rivka: (smite)
Alex had a doctor's appointment this morning for her annual check-up. It's Michael's day at home, but I decided to go in to work late and take her to her appointment so he wouldn't have to haul along both kids.

We rushed out to the car with juuuust enough time to make it to her appointment. We approached the car on the street side and I buckled her into her booster seat. And then she said, "Mom! What's on our car?!"

Safety glass. Safety glass is what she was seeing. Someone threw half a brick through our driver's side window. The brick was sitting on the passenger seat.

IMAG0265 IMAG0267

As I called the doctor's office and then the police non-emergency line, someone came out of the apartment building behind me and said he'd seen the guy. He heard the window break, looked out the window and yelled, and saw the guy run away. No description; it was dark. He called the police, who never showed up.

We keep our GPS in a hidden compartment. It was still there. We mostly keep home-burned CDs in the car, but we had some purchased ones in there too and from a quick glance I think they're all there. (I didn't do a comprehensive search, because everything was covered with glass.)

The police came in less than 15 minutes to take my statement and give us an incident report. Baltimore City doesn't actually investigate car break-ins or even, I understand, car theft. But they do come by and take your information and give you a paper to give your insurance company. He asked me if anyone had any problems with me. Rather than give that question the complicated answer it probably deserves, I told him I didn't think the break-in was anything personal.

Michael called our insurance agent, who pointed out that we have a $200 auto glass deductible and that it might not be worth our while to file a claim. And indeed, when he called the auto glass company they priced the repair at $297. Not worth filing a claim and having our premiums go up. They're going to send a truck out this morning to do an onsite repair and clean all the glass bits out of the car.

This is, like, the most hassle-free crime victim experience ever. But I still feel rattled. And annoyed that we missed the doctor's visit, because it took them three months to get her on the schedule for this appointment and the woman I talked to said her doctor's next available well-child visit was in January. At least she said they'd waive the missed-appointment fee.
rivka: (Rosie the riveter)
We live in an old, old house, and the doors and doorframes aren't necessarily trued up anymore, and also the doors and their mechanisms are pretty old themselves. Some of our doors swing into a closed position but the mechanism doesn't actually latch. Some can only be closed by wedging the door into the doorframe so they're sort of stuck closed. Some of them close with no problems. Every day is an adventure, especially as Colin gets more and more proficient at operating doors. (He can't turn a doorknob, of course, but you don't need to do that to open most of our doors.)

Early this morning I went into the study to check my e-mail. To keep Colin in the room, I closed the door firmly, engaging the latch. I don't know, this may have been the first time we ever did that - just pushing the door into a more or less closed position used to be good enough for any reasonable purpose.

Time passed. Colin needed a diaper change. I picked him up and turned the door handle. It spun freely in my hand.

I tried turning it in different directions. I tried just pulling. I tried wiggling the knob. I tried reaching up to the top of the door (there's a sizable gap at the top of the frame) and slipping my fingers in to try to pull it open that way. Nothing worked.

Fortunately, the tool box is currently stored in the study closet. I got a flat screwdriver and slid it between the door and the jamb. Unfortunately, I was on the "long" side of the vaguely triangular latching mechanism, and I couldn't depress it with the screwdriver.

I shouted for Alex a dozen or so times until she finally woke up. She came out and tried to open the door from her side, but couldn't even budge the knob. I asked her to go downstairs and get the phone (although I'm not sure what I envisioned happening next, because it's not like she could've passed it to me), and instead she began to weep. So I hunted around until I found an old corded phone we don't use anymore, unplugged the DSL modem, plugged the phone in, and called Michael. He suggested that I might be able to reach the latching mechanism from inside if I removed the doorknob.

So I unscrewed the doorknob and the metal plate around it, and was left with a tiny hole - maybe 3/8 inch. It was clear that I wasn't going to be able to reach the latching mechanism through that. I tried some more with the screwdriver. On her side of the door, Alex got increasingly upset because she didn't understand why I didn't just come out and help her with her morning routine. On my side of the door, Colin desperately needed a diaper change and was very unhappy every time I set him down to fiddle with the door. Also, he really wanted to get into the toolbox.

I called Michael again. He agreed to start walking home to rescue us.

Finally Alex removed the doorknob on her side, as well as the long pin that connects the two knobs. Once that was out, the whole metal frame that held the lock, latching mechanism, and doorknob assembly was more able to wiggle. I abandoned any attempt to keep from damaging the doorjamb and set to work again with the flat screwdriver. This time I was able to push the whole mechanism thingie deeper into the door, and it disengaged from the latch. Whew. The jamb has some flaked paint and a couple of gouges, but it could have been a lot worse.

