Tuesday, December 22, 2009

What's Your Favorite Color, Baby?

BLUE & WHITE!!!!!!

Monday, December 21, 2009


Dear Grouchy, Disgruntled and Otherwise Unpleasant People Who Call Me at Work,

Let me start off by thanking you for calling me each day and not only wasting my time with your endless barrage of inane questions (most of which a small child could probably answer for you), but also for reminding me just how lucky I truly am to have, as they say, the sense that God gave a goat. I mean it. Each time you call I say a little prayer of gratitude that up to this point in my life I have managed not to make a fool of myself by asking such idiotic questions or treating another human being the way that you treat me.

That said, I realize that "Hospital Administrator" sounds an awful lot like "Medical Doctor" and can see how you would get those two terms confused. I understand that when you're upset the most logical thing to do is to call the first Hospital number you can find in the phone book and start yelling at whoever is lucky enough to answer the phone. This makes sense, doesn't it? I mean, why wouldn't everyone in the hospital be thoroughly familiar with your particular story and set of circumstances and able to give you exactly what you want?

I'm writing you this letter today with the hope that I can clear a few things up for you because I know how confusing everything in the medical world in general, can be. First things first, as crazy as this is, I can't write a prescription for you. I know, I know...the injustice of it all! You're preaching to the choir, baby. But I can't do it. For some silly reason the powers that be have decided not to award prescription writing privileges to anyone who doesn't have an M.D. after their name. Self-righteous exclusivists. But they make the rules and if you call and ask me to write you a Rx I will have to politely say "No." If you call back and ask again I will still say, "No," only slightly less politely because, haven't we been over this already? Now the third time you call and ask you're going to start irritating me a bit and if you're bold enough to try a fourth time...well, I don't recommend trying that fourth time. As my mom would say, "Do NOT make me tell you this again."

Next let's talk about money. Yes, I realize that I work for the CFO and yes, I realize that the "F" in that stands for Financial and in your mind, Financial = all things money. Certainly things would be much simpler if that were the case but unfortunately, here at the hospital we like to do things a little less straightforward. We have an entire Finance Department here! Crazy, huh? And on top of that, we have a whole other department that handles Patient Billing! And here's the kicker; not only are neither of those departments located in my office, one of them isn't even located in this state! You know what that means? When you call and demand that I let you talk to the CFO because you don't think you should have to pay your bill, my hands are tied. I know this is a tough one to wrap your brain around but the CFO does not actually handle any individual patient accounts. If I let you talk to him he wouldn't be able to answer your questions. Trust me on this. When I tell you you really need to call the Billing Department, I say it with all the love in the world and your best interests in mind.

(As a side note, when you do finally figure out the magical formula for absolving yourself of all financial responsibility and for getting out of paying for anything just because you don't want to, let me know. I've got a student loan that by golly, I ought not to have to pay for)!

The last thing I'd like to bring up hits a little closer to home for me. It really offends me when you call and ask me the same question over and over again and imply that you don't believe what I am telling you. Why do you call if you're not going to trust what I say? Ask yourself this; what motive would I possibly have for lying to you? You don't even believe me when I tell you things that are public information and that you could easily verify if you took fourteen seconds to look at our website. If I don't know the answer to your question I will tell you I don't know the answer and promptly set about trying to find it. But if I tell you I know something then don't question that! It hurts my feelings and makes me less inclined to be friendly to you.

In closing, I would just like to reiterate how much I appreciate our relationship and how I so look forward to your calls each day. If you should have any questions about the things we've discussed today, please feel free to give me a call (God knows you have my number).

Hugs and Kisses,

P.S. I don't care if your uncle's cousin's boyfriend said it's ok; I can't give out patient records either. Sorry.

