Friday, May 18, 2012

And Then There Were Two

In my last post, we established that years ago, in order to provide Dad with some companionship (and apparently to give Dad a chance to carry on conversations in which he is always right) Mom got him a dog.

We've established that this dog and I did not immediately become best friends. True, P.B. mellowed over the years. Not much, but enough that we can now attribute her insane barking and need to be within three inches of my face at all times to what I like to believe is her dementia rather than puppy ignorance. (Seriously, how does a dog sense the person who dislikes them most and then make it a personal mission to permanently attach themselves like an insane groupie to that person's side? Is it just to annoy me? Is it that she hopes that proximity will earn her my affection? Nah, gotta be the thing where she does it just to annoy me.)

Dad has become even more deeply attached to this dog, which honestly, we did not believe was even possible. I personally believe the only thing that has pulled him through a few of his health scares is his belief that we won't love P.B. enough in his absence, and she will be sad, so he'd better stick around.

In my defense, I'm not the only one who feels this way. I sense huge therapy bills in the future for certain nieces and nephews of mine who may never recover from being greeted and herded by an animal larger than they are, which barks at decibels the kids shouldn't be hearing until they discover whatever horrifying music arrives to define their teen years. This doesn't include Son, of course. Oh no. He loves to go roughhouse with P.B. And then pass out from the handful of Benadryl he needs if he spends more than a few minutes with her.

Still, everyone had kind of settled into a resigned acceptance. Mom has Dad. Dad has a dog. We have Mom and Dad. Breaking them up would be like breaking up the Beatles and nobody wants to be the Yoko Ono of the family.

And then, P.B. started getting sick. Super sick. As in, "Get her affairs in order, say your goodbyes" kind of sick.

Mom was more torn than I have ever seen her. Obviously she couldn't make P.B. live forever, she admitted before looking up hopefully, and asking "Can I?" No, Mom. Even you can't bestow immortality on a dog, she was told.

And so a plan a formed. Let's get Dad another dog. Before anything happens to P.B. we'll get him attached to a new dog and that way when P.B. eventually, uh, departs and goes off to the big farm to chase real sheep and be very, very happy, Dad will survive the loss because he still has something to love and care for. You know, in addition to his wife and children. Ahem. (Dad, if you're reading this, I swear, I'm not hoping for that day to come. And I'm certainly not trying to hasten that day's arrival. Honest. Because that would be wrong.)

Well, the only way Mom could put this plan in motion was to tell Dad he could choose the new dog. And I'm pretty sure that's when things went irrevocably awry. She was thinking something along the lines of a West Highland White Terrier. You know. Something she could fit in her purse.

She spent hours on-line researching dogs and different breeds and how to train them and what kind of dogs would be less likely to eat her grandchildren. And then, after considerable discussion, I was asked to drive them one day to pick up their new dog. Their new Shetland Sheepdog puppy. Oh that's right. You heard me. Now they're up to TWO of these hounds.

And that number could stay at two for awhile, because guess what? P.B. recovered.

Mom works full-time. And Dad doesn't quite get the how-to-train-the-dogs-so-people-don't-hate them thing. Which means the whole herding, barking, shedding circus fun has been doubled! Although we've discovered these dogs are almost entirely all bark and not much bite. P.B. doesn't really bite; she just fakes it. But L.C. has been known to get a bit carried away with her attempt at appearing as a fierce, scary, threatening-in-some-way dog.

Because she's totally not. One windy day, the back door blew open and a small dog, probably about 10 pounds, if that, wandered into the house. Instant mayhem. I hear banshee-like screeching and snarling and, most disturbingly, Dad yelling, "Oh no! Oh no!" Knowing there was no way I'd get out of there with all limbs intact, and equally certain that I'd forever be "The Bad Daughter Who Let Dad Get Eaten By Dogs" if I did try to escape through the front door, I headed for the front door. Then, remembering that the front door is a bit difficult to open, and thus deciding I could probably be brave enough to face down whatever was going on in the kitchen, I headed back.

And that's where I found Dad and both dogs huddled, and trembling in the corner (although Dad was probably trembling more out of sympathy for his dogs than anything, oh, and I'm sure he was also protecting them. Or something.) while the little, tiny, intruder yapped at them. I shooed the pup out of the house and boy, the second that door was securely closed did my parents' dogs ever spring into protective action. I know I sleep more soundly at night knowing my parents have two such protective dogs. Well, at least the barking should wake them in time.