I praised Alex for her efforts. Changed, by this point, not only Colin's diaper but his entire outfit from the skin out. And left the doorknob disassembled, just in case.

It was an exciting start to the day, all right.

Moral of the story: NEXT TIME JUST PUT UP A DAMN BABY GATE.
rivka: (ouch)
Michael has the flu.

He started feeling a bit under the weather on Tuesday night, and by Wednesday afternoon he felt (and looked) awful. Oddly, he's not running a fever at all. When Alex had it, she seemed much sicker than her relatively low fever would suggest; Michael seems to be following the same pattern.

He went to our doctor today. She prescribed Tamiflu and also an antibiotic because she didn't like the way his lungs sounded. (Our doctor hands out antibiotics like candy.)

Tamiflu needs to be taken in the first day or two of symptoms to be effective, so I became livid when I went to the pharmacy this evening and the pharmacist told me that they had to order more Tamiflu and wouldn't have it until tomorrow. I asked her why she didn't tell Michael this when he dropped the prescription off earlier in the day, or at least call us when she realized they didn't have it. She shrugged and told me that I could have the prescription back if I wanted to take it elsewhere. Then she said that, also, they didn't have the Prozac refill I had called in the day before, because she was going to have to order that too.

So I became That Customer. I raised my voice and said "This is absolutely unacceptable," and explained why. An assistant manager nearby heard me, as I had intended him to, and he came over to investigate the situation. He found my Prozac prescription already filled and waiting on the rack. Then he called around until he found another pharmacy branch that still had Tamiflu in stock and faxed Michael's prescription over there. After a few more rounds of drama (it was faxed to the wrong number and I had to track down what had happened and get them to re-send it), Michael finally wound up with meds in hand. Whew.

I hate this damn pharmacy. They are constantly running out of things and having to order more, or asking me to accept 24 hours worth of pills because they don't have enough right now to fill my full prescription. But, you know, they're a block from our house and they're open 24 hours. It's hard to change.

I had a headache earlier, but I think it was just stress. I've had a lot of that lately, and it's always ramped up by having to deal with both kids solo for long periods of time. (Even if Michael were feeling up to caring for them, we don't really want him touching them.) I was hoping that Michael had seasonal flu, for which I have already been vaccinated, but our doctor thinks it's more likely to be H1N1. Keeping my fingers crossed.
rivka: (her majesty)
Last night at 11:20 the power went out. I had just finished pumping milk - thank heavens - I still had the bottle of milk in my hand. I quickly stowed it away, grabbed a flashlight, and went to call the power company.

The automated emergency line took my report. Usually it has something to say about how long the outage is estimated to last, but not this time. Looking out the window, I could see Maryland General Hospital all lit up a block away, but on our street there was nothing. No streetlights, no house lights.

The phone rang. It was a real human calling me back from BGE. She said that they didn't have any information about an outage in my area and why didn't I go down and try throwing my breaker. She would wait if I wanted her to.

"It's not just us," I told her. "The whole street is dark."

"Well, you're the only one who called in. I can go ahead and send someone out, but if it turns out to be a problem with your equipment there will be an $80 charge for the service call."

"Send someone out to our house? It's not just us!"

"Well, you're our only starting point."

I told her not to send anyone unless we called back. I didn't really want to wait up past midnight for a service call.

After I hung up, we heard sirens and saw flashes of colored lights outside. We jammed on our shoes and went outside. A BGE pickup truck sped by, orange lights flashing. and rounded the corner on to Read Street. I followed it. Read Street was jammed full of equipment - at least four line trucks. Guys in hard hats stood around in clumps.

Michael approached one of them and came back to report: "It's a planned outage. They're doing some work."

"Okay, let's go to bed." As I undressed, the phone rang. It was the lady from BGE. She had just figured out that it was a planned outage. We should have gotten a letter, she told Michael. The power would be off for eight hours.

That was nearly ten hours ago. We still don't have any electricity. I'm starting to fret about the food. Also, I'm hungry. Michael lit the stove with our grill lighter to make me some tea, but we don't want to open the fridge to get out anything to eat.

I'm writing this on my laptop, but we don't have any wireless to post it.

Later: I called BGE at 9:30. The power should be back on in about an hour, they said. I scrounged some bread and cookies from the pantry. Unbelievably, Alex is still asleep - when she wakes up, I'll take the kids out for breakfast.

The thing about living in a row house is that it can be dark inside even in the daytime. Our living room is a center room, and it doesn't get a whole lot of natural light.