Weekend Update

First and foremost, Finals are over. Thank goodness. Hallelujah, Amen. Thank you sweet baby Jesus for getting us through them. (And I didn't even have to take any). But seriously, I'm only slightly less excited to have them over than all the law school kids who actually had to take the things. If I had to go through one more study guide that I didn't understand a word of, I was seriously going to start looking for a very tall building...for realsies. I don't think there are awards for such things but if there were, I would definitely expect to be nominated for providing the best study snacks over that two week period. I also put myself on unofficial suicide watch during that time which thankfully, proved unnecessary.

Friday night, just as I was sitting down to watch the greatest movie ever made (don't even act like you don't know I'm talking about Gone With the Wind) my sister called to announce that SHE GOT ENGAGED!!!!!!!!!!!!! That's right, her boyfriend of seven years proposed Friday night so we've got another wedding in the near future!!! I'm so excited for them. And I can't wait to get home for Christmas now to see the rock.

Saturday morning I did what is maybe the girliest thing I could have possibly done and went to a high tea party at my friend Ashley's house. I had never been to a high tea before. In fact, I haven't been to a tea party period since I was maybe four. I had no idea what to expect but it was so much fun! She's definitely very creative when it comes to throwing parties--I'm jealous actually. She's constantly coming up with really cute ideas like that. Having never been to a high tea I made and took the only thing I was positively sure even went with tea; scones. I did blueberry-lemon and (in the spirit of the season) gingerbread. Never made scones before but I'm gonna go ahead and say I rocked these.

Sunday was church and then I spent the afternoon braving the crowds to finish the last of my Christmas shopping. Seriously, everyone and their brother was at the mall yesterday, I'm pretty sure. The good news is, I finished and more importantly, I made it out of there with all of my limbs intact and without having a nervous breakdown. I'd call it a successful mission.

Now that I think about it, I'm not really sure anyone cares all that much about what I did this weekend. Maybe I shouldn't have spent the past fifteen minutes typing all this up but well, on the off chance someone was curious about what I've been up to, now you know. You're welcome.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Read This

"The soul of the city is in the Lower 9th Ward, in the classrooms of Carver High. The school is still rebuilding, and the seniors are the first class to go to high school entirely after Katrina. Students all write the same header for their school papers. It's the same in every class, every day, every year: name, period, date, teacher. This year, they've added a new category on their own. Next to the date, the students write the Saints' record. So, today, it would be: Dec. 17, 2009. 13-0."

This is an excerpt from an article on ESPN.com about New Orleans and the Saints. Read it.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Christmas Trees Part II

*Someone* has been so busy studying for finals that we just got around to getting a Christmas tree this past week. I was starting to worry that we weren't even going to have one but lo and behold, Thursday night we mustered up the energy to drag ourselves to Lowe's when I got home from work. Given the limited amount of space we have in the living room we opted for a much more petite tree than I'm used to but once we got him home and situated in the corner, I must admit he's pretty darn cute.

Meet Allan.

I named my Christmas tree Allan? You're darn right I did. The picture is a bit blurry and this is pre-ornament donning, but you get the idea. What a stud, huh? (Check out our ghetto fabulous newspaper and tree stand. We somehow managed to forget the tree skirt when we moved and decided that we like a more "rustic look anyway" so we've yet to buy a replacement. Also, I'm really cheap).

Unlike my parents lame artificial tree, Allan is the real deal. Our entire downstairs now smells like pine tree and Christmas which I happen to love.

The other thing I love about this tree?


Words of Wisdom

A ship in harbor is safe - but that's not what ships are made for.
~John A. Shedd, Salt from My Attic

I want to GO

I'm feeling particurally restless today. More so than normal even. Either my ADD is kicking in or I'm just so sick of rain and crappy weather that I'm beside myself. I want to go to Thailand,
Italy (Rome specifically but all over really),

And back to Paris.


I have caviar (travel) tastes on a fast food budget. The good news is, if you're trying to decide what to get me for Christmas, a plane ticket would do nicely :-)

Monday, December 14, 2009

Water Water Everywhere

So I had a personal "first" on Saturday afternoon. Driving through floodwater.

