from the 7 week ultrasound.  Even with my tipped uterus, the sonographer found the baby right away!  We were sent back to the waiting room.  The lady was still in there.  A few more people were in there too.  I called my mom and told her that the doctors were wrong and that the baby was fine!  I saw the lady smiling.  I called my dad to tell him the good news.  I called a friend at work.  She had a sad voice when she answered, but then was excited when I told her the baby was fine.

We went to a room and waited for the OB.  She came in and was so happy that she was wrong and the baby was fine.  She was going to let my OB know.

We went home.  I was so tired, but too keyed up to take a nap.  My mom went home.  My husband worked downstairs.  I took care of my daughter.  My daughter took a nap in the afternoon.  I tried to take a nap, but I couldn’t sleep even though I was very tired.  Even though we received the best news that our baby was ok, I was still shaken at the thought of losing my baby and everything I went through.

I e-mailed my OB also as I had a question if she wanted to see me in 3 or 5 weeks since she was out of town in 4 weeks.  She e-mailed me back and said she was so happy and she almost had tears in her eyes.

This incident still shakes me up and still makes me cry sometimes when I think about it even though everything turned out ok.  I am so happy to have my happy and healthy baby boy today.  My baby boy is 6 months old.  I always wanted children and knew I would cherish them.  I may even cherish my children more due to the hardships I went through to get pregnant with them both, the high risk pregnancy and complications with my daughter, all of the additional tests and things for my son due to my first high risk pregnancy, and this “complication” with my son of walking to my doomsday.

Walking To My Doomsday

June 30, 2010

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part 2.

Memories of Dad

June 20, 2010

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The year was 1999 and I was living in Illinois.  My parents came up for a weekend visit.  At the time, I was driving a 1988 Ford Taurus.  Among its many positive features was the fact that it was paid off in full.  I had poured a bit of money into it over the few years I owned it, but it had been a pretty reliable car.  It had about 130,000 miles on it, but I liked it.

On this particular weekend, Dad noticed that the car seemed to not be driving very smoothly and asked when I had last replaced the spark plugs.  That would be never.  When it comes to cars, I pump gas and check the fluids and air pressure.  That’s about the extent of it.  Dad didn’t want me spending a lot of money getting the plugs replaced, so he decided to do it himself.

It was raining that weekend, and I didn’t have covered parking, so we sought a covered space for the job.  A municipal parking garage fit the bill.  It would keep us dry, even if the lighting was pretty bad.  Actually, since we parked near an exterior wall to maximize the available light, it didn’t even keep us completely dry.  It wasn’t the greatest environment for the job, but Dad persevered and got the plugs changed, with some (but not much) help from me.  He was 76 at the time; I was an able-bodied (but mechanically challenged) 24 year old.  The Taurus was back in tip top shape.

The very next weekend, I headed back to Iowa to visit some friends.  As I came around a curve on westbound I-74, I encountered another group of friends – a small herd of deer gathered on the interstate.  I managed to elude all but one of the deer.  Although the car was still mechanically sound, the amount of body damage rendered it a total loss. 

The time and effort my dad spent replacing the plugs was completely wasted – but it was never forgotten.


If you wish, share a memory of your own father.

A Gentleman’s C

May 30, 2010

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When I was in college, Statistics 227 was a required course for all business majors.  Unfortunately, there were never enough openings in the class.  There was actually an endorsed workaround.  Instead of taking the 5 credits Stat 227 class, you could take Stat 101 (4 credits) and Stat 201 (2 credits).  In an effort to cross this degree requirement off my list, I took this alternative.

Within days of the start of class, I regretted my decision.  The concepts being taught in the class were very basics – concepts such as mean, median, and standard deviation that I had learned in high school.  I cursed myself for not having realized this.

The instructor was nice, and I gave the appearance of following along in class.  In actuality, I was only attending class because attendance was part of the grade.  I spent a minimal amount of time studying for the class – just glancing through the book before each test.  During the actual class, I was usually working on homework for another class.  I sailed through the course, earning the highest grade in the class.

That doesn’t mean that the class was without its challenges.  The guy who sat next to me was named Jay.  Jay had worked full time while attending college to ensure that he graduated without any debt.  It had taken him six years to get his degree in Sociology, but he would be graduating at the end of the semester.