11:00 Still no power. Coming back from breakfast we saw four or five line trucks arrayed along the alley behind our house, basket arms extended and full of linemen. Called BGE again and was assured that we'd have power by 11:30. Uh huh. I asked if there would be any compensation to customers and she reacted with total incomprehension. I wasn't being charged for the power I wasn't receiving, so why did I think I had any claim on BGE beyond that?

If it was storm damage or some other disaster, I would totally understand. But this is scheduled work.

I wonder how long the power would have to be out before I would stop automatically flipping the switch when I walked into a dark room.

Final update: When I left to take the kids to a birthday party at 12:15, the power was still out. According to Michael, it finally came on at 1:50, went off again at 2:15, and finally came on for good at 2:30.

Unfortunately, in the interim Alex overheard me discussing with a neighbor what action I planned to take against BGE if my freezer stash of breastmilk thawed. Now she is asking inconvenient questions like "Mommy, what's firebombing?"
rivka: (I hate myself)
I'VE LOST MY PACKING LIST.
rivka: (smite)
I almost never drive to work because parking is such an issue. But today I had my shrink appointment, so I drove. Came back and parked across the street from my office. This is a major thoroughfare, no rush hour parking allowed, and many's the time I've seen tow trucks lined up at the corner at 3:55, waiting to tow the unpunctual or unwary.

But I figured, no problem, I'd move my car by four. It was the only spot I could find, anyway.

I went in to work. Drama happened. Extensively. I did my best to negotiate around the drama without getting any stuck to me. I pumped. I did some work. At 4:30, I packed up my things and, as I always do, walked briskly to the light rail. I was a block away from the light rail stop when I remembered that I had driven to work, and where I had left my car.

Futilely, I turned around and walked all the way back, just on the tiniest million-to-one chance that it hadn't yet been towed. Of course it had. I trudged back to the light rail. Two trains roared past, one after the other, while I was a block or so away.

I stood on the platform, dejected. As I waited for the next train, the temperature dropped by about fifteen degrees. Black clouds rolled in on the chilly wind. Lightning flickered, first in the distance, then quite close up. The first drops of rain fell just as I got on the train. By the time I got off, lightning was flashing all around, thunder close at its heels, chilly needles of rain whipping in as I struggled to keep the wind from blowing the umbrella out of my hand.

Awfully convenient thunderstorm. If my life were a book, I would be rolling my eyes right now and muttering about the pathetic fallacy.
rivka: (smite)
I went to get my third trimester lab stuff done today.

This time I got better advice about how to prepare for the glucose tolerance test so it wouldn't make me violently nauseated. My plan was to drop Alex off at school and then go to a diner to protein-load. Unfortunately, after I parked outside the diner at 9am and fed the meter, I discovered that it didn't open until 9:30. No problem, there was another diner a block and a half away. I struggled through the bitterly cold wind only to find the lights off and a "family emergency" sign on the door. Okay.

I went to the hospital. Fortunately, the cafeteria was still serving breakfast. I loaded up on two hard-boiled eggs, two sausage links, and two strips of bacon (no carbs allowed) and went down to the lab. I waited ten minutes to check in and another half-hour to be seen. They drew some blood to type and cross for my Rhogam shot and made me drink a hideous syrupy orange drink with 50g of glucose in it. Yum.

I settled in for the hour-long wait. Another woman who arrived shortly after me for the same test decided to while away the interval with a long stream-of-consciousness cell phone conversation. At the other end of the room, some kind of Christian news broadcast informed me that 45% of people surveyed thought the US had become too open to different ideas and lifestyles. It was a long hour.

At the end of the hour, they drew more blood and told me that the blood bank needed another half-hour to prepare my Rhogam shot. The sugar crash hit, and I fell asleep sitting upright in the waiting room. They woke me at noon to walk me down to the blood bank, and then, Rhogam dose in hand, on to the "Center for Advanced Fetal Care," where ten people were already crammed into a tiny waiting room the size of a large elevator. Including a noisy preverbal toddler and a family playing "Bible Trivia" from a book. Poorly. ("On what island did Saint John write the book of Revelation? ...I'll give you a clue, it starts with P." "Pennsylvania?")

A nurse eventually led me back to an exam room and asked me to bend over the table and expose what she euphemistically referred to as my "hip." "They brought me a big needle, and I got a smaller one," she said, "but this is still going to hurt." And it did, a lot, as she punctured my skin. Then: "Okay, this is the part that hurts." She started to depress the plunger, and I was unable to stifle a sharp Wow. "Yeah, they changed the formulation, and most people seem to think this one hurts more."