It rained off and on most of the day Saturday before really letting loose with a complete downpour around 3:30. I was at the mall probably twenty minutes from home when the deluge started and I told myself that I'd just wait it out inside where it was nice and dry. Well two hours later I was still waiting and with no signs of the rain letting up anytime soon and standing water beginning to deepen in the streets and parking lot, I decided I needed to get home.

So, I took off my shoes, rolled up my jeans and waded out to my car. You think this is an exaggeration but it's not. The parking lot was under about six inches or so of standing water...and it was elevated. The street was under about four feet.

Lucky for me the jeep sits up off the ground or there's no way I would have made it home. As it was I was driving through water up to my bumper most of the way and there was one point it was so deep I was afraid to drive through (I had to get up on the grassy median in the middle of the road and drive up there for awhile to get around the deepest parts). Traffic was a complete and utter disaster. I maintain that most people don't know how to drive in incliment weather anyway and Saturday once again proved my theory true. People in cars that sat close to the ground were out of luck but instead of pulling off to the side of the road and waiting for help, a lot of people just abandoned their cars in the middle of the road! I've never seen anything like it. Myself and the few other bravehearted (smart) souls who own SUVs and trucks who continued driving were forced to maneuver around an obstacle course of abandoned vehicles. One guy stopped right in the middle of an intersection, got out and walked off! It was nuts. I don't understand the logic there. It's not like this was moving flood water; then I would understand. This though, was standing water.

Two soggy, tension filled hours later I finally made it home. By then the poor jeep was so water logged I felt sorry for it. No water actually got in but my breaks were definitely starting to slip and I was very grateful to be home and out of the storm.

This is what it looked like when I was driving home.

What's frustrating to me is that while it did rain a lot Saturday, its not like it was a monsoon and we still flooded. Since then I've seen/read in the news that one of the biggest causes of flooding here is that the city's drainage system is so sold and outdated. The storm drains are not big enough to handle the amount of water the city takes on on a regular basis and the pumps that New Orleans has to have (since some genius decided that building a city in a hole was a good idea) aren't powerful enough to keep up. Forget hurricane season--they're not even designed to be able to drain the city when we have a big rainstorm. As one person so eloquently put it, if more than two people in New Orleans spit at the same time, it's gonna flood. Grrrrrr!
Come on New Orleans, get it together!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Oh Christmas Trees

I love Christmas trees but the caveat is, they absolutely have to be real, live trees. Have to be. As far as I'm concerned there's nothing festive about those artificial metal and fiberglass things that have been shaped to resemble a tree. They don't feel like a real tree and more importantly, they don't smell like a real tree.

Growing up we always had real Christmas trees. When we were little I remember stopping at a tree lot every year on our way home from my grandparent's house after Thanksgiving. More often than not those trees were still wrapped up in netting and we couldn't unwrap them lest we not be able to get it home on top of the car, so we never really knew what our tree looked like until we got it home. That was ok though. It was all part of the adventure.

When we got a little older we advanced to going to a Christmas tree farm and actually cutting down our own tree. These times are some of my best Christmas memories even though in hindsight, they also tended to be some of the more dysfunctional parts of preparing for the holidays. Leah and I always searched until we found the absolute biggest tree we possibly could. And let me tell you, we picked out a couple of monsters in our day. We'd then fight over who got to "cut it down" using the hand saw the farmer provided but more often than not we were worn out before we even made a dent in the thick bark and Dad ended up having to finish it (while we stood back and whined about how long it was taking and how cold we were). Of course we always acted like we were going to do the lions share of dragging those things back to the truck too but in reality, that was rarely the case.

