October 28, 2006

boomp's beautiful obit

CECIL EARL SPARKS, JR., born February 3, 1916 in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and a resident of Houston for 74 years, died on October 25, 2006. Cecil was preceded in death by his parents Cecil Earl and Elizabeth Juliet Sparks; his wife of 64 years, Marguerite Tippen Sparks; his grandson, William Frantz Reardon and his wife Melissa; and his brother Barry Sparks. He is survived by his daughters, Elizabeth Sparks Reardon and Dr. Janis Cecilia Terry, both of Houston; grandchildren: Sean Patrick Reardon and wife, Terri of Mason, Texas, Helen Elizabeth Reardon and Annie McCarthy of Austin, Texas; Macon Lindsey Terry of Boulder, Colorado; and Jessica Blake Terry of Austin, Texas; great-grandchildren: Aaron William and Connar Patrick Reardon of Mason, Texas; brothers, Jack Sparks and wife, Marie of Cupertino, California and Joe Sparks of Tulsa, Oklahoma and many loving nieces, nephews and friends. He also leaves behind his special dog, Jake. Cecil moved with his family from Nashville, Tennessee to Houston in 1932, with Cecil, at age 16, driving a model-T Ford. Cecil graduated from Milby High School in 1934, and served in the U.S. Navy during World War II. He worked for Houston Lighting and Power Company for 42 years where he developed many lasting friendships. One of his proudest accomplishments was becoming a pilot when he was in his 50's. He enjoyed owning and flying his Cessna for many years. In his 80's he became an armchair pilot when he added a flight simulator to his home computer. His devotion to his family is his greatest legacy, and his incredible wit made him a person who everyone loved to be around. He devoted much of his life to caring for others, and his unselfish commitment to his family and friends will be missed by all of those close to him. He adored his grandchildren and spent many hours attending their school and athletic activities while they were growing up. He was there for all of the significant events in their lives, a dedication that they will always cherish. The family wishes to express sincere appreciation to all of the family members, friends, and care-givers who spent time with Cecil during his final months. A special thanks goes to Minnie Parker and Rena Delco. Funeral services will be held at 1:00 p.m., Saturday, October 28 in the Main Chapel at Forest Park Lawndale Funeral Home, 6900 Lawndale. The Reverend Doug S. Cadwallader of St. Thomas Episcopal Church will be officiating. Interment will follow at Forest Park Lawndale Cemetery.

*written by aunt janis. i am grateful to be mentioned as a member of his family.

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October 26, 2006

goodnight, boompie.

drink up.
Originally uploaded by ohchicken.
we lost boompie last night. he passed peacefully, with his daughters by his side. helen told me as i picked her up from the bus, and she crumpled. "i didn't expect it to be this hard," she sobbed.

we knew this was coming. he was 90 years old. he'd been ailing since his splenectomy in august, and he was ready to see his beloved marguerite again. when he was moved from his home to a nursing home, we knew it wouldn't be long. institutions like that simply weren't boomp's style.

but, when it actually happened, it was as much a shock as if he were a young man who died before his time.

it doesn't make sense. boomp is immortal.

boomp is the man who stepped into helen's life and redeemed the word "father". he is the man who kissed me on the lips every time he saw me, and told me he loved me. i have never had a grandfather of my own. boomp stepped into my life and welcomed me as his own family.

after his wife died last year, boomp sat with me awhile, holding my hand. though he never acknowledged me as more than "helen's friend annie", he leaned in close to me and said, "you and helen are lucky to have one another."

he knew. boomp knew everything.

his death is not real yet, as i sit here on the porch in my pajamas this morning, sipping coffee, and remembering that it's my birthday. helen is sleeping through the numbness, and i am trying to imagine a world without boomp's ornery, hilarious story-telling self in it.

goodnight, boompie. goodnight.

cecil earl sparks jr.
helen and boomp on thanksgiving

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October 25, 2006


today, all the cigarettes are floating, waterlogged, in the ashtrays outside the building. we stand huddled under the eaves by the door, smoking, keeping dry. and then we sprint out to the drowned ashtray and throw our butts hissing into the ashy rainwater.

then it's back up the stairs, ass in my chair for another six hours.

the greyness of the morning made for a groggy, half-hearted wakeup call. i did not want to go work out with maria. i did not want to take our (once more) ailing little gunther to the vet, just to hear bad news about his recurring kitten diarrhea and then be charged for it.