I had been at the hospital for more than three hours. I made my way back to my car and drove over to Michael's office. I pulled into the parking lot, gathered my things, and realized that I had left my library book at the hospital. I fervently wished that I could just go home. The blood sugar challenge was interacting predictably with pregnancy hormones, making me exhausted and overwhelmed. But I had an important meeting with my boss at 3, so I had to go to work. I drove back to the hospital, went back to the Center for Advanced Fetal Care, found my book in the exam room, drove back to Michael's office, and walked from there to the light rail platform. It was bitterly cold, and I was underdressed. I cried a little while I waited for my train.

Took the train to my stop, hit my work hospital (it's a different one) for some lunch - by now it was 2pm - and came to my office. Only to discover that Lydia had left a message on my machine yesterday, which for some reason I hadn't gotten then. Canceling the meeting, of course. I could've gone straight home from the hospital.

My "hip" hurts.
rivka: (her majesty)
Recommended: Going to the Family Dance sponsored by the Baltimore Folk Music Society and having a great time dancing to live music with your three-year-old.

Not Recommended: Leaving the dance, getting in the car, and backing out of your parking place, only to discover that you have an extremely flat tire.

Not Recommended: Your three-year-old developing a multiple-bathroom-trip case of diarrhea while you're trying to get the car situation straightened out.

Not Recommended: All of this happening at dinner time, so that the kid's stomach is a ticking time bomb in more ways than one.

Recommended: Toyota roadside assistance, which comes free to 100,000 miles when you buy a Toyota Certified Used Vehicle. I called their 800 number, and about 10 minutes later a lovely young man was in the church parking lot changing my tire. All told, it took just about half an hour from discovering the flat to being on the road again - including bathroom trips. No money changed hands. And Toyota called later to double-check that everything was okay.

Recommended: The three-year-old belting out from the back seat, "I like black and white, dreaming black and white, you like black and white, run runaway."


Now I am extremely tired.

The Family Dance was wonderful, though. Alex is to the point where she can follow some basic dance directions, and she's much less reluctant to hold fellow dancers' hands than she used to be. For some of the dances she was able to be my partner instead of just my shadow - including one square dance in which she was required to run around the square in the opposite direction from me. I only had to carry her for a grand total of about three minutes. And no one patted me on the head.

Falls.

Aug. 8th, 2008 03:22 pm
rivka: (ouch)
Twice in the last week I've fallen and hurt myself. That seems a bit much.

A few days ago I tripped on the edge of the plastic floor protector under my desk chair at home. I fell sideways towards my desk and landed hard on my right (small) wrist. It hurt so badly that I felt intensely sick to my stomach, and for the first few minutes Michael and I thought that I might've broken my wrist. I've still got a large, painful bump there, although curiously it didn't bruise much.

Then, just this afternoon, I headed out to lunch and apparently tripped over a sidewalk crack or something. I fell hard enough that when I landed my laptop backpack actually flipped over my head to rest on the sidewalk in front of me. And I scraped my left palm, left elbow, both knees, and the tops of both feet above my sandal straps. The elbow, left knee, and left foot scraped deeply enough to draw blood - the others just lost the top layer of skin.

This encounter wasn't as painful as the wrist injury, except for the part where I had to scrub the deeper scrapes with alcohol wipes. (God only knows what germs are lurking on a Baltimore sidewalk.) My elbow still aches, and it's bruising up pretty well around the scrape.

This seems kind of excessive, doesn't it? It's not as if my center of balance has really changed, yet.
rivka: (disgusted alex)
The milestone every parent looks forward to: first call to Poison Control.

"Ow, my lip hurts!" Alex said suddenly.

"Let me see... did you bite it?"

"No, I bited the pump," i.e., the hand sanitizer. 62% ethyl alcohol, harmful if swallowed, contact poison control immediately.

"What were you doing biting the pump?"

"I wanted to taste it, but it's yucky."

"How much did you eat?"

"Just a little bit."

I didn't think it could do any harm, but I called just in case. Poison Control seemed to detect a note of disgusted embarrassment, rather than panic, in my voice, and led me through a series of demographic questions before telling me to give her a glass of milk and she'd be fine.

She decided to taste the hand sanitizer. What the hell?
rivka: (ouch)
Michael and I are both sick. I have this fatigue-and-stomach-issues thing that's been dragging on for a while, and he, poor soul, has a raging ear infection which has left him temporarily deaf in one ear and has pretty much just knocked him out generally.

Alex? Happy and energetic. Until today, anyway.