Whether we bought the tree at a tree stand or cut it ourselves on a tree farm, the best part came when we got the thing home and Dad had to get it in the stand and wrestle it into the house. Keep in mind we had some BIG Christmas trees--well over 10 feet in most cases. This was not an easy task (I'm assuming; since I never actually did it I could be wrong). Watching Dad push/pull/wrestly/fight the tree into place never failed to be hilarious to me. Looking back he probably came darn close to giving himself a heart attack a few times, but that didn't stop Leah and I from laughing our heads off. For some reason though, Dad was convinced for years that he needed to "trim" the tree before he brought it inside. Not trim as in decorate; trim as in cut into pieces. He's start by whittling the trunk down to a toothpick under the guise that it needed to be smaller to fit in the tree stand, and before long, he'd be knee deep in a pile of branches he had cut off. Every year we ended up having a showdown about how much he was allowed to cut off the tree and Leah and I stood watching him like hawks to make sure he didn't cheat.

With memories like these you can imagine my utter devastation when I came home from college for Christmas break my Freshman year and discovered that my parents had sold out and bought an artificial tree. I feel dirty just saying that! I mean, how weak can you get? They acted like it was just getting to be too much work to haul in a real one every year but in all honesty, I think they had just been waiting for years to get me out of the house to do this because they knew I'd throw a fit. I did, and I still do, five years later. Even though we've moved out, Leah and i still go home every year to help decorate the Christmas tree. And every year I complain as much as I possibly can about how much I hate our weakness and how this isn't a real Christmas tree, etc. It's yet to do a bit of good but it makes me feel better.
Fake or not, I still love the act of decorating the tree. I think everyone does it differently but in our house there are no themed trees, or pretty color-coordinated trees. No, ours is more like a color explosion made up of lights and ornaments and such that we've collected over the years. Nothing really matches but by the time we're finished, it always looks incredible. I love opening that box of ornaments every year and pulling out a bunch of memories I haven't given much thought to since the Christmas before. Our ornaments represent trips we've been on, milestones we've met, and things we've accomplished. There's the yellow school bus ornament I got when I started kindergarten and got to ride the bus for the first time. There's Leah's ballerina ornament that we laugh about every year because she hated ballet lessons and cried every time mom and dad made her go. There are ornaments given to us by some of our dear friends to commemorate family vacations we took together and there are ornaments that we've picked up on trips we've taken ourselves. The best ornaments of all though, are the ones that Leah and I made when we were little. I think they are priceless. This one for example, I made when I was in preschool Sunday school. I think it's supposed to be a bell...

The buffalo was given to us by family friends to commemorate a trip we took "out west" years ago.And of course, Mickey came from Disney World my junior year of high school when my basketball team played in a Holiday Tournament there.

At the risk of getting sappy and sentimental I'd just like to say that as I sit here and think about decorating that silly fake tree, I'm almost overcome by how blessed I feel. All those good memories I have truly are priceless to me and each and every one of those ornaments (as goofy as some of them are) represent a little piece of my life serve to remind me of just how fortunate I am. I still hate the artifical tree with a firey, burning passion but nonetheless, I love what it represents.

Wow, I had planned to include in this post a part about my and Zack's tree here in New Orleans but this has gotten ridiculously long so I better hold off until another time. Guess you'll just have to wait in suspense until then...

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Big Blue Love

Fact: I scream at my TV during Kentucky games.

Totally out of character for me, I know. I'm not big on expressing lots of emotion per se, but gee oh, when the CATS are on I just can't help it. It's like I'm possessed.
For the past two years I've screamed at the TV out of frustration and for the most part, bitter disappointment...

"What the HECK are you doing Billy G?!?!"

"Porter, I hope you fall and break your leg!!!"

"I don't believe this. I don't freakin' believe it. Billy G. do you even realize you're coaching a basketball game right now??"

Stuff like that. I've yelled and cried and moaned and for the past two years it didn't do an ounce of good. Not one stinkin' iota. Games were, on the whole, painful and unenjoyable and left me feeling downright depressed by the state of our basketball program.

My, my, what a difference a year can make. Have you seen the CATS this year? Finally, for the first time in a long time, we are good again. In fact, we are really, really good. John Wall is unreal. I know I've never seen a player like him in all my years of watching college basketball (they compare him to Jason Kidd who was a little before my time). He's so darn fast! I don't believe once he makes up his mind to go to the basket there's another guy out there who can even keep up--much less stop him. Kentucky hasn't had a point guard worth his weight in salt in the past decade as far as I'm concerned, including Rondo--Yeah, I said it, so I'm personally a big time fan of John Wall.

(Side note: A lot of KY people may get mad here but I never liked Rondo. He got a lot of hype when he came to Kentucky too and yeah, he was quick and could handle the ball well and made some crazy good defensive plays. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I got it. But Rondo never cared about anyone but Rondo and regardless of his ball handling abilities, I think he absolutely sucked as a point guard. He couldn't run the offense! Granted, I didn't think Tubby's offense was worth running most of the time either but still, crappy or not, it was Rondo's job to run it and he didn't. He didn't make plays, he didn't make things happen, and he didn't get the ball where it needed to go. End of story).

Jonh Wall does all of those things. He pushes the ball, he moves it around on offense, he understands the game and he stays for the most part, composed. He is flashy and his speed does lend itself to letting him get a little sloppy and out of control sometimes. Seven turnovers per game is too many for a point guard for sure. But good grief, does he make up for it! And truthfully, even though I've never been a fan of the "flashy" player, I'd take that over what we've had the past twelve years any day of the week and twice on Sundays. I like John Wall because even with all the attention he's getting and all the hype surrounding him, he goes out and plays hard and from all appearances, has a really good attitude about it.

Jumping off the John Wall bandwagon for a second, can we just talk about Patrick Patterson? I love this guy. I think he's absolutely my favorite player to come along in a long, long time. He's so consistent. He is money in the paint and when he gets it under the basket there're not many who can stop him. I like his attitude, I like his style of play, I like that he loves his team and came back for his junior year instead of entering the draft so that he can graduate and have one more chance to lead Kentucky to a title. That's awesome. He's awesome.
Now that I've slobbered all over myself to praise the Cats I do feel the need to bring things back to earth and be a little bit and be honest. Are the Cats without their problems? No way. They're young and they make way too many turnovers and silly fouls and as Coach Cal said last night, sometimes he looks out there and wonders if any of these guys have ever actually played basketball before. We lean way too heavily on Wall (its fine that he's our star but we need to get to the point where we don't fall apart at the seams if he leaves the game) and we don't utilize Patterson nearly enough still. We miss too many free throws and our defense is hit or miss at best. We don't have anyone who can shoot consistently from outside.

Those are all things though, I feel completely confident we will work out over the next few months. The young guys will get more confident and as such (hopefully) more consistent and less out-of-control. Coach Cal will work on the team's defense and free throw shooting, and the more time they play together, the better the Cats will get at not depending so heavily on Wall.
For the first time in a long time, Kentucky basketball is fun again. Those of us in the Big Blue Nation are just beside ourselves with excitement. We're 9-0 right now and you know, I'm sure we'll eventually lose our fair share of games and who knows what will happen come March...but I think I speak for all of us when I say Kentucky basketball is back and we're absolutely loving it.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Finals Time

Zack begins taking Finals today. (Where the heck has the semester gone)?? I know he's probably pretty nervous but for what its worth, I think he's going to be just fine. He's just as smart as anyone in his class (I know because I've met these people) and he knows the material (I know because who do you think got to quiz him over it all weekend?) so I think he's got this.

(Yes, I realize that in this matter my opinion plus a buck ninety-nine will get me a cup of coffee at Starbucks--that is to say, my opinion is worthless, but I'm giving it to you all the same).

The best I can tell, the spouse of a 1L has a few responsibilities of their own during Finals Week(s). For me those responsibilities have been to provide an endless stream of "study snacks" and to make myself available to quiz him over his study guides when he needs me. (I've also tried to take over all household chores for the next couple weeks so that he doesn't have to worry about anything but school, but that is not necessarily required). Oh and also to make sure he eats and sleeps and consumes some beverage other than coffee at some point every day. Those are my jobs.