panic panic panic. buyers remorse and fear.

oh, but there are no refunds with a personal trainer. so helen dropped me off at maria's, and she took gunther (with shiloh for size comparison) to get checked out. i immediately confessed to maria that i did not want to be there, that i was on the verge of a panic attack, and i really wished i was still in bed.

her solution? cardio, of course. lots and lots of cardio. i even got to punch and kick the shit out of the punching bag for awhile. "this can be anyone you want it to be. just hit it," maria instructed me. and so i punched and kicked at the looming dread of a panic attack not quite realized.

the attack never came.

the verdict on gunnie is a bufuddled veterinarian. for a 12 week old kitten, he is clearly way too small, but no one knows why. no worms, no bacteria. the vet put gunnie on an antibiotic to help with the diarrhea, and wants to do blood tests. his fear is that gunnie has a shunt in his digestive tract which is misrouting food to his liver or elsewhere. such a defect would mean expensive surgery that we cannot afford.

for now, antibiotics and the hope for solid gunnie poo in the litter box. mister vet assured us that gunnie has a great quality of life. he eats. he plays. he's precocious. he's just a little bird instead of a big and growing kitten like his siblings.

i worry, though. he's such a little bird.

i can't worry. tomorrow is my birthday. and we all know what that means: bananie made it another year!

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October 23, 2006

my legumes are still sore.

suck it in, girl.
Originally uploaded by ohchicken.
i took this photo of myself in july, just as my weight began to go absolutely crazy, and all my clothes suddenly ceased to fit. it's basically how i look now, sans the red bangs. (and the red wall is now painted white. *sniff*) i'm still sucking in my prominent gut, and am still obsessive and fidgety about this body of mine.

on saturday, sweet vanessa bought me wonderful workout clothing for my birthday. i got myself a new pair of kicks, and now i've got my better-bodied-bananie uniform. i wore it today, as maria once again worked my abs and ass and all the muscles above and below. at one point, as i worked my upper arms while sweating profusely, she pointed and poked me: "oooo, i see a tricep there girl. a real tricep!"

this is why i love maria. she doesn't see my jiggly arms; she finds the tricep somewhere in the mess.

at home, i've been attempting to be a healthier bananie. you know, enjoying a whiskey and juice as opposed to whiskey and coke. also, it turns out that helen is a master protein shake maker. and so, we have added those to my daily food log.

yesterday, helen and busted out our dusty bikes and matching yellow helmets, and took to the streets of east austin. we ventured forth to cafe mundi, and then to vee's house, and then to HEB. EIGHT miles later, we arrived home, but not before being chased by an angry pack of east side dogs.

i used to have nightmares as a kid that i was riding my bike--white lightning, my trusty banana seat huffy/imaginary steed--down my street, when out of nowhere would come an angry pack of wild dogs, all snarly and drooling with rabies. their eyes glowed an evil red, and they were the devil trying to kill me. and i could feel their snaps at my feet and legs and i'd pedal and pedal, never getting past them, until i woke up in a thick sweat, calling for my mother to come pray for angels to protect me.

yesterday, i am happy to report that helen yelled "pedal pedal pedal!" and i pedalpedalpedalled until we left the dogs in the dust.

i win.
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October 21, 2006

holy crap my thighs!

day one went swimmingly well. the punisher was merciful and wow, we had fun!

i haven't done squats in...um...years, however, and holy crap, lifting my whole body with my thighs and ass is no easy task. i have a lot of body to lift. how i hurt today.

maria took my measurements--fun!--and as depressing as it was to have her be able to pinch the fat so easily, i was actually ready to see the numbers and do the math.

our goal: i will lose 10% of my body fat over the next three months.

i go again on monday morning, and then wednesday, we will meet at town lake with dogs. i will bring charley, and maria will bring her gorgeous green-eyed catahoula, etta, who has already taken a liking to me. i haven't asked charley if she is prepared to be my workout partner, but i think she'll be up for it.

helen and i celebrated my first day of my new regimen by walking the dogs around the hood. two hilly miles later, and i was still peppy. ah, natural high, how i'd forgotten about you.

and then we watched the science of sleep with vee and brockett, which made me dream of cardboard cities and felt stitched horses that you can ride. amazing movie.

oh! and vee is going to pick out some new fitgirl clothes for me as a birthday gift.
hopefully i'll be able to move my thighs enough to try them on...