I took her to the mall this afternoon. (She needed tights, I needed a couple of new bras, and Michael needed a nap.) When our shopping was done, I suggested that we get ice cream, and we walked about two-thirds the length of the extremely large mall to where the Ben & Jerry's... used to be. Shit. It's still showing up on the mall maps, and the store name is still up over the counter, but there isn't any equipment back there anymore.

She took it well, actually. We diverted to Books-a-Million to play with the train table, and when we were done there I asked if she wanted to go look for different ice cream in the food court. I had seen a Carvel stand there. She did, so we walked down there. She was starting to look pretty tired.

"I'm rubbing my little eyes," she remarked to me at one point. I looked, and she was.

Carvel soft-serve turns out to be gross. It was sort of gummy and fake-tasting, and weirdly messier than normal ice cream. I was still surprised when Alex only ate half her cone and then told me she was done. We went out to our car, circled to the exit...
sick kid details follow, for the strong-of-stomach )
rivka: (I hate myself)
Last night was so awful.

It started out well enough. My friend Emily came over to stay with Alex (yaaay, babysitting trades!) so that Michael and I could go out and enjoy Baltimore Restaurant Week - a summer promotion in which dozens of restaurants are offering special $30 three-course menus. We went to Sascha's 527, a neighborhood restaurant serving what I guess I'd describe as upscale-American food. Dinner was good, but not amazing.

I had an appetizer of pepper-crusted raw ahi tuna with what was described as an orange Thai sauce. The sauce tasted like orange marmelade seasoned with way too much chili pepper, and it totally concealed the flavor of the fish. The very, very good Asian coleslaw on the side saved the dish. Then I had their take on bouillabase, which was sort of a New England clambake version (it had potatoes and inch-thick rounds of corn on the cob in it) with a really tasty broth. Finally, I finished up with the world's best carrot cake.

We came home and curled up on the couch to watch an episode of Planet Earth. Partway through, there was a loud crack and our power went out. I looked out the window - no lights anywhere on the block.

This is where I need to back up and talk about the weather. Because it was 100 degrees Farenheit yesterday, and humid, and breezeless. By the time our power went out, I estimate that it was still over 85 degrees. Our brick rowhouse had been soaking up the sun's rays all day long. Within minutes of losing power, the house was noticeably hot and stuffy.

We called the power company and were given an estimate of 1:30am power restoration. We tried to go to bed. Meanwhile, I started worrying about Alex. Her room is on the third floor - the hottest part of the house. It works out nicely enough in winter, when her room stays much warmer than ours, but in summer it's damn near uninhabitable without air conditioning. It's a small closed room - we can't open the window because the air conditioner is in it, and there isn't much opportunity for cross-ventilation on that floor.

She woke up shortly after we went to bed, calling for Mommy. I went up to her hot, hot bedroom, disentangled her from some blankets, and helped her find her pacifier. She went back to sleep. I went back to bed and didn't sleep.

Some of the other people on our block had spilled out onto their stoops, where it was slightly cooler and (thanks to the nearby hospital's emergency generator) better lit than indoors. They apparently decided that it was a fine time to have a blackout party. We were subjected to bursts of loud conversation and even louder laughter, with occasional running and squealing, until... I think until close to 2am.

Our bedroom got hotter and hotter. A damp blanket of still hot air stifled me as I tried to relax and go to sleep. When the neighbors shut up for a few moments, I could hear rats squeaking outside in our garbage. Which - and this is the other thing that made yesterday awful, and today doesn't look any better - hadn't been picked up when it was supposed to on Tuesday evening, and had continued to fester in the 100-degree heat ever since because the city kept swearing that they'd send a solid waste truck by any minute so we should leave it on the curb. So every time the human party waned I could hear a rat party on the sidewalk.

In my weird half-asleep, half-awake, intolerably uncomfortable state my worry about Alex started to balloon out of control. I thought about children trapped in hot cars. I thought about elderly people in Chicago dying in a heat wave because they couldn't open their windows. I started to seriously believe that there was a chance that the heat could kill her - not to such an extent that I woke her up and drove her to an air-conditioned motel, but to enough of an extent that any chance of restful sleep for myself was hopeless.

Around 1am it became so intolerably hot that Michael hammered open one of our stuck-shut front windows. (Our only bedroom window that opens easily had the air conditioner in it, naturally.) I opened the tiny bathroom window at the other end of the house in a feeble attempt to create a cross-breeze. The bedroom was still sweltering. I went up to check on Alex. Her room wasn't any hotter than ours, at least. She was breathing. Her hair was damp with sweat, but her skin was a normal temperature. I tried to ratchet my anxiety down a little.

At 2am I got up and called BGE again. Now they gave an estimated power restoration time of 5am. I began to worry about our refrigerator and freezerfull of food, as well as our own survival, our utter exhaustion, and Alex. But shortly after that - maybe around 2:30? - a cool-ish breeze sprang up, and I was able to get a solid couple of hours of sleep.

I awoke at 4:30 because the air conditioner coughed itself into action. Michael went downstairs and turned off the TV and the ground floor air conditioner, but when I asked him about the refrigerator he said he had been too sleepy to check it. So I got up and went downstairs, and was relieved to find the meat still quite cold to the touch and the frozen food rock-solid. I listened at the foot of the attic stairs to be sure that Alex's air conditioner had re-started (it had), and went back to bed for a few more hours of broken sleep.

What. A. Night. And I don't think I really stopped worrying about Alex entirely until we finally woke her up this morning. And they still haven't picked up our goddamned trash. The bags had holes chewed all over them this morning - I didn't dream the rats squeaking.

I don't know how people managed, in the years before air conditioning. I really don't. Now I understand why Washington DC was considered a hazardous posting for foreign diplomats, and why cities would be emptied, in the summer, of everyone who could possibly afford to go anyplace else. I guess we would've had awnings, and a better ventilation plan, and maybe a sleeping porch in the shaded back of the house. And certainly we wouldn't have had windows that couldn't be opened in the summer. Because Oh. My. God.
rivka: (ouch)
Simple ways to make the ER experience more pleasant and tolerable:

1. Wear an ID proclaiming that you are an employee of the medical school.

2. To the ER doctor only (for God's sake, never to a nurse or clerk), reply "Actually, it's Dr. Wald."

3. Carry a comforting bag of frozen soybeans wrapped in an old T-shirt.

And, most importantly:

4. Turn out to not actually have broken your thumb.


That's the story, in a nutshell, of what I did from 11pm to 1am. (I'm amazed that I got out of a big-city ER in two hours! They have a fantastic step-down system of separately staffed "urgent care" (me), emergency room, and shock/trauma.)

We were packing to go out of town this weekend. I decided I wanted to empty and re-use a big canvas bag we had stowed in one of our non-working fireplaces. The bag jammed in place, and when I gave a ferocious tug, my hand flew up and smashed, hard, into the brick surround of the fireplace.

For several minutes, all I could do was pace up and down frantically waving my hand in the air. (Pain gate theory! The same neurons carry the sensation of movement and the sensation of pain, so it's helpful to give them something to do other than hurt.) I noticed that the pain was accompanied by numbness, and, after a little while, quite a bit of swelling. When it didn't get better after about ten minutes on an ice pack, I headed off to the ER. My finger continued to feel a strange mix of numbness and pain.

My employee status didn't jump me over the line, or anything, but it was nice to be treated like a co-worker rather than a random member of the public who was stupid enough to suffer an idiotic injury. The triage nurse, especially, was friendly and collegial. We traded broken finger stories from our pasts. She walked me over to the urgent care section, where she explained that I would be seen more quickly. There, I saw a resident for a few seconds and an attending for a bit longer. They ordered X-rays.

By the time I got through X-ray, I was beginning to suspect that my thumb wasn't broken. The numbness hadn't been replaced by blinding pain, and the constant icing had brought much of the swelling down. So I wasn't too surprised when the resident popped back in and said, "Just a big bruise!" I was embarrassed, but he assured me that, given that I couldn't see through my skin myself, I was justified in a trip to the ER.

This morning my thumb is still really, really sore. And bruised. But I can bend it, and I can do basic, elementary things like putting on my clothes. I feel very grateful.
rivka: (stop)
We got robbed.

Michael was home alone this morning when, in broad daylight, someone came in through an unlocked, high-up, hard-to-access window in our kitchen. Michael interrupted him, but not before he'd stolen my laptop from work, which he then proceeded to bounce off the pavement trying to get over the alley gate in a hurry. (So the bastard isn't even going to profit by this - he destroyed our sense of safety at home for nothing.)

Here's Michael's full story.

I never imagined... okay, I knew that security between the yard and the house was weak. (The back door doesn't even have a real lock - just a chain.) But our yard is fenced, and bounded on two sides by other yards, and all access through those yards to the street is through locked gates. I didn't think that anyone would ever come in that way.

I can't believe it. He could have killed Michael. He could have killed him.

