A Classic Case of Whodunnit

THE CRIME:  Dog food scattered throughout the kitchen and living room.

CLUES:  Whole and partially chewed food particles, droplets of water, and a small leaf from a backyard tree.  Not a pet in sight.  No witnesses.


1.  Oliver.  Domestic short hair orange cat.  Age: 4.  Height:  13.5 inches.  Weight: 16 lbs.

Known for late-night and pre-dawn solo stampedes through the house, playing with food, vomiting in the community water dish, and blatant disregard for house rules including – but not limited to – running across counters and standing on keyboards, sleeping on tabletops, and general melee.  Previous convictions include overturning food bowl and deliberate misuse of a bathroom rug.  Does not show contrition.

2.  Pi.  Standard black poodle.  Age: 14.  Height:  22 inches.  Weight: 33 lbs.

Known for stealth food theft operations, indiscriminate barking, uninvited jumping on the furniture, sloppy eating habits (ie:  dropping food from mouth), and death breath.  Previous convictions include theft and destruction of grandma’s checkbook and designer eyeglasses, assault and accomplice to first degree manslaughter of two outdoor furry intruders, a handful of indoor bowel and bladder indiscretions, eating catshit, and disappearance of multiple items, including granola bar from mom’s bag and chocolate from the bedside table drawer.

3.  Sabra.  Standard brown poodle.  Age: 8.  Height: 23 inches.  Weight: 39 lbs.

Known for nervous and erratic behavior, occasional extreme body tremors, destruction and disappearance of multiple pencils and one crayon, loud and sloppy drinking habits, stealing from the litter box, being a follower, blatant and unapologetic promiscuity, nudging mom for attention, intense fear of thunderstorms, and chasing skunks.   Previous convictions include assault and accomplice to first degree manslaughter of two outdoor furry intruders, overturning the food bowl, attempted assault and battery of a skunk resulting in an indirect assault of her family’s senses.  Also plead no-contest to theft of potato chips after being caught redpawed with head stuck in the bag.

It’s no coincidence that man’s best friend cannot talk. ~ Unknown

Dogs have owners, cats have staff. ~ Unknown

How To Tell Your Cat’s An Asshole

  • Meows for food, takes 2-3 bites, and leaves his food bowl for the dogs to finish.  Ten minutes later, he’s back for more.  As in – 2 bites more.  It’s the game that keeps going and going and going….

  • Wants nothing to do with you all day, until 4 o’clock in the morning.  Then paws your bedroom door to mimic the sound of a small earthquake, or meows in the hall like a smoke detector until the kids are awake.

  • Urinates on the bathroom rugs when the door is left open.  Occasionally leaves a steamer on a bath towel left on the floor by one of the kids.

  • Urinates in your dad’s shoes.  Or briefcase.  Or, in his bathroom sink.  Think there’s a message here???

  • Pukes ONLY in the community water dish.  Seriously, NO WHERE ELSE.

  • Walks between your feet on your way down the stairs, or pauses suddenly in front of you as you’re passing through a room.

  • Regularly leaves poop uncovered, saving the most potent treasures for those special occasions when guests are arriving.

  • Runs over the kitchen island while you’re standing right there. (And he knows he’s not allowed.)

The Employment Odyssey And Why I’ll Never Look At LOL the Same Way Again

The Backstory

Many years ago, when I was a stay-at-home mom who wasn’t allowed to work outside the home, whose then 2-year-old daughter would be diagnosed with type 1 diabetes (thus presenting yet another argument for staying home), I began looking into ways to earn without having to leave home.  I had already taken on the baking for the restaurant and that was a help.  But I wanted something more.  I discovered a medical transcription program that was not only online, but reputable.  I wanted to do this.  The program, at that time, cost roughly $1700.  My ex told me we didn’t have the money for this, and to either ask my family for the money, or forget it.  I didn’t do either of those.

I revisited the idea once we filed for divorce, and by that time the cost was $2500.  I didn’t want anyone’s help, so I spread the payments out and jumped in with both feet.  It took me a long time to finish, but I finally did – last October.  I passed the final with honors.  Ultimately, it wasn’t just a job to me, because I really, really enjoyed the medical field.


The medical transcription industry apparently has a “slow” hiring period between October and March, which I didn’t know before I graduated.  Nevertheless, a few were hiring entry-level grads and I tested with one of the best, passed the entry exam and was invited to watch an orientation webinar to “decide if I wanted to move forward” with them.  I did.  Then I was told there weren’t any positions for me at this time. WTF?

Next, I tested with another company, which gave me some of the worst dictation I’ve ever heard and guess what?  I didn’t pass.  They did invite me to apply again in 6 months.  It seems like what’s really out there are companies looking to cover terrible dictators, or only ESL dictators, and 2ndand 3rd shifts.  The voice files are mumbled or the docs talk so fast their words run together and unless you know them, you will not be able to decipher what they’re saying.

A handful of other companies I sent resumes to, although they weren’t hiring.  And then I got the email from my school that LOL Transcription* was hiring.  Ironically, this email came through while I was in the ER.  The next morning I sent my resume and an introduction via email.  My cell phone started ringing about 10 minutes after I got home from my stress test.  The owner was calling, concerned that I hadn’t yet responded to her email to me (after 3 hours) and wanted to “touch base.”  She wanted me to test for the doctor she needed an MT for.  So the next morning I did.  The irony here is that he is an ENT doc and I’m hard of hearing.  But I did my best, and she emailed me back to let me know that I did better than I thought I did, “lol.”  She made like she had one other girl she was testing and would let me know soon.  She hired me the next day.  Ur the lucky winner, lol!
She’s a small company – just herself and two other girls – and crazy busy.  We arranged for a “training session” via phone on the following Sunday – which lasted approximately 2 hours.  I was to start on a Tuesday, this doctor’s busiest day.  He’s on the west coast, so his dictations don’t start coming in until about 11:20 and he dictates between 40 and 50 reports until up to about 8 p.m.  So I’m trying to decipher what he’s saying and nearly every patient he’s seen on this morning is a followup and he refers to information from the previous visit, which has to be cut and pasted into the new report.  It was like this all morning, and I had to keep asking Diane* for the old reports. It was slow going, and bumpy, but it was my first day!  She sent me 12 text messages over the next 2 hours checking up on me: R u making any time Tara. Lol … K, I just ck in on u lol.  

By 6:30 there were 37 text messages from her.  All of which I responded to, which interrupted my work flow.  And to make matters worse, Ava had woken up around 2 a.m. with a stomachache, we were both up nearly all night, and so I kept her home for fear she’d gotten thevirus and would end up puking in school.

At 6:45 Diane texts me with a message ending with “lol,” and then goes on to say Can u do more. Also the numbers in the plan are messed up. What happened lol.  Now I have no idea what she’s talking about, because I am so fastidious (which is one reason it was taking so long) that I know this couldn’t have happened.  I finished 10 reports in all those hours, which is certainly NOT typical production for an experienced MT – but keep in mind it’s my first day, I’m still getting familiar with the account and the doctor, nearly all those reports referred back to older reports I had no access to, and (this is a very big AND) was taught that quality is more important than quantity when you’re starting out.  

Apparently though, LOL, Diane cared more about quantity from the get-go.  Her text messages that followed asked me if it was too much for me, if I can’t handle it, if I can’t finish more reports today she’ll have to find someone else, blah blah blah… and so I apologized, thought I had time to “train” (since I was receiving training pay), thanked her for the opportunity, and suggested she’d be better off hiring someone with more experience.  U most certainly do but I need more than 10 reports lol. Not that you need more exp, not at all. Train them fresh, Lol. Btr for me. Lol.

So, LOL, you can see where that job went.  It was no big loss, since the ratio of time spent to money earned wasn’t worth it.  She even told me he won’t pay more and will go somewhere else otherwise.  And, not that it matters, the doctor is a real asshole.  You can hear him snapping at his employees on the voice files.  I googled him to see if I could find a website describing the procedures he offers, and found none.  I did find dozens of bad reviews on him, however.

So, while I should be on the hunt again, I’m disappointed and unmotivated.  And then a friend shared this post the other day.

It was timely and apropos (once you look past the spelling error – ugh).  So now I’m having a look at why this door keeps closing.  And wondering if there’s something bigger I need to be doing.

*Names have been changed.

Satan’s Got A Hall Pass

The final weeks of winter have been a challenge. I sat anxiously at home, biting my nails and praying we’d get through this season unscathed. But, it happened.  I woke up around 2 a.m. to check Ava’s blood sugar and she woke up, thirsty. Blood sugar was in range. Her skin was hot. I checked her temperature – 1oo.4.  She said her stomach was hurting, and my heart did a somersault. I’ve been living in silent fear of the stomach virus, ever since she was diagnosed.

She had one night of vomiting in the second year after diagnosis when she was still very small, that caused her blood sugars to drop dangerously low for several hours and we kept feeding her juice and lollipops. She was crying and inconsolable, and started refusing the sugar. I upped my game to Cake-Mate (a common recommendation for treating serious lows) and I can still see her tiny face, red and sweating, tears rolling down with her mouth full of frosting. It was the second scariest night of my life.

Thankfully, she has only had maybe one or two incidences of vomiting since. We have been so very lucky. What makes me so scared? I know that stomach viruses for a type 1 can quickly land them in the emergency room – both for uncontrollable blood sugars (often accompanied by stubborn ketones) and for dehydration. And this year, I read story after story from other D-parents of kids being deathly ill from this stomach bug and going to the emergency room. And it hit me hard. I felt tearful and scared for them, and tearful and scared for us. And this is SO not like me. I have always been the doer – and with that comes the responsibility of diabetes management, and so I have tackled it like everything else I’ve ever done – put my head down and just plowed ahead.  Emotions don’t play a role in my day-to-day. But this changed for me this year.

Suddenly, I was feeling everything. It’s like I was having a delayed response to her diagnosis, nearly 8 years later. It didn’t change how I treated her. It changed how I felt inside about all of this. And let me tell you – it does NOT help to be reading about other parents’ struggles over this horrible disease on an almost daily basis.  And to clarify – I’m not referring to those I’ve personally friended – I’m referring to a particular page I joined with over 2100 members with children who have type 1 diabetes, many of whom are newbies just beginning to cope with this new life. With stats like that, it’s going to be a challenge not to “feel” sadness every time you open Facebook. I don’t want to quit the page, but I need to hide it so it doesn’t come through my newsfeed every hour.

So anyway. Ava did not have the stomach bug – she had a very mild version of the flu (thanks to the flu shot she is required to get), and suffered through fever, fatigue, headache, loss of appetite, and mild ketones. And those made me scared too. But we worked through the ketones with plenty of fluids and insulin, and Ava took her first shotof insulin in probably 6 years. She doesn’t remember taking insulin that way, and she was freaked out. And then she was like, oh – that wasn’t so bad.

So she was sick for 3 days.  Then Owen got it.  And thankfully, it was mild for him too.  Headaches and fever, and body aches. On his second day, I woke up feeling like I’d been in a car wreck. And, because I’m an adult over 40, it took me a week to feel normal again.

In the weeks that followed, I’ve been noticing my anxiety levels rising to unnatural levels, with no explanation. It’s no secret I take medication to “take the edge off.”  My doctor prescribed it for me 3 years ago at Christmastime, because I had been crying for week. I’ve written all about my divorce and custody war so this should come as no surprise. Nevertheless, I don’t suffer from depression, and this drug is really for that. So, obviously I don’t need that – hence why it doesn’t feel like it’s doing anything for me.

Meanwhile, high anxiety, heart palpitations, shortness of breath and tightness in the chest.  This culminated into a St. Patrick’s Day trip to the ER and, while everyone else was drinking green beer, I was poked and prodded and x-rayed and scanned – and all was unremarkable save for an extra heartbeat and some PVCs. I had a stress test, an ultrasound, and a Holter study. I changed medication, but I’m not convinced it’s really working yet.

And the hits keep coming.  My grandfather celebrated his 90th birthday and promptly fell and could not get up, sending him to the ER and finally to the rehab center where his 96-year-old wife is recovering from her own fall weeks earlier. The restaurant lost another server, putting me back on the schedule every weekend for now. One side of the family is dealing with growing pains and the drama that accompanies it – and I find myself praying that I don’t have this much trouble with my children one day.  Another side of the family is presently enduring an unimaginable trial that has me sick to my stomach, if only for the injustice and my own inability to help. But, I can promise you – when it is over I will shout this story from the rooftops for all the world to read, if they will let me share it. My husband, the healer, is doing what he does best with cracked people – for which I am forever grateful, but cannot but selfishly wish he would just not answer the phone, if only for his own sanity.

And then there’s my employment odyssey.