Some plans are good. Some plans, well, aren't. Hopefully we learn from the not-so-great plans. Because Dad's kind of getting along in years. His health is not what it once was. And there is no way I'm bringing in a younger, healthier man for Mom, so she won't be so sad when Dad, uh, joins his dogs on the big farm. 

Friday, May 11, 2012

The Hound of Hell

This was actually written a few years ago. The saga continues. Part 2 Coming up.

Several years ago, Mom decided to get Dad a dog. He was home alone all day and she thought a nice little dog might give Dad some companionship. So off they went to the pet store, returning with a little dog whom they named "Little Dog." (And my brothers and I all breathed sighs of relief that we weren't saddled with names like "Baby Boy" or "Baby Girl".)

Sadly, not long after, Mom and Dad learned that Little Dog had come from a puppy mill and had health problems that could not be resolved and they had to have the dog euthanized. Dad was devastated but Mom promised he could pick out a new dog. She had something in mind like a terrier or a shitzu. Something small, which she'd no doubt dub "Even Littler Dog". Dad, however, fell in love immediately with a Shetland Sheepdog. As a puppy this dog was about the size Mom had hoped to have in the first place and though she had her doubts, in the end, Mom took pity on Dad who was still mourning the loss of Little Dog and they adopted the sheepdog.

They call the new creature P.B. (Which is not her full name, but even for that much I do have to give them points for creativity.) I call her "Patricia" mostly or "Patty" because calling someone by the wrong name is considered an insult in most cultures and I'm hoping this is something which holds true in dog culture as well. We have a love/hate relationship. She loves to do things that make me hate her. I'm certain it's deliberate, though Mom swears I'm just being mean. And I'm pretty sure P.B. laughs at me as soon as Mom leaves the room. I tend to view P.B. as the the daughter my parents have always loved best. Seriously, they refer to her as my sister.  And I am responding in what I recognize is an unkind and juvenile manner. I have tried to be nicer because I paid attention to that last lecture about how not loving their dog is the same as insulting one of their children. (And really, one would think that having their children insult each other is something they'd be used to by now, but moving on...) Also, my brothers have never pounced on me, slobbered on me (well not recently) shed their hair all over me when I'm thoughtless enough to wear black. Nor do they bark constantly for no apparent reason.

 This is a sheepdog who believes herself to be, and is in fact treated as a pampered lapdog. This presents a few complications. The herding thing, for example. She was bred to herd. She would have been superb at this. I have begged my parents to buy a few sheep for P.B. to chase, but perhaps it's better they don't. Dad would likely insist on keeping those inside as well.

 No one in that house is allowed to stand without P.B. hurling herself against their legs and going into complete hysteria until the person either takes a seat or somehow escapes the house. (Note: Mom has been working with P.B. and around Mom, the dog behaves. Mom's the disciplinarian. Dad's the one who breaks the rules, gives unwarranted, unlimited treats and lets the dog do whatever she wants. It's pretty much the way they raised us.)

There aren't words to adequately describe how much Dad loves this beast. It is a deep and devoted-beyond-reason-to-the-point-of-utter-insanity kind of love. Huh. Maybe there are words.

But basically, the dog is loud. And she sheds. And there's the whole herding thing. Plus? She's HUGE. When she sits on my little mother's lap, Mom nearly disappears.

And so, while my mother is also deeply devoted to the dog, she still really wants "a little dog," which of course she won't be able to have as long as P.B. is around because P.B. would either herd it to death or eat it. But a couple of weeks ago we had the following conversation about a TV program she'd watched:

Mom: It was so cool! They're making these new dogs and they aren't like all those scrawny little dogs that are nothing but hair and feel all skeletal when you pick them up. These are strong and sturdy little dogs.

Me: They're making dogs? Like in a factory? On an assembly line?

Mom: Actually that's a puppy mill and puppy mills are horrible. Do you remember Little Dog? DO YOU? You know what I mean. They're cross-breeding these dogs and anyway they're really cute and really sturdy because they make them out of real dogs!

Me: "They make them out of real dogs." What exactly are the real dogs made out of?

Mom: Um...meat!

Me: Meat. So can we start calling the dog "Meat Patty"?

Mom: You'd better not let your father hear you say that.

Fine. I won't let my dad hear me. But I saw the longing on my mother's face as she talked about how one day, after P.B.'s gone, she wants to get a small, sturdy dog.

I'm not making accusations here, but the next time we go to their house for dinner, I'm only eating salad.

Dusting off the Blog

If this blog were my child, I'm quite certain social workers of some kind would have shown up, noted the obvious neglect and the blog would be taken from me and put into a foster care blog service. It would possibly be mistreated there. Need therapy. Maybe get into drugs. (Not that all foster care families are like this. I'm sure most are wonderful, caring and loving. I'm just aware of a few that, well, aren't. And I know nothing whatsoever about blog foster care, other than it doesn't appear to care about what happens HERE.)

Let's see. Just a bit of catching up to do. Son and I now live in a very tiny apartment. We're very close. We kind of have to be unless one of us goes out on the balcony. (And by balcony I mean "In any other place it would be called a window ledge.")

Don't misunderstand, we're very happy here. And it's great preparation for the day he moves out into his own little apartment. (And probably even more similar to the current situation because I'm afraid I'm going to be one of those mothers who wraps her arms around the boy's knees and cries, "Why are you leaving me?") Either that or he'll be one of those guys who lives with his mother until he's 40 and neighborhood mothers warn their children not to talk to him.) I'm very good to him and particularly to his future wife this way. I set the bar really low with cooking and stuff, so she'll never have to be intimidated by me. So Son's Future Wife? You. Are. WELCOME.

I've been on my own for two years now. I'm starting to get the hang of being an adult. I guess it had to happen some day. It's quite impressive, the progress I've made. I've even figured out how to use a hammer and kill spiders. And it's surprising how often those activities happen simultaneously.

 I know now that an allen wrench isn't a wrench we once borrowed from Allen and forgot to return. I've even used one to help Mom assemble a table. (It was a proud, proud moment for us, when we got that thing put together.)  Don't ask how I've made it this far in life without knowing the basics. I don't really know, but apparently it was pretty easy. I didn't even notice that I was a basically helpless human being if left to my own devices. Well, not anymore, baby! I'm not there yet, but I'm getting there. I hope.


Life has been interesting. And funny. And sad. And depressing. And hopeful. Pick an adjective; it probably applies here.

Most of it, I can't write about on the blog. Although, those who know the story encourage me to write a book. This includes my therapist. Because you just can't make this stuff up. And when your therapist's jaw hits the floor when she hears what's happened to you, you can be pretty sure this kind of thing doesn't happen to this degree all that often. So I've been working on that, which is why the blog's been so sadly neglected.

Plus I've had to figure out a different way to type. Why? Well, if you know me at all, you'll realize I've probably injured myself again. And by golly, you'll be right! The doctor's report says, "Accidentally stabbed herself in the hand with a steak knife." Now doesn't that sound interesting. And typical. For me, I mean. And I'm so glad he included the word "accidentally" because I'm really not the type to go around stabbing myself deliberately. Also, just one correction, it was a carving knife. I don't think I'll be volunteering to carve next time we have turkey. (Hello? This is why we have ham for Easter. Pre-sliced. It is also why we don't allow me to handle sharp objects.)

Apparently, there is a point at which one should stop the cutting of the turkey, and personally, I'd appreciate it if the turkey came pre-marked with little dotted lines so I'll know exactly where to cut. And where not to.

The cut itself? Tiny. Very tiny. As in, if anyone saw it, I'd be called out immediately on what a wimp I am. And if I did get called out? Then I'd have to come back with my doctor's report showing that, though the cut appears tiny on the outside, on the inside there's a fair bit of damage. I cut the digital nerve, and probably a tendon and this is why I'm being such a drama queen over this miniscule little cut.  And also because I'm just kind of a drama queen anyway. Though, it should be noted, I did NOT cry. See? Progress. It would also explain why I can no longer feel or move very well the 2nd and 3rd fingers of my right hand, so if I should pass you and that middle finger seems to be saluting you, I promise, it's probably not. Unless you cut me off in traffic, and even then still probably not but I may be thinking bad words, just so you know.

The other problem they found is that the ulnar nerve is having problems and surgery is going to be required for that as well. This takes out the 4th and 5th fingers, which have kind of been slacking off for awhile now, so I wasn't too worried about that until the specialist said, "irreversible damage if you wait much longer." (By chance are doctors like mechanics who tell you the car will explode unless you have some exorbitantly expensive and totally unnecessary repair work done?) So I'm now down to a thumb on the right hand. But this still puts me way ahead of creatures like dogs and rabbits and, um, fish. You know. Things without opposable thumbs. Plus I have a whole other hand that works, and YAY, I just happen to be left-handed. So see? I am a lucky, lucky, if extremely, wimpy girl.

Plus, this gives me, in a very small way, the chance to experience the world of someone I love who only has the use of one hand. He can do anything. Including teaching me how to type with one hand. Bonus! New skill!

So, yeah. Life's been a funny, awful, ironic, horrible, fantastic, thing for awhile now, but I'm better than fine and I seem to have more spare time to write now. So perhaps the Internet Social Workers won't have to take my blog away after all.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

It's In The Bag

I have a confession to make. Even worse than my revelation that I could not make Jell-O if my life depended on it. And in Utah, that's pretty serious stuff. (The confession is serious, I mean. Although we're pretty serious about the Jell-O thing too.)

I just spent the past hour shopping for a purse. And now that thud heard round the world is everyone who knows me passing out from the shock. Because here it is, the big confession: I. Detest. Purses. I may have to turn in my functioning female card. (I do buy a lot of shoes, though, so that should make up for some of my failure. Ok, I don't actually WEAR the shoes, but I buy them so I'm counting it.)

In my defense, I wasn't shopping for myself. Mom spotted one my cousin had the other day. It was big, baggy, grey with a rose-like ruffle on the front. Cute, if you're into that kind of thing. And I guess Mom is into that kind of thing because she decided right then and there that if she did not have one for herself she would surely die. And having Mom die right now would really be a problem for me personally, so tonight I headed over to the mall. I furtively looked around. Nothing. Finally I asked for help. I SHOULD have asked for help for Mom because nobody needs this many purses. There should be medication for people who need this many purses.

But I love Mom and we can't have her dying just because some purse caught her fancy. So the clerk and I looked. We searched. The nice girl finally offered to call each and every store and wouldn't you know each and every one was sold out? And I really don't get why this particular one was gone, because there were plenty of other equally huge, flowered bags about, but whatever. And despite the plethora of purses available, no way am I making that call on my own. A purse is purse-onal. (sorry, I'm very tired here. Forgive me my bad puns.) No, I decided she must go herself and find that one magical bag that claims her as its own. Then she'll take it home and stuff it with candy, gum, Kleenex which will soon smell like gum, and heaven only knows what else, because I'm for sure not looking in there. Pretty sure she won't have money in there though. That is just not the way the purse works. At least not any of mine.

So tonight I pondered where and how I developed this distaste for handbags. I suspect it had to do with a particular small beaded reticule I had when I was four. I loved it. I carried that thing everywhere. Slept with it, even. And one Sunday, I realized it was the perfect size to carry not just all MY pennies but all of Tyler's too. Oh, it was a tight fit, but I made it work. True, a couple of little purple beads popped off, but I figured it was collateral damage. Well worth the knowledge that I was carrying a veritable FORTUNE in pennies around with me. And I very happily played with my little purse all through the meeting, until karma showed up and pointed out that purloined pennies have no place in a house of worship. And sometimes karma has really bad timing.

It was at a point during the service where I was meant to be reverently reflecting on holy matters, which apparently did not include "What will happen if I close the clasp then squeeze the bag really hard?" Because that's what I was thinking and that's what I did. Do you have any idea how much noise a few dollars worth of clattering copper makes? On a wooden pew? In a chapel with fantastic acoustics? Well, it's A LOT. I froze. I couldn't even look at my mom. I didn't need to, I knew we'd be nose-to-nose momentarily and so I scooted closer to Dad and looked up at him entreatingly. Being taken out by Mom was most unpleasant. She could time exactly how long I could tolerate having her hand over my mouth muting my wailing before I had to breathe or lose consciousness. Then she'd raise her hand long enough for a quick gulp of air and then the hand came back down. And this lasted for ages and ages because, as we've discovered through similar instances, I don't learn.