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October 19, 2006

meet maria.

Originally uploaded by CommonVee.
yesterday i said "there has to be a better solution than this."

a few moments later, i saw this photo on my friend vanessa's flickr page. here was an intimidatingly buff woman with nevertheless a kind looking face (even as she gazed at her intimidating bicep). underneath the photo, vanessa wrote:

My client is a personal trainer. If you want to look like this and you live in Austin, Texas, contact me and I'll send you her info! =)

soon after, vee sent me her info. i looked at her website, her fees, and sent her an email of contact.

maria called me an hour later.

this morning, i spent an hour at her in-home gym, discussing whether or not we'd be suited to work together.

maria: ridiculously athletic, dedicated, former airforce officer, who was lovingly called "the punisher" by those she trained in the military.

bananie: um. well, look at me. i pat myself on the back for 30 minutes of cardio and some freeweights. i'm the girl who could never even do ONE chinup in gym class. (damn you, presidential fitness award!)

we shook on it. i paid her. i start tomorrow.

maria is convinced--because i convinced her--that i am at a point in my life to make significant changes in the way i live. i'm going to be 28 next week, which is not old by any stretch of the imagination, but still. it's not like it is going to get any easier to claim a fit bananie body.

also. two days off seroquel, and i feel awake and alert and capable of exerting some energy. what better mood stabilizer than some good old sweat? hopefully, i will sleep better too.

back to tomorrow. i signed up for her most "involved" 3 month program, which requires working out together 3 times a week, careful watching of my food and beverage intake (although i don't have to count calories unless i want to. "i'm not that anal" she reassures me.), and regular monitoring of my BMI.

did i mention that i paid her already?

i confess that i'm experiencing a little pre-first day of school jitters, along with a healthy dose of buyers remorse. yesterday, i was bemoaning my emotional state while eating potato chips. tomorrow i start working with an airforce personal trainer?!

at least i continue to keep everyone, including myself, on their toes.

if you don't want to read about this adventure i am about to undertake, you may want to steer clear of bananieworld for a few months. if you want to come along with me, however, i will obviously be talking about it a lot over here. oh, and i will be posting photos at flickr to monitor my progress.

think of it as non-celebrity fit club. and i'm tina yothers. yeah!
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October 18, 2006

the rain is coming and i feel fine.

the clouds are gathering this morning, as i watch from the porch. i'm drinking goodflow honey/echinacea/ginger/lemon/limeade, and damn it's good.

i obviously didn't take seroquel last night, and i found myself wide awake at 6:30 this morning. i am still chemically hungover from yesterday's haze, but my own clouds are dissipating.

i think the change of mood has something to do with the weather and its impending change. the rain is coming again today, and with it will come autumnal temperatures. FINALLY. i am itching to start wearing sweaters again. i'm really, really ready to let go of summer for good this year. (i say this as i am still wearing shorts on october 18.)

i don't know what it will take to make me feel connected to myself and my wonderful life again. i suppose i will have to keep reminding myself: it is good it is good it is well it is well.

last night, i pretended like i felt normal. i worked on the book for a few hours, and made some real progress. i am putting all my hope in my ability to function, despite the seroquel malaise. it's a small hope, but it is real.

i think i have decided to quit the seroquel altogether. i wish i could better explain how it messes with me.
recall the last time you were sick with a fever. you slept and slept and slept, and when you were awake, you were glassy-eyed and you felt stoned. so you slept some more. a few days later, you woke up feeling better, and wondered, "where the hell did this week go?"

this is how i feel every time i take seroquel. no wonder i can barely remember the short stint in the hospital back in june. i was taking seroquel twice a day. i couldn't keep my eyes open for a week.

no more. i would rather live a panicked, overtired existence, and still LIVE it, than to have to pretend like i feel anything at all, and be calm.

there has to be a better solution than this.

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October 17, 2006

another foggy day.

i can't keep doing this seroquel thing. my dosage is just about where my dr would like for it to be, and yet, the exhaustion is still quite daunting.

helen immediately knew this morning that i'd taken the pill last night. i don't stir. at all. i didn't stir until she woke me up after noon. the inside of my cheek was bloody and scabby from clamping down on it all night with no reprieve. i was too asleep to notice that i was biting myself hard.

i did go to work, groggily, and kept pace for a few hours, until i requested to be relieved. (our department is quiet now, and one can leave early most days.) the fog was becoming headache, and i just wanted to go home.

and here i am at 6:30 pm. the sun is setting. charley is dreaming at my feet. helen is in class, and i am trying to stay awake. after all, i have a book to write. a story to edit. many pages to read. and yet.

i cant reach through this thickness, out to the world i know is there, with all its responsibilities and promises. if a stable mood is numbness, detachment, and malaise, then bravo, seroquel. you are doing your job.