In a massively high-crime city like Baltimore, I wasn't sure what the police would even do, beyond filing a report so we'd have a case number to give our insurance. But they sent an officer out, and he talked to Michael and walked through the yard and talked to some workmen who'd been out on the street behind the house and had seen the guy scale the gate. And then, a few hours later, a crime scene investigator came out and dusted the window for prints. She told us that if there's a match in the system when the prints come back - and I'm sure that this was some local dope fiend or crackhead, so I can't imagine that he doesn't have a record - they'll follow up on it. So maybe they'll make an arrest, and we can think in some abstract way that justice has been served. I guess.

For a while, I had hopes that the computer might be recovered - it's got those metal security stickers all over the bottom, saying that it's owned by the University of Maryland. That was before Michael found the doors to the CD drive lying on the sidewalk outside the gate, and talked to the guys who saw the computer get tossed through the bars. There wasn't any unduplicated data on it, or confidential patient information, or anything. Fortunately.

What an ugly, creepy thing to have happen. I'm so glad that Michael is safe. I'm so glad that the guy didn't make it any further into our house - I can just imagine how much stronger the sense of violation would be, if we came home to find that he had been all over, upstairs, in our bedroom...

And I am so, so, so glad that Alex wasn't home when it happened. I keep thinking, sometimes she's downstairs by herself for a minute or two, when whichever one of us is home with her runs upstairs to get something. What if she had been downstairs alone, and a guy had come through the kitchen window? It's awful enough thinking about this happening to my husband.

We are okay. Just shaken up (me) and furious (Michael). It could have been so very much worse. But oh my God...
rivka: (smite)
I can't fucking believe this.

To whom it may concern:

I respectfully request that you consider accepting this R21 application, “Irrational and Mistrustful Beliefs in Antiretroviral Therapy Decision-Making,” although it will arrive approximately 15 hours past the May 7 deadline for the receipt of AIDS-related proposals.

The academic institution in which I am based, the Institute of Human Virology, is currently in the middle of making a transition from membership in the University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute to becoming an institute fully contained within the University of Maryland School of Medicine. Some faculty and staff have become employees of the School of Medicine already, while others have not. Some administrative procedures have already been transferred to the School of Medicine, while others have not.

Because of the confusion engendered by the constantly-evolving status of the merger, it was not immediately clear which approval and routing procedures (Biotechnology Institute or School of Medicine) applied to a grant submitted during the merger process. Those questions were not resolved until late in the routing process, a few hours before the grant deadline of 5:00pm on Monday, May 7. At that point, a critical administrator whose signature is required for grant submission had already left the campus.

I would like to underline the fact that there were no delays or problems in the scientific and financial preparation of the application, and that there are no underlying administrative problems which would interfere with the conduct of the research if a grant is awarded. The problems which led to this delayed application are a one-time event, based on the fact that the grant deadline fell in the middle of the period in which our institution is merging with the University of Maryland School of Medicine.

Therefore, it is my earnest request that you approve a slight extension of the 5:00pm deadline and accept this application for review.

Sincerely, Rivka, Ph.D.


Obviously, there's more to it than that. More later, when I redevelop the ability to breathe.
rivka: (disgusted alex)
Between six and eight this morning, we went through four sleepers, an undershirt, two parental bathrobes, two maternal shirts and a pair of maternal leggings, half a dozen cloth diapers, and three child-sized towels. Not to mention about a half-bottle each of surface and carpet cleaner.

Mercifully, since then the Pedialyte has been staying down. But pity us.
rivka: (Baltimore)
Our car won't start.

Michael offered to drive me to work on Thursday, when the weather turned cold. We loaded ourselves into the car, strapped Alex in the carseat, and... nothing. Nothing happened when he turned the key. We hadn't left the lights on, or anything.

What with one thing and another, it wasn't until after work today that we had the opportunity to investigate further. Michael went out to stand by the car with the hood opened, and within a few minutes someone offered him a jump start. A small crowd of neighbors gathered. The first jump start (from an economy sedan) didn't do much, so another neighbor tried with his big beefy SUV. Still no luck. Someone's elderly father (of considerable automotive experience) finally decided that it was probably a solenoid. Everyone was as friendly and sympathetic as could be - I love the way that misfortunes like this bring out a helpful crowd.

The garage we use is closed over Easter weekend. (I wish we'd thought to wonder about that yesterday, when we decided to leave troubleshooting for later. But we would have had a hell of a time orchestrating getting it to the garage today, and we really did think that a jump start would probably take care of it.)

Tomorrow, we're supposed to be going to the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum facility at Dulles Airport, with [livejournal.com profile] bosssio and her family. We canceled once before because Alex got sick, and we do not want to cancel again. Plus we need to do grocery shopping this weekend. So we decided to rent a car for a couple of days. It's surprisingly not-that-expensive, if you're renting from a location without airport taxes.

