Showing posts from 2020


This is going to be a strange year for holidays. Thanksgiving was weird and Christmas will be no different. For this post I thought I would take a stroll down memory lane of Christmases past. Christmas movies that feature chaos and extended family gatherings were always foreign to me. Aside from a few years here and there when we were very little and my mother's parents joined us, it was mostly just my parents and my brother. I'm not going to lie, it was really nice. I do understand there is value in the big family Christmas, but what I grew up with, the quiet times of togetherness and ritual, were very special to me. The Christmas season at the McBride household began with a trip to the tree lot, usually the weekend of or the week after Thanksgiving. We were a "real tree" household. Every year we would trek to the same lot, the one behind the Burger King with Wisconsin firs. Dad would strap that sucker to the top of the car and somehow get it in the house and on its

Jeff the Cat

Ryan and I are often thought of as dog people. We've had three pups since getting married, each with their own distinct personalities and quirks. But once upon a time our first pet was a yellow tabby. This is the tale of Jeff the Cat. Immediately after graduating college, we moved into a small apartment together in Austin. Ryan felt that this new phase of adulthood should involve getting a dog. The Steans household had included dogs since Ryan was in elementary school, and he wanted one of his own. We found a cute six month old border collie who was being fostered, brought him home and named him Clark. The Clark Experiment failed on two levels. One, though I liked dogs, I had absolutely zippo experience raising one. This wouldn't have been a problem if I wasn't the primary caregiver, but Ryan had an actual job and I was still in the process of looking. The second issue was that at the end of our first week with Clark, his comfort level with his new surroundings had increase


For the first 14 years of my life, Thanksgivings were spent at my maternal grandparents' house in Houston. Since the parents had to work and kids had school until Wednesday, we would all pile in the Station Wagon or Caravan at midnight that night and arrive in Houston around 9:00 the next morning. This was a great deal for us kids, as Doug and I just passed out for most of the trip. I'm sure my mom snoozed a little, but my dad powered through and drove most of the way. Sleep wasn't a big thing for him back then.  My grandparents lived pretty close to downtown Houston, though you would never know walking around their tree-filled neighborhood. They were still living in the same house my mom grew up in, purchased around 1950. Houston was half a million people in the 50s and the city more or less exploded around them (it's around 7 million now). That little house felt very mid century, with much of the original furniture and decorations still in place.  I loved visiting my

The Sundance

 My first car was a turquoise 1991 Plymouth Sundance with a sweet silver racing stripe that said, "SUNDANCE" in case there were questions regarding its authenticity. It had two doors, a radio with no tape deck, and at the time was advertised as "the cheapest car in America with an airbag." If you were driving up a steep hill you had to turn off the air conditioning to make it to the top. The crowning feature was the glass moonroof that popped up if you wanted your hair to fly straight up on the highway.  Behold the mighty Sundance I sound ungrateful, but I adored this little car. It was also a complete surprise. My parents were taking me out to dinner the night before my 16th birthday and walked me around the side of the garage to where my brother parked his car when home from college. Sitting there was my brand new set of wheels. There was much squealing and jumping involved, and my mom let me take the next morning off from school to take my driver's test. I pa


My childhood home was built in 1905 in the city of Lawton, two years before Oklahoma became a state. It was two stories, but the semi-submerged basement and attic with vaulted ceiling made it seem bigger than that. Also I was four when we moved in and I'd only ever known a small one story home, so it felt like we were moving into a castle. Front/side view. The only time it ever snowed on Christmas. 1985. We were suddenly living in a home where you could sometimes not hear another person even if they shouted. It came equipped with a janky intercom system, which I assume when it was installed could be used for actual talking, but by 1979 when we moved in had devolved into just a noisy buzzer sound. It was LOUD, but effective. Basically it allowed you to scare the crap out of someone on the other side of the house. The basement was composed of three rooms, a half-bath, and an adjacent and even more subterranean cellar. No one ever went into the cellar apart from my dad. We wouldn'


 We lived in Phoenix for 4 years. After the dot-com collapse, I was having no luck looking for a job in Austin, and finally found one out of state working for Garmin . As you are probably aware, our stay in Phoenix was not a high point in our lives. There were many reasons for that, some of which were not Phoenix's fault. But today, as we are all stressed beyond reason, I'm not going to focus on the negative for fear of getting sucked into the swamp of sadness. Today I will regale you with a few things I enjoyed about living in the Valley of the Sun. 1. The 4th of July The greater Phoenix area encompasses a number of adjacent suburbs. Our house was on the southeastern edge in the city of Chandler. To the north of us, and the home of movie theaters and IHOPs, Gilbert. Ryan and I both worked in Tempe. My doctor's office was in Mesa. Basically there are a ton of sub-cities within Phoenix, and the city's footprint is massive. Also, despite the city being surrounded by dista