Jay had one little problem.  He had an extreme aversion to math.  This statistics class was the only math-oriented class required for his degree.  The class that was a complete joke to me was a major problem for Jay.  He needed to pass this class in order to get his degree – and he wasn’t quite sure that he was up to the challenge.   

Jay seemed like a nice guy, so I didn’t want to see him fail.  He had a strong work ethic and a desire to succeed, but just seemed to have a mental block when it came to the subject.  Within weeks, my goal for Stat 101 was making sure that Jay passed.

Along with the lecture portion of the class, there was also a hands-on session once a week where the class would meet in small groups to solve problems.  Most of the groups would finish the assignment, hand it in, and then leave.

Jay and I were usually among the last people to leave.  After finishing the actual assignment, we would delve into discussions on any topic that was causing Jay problems.  I served as an unofficial (and, of course, unpaid) tutor, helping Jay through these topics.

I won’t lie to you and say that Jay aced the class.  He didn’t.  However, he compiled acceptable grade time after time.  By the time the end of the semester rolled around, Jay had earned a C and had satisfied all of his degree requirements.  Never in my life have I seen someone so happy about a C.

Jay and I had a deal.  If I could tutor him well enough to pass the class, he’d buy me a pizza.  However, the end of the semester can get hectic, and we lost touch without a pizza ever changing hands.

So, Jay, if you’re out there, you owe me a pizza – preferably Canadian bacon.

Cross Country, Part 2

May 9, 2010

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Did you miss part 1 yesterday?  Go back and read it here.

Maybe 25 minutes out of my driveway, my car loaded with every piece of summer clothing and possible toiletry I own, along with my critters, I realized I had left the dog’s bowls behind. I had an extra, but it was on the floor in the back of my SUV when I loaded it up.  It wouldn’t have taken THAT much time to go back, but I had already said goodbye to the apartment, and I didn’t want to retrace those steps.  So I stopped at Wal-Mart.  Dog bowls purchased, I was again on my way.

Once on the interstate, I realized that my shiny, happy, new GPS needed to plug into my power outlet, duh, but so did my FM transmitter/iPhone charger.  And no way in harmonica am I gonna make it across the nation without my tunes.  So in Grand Junction (90 minutes after WalMart) I stopped at Best Buy (which I used my new GPS to find, thankyouverymuch) to purchase a power-splitter thingy.

After wandering the BestBuy and looking lost in front of multiple employees for ten minutes (remind me to write to Best Buy about that), I finally asked someone for help, found my needed item, and hit the road. Again.  Trying to find my way back onto the interstate, and without the ability to see much from my rear or passenger-side view mirrors (boxes and cat carriers, you know), I did have the ability to hear.  Which is good, because I might not have otherwise known that a motorcycle police officer was pulling me over.  I was apparently speeding my way out of Grand Junction, and this would not do.  I had missed a speed limit sign. Not that I was looking for it.

After commenting on the weight of one of my kitties (“that is one BIG cat”) and nicely enough cutting down my speed from 15 over to 9 over the limit, I received my ticket and we were on the road again.  Again.

It didn’t take long for me to realize that my phone charger thingy wasn’t having it.  For some reason it just wouldn’t work with the brand new splitter.  My detour through Junction and therefore my speeding ticket?  In vain.

Anyway, I didn’t care, I was off!  To new worlds!  Before long I found myself in the absolutely charming town of Ridgway, where I planned to eat lunch in the True Grit Café which is supposedly also very charming and my step-dad loves John Wayne, so that’d be cool and it’s my adventure and won’t it be fun!  Except I was only a tiny bit hungry.  And the two shopping stops and the speeding ticket had set me back on some time.  And I didn’t really want to leave the animals in the car alone while I ate lunch by myself.  So I didn’t.  I got back in the car after Max’s pit stop and pressed on.  First intended roadside attraction: scratched from the playbill.

I was on to a section of road between Ouray and Durango that is quite beautiful, Red Mountain Pass. It is phenomenally gorgeous.

And steep. And curvy. And without guard rails…

For Part 3, visit my blog tomorrow!

PHOTO: Ouray, Colorado (through my windshield)

Cross Country, Part 1

May 8, 2010

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Editor’s note: Whitney Henderson joins The Soap Boxers as a special contributor.  Today, Whitney takes on on her cross-country journey.

I planned this cross-country drive like I was Elizabeth Gilbert off to the ashram… It would be transformative, this drive.  It would show me things about myself I hadn’t noticed.  It would allow me to find peace within myself and ground me for the task ahead.  This drive?  It would CHANGE MY LIFE.