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October 15, 2006

i miss kevin.

the effect i have on straight men.
Originally uploaded by ohchicken.
five thirty pee emm. kevin is probably nearing the arkansas border now, on his way back to tennessee.

helen is sleeping, and i'm listening to the submarines (thank you jpp). i am sad and pre menstrual and god help me, it's about time to pour a glass of wine.

there is no story to tell this evening, as i'm simply tired of thinking about words. for the real tale, go visit flickr. i have used my cameras a lot this week.

i wish i had more to say.
come back soon, kevie.
Posted by bananie at 4:36 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

October 8, 2006

pickle surprise!

thanks to my new friends at work who introduce me to the most cerebral youtube clips ever, i've found myself unable to start my day without a cup of coffee and this:

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October 6, 2006

definitely not a singleton anymore.

home alone.
Originally uploaded by ohchicken.
schmelen is out of town, and i'm home by myself watching pimp my ride at midnight. oy.
Posted by bananie at 11:34 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 5, 2006

lost in a fog.

so my psychiatrist chided me yesterday for my reticence to take seroquel regularly. we've been striking out recently when it comes to my cocktail, and seroquel is one of the few drugs that my body seems to be taking without much trouble.

a quick review of my body's rebellion against my psychiatrist's prescriptions:

welbutrin: allergic reaction that kept me from swallowing or breathing very well.
lamictal: i was one of the "rare instances" of a "possibly lifethreatening" rash (if it spreads), that thankfully stayed put on my face, but made blinking feel very funky.

so, i've been on prozac and seroquel, and i can breathe and my face feels normal.

seroquel sucks. i hate it. as a girl who has trouble quieting her mind enough to sleep for eight hours, however, it's a medication that my doctor thinks is a good idea. but when i take it, i sleep. and sleep. for very long hours. helen says that it looks like i'm dead when i've taken it.

when i take seroquel, the next day is a disaster. take today. a day off. here was how i hoped my day would pan out:

1. get up early, and take chloe to the vet to get spayed.
2. enjoy the morning, and take the dogs for a long walk with helen.
3. work on a presentation for class at cafe mundi.
4. pay the rent.
5. pick chloe up from the vet.
6. go to class.

instead, here is how today actually happened:

1. i turned off the alarm clock. helen brought me a cup of coffee that sat untouched beside the bed.
2. helen took chloe to the vet, and walked the dogs, while i slept.
3. i woke up for about an hour around noon, ate the food helen had made me hours earlier, drank microwaved cup of coffee.
4. went back to bed until 3.
5. in a haze, i shittily put together my presentation. helen picked chloe up from the vet, and paid the rent.
6. helen drove me to class, where i shittily gave said presentation.

seroquel steals my days. my psychiatrist promises that if i continue to increase my dosage, the sleepiness will wear off. instead, i'll get to worry about the risk of rapid weight gain and diabetes. high cholesterol too.

i don't know what to think about giving my brain over to seroquel. it feels like a deal with the devil. i am given sleep and a little less anxiety in exchange for my days? my weight? my blood?

forgive the rant, but i'm so angry about losing a beautiful day to side effects.

Posted by bananie at 8:14 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

October 4, 2006

call off the search!

call off the search!
Originally uploaded by ohchicken.
7 am, moe was just starting to think about obnoxiously waking us up for his morning stroll in the backyard.

and then thump thud thump from underneath the house. you know, the place where the crawlspace is. so anyway, thump thud thump, and it's debatable whether it was a something trying to escape, or trying to access the crawlspace.

you have guessed it by now: jesse.

not a scratch.
noisy as ever.

welcome home, boy. you scared us shitless.
can we all go back to bed now?
Posted by bananie at 6:37 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

October 2, 2006

baby please come home.

charley must always be in the shot.
Originally uploaded by ohchicken.
animal shelters are alerted.
craigslist ad placed.
about to make signs for the neighborhood.

oh my jessecat, please come home.
Posted by bananie at 7:35 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack