Crank-a-palooza

I went for labs yesterday morning. I’m almost equidistant from the downtown hospital and the suburban satellite clinic. I try to do ecerything except transfusions at the suburban clinic, not because of the distance, but the time/traffic/hassle of shlepping downtown, plus having to pay for parking. I can’t believe that after paying thousands of dollars for chemo, transfusions, or whatever, they ding the patient for parking!

Anyhoo, it’s not a long drive, and it’s on a major thoroughfare, so I can usually get to the suburban clinic in 10-12 minutes. On the way there, and on the way back, I passed major, multi-car, ambulance-requiring accidents. Coincidentally, they were both in the opposite direction, so I wasn’t caught in the ensuing traffic snarls, but it was frightening, even as a passer-by. And a reminder that we’re all a second or two away from tragedy caused by a texting moron, a chattering bimbo, a distracted dingbat.

Although I was “borderline” I decided to get a transfusion today, and another dose of Aranesp. The transfusatorium was mobbed and I couldn’t get an appointment until 1pm. If all the planets lined up, the whole thing should take about 3.5 hours, getting me out of there just before rush hour proper. For the first time in all my many visits… there were kiddies in there. Not one, but two. Not as patients, but stuck with accompanying visitors.

Honestly, one of my perpetual rants is against people who seem to think that hiring a sitter is some kind of child abuse. Either they’re too cheap, or too lazy, or incapable of separating from their child for a few hours. Whatever; the people who drag their kids everywhere just set my teeth on edge and make me sit on my hands to resist dope-slapping them. And of all the annoying, inappropriate places these copter moms drag their poor kids to, this has GOT to be the most ridiculous. Why would you drag your otherwise healthy kid to a germ- and vermin-ridden hospital, and force them to sit for several hours, to the annoyance of scores of SICK people?

The four year old little girl, bless her heart, was good as gold. Her hair was in the Little Black Girl ‘do, with a dozen little braids springing from her head. But some genius put bands with square plastic bobbles at the base of each braid. I couldn’t imagine trying to lay back and sleep with a head full of those things. I was also freaked out that her great-gran (who was probably about my age!) had three-inch fingernails. I know I’ll have nightmares about those. Anyways, between the television and a hand-held video game, she stayed quiet and amused through her mom’s afternoon-long ordeal.

The one that really got me was the little boy, maybe a year old. I didn’t see who his mom was accompanying – a husband, sister, friend? Doesn’t matter. I can’t come up with any reasonable excuse for shlepping that baby to the hospital. He was a new walker, and just wanted OUT of that goddamned stroller. And every time I dropped to sleep, he let out a shriek.

Of course, my fun wasn’t over. I should have beaten rush hour by several seconds, but I got in a traffic mega-snarl. (Thank goddess I’d made a pit stop before leaving the hospital.) More than fifteen minutes to go a single block; no way out! The reason, I finally discovered was that some rookie genius pulled a car over on a major thoroughfare. He did not have the sense to direct this car around the corner for ticket-writing, and instead backed up traffic for miles and miles. When I finally finally finally got out of there, it really was rush hour. Not the end of the world, but a 35-minute stressfest instead of a 20-minute cruise.

When I finally got home, I laid down on the sofa and didn’t move for three hours. I think it may be time for me to stop driving.

Things I Found #4: Bring Me Calvin Klein’s Head on a Stick

Another essay from the last writing class has bubbled to the surface. This dates me terribly, because Calvin Klein has gone from avant-garde, enfant terrible, to a “mature” designer considered to be a classic stylist. But when he first started making headlines, he gave me headaches.
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Am I the only person who feels that Calvin Klein is responsible for the decline and fall of Western civilization? Maybe I just resent him because he officially stamped my passport into Old Farthood.

I was vaguely aware that Calvin Klein’s name was appearing on people’s asses in the first wave of something called Designer Jeans. (Previously there were only Levi’s and, if you didn’t know any better, Wranglers.) Designer Jeans were meant to look as though they had been airbrushed onto your body, and the trendoids, male and female, began cramming themselves into pants two sizes too small, trying to look blasé and aloof although they were also bug-eyed and breathless.

I wasn’t too alarmed. I was still a renegade, unwilling to give up my buttery soft, faded-to-baby-blue Levi’s for the crisp, navy full-length trusses called designer jeans.

But Calvin wasn’t happy just being a prestigious tush flag. A cultural visionary, Cal knew we were right there on the cusp of becoming a nation of sheep, eager to jump on the bandwagon of any ludicrous trend that two or three insecure suck-ups now pronounced Officially Cool. Calvin decided the time was right to branch out, and burst into my consciousness with commercials for a perfume called Obsession.

Obsession! Calvin Klein wanted us to smell like a personality disorder, a state of mental unbalance. “He broke my heart so I slashed his tires and burned down his house. Obsession.” And I just didn’t get it. I was no longer Talking the Talk.

Next was Infinity. Cal thought we should smell like mathematical concepts promoted by glassy-eyed anorexics, like Kate “I only eat tiny bits of” Moss. And I realized I was completely clueless about this campaign, too. I was once the drum majorette for hip, anti-establishment thinking and behavior, the poster girl for non-conformity. Now I sounded and felt like my parents: “What are they talking about?”

I grew up with Evening in Paris, Joy, Chanel, and for naughty girls, Tabu. And the models smiled, or at least offered a smoldering come-hither look. Wouldn’t you want to sell perfume — a luxury item — with images of style, glamour, allure, success, romance? But no, here was Cal peddling his wares with greasy-haired scowling waifs and apparently that’s what we wanted, because we made him a gazillionaire!

The new campaign was for something called CK1, an apparently transgendered scent with the brilliantly succinct catch-phrase, “Just be.”
Just be? Come on! What’s the alternative? Just don’t be? I guess if you just not be, you be dead, and it wouldn’t much matter what you smell like.

Maybe Cal has forged a bold path of marketing strategies into the obtuse, the obscure, the downright silly. If that’s the case, if I’ve finally “gotten it,” I’d like to offer a few suggestions for his next perfumes:
Yo, I din’t do it. Bring me some smokes.
Calvin Klein’s … INCARCERATION.
No, I’m full, really. Be right back.
Calvin Klein’s… BULIMIA.
Party like you mean it. Jimi and Janis. Yeah, dude.
Calvin Klein’s … HEROIN.
Fabulous. Gotta take this call, babe. Ciao.
Calvin Klein’s…SUPERFICIAL

I think I just launched a new marketing career! Do I look younger? Wait a minute – how about when I scowl?

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Things I Found #1
Things I Found #2
Things I Found #3

More Spring Teasers

Here’s a first for the Villa: Snowdrops blooming… on March 11! The snowdrops are “volunteers,” meaning I didn’t plant any seeds or bulbs, they just suddenly showed up. In Molly’s yard, no less. Tiptoe through the poo piles.


My picture is so bad, I went to Google Images to find a better one. (By the way, I make an effort to find pics that are not copyrighted. Apologies if I’ve erred.)

Along the way, I found this mad cool floor lamp inspired by the snowdrop. My sister and I are both lamp-a-holics, and this one just sends me right over the edge.

Indian Spring?

Friday night I had dinner with Gracie’s humans, a lovely dinner highlighted by fresh Gulf shrimp from their recent trip. My appetite is still pretty small, but I will always make room for fresh shrimp. It is the one food I think I could eat til I burst, and showing any restraint or courtesy is a huge challenge. (I came home to find the Bims in mid par-tay, and had to park at the end of the block. Thanks, girls. Looking forward to Karma returning the favor.) Saturday night, we gathered at a cable-enhanced Hoodie house to watch the Butler Bulldogs. They had a rough first quarter. As I expected, they rallied almost as soon as I called it a night and headed home. I believe that made Consecutive Win #19!

We are having what I might call Indian Spring…some gloriously warm and sunny weather, but don’t expect it to last. I’ve tried telling my daffodils and tulips that it’s a ruse, but they insist on reaching for the sun. Molly and her friends have been enjoying much longer walks. I can hardly believe it, but Molly turned 9 years old last week.

A friend told me that her elderly mother, when asked what was new, would always answer, “Nothing, thank god!” I have a new appreciation for that reply. Other than pain, fatigue and sleeping issues, which have been with me all along, I’m still managing fairly well. I know that may change at any time, and I have a new appreciation for each day that I’m able to manage on my own.

Here’s a funny from Bro 1. It always cracks me up to imagine how our pets view us:
P.S. Still no sign of the noctural mammal.

Things That Go Bimp In the Night

Mom & Dad were here for a wonderful visit, but left just a day before some excitement at the Villa! First, I need to back up and tell you about when I first went to look at Miss Molly, almost nine years ago. Her “foster father” came to the door and before he even let me in the house, asked, “You don’t want a dog for protection, do you?” No, I assured him, just companionship. He let me in, and I fell in love with this little mutt, who we now know is actually half dog/half chicken.

I was awoken by something last night. I’d taken a sleeping pill, so my brain had to work hard to rouse me. I was vaguely aware that there was Something in the bedroom with us. Molly didn’t even bark. She just looked at me as if to say, “Hey, you better check that out.” As I forced my fuzzy brain toward consciousness, I realized…there was a bat in my bedroom. (I didn’t get hysterical because this was
actually the Villa’s third bat, but the other two were 20+ years ago. Please read about them here; it’s relevant.)

The bedroom door was open and I saw it fly into the living room. I closed the bedroom door, and went into the kitchen to prop open the back door. Supposedly, bats don’t want to be indoors, and if you open a door or window, they will find the fresh air and get out. I sat in the living room for half an hour, watching this stupid bat fly back and forth, back and forth. I knew I was destined to fall back asleep soon, so I closed the door, opened a living room window about 6″ (it was about 15º outside!) and went back to bed, closing the door tightly behind me.

I haven’t seen the bat since, and I hope he found his way outside. I’ll find out soon enough if he didn’t.

Happiness (Reconsidered)

by Judith Viorst

Happiness
Is a clean bill of health from the doctor,
And the kids shouldn’t move back home for
more than a year,
And not being audited, overdrawn, in Wilkes-Barre,
in a lawsuit or in traction.

Happiness
Is falling asleep without Valium,
And having two breasts to put in my brassiere,
And not (yet) needing to get my blood pressure lowered,
my eyelids raised or a second opinion.

And on Saturday nights
When my husband and I have rented
Something with Fred Astaire for the VCR,
And we’re sitting around in our robes discussing,
The state of the world, back exercises, our Keoghs,
And whether to fix the transmission or buy a new car,
And we’re eating a pint of rum-raisin ice cream
on the grounds that
Tomorrow we’re starting a diet of fish, fruit and grain,
And my dad’s in Miami dating a very nice widow,
And no one we love is in serious trouble or pain,
And our bringing-up-baby days are far behind us,
But our senior-citizen days have not begun,
It’s not what I called happiness
When I was twenty-one,
But it’s turning out to be
What happiness is.
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We didn’t need another reason to love Judith Viorst, but here’s one anyways. Priorities, perspectives and definitions shift and change as we age and, hopefully, mature. The first sentence resonates like a giant brass gong. Would anyone in their 20s, or even 30s have put a clean bill of health first on the list? Now I can’t imagine anything else. I think happiness may be the absence of strife, trauma, etc., and the ability to appreciate that absence. I know it’s a lot simpler that most folks realize. What do you think happiness is?

(Good insights at The Happiness Project; see cool sites at right.)

Go See…

  • Lists, lists, lists – Time Magazine’s best and worst, top travel gadgets, top toy crazes, top Pat Robertson gaffes (how to narrow it down!), best Super Bowl moments, there’s something for everyone.
  • The surprisingly mediocre “Best of the Worst” Blog led me to these Houses of Horror, which led me to a second batch. I have to say…. I like most of them, especially the row houses! (Let me tell you: I know what makes for crappy neighbors, and the paint job isn’t even on the list.)
  • Street Installations – Mark Jenkins is no Christo, but I like art that startles and challenges.
  • When the headlines get you down, the Chicago Tribune will lift your spirits with their page of Happy News.

Oh, Canada!

I only watched a few minutes of the Olympics’ Opening Ceremonies. I don’t even think they should televise the “Parade of Nations.” Come on, other than the athletes’ parents… who wants to watch that?? BUT… I happened to catch what may have been the best moment (at least, one of the best moments) of the entire Canadian- style extravaganza: Shane Koyczan reciting his poem about Canada, “We Are More.”

If you missed it, here you go.
We Are More – video
We Are More – transcript

More, indeed. Somehow Canadians managed to become more genteel, more sophisticated, and more polite than their neighbors to the south. Their cities, at least the ones I’ve visited, have that European aura of cooperation and respect. And, of course, their government actually seems to work for its citizens, rather than its lobbyists. I won’t be watching much of the Olympics, but there is plenty to love about Canada. (Pretty much everything except the weather. You can’t have everything.)