Tomorrow morning I'll be taking a cab to the car rental company and driving home to pick up Michael and Alex and bring them to Northern Virginia. Monday morning, Michael will have the car towed to our mechanic and will wait with it until it's fixed. I'll wait with Alex until her nanny shows up, return the rental car, and ask the rental car people to drop me off at the bus stop so I can take the bus to work. Goodness, the logistics of this are going to be fun.

Whoops.

Mar. 9th, 2007 07:04 pm
rivka: (alex has a hat!)
Alex asks for milk by sippy cup color. And she's started asking for a different color of milk (i.e., a different-colored cup) halfway through a meal.

Tonight at dinner, she had selected the yellow sippy cup. When she finished her milk, I asked her if she'd like more.

"Alex have more milk! Alex have pink milk!" she suggested brightly.

"No, only one color at a meal," I said. (I hate washing sippy cups.) "But I will get you some more yellow milk."

I took her cup and went into the kitchen. At which point I heard her say, very clearly, "Damn it, a pink milk!"

"Did she say what I think she said?" I asked Michael. He confirmed it, glumly.

I brought her refilled cup back in and gave it to her. "Damn it," she said in a disappointed voice. "Alex have a yellow milk."

We are such horrible examples to our child. If only she had already started preschool, so that I could've blamed it on her poorly-raised classmates.
rivka: (travel)
Remember how I was concerned about the possible security ramifications of flying with Alex's liquid antibiotics?

Ha. I had no idea.

Late the night before we left, Michael printed out our e-tickets, which (unusually, for us) had been issued through a travel agency because we were using his father's reward miles to pay for some of our fare. Glancing at the tickets, he noticed that both of our tickets had been made out in his last name. Oops.

At the airport in the morning, we checked our bags at the curbside counter and then went in to the Northwest Airlines desk to see if they could manage to change the name on my ticket. I explained the situation to one of the ticket agents. Naively, I guess, I still didn't see it as a big deal - just an annoyance that it would be better to clear up before we flew. She adjusted my worldview quickly and brutally.

"Not only can't we change your ticket, we can't check you in. We can't allow you on the plane. Your only recourse is to get back to the travel agency and ask them to reissue the ticket. There will probably be a $100 fee."

"The travel agency is in the Central time zone," Michael said. "There's no way we're going to get hold of them before our flight."

The ticket agent shrugged. Nothing could be done at the airport. I simply wouldn't be able to fly.

"I guess you and Alex would go without me?" I asked Michael. "...And I would drive to my family in Elmira?" No, he said, he thought I would be able to get some flight to Memphis sometime - I would just need to work with the travel agency until they got me a ticket. We looked helplessly at each other.

Then I had a thought. "Let's try to check in using the automated machines. The worst that happens is that I get stopped at security, and then we're no worse off than we are right now."

We made sure that the ticket agent we'd talked to before wasn't looking at us, and fed our ticket numbers into the automated check-in machines. It spat out two sets of boarding passes for us. We walked to security, to the special entry chute for people with wheelchairs or strollers. Michael handed her both our boarding passes. We each showed our IDs. She glanced at the IDs, glanced at the boarding passes, thanked us, and waved us through.

That was it.

Once in Memphis, Michael called the travel agency to discuss, at length, what we should do about our return flight. (Among other things, the travel agent wanted to know why I hadn't changed my name when I got married. Not sure why that was relevant, unless she thought he might say something like, "She'd committed acts of terrorism under her maiden name, and wanted to be sure that all her works appeared together in databases.") It all came down to this, though: once you've already used half of a round-trip ticket, you can't change the identity of the passenger even if you're just correcting a mistake. The agent recommended that we arrive early at the airport and be prepared for extra security screening. She helpfully suggested that we present a copy of our marriage license - something that, unfortunately, we are not in the habit of carrying when we travel.

Instead, we showed up at the Memphis airport two hours before our return flight. We checked in at the self-service machines. Michael handed both our boarding passes to the security agent, and we each showed her our IDs. She glanced at them, glanced at the boarding passes, thanked us, and waved us through.

The TSAs in Memphis did open my backpack and visually confirm that the bottle of liquid inside was medicine. (In Baltimore, apparently, they didn't notice.) But that was it.

I was simultaneously relieved and unsettled by the whole business. Relieved because it would have been an awful nightmare to be stopped at security, and possibly to have to purchase an entire new ticket in my own name. Unsettled because, if security procedures are supposed to ensure that all tickets match photo IDs, it shouldn't have been so trivially easy for us to pass through unnoticed.

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