Being taken out with Dad? Well, it wasn't Disneyland but it was pretty close. We got to play with the water fountain, and I got to clomp across the stage in my patent leather shoes, pretending I was a tap dancer. Then we'd compose ourselves, arrange our faces in penitent reverence and return to the chapel.

But no, this time I was out of luck. And pennies. Because not only had I created a disturbance I had stolen. Funny the things one remembers. I was certain creating the disturbance had been the more evil of my crimes. It took a minute before I realized that the stealing wasn't my best idea either. And as penance, I had to give Tyler ALL the pennies and worst of all, I lost my purse. It went into The Permanent Box.
The Permanent Box was the final destination of toys that weren't put away, or used as a weapon of war against a sibling, which meant most of mine lived there. Away these things went never to be seen again. I once had a nightmare that I fell into The Permanent Box and had to live there forever and ever. But it was ok, because all my stuff was in there already.

Since the loss of my little purse, I've never been able to love another one. I'm a one purse girl, I'm afraid. And it wasn't until I was about 8 and my cousin pointed out that carrying money in my sock wasn't particularly cool (or clean, for that matter) that I started grudgingly considering purses.

I started out small. A wallet. A wallet was ok. I could stuff pictures of the current crush in there, phone numbers, movie ticket stubs and sometimes, not very often but sometimes I even put money in there.

Eventually I graduated to something a little larger. After all, I had to accommodate car keys. And a driver's license. And lip gloss. And a comb. And, on rare occasions, money.

By the time I hit college I had finally succumbed to bag large enough to contain all my books, notebooks, pencils, pictures of the current crush, and my favorite Wint O' Green Lifesavors. (with which I have struggled with a life long addiction.) Never money though. Because this was college. Money was something spoken of in hushed tones but rarely seen.

Later on, when I did have money, it seemed ridiculous to pay money for something to carry money in, because then I would no longer have money because I used it to buy the purse, so no need to have the purse right? (Sorry, this is how logic works in my head. Be glad YOU don't have to live in here.)

Mom finally decided that, since I was getting married and all I should probably grow up and have a real, grown-up sized purse and she bought me one. We argued for a time about the size. See, I figured out a looooong time ago that there's a good reason men don't carry purses. Know why? Because if they don't have a purse, they can turn their woman into a personal pack mule. Seriously, how many of us have heard, "Honey, would you mind putting this in your purse?" Yeah, I fell for it too, for awhile, but it was kind of a game for me. Because any man who has not been raised by wolves knows, the purse is sacred. I've never in my life witnessed a male looking into a purse. Unless it was a movie and the guy was about to die anyway. So any time That Man wanted to put any of his stuff in my purse, it became MINE. I win!

The purse is sacrosanct. You just DON'T open another woman's purse. I'm not sure why exactly, but I have a theory. It's not like I have anything in there like a pipe bomb, or a sandwich with the image of Elvis burned into it. There's nothing to hide. Nothing I wouldn't willingly display if someone were really that interested. No, it's the PRINCIPLE. I don't know about you, but at my house no area of the building is child/man proof. Nothing is just mine that no one else can touch. I have no secrets. I have stashes of chocolate and stuff, sure, but they're not exactly secret. Apparently. (Looking at you here, Son.)

The purse is the last and only item left to a wife/mom that is totally off-limits to the rest of the family. I seriously grew up believing Dad would get grounded if he opened Mom's purse. If ever he needed something she had in there, he would dutifully fetch the purse, avert his eyes respectfully, and then back away slowly after the transaction was finished.

I myself used to retrieve the purse and bring it, like frankincense and myrrh to my mother and wait at a respectful distance while she pulled from it Kleenex that smelled like Spearmint gum. (I confess, I reached adulthood before I realized Kleenex doesn't actually come from the factory smelling that way.)

So, given that the purse is the last sacred untouchable item in creation for me, why would I so willingly give it up? Is it really that I hate being a pack mule that much? Is it really because no matter how organized I start out, I invariably let it fall and be disemboweled on the car floor? Is it because it's something I have to carry, which means at some point I'll set it down, which means I'll then spend hours trying to remember where I left it? That may be part of it.

But I think it may mostly have been the dance of joy I did the first time I was able to leave the house without a diaperbag containing everything an infant might need to cross the country on his own. It was a joyous day for me when I realized I no longer had Happy Meal Toys, crayons, Baby Tylenol and Hotwheel's cars in my bag and I could put things in there that I actually wanted. The possibilities were endless. A phone! A camera! Sunglasses! Lipgloss and a brush! Even, very daringly, a mirror! A driver's license, Lifesavors and the hand sanitizer I carry everywhere. (Still no money though.)

But my needs are fairly minimal, and so since that time I've returned to small purses. Which for reasons I fail to grasp, bothers Mom. She says they look like little kid purses. And there you go. I've come full circle. I have at last avenged my little beaded bag which perished in The Permanent Box.

Monday, April 18, 2011

I Can Still Hear the Bells

Note: I can't seem to get the paragraphs to stay in place. Weird. But let's cut me some slack. I am EXHAUSTED. Last week I had the marvelous opportunity to see two performances of "Hairspray" at a local theater. It's the Hale Center Theater in Orem, and performances are in the round. Son was astounded that they were able to perform so much so well in such a small space. We are now attempting to launch a performance of Phantom of the Opera in our living room, just to see if it can be done. I'm a bit concerned about the chandelier crash, but I digress. I had been dying to see the show, because my cousin Xandra was playing the role of Tracy Turnblad and knowing Xandra, I knew it would be incredible. Plus, it's a show I really enjoy. I get the song "I Can Hear the Bells" stuck in my head for days on end. And I don't seem to mind. To clear up a tiny bit of confusion, Xandra is actually my first cousin once removed. Her mother Laurie is my first cousin. For some reason, this confuses several people when I refer to Xandra as my cousin, but I figure, hey, close enough. Alas the show was sold out almost immediately. But, I had some amazing luck. First, my sister-in-law had two tickets she was unable to use and I was the fortunate recipient. It was a night Xandra wasn't on, but her husband Ben was and the show itself was so enjoyable. Plus, it was such a thrill to just get away from the blah of current life and lose myself in a play. And then? THEN? Xandra's mom and dad worked it out so I got tickets to see another performance, with Xandra. Bless you, bless you Laurie and Eric! I enjoyed that so much. I'll love you forever. Not just for the tickets, but it doesn't hurt. Although I thought all the performers were fantastic and I enjoyed every second of the show, I must say there were some actors in particular that have remained with me, singing and dancing in my head ever since I left the theater. First is my Xandra. Ok, technically she's not just "my" Xandra, but I would certainly lay sole claim if I could. Xandra (short for Alexandra) is tiny. As in, I would love to put her in my pocket and have her sing to me all the time. And it could be done because she would totally fit. (I have no clue how she performed those dances with that fat suit on, but she apparently can do anything.) Her person is so tiny that the only things that it can possibly contain are an astounding joy for life, a goofiness that defies all reason, an enormous heart, several inspiring talents and that voice. That voice has brought me to tears on many occasions. She has performed for years, here, California, New York...this is not just your garden variety talent we're talking about here. The first time I heard her sing, it literally knocked me off my feet. And all I could think was MORE! I want MORE!!! It's impossible for me to be near her and not be affected by her infectious humor, joy and appreciation for life. In short, (no pun intended, dear) I absolutley love this cousin of mine. She's always been quite special to me. Due to certain circumstances when she was a couple of months old, I had the chance to just hold her for a couple of days. Even then, she was unusual. Her eyes would follow something around the room, tracking something I couldn't see, though I certainly have my opinions on just whom she was watching. My Xandra, my little cousin. How I love her. She played Tracy in Hairspray. She WAS Tracy. That joie de vivre, her utter lack of prejudice or malice, and all that enthusiasm and talent...well, that's Xandra. Xandra's husband was also in the performance. I haven't had the chance to meet him as often as I'd like. In fact, I wasn't certain he'd even know who I was, but he either recognized me as family or he's an even better actor than I thought. He was so kind and sweet when we spoke after the play. I suspect he went home and asked Xandra to identify me. Anyway, I was utterly stunned to see him in action. That boy can DANCE. Son asked me to point out which one was Ben. Well that was easy enough. Ben was the only only looking off stage while "Tracy" was kissing "Link." Ben adores Xandra as much as she does him and they are delightful to see both on and off stage. My other favorite performers were people I've never met, but they were incredible. "Penny" had me in stitches, and Edna...oh Edna. For reasons I don't fully understand the part of Edna, Tracy's mother, is played by a man. I don't really care why. He was hilarious. I laughed so hard I think I may have injured myself. Adam, I will be a fan forever. And, the guys who played Seaweed? Good heavens. What talent! I've never seen people dance so well. Color me impressed. I really had only one complaint about the play. It ended. But on the bright side, I'm hoping I can get a private performance of "I Can Hear the Bells" out of Xandra later.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Cell Phone Rant

Can we talk about cell phones? I'm not sure when exactly the law was passed stating that I have to have a cell phone on my person at all times, answer it each and every time it rings, no matter how inconvenient or impossible that may be, and answer all my messages the second that icon pops up. (Assuming I know what the icon even means.) As my mom says, "I have a phone for my convenience, not so I can be on-call at all times." I have friends. I have a phone. I like to talk to my friends, on my phone. If you have my number, chances are good that I like talking to you. (Visa, obviously I don't mean you. I'm sure you get that a lot. Sorry.) But I think things would be a lot easier for all of us if we establish a few rules.

1. I own a phone. You have possession of my phone number. Knowledge of my number does not entitle the holder to claim sole possession of my time/schedule/priorities/ability to remember to charge my phone. Sometimes I just can't talk at that very second, but I will be delighted to talk to you another time. You know, unless you're Visa. And sometimes I just have no idea where my phone is.

2. If I don't answer the phone, please don't be alarmed. Or offended. Especially not offended. I really can't handle one more "discussion" about how I'm deliberately not answering your calls. First of all, if you know me at all, you know I tend to lose things. My phone is no exception. And secondly, if you don't know me at all, why are you even calling me? And another thing: calling me again 30 seconds after the first attempt and still not getting an answer really isn't giving me a sporting chance. Aside from which, you're arguing with me NOW. That's kind of an indication that I DID answer your call. Eventually. See? Not avoiding you!

3. Voice mail. My message clearly states that it's unlikely that I'll even remember how to check my messages. That is assuming I can find my phone. If you choose to proceed at that point, don't be surprised when I don't remember how to check my messages or can't find my phone. In fact, just go ahead and assume that's what happened when you don't hear from me.

4. Texting. I don't know if there's something wrong with my thumbs. I think maybe they didn't evolve adequately for life in this century. I don't know. But I don't seem to be able to text very quickly. And in fact, I am just barely getting past my resistance to the entire concept. (I still think texting is like reverting to the telegraph.) For one thing, when you speak to me, I have no idea that you can't spell and I don't get distracted by it. Chances are I'm going to pay more attention to what you're actually saying if you just TALK to me. You know, with your voice? Otherwise I'm going to be busy thinking, "Why do so many people think "definitely" is spelled with an "a"? Plus when I spell things wrong, as I sometimes do, or finally break down and force myself to abbreviate and write "u" instead of "you", I feel on some level I'm disappointing my English teachers. And I've got enough guilt already, thanks. So please be patient. I'm trying!

5. Texting again. As mentioned, I'm not very quick with the texting thing. If you send me a text and then send me ANOTHER text while I'm still trying to answer the first one, and then I either have to forget finishing this answer and skip to the next one, or quickly finish and send it, knowing full well you've moved on to another thought...try not to be surprised or confused when I respond to your text "Where should we meet for dinner?" with, "Because the vacuum is on fire and also I lost the chicken. Again." Actually, from me that answer shouldn't surprise you under any circumstances, but especially if you get it via text.

6. Texting yet again. I know people like the texting option because it allows them to send a message somewhat privately, thus sparing unfortunate bystanders the graphic details of their conversations. A quick text may be necessary now and then, to the kids or the spouse, or whomever. But I've been with people who are so absorbed in their texting it's like spending time with someone who's only half there. If that. If you're with me and you're texting someone else throughout dinner, through the movie, etc. the message I'm getting is, "I'd rather talk to this other person right now, so you just go ahead and sit on the back burner until I have time to talk to you." Seriously? I don't know anyone who enjoys being "multi-tasked". If you'd rather be talking to someone else, by all means, you go right ahead. Just don't be outraged when you come up for air and realize I'm no longer with you. Come find me when you're able to put the phone down. You know, the way I do for you.

7. Yes, actually, I do know my mailbox is full. Maybe I just don't know how to empty it. Or maybe I like keeping it full, just so I don't have to deal with new irate messages about how I never check my voicemail. And? Leaving messages on my voicemail complaining about how I never check my voicemail? How effective do you think that's going to be, really?

If you have any questions about these rules, feel free to call me.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

I May Have Watched Too Much TV

This week, I had an appointment to meet another doctor in my continuing quest for answers to questions like: This…thing on my esophagus and stuff in my lungs, any thoughts? Can you make it go away? Also, one day when I’m strolling around the neighborhood, is there a chance an alien is going to rip through my chest and scare the neighbors? (Ok, actually that would be kind of awesome. And potentially messy. And painful, probably. Never mind.)

While I was hiking the stairs of the doctor’s office (Unofficial Motto: “If you can survive the wait for the elevator then we’ll see you because clearly you are tenacious beyond words and we can use people like you in the billing department”) I kept thinking about the name written on my little appointment card: Dr. Douglas Ross. For real. I’m just going to admit, I was super excited to meet this man. Dr. Ross! Flawed but extremely appealing doctor on “ER” reruns by day, GEORGE CLOONEY by night!

After working my way through the obligatory new patient stuff, I wondered if I’d be able to calm down in time to give the nurse accurate information when he took my blood pressure. Then I realized how silly I was being. I’m sure they adjust for that when someone is meeting Dr. Clooney, um...I mean Dr. Ross, for the first time.

At last, the door opened and in walked Dr. Ross. First impression: I thought he’d be taller. And that he’d look more like George Clooney. All through question-and-answer time, I kept thinking: Wow. I thought the camera adds ten pounds, but obviously the magic of television has more tricks than I ever suspected.

Oh, I’m not saying this doctor was some Quasimodo-like gnome. In fact, he was so normal looking, I probably couldn’t have picked him out of a lineup an hour later. (I’m not particularly good at remembering a face.)

Finally, he gave me his diagnosis, reminding me that I was there for more than the possible meeting of a celebrity. “I’ve reviewed the reports and honestly I really don’t know what this thing is. I’d like you to see a thoracic surgeon and get his opinion about removing it.”

I’ll bet the real (ok, the fictional character) Dr. Ross could figure it out. I’ll bet he could do it in under an hour, too, especially if we cut out the commercials. In fact, he might even bring in Dr. Gregory House to consult and between the two of them they could come up with an answer in thirty sarcastic-quip-filled minutes. But I’m sure this Dr. Ross did his best. As is the case with most professions, it’s probably a lot easier if you have good writers.

I asked him for reassurance. “This guy isn’t going to meet me at the door with a scalpel, right? Because I really, REALLY don’t want any cutting to happen until we’ve exhausted all other options.” He assured me that I’d be treated as conservatively as possible and then led me to the front desk to schedule an appointment.

My mother is convinced my brain shrinks every time general anesthesia is administered and if I go under one more time my brain will be just the right size to roll right on out of my ear. I’m not going to lie to you; I think she may be right. Because when I walk into the doctor’s office later this week? I’m kind of hoping I’ll be greeted by Noah Wyle.

Friday, December 31, 2010


It started simply enough, as these matters often do. Mom and I were discussing the latest of a series of disasters in my life.

“It’ll be okay, Honey. Sometimes blessings come in disguise.”
“Sometimes? SOMETIMES? How about ALL. THE. TIME, Mom?”
“Every gift God sends me comes in the most atrocious gift wrap imaginable. He’s seriously got the worst gift-wrap department in the history of…of gift-wrap.”
“IT’S TRUE! You know it’s true. Look, everything has an opposite, right? Isn’t that what you’ve taught me?”
“Think about it. Satan sends things all wrapped up in pretty packages with shiny bows and you open them and there is NEVER anything good in there. NEVER. Whereas God? He sends us the most fantastic things but most of the time we don’t even realize it because the packaging is AWFUL.”
“Am I not right about this?”
“Well…yes, but I just don’t think we should SAY things like that. It sounds sacrilegious."
“Oh, like God doesn’t KNOW me? Trust me, He knows me. He knows what I mean. I don’t mean to be disrespectful, I’m just saying. Great gifts, horrid gift wrap.”
“Well yes, God knows your heart and knows you don’t mean anything by it but…”
“But? Isn’t His opinion the one that matters?”
“We just need to be careful about how we say things.”

I’ll try to remember that in the next life, where I will no doubt be writing to her from Hell.