For those of you that do not read my blog (hello, all of you), let me first explain “the task ahead.”  I have been living in Colorado for three years.  It is indeed the most beautiful place I have seen and I have to believe among the most beautiful places in all creation.  It is also frakking expensive and I, a lapsed attorney, have a lawyer’s student loans but not her paycheck. So, when I recently decided that I am a writer and writers write and I needed to do that, my well-employed sister invited me to stay with her family in Charlotte, North Carolina for the summer, to focus on the writing.  I’d have to get a job to pay for my car other bills, and, you know, beer.  After my ski season job ended and no summer job in Colorado fell in my lap, I decided that was a dandy idea.  Thus, the reason for the drive.

Back to it, now.  I wanted to take my time. The drive from here to there could be done in 3 days, driving 10 hours each day.  I wanted to lollygag a bit.  See more of western Colorado.  Take my time, see the silly roadside attractions like giant balls of twine.  Stop when I wanted to stop, etc. I decided to swing west to Grand Junction, down to Durango, and over to the Grand Canyon. Then I would come east from there to my hometown of Memphis for a few days, and eventually straight up I-40 to North Carolina. But there were considerations.  Namely, Max, Dobby, and Merlin.  My dog and two cats would be traveling with me, and they aren’t all that into lollygagging.  Or the Grand Canyon.  So, while still on my bucket list, the Canyon was chopped from the list and the trip to Memphis shortened to 3 days instead of 4.  Then there were financials… and an extra night in a hotel suddenly seemed wasteful when I could just get to Memphis a day early and stay with a generous friend for free.

And there it was. The plan settled, three 8-hour-drive days: Day 1 to Santa Fe via Durango. Day 2 to Oklahoma City. Day 3 to Memphis.  The mountains of Colorado would be majestic and amazing. Take my breath away.  Remind me what I loved about my adopted state.  Make me feel small and inconsequential and give me perspective.  New Mexico would be magical, the desert beautiful.  Texas and Oklahoma would be wide open… prairies stretching for miles, nothing to see but road stretching out ahead of me, an invitation to the future.

And so I hit the road.

Read part two here.

A Solo Adventure

January 31, 2010

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In 2001, I set off on a long, solo vacation.  This was the longest vacation of my life at that point, in terms of both distance and elapsed time.

I was really excited about the trip and got very little sleep the night before I was scheduled to leave.  Eventually, I just packed the car, ate a quick breakfast at Denny’s, and hit the road.  I wasn’t much of a morning person by then, but I was on the road by about 5 AM.  470 miles later, I pulled up to my hotel in Canton, Ohio.  I had made really good time on the trip.  In spite of it being an hour later in Ohio (different time zone), I managed to arrive at the hotel before my room was ready.  I was pretty tired from the road and didn’t do too much that night.

The next day, I went to the football Hall of Fame in Canton.  Honestly, I was not overly impressed.  If you’re a hard core NFL fan, it might be worth the effort to go.  If you’re a casual fan, I’m not sure.  I did pick up some nice Vikings socks in the gift shop.

That I drove to Akron to catch an Aeros (class AA) baseball game.  I had purchased tickets months in advance, which was good. It was bobblehead night (Sean Casey), and the place was absolutely packed. I had a seat right behind home plate (4-5 rows back, I think). The ticket cost maybe $15?  Nice stadium.

Early the next morning, I hit the road again.  That afternoon, I arrived in the hamlet of Cooperstown, New York – home of the Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.  Earlier in the year, I had become a supporter of the Hall of Fame.  Once nice benefit was that the membership card gave me unlimited free entry to the Hall of Fame.  I made a cursory review that Sunday afternoon.  I spent two more days digesting the museum in greater detail.  I saw the contract that sold Babe Ruth to the Yankees, a priceless T-206 Honus Wagner card, Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski’s masters thesis (not a great writer, in my opinion –  at least not at that stage of his life), and countless artifacts of the game.  Unlike many halls of fame, the baseball hall of fame encompasses all aspects of the sport – not just Major League Baseball.

One of the things I really liked was the exhibit of awards.  There were quite a few MVP and Cy Young awards on display.  I could feel a connection to the award winning athlete, imagining how they felt when they won the award.  Two of  Tom Seaver’s Cy Youngs were on display.  Something that struck me as odd was that one was perfectly shiny while the silver on the other had become tarnished over time.  Was this the result of a different quality of metal being used in those two years?