The study snack one has been easy, and fun, because its given me an excuse to make chocolate chip cookies and come up with creative ways to surprise him. The quizzing him over his study guides has been roughly equivalent to gouging my eyes out with a rusty spoon.

Since I don't speak Lawyer, I usually have no idea what he's talking about. I mean, I'm totally and completely lost. Our household is now bilingual and I'm not so sure that English is the official language anymore. Limited subject matter jurisdiction what? Um I'm sorry, did you just say real words? Its like listening to someone talk to you for an hour and a half and having to follow along with what they say and point out what they forget, only they're speaking a foreign language so really, you 're not entirely sure if you've gotten it all right or not.

In all seriousness though, I know he is working really hard and I'm happy to do whatever I can to help make this process as easy and painless as possible. Finals last for two weeks (TWO!!!) though, so we'll see if I still feel this generous next Friday afternoon...

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The Holidays

I feel like its a bit (and by "bit" I mean "a whole, whole lot") cliche to say that this is my favorite time of the year because everyone says that about the holiday season. Seriously. Do you know a single person who doesn't claim Christmas as their favorite holiday? I don't. But if I'm being honest, Fall is actually my favorite time of the year anyway. The holiday season comes in second. Yeah I know. It practically makes me a terrorist to say such a thing but I can't help it; I just like Fall better.

That's not to say though, that the holiday season doesn't get me excited. I was home for Thanksgiving last week and it was great! I took off Wednesday, Thursday and Friday so we had a (much needed) five day visit to Kentucky. I'll have to tell you all about that in another post though, because I have other plans for this one. I thought I'd share with you now why exactly I do love the holiday season (even if it is #2).

Mainly, its for the baking. (I like decorating the tree and singing Christmas music and opening presents too, don't worry) but I love to cook and bake and the month or so between Thanksgiving and Christmas is the one time of the year I can completely justify baking just a retarded amount of sweet and yummy things that no one needs but we all end up eating too much of anyway. Do we need three different types of cookies for one party? Probably not, but who cares! For the month of December we've all accepted the inevitable weight gain that goes along with holiday food and we're all a lot more likely to just indulge and enjoy ourselves and throw calorie counting to the wind. At least I am.

I try to come up with something different to bake every year. I definitely have some tried and true recipes that are staples at our holiday functions but I also like to use this time as an opportunity to get a little more adventurous since I know there will be lots of people around to eat whatever I make. Here's some things I'm planning to do this year:

Red Velvet Cake (with Creole Cream Cheese Icing) - This is one of Zack's favorites and its not a new recipe with the exception of the creole cream cheese icing, which I'm curious to try. Creole cream cheese is something I'd never had until we moved to NOLA. Its just like the regular stuff only slightly more "tangy" and less sweet, if that makes any sense. I've made these in years past and I love them because they're so festive looking. Even if it comes out tasting like dirt it still looks really nice when you cut into it which I think counts for a lot.
Bourbon Balls. Um, does it get anymore "Kentucky" than these? I've made these the past few years too. I usually make them with the intention of giving them to friends and Zack's work colleagues but since he likes them so well himself, its rare that Zack actually lets them get that far. So to all my friends who in years past have been promised homemade bourbon balls and not received them--I'm sorry. Blame Zack. He probably ate yours.
This year I'd like to make a bunch and give them to our new friends here in NOLA, who are unfamiliar with Kentucky and all of its tastiness. That's my goal anyway. We'll see how well it works out for me.

Peppermint Bark Shortbread - Now this one is new and I'm pretty pumped about it, not gonna lie. I love shortbread and I love peppermint bark and I think the genius who thought of combining the two ought to win a medal. There's no way this can't be good. There just isn't. Plus its going to be super easy to make. So...win-win.

There are probably others that I'm forgetting about or have yet to find but this is a good start. This will definitely keep me busy in the kitchen for a little while. Oh and, if by chance you want any of these recipes, just leave me a message and I'd be happy to send them to you.