On Wednesday, October 28, Ryan and I will have officially been together for 25 years. We started dating our junior year of college when we were both 20 years old. I use the word "officially" because there were a nebulous few weeks prior to our first day as a couple where we were kind of just flirting with a relationship. There was an unofficial date at the beginning of October where we attended a David Bowie/Nine Inch Nails concert at Southpark Meadows before it became a mega-shopping-plex. The reason it was an unofficial date was that Ryan was dating someone else at the time. It's not as scandalous as it sounds. They had been growing apart for a while, due in some part to the 3 hour drive between them, and Ryan often says the relationship may not have lasted much longer even if I'd not been a part of the equation. I had met Ryan two years earlier freshman year and there was a connection from the start. He was attending the University of Texas here in Austin, and I wa

Change of scenery and Scout update

 Sometime after the 4th of July, the date of our sadly missed Minnesota trip, Ryan hopped online and reserved us an Airbnb out by Lake Travis for October. Just for a weekend. If you read my previous post about Hawaii, you might remember that dialysis clinics are not currently taking travellers so therefore my roaming is limited for the foreseeable future. But we were starting to go a little bonkers staring at these walls and repeating the same motions day after day, so last weekend we set out for a less than 2 day trip away from home. Ryan found this adorable yet spacious one story house with a gorgeous view with the lake in the distance. Not ON the lake, but up the hill a ways. Here, see for yourself: view from the porch Because we are still in Covid Times, we brought all of our own food. Nothing special, since we didn't want to spend a lot of time cooking or cleaning up, but there was a nice grill on the back porch so we made chicken and burgers.  Scout also enjoyed chicken and b

We went to Hawaii once

Being stuck at home has me reflecting upon trips we've taken in recent years. Travelling is not easy for me, as dialysis is a bit of a challenge. Not impossible, but extra planning is involved. Most clinics accept traveling patients, but you have to get it approved in advance, but not too far in advance. Typically I will give my own clinic a heads up as soon as I know I'm travelling, but they will not contact the other clinic until a month out. Records, labs, and a TB test have to be sent ahead of time to make sure you're not bringing the plague with you on vacation.* Because this process can be complicated, we haven't been outside of the US since my last transplant. The good news is that I CAN travel (pre-covid) and in the past 8 or so years we've been trying to take one largish trip per year. It turns out, there are some great trips to be had in these United States. We've made treks to Washington DC, Seattle, Chicago, Disneyland, and Michigan. My favorite, ho

I am Ironman minus lasers.

Those of you who are not new might remember a few posts back in '08 ( this one ), '09 ( here ), and '10 ( this guy ) regarding my heart and my decision to not get a defibrillator placed. To save you time, the basics were that years of transplant medication and severe kidney disease had weakened my heart. I had testing done in '08 and '09 that indicated I was nearing the danger zone for a heart attack, which isn't nearly as cool as Kenny Loggins makes it sound. My ejection fraction, which is basically a measure of heart function, had been drifting around 30-35%. This is not as dire as it sounds - most healthy people have an EF of 50-75%, so we're not grading on a 100 scale here. Nevertheless, 30 is not great. It's also not definitively alarming, just mildly alarming. My cardiologist put it in my hands to decide if I wanted to go ahead with the surgery. I had many concerns at this point: That sounds really uncomfortable. What if it malfunctions and acciden

Scout, the "Randy from a Christmas Story" of dogs

 *Taps microphone* Hello? Is this thing on? Hi. Wow, it's literally been 10 years since my last entry. I'm not sure I remember how this works, but I was revisiting some old posts this week, cringing at the hideous background and feeling the urge to try blogging again. My apologies for being a bit rusty, but I hope enough time has passed that I won't tire of it soon. Those that are familiar with my work know that this is a blog largely about the mundane. I will (probably) not be getting political. It's not that I don't care, it's that there are plenty of people shouting into the blogosphere about politics. Look, it's been a super shitty year for everyone, so my goals here are: 1. Start logging snippets of my life to help me remember things happened. 2. Hopefully take your mind off of the world for 5 minutes as I complain about crap that could happen in any given year that is not necessarily 2020. Like a story about how my dog will not eat. This is not a new d