On Wednesday, I checked out of the Hickory Grove Motor Inn (leaving behind an audio book for the friendly women behind the front desk).  Be forewarned – it is advisable to make hotel reservations far in advance of your trip.  Cooperstown is quite small (around 2000 people) and there aren’t too many large cities in the area.  Why this location?  Because of the since-descredited story that civil war general Abner Doubleday invented the game in a nearby cow pasture.

On the way back west, I saw a sign for Niagara Falls.  It was only about 15 miles out of the way, so I decided to go there.  I wasn’t really expecting very much.  After all, it’s just a bunch of water going over a hill, right?  Wow, I was very impressed.  If you go to Niagara Falls, make sure to go to the Canadian side.  You get a much better view from the Canadian side – you’re looking at the Falls from in front of them instead of a more awkward angle on the US side.  I could have spent more time there (and a few years later, did spend more time there with my wife), but I had a long drive to complete.

At the end of the day, I found myself back in Ohio – this time in Sandusky.  Sandusky is home to Cedar Point amusement park.  This was my first exposure to Cedar Point, and I was completely blown away (full review here).  Regardless of what type of roller coaster you like, they probably have it.  I was there on a Thursday and Friday, when crowds were pretty reasonable.

All good things eventually come to an end, and I hit the road on Friday afternoon and arrived back home in Illinois very late that night – just in time to attend my niece’s college graduation the next day.

I got to see a decent chunk of the country, and had a great time at every spot along the way.   I also gained a lot of appreciation for audio books during the trip.  Nelson DeMille’s The Lion’s Game (review here) was with me on this trip.  The unabridged edition is a hefty 25 hours!  The book has a great plot (I’ve listened to it about a half dozen time since) and made the time pass very quickly.

What about you?  Which solo trip did you enjoy the most?

Merry Christmas

November 28, 2009

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We got our daughter’s picture taken with Santa yesterday.  (It’s actually a pretty good day to do this, because everyone else at the mall is busy pushing and shoving other shoppers).  We asked if “Merry Christmas” could be printed on the border.  The lady told us they couldn’t do that, because of “the law”.

I have friends who practice quite a variety of religions.  If some people want to say “Happy Holidays”, I really won’t take offense.  There is not, however, any law that forbids a private company from printing the phrase “Merry Christmas” (or, for that matter, “Happy Ramadan”) on a product.  If there was, the legal department at Hallmark would be very, very nervous, since they sell a lot of greeting cards that contain this phrase.

And to take the argument to the next level … note that these weren’t some sort of generic holiday photos.  They are photos with Santa Claus.  Santa is tied very firmly to Christmas.

Writer’s Diary (NaNoWriMo)

November 23, 2009

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We pick up where we left off last week, as guest writer Martin Kelly continues in his quest to meet the NaNoWrioMo goal of 50,000 words in a single month!

11/13 – Chapter 15, my main character learned how to milk a cow.  Almost everything in this chapter came from listening to my father in law talk to my kids about growing up on a farm.  I was actually using the story to encourage them to go to college.  He escaped and didn’t want them to have to work that hard.  I am trying to be as faithful to the stories I have heard as possible.  On word count, I have passed 23k.  This is good, since I continue to re-edit earlier work, mostly with deletions.  I have found lots of spelling/typing errors and just can’t help myself, I have to fix them

11/14 – I’m at the half way point!!  More than 25,000 words.  Chapters 16 and 17, my main character is left alone in his house for the first time.  He snoops around.  Mostly he finds embarrassing things.  His wife has a lot of lingerie, some of it pretty slutty.  This is stuff he got for her before his ‘change’.  He also finds his box of adult videos.  He starts lifting weights to get back his strength.  Since he is only recently out of the hospital, he gets worn down and fall asleep at the end of chapter 16.

When he wakes up at the beginning of chapter 17, the weather has turned bad.  He has to move quickly to take care of the animals.  By the time he is done, his wife is home.  He is starting to do the little things to make her believe he has actually changed.  He is performing the farm chores, he is setting and clearing the table for every meal.  He hasn’t become a perfect husband, but he is trying and she is noticing.

11/15 – Chapter 18 Okay, this was the big sex scene.  I like the way it turned out.  Not too sophomoric and not to pornographic.  I gave enough details to leave no doubts as to what went on.  I tried to think about scenes from movies and books I have read and seen with out plagiarizing.  I tried to avoid anything that would reflect on my real life experiences, to avoid embarrassing my wife.  When I am done, I will make the whole novel available to Kosmo and the rest of the casually observing community.  You can judge my success or failure.

11/16 – Chapter 19, the morning after.  The main character and his wife are still in the glow of the previous evening.  They are preparing for a day at her parents house.  They have another romp before doing all the things that have to be done around a farm.  I have included a lot of homey details to make the characters more full.  This was a short chapter, but I am close to 30,000 words.  Being on travel has given me a lot of idle time to write.  No kids, chores or anything else to distract me.  I am on the west coast, so even the television shows that I watch are over early.  Hopefully I can keep this pace up.  If I do, I might hit 60,000 words before the end of November.  I am not really aiming for a specific word count, I want to get to a good ending point for the story.  I think I have come up with a good stopping point, now I just have to get there.

11/17 – Chapter 20 The main character spends the day with his in-laws.  I must be lonely for home, I spent a lot of time describing the food.  There is also another sex scene.  I may really have to tone this down before publication.  I avoided the intimate scenes for days, now three in a row.  Another short chapter, but I passed the 30,000 word count mark  I am still ahead of plan for NaNoWriMo.  I actually have a lot of time for writing when I get to the hotel each night.  Tonight I had dinner with several co-workers, so less time and fewer words.  The key is writing every night, even if it is stuff you will have to delete later.


What did you miss over the weekend?

Kosmo’s Ramblings

November 22, 2009

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So, what’s up in Kosmo’s world?

I avoided the ladder

I encountered one of my more interesting driving experiences this week.  As I was driving into work, an extension ladder suddenly appeared on the road in front of me.  The ladder was in the two right lanes (of three total lanes) and I was in the right land, so I veered sharply right to avoid the ladder, then back sharply left to avoid leaving the roadway.  I felt a little bad about the lack of control the car exhibited during this maneuver – until I looked in my rear view mirror and saw another driver perform a carbon copy of my move.  I really didn’t need my morning caffeine after that – I was wide awake.

Baywatch (and Hollidaywatch)

Red Sox outfielder Jason Bay rejected a 4 year contract offer worth $60 million from Boston this week.  This sets an apparent floor on the value of Bay and fellow free agent outfielder Matt Holliday.  The emerging consensus, based an advanced statistical measures, is that the two players are comparable offensively (albeit with different strengths and weaknesses), and that Holliday is a better defender.

An interesting quirk is that Boston would actually come out ahead in terms of draft picks by allowing Bay to leave and nabbing Holliday as a free agent.  They would forfeit their first round pick to sign Holliday, but would receive a draft pick from the teams that signs Bay (assuming that a contender signs Bay, this would be a first rounder) as well as a sandwich pick between the first and second rounds.  The sandwiches are truly a free lunch – they picks are artificially added into the draft.  That’s why there are about 40 “first round” picks every year – in spite of the fact that there are only thirty teams.

There’s one important free agent who might be slipping under the radar of a lot of casual fans.  The name is Rudy Jaramillo.  Never heard of him?  What position does he play, you ask?  Hitting coach.  Jaramillo, widely renowned as the best hitting coach in baseball, is moving from the Texas Rangers to Chicago Cubs.  Don’t be surprised if you see several Cubs players have strong seasons at the plate.  Interestingly, the Rangers lose Jaramillo just one season after poaching standout pitching coach Mike Maddux (brother of Greg) from the Brewers.  What goes around, comes around, I guess.


I recently broke ground on my novel, Casting Stones.  I’ve been kicking around plot ideas for several months, but finally began the actual writing on Halloween.  I pushed past 6000 words on Friday and am making good progress.  The infrastructure for the plot is developing pretty well, with concrete ideas for seventeen chapters.  I see 15,000 words as a turning point – if I can make it to that point, I think there is a strong chance that I an maintain momentum and finish up with a full sized novel.

I’m not the only one working on a book.  Martin Kelly is working on his, of course.  We’ll see another installment of his NaNoWriMo diary tomorrow) and few other folks I know are either in the midst of writing a book, or are seriously considering one.  Go for it!  If you finish the book, great.  In any case, writing a book is an absurdly cheap hobby.

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